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December 2007

New Grant Program to Support Interventional Cardiology Training

A new program being launched by the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) will help accredited physician training programs to fund approved training positions. This is in hopes to expand the number of interventional cardiologists trained to care for a steadily increasing number of cardiovascular patients. The SCAI Interventional Cardiology Fellows-in-Training Grant Program will help pay the salary and benefits for physicians specializing in interventional cardiology. This innovative, multi-year, multi-million dollar program, funded by generous grants from the Boston Scientific Foundation and the Cordis Cardiac and Vascular Institute, will sponsor fellows-in-training based on the quality of their training programs and their need for support.

Each year, approximately 15 percent of interventional cardiology training slots at accredited U.S. academic medical centers go unfilled. In many cases, universities lack the financial resources to fund all of the positions approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

Starting immediately, SCAI will accept applications for support from ACGME-accredited interventional cardiology training programs. An SCAI committee of interventional cardiology leaders will evaluate applications based on the training programs’ proven track record for producing the highest-quality interventionalists and a demonstrated need for financial support. Grant monies will be distributed by SCAI and may be used only to pay for salaries and benefits for newly enrolled interventional cardiology fellows-in-training at the SCAI-selected institutions.

Number of Doctors Shrinking in Florida

A new survey from the Florida State University College of Medicine shows the number of doctors practicing in Florida is shrinking, and the trend is expected to continue.

The latest figures show that approximately 34,000 physicians regularly practice in Florida. That is far short of previous estimates, which put the number closer to 50,000.

The college conducted a voluntary survey of physicians renewing their state licenses in 2007.

Among the trends the survey uncovered: 13 percent of Florida’s doctors plan to leave or significantly reduce their practice within the next five years. The mean age of the doctors who responded was 51, indicating that the work force could be further affected as aging physicians retire.

Almost one in four of the physicians who responded to the survey do not actually practice in the state, although they hold a Florida license.

November 2007

MCAT Changes Made for Canadian Test-Takers

According to the according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), this year’s Canadian doctor hopefuls will not face the same problems as last year’s group when it comes to the MCAT. Test takers experienced headaches last year stemming from a shortage of test seats and computer malfunctions when the test switched to an online-only version. However, the AAMC, which administrates the test, says they have heard Canadian complaints and key changes have been made.

The AAMC says that ample seats will be available to accommodate the large number of Canadian students who choose to take the test in August and September. Last year, the organization only offered 3,000 seats during the popular test season, although 6,000 students took the test at that time the year before. Because the computer version requires special testing stations, there are a fixed number of seats and locations.

The AAMC assured Canadian students that the problem won’t repeat for 2008. Officials expect over 7500 students to take the test in Canada during the upcoming MCAT cycle and the Council has made over 9500 seats available. Additionally, mobile testing stations have been added that will allow students in more remote locations to take the test.

Improvements have also been made to the registration system. The system crashed last year after students panicking about the seat shortage overwhelmed the server. AAMC officials said that the average wait time on the first day of registration was an hour and now there is no wait time at all.

AAMC President Calls on Focus for Change

Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), today urged the leadership of the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals to change the culture of academic medicine by emphasizing “collaboration, shared accountability, and team performance.”

Dr. Kirch’s remarks, “Culture and the Courage to Change,” were presented at the 2007 AAMC annual meeting in Washington, D.C., before a record 4,000 attendees.

Recognizing that this culture change will require courage, Dr. Kirch also stressed the potential for this shift to create “a much more meaningful and gratifying culture for our faculty, staff, learners, and especially the patients they have committed to serve.”

While medical schools and teaching hospitals have expended considerable effort on growth strategies because of constraints in state and federal support over the past 10 years, a “failure to put at least as much energy into improving our culture as we put into advancing our strategy,” according to Dr. Kirch, “has led to a fundamental imbalance within our institutions.”

“While higher education and health care have held fast to their traditional, individualistic culture,” Dr. Kirch noted that the world has fundamentally changed to a greater emphasis on collaborative, coordinated, and integrative efforts in research, patient care, and medical education.

Acknowledging that this culture change may be difficult, Dr. Kirch noted that the transformation is already underway at many medical schools and teaching hospitals around the country.

Dr. Kirch also urged the academic medicine community not to abandon every element of the current culture as it pursues change, and to fight to “retain its commitment to overall excellence” even as it shifts to more collaborative structures.

“Excellence is excellence,” he said, “regardless of how we get there.”

October 2007

Med School Applications and Enrollments Increase Sharply

The number of first-year students enrolling at the nation’s 126 medical schools this fall grew to a record 17,759, an increase of 2.3 percent and at least the fifth straight year in which that number ticked up. And the number of applicants grew by 8.2 percent, to 42,315, the highest total since 1997. Nearly 32,000 of those applicants were applying for the first time, a record high.

As recently as 2002, the number of students applying to and enrolling in American medical schools appeared to be in a freefall, having dipped sharply, from highs in the mid-1990s, amid concerns about a glut of physicians. But with at least some experts now predicting a significant shortfall of doctors in the years ahead, medical schools are expanding their enrollments and students are flooding the institutions with applications to fill the seats, according to an annual look at medical school admissions by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The AAMC has called for a 30 percent increase in medical school enrollments by 2015 through expanded enrollments at existing schools and the creation of new ones, and while association officials said this year’s overall increase probably would not put them on pace to reach that goal, they said they were heartened by the fact that 11 institutions had boosted their enrollments by at least 10 percent. The College of Medicine at the Texas A&M University System’s Health Science Center added 20 first-year students to its 2006 total of 85, an increase of 23.5 percent, and the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (a 47.2 percent increase) and the University of Arizona College of Medicine (21.8 percent) both grew sharply by adding campuses — Michigan State in Grand Rapids and Arizona in Phoenix.

AAMC officials were gratified not just by the enrollment growth, but by the fact that it was resulting in a medical student body that is both more academically accomplished and more ethnically and racially diverse. Fewer than 45 percent of 2007 applicants to American medical schools were admitted, a figure that has declined steadily from the low 50s at the start of this decade. Enrolled students this fall had an average MCAT score of 28 and average college grade point average of 3.5.

September 2007

Stanford Begins New Year with Diversity

In the most recent newsletter from the Dean’s office, Stanford released statistics on its First year students that began classes on August 30th. Stanford Medical School accepted 86 applicants out of a pool of 6599 (1 in 77 were accepted); 18 of them born outside the US. Twenty-three students were graduates of Stanford and Harvard, followed by Yale (8), John Hopkins (7) and MIT (5). The majority of the incoming class concentrated in the biological sciences as undergraduates and over a quarter of the class enters medical school with one or more advanced degrees, with plans to pursue additional ones during their time at Stanford.

August 2007

U. of Miami’s New Curriculum Focuses on Long-Term Care

The University of Miami School of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) is introducing a new curriculum this fall that will take medical students ‘beyond the emergency room’ by teaching them to focus on longer-term treatment of patients with chronic diseases and conditions. The new program, which was developed through a grant from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Josiah Macy Foundation, is meant to align medical training with the changing health care needs of U.S. society. The 32 first-year medical students entering FAU this year will follow the new curriculum throughout their M.D. program. They also represent the first class of medical students to take all 4 years of classes at FAU. Previously, students took their first 2 years of classes at FAU, in Boca Raton, and then transferred to the University Miami for their third and fourth years.

July 2007

Penn State Receives Record Number of Applications

The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine received over 6,800 applications for Fall 2007 admission to its M.D. program, marking a 14 per cent increase in application volume from last year and setting an all-time record for the number of applications received by that school in a single season. This year’s applicants had an average GPA of 3.68 and the average MCAT score was 30. The College plans to enroll 145 first-year students this fall.

NYU Med School and Hospitals to Be Re-Integrated

The New York University School of Medicine will again be joined with the NYU Hospitals Center to form an integrated academic medical center, the Dean of NYU Hospitals has announced. The two entities have been separate since 1998, when NYU Hospitals entered a merger with Mount Sinai Hospital that later failed. The NYU Hospitals Center includes the Tisch Hospital, the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, and the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases.

June 2007

Texas Tech Gets Funding For El Paso Medical School

The Texas Legislature has approved $48 million in funding that will allow the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center to expand its El Paso branch facility into a 4-year program. The El Paso branch, which was founded in 1973, currently teaches only 3rd and 4th year students. Texas Tech officials hope to have the 4-year program in place by 2009. Local officials hope the expansion will help address the medical needs of the border region, which has fewer than 26 physicians for every 100,000 residents. A local businessman donated 10 acres of land for the medical school campus in 2001.

May 2007

Brown and Dartmouth End Joint Medical Program

Brown University’s Alpert Medical School and Dartmouth College have confirmed that they are phasing out their joint medical program. The program, which began in 1981, allowed students to complete two years of pre-clinical studies at Dartmouth College before moving to Alpert for the third and fourth years of their M.D. program. The program developed at a time where there was a clearer divide between pre-clinical and clinical studies than there is today. In effect, it allowed Brown to accommodate more medical students than it could have otherwise, given the relatively limited teaching facilities it had at that time. Both schools agree that the program is no longer beneficial, given the Alpert School’s growth and the integration of clinical material into first- and second-year courses. The last students who were accepted into the program are expected to receive their M.D.s from Brown in 2010.

April 2007

AMCAS and AACOMAS Start Taking ’08 Applications in May

Both the AMCAS and the AACOMAS will begin taking applications for fall 2008 medical school admissions in May.

AMCAS (the American Medical College Application Service) is the centralized application service used by most of the 125 LCME-accredited (allopathic) U.S. medical schools. AMCAS 2008 will go online on or about May 3.

AACOMAS (the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service) is used by applicants to the 23 accredited schools of osteopathic medicine. AACOMAS 2008 will go online sometime in May.

USN&WR Medical School Rankings for 2008

US News & World Report released its annual rankings of graduate and professional schools at the end of March.

Its top 5 schools for research are:

  1. Harvard Medical School
  2. Johns Hopkins
  3. The University of Pennsylvania
  4. Washington University in St. Louis
  5. UC San Francisco

The top 5 schools for primary care are:

  1. The University of Washington
  2. The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
  3. The University of Colorado – Denver
  4. Oregon Health and Science University
  5. Michigan State University

March 2007

Brown Adds Interdisciplinary Concentrations to M.D. Program

Brown University’s Alpert School of Medicine introduced a new program this year that allows medical students to add a scholarly concentration in an interdisciplinary field to their M.D. studies. The program is meant to encourage creative scholarship and to broaden the quality of medical learning. The concentrations, which are similar to minors at the undergraduate level, include disaster relief, global health, advocacy and activism, and medical ethics. Approximately one-quarter of Alper’s Class of 2010 has enrolled in the program so far.

February 2007

Publishing Slip-Up Perplexes MCAT Test-Takers

Approximately 800 of the estimated 2,500 people who took the computer-based MCAT on January 27 encountered a disconcerting error in the Verbal Reasoning section of the test: a passage describing robotic fish was followed by unrelated questions about bird behavior. The AAMC says the problem arose from a publishing error and promised to prevent the problem from reccurring. Test-takers’ replies to the problem questions will not be considered in computing their MCAT scores. Test-takers who feel their overall test performance suffered because of the publishing error will be able to re-take the test for free.

States Expanding Med School Enrollment

Florida, California, Virginia, Michigan, Arizona, and Idaho are among the states that have announced plans to build new medical schools or to expand existing ones. State officials say the increases are needed to head off a serious shortage in the number of trained physicians available to serve their residents’ needs. Last year, the Association of American Medical Colleges called on public and private medical schools to increase enrollment by 30 per cent or more within the next ten years.

January 2007

Registration for April & May MCATs Now Open

The MCAT will be offered on 7 different test dates in the months of April and May. Test takers can choose between weekday and weekend test dates and morning and afternoon test times. Registration for the April and May test administrations opened on December 27 and will continue until approximately two weeks before test day. Late registration is available until one week before test day. People are advised to register early to increase their chances of securing a seat at their preferred test center and for their preferred test date.

85 Per Cent of Bates Students Win Med School Seats

16 of the 19 Bates College seniors and alumni who applied for admission to allopathic or osteopathic medical schools this fall were accepted, giving Bates an 85 per cent success rate in 2005-2006 medical school admissions. Bates, which is widely regarded as one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the U.S., has a long track record of preparing undergraduates for successful medical school admissions. Although the College does not have a formal pre-med program, it provides students applying to medical schools with extensive guidance and support on class choices and extracurricular activities. One piece of advice that Bates students receive might surprise some people: Bates encourages aspiring physicians to take advantage of opportunities to study liberal arts as undergrads because doing so will expand the applicant’s ability to think in different ways and help them perform the ‘people side’ of medicine better.

Indiana Called on to Increase Enrollment by 30 Per Cent

A special task force has recommended that the University of Indiana School of Medicine expand its M.D. enrollment by 30 per cent over the next two decades in order to meet Indiana residents’ growing health care needs. Indiana, which is the only medical school serving the state, is already the second-largest medical school in the U.S., with over 1,100 students at nine different campuses. Approximately half of the physicians working in the state either earned their degree at Indiana or took short courses there.

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