This weekend I had the great pleasure of calling the first group of students accepted to the UNLV School of Medicine's inaugural class.
The school is using rolling admissions, and in late December, the student admissions committee sent letters of acceptance to 14 students. We will accept another 10 to 12 medical students at the end of each month until March. In April, the student admissions committee will review the entire pool and accept the final students to fill out the charter class of 60.
I called to congratulate the students accepted in this first group and to answer their questions. It was a very special experience, as it made the hard work of so many people over the past two years meaningful - especially when I heard the students' joy and excitement. I also talked to a parent who was very proud of her daughter's success and noted how excited the whole family was about her acceptance.
Getting into medical school often is a culmination of a long and sometimes difficult journey for students and their families. Five students in this first group are the first in their families to receive a college degree, which is a great accomplishment for the family and the student.
Several of the students told me it didn't seem real yet. Others were anxious for school to start. Many had questions about immunizations, admissions processes, and the mechanics of getting ready for the first day.
The accreditation process
One question I was asked by several students was about the next steps in the school's accreditation process and their particular role. I explained that we have preliminary accreditation, which means we can accept students and teach the first two years of our curriculum.
The national accrediting body for M.D. degree granting institutions, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, will conduct two more site visits: The first visit will occur at the start of the students' second year in 2018 to assess the school's preparation to teach the third and fourth years of its curriculum; the second site visit will take place early in the students' fourth year (2020). We hope to attain full accreditation in October 2021.
The students' role
: The students will play an important role in each of these steps. While taking the course work, they will help the faculty assess and improve the curriculum, the culture and the quality of the school and its education. They also will complete a student self-study to formally assess their medical education and experience. The student's self-study will accompany the faculty's self-study. The LCME will evaluate both before they conduct the two site visits. The charter class is essential in helping the school ensure the curriculum gets off to a sound start. Their suggestions will impact the classes that follow. Every student with whom I discussed these steps was excited about the process and the possibility of making a difference.
Some students wanted to get involved right away by volunteering in some capacity. Two items I mentioned they could do was take part in the school's five-year strategic planning process and help us plan the students' white coat ceremony. Their input will be important for both endeavors.
More about the first students selected
: The group of 14 students consists of six women and eight men. Interestingly, it reflects the school's applicant pool of 400 Nevada residents (40-percent women versus 60-percent men). Nationally, the pool is 50:50 or even slightly higher female. This implies more work is needed so that Nevada women realize they can seek a career in the medical profession.
Acceptance into medical school
: I believe everyone who has been accepted to medical school remembers the day well. It is one of the most memorable occasions in my life. I received my acceptance from Jefferson Medical College two weeks before school started. I had applied during the off cycle and was not expecting to be admitted that year, but a student in a special program didn't meet the grade requirement and Jefferson had an extra spot available in my class of 220 students. The admissions director told me I could either start in two weeks or they would accept me for the next year. I started right away - I was thrilled. I continue to be inspired by the profession of medicine every day.
I cannot wait to introduce you to the first class in late Spring when we know for sure who will make up the inaugural class. Each student is remarkable in many ways and each will be a true asset to our community as they grow and mature as physicians.