COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus State University will launch in fall 2013 a new Competitive Premedical Studies program designed to make the process of preparing for and getting into medical school much less daunting for students.
"From the moment they step on campus, we're going to start providing them with tools that will help them become successful medical school applicants," said program director Katey Hughes, an associate professor of biology.
That includes free participation in a course that prepares students for the standardized Medical College Admission Test, better known as the MCAT.
The program will initially accept up to 15 freshmen for the fall 2013 launch, but Hughes anticipates more CSU freshmen will be allowed to join by spring 2014. Jan. 15, 2013 is the deadline to apply for entry to the program's inaugural semester next fall. Application details and more are available at http://ColumbusState.edu/premed.
Other resources that Columbus State will offer academically talented selected for the program include:
· Shadowing opportunities through physician mentors.
· Medical school visitation experiences.
· Peer mentors.
· Contact with CSU graduates currently in medical school.
· Medical school application preparation, including the MCAT prep course normally costing $1,800.
· Medical school interview strategies.
Columbus State has, for decades, offered a premedical track for students interested in attending medical school, but Hughes said the new program will go far beyond a lineup of recommended coursework.
"We have students who go to medical students, and they're definitely prepared," she said. "But here's what I see: The process of getting to medical school can be overwhelming and, too often what I see is students who start out, definitely capable of going academically, but because of their course rigor, because of MCAT prep, because of all these external factors, they become overwhelmed and end up not submitting applications to medical school. This will hopefully provide resources from the time they come to help gear them up in that process."
Hughes expects Columbus State's Competitive Premedical Studies program to stand out in comparison to similar programs elsewhere in Georgia.
"Most of them offer what we currently do — we have pre-med advisors, we have a pre-professional committee, we have AMSA (American Medical Student Association chapter) — which are all very good resources," Hughes said. "But what this will do is foster a small group community. So from the time they get here, we are giving them resources they wouldn't have gotten otherwise."
As students in CSU's new program progress, they will get increasingly more help with their medical school application preparation.
"Along the way, we're going to have regular discussions and meetings about relevant medical issues, so that about the time they leave here, they are current and they're prepared to go to medical school," she said.
Georgia ranks 41st in physicians per capita — a shortage that's expected to worsen in the next two decades. In response, Georgia's medical schools are increasing enrollment capacity, setting the stage for new opportunities at the undergraduate level.
"CSU's aim is to be the preferred premedical studies university in Georgia," Hughes said.