Texas Tech offers cheaper three-year med school to address physician shortage

Texas Tech University believes it has the solution to the nation's continuing primary-care physician shortage problem: a less costly three-year degree program with incentives. 

The Lubbock-based university's medical school announced the Family Medicine Accelerated Track (FMAT) plan this week, which entails three years of school at a cost of $75,000, followed by three years of residency with a family practice, according to the Associated Press. A four-year degree at Texas Tech costs roughly $150,000. 

A $13,000 scholarship also will be given to each student who chooses to participate in the program to cover tuition and other fees for the first year. Michael Ragain, chair of Texas Tech's Department of Family and Community Medicine, believes that through this program and others like it, the number of primary-care physicians in the U.S. could potentially double. By 2020, 39,000 more primary-care doctors will be needed in the U.S., according to a 2006 study from the American Academy of Family Physicians. 

"Our program addresses debt on two levels, first by shortening the program from four to three years, and second, by providing scholarships to all qualifying students," Ragain said. "Training primary-care physicians is a national issue that targets both rural and urban areas." 

Simon Williams, the associate dean for the school's health sciences center, said that students in the program would "participate in additional activities during the revised three-year curriculum" in order to fulfill the necessary requirements for a degree. 

To learn more about the degree:
- read this Associated Press article
- here's the school's press release