Medical School Bound – Albion optimistic for partnership with MSU MD program

It is tough to get into medical school. Half who apply are accepted, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Albion students may have a better chance if Albion becomes part of Michigan State University’s Early Assurance Program.

The Early Assurance Program (EAP) was created in 2009. The program sets aside several spots for each student to be admitted into the allopathic training (MD) program at the MSU Grand Rapids campus.  The number varies from school to school and is determined by MD program officials at MSU.  Although the program is currently “at capacity,” Albion hopes to be a part of the program in the future.

Al Pheley, director of the Institute for Premedical Professions and Health Sciences, said that MSU would be sending admissions representatives to Albion to meet with students in the spring.

Jerry Kooiman, assistant dean for external relations MSU MD program said, “I cannot tell you with any degree of certainty if we will continue expanding our program beyond the communities where we have a campus present or not, but I have assured the people I talked to at Albion that we would contact them if and when we choose to open the site.”

Colleges and universities where local MSU branches were located were the first approached, leaving Albion out.

The program currently manages 10 sites – Grand Valley State University, Saginaw Valley State University, Kettering University, University of Michigan – Flint, Northern Michigan University, Michigan Technological University, and Lake Superior State University. Aquinas, Calvin and Hope Colleges were added to the program in October.

Kooiman said that MSU needs to adequately manage these sites before expanding further.

Plans for future meetings between MSU administration and Albion’s Institute for Premedical Professions and Health Sciences are in place, but a date has not been set, Pheley said.

“My understanding is that Albion has an excellent pre-med program and I am hopeful that at some point we can add Albion to the EAP sites,” Kooiman said.

Caitlin Bolick, Adrian junior said she is currently preparing for the medical school application process by preparing for the MCAT class in the spring, arranging volunteer hours at a local hospital, looking for research opportunities and maintaining a satisfactory GPA.

“I definitely think (the Early Assurance Program) would be a good thing for Albion…we have a lot of hard-working students who would really benefit from the program,” Bolick said.

Kooiman said MSU first approached schools where their community campuses were located.

MSU takes other factors aside from geographic location into consideration when deciding whether to grant colleges EAP status, as well as how many spots to reserve.

MSU MD program also considers the size of the pre-med program, the number and trend of students that have applied to the program, the number accepted, and the number that matriculate, Kooiman said.

The program gives preference to students that come from a low-income high school or would like to work in an under-served area.

Bolick said she never thought much of where she would like to practice medicine once she completed medical school.

“I think we all have ideas of what we really want to do or where we want to go, but if an opportunity comes along like that, I think it could change my mind,” Bolick said.

An underserved area is an area designated by the federal government in which the number of physicians is too small for the population.

“Our community hospital partners see significant value in having more students from their communities attend the medical school as they see their involvement in medical education as important in physician recruitment,” Kooiman said.

Ashley Collins, Saginaw senior applied to 21 medical schools.  Collins said the whole process was stressful because studying for the MCAT along with a full course load took up almost all her time.

“Even if I had a guaranteed spot I would have to think if that was really what I want to do and the type of population I would want to work with. I would highly consider (EAP) as an option,” Collins said.

Al Pheley, director of the Ford Institute and Institute for Premedical Professions and Health Sciences serves as the faculty advisor and thesis advisor for Raelynn Buczkowski.

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