The medical school today welcomed its newest students, a diverse group of future physicians who were selected from the largest pool of applicants ever tallied at WMed.
The 84 MD degree students who make up the Class of 2021 were chosen from a pool of 4,861 applicants, a figure that represents an 8 percent increase from the number of applicants for WMed’s Class of 2020, and is ahead of the growth in the national pool of applicants.
“I think it says a lot about our community and what we’ve built here at WMed that applications continue to increase and we continue to attract very strong students with our fourth class,” said Jean Shelton, director of Admissions and Student Life.
Shelton said she’s also proud that with each class of students WMed has welcomed since the inaugural class arrived in 2014, there has been an improvement in median MCAT scores. Indeed, the Class of 2021 boasts a median MCAT score of the 94th percentile compared to the 91st percentile for the Class of 2020.
“We’re really excited that our students come from a wide geographic background, bringing the full spectrum of pre-medical experiences and personal attributes in line with WMed’s mission and vision,” Shelton said. “These students are not only extremely academically prepared, they also have extremely strong personal attributes that will make them great team members and they’ll be able to learn from each other.”
The newest class includes 41 women, 42 men and one non-binary student from 25 states and Canada. They range in age from 20.1 years old to 40.3 years old with an overall average age of 24.8. Twenty-four students are from Michigan.
The newest students make up the medical school’s first full class of 84 students and WMed will admit up to that many students in coming years.
The group is coming to WMed by way of more than 50 undergraduate colleges where they pursued majors that include biology and chemistry, as well as psychology, economics, philosophy, public health, Spanish and neuroscience, among others. Fifteen of the students, or 18 percent, hold advanced degrees.
For the second year in a row, the University of Michigan has the largest contingent of students – 10 – in the Class of 2021, followed by the University of California-Berkeley and the University of California-Los Angeles. Locally, three students in the Class of 2021 completed their undergraduate studies at Western Michigan University and two attended Kalamazoo College. WMU and K-College both have preferred relationship status with WMed.
The admissions process at WMed recognizes the importance of diversity in healthcare by seeking to address populations typically underrepresented in medicine (URM), which are African-American, Hispanic and Native American/Alaskan.
Fourteen students in the Class of 2021 – 17 percent – come from demographic groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine. This adds to the diverse community of medical students and increases the total population of WMed students underrepresented in medicine to 13.5 percent.
Overall, 13.5 percent of WMed’s students come from populations typically underrepresented in medicine.
The students who make up the Class of 2021 are being joined at the medical school by two students who are pursuing Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degrees as part of WMed’s Bridge to MD Program. The program, which is now in its second year, is designed specifically for applicants to the medical school who have strong pre-medical experience and attributes, but would benefit from additional basic science preparation before beginning their quest to become a doctor.
The Bridge to MD program offers a distinct benefit for students, who will be automatically admitted to WMed and part of the Class of 2022 if they successfully complete each component of the program.
Shelton said she’s excited about the journey that awaits WMed’s newest students and noted that their arrival is one of several milestones for WMed that will happen between now and May 13, 2018, when the Class of 2018 graduates.
“The community has come together over the last four years and to see WMed reach full potential, become fully enrolled, and to really be talking about graduating our first class is bringing things full circle,” Shelton said. “Graduation will be here before we know it and we’re already recruiting our fifth year of medical students who will be here in 2018.”
The Class of 2021 will receive their white coats on Saturday, September 9, 2017, during a White Coat Ceremony at Kalamazoo’s Chenery Auditorium.