MORGANTOWN \u2014 For WVU students who enter the medical program, beginning with the class of 2022, they will have the opportunity to apply for a program that will save them money and allow them to graduate early.\r\n\r\nThe curriculum committee for WVU has been working to develop the new Mountaineer Accelerated Track to Enter Residency (MATTER) Program. Scott Cottrell, associate dean for student services and curriculum at WVU, said that the total savings\/earnings projected for students in the MATTER Program is $65,000.\r\n\r\nDr. Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean for health sciences at WVU said the impact of the new program will be quite beneficial to the community.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe sooner we can get the next class of highly trained medical professionals into our communities, the bigger the impact on the patient\u2019s health,\u201d Marsh said. \u201cMATTER allows us to fast-track a few of our highest performing students, helping them to enter the workforce faster while delivering access to quality care and resources in the communities they serve.\u201d\r\n\r\nAccording to Cottrell, other medical schools across the country have also been exploring what are known as \u201caccelerated tracks to the M.D degree.\u201d Cottrell said that the schools meet periodically to discuss their models and continue to develop an accelerated program for students in the medical field. WVU took a year studying medical schools and how they manage their programs, in addition to their experiences with an accelerated program in the medical field.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have great leadership here at West Virginia University,\u201d Cottrell said. \u201cThey don\u2019t shy away from innovation. They explored this innovative model, approved us to move forward with it and we hope in the long-run we\u2019ll be able to recruit those excellent students, help them train in our state and ultimately serve our own citizens.\u201d\r\n\r\nAccording the Cottrell, the MATTER Program is 137 weeks long, 16 weeks shorter than the normal M.D. curriculum at WVU. Cottrell added that there will only be 10-15 spots for residency committed to the MATTER Program, and he suspects that it will be a \u201cfairly competitive\u201d program.\r\n\r\nWVU then developed MATTER with what they acquired from other universities that offer similar programs and will be talking to students in the medical program fall of 2018 to introduce the program to them and how they can apply.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe students in the class of 2022 will be the first students who can apply for the MATTER track and through a competitive process if they\u2019re selected,\u201d Cottrell said. \u201cWe\u2019ll start introducing this new track to the new entering medical student class of 2022 and we\u2019ll discuss with them how the curriculum is different.\u201d\r\n\r\nAccording to Cottrell, next summer students entering the medical field have the option to participate and explore their options to help them narrow down what they want to specifically focus on with their major.\r\n\r\n\u201cStudents will get a chance to explore their career interests in the summer of 2019. Students can participate in what we call externships and these are rotations, learning experiences and some of our residency programs,\u201d Cottrell said. \u201cThey can explore whether they want to pursue these particular specialties. If they want to commit to one of our residencies, after exploring all their options, then next year they\u2019ll apply through a competitive process.\u201d\r\n\r\nCottrell said the students that students have to meet the learning requirements of a typical M.D. student and will look for \u201cexceptional students who can negotiate the curriculum very well and in an abridged way.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s no secret that rising student debt is a concern, so we\u2019re hopeful that MATTER does several things: it helps some of our best and brightest students consider one of our own residency programs, so it\u2019s very much of a recruitment tool. It does help limit student debt, and ultimately we hope these students are educated here in West Virginia, complete their residency here at West Virginia University and ultimately become physicians in our state, serving our citizens in our communities,\u201d Cottrell said.\r\n\r\nMedical students at WVU are projected to begin their medical path on Aug. 1 and from there, Cottrell is excited to explain to the students how they may consider applying to the new program and introduce it as a new option for them.