Challenging Traditional Premedical Requirements as Predictors of Success in Medical School: The Mount Sinai School of Medicine Humanities and Medicine Program

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PurposeStudents compete aggressively as they prepare for the MCAT and fulfill traditional premedical requirements that have uncertain educational value for medical and scientific careers and limit the scope of their liberal arts and biomedical education. This study assessed the medical school performance of humanities and social science majors who omitted organic chemistry, physics, and calculus, and did not take the MCAT.MethodThe authors compared and contrasted the academic outcomes of 85 Humanities and Medicine Program (HuMed) students at Mount Sinai School of Medicine with those of their 606 traditionally prepared classmates for the 2004-2009 graduating classes. The authors analyzed basic science knowledge, clerkship performance, humanism, leadership, community service, research fellowships, distinctions, and honors.ResultsThere were no statistically significant differences between the groups in clerkship honors other than psychiatry (HuMed students outperformed their peers, P < .0001) or in commencement distinctions or honors. Although HuMed students were significantly more likely to secure a scholarly-year mentored project (P = .001), there was no difference in graduating with distinction in research (P = .281). HuMed students were more likely to have lower United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 scores (221 ± 20 versus 227 ± 19, P = .0039) and to take a nonscholarly leave of absence (P = .0001). There was a trend among HuMed students toward residencies in primary care and psychiatry and away from surgical subspecialties and anesthesiology.ConclusionsStudents without the traditional premedical preparation performed at a level equivalent to their premedical classmates.

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