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Medical School Admission Feature Content

Note: This is a record for our older archives. If you are looking for (much!) more recent news, follow the Twitter bar in the side column of this article!

June 2008

AMSA Ethics Rankings Debut

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) debuted a new survey using letters that grades medical schools on their policies regarding conflicts of interest and the enforcement procedures of those policies. The AMSA promises to update the survey regularly. Most recently, 7 institutions received an “A” but 60 received an “F” grade.

May 2008

MCAT Identity Verification Begins Next Month

Starting next month in June, electronic fingerprinting will be used on MCAT test takers to ensure no one is taking the test on behalf of someone else. Ten medical schools will immediately begin comparing fingerprints with applicants they are interviewing and students they are enrolling.

April 2008

UCF Announces It Will Fund Entire Inaugural Class

University of Central Florida has announced it will fund full-ride scholarships for all 40 members of its inaugural class. AAMC has reported this has never been done before and it’s a great way to reduce any stress about the school’s accreditation status. (We believe this will be a non issue by the time this entering class graduates as UCF has the resources to provide a great medical education.)

March 2008

2009 Rankings Released

The medical schools at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Washington University at St. Louis have come out at the top of the annual US News & World Report medical school rankings.

The top research schools are:

1.  Harvard
2.  Johns Hopkins University
3.  Washington University in St. Louis
4.  University of Pennsylvania
5.  UC San Francisco
6.  Duke University (tie)
University of Washington (tie)
8.  Stanford
9.  University of California – Los Angeles (Geffen) (tie)
Yale (tie)
11. Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (tie)
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (tie)

The top primary care schools are:

1.  University of Washington
2.  Oregon Health and Science University
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (tie)
4.  University of Colorado – Denver
5.  University of Vermont
6.  UC San Francisco
7.  Baylor College of Medicine (tie)
Harvard (tie)
Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (tie)
University of Iowa (Carver) (tie)
University of Minnesota Medical School (tie)
12. University of California – Los Angeles (Geffen)

Harvard Medical School Reducing Med School Costs

HMS Dean Jeffrey Flier announced last week that the school will be taking steps to reduce the cost of a four-year medical education. The new policy benefits over one-third of current HMS students. The school feels that minimizing debt is essential for removing a barrier that might otherwise restrict students in making career choices.

The new plan will eliminate from the family income calculation typical before-tax retirement savings. Students who demonstrate financial need are offered a package of subsidized federal and institutional loans of $24,500, called a Unit Loan. They may then be offered scholarships to make up the difference between the Unit Loan, the family contribution and the cost.

The new financing plan will see HMS increase to nearly $7 million annually the amount provided in scholarships to make up for the reduction in parental contributions. HMS officials are also looking into reducing the Unit Loan and replacing it with scholarships to further reduce the debt burden.

Pilot Program at Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh is one of four universities participating in the AspiringDocs.org campaign, a pilot program of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The program is designed to attract more diverse physicians who can serve the growing health needs of culturally diverse communities.

To complement efforts of U.S. medical schools to increase the amount of prospective students, the AspiringDocs.org campaign has taken a new approach to reach an untapped market of potential minority students interested in the field of medicine. AspiringDocs provides a comprehensive online resource for students interested in medicine, as well as parents, teachers and advisers who are critical in guiding students to pursue careers in the medical field.

While African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans make up 25 percent of the population, they account for only 12 percent of U.S. medical school graduates. Participation in AspiringDocs gives the University of Pittsburgh an opportunity to mobilize campus resources to pursue the goal of serving the needs of diverse communities.

This two-year pilot outreach program is being conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University, California State University in Fresno and the University of Arizona. Each school has a large percentage of underrepresented undergraduate biology majors with fewer than expected students applying for and attending medical school. After the two years are up, the AAMC will use marketing techniques such as benchmark polls, web tracking and applicant data analyses to assess how the campaigns have inspired more students to consider medicine as a career, as well as if it helped increase the number of minority students applying to medical school.

The campaign’s centerpiece is the Web site, containing comprehensive information from the AAMC and other resources about key topics that students deemed important in focus groups. The site also creates a new online community for aspiring doctors where they can ask questions and receive advice from the AAMC and other experts in the undergraduate and medical school community, such as pre-health advisers, financial aid counselors, medical school students and practicing physicians. Another feature allows students who register for the site to share their opinions and experiences with other students on a variety of current issues in the medical field.

February 2008

Georgetown Sees Another Increase in Applications

Georgetown University released its admissions statistics for the last year, which shows a 6 percent increase of applications over the prior year. According to Brandon Schnieder, director of admissions for GU’s School of Medicine, 11,236 people applied over the last admissions cycle, an increase from last year’s 10,462 applicants.

School officials attribute part of the increase to the implementation of their new online secondary application. Feedback from the admissions committee and the applicants has been very positive.

The application figure includes traditional applicants, those who applied for Georgetown’s dual M.D./Ph.D. program, and those in the early assurance program.

Schneider indicated that only about 10 percent of the applicants are granted an interview by the admissions subcommittee. According to estimates based on data from prior years, roughly 190 students of the estimated 1,100 interviewees will actually enroll in next year’s class. Additionally, only six students from the early assurance program were granted enrollment.

“The admissions committee has gotten more stringent this year. There are no numeric cutoffs. We read the [student’s] entire file before making decisions,” he said of the admission process, which is performed by 20 committee members.

While the committee considers all aspects of the application, Schneider said that accepted students generally score at least a 10 on each section of the MCAT, maintain a minimum 3.6 grade point average and submit a well-written essay specific for Georgetown.

According to a recent report from the American Association of Medical Colleges, current projections indicate there will be a 20 percent increase in the number of M.D. students in U.S medical schools by 2013 as compared to the 2002 figure.

In addition, the report states that medical schools across the country are increasing class size to meet anticipated demand.

Clinical Trial Management Goes Online

Global Research Services, LLC (GRS) announced the successful U.S. launch of a clinical trial management on-line training initiative in collaboration with the University of Rochester Medical Center. The web-based, interactive course entitled “Managing Clinical Trials: A Comprehensive Continuing Education Course for Healthcare Professionals” focuses on providing key knowledge of managing human trials in drug development.

Similar course offerings will be available in China by summer 2008. China’s increased participation in global drug development and the recent cooperative agreements with China’s SFDA and the U.S. FDA positions GRS and the University of Rochester with an opportunity to provide comprehensive clinical-research training in Asia. GRS and the University of Rochester are currently in negotiations with three major Chinese medical universities. Expansion of course offerings into Eastern Europe is expected by fourth quarter 2008.

January 2008

Is a 4-Year Degree Necessary?

In the current issue of the CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association, the question is raised in an editorial (http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/178/1/11) whether four-year medical schools are really necessary in this age of problem-based learning, a method encouraging students to work on real problems cooperatively in small groups.

The successes at McMaster University and the University of Calgary, that have for more than 30 years educated doctors with a three-year curriculum, are used as evidence to support the belief that the 4-year med degree is due for change.

The editorial also states that unlike many programs in the United States, Canada’s two three-year schools have not condensed four years of classes into three by teaching on Saturday and across the summer. Additionally, licensing authorities have not expressed concerns over test scores from graduates of the three-year curricula, nor are there increased lawsuits or evidence of problems with those graduates going on for specialty training or into family medicine.

Moving to a three-year model would save money and end Canada’s shortage of doctors faster, the editorial claims.

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