Faculty Board proposes accelerated medical school

Program would be first of its kind in North America

Accelerated program will be the first of its kind in Canada, professor says.
Accelerated program will be the first of its kind in Canada, professor says.
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If a proposed new program passes at Senate, select students could proceed to medical school at Queen’s after only two years of undergraduate education.

The proposal for the accelerated program was approved by Arts and Science Faculty Board on May 4.

The program is the brainchild of Dr. Richard Reznick, dean of Health Sciences and director of the Queen’s School of Medicine.

“One of our strategic priorities in the School of Medicine is to explore innovative models of medical education,” Reznick told the Journal via email.

The proposal must pass through Senate before it can become official.

The next Senate meeting will be held on Sept. 25.

Under the proposal, 10 gifted high school students will be selected to take part in the Accelerated Pathway to Medical School at Queen’s each year. The program, which is slated to begin in 2013, will enable them to complete the degree requirements for a Doctor of Medicine, including undergraduate education, in six years, instead of the traditional eight.

“A review of the education of physicians in many other countries, including most of Europe and many parts of Asia suggested that a shorter time frame might be feasible,” Reznick said.

Queen’s will be the first university in Canada to implement such a program, Physiology professor Ken Rose said. Rose was responsible for proposing the motion at Faculty Board.  

“I’m really enamored with the idea of being the first,” Rose said.

The program could also allow students to proceed to medical school without taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT.)

“Medical colleagues are becoming increasingly concerned about the closing of the socioeconomic gap of those taking the MCAT,” Rose said, adding that the test itself costs around $300 to 400, not including preparation courses.

To be considered for the program, students must be competitive candidates for the Chancellor’s scholarship, awarded to 50 new Queen’s students each year with an annual value of $9,000. Students must have an average of 90 per cent or above to be considered for the Chancellor’s Scholarship. High schools can nominate one to three students depending on the school.

Around 50 to 60 students from the Chancellor scholarship candidate pool will be invited to Queen’s for an interview. Following the interview process, offers will be made to ten students.

Students will be required to take the standard five courses during the first two years, including 21.00 credits worth of mandatory classes, including BIOL 102, MATH 121, ENGL 100 and STATS 263.

The students will also be required to take part in laboratory and clinical internships and learning modules.

The program also involves using first and second year medical students as mentors as a way to immerse the 10 younger students in the School of Medicine.

“The medical class at Queen’s is extremely cohesive and the ten other students have to be assimilated,” Rose said.

James Simpson, Aesculapian Society representative to the AMS, said he believes the program holds numerous pros and cons for students.

“One of the most important features of Queen’s Medicine is the camaraderie within our class,” Simpson, Meds ’15, said. “It certainly is possible that bringing in a special group of students through a separate stream will damage this camaraderie to some extent.”

Simpson said it’s important to note that accelerated systems have been successful in Europe, where students get into slightly longer medical programs straight out of high school, and in Quebec, where students can apply to enter medical school after two years in a public vocational college.

“As far as I’m aware, there isn’t any evidence showing that these doctors are any worse than the rest of North American doctors, despite the fact that North American doctors probably have two to three years more undergraduate training on average,” Simpson said. “If this is true, then isn’t our system wasting money?”

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