A new law sponsored by the University of California will allow graduates of accelerated and fully accredited medical education programs to become licensed physicians in California by as early as January 2015.

AB 1838, co-sponsored by UC and the Medical Board of California and introduced by Assembly Member Susan Bonilla, will allow more physicians to practice in California and help doctors incur less student debt. Governor Brown signed the bill into law last week. 

The law previously required California physicians to complete a medical curriculum over  at least four academic years with a minimum of 4,000 hours of coursework. Those provisions created a barrier for well-qualified graduates of accelerated programs who were interested in practicing in the state.

There is already a shortage of medical doctors in California and it is estimated that the state will need an additional 8,000 primary care physicians by 2030. Debt is another problem facing students pursuing medical degrees; the median debt for graduate students is $175,000. AB 1838 addressed both problems by allowing students to finish their training sooner. It also allows California medical facilities to recruit physicians who have attended accelerated programs in other states.

The UC Davis School of Medicine is the first UC campus to offer an accelerated program. The Accelerated Competency-based Education in Primary Care (ACE-PC) program provides approximately three years of medical school training after which students move directly into a primary care residency program operated by UC Davis or Kaiser Permanente of Northern California.

“We want to thank Assembly member Susan A. Bonilla and the Medical Board of California for their leadership on this important and timely legislation,” said Dr. Cathryn Nation, UC associate vice president for health sciences. “UC is proud that its School of Medicine at Davis, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, developed the first accelerated medical education program in California, enrolling its first class of six students in June 2014.  Now future graduates from this primary-care focused program and other accelerated programs will have a clear path to medical practice in California.”

The accelerated programs enable students to complete a more concentrated, modified year-round education schedule that often eliminates summer breaks and involves reduced time for electives.

The University of California operates six of California’s nine MD-granting medical schools and provides specialty training for nearly half of the state’s medical residents.