BACKGROUND: In 1991 the American Board of Family Practice (ABFP) approved 12 programs to participate in an experiment in medical education. Selected students in 12 medical schools are able to complete their first year of family practice residency while completing their fourth year of school. This paper reports on the progress of the programs and residents participating in this project. METHOD: Data from the ABFP in-training examination and certification examination were compiled for all trainees and graduates through 1994. Performances were compared with national norms and the performances of traditional residents in the same programs. The program directors were surveyed to assess their experiences, program effectiveness, benefits, liabilities, and implementation problems. RESULTS: Accelerated residents performed better than their peers and national norms on the ABFP in-training and certification examinations. The directors rated the clinical performance of accelerated residents as equal to or better than the clinical performance of traditional residents by the end of the program. Advantages of accelerated residency included improvements in recruiting, image, and morale. Problems occurred in order and prescription writing and acceptance of the accelerated residents by nurses, other residents, and physicians in other disciplines. CONCLUSION: Early entry into residency training of bright, highly motivated, and mature students appears to offer benefits for trainees and programs alike.
(C) 1996 Association of American Medical Colleges