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Two male students in the Family Medicine 3+3 Accelerated MD Program at Penn State College of Medicine take part in a simulation exercise in July 2016. The two students are seated at a table, each holding a prescription bottle and taking notes. In the background, another table of students in the simulation program can be seen. The top of a tented table sign noting Table 1 is visible in the foreground.

Family Medicine 3+3 Accelerated MD Program

Responding to Needs in Family Medicine

In the Family Medicine Accelerated Program at Penn State (FM-APPS) — also known as the 3+3 Accelerated Program — you’ll earn your MD in three years and complete a family medicine residency at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in three years.

A longitudinal integrated clerkship replaces the traditional block clerkship, preparing students to become patient-centered, empathetic physicians in the new healthcare environment. Up to four students per year are offered admission to the program.

The program is a member of the Consortium of Medical Schools with Accelerated Pathway Programs, funded by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation.

Program Overview

Penn State College of Medicine is undergoing significant curriculum redesign to better align medical training with the healthcare needs of the nation. One component of our overall curriculum renewal is to offer a three-year MD program with a three-year family medicine residency to a small cohort of Penn State College of Medicine students.

The Family Medicine Accelerated Program at Penn State (FM-APPS) has several functions:

  • To accelerate training, allowing students to earn a medical degree in three years
  • To integrate learning by offering longitudinal integrated clerkships (LIC) in the place of traditional block clerkships
  • To advance national healthcare initiatives by supporting student interest in family medicine.
Leadership from Penn State College of Medicine and its Family Medicine Accelerated Program welcome students in 2016. These students will complete three years of medical school followed by three years of family medicine residency.
Leadership from Penn State College of Medicine and its Family Medicine Accelerated Program welcome students in 2016. These students will complete three years of medical school followed by three years of family medicine residency.

By blending a three-year program with longitudinal integrated clerkships, we anticipate graduates will be patient-centered, empathetic physicians who are well prepared to practice in the new healthcare environment.

The accelerated program was launched in 2014. Read more about one student's experience in this July 2016 Penn State Medicine article. You can also read more about the program in an article co-authored by Dr. Leong in Maryland Medicine, Vol. 17, Issue 1. You can also view a curated selection of literature about accelerated programs.


The Family Medicine Accelerated Program at Penn State (FM-APPS) curriculum isn’t just accelerated — it’s designed to maximize efficiency through learning that is built on prior knowledge and skills.

Longitudinal, Immersive Experiences

As an FM-APPS student, you’ll be expected to meet all educational program objectives and graduation requirements of the regular MD curriculum.

The methods for assessment will also be the same as those for traditional medical students. However, because it is an accelerated program, vacations will be reduced.

What Makes It Different?

The FM-APPS curriculum differs from the "regular" four-year curriculum in the following areas:

Phase I

Beginning in the spring of the first year, students start acceleration by enrolling in the medical home longitudinal elective.  During the summer, you will complete the underserved medicine clerkship, radiology elective, dermatology elective, and work on the Medical Student Research project. In the fall, you’ll complete the Family Medicine Clerkship and integrated sports medicine electives in a longitudinal format.

Phase II

Designed with proven best practices, traditional block clerkships will be offered as a longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC) over 11.5 months.  Integration is highlighted across three years of medical school and into residency training. Curriculum features include the following guiding principles:

  • Continuity of relationships with patients
  • Continuity with faculty preceptors
  • Continuity of setting
  • A longitudinal developmental pedagogy


What are the advantages to choosing the 3+3 program?

There are many advantages this special opportunity offers to students, including:

  • The ability to complete medical school in 3 years instead of 4.
  • The opportunity to save one year of tuition, housing and fees.
  • Learning in an innovative curriculum aimed to be time-efficient while also providing longitudinal experiences and active participation.
  • A continuum of undergraduate medical school and graduate residency training.
  • Conditional acceptance to the Penn State Hershey Family Medicine Residency.
  • Access to mentors in the Family Medicine department .

What is the timing of the program?

Students matriculate with the incoming medical school class in the summer. The 3+3 programming begins in the spring of the first year of medical school, with a longitudinal clinical elective.

Students do not get a six-week summer break after the first year. Students are enrolled in a combination of Underserved Medicine, Radiology and Dermatology during this time, and begin their medical student research project.

Students will participate in commencement from medical school in May of their third year. Participating 3+3 students will begin 3 years of residency training in June, at what would be the start of their fourth year in a traditional MD program.

When am I expected to take USMLE 1, USMLE 2CK and USMLE 2CS?

You will be expected to take and pass USMLE 1, 2CK, and 2 CS prior to graduation, which is a Penn State College of Medicine requirement. You will have preparation time during your third year to successfully complete these requirements.

Will I need to enter the National Resident Matching Program (NMRP)?

Yes. The Penn State Hershey Family Medicine Residency can accept students through the match only. Therefore, you must enter the NRMP matching process.

Will my residency training be different?

Your three-year family medicine residency training at Penn State will not differ in curriculum from that of a non-FM-APPS student. However, you will have established a panel of patients in a continuity clinic that will continue to grow during your six years of training. You will have gotten to know faculty and staff in the practice site, easing your transition to residency.

What if I change my mind and no longer want to pursue family medicine nor accelerate my training?

You would revert back to the traditional four-year program and enter the match as usual. Any scholarship granted will convert to a loan. Credits for partial courses may not carry over to the four-year program. For this reason, it’s important that you are certain about pursuing a career in family medicine before you apply to the program.

What if I do not make satisfactory progress in the program?

If you have academic difficulties or fail to progress as expected, you would revert to the traditional four-year program and enter the match as usual.

How much will tuition be?

If you complete the FM-APPS program as designed, you will receive a scholarship equal to one year of tuition. Thus, you’ll pay the equivalent of three years’ tuition, saving on a full year tuition. If you revert out of the FM-APPS program for any reason, any scholarship funds provided as a part of the program would convert to a loan.

Application Process

To be considered for FM-APPS, you must first apply and be accepted into the MD Program at Penn State College of Medicine.

After acceptance into the College of Medicine, eligible students must complete a separate FM-APPS application.

The ideal candidate is a self-directed learner with a strong academic background who possesses good organizational skills, the ability to multitask, and a strong interest in family medicine as a career. A selection committee will make the final selection.

Applications are currently being accepted for the FM-APPS matriculating class of 2017 (anticipated graduation of 2020).

If you are a prospective Penn State College of Medicine medical student with an interest in the accelerated program, email

Program Faculty


Shou Ling Leong, MD
Director of Longitudinal and Accelerated Programs
Associate Vice Chair for Education and Predoctoral Director
Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine
Penn State College of Medicine

Phone: 717-531-8187


A portrait photograph of Dr. Shou Ling Leong smiling in front of a blue background.
Shou Ling Leong, MD


* Indicates member of 3+3 steering committee

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