The pre-med student’s search for undergraduate programs is different than many other majors, as their undergraduate decisions hold a heavy weight on their future medical career. For a few high-achieving students, there’s a fast track option to their career as a physician.
Direct medical programs, or BS/MD or BA/MD programs, move students directly from their undergraduate program into a doctoral medical program, often without requiring an MCAT test. These direct programs are often completed in just seven years rather than the traditional route of eight years, while a few programs are as short as six years.
Advantages of Combined Programs
Beyond the obvious relief in securing an early seat in medical school, many direct medical programs allow students to bypass the MCAT or simply achieve a minimum threshold score to move to the medical portion of their education. This requirement is vastly preferable to the anxiety caused by needing to achieve an impressive MCAT score before tackling the tedious medical school application process. Additionally, direct admit students are able to gain a familiarity with medical facilities years in advance of their traditional peers, who don’t gain the same level of access until medical school is begun.
In the long run, the networking potential and internship opportunities alone can be an advantage. In BS/MD programs, medical doctorates typically continue at the same school as the undergraduate program, or at a partner school with a strong affiliation. One such program is the Washington & Jefferson College/Temple University which begins undergraduates at Washington & Jefferson College and has them finish at Temple University for medical school. This provides applicants with the stability of spending the entirety of their education in one location, allowing lasting connections to be built.
Disadvantages of Combined Programs
Although avoiding the substantial stress of applying for medical schools is a plus, the expectations within these programs are not a breeze. Many schools require certain stipulations be maintained to keep the med school transition intact, such as achieve a threshold score on the MCAT or maintain a high GPA.
Additionally, a high level of commitment is required by dedicating to a profession earlier than a traditional student. There is no room to change majors or explore alternative career paths outside of choosing a medical specialty.
Finally, the admissions process alone may be a deterrent to some, as it requires on-site interviews and extensive essays. It is recommended to research and write each school’s supplemental essays early, preferably beginning the summer before senior year.
Read the full article for the full scoop on BS MD programs on Niche.com.