Skip to main content
M.D. Program

M.D. Program

ACE-PC in the news

UC Davis is trailblazer in three-year medical school model

UC Davis ACE-PC Student

Pauline Bartolone
Monday, July 28, 2014 | Sacramento, CA |


Click here for audio:

A handful of UC Davis students are trailblazers in a new medical school model that has won the approval of Californian Governor Jerry Brown. Brown signed legislation that will allow doctors to practice with three years of medical school instead of four.

 It’s Ngabo Nzigira’s sixth week of medical school, and he’s already interacting with patients.

 “So we have the norco, you still taking that?" he asks.

Nzigira is being trained by a doctor at Kaiser Permanente in South Sacramento. Normally he wouldn’t be in a clinic until his third year. In this accelerated program, students can shave sixty thousand dollars off their medical school debt. But Nzigira had hesitations.

 “I thought, 'Oh man, you want me to put the intensity and stress that is medical school in four years, you want me to condense it down to three years. I’m not sure about that,'” he says.

The UC Davis program is designed for students who know they want to be a primary care physician. It cuts out summer vacations and electives to get them into the field faster.

 “There’s a huge problem, a huge shortage of primary care physicians," says Dr. Tonya Fancher who directs the program.

UC Davis says it’s meant to increase the supply of family doctors under the Affordable Care act.

 “It seems like students come into medical school and they’re passionate about patients, passionate about primary care, part of it is the debt that they accrue, and part of it is the models of primary care that they’re exposed to," says Fancher.

One patient says he’s not concerned about shortened medical school - as long as students meet the same standards as other doctors.

Governor Brown Signs Bonilla Bill to Create New Pathway for More Physicians in California

July 18, 2014

SACRAMENTO – Assemblywoman Bonilla’s AB 1838, which allows graduates of accelerated and fully accredited medical education programs to become licensed physicians in California, was signed into law today by Governor Brown.  This bill will allow more physicians to practice in California and help doctors incur less student debt.
“Currently California faces an extreme shortage of trained medical residents and physicians,” said Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord).  “AB 1838 is an innovative step towards addressing this problem and meeting the needs of our communities, without diminishing the quality of patient care.”

Accelerated programs differ from traditional programs as they focus on the individuals’ skills and academic achievements, as opposed to the length of time they are in school.  Accelerated programs do not replace current programs, they are offered as a separate track.  Only students who have demonstrated a high level of scientific and medical understanding are eligible for the accelerated track.

This bill, which is co-sponsored by the Medical Board of California and the University of California, will be effective January, 2015.
“The Medical Board of California is pleased that Governor Brown signed AB 1838 into law,” said Executive Director, Kimberly Kirchmeyer.  “This bill will help meet the needs of applicants applying for licensure, who have graduated from accelerated medical school programs, and will also assist in reducing student debt.  The passage of the bill will further the Medical Board’s mission of promoting access to care while continuing to protect consumers.”  

“We want to thank Assemblymember Susan A. Bonilla and the Medical Board of California for their leadership on this important and timely legislation,” said Dr. Cathryn Nation, UC Associate Vice President, Health Sciences.  “UC is proud that its School of Medicine at Davis, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, developed the first accelerated medical education program in California, enrolling its first class of six students in June 2014.  Now, future graduates from not only this primary-care focused program – but also other accelerated programs – will have a clear path to medical practice in California.”

Assemblywoman Bonilla’s legislation, AB 1838, is also expected to enable California’s graduate medical education or residency training programs to recruit graduates of accelerated medical education programs operated by other accredited medical schools to complete their specialty training, become licensed, and enter practice in the state.  Not only do accelerated programs address the clear need for more physicians while reducing student debt, they do so without affecting the quality of healthcare that patients deserve.

AB 1838 Press Release from Assemblymember's Office

ACE-PC story, Sacramento Business Journal


Six Sacramento students are pioneers in a three-year, accelerated medical school program with a focus on primary care.

Classes started June 16. The program is testing one way to address the primary-care shortage in California: getting physicians in the workforce sooner.

Legislation is winding its way through the state Capitol that would allow these students to become licensed doctors in three years instead of the usual four. The new pathway doesn’t try to cut corners, but it could cut student debt

The UC Davis School of Medicine is one of 11 medical schools selected nationwide last year by the American Medical Association to receive $1 million to develop new programs to train future doctors. Kaiser Permanenteis partnering with UC Davis to allow students to simultaneously perform primary-care residencies at Kaiser for a net total of six years of training.

The idea is to immerse students in Kaiser’s health-care system for seamless integration between medical education and medical practice. The focus is on treating chronic conditions like diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Students will have three full years with the same mentor at the same Kaiser clinic, no matter what other rotation or classes they are taking, said Dr. who runs the Kaiser side of the program. “And they will have a group of patients at the clinic they will be following over time. Medical students don’t usually have that ability.”

Impetus for the program comes from economic issues related to student debt and how new doctors find their career path. “Why is there a shortage and what can we do about it?” posed Dr. Tonya Fancher ,director of the UC Davis part of the program.

Far more students come to medical school wanting to be primary-care physicians than leave school with the same mind set, Fancher said. One of the barriers is medical school debt. An accelerated schedule can ease that burden.

In addition, experience in Kaiser’s approach to primary care — considered a model for the nation — boosts the value of the program, Fancher added.

Assembly Bill 1838 by Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla from Concord creates a shorter pathway to licensure through accelerated programs approved by national accreditation agencies. It is sponsored by the University of California — which operates six medical schools in the state — and the Medical Board of California ,which regulates, licenses and disciplines doctors.

The legislation comes at a time when demand for primary-care doctors is high due to federal health reform. AB 1838 has sailed through the Legislature without opposition. It was on the Senate floor at press time.

- Dennis McCoy - Sacramento Business Journal