To Trim Health Care Costs, Train Doctors Faster
Rahm's brother Zeke Emanuel says 14 years of training is wasteful
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2012 12:42 PM CDT
Med school doesn't need to be four years, two doctors argue.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Want to reduce waste and health care costs? Well bioethicist Zeke Emanuel—brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm—and health care policy professor Victor Fuchs think you should start by taking a scalpel to med school. In an opinion piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the two argue that "there is substantial waste in the education and training of US physicians. Years of training have been added without evidence that they enhance clinical skills." Just how long does it take to become an MD from start to finish? Fourteen years.

One part of that is medical school, and they argue that the only reason that stage is four years long is because of a report recommending that length—published in 1910. Most doctors could be trained far faster, and a few schools are already speeding up their programs. They propose trimming the total training time by 30%, to 10 years, which could in turn trim doctors' salaries. As the Washington Post notes, the average doctor graduates with $160,000 in student debt. That cost is often used to justify doctors' salaries, which are twice as high in the US as in most other countries.