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Medical Schools
 
This article focuses on a series of related issues that appear to be of (sometimes passionate) interest to college and university science faculty who educate undergraduates: requirements and policies for admission to medical school and their possible influences on undergraduate science education. The Center for Education of the National Research Council (NRC) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM)1 are considering undertaking one or more activities that would help elucidate the relationship and interdependence of undergraduate and medical education.

In the Winter 2004 issue of Cell Biology Education, we asked readers to provide their perspectives and input on issues related to introductory science courses; here, in similar fashion, we seek your input about issues you have encountered when teaching courses that are part of the premedical curriculum.

BACKGROUND

Most professions have established standards for their members and for the preprofessional education programs that serve as entry points. However, in dynamic professions such as medicine, where both the knowledge base and the demographics of students in preprofessional programs are undergoing rapid change, these standards, along with the educational process itself, need to be continually examined.

A medical school's curriculum and its expectations for student learning are affected, in part, by the prerequisite knowledge required of those who are enrolled. For example, for many decades, medical schools in the United States have required that all applicants for admission complete a full year each of biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics as undergraduates. To help determine if applicants have the subject knowledge required to be successful, schools use the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to assess mastery of content that is deemed important by most medical schools in the United States (Etienne, 2002a blue right-pointing triangle) and is taught in most of the required undergraduate science courses (Etienne, 2002b blue right-pointing triangle).

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