Medical school with more humanity
A top medical school is allowing students to avoid dreaded obstacles to becoming a doctor, including organic chemistry and the MCAT.
This story was originally reported by PRI's The Takeaway. For more, listen to the audio above.
Many pre-med students dread the prospect of studying organic chemistry. The classes are notoriously difficult, time-consuming and they're designed that way. Dr. David Muller, dean for medical education at Mt. Sinai Medical School, told PRI's The Takeaway, "One of the points of organic is filter out people who just aren't that competitive."
Too often, administrations turn "science into an obstacle rather than something that is an insight into the biology of human disease," Dr. Nathan Kase, the medical school's dean for medical education, told The New York Times.
One program at Mt. Sinai Medical School is challenging that approach to med school by allowing future doctors to skip organic chemistry, along with physics and the MCAT medical school placement exams. Students in the Humanities and Medicine Program agree to major in the humanities or social sciences, and pledge to learn the science in med school.
The New York Times called the program "one of the best kept secrets in the cutthroat world of medical school admissions." It's been around for 20 years, and is highly competitive. Some 300 students from 80 different colleges applied last year for just 35 spots. A new peer-reviewed study of students from 2004 to 2009 was recently released that found the student's performance in medical school was equivalent to more traditional programs.
The idea, though, is that the benefits of the program will extend beyond medical school, and beyond traditional science, and make them into better doctors. "I think most of us want someone who's got a little bit of compassion, a little bit of humanity," Dr. Muller told The Takeaway. The program is designed to graduate people who can do more than just math and hard science. People who can "put me a little bit at ease before I get put under the knife."
"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what's ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH. More at thetakeaway.org