Three-Year M.D. Program Graduates Its First Class of Students
Mickias Beyene Tegegn, M.D., is looking forward to starting his residency in internal medicine this summer after completing his M.D. at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in just three years.
“I knew I wanted to be a doctor in high school after seeing the humanitarian response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa,” said Dr. Tegegn, an Ethiopian American who grew up in Florida. “Now, I can focus on the next step of my medical career, which might be in infectious disease or another subspecialty needed in developing countries.”
Tegegn was one of the first seven graduates of the Miller School’s three-year M.D. program, which reduces the time and cost of a traditional four-year program, including lower overall tuition.
“I would tell other students that the accelerated pathway has great benefits if you have a passion for a certain specialty,” he said.
With the accelerated pathway, medical students earn their degree in a three-year time frame and transition into a participating University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital residency, said Latha Chandran, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., executive dean for education, chair of the Department of Medical Education and professor of medical education and pediatrics.
“With the national shortage of physicians, it is important to enhance the workforce as early as possible,” she said. “There is also a clear economic value in accelerating a student’s medical training.”
Benefits Students Who Decide Early on Medical Specialty
Since its launch in 2019, the accelerated pathway program has gained national attention from medical students who value the Miller School’s commitment to their success, according to Jonathan Tolentino, M.D., M.S.H.P.E., program director, associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics and director, PATH Program in transition medicine at UM/JMH.
“This is ideal for students who are dedicated to a field of medicine and have the talent and drive to pursue their dreams,” he said. “Students take part in meaningful clinical, educational, research or community work related to their specialty from the very first year of medical school.”
Students can apply for the accelerated pathway before entering the Miller School or during their first year of studies. Students who change their plans can simply transfer to the school’s four-year program with no loss of time or credits, since core requirements are met in the first two years.
“We expect to have about 15 applications a year, as this is one of the many options we have for our medical students,” said Dr. Chandran. “Our focus is primarily on the clinical side with research opportunities.”
Noting that most fourth-year medical students spend time and funds traveling to multiple institutions in search of the best residency match, Dr. Chandran said the Miller School’s accelerated program provides a faster and smoother transition for graduates.
“Another benefit is that our faculty specialists get to know the medical students personally in their first year, so there is already a strong connection when they graduate. This is a win-win program on all counts,” she said.
Student Perspectives on Accelerated M.D. Pathway
Along with Dr. Tegegn, the Class of 2023’s first cohort of accelerated pathway graduates and their specialties includes Alexandra Coppa, M.D., psychiatry; Emily Egnor, M.D., pediatrics; Ally Citro, M.D., psychiatry; and Abigail Woltering, M.D, pathology.
“Coming from Rhode Island, I wanted to explore something new, and the Miller School was the perfect choice,” said Dr. Coppa. “With the accelerated pathway, I was able to get a great education and move quickly into my residency.”
Another graduate, Jessica Kuhn, M.D., will be following in the footsteps of her mother, Karen Lee Kuhn, M.D. ’94, as she begins a residency in pediatrics.
“I was born during my mom’s residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital,” she said. “As a girl, I would play doctor and see my mom come home every day lit up from her job. I knew I wanted a medical career working with kids, so the accelerated pathway was a no-brainer for me.”
Juan Diaz Hernandez, M.D., is excited about beginning his residency in anesthesiology this summer.
“In college, I worked as an EMT on an ambulance, and began shadowing physicians, narrowing down my career choices,” said the Cuban-born Florida resident. “The Miller School was my number one choice, as the training is second to none. In the last three years, I have received a lot of support from the faculty and administration, as well as family and friends. Now, I can live my dream a year sooner, thanks to this program.”