The increasing demands of pre-medical coursework and activities has begun to limit the ability of potential medical students to pursue dedicated interests outside of these requirements. Because of this there is an increasing trend towards medical schools loosening up on their “prerequisite” courses and now only having “expectations”. Ironically, this coincides with the release of the new MCAT 2015 which requires a broader knowledge base including courses in psychology and biochemistry, which by default increases premedical requirements. One option to avoid the MCAT is an early assurance program (EAP). EAPs are competitive programs allowing undergraduate sophomores and juniors who are dedicated to a future in medicine to apply early to medical school and often, but not always, skip taking the MCAT examination. From the perspective of the medical school this allows the applicant to spend more time developing interests outside of the premedical requirements. These are not BA or BS/MD programs. These are programs that you apply to once you are already an undergraduate student at a 4 year program.
Most of these programs are only offered to certain undergraduate schools affiliated with each specific “early assurance” program. However, a handful of programs are open to any student at a 4 year undergraduate institution. These programs include the University of Toledo Medstart Program, the ICahn School of Medicine Flex Med Program at Mt. Sinai, the University of Florida Junior Honors Program, SUNY Upstate EAP, and the SUNY Buffalo EAP.
Although you often get to skip the MCAT, don’t be fooled, these programs are very competitive for a reason. Typically programs have specific requirements for overall and science GPA and a minimum baseline GPA of 3.5 or higher, minimum ACT/SAT scores, and a demonstrated dedication to medicine based on extracurricular and other activities. There are also strongly recommended prerequisite science courses. The application process may be through AMCAS or individual to the institution but overall is very similar in nature to the traditional medical school application. Typically you will need to include experiences, a personal statement, several letters of recommendation and potentially a committee letter. Some schools require you be selected by your pre-health advisor. Typically deadlines are in January, but each program differs so it is important to carefully read the requirements of each individual program.
There is wide variability on the percentage of each medical school class that is selected through each early assurance route. The ICahn School of Medicine plans to accept up to half of its entering class through the EAP. In contrast, the Geisel School of Medicine typically accepts 5 applicants/year through an EAP. If accepted, applicants are expected to reply within a short time period (often 2 weeks) and admission is usually binding. Even though you are already accepted to the medical school you are required to maintain your GPA throughout the remainder of your undergraduate education as a condition for admission. Non acceptance to an EAP typically does not prevent you from applying through the traditional route.
Some programs offer a specific curriculum for the accepted students. For example, the University of Toledo Medstart Program requires a 2 week program on the Health Sciences campus the summer between your junior and senior year. The ICahn School of Medicine offers a summer enrichment program to achieve competency in cell biology, biochemistry and genetics. The University of Florida Junior Honors program is unique in that it is an accelerated 7 year program. If you apply from an outside institution it requires that you transfer to the University of Florida for your junior year. There are two pathways: biomedical science or rural and underserved medicine. At the completion of your junior year you are required to complete a thesis research project and are integrated into the first year of medical school. At the completion of that year you receive your Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Florida.
In addition limited eligibility programs include (list may not be all inclusive):
- Wake Forest EAP: Wake Forest undergraduates only
- Georgetown EAP: Georgetown undergraduates only, does not include transfer students.
- Tufts Medical School: Beginning the 2014-2015 academic year only Tufts University sophomores will be eligible.
- Maine Track at Tufts Medical School EAP: This program is for individuals who are legal residents of Maine or have strong ties to Maine who plan to practice rural medicine; eligible schools include Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colby College and all University of Maine.
- Michigan State EAP: Eligibility includes Alma College, Aquinas College, Calvin College, Grand Rapids Community College/Grand Valley State University, Grand Valley State University, Hope College, Kettering University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Northern Michigan University, Saginaw Valley State University, and the University of Michigan-Flint. This program has a special emphasis on first generation college students looking to provide care in an underserved area. Application is junior year and MCAT is required.
- University of Cincinatti ROSE (Research, Observation, Service, & Education) Program: Eligibility is for Ohio residents and certain Indiana or Kentucky counties with Ohio reciprocity. Once accepted you spend two consecutive summers conducting research at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine becoming a junior expert. The MCAT is required.
- Drexel College of Medicine EAP: Eligibility includes Alleghany College after freshman year and Drexel University in junior year.
- University of Rochester: Eligibility includes Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Carleton College, Colgate University, CUNY Hunter, Hamilton College, Haverford College, Middlebury College, Swarthmore College, Williams College, Xavier University of Louisiana
- Albany Medical College EAP: Eligibility includes Amherst College, Bowdoin College, College of the Holy Cross, Hamilton College, Haverford college, Middlebury College, State University of New York at Albany, Swarthmore College and Williams College.
- Brody School of Medicine: Eligibility includes East Carolina University, the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and the North Carolina Honors College.
- Temple University School of Medicine EAP: Eligibility includes Temple University, Duquesne University, Washington & Jefferson College, Widener University, DeSales University, Lehigh University, Moravian College, Muhlenberg College, Bucknell University or Juniata College. MCAT is required.
- Loyola Stritch School of Medicine EAP: Eligibility includes Loyola University Chicago.
- Boston University Early Medical School Selection Program: Program emphasis is on underrepresented minorities. The summer term after your sophomore and junior year is spent at BU, as well as, the final undergraduate year.
- Boonshoft School of Medicine (Wright State University): Eligibility includes Central State University, the University of Dayton, Wilberforce University and Wright State University.
- Geisel School of Medicine Early Assurance Program: Eligibility includes Middlebury College and Dartmouth College students.
- Penn State College of Medicine EAP: Eligibility includes Eberly College of Science.