A new pipeline program at Georgia Regents University is aimed at recruiting high school students who have their sights set on a career in medicine and want to attend Georgia's only public medical school.
The GRU B.S./M.D. program, which will see its first four students enroll this fall, lays out a curriculum that allows students to earn their bachelor of science and medical degrees in eight years. It offers conditional medical school acceptance on entry to the program, says Dr. Paul Wallach, Vice Dean of Academic Affairs for the Medical College of Georgia.
Students who meet certain benchmarks throughout their undergraduate coursework will be guaranteed a seat in medical school at the Medical College of Georgia – without having to go through the usual admissions process after the third year of college.
That's a big incentive for high ability high school students who already think they may be interested in becoming a physician, says Dr. Richard Griner, who chairs the GRU Department of Biological Sciences and helped design the program. Last year, more than 2,800 students applied for 230 first-year slots at MCG.
"If students in the program maintain a certain grade point average throughout, achieve a satisfactory score on the Medical College Admission Test, complete requirements for research, volunteer work and career shadowing and successfully complete an interview, they will have a seat in the medical school class after their fourth year," Griner says. "The goal is to make the transition as seamless as possible and to make GRU a destination of choice university – where students come to complete their undergrad and medical degrees, not just one or the other."
The program also will provide students opportunities for counseling, MCAT preparation, and other clinical or research experiences over the course of their undergrad careers. Bachelor's degrees, in cellular and molecular biology or chemistry, will be awarded through the College of Science and Mathematics.
Plans are already underway to decrease the program length to seven years next year, to create an additional incentive for students.
The B.S./M.D. program seemed like a natural step after Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences universities consolidated in January, Wallach says. The program is the first of its kind in the University System of Georgia.
"(GHSU's) strengths in health sciences education at the graduate level, combined with the strengths at (ASU) in undergraduate education were the perfect combination," he says. "Our ultimate goal is to bring in talented scholars and add to our wonderful cadre of medical students."
"This is one of the terrific results of the synergy and energy created by our new university," said MCG Dean Peter F. Buckley. "We believe it will be a win-win for students and for the physician workforce needs of our state and nation."
For more information about the B.S./M.D. program, call the GRU Office of Academic Admissions at 706-737-1632.
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