BA/MD Program or Regular Undergraduate Education?

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BA/MD Program or Regular Undergraduate Education?

Postby Cecillia89 » Thu Jan 01, 2009 11:35 pm

Hi, I am currently a senior in high school and am considering one of the following schools/programs:

Northwestern HPME
Boston University Accelerated program
Duke University
Princeton University
Brown University
Cornell University

Should I truly fear the process of taking the MCATs and applying to medical school and prefer the BA/MD program at Northwestern over other excellent undergraduate institutions? In other words, how difficult is it to get accepted into a medical school better than Northwestern, and will going to Northwestern's Feinberg school of medicine give me as good a chance at amazing residency matches as any other medical school?

Thanks in advance for the advice,

Re: BA/MD Program or Regular Undergraduate Education?

Postby DrDave » Thu Jan 01, 2009 11:36 pm


My own opinion is that for most people it is better to NOT do the combined BA/MD programs. If you can get into one of the BA/MD programs, you are a great high school student. Unless you goof off in college, you will do well and are smart enough to do well on the MCAT. You will probably be able to get into a better (ie, more competitive) undergrad school than Northwestern (but Northwestern is a very good college all around). You will probably be able to get into a better medical school than Northwestern (although Northwestern is a very solid medical school). I find that the 6-7 year programs are often a way for colleges to attract high school students that they may not have attracted otherwise.

I actually did apply to a combined BS/MD program at University of Miami that was an 8 year program to get a biomedical engineering degree and an MD. This is obviously a very different program from what you are looking at though.

If you are not able to do well enough in the pre-med classes and on the MCAT in a traditional program, you are probably going to struggle in the combined program anyway.

Additionally, in the combined program, you really have focused coursework on pre-med related classes, and therefore do not get to do as many electives as you would in a 4 year program.

In my case, I actually had enough AP credit from high school that I went ahead and graduated from college (Emory University) after 3 years. I didn't go to summer school either, which may be a requirement in those combined programs. Graduating early did not have any seem to have any noticeable impact on my medical school acceptance.

Northwestern Medical school is a very solid medical school, and if you do well, you would be competitive for all but the most elite residency programs in the most competitive fields.

So - ultimately, I would say you shouldn't decide based on concerns of the MCAT or getting accepted into a decent medical school. If you are seriously considering attending, I would definitely recommend applying and seeing if you can talk to current students in the program as well as graduates of the program. They may have a very different perspective than what I do.

Best of luck to you - you have a lot of really exciting times ahead!
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Re: BA/MD Program or Regular Undergraduate Education?

Postby NormalMD » Thu Jan 01, 2009 11:37 pm

I agree with DrAdmin, I would avoid the straight-from-high school 6 year med programs.

I think the big problem is you miss out on the college experience. You don't really bond well with the med school class, they're at least 4 years older than you. And you don't bond well with a college class, so you end up sort of without a cohort.

Plus, what's the rush? even shaving a couple of years off of med school/undergrad you'll still be in school/residency for 10-15 years. Take a couple of extra years to enjoy college, to learn something fresh - take up painting, dive into Acadian, take your time. College is fun.

Re: BA/MD Program or Regular Undergraduate Education?

Postby YesWeCan » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:47 am

Maybe do a little more research on the HPME program or talk to an actual HPME student. Previous commenters are making assumptions that don't apply to HPME.

Also note that the NU Undergrad and Feinberg Med schools are not exactly Cracker Jack schools. Many premeds at so-called higher-ranked institutions 1) drop out of premed because they don't have the grades or 2) end up in med schools less prestigious than Feinberg.

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