Meet Temple University’s Dr. Glenn Gerhard (Professor and Chair, Department of Medical Genetics and Molecular Biochemistry), and Dr. Kathy Giangiacomo (Associate Professor, Medical Genetics and Molecular Biochemistry). They’re joining us today to discuss an innovative online MCAT prep option, plus Temple’s postbac programs and the Lewis Katz School of Medicine. Welcome!
How Temple’s online Biochem MCAT course developed [1:50]
Gerhard: In 2015, Temple was developing a new university-wide initiative to create courses in an online format, across diverse subject areas. This coincided with a curriculum revision at the School of Medicine, and also with AAMC’s changes to the MCAT format. And so the new course coalesced into the biochem MCAT prep course.
Giangiacomo: I had recently developed an undergrad course that would prepare students for the new MCAT. I’d also been creating online materials for a lot of courses, especially for the postbac program (such as videos, etc).
What makes Temple’s MCAT course distinctive? [5:40]
The AAMC recognizes the importance of biochem for incoming med students, but the way biochem is taught at the undergraduate level can vary quite a bit. Since Temple’s faculty teach med students, this course is designed to teach the course from a med-focused perspective and prepare students effectively for med school.
Giangiacomo: The prereqs are streamlined, which allows students to take the course in time to graduate. It’s run like a med school class, so students can apply the concepts they learn.
What is the schedule/timeline? How long is the class? [11:40]
It’s a 5-week online course and is the equivalent of a full semester. Students should budget at least 2 hours a day, 5 days a week to cover the content. There will be a course beginning in September (ideal for students preparing for the January MCAT). The course is also scheduled in March and May.
Their postbac students have already taken the course and reported that they were very well prepared for the MCAT. [14:40]
Any plans to expand to other sections of the MCAT? [15:20]
Potentially yes, they’ll see how it develops.
Postbac at Temple [15:48]
They have two programs: one for career changers and one for academic enhancers. Both are 1-year programs.
The career changer program is a 12-month intensive program. If students earn a 3.6 GPA and a 30 on the MCAT, they can have conditional acceptance at Temple’s med school.
Academic enhancers also have the option of conditional acceptance. The med school acceptance rate is 90% for academic enhancers – lower for career changers.
Requirements for postbac admission [19:45]
For academic enhancers: they need to have a 3.4 GPA (for both overall and science). They don’t have to have taken the MCAT, though most of them have. The program provides MCAT prep if they need it.
For career changers, they need a 3.6 overall GPA, 3.3 science, and there’s a limit on the number of science classes they can have in order to be considered a career changer.
What’s distinctive about Lewis Katz School of Medicine? [21:15]
Gerhard: Temple has traditionally prided itself on a strong focus on students and education. The med school is committed to training patient-centered physicians who are excellent clinicians. The program integrates basic and clinical science. And the culture of the school places equal value on research and teaching – valuing pedagogy alongside knowledge.
Giangiacomo: One of the unique features of the online course is that the faculty who design the teaching videos are content experts.
The future of medical education [28:25]
Gerhard: The fundamental change is a shift from the straightforward, didactic lecture to more team-oriented, interactive learning: communicative, case-based, clinical-reasoning based, learning. More team based activities that reflect the way medicine is practiced.
Giangiacomo: Students now have to apply new knowledge in conceptually challenging ways – which means grasping and digesting new information quickly.
Has the explosion of information changed the expectation that med students must memorize a lot of material? [32:40]
With so much information available online, students need to learn how to evaluate the information they find. The med school offers a course on reading scientific papers and evaluating the results critically.
In terms of the expectation of memorization: students (and physicians) still have to have a lot of knowledge at their fingertips. They’re learning a lot of detail in order to be able to treat patients effectively.
It’s like learning a foreign language: you need to learn the grammar and vocabulary – you can’t just rely on a dictionary.
Do they see a common thread among med students? [37:30]
Giangiacomo: They care about treating patients.
Gerhard: Increasingly, schools want diversity in terms of personality – people who interact well with people and communicate well. But that’s balanced with strong academics.
What they would advise premeds to do before med school [41:20]
Giangiacomo: Be ready for the large amount of material they’ll learn. It’s important to organize their time. Have priorities and protect those priorities – protect personal time to take care of themselves.
Gerhard: Get out of the “premed” mindset of only caring about the grade: learn the material. The information you learn will be important, and short term cramming won’t do it.
Their admissions advice [44:20]
Gerhard: Katz receives 10,000 applications for 210 spots. Make the process as easy as possible for the adcom. Also, think about the interview questions you might get and prepare: make sure your interview adds to the paper application.
Giangiacomo: In your essay, be yourself. It will come across. Real life experiences come across and show who you are, and who you would be as a physician.
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