Med school’s Early Selection Program in 20th year

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the medical school’s Early Selection Program, which has become more popular over the years, school officials said.

The Early Selection Program is designed for GW students who have the desire to practice medicine but who also want to pursue interests outside the traditional premedical curriculum.

In 1986, the program’s first year, three students were accepted; last year, the program accepted 18 students. Almost a third of selected students last year were non-science majors. Students applying this year will submit their applications by March.

By permitting GW undergraduates to apply to the GW medical school as sophomores, the program grants competitive students admission, when under other circumstances they would not have time to study abroad or become heavily involved in student groups and community service.

While the average age of acceptance at the medical school is 24, some students accepted in the program will enter medical school right after graduating and others might postpone enrollment. These students may volunteer their time as teachers, extend their time in research or expand their experiences in health care, said Diane McQuail, the assistant dean of GW medical school admissions.

“The ES program encourages people who are at a young age,” McQuail said. “It allows them to pursue other interests by not having to take the MCATs and not having to amass a huge application.”

Students are required to add a liberal arts component to their curriculum after being accepted to the program, McQuail said, which translates into either majoring or minoring in a humanities subject such as English, psychology or religion. Students applying to the program must complete introductory science courses including a year of biology, chemistry and physics, as well as a year of organic chemistry. Students who don’t pursue the early selection route usually take more science classes in preparation for the MCAT, the medical school admissions test.

Students are chosen to the early selection program based on their academic record, SAT scores, and unique extracurricular activities or personal experiences from their freshman and sophomore years, McQuail said.

“Diversity in experiences is important to us, because it adds to the diversity of the entering class,” McQuail said.

Kate Zapf, the undergraduate pre-medical advisor in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, said the program is not unique to GW.

“I get a great deal of questions about early selection from freshmen,” Zapf said.

Students such as senior Michael Jacobs, a public health major, were able to pursue other interests after being accepted to the program.

He said, “Studying abroad was such an amazing and enriching experience for me, and I was only able to have this opportunity because of my acceptance into the Early Selection Program.”

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