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Think medical education takes too long? So does Victor Fuchs

Stanford's Victor Fuchs, PhD, is all for eliminating waste and driving down costs associated with health care - and he believes this type of economization can start at the beginning, with medical education. In a Viewpoint piece he co-authored with Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD, and published today in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Fuchs proposes that old habits of structuring medical education warrant revision:

Currently, it takes an average of 14 years of college, medical school, residency, and fellowship to train a subspecialty physician. This period could be reduced to 10 years or by approximately 30%.

Fuchs and Emanuel recommend systemic changes take place by 2020. Trimmings - a year or two each - could come from pre-medical (undergraduate) education, medical school, residency, or subspecialty fellowship training, they believe.

Acknowledging some drawbacks, the benefits of change are many. Besides controlling costs that are slipping toward unsustainable levels, the authors suggest, economizing simply makes sense in principle:

Efficiency has its own value. Waste, especially wasting the time of some of society’s most highly educated and talented people, is unethical.

Previously: An expert’s historical view of health care costs, Views on costs and reform from the “dean of American health care economists”, Health economist Victor Fuchs looks at Who Shall Live and Victor Fuchs talks health-care costs and reform in Q&A

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