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Family Medicine 3+3 Accelerated MD Pathway

Responding to Needs in Family Medicine

Penn State Family Medicine Accelerated Pathway (FM-APPS) is a 3+3 pathway where students complete medical school in three years, followed by a three-year Family Medicine Residency at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Prominent organizations including the Council on Graduate Medical Education, Macy Foundation and the American Association of Medical Colleges have called for better alignment between medical training and the healthcare needs of our nation. Studies have established that the health of the population is improved when the nation's medical workforce consists of at least 50 percent primary care physicians.

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

Pathway Overview

To address the increased need for family medicine physicians, Penn State College of Medicine, partnering with the Department of Family and Community Medicine, has developed a three-year accelerated pathway with the following goals:

  • Accelerate training, allowing students to earn a medical degree in three years.
  • Integrate learning by offering longitudinal integrated clerkships (LIC) in the place of traditional block clerkships.
  • Advance national healthcare initiatives by supporting student interest in family medicine. 

Explore the residency program

Leadership from Penn State College of Medicine and its Family Medicine Accelerated Pathway 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 Pathway 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 the LIC in an innovative curriculum, we anticipate graduates will be patient-centered, empathetic physicians who are well prepared to practice in the changing healthcare environment. Through curricular innovation and exceptional mentoring, we have developed a learning environment tailored to a career in family medicine, hence addressing the shortage of primary care physicians. Students have the opportunity to save one year of tuition and enter practice one year earlier.

The accelerated pathway 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 pathway 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 pathways.

More About the Pathway


The Family Medicine Accelerated Pathway 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 objectives and graduation requirements of the regular MD curriculum.

The methods for assessment are the same as those for traditional medical students. However, because it is an accelerated pathway, vacations are reduced.

How the Curriculum is 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

Pathway Details

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

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

  • The ability to complete medical school in three years instead of four.
  • 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 Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Family Medicine Residency.
  • Access to mentors in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

What is the timing of the pathway?

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 three years of residency training in June, at what would be the start of their fourth year in a traditional MD pathway.

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 Health 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 pathway 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 pathway. For this reason, it’s important that you are certain about pursuing a career in family medicine before you apply to the pathway.

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

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

How much will tuition be?

If you complete the FM-APPS pathway 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 pathway for any reason, any scholarship funds provided as a part of the pathway would convert to a loan.

Application Process

To be interviewed 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 accepted on a rolling basis concurrent with the Penn State College of Medicine application process.

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

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