A doctor by age 24? - Macleans.ca

A doctor by age 24?

It may be possible at Queen’s in 2013

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Photo by Andrew Tolson

Queen’s University may soon allow gifted high school graduates to enroll in a six-year program that would offer them a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree by the time they turn 24-years old.

The Accelerated Pathway to Medical School program received faculty approval on May 4 and will be considered at Queen’s Senate in the fall.

The length of medical school has long been debated. In English Canada, students must complete three or four years of undergraduate education before applying to four-year medical programs.

Fierce competition means that most students who get into MD programs already have four-year degrees. Indeed, many have master’s degrees, which take one or two years more to complete.

That means most doctors aren’t practicing until eight, nine or 10 years after high school. For someone eager to work in family medicine in a region with a doctor shortage, it’s simply too long.

Some people will question whether six years of school is enough. But as Queen’s Dean of Medicine Richard Reznick points out in the Queen’s Journal, shorter programs work fine in Europe and Asia.

While the program is exciting news for future doctors, young brainiacs shouldn’t get too excited. Admission would require a high school average of at least 90 per cent, a nomination from a high school and the completion of an interview. Only ten students per year would be taken.

The University of Texas is also piloting several programs that aim to reduce the length of medical school. One program, called SHAPE, will offer 60 freshmen students a guaranteed spot in a four-year medical school program if they do well in the first three years of school, starting in 2013.

To see a list of admission requirements for Canadian medical schools, click here.

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