Prerequisite courses for University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine will change on June 1 to include several new courses, in keeping with an overall trend in admissions.
Requirements will now include a semester of biochemistry and two semesters of behavioral science. The organic chemistry requirement will also be reduced to one semester from two. These courses are in addition to the typical year of biology, year of general chemistry and year of physics already required.
The behavioral science requirement can be fulfilled in any humanities, bioethics, psychology and sociology courses, according to Miller’s website. The semester of biochemistry will take the place of a second semester of organic chemistry.
“The change reflects a national trend to add these courses to better prepare students first to take the new MCAT 2015, which will include these subjects,” said Richard Weisman, associate dean of admissions at Miller.
The changes will impact the class of 2015 and has been publicized on Miller’s website since January 2013, Weisman said.
The MCAT is the standardized exam needed to gain admission to most medical degree-granting programs. The exam will change in spring 2015 and will include a new section called the Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior, based on psychological and sociological knowledge.
Biochemistry will also become more emphasized in the biological sciences and physical chemistry sections of the exam.
“The MCAT drives what the medical schools want,” said Michael Gaines, the director of the pre-health office.
Natascha Zorilla, president of the pre-medical fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon, had not heard about the changes when asked. She plans to relay that information to fraternity members and incorporate that information into a presentation about Miller.
Zorilla does not intend to apply to medical school until 2015. She will be graduating with her bachelor’s degree in December, but will not have the biochemistry requirement. She hopes to enroll in a master’s program and take the class.
“I’ll find a way,” she said.
Darrell Kirch, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), calls the new exam “better” in a letter published in the AAMC’s website. The changes are meant to prepare students “…who have the potential to become the best doctors,” Kireth said.
Weismann agrees with Kirch that these academic changes can “prepare tomorrow’s physicians for the challenges they will face.”
Gaines has found that social science courses like sociology and anthropology have been “neglected” in preparing future physicians.
“We need to take a holistic view in terms how physicians practice medicine,” he said.
Zorilla agrees that physicians should learn to understand how people behave.
“You cannot have a doctor who’s a robot,” she said.
Miller is one of many schools that are modifying admissions requirements. Duke University School of Medicine, for example, is specifying a psychology, sociology and statistics course for students applying in 2015.
For students applying to enter in 2016, Harvard Medical School will modify the academic requirements needed for admission. The process recommends foreign language courses and is expanded the definition of laboratory courses. The teaching labs associated to the lecture class will not necessarily be required – any lab experience will count.
New academic requirements for admission to Miller School of Medicine after June 2014
1 semester of biochemistry
1 semester of organic chemistry
2 semesters of behavioral science that includes humanities, psychology and sociology courses
2 semesters of English
2 semesters of general chemistry
2 semesters of physics
2 semesters of biology