As the clock to graduation counts down, seniors are anxiously trying to figure out what the next step is in life, attending every career or graduate fair and information session available.
While some are searching for a job in the real world, students on the pre-medical track are desperately trying to find the perfect path to medical school. These students spend hours researching various programs and creating spreadsheets in an attempt to find the perfect fit.
Luckily, there is no need to travel far since the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) is a medical school located right here in Blacksburg. Whether you are planning to apply directly into the medical school or join a pre-medical graduate certificate program beforehand, VCOM has it all.
Some pre-med students may not have the necessary GPA or MCAT scores for applying to medical school. Fortunately, VCOM has joined forces with Bluefield College to create a program targeting those who eventually plan on applying to medical school: a Master of Arts in Biomedical Sciences.
Admission requirements include a 3.0 overall GPA and 3.0 science GPA as well as completion of all typical course requirements for medical school. Students complete an application through an online portal, and then they must provide official, verified transcripts from all universities attended alongside two letters of recommendation.
An MCAT score is not required; however, students who have already taken this exam will have an advantage, since they do not have to worry about preparation and can focus solely on grades. This is a nine-month, 35-credit program with an extremely demanding curriculum; students take 17 credits in the fall and 18 credits in the spring.
The coursework focuses strongly on medicine and clinical applications. Students enrolled in this program will be able to enhance their resume and raise their overall GPA, which in turn will increase their chances of getting into medical school.
As an added bonus, success in this program can lead to a confirmed acceptance into VCOM. Anyone with a 3.90 or higher GPA and a minimum 492 MCAT score, 3.70 to 3.89 GPA with a minimum 494 MCAT score, or 3.60 to 3.79 GPA with a 496 MCAT score is guaranteed admission.
VCOM has three campuses: the Virginia Campus, the Carolinas Campus and the Auburn Campus.
Applicants must have an overall GPA of 3.5, a science GPA of 3.2 and an MCAT score of 500 or above. Course requirements include a ‘C’ or higher in one year of biological science with laboratory, one year of physics, one year of general chemistry, one year of organic chemistry and one year of English; as well as an additional six biomedical credit hours.
Additionally, applicants must be United States citizens who have completed their bachelor’s degree prior to matriculation. Transfer students from international schools are not accepted into this program.
Students must also submit two letters of recommendation, one from a pre-health committee or science faculty member and the other from a practicing physician. Applicants will also undergo a background check.
Unlike the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, VCOM is not an allopathic medical school but rather an osteopathic medical school. This means that students will graduate with a DO degree as a doctor of osteopathic medicine, which is less common than an Md., a doctor of medicine.
There is a slight difference in terms of curriculum, as most DO programs emphasize osteopathic manipulative treatment, a hands-on technique utilized in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of illness or injury. Students have an extended education of the musculoskeletal system, and they focus on how the body’s systems function together as one unit.
Additionally, the licensing exams vary between the two different types of degrees, since MD students take the USMLE series while DO students take COMLEX sequence.
In the past, some DO students used to take the USMLE in order to get into an MD residency program. But, recently, the single graduate medical education accreditation system has been developed, which allows all students access to the same residency programs.
Overall, the specificity of a medical degree does not matter too much in the long run; a DO can still specialize in any field of their choice. So, for those pre-med students who wouldn’t mind spending a few more years in Blacksburg, VCOM is definitely the right fit for you.