Interview with Mount Sinai – All About FlexMed

Session 16

Session 16

In today's episode, Ryan talks with Dr. David Muller, the Dean for Medical Education at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (MSSM) about FlexMed, a program that allows you to apply to medical school as early as high school senior or undergrad freshmen or sophomore as well as skip most of the traditional premed requirements like the MCAT, organic chemistry, biochemistry, or physics. FlexMed is basically an upgrade of what was previously called HuMed (Humanities in Medicine).

Today, David discusses all you need to know about FlexMed including how you can prepare yourself to become a competitive applicant to the FlexMed program in the future.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with David:

What is FlexMed?

  • An alternative path to medical school for students that don't want to sacrifice broad and deep college experience or don't want to go through the “detrimental” environment in the premed world
  • Students don't have to take the traditional science requirements and instead explore their passions
  • Additional semester in the realm of health policy, public health, global health, bioethics, and biostats
  • The number of available seats for the program has increased from 1/4 of a class to 1/2 of a class

The structure of US medical schools vs. medical schools in Europe

Students having limited exposure to science:

  • Getting the bearings after the first semester and on par with their peers
  • FlexMed students are given a 6-week course to expose them to biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics to avoid “shell shock”

FlexMed students vs. “regular” students

  • 2010 published HuMed article showing no statistical difference between success
  • Non significant trend towards psychiatry and primary care residencies
  • Students coming in without hard sciences background don't have any significant withdrawal from medical school

The ideal applicants for the FlexMed program:

  • Great degree of commitment to the field
  • The ability to articulate and demonstrate what they're going to do with their education
  • Innovative and creative
  • Ambitious

Avoiding burnout and making students more happy:

  • Creating a system that won't make people burned out before going to medical school, students will be less likely to undergo burnout
  • These students can be the drivers of a more dramatic change

Links and Other Resources:


2010 Published HuMed Article

Some criticism of the program

Wall Street Journal Article

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Dr. Ryan Gray: The MCAT Podcast is only sixteen weeks into its release, but The Premed Years is now celebrating four years. If you haven't checked out that podcast, go to

This is The MCAT Podcast, session number 16.

A collaboration between the Medical School Headquarters and Next Step Test Prep, The MCAT Podcast is here to make sure you have the information you need to succeed on your MCAT test day. We all know that the MCAT is one of the biggest hurdles as a premed, and this podcast will give you the motivation and information that you need to know to help you get the score you deserve so you can one day call yourself a physician.

Alright so we've talked about pre-req's before, but we're going to dig into one specific subject here, Sociology, so let's get started. Alright Bryan we talked about pre-req's for the MCAT back in session 9, which if you're listening to this and you haven't heard that one, go to But we want to- or I want to cover specifically Sociology and whether or not it's really a subject we have to take for the MCAT, or is living life enough of- like school of hard knock for knowing things about Sociology?

Taking Sociology as a Pre-Req

Bryan Schnedeker: So Ryan I know the listeners may be a little tired of hearing me say this, but the answer is yes and no, or it depends of course, right? So you hear a lot of students say things like, “Oh but so much of this just seems like common sense.” Like you said like, “I've lived in a society for some decades now, shouldn't that be enough? Do I really need Sociology?” And in one sense the answer is no, you don't have to take it as a college course because good MCAT prep will involve reviewing Sociology. At the same time, you can't necessarily rely just on kind of being an adult in society and expecting to be able to make good decisions on MCAT multiple choice questions. And I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. So you take the words ‘prejudice,' ‘discrimination,' and ‘stereotype,' right? So three words that we all know what they mean, we use them in everyday sort of conversation and you think, ‘Why would I need a Sociology class, right? I know what a stereotype is.' But the thing about the MCAT is they're going to actually demand that you know the technical definitions of things. So not just the college educated adult definitions of things. And I've seen many, many of my students on initial practice exams or early in their prep get the question wrong because they didn't realize the very specific and precise distinction between stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. So I'll- for the listeners now I'll tell you what the difference is so you can see how you really do have to either take the course or study it on your own so that you're ready for the MCAT. So discrimination as it's going to show up on the MCAT has to be a behavior, right? Someone has to do something to discriminate against someone else. A stereotype is an idea, it's cognitive. So it's a thing that you think. It's not something you do, it's a thing you think. It's a belief that you have. And prejudice is a feeling or an affect. So it is an immediate positive or negative feeling that you have towards somebody because of some group membership that they have, right? So prejudice is a feeling, stereotype is an idea, and discrimination is a behavior. And just even a simple definition like that will let you get the questions right on the MCAT, but that may not be a subtlety that most folks would be aware of just on kind of like generalized college educated adult knowledge. And the thing about the MCAT is there's lots and lots of these sorts of subtle distinctions between technical terms as they're used in Sociology or Psychology, and my favorite is the difference between ‘I' and ‘me.' Right? Mead, a particular sociologist made a distinction between the ‘I' and the ‘me,' and you think- there's actually an official AAMC question where answer choice A is ‘I' and answer choice B is ‘me.' And the first time I saw that I just burst out laughing. It was like what is this? Dr. Seuss? I and me?

Dr. Ryan Gray: It cannot be.

Bryan Schnedeker: Right? I will not take the MCAT. Say I'm not with Green Eggs and Ham. You know and so that's the thing, you either have to take it in school or if you don't, you have to self-study it with good MCAT prep materials. So don't treat Sociology as a brush off subject, don't treat it as a common sense subject even though it very often is, you have to know all these technical terms for the MCAT.

Dr. Ryan Gray: So what the heck is the difference between ‘I' and ‘me'?

Bryan Schnedeker: Well the idea is that the ‘I' is kind of your true autonomous self, and the ‘me' is the vision you have in your head of how other people view you very loosely, so the ‘me' kind of has to obey social norms and things like that. But there is a distinction there and it does show up on the MCAT.

Dr. Ryan Gray: That sounds like split personality disorder.

Bryan Schnedeker: Right, yeah the good old Dissociative Identity Disorder, right.

Dr. Ryan Gray: Yeah alrighty, well that's an interesting one. So go sign up for a Sociology class.

Bryan Schnedeker: There you go, yup.

Final Thoughts

Dr. Ryan Gray: Alright there you have it. So you might be better off figuring out your schedule and fitting in Sociology so that you can understand these nuances with different words, and definitions, and everything else like we were talking about. So check that out. If you haven't checked out the other podcast episode we did about all of the pre-req's, go to, again that's session number 9 of The MCAT Podcast. If you don't subscribe to this podcast, you should so that you can get this podcast every week on your device for free without missing one. It's easy to do. If you're listening to this right now in a browser like in Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer if that's even still a thing, or Apple's Safari, go on your device and search for podcasts, and download whatever podcast app you have, and it's easy to subscribe. Just search for MCAT, or Med Ed Media. You can find all the podcasts there.

Alright I hope you have a great week of MCAT prep if you're in the middle of it. Keep pushing forward and understand that as you're studying for the MCAT it's hard, it's daunting, it's stressful, it's frustrating, it's lonely, it's a lot of things but as long as you keep the goal in mind of passing the MCAT, and understanding why you're doing it, it makes it that much easier. So keep your head up and we'll see you next week here at The MCAT Podcast.

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