Newswise — The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is the first medical school in the United States to drive a fundamental shift in pre-medical education by offering college sophomores with any undergraduate major early acceptance, no MCAT, and progressive pre-med requirements for half of each entering class. Sophomores will be admitted in 2013 into the new program called “FlexMed”, with foundations in computational science and engineering; humanities and social sciences; or biomedical sciences, which will allow them to pursue any undergraduate major unencumbered by traditional pre-med requirements.
Many medical educators have called for significant reform of the current pre-med model for training, established nearly a century ago. The pace of discovery and innovation and the changing landscape of healthcare delivery warrant different requirements for students entering medical school. For example, genetics and genomic sciences are rapidly becoming a mainstay in medical research and clinical care, but such coursework is not part of typical pre-med programs.
“The current model of medical school training has stagnated despite major advances in science and medicine,” said Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. “We want to attract students with bright, creative minds who understand the role of precision medicine and big data and want to change the world. We also want innovators in clinical care who think of medicine in the larger social context and identify new practices for better care delivery. We believe FlexMed signals a paradigm shift in how we select, prepare, and educate the next generation of physicians, and hope other medical schools will follow suit.”
FlexMed builds on the success of Mount Sinai’s Humanities and Medicine (HuMed) program, which in 1987 was the first program in the United States to offer early assurance of acceptance to sophomores with a humanities background. Data from the HuMed program shows that these graduates perform as well as their classmates in areas such as honors grades in clerkships, class ranking, research and publications, school leadership, and community service.
“Traditional pre-med programs consume so much time and effort that students do not have the opportunity to see the bigger picture of their education or of medicine as a profession,” said David Muller, MD, Marietta and Charles C. Morchand Chair in Medical Education and Dean for Medical Education at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “We started HuMed because we wanted our students to thrive on a culture of academic rigor, mentorship, and self-discovery. The success of this program inspired us to take the lead in redefining medical education with FlexMed. This new paradigm fits perfectly with transformations that are occurring at Mount Sinai in medical school curricula, clinical care, and biomedical investigation.”
Steven T. Case, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry and Associate Dean for Medical School Admissions at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and a national thought leader on medical education, said, “Armed with a quarter century’s success with the Humanities and Medicine Program, the new FlexMed program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has the potential to revolutionize pre-medical education and truly transform medical school admissions. By discarding the MCAT, undergraduate students are afforded unparalleled flexibility in selecting majors, furthering academic pursuits and enhancing personal growth beyond what is feasible in traditional premedical curricula. This bold step, more than any other, will enhance the diversity and contribute to the educational excellence of medical students trained at Mount Sinai. Medical schools nationwide should note this courageous decision and closely monitor FlexMed outcomes.”
FlexMed is replacing turn-of-the-20th-century science courses with more relevant translational science and humanities coursework for 21st century physicians. Required coursework will include Ethics, Health Policy/Public Health, and Biostatistics. For students who have not pursued science majors, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, and Genetics will be taught at Mount Sinai prior to matriculation. Students will also be required to volunteer time in clinical settings as an undergraduate, and complete a senior thesis or its equivalent in any topic. They will be encouraged to be proficient in Spanish or Mandarin and to defer one or two years prior to starting at Mount Sinai to further pursue their academic interests.
“The science and technology of medicine, the delivery of care, and the populations we serve have changed substantially in recent decades. Furthermore, we are concerned whether we will have enough physicians and physicians with the requisite skills to meet society’s needs,” said George E. Thibault, MD, President of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, an organization that supports projects that improve health professional education. “FlexMed is responding to these changes and these needs, and I applaud Mount Sinai for taking an important step forward in changing the way we select and prepare the health care leaders of tomorrow.”
Valerie Parkas, MD, Associate Dean of Admissions and Associate Professor of Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said, “FlexMed will prime our students for the intellectual rigors of medical school by providing them with outstanding skills in communication and analytic thinking.”
Students will be selected for the FlexMed program based on a comprehensive review of their academic and extracurricular activities. They will also be interviewed to assess personal attributes such as collaboration, commitment, creativity, curiosity, empathy, innovation, initiative, and social conscience.
Mount Sinai plans to conduct a longitudinal study to measure cognitive and non-cognitive development as well as performance indicators of key skills desirable in a student. Demographic and scholastic information, personal attributes, scholarly activity, community service, and leadership skills will all be collected in the study.
For more information, visit www.mssm.edu/flexmed.
About The Mount Sinai Medical Center
The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Established in 1968, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is one of the leading medical schools in the United States. The Icahn School of Medicine is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service. It has more than 3,400 faculty members in 32 departments and 14 research institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report.
The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 14th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation’s top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Mount Sinai is one of just 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and by U.S. News & World Report and whose hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 560,000 outpatient visits took place.
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