The Keck School of Medicine will no longer have a combined Baccalaureate/M.D. Program for incoming freshmen next fall after being the only such program in California.
The program, which gave entering freshmen guaranteed acceptance into the medical school upon receiving their bachelor’s degree, was canceled so more students could have access to heath-related issues, according to Karen Rowan-Badger, assistant dean of USC Dornsife Admission.
“We have now progressed to our ultimate goal of opening a comprehensive Dornsife-Keck Pre-Health Services Center, which provides involvement opportunities and advisement for all of our pre-health students, rather than just a few selected students,” Rowan-Badger said.
The Office of the Provost, USC Dornsife Dean Howard Gillman and Keck School of Medicine Dean Carmen Puliafito jointly made the decision after years of close analysis and preparation, Rowan-Badger said.
Students currently enrolled in the program will continue on the same course plan until their guaranteed admission to Keck in fall 2015.
The Dornsife-Keck Pre-Health Services Center, which opened last year, will replace the services the Baccalaureate/M.D. Program previously provided.
Keck eliminated the combined degree when it found the program corresponded with a loss of diversity of majors and uniqueness among its applicants.
“The original design for the program was to encourage current undergraduate students to explore non-traditional majors for their pre-health education and broaden their understanding of the liberal arts,” Rowan-Badger said.
After a careful evaluation of the program, however, the university decided the creation of the Dornsife-Keck Pre-Heath Service Center was a more effective way to increase academic diversity among medical school applicants.
The university will now aim to increase the diversity of majors among applicants and strengthen the undergraduate experience for students interested in pursuing medicine with the Pre-Health Services Center, Rowan-Badger said.
Jessica Gonzalez, a sophomore majoring in gerontology and a current student in the program, said she is especially disappointed with how the change will affect future freshmen.
“Incoming students may feel that they missed out on an incredible opportunity to have a guaranteed acceptance into medical school,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez also said she thinks the cancellation will cause a loss of community among students.
Some students, including Jeffrey Hill, a senior majoring in biology and kinesiology, found the program was helpful in allowing students to explore academic fields outside of health and science.
“The Baccalaureate/M.D. Program was a great opportunity for qualified and aspiring medically minded undergrads to get the most out of their college experience,” Hill said. “The comfort of already being accepted into medical school provides the chance for those admitted into the program to pursue things they might not have otherwise.”
The new center will continue to provide the small-group atmosphere and facilitate the common coursework of the Baccalaureate/M.D. Program, Rowan-Badger said.
Rowan-Badger said Keck expects to see backlash from students surrounding the program’s termination.
“We are certainly anticipating some unhappiness since we no longer offer this program,” Rowan-Badger said. “However, if students are truly interested in studying medicine at USC Dornsife, we know the improvements and focus will allow more students to become better prepared for medical school.”
No decision has been made regarding the new Dornsife-Keck Pre-Health Services Center affecting a program of early acceptance to Keck.