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Putting pre-med students on a pathway to success

Charter members of the UMass Baccalaureate MD Pathway to visit UMass Chan

bacc-md-logoSixty-sevenUniversity of Massachusetts freshmen who are inaugural members of the new UMass Baccalaureate MD Pathway Program will get a preview of what lies ahead when they visit UMass Medical School on Friday, April 13. Accompanied by their pre-health advisors, they will participate in the first Five Campus Baccalaureate MD Pathway Symposium.

Developed collaboratively by the leadership of the system’s five campuses, the UMass Bacc MD Pathway is designed to increase the early identification and recruitment of qualified pre-medical students from the University’s undergraduate campuses who represent the cultural and economic diversity of the state’s population.

“With this initiative, the University of Massachusetts will better serve the commonwealth by retaining great minds and encouraging them to remain and serve communities across the state,” said Michele Pugnaire, MD, senior associate dean for medical education and professor of family medicine & community health. While an intended outcome of the pathway is to increase the number of physicians who will practice primary care in underserved areas and with underserved populations in the commonwealth, all pathway participants will receive guidance to help them in their selection of a medical career, whether in primary care or other specialties.

The four-year pathway links the baccalaureate degree to the MD degree in two phases, beginning when entering UMass freshmen express an interest to pre-health advisors at their campus. “Students with a strong interest in a career in medicine who are motivated to develop their abilities to succeed in a health profession are eligible,” said Karen Lawton, MBA, director of admissions for the School of Medicine.

The first phase of the pathway program, which will continue throughout the four-year undergraduate experience, is designated the Pre-Medical Scholars program. After two years as Pre-Medical Scholars, students can be considered for progression to the second phase, becoming UMass Chan Medical Scholars who, upon successful completion of the four-year pathway program, will be assured admission to the School of Medicine. It is anticipated that several students from each class at each school will be designated as UMass Chan Medical Scholars.

Whether or not they go on to become UMass Chan Medical Scholars as juniors, all Pre-Medical Scholars will benefit from the pathway’s enrichment components, including research opportunities and mentoring. Pre-Medical Scholars who are not accepted as UMass Chan Medical Scholars but continue to meet the track’s academic requirements can continue on the track in their third and fourth years of college, which will prepare them to apply to any medical or professional school, including UMass Medical School.

With participation from the provosts and pre-health academic advisors from all five campuses as well as the chancellor, dean and many students of the School of Medicine, the April 13 symposium will help students answer the questions, “What is medicine and where do I fit in?” The keynote speaker will be Marcellette Gaillard-Gay Williams, PhD, senior vice president for academic affairs, student affairs and international relations for the University of Massachusetts, and former chancellor of UMass Amherst. The day’s highlight will be the UMass Chan Opportunities Fair, where the undergraduate pre-medical scholars and faculty from their schools will learn about the curriculum and enrichment programs that comprise the educational experience in