MISSOULA – With 18 students accepted into medical schools this year, the Pre-Medical Sciences Program at the University of Montana reached an acceptance rate of 64 percent – 20 points higher than the national average of 44 percent.
The pre-med program has seen a steady increase in the number of students admitted into medical programs the past several years. In 2009, seven students received acceptance letters from at least one school. In 2010, just five. The number grew to 12 in 2011, and the program has had between 18 and 21 students admitted each year since then.
Mark Pershouse, Pre-Medical Sciences Program director, credits the steady increase to a task force formed in 2008 to improve pre-medical advising at UM. The task force, created at the request of then-Provost Royce Engstrom, included faculty from the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and other units on campus. Its members formulated a plan to provide increased support to students seeking careers in medical fields.
Now, the program supports students as they navigate rigorous coursework, provides MCAT preparation, coordinates job-shadow and volunteer opportunities, and conducts mock interviews with applicants, among other measures.
“We send students to prestigious medical schools such as Vanderbilt, Duke, Northwestern, Cornell, Colorado, UC-San Diego, Washington University in St. Louis and many others,” Pershouse said.
One recent UM graduate, Jeni Comstock, scored interviews at 10 medical schools and was later accepted to seven of them. She will attend the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health this fall.
Before revising the pre-med program, UM typically placed one or two students in the University of Washington’s WWAMI regional medical education program each year. This fall, nine UM grads will start their medical studies in Bozeman and Seattle through the WWAMI program.
“Now we aren’t happy until we reach nine or 10,” Pershouse said of UM’s WWAMI placement. “We are proud to say that nearly one-third of the WWAMI class participants in Bozeman are Grizzlies.”
The University’s medical school acceptance rate is particularly impressive, Pershouse said, considering UM’s pre-med program doesn’t try to “weed out” participants in the early years, which could result in even higher acceptance rates.
“The program opens its doors to all who wish to seek out advising,” Pershouse said. “There are no exclusion criteria as on many campuses.”
More information on the UM Pre-Medical Sciences Program is available online at http://premed.health.umt.edu/.