June 7, 2006 — The University of Virginia is inaugurating an intensive 12-month program designed to enable “career changers” to complete all of the science prerequisites necessary to gain entrance to medical school.
The Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program, which begins on June 13, is for college graduates and professionals with exceptional academic records. Unlike the Commonwealth’s other post-bac pre-med programs at Virginia Commonwealth University and Eastern Virginia Medical School, the U.Va. program, offered by the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, is not designed for students seeking to enhance their grades for science courses previously taken as undergraduates.
The highly focused curriculum will include optimally sequenced courses in chemistry, biology, physics and organic chemistry; an MCAT preparation course; and volunteer opportunities to shadow local doctors or to intern at the U.Va. Medical Center. U.Va. medical faculty and pre-med counselors at University Career Services will provide dedicated advising.
These characteristics combine to make the program unique in Virginia or at any major university in the South, according to William Fornadel, director of academic programs (including the post-bac pre-med program) for the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
“By keeping the enrollment small, our program advisors will be able to work one-on-one with each student to design a customized curriculum that incorporates a doctor/student mentorship in a specialty of interest, research lectures and seminars in targeted subjects, counseling throughout the medical school application process, and personalized plans for how best to utilize the “glide year” – the period between acceptance to medical school in the fall and entry the following fall,” said Fornadel.
Tuition and fees for the 2006-2007 academic year are $18,000 for Virginia residents and $23,000 for out-of-state residents. The inaugural class of 2006-2007 comprises 19 students (11 from out of state), selected from a pool of 68 applicants. Class size will remain between 20 and 25 for the first few years of the program.
The incoming cohort’s average GPA is 3.5 (the same for in-state and for out of state students) with undergraduate degrees from schools such as Dartmouth College, Duke University, and the University of California, Berkeley.
Entering student Allyson S. Hudson, a National Dean's List Honoree and graduate of Wake Forest University, was attracted to the “accelerated and condensed program” that squeezes all the science prerequisites into a one-year curriculum, unlike other post-bac pre-med programs that she considered, which encourage students to spend more than one year to complete the same courses.
Johanna Von Hofe, a Teach for America and FEMA employee in New Orleans and a graduate of Duke University’s Public Policy Studies, chose the U.Va. program because it promises “lots of individualized attention” and because the curriculum is “very organized” and “everything is figured out” regarding when and in what order to take the various science classes required for medical school.
“What’s especially exciting about this program,” said Sondra Stallard, dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, “is how it brings together the University’s outstanding undergraduate classes and preeminent teaching hospital and medical school in order to address a critical personnel shortage in the medical fields. People with strong academic or professional records now have an express route to change careers in order to pursue medical careers.”
“This program would not have come to be without the leadership and vision of SCPS Dean Sondra Stallard, and the enthusiastic support from departments and schools throughout the University,” said Fornadel. “Those partners recognized that this program fills a vacancy in professional education for adults in the Commonwealth and throughout the country. We anticipate strong growth and success for our students and the program.”