Choosing Tomorrow's Physicians
The medical school admissions process probably looks somewhat "mysterious" from the outside, looking in. It is by far the area in my office that generates the most questions. Common questions include:
What is the role of the Admissions Committee?
Who are its members? The Admissions Committee processes, screens, and recommends applicants for admission to UNDSMHS using the admissions policy and procedures approved by the Faculty Academic Council (FAC) and the Dean. Because the school's accreditors (LCME) require that the admissions process be vested in the faculty, the voting membership consists of a sound majority of faculty. Four members of the full-time basic science faculty; two members of the full-time clinical science faculty; two members of the part-time or volunteer clinical faculty and four medical students make up of the committee.
How does the admissions process work?
Between July 1 and November 1, students complete an electronic application which also includes a personal statement. They have official transcripts sent as well as four letters of recommendation. After the grades are verified, "pre-interview" points are assigned for state residency, MCAT scores, and grade point averages. Those with a high total number of points are automatically scheduled for interview and the other records are reviewed and the committee votes on offering an interview. In all, about 155 applicants are interviewed for the 62 positions in the class.
Is the interview important? How is it conducted?
All interviews occur in December through early February. An interview team, consisting of a physician, a basic scientist, and a medical student meets with the candidate for about 45 minutes. The interview gives the school the opportunity to get to know the candidate personally and to assess such traits as communication skills, empathy, maturity, motivation and commitment to a career in medicine, and ability to function in a small group setting. It also provides the opportunity to clarify anything on the application which causes concern. The interview is a two-way street, also providing the applicants the opportunity to ask their questions or
provide additional information.
What does a good applicant for UNDSMHS look like?
The Admissions Committee, first, needs assurance that the individual can handle the academics of medical school. Grade point averages, MCAT scores, average course loads, course difficulty, and other time demands all come into play in making this assessment. Understanding of and commitment to medicine is a second important variable. Most, if not all of our admitted students, have worked in a health care setting and also have shadowed physicians in an effort to deepen this understanding. The individual also will possess the personal traits which are important to a physician (e.g., a high level of motivation, ability to work with people, compassion and empathy, integrity, and ability to deal with the everyday problems of life). Finally, the applicant will be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. and will have close ties to North Dakota, such as state residency, family land ownership, or a parent graduate of UNDSMHS.
Is service on the Admissions Committee rewarding?
Service on the Admission Committee is one of the most difficult jobs the School of Medicine and Health Sciences has available. The hours are long and often inconvenient and preparation for committee meetings is intense. The Admissions Committee members make difficult decisions which impact not only the lives of the applicants, but also society. The rewards of the Admissions Committee service are in the knowledge and satisfaction of a job well done. As the Dean often says, the Admissions Committee is one of the two most important committees in any medical school, essentially shaping the future of tomorrow's medicine.
Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Admissions
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