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Baccalaureate-MD Research Group. Highlights of “The Paper”. The Scope and Variety of Combined Baccalaureate-MD Programs in the United States. Acad Med. 2012; 87: 1600-1608. The Authors. Bob Eaglen, Northeast Ohio Medical University Louise Arnold, University of Missouri-Kansas City

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Baccalaureate-MD Research Group

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Baccalaureate-MD Research Group

Highlights of “The Paper”

The Scope and Variety of Combined Baccalaureate-MD Programs in the United States

Acad Med. 2012; 87: 1600-1608

The Authors

  • Bob Eaglen, Northeast Ohio Medical University

  • Louise Arnold, University of Missouri-Kansas City

  • Jorge Girotti, University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Ellen Cosgrove, University of Washington

  • Marianne Green, Northwestern University

  • Don Kollisch, Sophie Davis

  • Dani McBeth, Sophie Davis

  • Mark Penn, Roseman University of Health Sciences

  • Sarah Tracy, University of Oklahoma


  • Proliferation of new and defunct programs

  • Low profile in the academic medicine community and recent literature

  • Diversity of program organization and functions

  • Recent calls for re-examination of admissions pathways and criteria

Definition of a Combined Program

  • Open to applicants at high school or early college level

  • One or more years of baccalaureate course work and a complete medical school curriculum

  • Medically related learning experiences provided during the baccalaureate phase of the program (integration)

  • Either a conditional guarantee of medical school admission contingent on satisfactory academic progress, or

  • A high likelihood of medical admission upon satisfactory completion of the baccalaureate phase

Major Findings

  • 57 Sponsoring medical schools, 81 distinct programs

  • 79% of programs recruit high school students

  • Principal goals:

    • Recruit honors students (52%)

    • Shorten pre-medical phase of education (28%)

    • Recruit minority and/or disadvantaged students (25%)

    • Decrease competitive pressures (25%)

    • Integrate liberal arts and medical sciences (22%)

    • Emphasize care for the underserved (20%)

More Findings

  • 79% of programs for high school seniors are 4+4

  • 40% of programs admit ten or fewer students per year

  • Four medical schools admit over 50 students per year

  • Curricular integration across program is typically modest, mostly at baccalaureate level

  • Admissions and academic progress requirements highly variable, reflecting varied structure and goals of programs

Looking Ahead: Questions and Challenges

  • Are baccalaureate-MD students less mature than traditional pre-med students?

  • Are graduates of baccalaureate-MD programs distinctive in any clearly identifiable ways?

  • How do programs justify their continuation?

  • Few outcomes studies have been published

  • What kinds of admissions criteria are needed or relevant when the applicant pool consists of high school seniors?

  • Comparative studies need to be carefully designed to account for program variation

The Research Group

Where Do We Go from Here?

Research Ideas Emerging at the Meeting

  • Stigmatization of baccalaureate-MD students (New Mexico has already started on this)

  • How service learning is being incorporated in baccalaureate education

  • Adopting a competency framework for both baccalaureate and medical school education

  • Program outcomes and documentation of effectiveness

  • Why programs wither or go “on hiatus”

More Research Ideas

  • Identifying and nurturing critical thinking skills and help-seeking behavior in baccalaureate-MD students

  • Are students in accelerated programs less mature– where is the evidence?

  • Advising and supporting students who commit to a career as high schools students (any may have later regrets)

  • How much of a dent in overall student debt can combined programs make?

  • Enrollment management for multiple program paths

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