Med school launches accelerated program
HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University and its medical school are offering up to 10 qualified West Virginia students annually a chance to complete requirements for becoming a doctor in a shorter time frame and potentially save tens of thousands of dollars in tuition.
The accelerated program announced Tuesday by Dr. Joseph Shapiro, dean of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, means a student could complete a bachelor's degree and a doctor of medicine degree in seven years instead of the traditional eight.
In addition, a student who completes the undergraduate requirements of the program also would receive a waiver of tuition for all four years of medical school, officials said. At the school's current tuition rate, that would be a savings of more than $80,000 for a student.
The program, which will begin in the fall 2015 semester, is part of Marshall's efforts to develop a physician workforce for the region and increase in-state recruitment, Shapiro said in a news release.
"One of the ways we can facilitate that goal is to create programs that attract our state's best and brightest," he said. "This accelerated program allows us to place those highly performing students on a fast track to medical education."
Only 10 students annually will be accepted into the accelerated program, said Jennifer T. Plymale, associate dean for admissions at the school of medicine. She said the medical school will accept 75 students into the entire medical school class, and the accelerated program students will account for 10 of those spots.
Students who successfully complete the undergraduate requirements of the program will receive the tuition waiver for all four years of medical school, as well as a waiver from taking the MCAT, the entrance exam for medical school.
Tuition for in-state students at the medical school is $20,086 for the 2014-15 academic year.
Students will not be required to practice any specific kind of medicine to qualify for the program, but Plymale said recruiting in-state will be geared toward the medical school's nationally recognized ability to produce family practice physicians.
Admission requirements for the program include a minimum ACT score of 30, with a minimum math score of 27 or a minimum SAT score of 1330-1350 SAT with at least a 610 in math, a cumulative high school GPA of 3.75 on a 4.0 scale, three letters of recommendation and an on-campus interview.
Students accepted into the program will follow an accelerated undergraduate program in biological sciences, which will be completed in three years. Once they successfully complete their first year of medical school, they will receive their bachelor's degrees.
"We are a state-assisted medical school, and our mission is to recruit a workforce for West Virginia," Plymale said. "When you have additional family practice, there's a large body of patients who can be taken care of. A family practice physician can see anyone from infants to adults, and as more people need these services, it's important to have physicians in our communities."
Eric K. Hardin has been named program coordinator for the initiative. He joined the School of Medicine in January with 14 years in adult and higher education at Ashland Community and Technical College and Mountwest Community and Technical College.
Plymale credited the efforts of Hardin and School of Medicine team members Christi L. Adkins, Deborah H. Curry, Amber M. Vance and Cindy A. Warren, who, along with representatives from the Honors College and College of Science, have spent the last year designing the program.
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