A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

A Leg Up


A new program prepares students for a career in health sciences.

Let’s face it: getting accepted to medical school is no easy task. Nationwide, just 43 percent of applicants are accepted to a US medical school. A new program at the Warren Alpert Medical School could help boost the odds for academically promising students interested in medicine or other health careers.

The Gateways to Medicine, Health Care, and Research Program was approved last October by the Brown Corporation. Students can choose between a one-year Master of Science in Medical Sciences degree, or a one-year Certificate in Medical Science. Both offer a rigorous multifaceted curriculum, with admission based on MCAT scores, grade point average, completed premedical coursework, extracurricular activities, and an invited interview.

“It’s essentially like completing most of the first year of medical school,” says Allan R. Tunkel, MD, PhD, associate dean for medical education. Unlike postbaccalaureate programs, coursework is at the medical school level rather than the undergraduate level. “For those students who choose to go on to apply to medical school, this program provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to admissions committees that they are capable of undertaking the same rigorous science courses required of the Warren Alpert medical students,” Tunkel says. “We also see this program as an opportunity to attract students from historically underrepresented groups and who are interested in becoming physicians.”

The master’s degree requires eight-and-a-half courses, while the certificate requires six. Master’s degree students also must complete a capstone project, which is based on their hands-on experience at a community health care site.

Several such programs exist at other medical schools, but Gowri Anandarajah, MD, director of Gateways and professor of family medicine and of medical science (clinical), says a defining element of the Warren Alpert Medical School program is its small class size.

“We’re limiting it to 30 students. Therefore we can be selective in admitting students who we believe really demonstrate a strong aptitude for a career in medicine, both intellectually and interpersonally,” she says. “Once in the program, students will have personalized attention, including close mentoring and advising. I’m looking forward to getting to know them well.”

Another unique feature is a series of courses designed specifically for Gateways master’s students. “We want students to understand and participate in the ‘real world’ of health care, through longitudinal learning at a community health care site and completion of a project of benefit to the patients at that site,” Anandarajah says. “Learning an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to health care is essential for their future careers.”

Applications are being accepted for the first class through May 15. The program begins in July.


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