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December 2005

Problem Students Make Problem Doctors, Study Finds

Doctors who were disciplined by state medical boards were three times more likely than other physicians to have exhibited unprofessional behavior while in medical school, according to a study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “We found that for physicians disciplined by licensing boards, the strongest association in medical school was unprofessional behavior,” researcher Maxine Papadakis, dean for student affairs at the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine, told USA Today. Student behaviors categorized as unprofessional in the report included taking an irresponsible attitude toward patient care; refusing to accept constructive criticism; being unreliable in attending clinics; and, to a lesser degree, exhibiting a pattern of problematic relationships with faculty, colleagues, and peers.

Illinois Requires Background Checks for Med Students

Illinois is the latest state to require criminal background checks for prospective medical students. Erin Graham, director of medical admissions at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, told the SIU student paper, the Daily Egyptian, that SIU will conduct background checks of accepted students over the summer prior to their matriculation. If a student is found to have committed a felony, school officials will review the case to determine whether the offense merits withdrawing the student’s admission offer. “Mainly, they are looking for crimes against persons,” Graham was quoted as saying in the December 12 article. “If they are a hazard to someone in any way, that would be [considered] a serious offense.” Background checks will require students to undergo fingerprinting and are expected to take about 20 days to complete.

November 2005

Caribbean-Based Medical School Training Under Review

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that 10 states have placed special restrictions on the licensing of graduates of “offshore” medical schools. The move comes in light of the growing popularity of Caribbean-based medical schools that primarily educate North American applicants. In 2004, over 1,300 Americans holding foreign medical degrees applied for certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates; an unspecified but significant proportion of them had studied at Caribbean schools. State licensing boards are concerned that the ECFMG cannot adequately evaluate the quality of education provided by such programs. The Federation of State Medical boards has convened a panel to look into the matter. In the meantime, individual state licensing boards are establishing their own restrictions on granting licenses to Caribbean-based medical school graduates.

October 2005

Medical School Application Volume Increased in 2004 – AAMC

The American Association of Medical Colleges reported that the number of applications to US medical schools increased by 4.6% last year. This marks the third year in a row that application volume has increased. The only sector of the applicant pool that did not grow was applications from black students, which stayed at about last year’s level. The AAMC expressed concern both that the number of black students applying to medical schools was not increasing and that the pool of black applicants was disproportionately female — 70% of last year’s black medical school applicants were women.

Medical school enrollment also increased, hitting a record high of 17,000 first-year students. Increased enrollment reflects the efforts of medical schools to expand their class sizes, in an effort to head off an expected shortage of trained doctors over the next decade.

September 2005

Vanderbilt Attracts Bigger, Better Applicant Pool

Both the number and the quality of applications to Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine increased last year, according to an article in the university newspaper. This year the school has received almost 4,500 applications for 104 seats. The mean GPA of admitted students last year was 3.74, and the average MCAT was 11.2. Vanderbilt expects to send secondary applications to about one-quarter of the 2006 applicant pool. Vanderbilt’s deadline for 2006 applications is November 15.

Top 10 Medical Schools for Hispanic Students

The September 2005 issue of Hispanic Business lists the top 10 medical schools in the US for Hispanic students. Criteria include the number of Hispanic students and alumni, school efforts to recruit and retain Hispanic students, and recognition of diversity and cross-cultural issues. The schools are:

  1. Stanford University
  2. Johns Hopkins University
  3. The University of New Mexico
  4. Texas A&M University Health Science Center
  5. The University of North Texas Health Science Center
  6. The Univesity of Kansas
  7. The University of Arizona
  8. East Carolina University
  9. Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine            – Note: awards D.O., not M.D., degree
  10. Ohio State University

Med Schools Closed by Katrina Make Contingency Plans

Two medical schools were displaced by Hurricane Katrina and the evacuation of New Orleans. Both schools are making contingency plans to contiue classes during the evacuation. LSU-New Orleans is reported to be moving its M1 and M2 classes to the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, while its M3 and M4 students should be able to continue with clinical study as already planned. Tulane, on the other hand, is temporarily relocating to Texas. It is working with the Alliance of South Texas Academic Medical Centers to place all of its students in Texas programs by Sept 26. New Orleans schools hope to be able to open again for the spring 2006 semester.

August 2005

2006 Application Deadlines Approaching

2006 application deadlines for medical schools will start falling in mid-October. By all means, make sure you meet the deadlines for the schools you’re interested in – but get your applications in earlier than that, if you can. Keep in mind that early applicants enjoy an admissions advantage, especially at schools with rolling admissions.

July 2005

MCAT To Be Computer Based by 2007

The American Association of Medical Colleges is converting the MCAT to a computerized format. The computerized MCAT will offer more flexibility in test locations and dates, faster score reports, and a shorter test day. It will also have fewer questions than the paper test does. Thomas Prometric, which AAMC contracted to develop and administer the test, already offers a pilot version of the computerized MCAT at selected locations. If all goes according to plan, the first computer-only MCAT will be administered in August 2006, and the paper version of the test phased out completely by the end of that year.

June 2005

Want To Be a Doctor? You’ve Got Lots of Company

A May Gallup Poll found that 1 out of 5 Americans would be happy to see their child become a doctor, making “be a doctor” the most common career advice that American parents give their children. Medicine was also one of the two most popular career choices among teenagers polled, with ‘teacher’ and ‘doctor’ in a tie as the top career choice among 13 to 17 year olds. This is good news in that it shows ongoing respect for the medical profession, but it also suggests that medical school admissions will continue to be highly competitive. So what should you do? Our advice is 1) don’t panic, 2) work on making yourself the best medical school applicant you can be, and 3) think about how you will persuade an admissions committee that they should want you as a student and an alumni.

More Schools Running Student Background Checks

The UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine will require criminal background checks of incoming students effective this fall, according to a June 30 article in the Winston-Salem Journal. The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently advised member colleges to initiate such checks on accepted applicants. The recommendation is based on career viability as well as on safety and liability issues. More and more, state medical licensing boards require, or can choose to require, a criminal background check as part of the licensure process. There seems little point to providing a medical education to someone who already has a record that will prevent him or her from ever practicing medicine. AAMC reports that approximately 22 medical schools are or soon will require background checks of incoming students.

May 2005

Financial Aid Feature Article

In deciding which medical schools to apply to, you’ve looked at rankings, you’ve looked at GPAs, you’ve looked at average MCATs and faculty-to-student ratios – but have you sized up your potential student debt load? Click here to see why you should, and what you can do about it.

Medical School Admissions Requirements (2006-2007)

This is now available from the AAMC. It can be purchased online for $25.

April 2005

Harvard Medical School has expanded its MD/PhD program to include a social sciences track, to serve the needs of students who want to combine a career in medicine with research in government, economics, anthropology, or other social science disciplines. For more information, click here.

There’s no question that being invited to a medical school interview means you’ve passed an important hurdle in the admissions process – or that interviews weigh heavily in admissions decisions. But a Pitt Med professor takes issue with the notion that interview performance is the single make-or-break factor in getting into medical school.

We encourage you to take the US News rankings – and all rankings for that matter – with a grain of salt and not to choose one school over another solely because it is ranked a point or two higher at one particular moment. You can learn more about medical school rankings by clicking here.

March 2005

Learn more about post-bacc programs in our newest feature content article!

January 2005

Learn about the medical school waitlist from the perspective of an expert consultant!

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