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Is There Risk in Applying to New Medical Schools?

Session 120

As you build your school list, you may find that there are new medical schools opening when you are applying. Is it a good idea to apply to those schools?

This is a question that has been coming up more often since more and more new medical schools are opening.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:13] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

As usual on the OldPreMeds Podcast, our question is taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum:

“I’m curious to know if anyone has any experience or tips for someone who’s thinking of applying to a brand new medical school? My undergraduate school, University of Houston, is opening its new medical school at exactly the time when I’ll be ready to apply. So if I went there, I’d be in the first cohort. Does anyone have any helpful advice on this?

I know a few new medical schools have popped up in the last few years, and I would love to hear what it was like to be in one of the early classes. I imagine a new school wouldn’t be completely organized and that might add some extra stress, but it also seems like a neat experience.”

Does anyone have any helpful advice on whether to apply to a new medical school?Click To Tweet

[01:55] The Risks of Applying to a New Medical School

When you look at LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education) that does the accreditation for MD medical schools and COCA (The AOA Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation) for DO schools, they go through a whole process for accreditation.

As soon as a school comes forward with their intention to start a new medical school in the city and who’s going to run it, all of these conversations will take place with the accreditation bodies.

New medical schools can't start accepting students until they get preliminary accreditation.Click To Tweet

This means that the school will have to get a preliminary accreditation through these bodies. And in order for the school to get to that point, they’d have to have shown a lot of things. They have to show their curriculum or the administrative structure and facilities in place. So there’s a lot that medical schools have to do to get to the point of preliminary accreditation.

Considering this, you know you’re not going to show up to a school that doesn’t have a building, faculty, leadership, or administration set up. All that has been going on for years prior to the school accepting their first class.

Just because it's a new medical school doesn't mean you're going to show up to a school that doesn't have a building, faculty, leadership, or administration set up.Click To Tweet

[03:47] Will Going to a New Medical School Affect Your Board Scores?

A lot of students are worried about the curriculum when it comes to new schools. “Is the school going to prepare me for the boards?” And as I’ve said, your medical school doesn’t help you score well on your board exams. Only you do that.

Yes, schools may have resources and they may buy you access to certain test prep materials. But it’s you that puts in the effort day in and day out to make sure that you score the best you can on your boards.

Your medical school doesn't help you score well on your board exams. Only you do that.Click To Tweet

Don’t Worry About Whether Your School Has Resources to Help for the Boards

You shouldn’t be worried about your school preparing you for your boards. The boards are an open-book test for you and medical schools. You know what’s going to be on the boards. You know how you have to prepare. If the school isn’t providing that, you have to go out and seek out the resources necessary for yourself.

Even if your school does provide you resources for board prep, if they’re not providing them in the form that helps you learn best, then you’re likely to go out and seek other materials to help you learn better anyway.

The boards are an open-book test for you and medical schools. You know what's going to be on the boards. You know how you have to prepare.Click To Tweet

So from a curriculum and a boards preparation standpoint, don’t worry about whether or not the school is prepared to help you on those tests. Again, through the accreditation process, the curriculum is evaluated. Then the accreditation bodies make sure that you are as prepared as possible to get the information you need to succeed.

[Related podcast: Board Rounds.]

[06:06] Will Attending a New Medical School Affect My Ability to Match into Residency?

The most relevant preparation you receive for residency during medical school is not necessarily the school itself, but your clinical rotations. What is expected of you in those clinical rotations? What responsibilities do you have in your clinical rotations? What sort of exposure to different environments do you have in your clinical rotations?

Good clinical rotations set you up for success during your internship and the rest of your residency. That part of medical school helps program directors figure out who you are. They don’t care if you had a certain way of learning biochemistry or pathology. But it’s how ready are you to be on the floors in the hospital when it comes to residencies. And that’s shown through your clinical years.

Depending on the location, maybe a new medical school is setting up a new teaching hospital, as well. So this is another thing to think about. How prepared is the hospital to be training medical students? Has the hospital had medical students before from another medical school, and they’re just adding you?

What matters to residencies is how well you're prepared to work as part of a team in a hospital, and that's shown in your clinical rotations.Click To Tweet

Where are the clinical rotations? How are the physicians and the ancillary staff at that hospital going to treat this new influx of medical students?

[08:36] Going to a New Medical School Through the HPSP Scholarship

Although I don’t have all the info on this, if you’re thinking about an HPSP scholarship through the army, navy, or air force, you have to go to a fully accredited university/medical school to get the scholarship.

Brand new medical schools only have their preliminary accreditation since they don't get fully accredited until that first cohort graduates.Click To Tweet

New medical schools only have their preliminary accreditation since they don’t get fully accredited until that first cohort graduates. So I’m not sure if you can go through the HPSP scholarship at these new medical schools. However, take this info with a grain of salt. To be sure, ask a recruiter and find out.

[Related episode: Air Force HPSP Scholarship Interview.]

[09:35] Should You Go to a New Medical School or Not?

At the end of the day, a new medical school does offer some excitement. Everybody is learning from each other above and beyond how it is in a normal medical school class. Everybody is doing things for the first time.

Often, the faculty and leadership of a new medical school are coming from another medical school. So it’s not their first rodeo. But it’s their first time in this new environment with new faculty and new admins. It’s their first cohort, and they have new facilities. So you’re all there experiencing it together for the first time. And this can be exciting for some people. On the other hand, that may add stress for you.

At the end of the day, a new medical school does offer some excitement.Click To Tweet

So you have to look at who you are as a person. What stresses you out? What gives you anxiety? If a new medical school and all those adventures give you too much anxiety, don’t do it. But if you’re ready for the ride and the adventure, go ahead and consider it.

As long as it’s not affecting you personally from an anxiety or stress standpoint, going to a new medical school won’t have any big repercussions on the rest of your career. It’s all about who you are as a student and the effort that you put into things. It’s about the grades and scores you get.

But again, you have to consider the clinical rotations, not just the preclinical years. What do teaching hospitals look like?

If a new medical school and all those adventures give you too much anxiety, don't do it. But if you're ready for the ride and the adventure, go ahead and consider it.Click To Tweet

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