For medical students who may feel overwhelmed about the six-figure price tag attached to receiving their degree, relief may come  sooner than later, according to Kaiser Health News.

To ease some of the pressure that comes with paying for medical school, some schools are giving their students the chance to finish their training early – shaving off the final year of training attached to a traditional curriculum. With the rollout of the new laws  behind Obamacare, the need to produce more doctors has fueled the development of a growing number of medical school  programs that are three years rather than the traditional four. Among policy makers and medical school administrators, the new approach seems like a great idea since doing so would essentially graduate medical students faster and make room for the next group of students quicker.

According to the news release, “for more than a century, medical schools have largely designed their programs around a template:  two years of preclinical or classroom work in basic medical science, followed by two years of clinical rotations, mostly in hospitals.
“A year of medical school could be eliminated without adversely affecting academic performance,” wrote University of  Pennsylvania Vice Provost Ezekiel Emanuel and Stanford economist Victor Fuchs. “The overall time it takes to train physicians is an example of waste in medical education and could be shortened without affecting patient care or eroding clinical skills; students could be assessed on core competencies rather than on time served.”

While the positives of an accelerated program may seem quite clear – less time training, lower tuition costs – some experts do say that the faster route may result in a new set of issues for  students, namely burnout from trying to fit four years of curriculum and material into a three-year time frame, as well as worries among students and administrators that performance on licensing exams may be compromised during the process. For those who support the accelerated three year track programs, which are currently in place at several schools across the country, the new  approach comes during a time that is different from the curricula offered during the 1970s, which was mainly built on rote memorization.