Medical Schools Recruit More Diverse Students

Article excerpt

Across the country, catch-up courses are being developed to prepare these students. Before 1986 there were only 10 postccalaureate programs in the United States, according to Christine Yash. Yash is coordinator of such a program at Ohio State University and has compiled a directory of similar offerings at other schools. The current directory, she says, has 33 listings.

In many ways, latedicalmers say, becoming a doctor later in life is harder than taking the more traditional route.

"The students who come direct from college have advantages in the classroom," said Dr. Marianne C. Soufas, who spent 10 years as a graphic artist before entering medical school and who graduated from Stony Brook last month. "They're familiar with testking, they know how to memorize endless numbers of facts and pack in the kind of knowledge that you need."

But in other ways, older students say, some distance from college is an advantage.

"I've seen the real world," said Amanda Weintraub Ratliff, who has worked as a private school teacher, a social worker and is currently a llama rancher on an island off Washington State. She will enter medical school in August. "I've gotten all that out of my system and I'm ready to focus," she said.

There is evidence that during the last decade, when the number of nonaditional students increased, the requirements for medical school admission decreased.

Schools traditionally refuse to release statistics about the admission qualifications of specific groups of students, but many administrators who run programs that provide catch-up science courses for those wishing to go to medical school say there was such a drop and it may now be turning around.

Susan Joerling, coordinator of preprofessional programs for the School of General Studies at Columbia University, which provides catch-up science courses, said the rule of thumb at her program used to be that a gradeint average of 2.8 was sufficient for acceptance to the least competitive level of medical school while applications were falling.

Now that application rates have increased, she said, a 3.0 is considered necessary.

But older students and many medical school administrators argue that grades alone do not a doctor make. Nonaditional students, they say, bring qualities that modern medicine needs.

In general, they say, these students are not as likely to be lured by wealth.

One 40-yeard banker at Chase Manhattan who will enter Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in August estimates that the money he will spend for tuition combined with the income he will forgo during seven years of medical school and residency "is not far short of $1 million. …