JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — East Tennessee State University’s (ETSU) medical school has launched a new program aimed at helping students obtain certain types of medical degrees faster and for less cost.

According to a release from ETSU, the Quillen College of Medicine (QCOM) developed the Tri-TRAILS curriculum. TRAILS stands for “Team-based Rural Applied Integrated Learning System.”

The program is partly designed to increase the numbers of students entering family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics and completing their residencies locally. All those practice areas are considered primary care.

“One of our missions at the Quillen College of Medicine is to produce primary care physicians,” ETSU Assistant Dean for Curriculum Ivy Click told WATE’s sister station, WJHL.

ETSU Assistant Dean for Curriculum Ivy Click. (WJHL photo)

The curriculum will allow students to complete medical school in three years. Those in the Tri-TRAILS program will study alongside typical four-year medical students. In order to enroll in the program, students must first have already been accepted into Quillen.

“This new approach to our curriculum allows highly qualified candidates to complete medical school in a three-year period,” Dr. William Block, ETSU vice president for clinical affairs and dean of QCOM, stated in the release. “This helps them to limit the cost while it provides our region with an increase in well-trained and talented physicians.”

The first cohort of students will include six pursuing family medicine, two pursuing internal medicine and one pursuing pediatrics. QCOM plans to up the number of students from nine to 11 in 2024.

Three-year med school options are a growing trend over the past decade or so, with the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston being one of the closer examples geographically. Like many other schools offering the option, ETSU has joined the “Consortium of Accelerated Medical Pathway Programs (CAMPP).

New York University launched the consortium in 2015, and two aims all its members share are reducing the nationwide physician shortage and alleviating student debt, according to CAMPP’s website.

“Students are definitely going to be excited about this because it will allow them to complete their training in a faster amount of time and for less money,” Click said. “It also really offers them the opportunity to get to know their residency program where they’ll be completing their training before they ever get to that stage.”

Tri-TRAILS students will take part in an extra eight weeks of clinical experience during the break between their first and second years of study. They can also take part in other early clinical experiences and enroll in a “pre-clerkship preceptor experience with faculty within a chosen residency program.”

Those QCOM residency programs, which are also where the students commit to completing their post-graduate residency as well, include the following:

  • Internal Medicine
  • Pediatrics
  • Family Medicine Bristol
  • Family Medicine Johnson City
  • Family Medicine Kingsport

Further licensing examinations and experiences are required following the clerkships. To learn more about the program or apply, visit the college’s website.

The deadline to apply for the inaugural year of the program is April 1, 2023.