Imagine a third-world country with a lack of doctors. They should start to treat patients as soon as possible even if they did not take full courses in biochemistry, histology, anatomy, biostatistics, etc.

So what would you give them to study in pediatrics, internal medicine, gastroenterology, emergence medicine, endocrine, etc.

In Canada, physician assistants are academically prepared as medical generalists. They are accelerated medically educated clinicians. Their practice of medicine includes diagnoses, performing physical exams, prescribing medications, and educating and counselling patients.

PAs become generalist medical practitioners in 25 months only (i.e. two years).

So what would you recommend for a similar program in a third world country with a lack of of medical practitioners? What are some of good textbooks that cover 70% or 80% of the essential medical knowledge?

  • 1
    PAs work under a physician, and receive intensive practical instruction on top of their academic course work. After the 2-years, they often further enter into fellowships, and work within one field of medicine (including general practice/internal medicine which seems to be the direction you are hinting). I don't think a several medical texts will get you to 70-80% ready (at best 30-40%). This is going to be primarily opinion based (shopping like) question, that has the risk of closure.
    – Atl LED
    Dec 2, 2016 at 19:25

1 Answer 1


an MD is an MD. If you want an intensive course for a health professional, give it another name: "medical assistant", "health technician", etc. These professionals wouldn't obviously perform surgery. Instead, their training should be focused on the top 90% diseases they are more likely to see in their everyday practice. Find what diseases and disorders are more prevalent in your area: yellow fever? rheumatic heart disease? HIV infection? Dengue or Zica fever? Diseases caused by Helmints and Protozooa? TB? And then train your technicians on the diagnosis and treatment of those disorders. That's the logical thing to do if a country is very poor and can't afford to have decent medical schools.

  • Don't forget they'd also need to treat injuries of all kinds - burns, broken bones, traffic accidents as well as many other everyday injuries. Something along the lines of what many paramedics or army field medics can do.
    – Jude
    Apr 10, 2017 at 8:42
  • An MD is an MD only if you are in the US. In the UK, for example, the medical degree is an undergraduate degree (e.g., B Med Sci).
    – StrongBad
    Apr 10, 2017 at 15:17
  • One downvote. It would help if you explained why and I wouldn't hold any grudge against you. A downvote without an explanation makes me feel my efforts here are a waste of time, my precious time, for I work full time as an M.D.
    – Centaurus
    Apr 10, 2017 at 15:35
  • @Centaurus I thought my previous comment explained my down vote. The question is asking for an accelerated curriculum to become a doctor. Your answer neither explains why an accelerated program is not possible or provides a template for an accelerated program. This lack of an answer coupled with claims about health professionals that are generally not true (e.g., a DO can perform surgery in the US) is why I down voted your answer.
    – StrongBad
    Apr 10, 2017 at 19:05
  • @StrongBad The question mentions "a third world country with a lack of medical practitioners". There is no specific textbook here. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine? Certainly not. I just suggested a qualified physician write a specific textbook focusing on the 90% more common disorders in that area and train their health professionals on diagnosis and treatment.
    – Centaurus
    Apr 10, 2017 at 23:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.