A new report by professors at UCSF encourages a rethinking of traditional medical education. One area for reform is the time necessary to receive the M.D. degree. Why four years for everyone? If students learn at different paces and have different interests, why not a more flexible schedule?
The proposal would make medical school more like doctoral programs, whose curricula are much less rigid. At the same time, recent critics of ten-year-long Ph.D. programs have called for graduate study in the arts and sciences to be more like medical school.
I’m inclined to favor more rigid timelines for medical school but more loose guidelines for residency. Sharing a common experience of courses over four years provides benefits that outweigh accommodating individual learning styles.