There are a number of potential advantages to the student considering a BS/MD program. The obvious advantage is that if you are accepted into a BS/MD program, you no longer have to worry about whether you will be accepted into a medical school. You are accepted.
Early acceptance into a BS/MD program can ease your anxiety about the need to get very high grades during college. Most of the BS/MD programs specify the minimum grades you must get, often a 3.5 GPA, during college. But the required grades are generally less than you would want to get if you were applying to medical school through the traditional route.
For students applying to medical school through the traditional approach I generally recommend a minimum GPA of 3.5 to be competitive at most medical schools and the higher the GPA, the better. Having a relatively modest required GPA for BS/MD programs allows you to focus more on actually learning the subjects and less on the grades. The phrase you will often hear is “learning for learning sake.”
Students often feel they have more options in the types of courses they take during college while in a BS/MD program. Students trying to impress a medical admissions committee might not want to take classes in the humanities or social sciences because they feel that those classes aren’t as important as science classes.
They may also be concerned about how well they will do in these non science claases. So, they focus on hard science courses. Students involved with BS/MD programs can take the time to explore their interests outside the laboratory and often become more well rounded students—and doctors—as a result.
A third potential benefit of many, but not all, of the programs is the waiver of the requirement to take the Medical College Admission Test, the MCAT, before applying to medical school. Most students who take the MCAT spend a great deal of time preparing for the exam. If your program does not require this test, you have more time to be involved in other activities.
A fourth benefit offered by many BS/MD programs is a range of enrichment activities for students in the program. As an example of these enrichment activities, let’s take a look at Brown University’s Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME).
Brown has a Medicine in Action Program that offers undergraduates and medical students the opportunity to observe practicing physicians. They have a variety of international exchange programs in various countries around the world as well as study abroad programs, research opportuniaties and fellowships. In addition, Brown has the PLME Senate, a student organization that encourages early professional development among students involved in the program. Most accelerated programs have similar enrichment programs for their students.
A fifth benefit exists for those programs that last less than eight years. Obviously, in the shortened BS/MD programs you will have fewer years of college and medical school. And that means not only do you get to be a doctor in a shorter period of time but you have fewer years of education to pay for.
Obviously, there are a number of reasons why you might want to consider a BS/MD program. But, BS/MD programs aren’t for everyone who might be qualified, Next time I will talk about some of the potential disadvantages of the BS/MD programs.