Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Great Lakes Native American Medical School Applicant Workshop Coming to MSU College of Human Medicine

The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM) will be this year's site for the Great Lakes Native American Medical School Applicant Workshop. The event will be held from April 1-3.

The multi-day workshop will be hosted by CHM in partnership with the University of Minnesota Medical School Center of American Indian and Minority Health, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, and University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Native American Center for Health Professions (NACHP)

With various representatives from each of the host institutions in attendance, this is an excellent opportunity for pre-health Native American students from across the region to meet faculty and staff. Students will be offered in-depth application tips regarding the MCAT, personal statement, interviews and more. 

Workshops will also be dedicated to research, funding, and career development opportunities available to Native students.

The consortium was held last year to great success at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. This year, more schools are included in the collaboration and we're expecting even greater participation from students and faculty alike. 

Interested students may fill out and submit the Great Lakes Native American Medical School Applicant Workshop application.

Keep up-to-date with the Great Lakes Native American Medical School Applicant Workshop and other applicant-related events by following us on Facebook an Twitter.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Early Assurance Application Process Now Underway

The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM) offers two special opportunities for early assurance of medical school admission to the college. Applicants who fit certain criteria may begin submitting their early assurance applications beginning on Monday, December 21st.

The deadline to complete a no-cost online application is Friday, February 19th.

Application is open to students in their junior year (or the year prior to completion of their undergraduate degree). Procedures for applying to the two programs slightly differ as each is intended for a different group.

The Early Assurance Opportunity (EAO) is for MSU undergraduate students. Beginning this year, students from Bay College and Northwestern Michigan University can also apply to EAO via a special arrangement between the colleges.

Along with submitting an application, students applying to EAO must also submit official transcripts directly to the CHM Office of Admissions. In addition, letters of evaluation must be submitted to the CHM Office of Admissions through Interfolio by the application deadline.

Those attending any of our other partner colleges/universities may apply to the Early Assurance Program (EAP). A full list of partner institutions is available on our EAP page.

Interested students from partner institutions should contact their premedical/prehealth advisor for more information and to receive an official endorsement. Advisor endorsements include supporting documents such as letters of recommendation, transcripts, etc.

Graduating seniors are now also welcome to apply for EAP, with two stipulations as follows:
  • Cannot have a current AMCAS or AACOMAS application, or have applied through AMCAS in the past
  • Cannot have graduated when submitting an application. So, a senior who graduated this December 2015 would be ineligible, but a senior graduating in May 2016 would be eligible
The decision to admit early assurance applicants rests with the CHM Committee on Admissions. Since acceptance to medical school is secured, early assurance students are able to spend their final undergraduate year conducting research, traveling, or pursuing other interests.

Preference for both programs will be given to students who:
  • are the first generation to attend college
  • graduated from a low-income high school
  • are eligible for need-based grants
  • express and support an interest in a high-need medical specialty area

In addition, competitive Early Assurance applicants will show strong academics and a level of civic engagement. Early Assurance applicants should meet or exceed the minimum academic standards of a 3.0 overall GPA, a 3.0 science GPA, and a minimum MCAT score of 500 with section scores of at least 125.

The MCAT is required and must be taken no later than early May of the application year.

Check out our website to learn more about the process and review the Premedical Handbook and Self-Assessment Guide. The handbook has a wide variety of suggestions about how to become a competitive applicant while the guide can help you develop a plan of action. Good luck!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Five Ways To Strenghten Your Med School Application Over Winter Break

A student knows well that once you reach the Thanksgiving holiday, winter break is not too far behind. Many students find winter break to be a welcome respite from college life.

The winter break gives students time to relaxfree time to unwind a bit should always be a priority. Whereas spring break is typically a week or two, winter break may be up to three or four weeks for many. So some students hoping to eventually apply to med school may wish to use this lengthy free time to strengthen their individual profile.

Especially when it comes to preparing for the med school application process, free time is important. Here are five things you can do during winter break to help your med school application:

Volunteer Abroad: Alternative Winter Break

Schools across the country offer various programs that will allow you to serve at locations across the globe. Volunteering abroad can go a long way when it comes to one's individual growth and experience.

Independent organizations like Project Abroad also offer opportunities to serve or even intern abroad. You may need to apply to certain programs and some opportunities even have a selection process. If it's not too late, research alternative winter break opportunities to ensure that it will allow you to do something you're generally interested in.

It doesn't have to be related to medicine or health. Schools will want to see applicants who took the time to do things that show their individual character. Showing growth from these opportunities outside your bubble, so to speak, can really help when it comes to your personal statement and secondary essays.

If you want to do something that is medically related, perhaps a medical mission is a suitable option. But you should only go on a medical mission if you have specific, substantial reasons to travel overseas. Rather than to simply pad your application, your connections to the location and intentions with the program should be clear.

As it pertains to medical missions, there are also ethical and even legal issues in overseas health-related programs that must be considered. Students must show a proper code of ethics because school officials will surely frown upon experiences where a student performs tasks they are untrained to do, abroad or not.

Volunteer Domestically/Locally

Just like they offer alternative winter break opportunities abroad, there are also programs within the U.S.

Volunteer experiences don't necessarily have to be health-related. 

Schools like to see students helping in areas they have a connection to. So if you prefer to stick around campus or your hometown, it can be easy to find opportunities to serve. Free clinics, nursing homes, and hospices are just some places you can reach out to for possible opportunities.

Non-profit organizations like the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Habitat for Humanity are good bets year-round. Come winter, Salvation Army and various Christmas-time non-profits are in need of help throughout the country.

Again, it doesn't need to be completely related to medicine. Food banks, rescue missions, and even humane societies are also great options. It's a matter of what interests you and where you feel you can make the biggest impact.

Shadow a Doctor

If you have the opportunity, shadowing a physician is a good opportunity to see what a physician's day is truly like. It can also let you see specific medical specialties. In fact, thinking about what specialties you're interested in observing should be a starting point that will help you decide where and who you'd like to ask to shadow.

Shadowing a physician gives you some quick yet meaningful clinical exposure that you can use later in your application. Most importantly, it can be an enlightening experience that will allow you to better decide whether a career in medicine is something you truly want to pursue.


After taking those tough biologies and chemistries of the world, it won't hurt to simply review your notes over the idle break. Refreshing your memory will ensure you retain critical information you'll need in those crucial upper level courses and even the MCAT.

Speaking of the MCAT, studying for the standardized exam should naturally be a priority if you plan to take it soon.  There are many resources that can help you prepare.

Take a Course: Winter Sessions & Study Abroad

Some schools offer two- or three-week courses on campus. Intersessions or "Winter Sessions" can be helpful in that they may allow you to satisfy a particular requirement, should it be available. If winter sessions are available at your school, check with your financial aid office to see about funding.

Winter sessions may also be opportunities to participate in optional enrichment programs over various subject areas. Once more, it doesn't need to be health-related. Programs can vary in length and scopefrom purely recreational to intensive training.

An intersession study abroad trip may also be an option for you to earn a few more credits while on break. These programs offer a taste of studying abroad and won't affect your "on-campus" time.

All in all, you can engage opportunities of specific interest or even try your hand at a brand-new subject. Chances are, you're interested in the course or program if you're enrolled over the break.

The MSU College of Human Medicine Office of Admissions hopes this helps in your pursuit to build a competitive medical school application. But keep in mind that the down time is also important. The medical school application process is tedious and lengthy, so down time prior to applying is also important.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

MSU First To Solidify Medical Elective In Cuba For Students

MSU has officially announced a new agreement that will allow MSU medical students the chance to gain clinical experiences in Cuba.

Come April 2016, future physicians from the College of Human Medicine as well as the College of Osteopathic Medicine will get an in-depth look at the Cuban health care system, largely regarded to be among one of the best in the hemisphere.

Collaboration between MSU and Cuba isn't technically new as courses and experiences in Cuba have been offered for several years. However, this partnership is different in that MSU is the first collegiate institution to solidify medical elective in the Caribbean nation.

“This is a first, though, for American medical students to be able to walk the halls of three of Cuba’s main hospitals in Havana and receive credit for the experience,” said William Cunningham, assistant dean for the College of Osteopathic Medicine in West Michigan.

Read the official announcement here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Student Post: From "Far Off" Place To Medical School

No one can better represent what it is like to be at the MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) than our great students. From here on out, the CHM Office of Admissions will begin enlisting the help (and voices) of our students to periodically offer an inside look at what being in med school here is all about. Students at different levels and various backgrounds will touch on their experiences and ambitions. 

We are glad to have second-year student, Sheri VanOmen, kick us off. Here, Sheri introduces herself and recounts her experience going through the application process.  


As all medical students know, there was once a time when we thought of medical school as some far off, magical, smarty-pants place. Let me repeat: far off.

It didn’t seem real that I might one day be learning medicine from some of the best physicians. The admissions process was motivating, stressful, intimidating, and inspiring all at the same time. But as I now reflect back, it was beyond worth it, as lengthy and consuming as it may be.

We all know and love those cheesy-but-interesting icebreakers, so let me introduce a bit about myself. I’m from Holland, Michigan—yes, the home of Tulip Time. I decided to go across the state and attend the University of Michigan for undergrad. My major was Cellular and Molecular Biology, and I graduated from UM in 2014 before going right into medical school the following fall.

We have a big mix of students who came straight into med school and those that took time off before entering. It’s really up to you and whenever you feel ready to apply. Many students of the “non-traditional” route (having taken a gap year, or two, or many more) have so many unique and interesting experiences.

One of my friends spent a year working with a child with cerebral palsy. Another friend worked for TFA for two years while another was an artist in Colorado before coming back to school after seven years. One friend worked in the ER for a bit, another did AmeriCorps in Chicago, and yet another traveled around and taught English in Turkey for a few years.

I love that everyone in our CHM family comes from different backgrounds with a wide range of passions. This contributes to our class diversity.

The application process for me was a whirlwind of ups and downs, as I'm sure it was for most. Having come straight into med school, I first submitted my primary application in June 2014. Submitting the primary was the first time that medical school actually seemed within my reach; I was joining the ranks of the hopefuls.

However, the start of my application process started off with a lot of twists, as I was working as a research assistant in Ghana for the summer. Having been fortunate enough to be part of an international research project, it also meant that I would be skyping and google-chatting with parents and mentors for advice about my application.

The fickle internet connection made for a lot of frustration, and it only added to the stress I already felt for writing a solid personal statement. But once the primary was finally submitted, I felt so relieved that the process had begun.

I strove to have most of my secondary apps done before my senior year of college began in September 2014, meaning that my summer was fully integrated in the application process. I submitted my last secondary in September, and began the next stage of interviewing starting at the end of September.

As everything worked itself out, I interviewed with the MSU College of Human Medicine in November. I highly enjoyed my interview day at CHM, especially talking with many of the med students and hearing about their experiences. There was such a strong sense of community, which was very important to me.

As most students would agree, I loved the MMIs (multiple mini-interviews). I thought it was a great format of different stations and scenarios, giving you multiple avenues to shine and interact. Each applicant participates in multiple structured interviews where you may be asked to discuss your response to a specific question, collaborate with another student, or role-play a set scenario to show you would handle that situation.

While you are not able to know beforehand what these prompts are, you are given a few minutes before each station to read the instructions. Then, you just go for it.

For me, it took a lot of stress off knowing there isn't any right or wrong answers, especially since you can’t really prepare for MMIs. The interviewers just want to get to know you: your thought process, your interpersonal skills, your values.

The MMIs are then followed up with a more traditional student interview. You get to sit with a current CHM med student for half-an-hour to talk about your application and ask any questions you may have. The student interviews are a fun way for the student to gauge whether you would be a good “fit” with our CHM community and for us to share our experiences with you.

All in all, the interview day is a great way for interviewees to get a feel for CHM and who we are as well.

Shortly after my interview day, I found out I had been accepted to CHM with an awesome surprise call from Dr. Maurer (Assistant Dean, Admissions) himself!

He happened to catch me while I was out to dinner with my friends, who started screaming once they saw my face and heard the good news. Although I was little embarrassed that he could most definitely hear them from the other line, I could only thank him so much for the news that I would actually be a doctor one day.

I thought it was so cool and really appreciated how personal it was that Dr. Maurer called me, himself. I'm sure the other applicants were glad to hear the news straight from him as well.
Now a month into my second year of med school, I can definitely tell you that this place is very real. Sometimes too much so—my friends and I always “joke” about how much it takes over our lives. But it is a million times worth it.

It’s crazy to think about how much I have learned so far—whether it be science, clinical skills, the importance of patient-physician relationships, or any other factor that will one day help me be a great doctor.

You put a lot of work into your medical education, but you get so much out of it too.


Friday, October 2, 2015

CHM Admissions Twitter Chat Set For Monday

Interested in applying to the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM)? Would you simply like to learn more about the nation's pioneer in teaching community-based medicine?

Are you following us on Twitter?

Even under normal circumstances, potential medical school applicants typically have lots of questions about the schools they're interested in applying to. We thought the time couldn't be better to facilitate a discussion about CHM, especially considering the college is undergoing a few changes around here (new curriculum, new premedical requirement models, new biomedical research facility, new community campus sites, etc.).

Join us for a good ol' Twitter chat.

The Twitter chat will be hosted by the CHM Office of Admissions on Monday, October 5th at 6pm (ET). Several students and admissions staff will be on hand to answer questions under the CHM Admissions twitter handle: @MSUMDadmissions.

What is a twitter chat/tweet chat?
A Twitter chat (or "tweet chat") is a virtual conversation on the social media platform by way of Twitter updates (a.k.a. tweets). Through the use of a specific, pre-arranged hashtag that links those tweets together, a thread of commentary is formed and voilĂ .

How can you participate?
Follow us on Twitter. Anyone can join the chat by shooting us a tweet and/or by simply searching the #SpartanMDChat hashtag and using it in your tweets.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, September 11, 2015

What Is A Secondary Application? Tips and More

You've studied hard and taken the MCAT. You've gathered all the necessary forms, letters, and paperwork. You've written a solid personal statement and submitted your AMCAS application.

You've thrown you're hat into the application process. What's next?

Whereas the AMCAS is a centralized application service, individual medical schools will now have applicants submit school-specific applications that supplement the primary. These are referred to as secondary applications.

Medical schools tend to send out secondary information within a few weeks or even days of receiving the verified AMCAS application. Which applicants receive the secondary may differ depending on procedure.

Most medical schools, including the MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM), will automatically provide a secondary application to all applicants. Other medical schools, however, may screen applicants upon receiving verified AMCAS files. In this case, only those they consider top candidates will be offered to submit a secondary.

Many schools will not review your file until all secondary application materials, including letters of recommendation, have been received.

It may feel a little overwhelming to have a sizable stack of secondaries to work on. But don’t be discouraged. Secondary essays can be the key to getting an interview so it's important to give them the proper time and focus.

Secondary applications are often the deciding factor in who receives an invitation to interview

An application fee must first be paid  to access the secondary, unless the applicant receives a fee waiver. CHM, as well as most AMCAS-participating medical schools, will waive the secondary application fee for applicants who have been granted fee assistance by the AAMC.

Secondary applications like our own usually include essay prompts or short-answer questions. Don't underestimate the given essay prompts, as they are carefully composed by med schools for important reasons. The secondary gives schools the opportunity to cover information not addressed in the primary.

Schools are looking to find out who you are as a person as much as how you would perform as a medical student. This leads to a second point: schools want to assess whether their specific mission resonates with you. Are you a good fit?

If you believe you are a good fit with CHM, one of our optional clinical programs may be of interest. The MSU College of Human Medicine's secondary application is also where applicants can submit additional, optional essays for our Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved (LMU) and Leadership in Rural Medicine (LRM) programs.

Failing to give schools a reason to accept them (or at least, a reason to be interviewed) is typically where people go wrong with their secondaries. By the time reviewers get to a secondary, they've already learned a bit about the person from the information given on the primary. Make sure to offer new, personal information. Not distinguishing yourself or providing convincing content may be missing out on a crucial opportunity.

Here are a few more quick tips regarding your secondary application:
  • Don't take too long to submit your secondary. Some schools may give you a deadline, but do not wait until that point to submit materials. Otherwise, turnaround time should be within a month, but 2-3 weeks is ideal. Keep in mind that the sooner you return your secondary application, the sooner you may be invited to interview.
  • Read prompts carefully and answer what is asked. Again, the essay prompts are crafted to give you opportunities to touch on specific information. It's also important that you don't simply recycle or reiterate what was already established in your primary application. Go in depth and fill in any gaps. Allow the secondary to help paint a clearer picture of you without overlap. 
  • A last piece of advice is to make sure you review and proofread! While "copy and paste" is convenient, it may leave information (like, say, a school's name) that you wanted to change. It also goes without saying that spelling and grammatical errors won't help your application.

Rather than viewing the secondary as another tedious hurdle in the application process, applicants should view the secondary as a perfect opportunity to add more value to the file. Keep it interesting and ensure your application shows you are a person the school can't miss out on.

The deadline to submit secondary applications to CHM is typically around the end of November. Please see our Application Process page for more information and possible outcomes.

Friday, August 7, 2015

New MD/MBA Program Now Third Dual Degree Option at CHM

Several weeks ago, we posted about the two dual-degree programs offered at the MSU College of Human Medicine and the opportunities they can present for those pursuing either an MD/PhD or an MD/MPH.

Add another option to the mix. The College of Human Medicine Office of Admissions would like to introduce our third dual-degree option: the MD/MBA.

Increasing interest in MD/MBA dual degrees is encouraging universities across the globe to implement programs that train physicians and medical scholars in business. Advanced research and technology along with evolving healthcare laws and regulations have more and more physicians looking to acquire deeper managerial skills as well as a better understanding of the business of healthcare.

An MBA provides management training that enhances physicians' understanding of the larger impact the business of healthcare has on patient care. While trained physicians diagnose and treat human disease, they also run the hospitals, medical units, or other health-related businesses.

This dual degree option offers essential skills physicians will need when opening a private practice or starting a business. But additional career options for MD/MBA students range widely.

For instance, one can do some consulting for medical equipment or pharmaceutical companies. Directing a public healthcare agency or other medical departments is certainly also possibility. This all comes at a time when roles for physicians have expanded further into administrative positions and committee seats.

Ultimately, that precisely is the benefit of such a program—it introduces more possibilities, encourages entrepreneurship, and can influence career paths beyond research and patient care.

The dual MD/MBA degree at Michigan State University takes five years to complete after formally enrolling in both the College of Human Medicine and the Eli Broad College of Business. The curriculum for the program at CHM will naturally include MD coursework and MBA coursework, but will also include online concentration coursework.

Interdisciplinary academic programs are becoming increasingly important as interdisciplinary skills are becoming even more coveted. Completing this program helps to ensure students are prepared for modern medical and business issues.

The MD/MBA program is currently undergoing the approval process for the 2016 matriculating students. Please see our MD/MBA page for more information and to see our additional dual degree offerings.

Friday, July 24, 2015

College of Human Medicine Expanding Clinical Training Footprint with New Community Campus in Southeast Michigan

The MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) has officially announced a pact making the Detroit-metro area the site of an additional community campus.

The college and Providence-Providence Park Hospital (PPPH) have come to an agreement that will give sixty third- and fourth-year medical students the opportunity to receive clinical training in Southfield, MI. While the new addition will be CHM's seventh clinical community campus, this will be the college's first partnership in Southeast Michigan.

Both parties agree that the partnership is a great fit with CHM's mission of providing a community-based approach to health care. Dr. Robert Flora, Providence's Director of Medical Education, says he's been impressed with CHM's "drive to help people with less access" to a good standard of health care.

“This partnership with Providence-Providence Park Hospital is the result of shared goals to educate medical students within a health care system that values quality and provides care to a diverse population of patients,” said MSU President, Lou Anna K. Simon.

In addition to Southfield, six other community campuses are sprinkled throughout the state, located in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Flint, Midland, Traverse City, and Marquette. Reaching across Michigan gives CHM students a balanced opportunity to be exposed to various types of disciplines and environments.

For instance, students wishing to pursue working with underserved and/or urban populations can study at our Flint Community Campus* while those hoping to study rural medicine can locate to any of our Northern Michigan/Upper Peninsula* campuses for their final two years. 

The college differs from many medical schools in that there are educational programs in more than 50 affiliated hospitals and facilities instead of one university hospital.

Led by a Community Assistant Dean and college faculty, each clinical campus is aligned with area hospitals and outpatient facilities that join Michigan State University in creating a rich educational environment for students.

PPPH’s Valerie Overholt, director of students, has been appointed community assistant dean for the Southeast Michigan campus.

A new simulation and education center will be opening up in mid-2016, just in time for the first group of Southeast Community Campus students to make their way to Southfield next summer.

Officials have also pointed out that, for applicants from Southeast Michigan and the Detroit-metro are in particular, this is a great opportunity to receive clinical training in your own backyard.

As PPPH-Novi President Peter Karadjoff put it, “This new effort will provide MSU’s third- and fourth-year medical students a chance to study and live in an area of the state where many come from and where we hope they’d like to return to practice medicine someday.”

*As part of our Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved Program.
**As part of our Leadership in Rural Medicine Program.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dual-Degree Options at CHM Offer Plenty Diverse, Rich Opportunities

Sonia Kumar is a fourth-year MD/PhD student
The MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) offers a number of special programs that are available to students with a wide range of interests. Within those programs, our dual degree options are an important part of our identity, as we work to enhance our student's abilities in the fields of both research and health policy.

There are two dual-degree options for applicants to consider—MD/PhD and MD/MPH.

The Director of the US National Institutes of Health and former head of the Human Genome Project, Francis S. Collins, is a physician-geneticist who recently published a piece titled, "Why the World Needs More Scientists." It's a good read.

Collins says he's "convinced that rigorous, well-designed research is essential not only for the discovery of new ways to detect, treat, and prevent disease, but also for the most efficient development and cost-effective dissemination of such advances to the world's poorest peoples."

He adds, "The remarkable progress made in genomics, bioengineering, and many other scientific fields over the past decade has given rise to innovative technologies now being used to help many different populations in many different settings."

Well-designed research and innovative ways of thinking are what drives our MD/PhD program, combining medical and graduate education with the goal of training the next generation of leaders in medical research and academic medicine.

Every effort is made to integrate medical and graduate training while fostering flexibility for the individual student. The College of Human Medicine's MD/PhD program offers a level of flexibility that is an attractive feature in comparison to other programs across the country.

"We do not restrict our applicants to just biomedical science PhD programs. We encourage and try to facilitate application and matriculation into any program, so long as the student intends to do research with a link to the practice of medicine," says Cindy Arvidson, PhD, Program Director for the MD/PhD program at CHM.

"An advantage of CHM being at the same physical location as the main MSU campus is that MD/PhD students have numerous opportunities for their PhD research. MSU is a research-intensive land grant institution known for its many excellent graduate programs. In addition, the expansion of CHM to Grand Rapids and the partnership with Spectrum Health has helped the Grand Rapids medical community to increase its biomedical research visibility."

Current non-traditional programs students have matriculated into are: epidemiology, linguistics, and kinesiology. We have also considered applicants to other programs that include philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and chemistry.

 Our MD/PhD program has two options:

The first is the CHM-MSU MD/PhD program, in which the student earns an MD degree from CHM and a PhD from the MSU Graduate School. This program is supported by funds provided by Spectrum Health. Students admitted with financial support (Spectrum Health Fellows) are assigned to the Grand Rapids community campus for their clinical training.

Secchia Center stands near the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids
The second is the CHM-VAIGS MD/PhD program, where the student earns an MD degree from CHM and a PhD from the Van Andel Institute Graduate School (VAIGS).

Regardless of what direction a student takes, CHM staff and faculty are in close contact to ensure the students are supported in every way.  Dr. Arvidson adds that a small program such as ours is beneficial in that that there is as much individual attention as the student needs.

As Collins puts it, "We need far more young creative minds—be they in Boston or Botswana, Beijing or Bangladesh—to tap into the power of science to explore questions of vital importance to human health."

To learn more about whether an MD/PhD is right for you, see Applying to MD/PhD Programs via the Association of American Medical Colleges website.

Whereas medical students focus on individual patient care, public health students study health issues in regards to populations. With technological evolution making the world a much smaller space, public health workers are increasingly working more with issues on a global scale, spreading awareness against diseases such as Ebola, avian flu, etc.

Yet while medicine and public health can operate as separate entities, both naturally share interest in promoting and protecting health. And with reforms to the health care industry as well as to medical school curricula, the gaps are closing. Medical schools are now emphasizing public health more than ever.

At the College of Human Medicine, training toward the combined MD/MPH degrees complement each other and provide health care professionals with greater understanding of health issues. Beyond a better understanding, the MPH offers students better tools to analyze and prevent human diseases.

Students apply to both CHM and the MSU Graduate School.  Information regarding the MPH application process can be found on the Program in Public Health website. If accepted into both programs, the student has two options for earning their dual degree.

In both options, students work with their CHM and MPH advisors to develop a curriculum plan that supports their studies in both areas. Students complete the culminating experience portion of their MPH coursework during an elective clerkship at the end of their studies.

Ultimately, a MPH helps MDs who are interested in also getting associated with public health and to contribute to society through this system.

Someone with an MD/MPH can even go beyond health organizations, public health administration, and the fields of medicine into other important realms, such as politics, to influence how health policies are utilized.

Referring back to Collins' piece, he points out, "Scientific research is the engine that drives health advances. If future world leaders would keep that simple concept in mind when making decisions about where and how to invest their resources, the health of humankind would improve substantially over the next 50 years and beyond."

Those "world leaders" can be themselves, or at least influenced by, those with a background in health policy. Increasing awareness of public healthcare and more government investment in public health, there is a growing future for those who opt for this route.

Check out the Public Health Pathways page via the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Entry Update: We've updated this blog entry to include a third dual-degree program. The MD/MBA Program was introduced in August 2015. 

An MBA provides management training that enhances physicians' understanding of the larger impact the business of healthcare has on patient care. While trained physicians diagnose and treat human disease, they also run the hospitals, medical units, or other health-related businesses.

This dual degree option offers essential skills physicians will need when opening a private practice or starting a business. But additional career options for MD/MBA students range widely.

For instance, one can do some consulting for medical equipment or pharmaceutical companies. Directing a public healthcare agency or other medical departments is certainly also possibility. This all comes at a time when roles for physicians have expanded further into administrative positions and committee seats.

Ultimately, that precisely is the benefit of such a program—it introduces more possibilities, encourages entrepreneurship, and can influence career paths beyond research and patient care.

The dual MD/MBA degree at Michigan State University takes five years to complete after formally enrolling in both the College of Human Medicine and the Eli Broad College of Business. The curriculum for the program at CHM will naturally include MD coursework and MBA coursework, but will also include online concentration coursework.


The MSU College of Human Medicine is proud to offer these dual degree features and are currently working to provide even more dual-degree options.

Students earning dual degrees gain comprehensive expertise and experience in areas that are essential to the continued development of perspectives, programs and services in health, which is why they are an important part of CHM's footprint. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

CHM Officially Breaks Ground on New Biomedical Research Facility in Grand Rapids

The Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM) has officially broken ground on a new research facility set to be completed in late 2017.

Ushering a new chapter in CHM history, the $88 million project will further a vision from Dean Marsha Rappley to increase CHM's research imprint. There's no better place for such an initiative than on Grand Rapids' thriving Medical Mile.

Once finished, the research facility will be a good complement to the Secchia Center, located just up Michigan Avenue. The new research facility is part of a long-range strategy that began in 2005, when health and community leaders worked to bring medical education to the city. CHM expanded to include campuses in Grand Rapids and Lansing and moved its headquarters to the Secchia Center.

Completed in 2010, the Secchia Center was built for medical education yet no accommodation was made for research laboratories.

The Spectrum Health-MSU Alliance was established to draw academic research to Grand Rapids, working in partnership with the Van Andel Institute and Grand Valley State University.

The new research center will support 260 CHM researchers, including 34 principal investigators with total capacity for 44 research teams. Research program spaces and five core labs—including bioinformatics, flow cytometer, long-term storage, and analytical and advanced microscopy—for CHM scientists and researchers from partner institutions will also be incorporated in the six-story, 162,000-square-foot facility.

Some of the areas of scientific study include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, pediatric neurology, autism, inflammation, transplantation, cancer, genetics, women’s health and reproductive medicine.

Beyond a home to discover new cures, remedies, and treatments, the facility is expected to create hundreds of jobs in West Michigan. The construction marks the beginning of Grand Rapids Innovation Park, a gateway to the Medical Mile aimed to attract business growth in biotechnology and life sciences.

The research facility will be built on seven acres that were previously occupied by The Grand Rapids Press building.

The College of Human Medicine has equipped a nearby webcam for anyone interested in keeping an eye on the construction.

We're social! Get connected:
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Thursday, June 4, 2015

CHM Office of Admissions Excited To Launch New Website

The MSU College of Human Medicine Office of Admissions is proud to announce that we've officially launched our new website!

While you can still find us at, the website address is one of only a few traits to carry over to the new site, which was in the works for a year. Beyond the cleaner layout, potential applicants or those at any phase of the admissions process will find the site to be much easier to navigate and digest.

The prior version had a ton of information that needed to be condensed and repackaged. Eliminating redundancies and mapping out better direction were goals to remedy the difficulties visitors found in perusing through the prior site's content. Adding an outdated layout to the equation, it was surely time for a more modern look and feel.

In addition to the new look, we've also included several new elements including social media integration and more user-friendly capabilities. For instance, expandable menu options will allow visitors to see specific sets of information without having to scroll down a ton of text. In areas such as our FAQ page, you won't need to search far for particular answers.

Regarding the content, you'll see new features like our "Student Spotlight," where we will be presenting individual stories from our best resources—the students. Here, visitors will hear personal stories that offer a better picture into who makes up our student body. It's a good opportunity to see what it's like to be a College of Human Medicine (CHM) student.

Also featured at the bottom of our homepage, CHMVIEW will showcase timely, informative videos. Visitors can currently view a two-minute clip entitled, "This Is Our Story," made to celebrate our 50th anniversary and showcasing our decades of contributions. We'll be plugging in additional videos about the college over time along with special messages from admissions staff about the application process. 

You see, the MSU College of Human Medicine is different from many medical schools in that we use a completely separate website for our specific admissions information. Typically, many schools simply dedicate a tab/section of the institution's main website to admissions, with communications teams responsible for all of the content.

Here at CHM, the admissions office is tasked with maintaining the admissions website in-house. All of it.

As the pioneer community-based medical school in the nation, our line of thinking has always been a little nontraditional. In this case, a separate website specifically for the admissions office is equal parts a continuation of that nontraditional spirit as well as simple necessity.

The office of admissions truly needs its own space to showcase a vast amount of important content that otherwise wouldn't fit in with the main CHM website. There are a lot of details that go into the many different programs and tracks we offer, so being hands-on with our content is important.

At the CHM Office of Admissions website, you will learn about much more than just the admissions process.

Users can find additional information on a number of CHM programs. Beyond the MD degree our students are offered, CHM also has unique resources, specializations and several dual-degree options, including the MD/PhD and MD/MPH programs.

CHM offers Early Assurance options for undergraduate students who find this fast-track as an attractive and viable option (See EAO and EAP for more information).

Unique to CHM, the ABLE Program is a "year-long enriched academic experience offered each application cycle to an invited group of disadvantaged students who have applied for admission to the College of Human Medicine." We take our commitment to serving underserved communities seriously and the ABLE program helps develop students the certainly fit with our mission.

Beyond our many programs, potential applicants and reapplicants alike will find our downloadable Premedical Handbook and Self-Assessment Guides helpful and easy to find on the new site. For those hoping to reapply, remember that you can submit the Self-Assessment Guide and subsequently request to meet with one of our advisors.

We've also included a multitude of helpful resources throughout. Within our Community Campuses and Clinical Sites pages, visitors can even be redirected to housing, entertainment, and governmental resources. Whether you'd like to learn more about East Lansing, Grand Rapids, or our clinical presence throughout the state, the resources provided here will direct you to some solid destinations.

But these are all just a few resources, features and capabilities. Now in our third rendition of the site, we hope the new site will give you as solid a picture of who we are and what we do as possible. We consider ourselves to be quite unique from what is expected of a medical school.


Francisco Velazquez is Communications Coordinator for the College of Human Medicine Office of Admissions and has been with CHM for close to two years.

Friday, May 15, 2015

CHM Graduates Moving On To Residencies Across the Country

After fourth-year College of Human Medicine (CHM) students enjoy their commencement ceremony with friends and family this weekend, the Class of 2015 will also be eyeing the next step and first as official physiciansresidency.

This past March, 178 soon-to-be Spartan MD's had their residency placements confirmed. As usual, the 2015 Match season was one of great pride and joy.

Approximately 34% of the seniors will remain in Michigan for their graduate medical education. The remaining 66% of students will be training in many other states across the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest and West regions at some of the most competitive residency programs in the nation.

New Spartan MD's will be moving on to serve patients all across Michigan in both urban and rural communities. Beyond state lines, graduates will be headed to many of the nation's major cities like Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta, San Diego, Denver, and even outside the country in Toronto.

As for specialties, 45% of the 2015 class will be entering primary care. The top seven specialty placements were:
  1. Family Medicine (27 graduates) 
  2. Internal Medicine (25 graduates) 
  3. Pediatrics (21 graduates) 
  4. Obstetrics-Gynecology (17 graduates) 
  5. Emergency Medicine (15 graduates) 
  6. General Surgery (14 graduates)
  7. Anesthesiology (12 graduates)
Overall, 96.2% of the CHM seniors secured a residency placement through the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). Following the match, four more students post-matched into residencies and 11 students received appointments outside of the NRMP, which can include military matches.

The students had very exciting Match Day celebrations. In fact, this Match Day was special in that 25 students were among the first to celebrate Match Day with their families at our new facility in Flint, which opened just this past fall.

Wherever they go, we know CHM graduates will be great contributors to the communities they enter. Congrats and good luck to the Class of 2015!

Monday, April 13, 2015

CHM Assistant Dean for Admissions Discusses DACA in "DREAMers of Medicine" Post

The following was written by Dr. Joel Maurer, College of Human Medicine Assistant Dean for Admissions, and was originally posted in March 2015 as part of the "Bioethics in the News" series by The Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences

In February 2013 while visiting the University of California-Riverside, I presented a program on how to best prepare for medical school. As Assistant Dean for Admissions, I’d given this talk numerous times, and as such felt comfortable addressing questions from premed audiences. It was at that point I encountered a moment of awkwardness….

“Dr. Maurer, does your medical school consider applications from undocumented students?”

I’d previously addressed questions about citizenship on many occasions, but never quite in the context of the question at hand. Thoughts began to race through my head… “Undocumented, as in illegal alien? Attending our colleges and universities? Really?” I suddenly suspected that the response that [the College of Human Medicine] will only consider US citizens, Canadians, and permanent residents wasn’t the answer this student (and perhaps a few others) was looking for. It then hit me that there is something going on in American higher education that I was not aware of. I needed an education about this, and quick!

Throughout the early 21st century, Congress attempted numerous times to pass the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors). Its intent was to provide protection from deportation of individuals who had come to the US  illegally as children (under the age of 15), graduated from a US high school or received their GED, and had lived here continuously for at least 5 years.

On August 15, 2012, US Citizenship and Immigration Services started accepting applications under executive order of the President for his new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, in which qualifying individuals are given legal renewable protection from deportation every two years. To qualify, applicants must: arrive to the US before age 16; live here continuously since July 15, 2007; be under age 31 in June 2012; demonstrate completion of high school or a GED; and be without conviction of a felony or serious misdemeanor.

Most DACA enrollees come from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Approximately 2 million people qualify or potentially qualify for DACA, most living in California and Texas. In Michigan, approximately 15,000 people would potentially qualify or have enrolled for DACA. DACA enrollees can get a driver’s license, work permits, and social security numbers (meaning that they can pursue medical residency and become employed). They can take the MCAT and all US medical licensing exams. In states with the highest numbers of undocumented DACA potentials, there are no laws prohibiting their medical licensure.

Up to 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school annually. The right to this education was granted in 1982 when the Supreme Court ruled that undocumented children could not be denied a K-12 education. It is less clear how many undocumented students attend college. Estimates in California suggest that 10-20% of undocumented students who graduate from high school enroll in college. With a national graduation rate of 59%, this would translate into roughly 3,800—7,600 undocumented college graduates nationally.

In many states, immigrant youth have worked hard to pass in-state tuition bills at their respective public colleges and universities. California and Texas have been able to pass bills granting access to state financial aid. And Illinois has passed a bill creating a state-run private scholarship fund. Federal loans, though, are not available.

According to the Undocumented Student Guide to College, the following schools are considered DACA-friendly: Western Michigan University, Michigan Technological University, Hope College, University of Detroit, Eastern Michigan University, Olivet College, Marygrove College, and Grand Valley State University. Eastern Michigan University, Wayne State University, and the University of Michigan recently began offering in-state tuition to undocumented students meeting Michigan residency requirements. Michigan State University does not offer in-state tuition to undocumented or DACA enrolled matriculants.

Let’s now take this a step further and think about DACA in the context of the mission of our College:
Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine is committed to educating exemplary physicians and scholars, discovering and disseminating new knowledge, and providing service at home and abroad. We enhance our communities by providing outstanding primary and specialty care, promoting the dignity and inclusion of all people, and responding to the needs of the medically underserved.
I believe it is no mistake that “responding to the needs of the medically underserved” is the last component of our mission—it leaves a lasting impression. Undocumented students are civically engaged and give back to their communities. Coming from underrepresented backgrounds in medicine, they are likely to return to their communities—low income, doctor shortage areas—and serve as primary care physicians.

Immigration remains highly problematic and politicized. And my point is not to initiate commentary about how to solve the problem of illegal immigration by those who were brought to our country as children beyond their own will, raised in American society, speak the dominant language, and educated in our public schools. My personal ethics, though, compel me to want to help these people if for no other reason than their personal merits and potential to our society (or even for what I believe is our profession’s duty of beneficence and the value of social justice).

I have since received a handful in inquiries from DACA students in Michigan asking us to accept their application to medical school. If we believe that DACA enrollees possess value in our society, giving them the opportunity to apply to medical school is the first step in recognizing this potential. If we continue the status quo, we risk trying to defend a mission statement in light of an admissions policy that is selective and rejects inclusiveness. If we change our current policy, we risk scrutiny and support from certain aspects of the public. The issues are complex to say the least.

Shouldn’t we, though, as a college and institution be grappling with this? It appears that others in Michigan have (and are moving onward). At a minimum, this is an issue that we can no longer ignore. I hope that our institution is having this conversation. If asked, I know what position I and my conscious would take.

  • Balderas-Medina Anaya Y, del Rosario M, Doyle LH, Hayes-Bautista DE. Undocumented students pursuing medical education: The implications of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  Academic Medicine. 2014 Dec; 89(12):1599-602.


Several weeks later, Dr. Maurer also spoke at a Steering Committee meeting to begin looking for ways to engage the issue at an institutional level. Please see "Steering Committee begins dialogue on undocumented student concerns" via The State News.

Joel Maurer, MD, 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.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

New MCAT Reflective of Changes To Medicine, Medical School

Starting in just a few short weeks, a much different MCAT will be administered across the nation. These revisions are some of the most extensive changes to the test in its 80-plus year history. The new test will identify specific competencies whereas previous versions relied heavily on one's grasp of prescribed material.

The question for many is...why?

All of these changes to the MCAT are spurred on by a domino-effect that begins with the fact that health care is changing. Advancements in medicine and technology are consistently coming at a rapid pace. This is especially true today in the information age.

Since the last version of the MCAT was first implemented, medical research and scientific knowledge have taken great strides. Thus, the foundation that tomorrow's doctors need to have is also evolving. Future physicians will need enhanced critical reasoning skills and must also have the ability to apply an even broader set of knowledge to more diverse populations. What makes a good doctor is being redefined.

For instance, we now know how big a role behavioral and sociocultural factors play in determining health. Future physicians need to comprehend how behaviors, biological factors, physical environments and even social inequities all influence a patient and, on a larger scale, the communities in which they come from.

For this reason, medical schools are adopting more competency-based curricula, including the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM). Here at CHM, we will be transitioning into our Shared Discovery curriculum next year to better prepare students for residency and beyond.

The typical medical school curriculum has required a lot of book learning and memorizing facts. But medical schools like our own will implement clinical exposure much earlier to augment competency-based learning beyond lectures and reading materials.

Broader bodies of knowledge that include interprofessional training, communication, and the social determinants of health will be emphasized to ensure future doctors are able to deliver better patient care and solve the complex problems facing the future of medicine.

This philosophical change directly affects what incoming students need to be prepared for, which in turn affects how medical school applicants are reviewed in the first place. While CHM was the first medical school in Michigan to use the Multiple Mini-Interview format (MMI), others across the U.S. are switching to interview methods like the MMI as they transition into a more holistic review process.

Potential students must be more well-rounded than they were in the past. Meaningful social and volunteer experiences paired with clinical exposure are just two more things CHM considers when reviewing an applicant. The personal statement, secondary essays and letters of recommendation are also important factors beyond metrics when determining one's fit with our program. Lastly, one must do well on the MCAT.

The MCAT's purpose is to examine "the skills and knowledge medical educators and physicians have identified as key prerequisites for success in medical school and the practice of medicine," per the MCAT Essentials guide.

Since the skills and knowledge that will be required of medical school students have changed, the MCAT must adapt so that it may properly assess those key prerequisites.

As discussed in detail on our previous post, the test will still be heavy in natural sciences. But the new revisions will also require some competency with social and behavioral sciences. In addition, the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section will test just that—the analysis and reasoning skills needed for success in medical school.

The hope is that this combination of testing will help diversify the workforce by making the exam and medical school application process more attractive to individuals from a variety of academic and demographic backgrounds.

Per the MCAT Essentials guide, "Increasing diversity within the study of medicine is something the AAMC and our members actively promote and endeavor to advance. It is hoped that the new content and skills tested on the exam will encourage people from broad educational backgrounds to apply to medical school."

The general consensus from medical educators and physicians alike is that the new MCAT will produce stronger, better equipped medical students. It's about more than science and preparation is always important. Here are some tips.

It is a very interesting time to enter the field of medicine. The release of the new MCAT is a milestone reflective not only of where medicine is, but also where it is headed.

Note: This is the second of a two-piece installment regarding the most recent set of revisions being made to the MCAT in April 2015. To read the first piece, please see "What You Need To Know About MCAT 2015: Details and Prep Info."


Thursday, March 12, 2015

What You Need To Know About MCAT2015: Details and Prep Info

It is now just over a month before the MCAT2015 is finally launched on April 17th, cementing one of the biggest revisions to the exam in its history.

Make no mistake: the revisions are extensive...but for good reason.

Beyond the particular emphasis on biological and physical sciences of past versions, the new MCAT will now also emphasize behavioral and social sciences. Still, specific prescribed material is only a portion of the next version's focus. The new MCAT will also assess competencies that are becoming increasingly important to success in medical school and beyond. They'll surely help you here at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Per the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the new exam is "Designed to help better prepare future physicians for the rapidly advancing and transforming health care system." The medical education community by and large supports this transition.

So what has changed and how should a person prepare?

The revision will restructure the MCAT into four new sections:
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

The top three sections are all science-based. While the first two cover natural sciences, Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior will draw from social and behavioral sciences concepts.  

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills is different in that it does not test any specific subject area. Instead, this section tests analysis and reasoning skills.

So what courses should you take to prepare?

You will still need biology, organic chemistry, general chemistry, and physics. These will prepare you for the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems and Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems sections. While the new MCAT won't have as large a proportion of general and organic chemistry as the last version, biochemistry will also be needed as it will be more emphasized in Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems.

In addition to biochemistry, the new revisions will also require at least some introduction to psychology and sociology to build your competency with behavioral sciences for the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section.

This portion of the exam will test your ability to understand sociocultural, biological and psychological influences on behavior and social interactions. So if you happen to have completed some coursework in anthropology, culture, ethics and even communications, you may find that helpful too.

The Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section will have questions that test your ability to analyze passages you will read—no specific outside knowledge will be necessary.

We always try to guide potential applicants to their school's pre-health/pre-professional office as each school will be able to advise what courses can fulfill those required competencies. The advisers there are naturally much more familiar with that institution's offerings. But in general, the courses outlined will offer a solid foundation for the new exam.

Click here to learn more about what's on the MCAT exam.

Score Scale
The most obvious change to the MCAT scoring scale is that scores will now be in three digits, rather than two. Each section will now be scored using a range from 118 to 132, with a median score of 125. The total score is the sum of the sectional scores and will be centered at 500 with ranges from 472 to 528.

Percentile ranks will be used to identify how you did in comparison to others. Students can use those percentile ranks to gauge how competitive their score is.

As with any exam, preparation is key. Only take the exam when you feel that you have thoroughly prepared and believe you can do your best. While many schools, including our own, look at candidates holistically, a good MCAT score is still a very important component to that review.

Taking a sample MCAT test can be a helpful in your preparation. Take the opportunity to familiarize yourself with both the content and format. According to the AAMC, "The second full-length test will be available in fall 2015. This 230-question test will be the first practice test offering scoring information."

The new test will be longer.

Each section will be 59 questions and 95 minutes long with the exception of Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills, which will be 53 questions and 90 minutes long.

The content time will be 6 hours and 15 minutes. The addition of the new section and each section's increase in length will raise the seated time from 5 hours and 10 minutes to approximately 7 hours and 30 minutes.

Taking practice tests under test conditions (i.e. strict time limits) is a good way to prepare for the new version.

Limits on Attempts
With the new exam, there are new limits on how many attempts you may take. Keep in mind that no-shows still count as an attempt, by the way.

In a single testing year, the MCAT may be taken up to three times. In consecutive testing years, it may be taken up to four. Seven attempts may be made in a lifetime. 


Chances are you may have already begun to prepare, especially if you are among the first to take the new version this spring. If not, a good place to start is on the AAMC's MCAT webpage, where you will find the official guide, MCAT Essentials and many more helpful, authoritative resources.

As we've noted several times throughout this blog, each school is different. So, how exactly an applicant's MCAT scores are viewed depends on each institution. For MSU, we not prefer one MCAT over the other and will continue to accept MCAT scores given within four years of the current application cycle. As long as you've taken the MCAT after spring of 2011, your score will be accepted and reviewed fairly as part of your overall application.

Good luck and...

Note: This is the first of a two-piece installment regarding the most recent set of revisions being made to the MCAT in April 2015. To read the second piece, please see "New MCAT Reflective of Changes to Med School Admissions and Beyond."

We're social! Get connected:
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter