Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Expands “Nontraditional Admissions” Program
If you’re an undergraduate student hoping to get a job in the medical field, chances are that you’re a pre-med major. Most medical schools require a score of courses to be taken before taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)test, particularly courses dealing in sciences. But one New York medical school has been turning heads in a non-orthodox approach to its admission practices.
For the past 25 years, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has accepted graduate students who earned their Bachelor’s degree in humanities, and not pre-med. Since then, this nontraditional path to a medical degree has accounted for bringing in roughly a quarter of the school’s incoming students.
“It was designed to attract humanities majors to medicine who would bring a different perspective to education and medical practice,” said Dr. Dennis Charney, the dean at Icahn.
Now, Icahn is expanding the Humanities in Medicine program (HuMed) to include undergraduates of all educational backgrounds under the new moniker “FlexMed.” As a result, there will no longer be any requirement to take any pre-med classes or the MCAT.
Under this new program, roughly half of all incoming students at Icahn will come from majors other than pre-med by 2015. In particular, Charney and the Icahn administration hope that the FlexMed program will attract computer science and engineering majors.
“We’re really looking for students that are innovative, that think out of the box,” Charney says, “the [Mark] Zuckerbergs of the world that would go into medicine instead of [creating] Facebook.”
The move comes in the wake of a 2009 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that was critical of the century-old system for admittance into American medical schools. The report suggested that “focusing on scientific competencies rather than particular classes” will allow for a larger number of medical professionals that possess a more well-rounded skillset, and thus, more innovation.
In order to gauge how well the new FlexMed program performed in achieving these goals, Icahn will track all students admitted to the school through the FlexMed program throughout their attendance and into their professional career in hopes of spotting what difference these new admissions standards has made.
“If we show that we attract a really innovative group of students,” he says, “then I think [other medical schools] will follow our lead.”