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Background: In 1989, the American Board of Family Practice (ABFP) approved the first of 12 accelerated residency programs in family practice. These experimental programs provide a 1-year experience for select medical students that combines the requirements of the fourth year of medical school with those of the first year of residency, reducing the total training time by 1 year. This paper reports on the achievements and limitations of the Marshall University accelerated residency program over a 9-year period that began in 1992.Methods: Several parameters have been monitored since the inception of the accelerated program and provide the basis for comparison of accelerated and traditional residents. These include initial resident characteristics, performance outcomes, and practice choices. Results: A total of 16 students were accepted into the accelerated track from 1992 through 1998. During the same time period, 44 residents entered the traditional residency program. Accelerated residents tended to be older and had more career experience than their traditional counterparts. As a group, the accelerated residents scored an average of 30 points higher on the final in-training exams provided by the ABFP. All residents in both groups remained at Marshall to complete the full residency training experience, and all those who have taken the ABFP certifying exam have passed. Accelerated residents were more likely to practice in West Virginia, consistent with one of the initial goals for the program. In addition, accelerated residents were more likely to be elected chief resident and choose an academic career than those in the traditional group. Both groups opted for small town or rural practice equally. Conclusions: The Marshall University family practice 9-year experience with the accelerated residency track demonstrates that for carefully selected candidates, the program can provide an overall shortened path to board certification and attract students who excel academically and have high leadership potential. Reports from other accelerated programs are needed to fully assess the outcomes of this experiment in postgraduate medical education.


This article first appeared in the October 2021 issue of Family Medicine, the member magazine of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, and is reprinted with permission.

©2002 Society of Teachers of Family Medicine