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A new entering class of medical students received their white coats and took the Oath of Hippocrates at the School of Medicine’s annual White Coat Ceremony on Sept. 3. The class of 122 has been highly selected from 5,000 applicants, an unprecedented increase in applications over last year of approximately 10%.
The incoming class has 63 men and 59 women. The age of the class ranges from 20 to 39, the average just under 24. Four of the entering students come from UCSD’s relatively new Bachelors/M.D. program, only the second cohort of students from this program. Nine students are joining the Medical Scientist Training Program, to receive both an M.D. and Ph.D.
“We are committed to your success. As one of the nation’s top schools, you’ll find UCSD has a lot to offer, from superb faculty to an environment rich in intellect, curiosity, and the commitment and drive to make a difference, whether it’s through patient care, research or community service,” said Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine Edward W. Holmes. “We are privileged to have been chosen as the place where you will learn the art and the science of medicine, and we look forward to getting to know you, and learning from you as we share the next few years together.”
The majority of students come from the top research universities in the state: UCLA (23% of the class), Berkeley (17% of the class), UCSD (15% of the class) and Stanford (12% of the class), as well as most other campuses of the University of California, and among the nation’s best undergraduate institutions— including Harvard, Princeton, Northwestern University, The University of Chicago, Rice and Washington Universities and Swarthmore College. The mean grade point average of the class is 3.72 in science classes and 3.74 in non-science classes, which translates to an average grade in all classes of an A-.
This level of achievement is reflected in the scores on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The national average is approximately 8 out of a possible score of 15; UCSD’s entering class averaged 10.1 on the verbal section, an 11.0 on the physical sciences section and an 11.3 on the biological sciences section. The high MCAT scores indicates a placement of the average UCSD entering medical student in the top 10-20% of entering medical students in the nation.
The majority of incoming students majored in some area of biological sciences, with 20 students who majored in a Social Science, 13 in Humanities and Arts, 3 in Physical Sciences, and 4 in Engineering. Twenty-six class members received baccalaureate degrees with double, or even triple, majors. Many students have been honored for academic achievement with grants and scholarships from widely recognizable bodies such as: UC Regents Scholarship, United Way Educate America Scholarship, Missouri Academic Scholarship and Gates Millenium Scholarship
The great majority of students in the incoming class have engaged in research of one sort or another ranging from humanities and social science to basic biomedical and clinical sciences. Fifteen class members have gone beyond the bachelor’s degree to obtain graduate training leading to a Master’s Degree in fields ranging from Education and Sociology to Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Genetics, and Reproductive and Sexual Health. The latter two were received from British universities, Cambridge University and the University of London’s internationally renowned School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Two incoming students have Law Degrees, have passed the bar in one or more states, and have some significant experience in law practice. Many have received research grants or scholarships from prestigious foundations such as The Howard Hughes Medical Research Foundation, John E. Fogarty International Center, and the Wellcome Trust, and several have presented data at national and international meetings of scientific societies. Members of this class have to their credit at least 24 publications that include the student as an author. The research pursued has been both basic and clinical and has addressed topics ranging from the common, such as, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, cancer, and heart attack to the more uncommon: turtle conservation, neural networks, orthopedic biomechanics, and uteroplacental insufficiency.
In many other ways the members of this class have excelled. There are accomplished musicians, and include a concertmaster and numerous performers in college and community symphony orchestras. Reflecting the diverse ethnic and cultural background of the class, there are students accomplished at Chinese bamboo flute, and ukulele, and others who have performed as members of dance troupes that performed locally, nationally and internationally. The dance forms practiced range from folk dance of Persia, Yugoslavia, and India, Spanish Flamenco, hip hop and break dancing, and classical ballet.
A class member performed in musicals and plays for over 10 years, including two and a half years in the Broadway production of Miss Saigon. An incoming student won a Certificate of National Merit from the Student Literary Competition, and another an Honorable Mention at the Columbus International Film Festival. Many distinguished themselves in sports and received distinctions such as National Champion, All-American, Scholar Athlete and/or team captain in track and field, swimming, wrestling, cycling, gymnastics, crew, equestrian, judo, taekwando, rugby, field hockey, and lacrosse.
Class members have started their own businesses and worked for varying lengths of time in existing companies, from multinationals to corner delis. Most of the new students have some prior exposure to medicine and many bring substantial experience and skill. Sixteen are licensed Emergency Medical Technicians. Others are trained and licensed as recreational therapists, rape crisis counselors, vision therapists, special education technicians, surgical technicians and cardiac sonographers.
The incoming students have served as medical volunteers in East Los Angeles, South Chicago, Roxbury in Boston, and in Mexico, Nepal, Thailand, China, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru. They have staffed maternity clinics in Ghana and well baby clinics at the National Children’s Hospital in Costa Rica, and served as International Research Training Scholar in Kampala, Uganda and Population Research Consultant in Hanoi, Vietnam. Two incoming students spent two years in the Peace Corps, teaching science and math in Tanzania and Gambia. Another six spent from one to two years in AmeriCorps. Class member have variously been awarded, appointed or elected: Emerging Leader Scholar, Alumni Leadership Scholar, Young Peruvian Leadership Awardee, and Woman of the Year of the Pan-Hellenic Council.
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