At a time of unprecedented advancements in technology and science, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has taken a bold step in restructuring its medical school admissions criteria to attract gifted medical students from a wide range of backgrounds through its new FlexMed program, which is the first of its kind in the nation.
Starting next fall, half of each medical school class will be guaranteed early acceptance to Mount Sinai during the sophomore year of college without having to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), or a traditional premed course load, under the school’s new FlexMed program. The students will come from majors as diverse as computational science and engineering, the social sciences, and genetics and molecular and cell biology.
Pre-med education is fundamentally flawed. This is something that the Medical Education community has known and written about for decades but has never acted upon. There are three critical problems:
- Pre-med science requirements were established almost 100 years ago and have not changed since then despite extraordinary advances in clinical medicine and biomedical science.
- These requirements consume an enormous amount of time and energy, detracting severely from what should be an enriching, stimulating college education.
- The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is an expensive (between the tests fees and pre courses), time-consuming hurdle that perpetuates the need to focus on memorization of facts and competition for grades.
More than 100 years ago, Abraham Flexner reformed medical education throughout the nation. He was considered visionary and is responsible for establishing what we currently consider to be the gold standard for how medicine is taught, both in medical school and in preparing for medical school. Since then, medicine and science have changed more rapidly than any other field, with the possible exception of information technology. Yet educators at both the college and medical school levels have failed to refresh his vision and align the physician training with society’s needs. We’ve also perpetuated the notion that everyone has to be taught the same requirements in lockstep, with little room for flexible, individualized, and self-directed learning.