Thursday, October 20, 2016

3 Details To Pay Attention To On Interview Day

The medical school application cycle follows a process that is made up of several different phases. Now that applicants are submitting secondary applications from individual schools, we've transitioned into the interview phase.

The medical school interview season for most medical schools across the nation generally runs from September to March, give or take. Now full steam ahead into interviews, each school has begun the process of hosting hundreds of applicants.

While this portion of the process is where colleges really get to gauge who they believe are the best fit for their school before making final decisions, applicants are also served an opportunity to get a better feel for where they will possibly train for the next four-plus years.

During interview season at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM), applicants do multiple mini interviews (MMI)​ with various people connected to the medical. Beyond the MMI, prospective students are also paired with current students for personal interviews as well as lunch, where applicants have time to be candid.

All in all, the interview day is a good time for the applicant to get some truly in-depth information that may not be readily available on a website or pamphlet.

It is generally expected of the host school to devote a portion of their interview day(s) to curriculum and how students are evaluated. Medical schools—and to a larger degree, medicine, overall—are currently undergoing some big changes.

The MCAT was updated just last year to reflect the changing philosophical landscape and many schools are updating their curricula to modernize their medical training.

Here at the College of Human Medicine, we've just implemented our Shared Discovery Curriculum, which is a radically different model of medical education in comparison with what's come to be traditional.

For instance, Shared Discovery does away with long lectures and evaluates students with our progress assessment suite. Small groups, feedback, and this more collaborative relationship with faculty/staff is a bit different than the traditional combination of class time and quizzes/exams.

While we think this new model of education is truly an innovative approach to medical school, we understand that this type of curriculum may not be for everyone. For others, the excitement is mutual.

Some questions to ask yourself include:
  • Does this curriculum fit my learning style?
  • Does this curriculum lend itself to my ultimate goals?
  • How does this curriculum prepare students for residency? 

Don't hesitate to ask school representatives about certain aspects of the curriculum that interest or concern you. Curriculum and evaluation are good topics to discuss.

This one may be obvious but it's worth diving into a bit. Each school has their own identity and ambitions so the environment for students can certainly vary from school to school.

 Pay attention to how faculty/staff and student ambassadors represent the college. Interview day(s) will give applicants the opportunity to speak face-to-face with representatives about what they enjoy most about the school and what the future holds for their program.

It would also be a good idea to watch how the faculty and staff interact with the students. Moreover, recognize how the students interact with each other. Some schools may be a bit more relaxed in nature. A discussion with students may give applicants a better idea of how collaborative—and/or competitive—the student body is at that school.

The College of Human Medicine encourages a cooperative and collaborative environment, but we also provide individual attention. It's important for applicants to understand how students are supported, especially when confronted with the more grueling portions of medical training. 

How schools emphasize health and wellness should be something to consider, so ask how students support each other and recognize how schools ensure a comfortable, helpful environment.

The CHM Office of Student Affairs and Services, for instance, has an Assistant Dean for Student Wellness and Engagement who is also the Director of Student Counseling. Learn what programs, mentorships, and tools are utilized to ensure this is a place where students can thrive.

Some schools also have a variety of student groups and organizations. Reach out to identify how students interact and study. Continuing the discussion with students, feel free to ask about community setting and student life.

The first thing an applicant will notice about a school is naturally its physical surroundings. Is this somewhere you can see yourself living for the next 2-4 years?

Using the College of Human Medicine as an example again, each entering class is split up between two locations for the first two years—Grand Rapids and East Lansing. While Grand Rapids serves as the second largest metropolitan-area in the state, East Lansing is very much a Big Ten college town.

All accepted applicants will receive the same resources and training regardless of location, but the external resources at each site differ a bit. From there, students can have the option of heading out into one of seven different community campuses. This is one of the benefits of training at a community-based medical school. 

Some medical schools, however, may only have one, main location. And that may be perfect for you. Think about what options are afforded to matriculating students and what types of areas you would like to live in for the foreseeable future. Does the school you are interviewing at fit those criteria?

Take yourself into account and think about your hobbies. Ask students what they do in their spare time and what is available to them. Consider affordability and commute. Consider how active life is around the school.

There are number of factors that applicants should take into account on interview day. As much as schools want to learn more about you as an applicant, students need to learn more about the school as well.

Indeed, it's all about fit on both ends. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Rural Community Health Program Expands Footprint With Launch In Ludington

The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM) has announced a new Rural Community Health Program (R-CHP) partnership with Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital. Ludington, on the northwest coast of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, becomes the sixth Rural Community Health Program site.

Partnered with hospitals across northern and mid-Michigan, the program is designed to provide students with enriched clinical experiences, rural public health leadership opportunities, and small town lifestyle experiences that will encourage alumni to establish practices in Michigan's rural communities.

Rural communities participating in the R-CHP program have been selected based on exemplary educational and clinical opportunities within each community.

Once selected for the Rural Community Health Program, MSU’s medical students will spend up to six months at the hospital learning clinical skills and gaining experience with the varied roles of a rural physician.

“We have two medical students in the Rural Community Health Program here at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital and they are already connected to the community,” said program director and College of Human Medicine associate professor, Andrea Wendling.

“We are hopeful this program shapes rewarding careers in rural medicine for these future physicians.”

Beyond her duties at CHM, Dr. Wendling is also a rural family physician of her own and understands that the nation's shortage of physicians extends to rural areas. In fact, she noted the misdistribution of rural physicians has been documented for over 90 years in "Rural Matters," a journal she penned for the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine.

The College of Human Medicine was founded as a response to the state's various medical needs, including those from its underserved rural populations. For much of our history, the college has been on a mission to train rural doctors.

Wendling notes in Rural Matters that "Students from rural backgrounds are significantly more likely to practice in rural areas, yet are consistently underrepresented in medical schools."

To meet the needs of Michigan's rural communities, the College of Human Medicine has implemented the Leadership in Rural Medicine Program (LRM), of which R-CHP is one of two respective tracks.

Ludington Harbor
“Helping to prepare and place new physicians in small rural communities is critical to ensuring quality health care throughout our system and the entire state,” said Ludington internist Mary O’Callaghan, division chief, NW region for the Spectrum Health Medical Group.

“We’re fortunate to have these capable students rotate through our various medical practices to gain valuable experience and assist with the care of our patients.”

Read the official announcement here.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Evolution and Revolution: 5 Takeaways From the New Shared Discovery Curriculum

Much like our beginnings, the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM) is again rethinking and reshaping the medical school experience.  Change, in the best interest of our students and communities, has been a challenge CHM proudly embraces time and again.

In the early 1960s, reports had demonstrated the need for a medical school in Michigan focused specifically on serving the state's population through direct involvement in community health care.

That was the foundation for the College of Human Medicine to become the nation's pioneer community-based medical school in 1964. A formal philosophy of enabling clinical training within community hospitals materialized.

CHM also went on to develop "focal problems," a precursor of Problem-Based Learning (PBL). The college is the first to have a medical ethics unit as well as the first to offer a bio-psycho-social model of curriculum.

Since its creation, in fact, the college's curriculum has continued to evolve. The college has become nationally and internationally known as a leader in university-based, community-integrated medical education.

For some time now, CHM administrators focused on offering, once again, a different take on medical school curriculum. An innovative and more student-centered approach to medical training, the new curriculum is a response to advances in medical knowledge and new understandings about competency-based assessment.

Yet it isn't just why our curriculum is changing. Just as important is how the new curriculum will be implemented. Whether it's evolution or revolution, the Shared Discovery Curriculum (SDC) aims to change what is considered modern medical education.

The evolution can be the "why." The revolution can be the "how."

Over the last several years, we've spent a good deal of posts (like this one, this one, and this one) on this blog discussing some of the ways medicine is changing and thus, how the modern physician is evolving.

Continued advances in medical knowledge means an ever-changing landscape. Since new knowledge and skills are now required of students and residents, medical schools must also change and evolve.

It is with this focus on the future of medicine as well as the care of our students, patients, and communities that we introduce the Shared Discovery Curriculum.

This new model represents a radical departure from present educational models, emphasizing usefulness and experience as a framework for adult education.

Here are five of the main takeaways from this modern model of medical training:

For decades, medical schools across the country used a basic 2 + 2 model for medical education, wherein the study of medical sciences was separated from and followed by hands-on clinical clerkships.

Medical schools have come to realize that, while that model has worked in the past, the modern physician can be trained in more efficient and supportive ways.

The SDC is an integrated curriculum that unifies the necessary basic and disease sciences along with clinical experience throughout all four years of the educational program—progressively building upon previously learned material.

In the traditional model, it was possible for students to come first-hand in the clinic with topics that hadn't been discussed since the lecture they attended a year or two prior. Now, students will have the ability to see in the clinic what they are concurrently learning in the classroom. 

Introducing clinical exposure much sooner, the model now used in the SDC is broken up into three separate parts: Preparation for Early Clinical Experience/Early Clinical Experience (PECE/ECE), Middle Clinical Experience (MCE), and Late Clinical Experience (LCE).

The ECE places students in ambulatory settings with medical assistants, nurses, and physicians while the MCE also places students in inpatient environments. At this point, MCE students are with an Interprofessional team that includes residents and attending physicians as well as social workers, nutritionists, different therapists, and pharmacists among other health care members.

Better equipped for the last phase of education, the LCE places students in ambulatory and inpatient settings on disciplinary services where they are able to realistically prepare for the first day of residency training.

Between each clinical experience phase, there are what we call, Intersessions.

Intersessions are a series of focused topic study courses that provide students opportunities to focus on a number of areas outside the given topics of study up to that point.

While some portions of intersessions will be required by the curriculum, other portions allow students to refocus on areas of relative weakness, offer time to explore other areas of health (research, public health, etc.), and provide dedicated preparation time for USMLE exams.

There are three types of intersessions:
  • Core intersessions are those required by every student
  • Foundation intersessions help students enhance understanding and performance
  • Advanced intersessions focus on personal interests and individual strengths
Students work with their Learning Society Fellows to create a learning plan for specific intersessions, considering performance on the Progress Suite of Assessments (we'll get to that further down this post).

Collaboration is critical, which emphasizes the important role Learning Societies play in the new curriculum.

Students and educators are organized in the curriculum through the creation of four learning societies, which houses small scholar groups and are hub of coordination for our new academy model.

Beyond students, the learning societies are also made up of clinical faculty as well as basic and social scientists, which all play a part in delivering the curriculum's components.

These components include post-clinic debriefing, problem-based learning, student portfolio review, individual learning plan formulation/tracking, and other small group experiences.

Learning societies span the geographic campuses and medical student years in the curriculum, building on personal relationships between small groups of students and faculty, or Faculty Fellows.

This model promotes coaching as much as teaching and enables students to interact with educators in a variety of settings over multiple years.

On a regular basis, students will review their progress with educators via educational portfolios. Students and educators will be guided by these reviews, as they then can develop each student's individualized learning plans.

When forming the SDC, administrators identified ways in which the educator-student relationship can be revised for the benefit of successful outcomes. The learning societies, as a piece of the larger SDC puzzle, help modify the dynamics between "student" and "teacher" that have traditionally been the norm.

This longitudinal approach will help foster trusting relationships for students with each other and with faculty, providing a rich climate that promotes academic partnerships and ongoing mentoring.

Progress assessments, given at regular intervals, help track each student's achievement and fluency. Students take the Progress Suite of Assessments and move through the curriculum as they demonstrate competency.

The components of the Progress Assessment are aligned with our SCRIPT competencies, testing medical knowledge, skills, and real world behaviors. Yes, students have the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to integrate knowledge and skills during actual performance with standardized patients.

Student portfolios contain essays, reflections, scholarly products, different projects, and even videos. These are all reviewed by Learning Society Fellows at intervals to ensure students are progressing and excelling.

This ongoing review through multiple types of assessments assures that students and educators are on the same page. Awareness of each individual's strengths and weaknesses allows each collaboration to be guided towards areas of challenge and opportunity.

But students are not the only ones being reviewed. Students are given the ability to rate their educators, peers, health care team, and actual patients. This constant stream of data assures everyone knows how to improve.

Improvement, in an overall effort to achieve full potential, is a constant goal for students. A combination of progress testing and experience-based education fuels each individual's learning plan.

Such a collaborative model of education requires that participants have access to numerous schedules, content, and assessments. The Shared Discovery model of education needs data to be rapid, reliable, and responsive to each person's needs.

JustInTime Medicine (JIT) is a self-service online interface that carries out those functions by leveraging cloud-based technology, so that students and educators can have access on all internet enabled devices.

Modern times call for modern measures.

The user-friendly interface provides easy access to tools and data. JIT logs records and notes learner progress for thorough evaluation.

It may not be a surprise that much about Shared Discovery is customizing the experience for each student. JIT follows suit in that there is a customizable course for calculating the contribution that each assessment makes toward goals and overall progress.

Additionally, student performance can be reported through a number of different paradigms, including SCRIPT competencies, EPA's, milestones and other specific competency frameworks—a noteworthy feature of the system.

Each individual student may be at a different point in terms of ingesting the curriculum. JIT offers a visual as to where that point is and, just as important, where the student needs to go. Color-coded tables show a student's progress to date.

The system registry also allows "drill-down" functionality to view the details of each assessment. Referring back to the progress suite of assessments, this allows students and educators to know exactly what portions of the curriculum a student is obtaining well and those a student may look at for more support.

Again, this all falls in line with how the collaboration works. With students and educators self-aware of where each other is in terms of progress, they can work together to tackle those portions of the curriculum in which a student needs more guidance.

In summary, all of these five takeaways are naturally interconnected. The intent is to get the best out of blending learning with action.

Clinical experiences at the center of the curricular design mean immersing students in real clinical environments and providing an authentic trajectory of training.

The Shared Discovery Curriculum is the College of Human Medicine's response to advances in the medical landscape. New knowledge and skills are now required for students, residents and practicing physicians to enable them to contribute to those advances. At CHM, contributing is a responsibility we all happily share.

For more detailed information on the Shared Discovery Curriculum, please visit 

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the curriculum and other admissions-related topics. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

New College of Human Medicine Prerequisite Models Offer A Variety of Pathway Options

In case you’ve been under a rock for the last few decades, you’re well aware that the world is changing all around us.  Some changes are serious and life-altering; others, not so much.

In the world of science, new discoveries and knowledge add foundational context from which the future of medicine must learn to incorporate and adapt.  Higher education communities have raised concerns about whether or not premedical curricula have kept up with these changes; what seemed to work yesterday may not be what works tomorrow.

Many medical experts agree that an undergraduate education should not be geared towards only getting students into medical school; instead, these years should be dedicated to creativity within an intellectually stimulating liberal arts education.

Congruent with this mindset is the concept that prerequisites (or for that matter any scripted course of undergraduate study) should not be so overwhelming that the applicant seems pressured to emphasize (major in) science in lieu of other academically rigorous disciplines, especially those within divisions of humanities and social sciences.

Approximately three years ago, the College of Human Medicine (CHM) put together a committee of premedical experts to review our legacy prerequisites.  One thing that came out of committee discussion is that there is no “one size fits all” in the world of preparatory premedical coursework that sufficiently meets the needs of all medical schools and its applicants.

Flexibility in the curriculum, though, did come forth as a key concept in trying to meet the many types of qualified applicants that exist in today’s changing world. This coincides with schools, including our own, taking a more holistic approach to reviewing applicants once they apply to medical school.

Starting with the 2016-17 application cycle, a new set of course prerequisite models will be implemented.

The New Prerequisites 

In order to meet the needs of as many applicants (both traditional and nontraditional) and undergraduate institutions, CHM embraced a flexible approach in providing various options (or pathways) to meeting premedical course requirements as follows:

OPTION A: MCAT-Influenced Preparation Model

This model follows a historically traditional pathway of prerequisites that should prepare students for both the MCAT exam and an entry-level undergraduate medical curriculum:

  • Biology with lab (1 year)
  • General Chemistry with lab (1 year)
  • Organic Chemistry with lab (1 year)
  • Introductory Physics with lab (1 year)
  • College Algebra or Statistics (1 semester)
  • Biochemistry (1 semester)
  • Social science coursework: Anthropology, Economics, History, Political Science, Psychology, or Sociology (1 semester)
  • Upper level (defined as 300-400 level, junior-senior level coursework, and coursework that maps as upper-level by MSU transfer criteria) Biological sciences (1 semester); examples include coursework in (but not limited to):
      • Anatomy
      • Advanced Cell Biology
      • Embryology
      • Genetics
      • Immunology
      • Microbiology
      • Molecular Biology
      • Neuroscience
      • Physiology
      • Zoology
A grade of C (2.0 on 4-point scale) or higher must be achieved in order to meet prerequisite standards.

OPTION B: End-point Coursework Model

This option describes what courses need to be taken, but not the path to achieve the end point. Undergraduate institutions work with their students to help decide acceptable pathways to these end-point courses that may include (but are not limited to) traditional course requirements, condensed courses, novel curriculums, AP credit, and online course work.  A number of strongly recommended, but not required, courses are included in this option.

Any applicant selecting this option must document the required end-point courses that have been taken/planned as well as the list of pathway courses taken/planned that led to that end-point.  Applicants will also indicate which courses in the recommended areas have been taken and which ones are planned.

The following courses are required:
  1. Biological sciences: 1 semester of upper-level Biology; see option A for examples    
  2. Biochemistry: 1 semester
  3. Introductory Physics: 2nd semester
A grade of C (2.0 on 4-point scale) or higher must be achieved in order to meet prerequisite standards.

Additional coursework in traditional liberal arts divisions (science, humanities, and social sciences) outside Biology, Chemistry, and Physics is strongly recommended by the Committee on Admissions. Examples include coursework in (but not limited to):

  • Anthropology
  • Art
  • Classics
  • Computer Science
  • Economics
  • English
  • Foreign Language
  • Math
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Religious Studies
  • Sociology
  • Theater

OPTION C: Course Competency Maps Model

Applicants eligible for this admissions criteria option are limited to those enrolled at institutions with departments that have constructed course-competency maps which have been submitted to the College of Human Medicine and approved by the Committee on Admissions.

The current model for this option is derived from premedical competencies described in the 2010 Howard Hughes Medical Institute -Association of American Medical Colleges report, Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians.

To qualify for admission, an applicant must complete any combination of courses whose combined content has been mapped by its faculty to cover the 37 learning objectives from this report, which emphasize the following eight entry-level medical student competencies (See pages 22-35 for a description of all 37 prematriculation learning objectives).

  • E1-Apply quantitative reasoning and appropriate mathematics to describe or explain phenomena in the natural world.
  • E2-Demonstrate understanding of the process of scientific inquiry, and explain how scientific knowledge is discovered and validated.
  • E3-Demonstrate knowledge of basic physical principles and their applications to the understanding of living systems.
  • E4-Demonstrate knowledge of basic principles of chemistry and some of their applications to the understanding of living systems.
  • E5-Demonstrate knowledge of how biomolecules contribute to the structure and function of cells.
  • E6-Apply understanding of principles of how molecular and cell assemblies, organs, and organisms develop structure and carry out function.
  • E7-Explain how organisms sense and control their internal environment and how they respond to external change.
  • E8-Demonstrate an understanding of how the organizing principle of evolution by natural selection explains the diversity of life on earth.
A grade of C (2.0 on 4-point scale) must be achieved in all courses being used to demonstrate competencies in order to meet prerequisite standards.

OPTION D: Novel Curricular Tracks Model

Applicants eligible for this admissions criteria option are limited to those enrolled at institutions that have devised novel premedical curricula that have been submitted to the College of Human Medicine and approved by the Committee on Admissions.

For institutions interested in developing novel curriculum for its students, it is strongly advised that the basis of this curriculum be grounded in the liberal arts divisions of science, social science, and humanities.  The institution should provide commentary that explains how this novel curriculum integrates learning objectives which they believe provide competencies for entry-level medical students.

A grade of C (2.0 on 4-point scale) must be achieved in the novel curriculum coursework in order to meet prerequisite standards.



If you are thinking about a future career in medicine, develop a good relationship with your academic and/or pre-health advisor at your school.  Share with them the content of this blog and our website as early in your undergraduate studies as possible such that together you can determine which of these prerequisite course options are available at your school and will best serve your intellectual needs and special interests. 

Joel Maurer, MD, FACOG, is Assistant Dean for Admissions in the College of Human Medicine and Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Michigan State University.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Letters of Evaluation: The Basics

Letters of evaluation are an important part of the ACMAS application and thus, the med school admissions process. Per the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), "A recommendation letter or letter of evaluation is a letter in which the author assesses the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the person being recommended/evaluated."

Admissions committees can learn a lot about an applicant beyond their metrics. Effective letters offer professional perspectives on an applicant's many diverse attributes and personal qualities. Truth is, the majority of medical school applicants from year to year have competitive grades and scores, so letters give insight into each individual's unique strengths and experiences.

In addition, letters of evaluation can highlight one's commitment to medicine through their service, research, and academic pursuits. Also helpful is the fact that other health professionals, academics, and/or mentors can vouch for those interests and capabilities.

So who are the people that you should consider to be your letter writers?
Think of who can best contribute to your application. The writers should be able to speak in depth about you, meaning someone who you've been engaged with for a consistent amount of time. In general, some ideas may include:

-Professors and other academic faculty (science and non-science)
-Research advisor
-Pre-med committees
-Employment Supervisors
-Volunteer Coordinators
-Health Professionals

There are certainly other possibilities but the key here is that they know you and your abilities well. The credentials of your writers are a factor, but should not take precedence over how well they can provide an accurate assessment of your suitability for medical school. Identify those who can best describe your strengths.

You'll need several writers.

Typically, medical schools will require a certain number of letters, which varies from school to school. The MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) requires three letters with a maximum of five. Most schools will allow the same range, but some can allow up to six or more.

Along this line, schools may have additional guidelines to follow. For instance, the CHM Office of Admissions requests that one letter be from a basic science or medical science professor who can critically evaluate your academic potential, maturity, strengths and weaknesses, and the difficulty of coursework, if applicable. You can find more guidelines and information on our website's Letters of Evaluation page. There are also AAMC Letter of Evaluation guidelines that potential letter writers should review.

Potential traditional medical school applicants should start thinking about who can fill these roles towards your final year or two. Non-traditional applicants or those with extenuating circumstances who are prevented a letter from a basic science or medical science professor may be made an exception, if they can fulfill certain requirements and guidelines.

If you have taken time off between college and medical school, applicants to the MSU College of Human Medicine should also send a letter of evaluation from a person who can comment about experiences during that period.

Letters of evaluation must be submitted through the AMCAS Letters Service for all medical schools participating in the service. Instructions for submitting letters to AMCAS are provided within the AMCAS application. Unsolicited letters sent directly to CHM outside of the AMCAS Letters Service will not be reviewed and, instead, discarded. Once your letters are received by AMCAS, they will be sent to your designated schools.

There are three types of letters that can be submitted:
  • An individual letter is just that, written by and representing one author.
  • A committee letter can be provided by a pre-health committee or advisor to represent your undergraduate institution’s overall evaluation of you. Some schools have pre-health or pre-med committees, but others may not. With that said, some medical schools may require a committee letter from those applicants whose undergraduate institutions have a pre-health or pre-med committee.
  • A letter packet is a set of letters that can be compiled by several different options, including your institution or institution's career center.  In contrast to a committee letter, a letter packet does not include a single evaluative letter.

Something to note is that you should not add a separate entry for an individual letter if you have already included that letter within either a committee letter or packet. Also, committee letters and letter packets each count as one entry, though there will be separate notes from different sources.

Are you considering a dual-degree program? Applicants must submit letters as requested by these specific programs. Be sure to do your research.

There's a ton of additional information out there on letters, including this solid piece from Student Doctor Network. Brush up on how to acquire letter writers and be sure to pay attention to deadlines. On the other end, be courteous and give your letter writers a good amount of notice ahead of time. Obtaining solid letters requires time and planning.

Lastly, don't forget to thank your writers!

All in all, letters help fill in the gaps. Along with the personal statement, letters of evaluation can go a long way into making your application stand out.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Medical Partners in Public Health (MD-PH) Certificate Added to the Variety of CHM Special Programs

The MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) hosts a number of special programs for students with a variety of ambitions. This fall, CHM will also give students the option to pursue a new certification.

The Medical Partners in Public Health Certificate is an option for College of Human Medicine students to gain clinical training in underserved community settings, with an emphasis on clinically relevant population level prevention and wellness.

Physician graduates of the MD-PH program will be able to apply public health principles as well as evidence and theory to better understand how to improve the health and well-being of their patients and the communities to which they belong.

This certificate complements the public health content in the CHM curriculum, enhancing the training with formal knowledge and skill in the core public health disciplines of epidemiology, biostatistics, health behavior and health education, public policy and administration and environmental health.

In addition to a formal blend of online, face-to-face, and community-based coursework, MD-PH students will also train through public health-focused community service and research. Experts in both public health and clinical medicine will train and advise program participants along the track.

Students who successfully finish the MD-PH certificate are eligible for credit towards a full MPH degree in MSU’s online program, should a continuation in public health training be desired.

 Please see our MD-PH page for more information and how to apply.

In addition to the MD-PH Certificate, CHM also offers three dual-degree options: the MD/PhD Program, the MD/MBA Program, and the full MD/MPH Program.

As the pioneer community-based medical school in the nation, the College of Human Medicine is embedded in communities across the state. Those pursuing public health disciplines at CHM have the benefit of community campuses and clinical sites serving an array of demographics.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Matched & Moving On: Graduating CHM Students Set For Residency Placements Across The Nation

It's graduation week for our seniors! But before the students put on their caps and gowns, the newest crop of Spartan M.D.'s are busy preparing for the next portion of their lives—residency.

The results of the 2016 residency match process are in for the MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) graduating class. The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) reported results for CHM, which included early, advanced, and military matches.

As tradition, fourth-year students were joined by family and friends on "Match Day" across our community campuses to celebrate and learn where they matched.

The NRMP or, "The Match," places applicants for postgraduate medical training positions into residency programs at teaching hospitals throughout the United States.

The NRMP is a private, non-profit organization established at the request of medical students to provide an orderly and fair mechanism for matching the preferences of applicants for U.S. residency positions with the preferences of residency program directors.

Overall, 193 total graduating seniors sought residency positions. Of the 193, there were 187 students with residency placements confirmed through the NRMP, NRMP-SOAP, Military Match, Advanced Matches and Post SOAP.

Seeking residency positions in various specialties, 96.9% of CHM seniors secured placements—an increase from 96.2% in 2015.

Over 43% of the overall 2016 seniors are entering a primary care residency (i.e., Family Medicine, General Medicine, Medicine/Pediatrics, and Pediatrics).

The top seven overall specialty placements are as follows:
1. Pediatrics (30 graduates)
2. General Surgery (24 graduates)
3. Emergency Medicine (22 graduates)
4. Family Medicine (20 graduates)
5. Internal Medicine (20 graduates)
6. Obstetrics-Gynecology (14 graduates)
7. Internal Medicine/Pediatrics (11 graduates)

Anesthesiology, Dermatology, Neurology, Orthopedic Surgery, Psychiatry, and Pathology are also some of the specialties represented in the list of specialty choices.

Close to half (over 42%) will remain in Michigan for their residency training programs. This is an increase from last year as 36% of seniors remained in Michigan for residency in 2015. Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Royal Oak, Saginaw, and Flint are just some of the in-state areas that will be injected with new residents from CHM.

Students will also be training across the country at some of the most competitive residency programs in the nation. Graduates will also be headed across the nation from Rhode Island to California.

Beyond placing in major cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Cleveland, New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Austin, New Orleans, Boston, San Diego, and Houston among others, students will also train in smaller metro and sometimes more rural areas as well. Spartan M.D.'s will also be headed to towns like Danville, PA; Hershey, PA; Lebanon, NH; Loma Linda, CA; Danbury, CT; Maywood, IL; Fort Gordon, GA; Charlottesville, VA; Rochester, MN; Falls Church, VA; and Peoria, IL.

Best wishes and good luck to the 2016 CHM graduates!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

After Acceptance: A User’s Guide to Preparing for Medical School

The summer before I started medical school at the College of Human Medicine (CHM), I often wondered what I was getting myself into.

What will med school be like? What will I learn? Will I be able to keep up? Would I still have a life? Will I embarrass myself in front of a bunch of medical professionals? What don’t I know that I need to know?

With (almost) two years of medical school down, I would tell all those who are about to matriculate (along with my past-self) to calm down.


You will learn all that you need to know when you need to know it. You will be able to keep up. It may be hard, but it’s doable. Sure, it can be draining at times, but med school is still incredibly rewarding. You will be pushed, but you will grow.

So before you begin classes, the biggest thing you can do before starting med school is prepare while simply enjoying the process.

Here are five pieces of advice to help make the transition to med school a bit easier.

Relax and enjoy your last summer before med school!
It’s no secret that med school will take up a lot of your time. So if you have the time to relax this summer, do it!

Talking to a lot of my classmates, they all wish they had further enjoyed the time they had prior to starting med school. Before you get loaded down with lectures and coursepacks, do the things that make you happy! Travel, go to the lake, make art, cook, go camping, spend time with family and friends.

In my last summer before med school, I traveled around the US to spend time with family and friends—from Hawaii to LA, multiple trips to Chicago, and all over Michigan. I also spent a whole lot of time relaxing. One of my friends traveled all over Europe while another spent his summer being a camp counselor at his favorite camp.

Med school is about to push you like nothing has before, but you'll be okay. Don’t worry about learning anatomy and physiology ahead of the time. It's too much, and I promise you, you’ll learn it eventually.

I can’t say it enough, nor can all of the med students I asked: relax and take advantage of the time you have before starting med school!

Get in a routine.
Amidst all your hardcore relaxing, it may be helpful to get into a routine. At the least, this will be important towards the end of the summer.

You’re about to have a lot of 8am classes and required events. If waking up before then is hard for you, it may not be a bad idea to try to condition your body to an early wake time.

That being said, you’ll find your routine once med school starts as well. Don’t worry if it takes time—it took me a few months to learn that I can’t study much past 8pm, being the grandma that I am.

I know now not to push the studying too late, as I won’t be as productive as I can be when it’s 7am. On the flip side, some would rather study until 2am or later and sleep in when they can. Everyone has a different framework of studying and you’ll find your groove.

For some people, it may also be helpful to plan time for things that are important to them. Getting into the habit of going to the gym daily or for a run every other day (for the more relaxation-inclined) can help motivate you to keep those schedules up once school starts.

Find meals that you enjoy making or cooking. Experiment with larger dishes so you can eat leftovers for the next few days and save yourself some time.

Find a place to live—but don't stress!
Finding housing can be stressful, but you’re not alone.

Just take the time to look into all of your options. Ask about where med students live to get some ideas. Find what fits into your budget and will make you the most comfortable, especially when you’re stressed and have had a long day at school.

Is living nearby a coffee shop or Panera important? Does living with roommates give you motivation or does living solo help keep you sane?

There are so many options around both Grand Rapids and East Lansing that you do not have to worry.

Being at the Grand Rapids campus myself, I can say that you have plenty of time to find a place to live around here. Many apartment buildings won’t even know what they'll have available until 1-2 months ahead of time, so you’re definitely not behind the ball.

I found out that I was placed at the Grand Rapids campus in mid-June, and I was able to find housing in early/mid-July. I was stressed and thought I was going to struggle finding housing before matriculating in less than two months. Yet after checking out some options, I found my apartment in less than three weeks.

Set up a budget.
After talking with some fellow med students, some of them wish they had come up with more of a budget before starting med school. This is extremely helpful when figuring out how much loan money to take out.

It may be hard to know what your budget will be exactly, but you can try to estimate your monthly costs based on housing, food, bills, and other necessities/wants (travel, gym membership, shopping, movies, football games, etc.).

By estimating a budget, you can have a better estimate for how much loan money you want to add to your running debt each semester. If you take too much out, you can always carry that over to the next semester or choose what you wish with it. If you take out too little, the Office of Financial Aid can often find ways to reimburse the money you didn’t originally take out or other loans that might apply.

Speaking of the Office of Financial Aid, always give them a call or stop by their office if you have any questions. They are more than willing to help you figure out your loans or how to budget your expenses.

Of special importance, ask them if you forget when loans will be dispersed. Many students often forget that loans aren’t dispersed until it’s within 10 days of school starting. For example, if you need to start paying rent on the 1st of August, loans are not dispersed until mid-August, so that is important to keep in mind when making a budget.

This is also relevant when it comes time to pay for January rent because students forget loans aren’t dispersed until the first or second week of the month. So, just keep an eye on your budget and when that loan money will officially be in your hands.

Look into a variety of specialties.
Diving into medical school, you’re going to meet everyone along the spectrum of “I’m going to be a surgeon!” to “I have no clue what I want to be.”

Let me make it clear: it’s great if you already know what you want to do. It's also great if you don’t know what you want to do.

Med school is about learning which specialties interest you and which don't. If you are dying to be pro-active before med school (and I repeat, you do not have to start studying yet!), take some time to look into different specialties.

I didn’t know that the field of Pediatric Developmental Disabilities even existed when I started medical school, but now I know that’s what I want to pursue. Look at the lifestyle, hours, salary, locations, residency and/or fellowship lengths, and try to shadow or talk to a physician in a field that interests you.

You’ll have plenty of time to figure this out in med school, but it never hurts to be curious.

Hopefully these recommendations can be helpful for incoming students. But honestly, there’s nothing I can say to truly prepare a student for medical school. Everyone experiences it differently.

It will be hard at times. You will feel drained at times. You will be stressed at times. But it is extremely rewarding.

You will learn an incredible amount of material. Not only that, you will learn how to interact with patients and how to be a compassionate, hardworking, dedicated physician.

You will be surrounded by an amazing community of medical students, faculty, staff, mentors, and alumni. You will still have a life and find ways to prioritize making time for what’s important.

And yes, you will probably embarrass yourself many times--in front of your classmates, patients, doctors, and a whole bunch of medical professionals. All you can do is learn from it, correct any mistakes you made, and maybe have a little laugh at yourself.

Speaking from experience, there’s not much else you can do when you pass out while shadowing, is there?

Sheri VanOmen is a second-year College of Human Medicine student from West Michigan. This year, Sheri is lending her voice to the Office of Admissions' SpartanMD blog to periodically offer tips on the admissions process as well as an inside look at what being a CHM student is all about. Also read her previous posts, From "Far Off' Place To Medical School and Coming Back To Reality—A Time For Reflection.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Overcoming Rejection: Tips On How To Deal with Disappointment & Strengthen Your Application

For most medical schools across the country, the 2015-2016 cycle interview period has come to a close. The next incoming class is starting to take shape and, unfortunately, that means some applicants must deal with rejections.

Here are some steps to take so that you may alleviate the disappointment and use the time going forward on strengthening your application for the next cycle.

In medical school admissions, rejection is just part of the process. In fact, being rejected is pretty common. Tens of thousands submit applications each year for an increasingly limited number of seats. The competition is stiff, with the vast majority of U.S. medical schools offering less than 200 open slots per incoming class.

Less than 40% of applicants in the prior cycle matriculated, according to data from the American Association of Medical Colleges.

While rejection can be disheartening, it's important to come to terms with the circumstance quickly. Don't allow the shock of rejection to turn into complacency, nor should it turn into a devaluation of self-worth. It is not uncommon for applicants to go through the application cycle two, even three times before matriculating. It certainly can be done.

In fact, those who take steps to improve their applications and then reapply greatly improve their chances of success. Plenty of students who matriculate are actually reapplicants. Schools like our own encourage applicants to try again.

Perseverance can go a long way moving forward. Start taking notes from this experience—those will come in handy when working on your new personal statement and essays. 

Reflection and Self-Assessment
Those notes will be most helpful after some reflection. Applicants must first decide whether to go through the application process another time. In other words, are you willing to do it all over again?

Rejected applicants should take time to decide whether medical school is still a goal. Gauge your desire to become a physician.

If you are ready and willing to move forward with medical school still in your sights, it's crucial to acknowledge that your profile as an applicant must undergo a few tweaks. Self-awareness about your standing in the applicant pool is vital to bouncing back strongly.

Take a thorough look at your application and recognize which portions can be improved. Your personal statement, grades and scores, interviewing skills, letters of recommendation as well as volunteer experiences and clinical exposure are all areas to reevaluate.

Think about how well your essays were written and whether they, along with your grades, demonstrated your aptitude and skills effectively. Could you have done better on the MCAT? If you were effective enough to receive interview invites, did it go well?

Once you have looked at your application, ask others for input. You may be able to meet with admissions representatives to go over where you can strengthen your application. While many schools do not give specifics as to why you were rejected, this information can be extremely helpful.

The College of Human Medicine (CHM), for example, offers a Self-Assessment Guide. Upon submission, rejected applicants can then schedule an advising appointment to meet directly with Office of Admissions counselors.

This process will help you identify which areas of your application need further attention. Reapplying to medical school means changing your approach for the next cycle. If an​ applicant isn't ready to learn from what didn't work and try a new approach, they might not be ready for med school.

Executing A Plan
Having identified where you can strengthen your application, you can now develop a plan and execute. Reapplicants must take some action that will show improvement.

If you lacked volunteer experience or clinical exposure, for instance, the summer is a great time to put in, well, time. If your grades are an issue, decisions on a post-bacc program or graduate school may need to be made before reapplying.

Make sure you understand that medical schools may require a minimum number of graduate credits before they allow applicants to submit those grades for review. Here at CHM, we will only review graduate courses if the applicant meets the 16-credit minimum. This means you may need a year or two before you reapply.

Ensure that you take enough time for study and preparation if you need to retake the MCAT. It may be worth it to take courses in public speaking or interpersonal communication if you think that could better prepare you for another round of interviews.

However your plan shapes up, don't be afraid to seek out help if you feel it can be productive. With that said, recognize your plan may take time. Applicants are expected to put their best foot forward when they apply so taking another year to strengthen your application may be necessary.

A lot of rejected applicants never reapply. So it is those reapplicants with perseverance and a strong work ethic than can ultimately meet their goal. With some introspection, a subsequent plan moving forward, and some perseverance, the next cycle may be yours to conquer.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

CHM Admissions Hosting Virtual Chat On Thursday

The MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) Office of Admissions is hosting a virtual chat this Thursday, March 3rd from 4pm to 7pm EST. This online discussion supplements our participation in the AAMC Medical School Virtual Fair, held by the American Association of Medical Colleges this past February.

Students can register for the chat at the Virtual Fair webpage—instructions will follow upon registration. Those who already registered for last month's event need only log back in and join us on our dedicated page.

Admissions representatives will be joined by several current students, who will all be on hand to take questions on the admissions process, premedical requirements, application tips, special programs, student life, and everything in between.

Registrants will also find several videos on our page that offer a deeper look into life at CHM, starting with a word of welcome from Dr. Joel Maurer, Associate Dean for Admissions.

The Office of Admissions' continued efforts to be accessible to potential applicants through various events and initiatives include last month's virtual fair. CHM was among 25 medical schools to participate in the online "meeting" with over 8000 registrants.

The Office of Admissions also hosted it's first Twitter Chat this past Fall and are in the works to host a second Twitter Chat some time in the late Spring. The admissions team is also hosting our Spring Premedical Day this month at the Secchia Center in Grand Rapids, offering in-depth workshops and informative panel Q&A's for attendees.

Register for the MSU College of Human Medicine Office of Admissions Virtual Chat

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the virtual chat and other admissions-related events.