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Article updated: 2/21/2014 3:30 PM

Why medical school training should fast-track to five years

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America will need 90,000 more doctors in seven years, as the Census Bureau projects a 36-percent growth in health care for Americans age 65 and over. Yet, "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the physician supply will increase by only 7 percent in the next 10 years," according to The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Center for Workforce Studies, June 2010.

The facts are 32 million younger Americans will become newly insured under health care reform, and more people are living longer. Since medical training currently takes so long, we must expand residency education and accelerate the training process now.

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Several doctors agree that fast-tracking the training makes sense in order for them to begin practice sooner and reduce the heavy burden of student debt.

In October 2013, the AAMC detailed that the median 4-year cost of attendance for an in-state public medical school was $218,898 and for private medical school, an even more overwhelming $286,806. This jolting figure does not include additional debt from undergraduate studies. A walloping 79 percent of graduates from the class of 2013 had at least $100,000 or more of debt, and that did not take into consideration that loan repayments would start while earning modest stipends as residents or fellows.

To afford the general niceties of life, and start a family, for many at this stage means taking on additional debt, especially if interested in specialization.

A report in 2010 from the Carnegie Foundation recommended in favor of fast-track medical education, and the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association in 2012 reported two highly respected authorities, Ezekiel Emanuel, University of Pennsylvania vice provost, and Victor Fuchs, a Stanford economist, wrote that eliminating a year of medical school could be achieved without affecting patient care or academic performance.

Northwest Suburban College (www.northwestsuburbancollege.com) in Rolling Meadows offers a unique program. The first 24 to 28 months of the curriculum features coursework to achieve a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology or Chemistry, whereby students can develop a solid foundation in math and science and include classes in humanities before transferring to Avalon University in beautiful Curacao, an island and country in the Caribbean.

This fast-track program makes it possible to achieve the medical degree within 5 years without having to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), or choose to take the MCAT and apply for admission to another medical school. A second option is to receive the Associate of Science degree in Biology or Chemistry, and then transfer to Avalon and save an additional six months for the program. All programs are offered on an accelerated basis and can save time and money compared to many other institutions because Northwest Suburban College is a nonprofit institution.

Call Admissions today at (847) 290-6425 to learn more about this fast-track program or consider one of our other programs in Allied Health Science careers.

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