New University of Minnesota program looks to revolutionize medical school

A new program at the University of Minnesota Medical School is looking to revolutionize the way doctors are trained, progressing some students more quickly based on competency rather than a traditional model which trains everyone at the same pace. 

Right now it's an experimental project only for pediatrics students which essentially pushes advanced students more quickly through in-class coursework and into a residency in less than the typical four years that have been a staple of medical schools since the early 1900s. Despite some students spending less time in school, Director of the Education in Pediatrics Across the Continuum (EPAC) Patricia Hobday says it's not necessarily a "fast-track" program and instead focuses on competencies and hands-on training tailored to fit each individual student.

“We’re not all trying to get A’s, what we’re trying to do is master our craft, master what we’re doing—learn where we need some extra help," she said. "This is groundbreaking in medical education."

Minnesota was the first school in the country to roll out the approach, with three other schools in the country later adopting similar programs. It's caught the eye of a number of other institutions, who are watching the results closely to see how graduates fare.

“This model of progressing from medical school to residency based on achieving outcomes has really caught the attention of the rest of the world," Hobday said. 

One of the biggest benefits, according to several studies, is that it cuts down on expenses and burnout rates. Many students say that fact was key when deciding on which medical school to attend.

“I’m now in my eighth month of residency and finished about nine months early," said Shane McWhirter, who went through the program. "I think that is a benefit in itself, to get into the actual profession and practicing being a doctor earlier.”