Every year it occurs that students who studied humanities want to go to medical school. When that happens, they often have to drown themselves in pre-requisites and play catch-up to the pre-med students.
This, however, is not always the case. There are a few nontraditional ways to get into medical school, including our own Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. It admits a quarter of its incoming students through a program that offers early admittance to humanities students. As Dr. Dennis Charney, the dean of the school, said, “It was designed to attract humanities majors to medicine who would bring a different perspective to education and medical practice.”
The program has been such a hit that they are now expanding it. By 2015, almost half of their incoming class will come through the new FlexMed program, which will take students from any educational background. These students won’t be required to take the MCAT, but they will take a year of biology or chemistry before applying and a few more science and math classes before graduating. And they have to keep up a 3.5 GPA.
The school plans to track these students through medical school and into their careers to see if there is a difference in the fields that they choose, the research they conduct or the leadership roles they take on.
A 2009 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute showed that medical schools could actually become more flexible by focusing less on specific courses and more on a broad range of scientific competency. Time will tell if Icahn will be leading the way in this regard.