Medical EducationOriginal Article

Comprehensive Medical College Admission Test Preparatory Course as a Strategy to Encourage Premedical Students to Pursue Osteopathic Medicine in Rural Areas

Timothy W. Shipley, PhD; Nancy Phu, OMS II; Abigail M. Etters, OMS III; and Samuel Kadavakollu, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: August 30, 2018

Accepted: October 3, 2018

Published: April 1, 2019

J Osteopath Med; 119(4): 243-249

Context: Comprehensive Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) preparatory courses could potentially promote interest among premedical students to pursue careers in osteopathic medicine in underserved areas.

Objectives: To determine whether a comprehensive 16-week course centered on MCAT preparation and exposure to an osteopathic medical school setting will promote interest among premedical students to become osteopathic physicians in the rural Southwest.

Methods: At the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine in Las Cruces, New Mexico, undergraduate premedical students from the surrounding rural and urban areas completed an all-inclusive 16-week MCAT preparation course. Students were required to have completed medical school prerequisite courses and have a minimum 3.0 grade point average. The program included interactive instructional sessions for teaching material pertinent to the MCAT, an introduction to osteopathic philosophy, workshops for application preparation, a tour of the medical school facilities, full-length practice tests, and mock interviews. After course completion with at least 80% attendance, a survey was conducted to identify effectiveness and outcomes of the course. The survey used a Likert scale that ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree).

Results: Of the 170 student participants, 163 completed the survey. After completing the course, participants felt more knowledgeable about the true nature of medical school and osteopathic medicine (weighted averages, 4.26-4.40) than before the course. Compared with attitudes before taking the course, participants were more inclined to attend an osteopathic medical school and practice rural medicine in the southwestern United States (weighted averages, 4.16-4.45). Participants who completed the course also felt that they were better prepared to take the MCAT (weighted average, 4.37).

Conclusions: Participant knowledge and attitudes about practicing osteopathic medicine were enhanced after they completed the comprehensive MCAT preparatory course. These results suggest that offering similar courses in osteopathic medical schools throughout the country may improve the outlook of creating a diverse physician workforce that provides health care in rural areas.

Read Full Article