The Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education: the first 20 years of a unique BS-MD program

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Abstract

BACKGROUND. Since 1973 the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, City University of New York Medical School, has integrated baccalaureate education with preclinical medical education; its graduates earn BS degrees in five years and are then eligible for entry into the traditional third year of medical school at one of seven participating medical schools in New York State. The school has a twofold mission: (1) to expand access to medical careers among inner-city youths, particularly among underrepresented minorities, and (2) to encourage the pursuit of primary care specialties among its graduates. METHOD. To assess the extent to which the two goals of the school have been met, the authors collected and analyzed information on the 1,402 students who entered Sophie Davis between 1973 and 1992, especially the 1,068 students from the 15 classes that entered the school from 1973–74 through 1987–88. In particular, the analysis focused on data on academic achievement and on choice of practice specialty. Where possible, state and national data were used for comparison. RESULTS. The results suggest that the school has achieved varying degrees of success: (1) The program has expanded access to medical careers among underrepresented-minority students at success rates well above national averages for college freshmen entering traditional premedical curricula. (2) Graduates have chosen primary care specialties at a somewhat higher rate than the national average, despite the school's lack of official involvement with students once they began clinical training in medical school. CONCLUSION. The aggregate data show that the school has achieved success in expanding access to medical careers for inner-city youth (especially among underrepresented minorities) and has been at least partially successful in nurturing primary care physicians. The latter goal may be realized more fully if the school becomes more involved in the clinical education of its graduates.

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