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Kaplan Survey Finds Pre-Med Culture is Hypercompetitive

May 11, 2017
Russell Schaffer

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Is too much competition a bad thing for aspiring doctors?

A new Kaplan survey reveals the problematic side of hyper-competitive pre-med culture and bullying among aspiring med students. Here’s a look at what’s happening in medical education news.

Bullying is an issue among pre-meds

Between long hours in the lab, late nights studying, early mornings in class, and volunteer work in a clinic, you know first hand that life as a pre-med can be intense. But results from Kaplan’s new survey of MCAT® students quantify this: 86 percent of future doctors think pre-med culture is “too competitive.” So competitive, in fact, that a significant minority—19 percent—say they have been bullied, or know others who have been bullied, within a pre-med academic setting.

When asked to give examples of hypercompetitive behavior from their pre-med experience, one student shared the following anecdote:

“It seems there is a constant need for pre-med students to make themselves stand out to professors and other authority figures, including speaking in class over others, asking questions simply to ask a question, and accosting medical professionals to the point that they turn and run as soon as they hear you are pre-med.”

In some cases, the behaviors crossed the line from ‘highly competitive’ to ‘abusive’; here’s an example one students shared:

“There was a student in my cohort who had to temporarily take a leave of absence from the program due to a medical illness. While she was gone, and even when she came back, some students began spreading rumors that she was not really sick and that she was just saying that she was in order to hide the fact that she simply wanted to take time off to get a break from school.”

See more results and analysis from the Kaplan Test Prep Press Room.

Chilling discovery at the University of Mississippi

This story genuinely gave us the chills when we first read it. The University of Mississippi Medical Center recently announced that it found over 7,000 bodies buried beneath its campus. These 7,000 souls were all patients in the state’s first mental institution, which was first established in 1855, several years before the Civil War began. During its peak, the institution housed around 6,000 patients. The school is now deciding what to do with them, estimating that exhuming them and reburying them would cost approximately $21 million.

Molly Zuckerman, associate professor in Mississippi State University’s department of anthropology and Middle Eastern cultures, says she wants to help researchers look into what patient life was like 150 years ago. “It would make Mississippi a national center on historical records relating to health in the pre-modern period, particularly those being institutionalized,” she said. (Mic)

TMI for new med students

Medical schools have a problem of sorts—and it can be summed up with an abbreviation you are probably familiar with: TMI. But in this case, it’s not about personal issues that you maybe should have kept to yourself. This TMI involves medical students being expected to know too much information, which can be a problem for incoming students especially.

To address this issue, Harvard Medical School has launched an online certificate program called “HMX Fundamentals.” The program, which Harvard describes as highly interactive and engaging, including videos and animation, is meant for those considering going to medical school, but not enrolled yet. No credit is given for future studies.

Harvard Medical School’s Associate Dean for Online Learning, Michael J. Parker, said the course is ideal for those who are “changing careers to help them see whether a health profession is right for them.” There’s a cost to the program though: $800 for one course, $1,000 for two courses, and $1,800 for all four. (Forbes)

One step closer to a new medical school

It’s happening—construction for Idaho’s first medical school, the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine, is finally ready to get underway now that the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation has given it pre-accreditation status. This milestone will allow the school to welcome its first class of student in fall 2018. Had the organization not awarded them pre-accreditation status, the school would not have been able to open until 2019, at the earliest.

Idaho is currently the most populated state in the union without its own medical school, which helps explain why this largely rural state is suffering from an accurate doctor. shortage.

“This is a monumental day for Idaho’s first medical school. ICOM will be a game changer and make an incredible impact on the health of the region for generations to come. Idahoans will be proud of their first medical school,” said Robert Hasty, ICOM’s founding dean and chief academic officer. (The Idaho State Journal)

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Russell Schaffer

Russell Schaffer Russell Schaffer is Kaplan Test Prep's senior communications manager. Russell is responsible for helping lead our external media relations efforts, including speaking with reporters and bloggers on a regular basis about Kaplan's proprietary research and products. Russell also helps craft the surveys we regularly administer of students, advisers​,​ and admissions officers. The data collected helps guide the hundreds of thousands of students and parents Kaplan works with every year by giving them accurate and up-to-date information ​about​ the landscape. Russell is a graduate of the State University of New York at Albany, where he received his BA in political science and MA in communications.


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