Letter to the Editor: Application process rigorous, but fair

Editor:

This letter is in response to the April 8 article in The Daily Utah Chronicle titled, “Pre-meds angry at the U enrollment process.” This article illustrates the lack of understanding of the U School of Medicine’s admissions policies. We would like to clarify the several misrepresentations in the article.

First, the School of Medicine has partial rolling admissions, meaning that if an applicant has an exceptional application, the admissions committee will notify him or her within six to eight weeks, but it has the right to withhold the application until the end of March to decide eligibility. Many schools across the country have a similar policy.

Secondly, GPA and MCAT scores consist of only 20 percent of the final selection score and are mainly used for the initial screening process. GPA and MCAT scores help students stand out and receive an invitation for the secondary application. However, it is the six other components that give the applicants more weight.

The other components of the application-which contribute 80 percent of the final selection score-include: research experience, community service, patient exposure, leadership skills, physician shadowing and extracurricular actives.* Studies have shown that GPA and MCAT scores do not correlate with being a good physician, only with success during the first two academic years of medical school. And lastly, the article stated that women and minorities are being accepted at a higher rate than their counterparts. We offer two explanations to that statement. First, the U has one of the country’s lowest number of women and minority applicants, which is significant considering that more than 51 percent of all national applicants were women in 2004. Therefore, if you have a small denominator, the percentage is extremely sensitive to the numerator.

Dr. Wayne Samuelson, dean of admissions, used a great example to show how deceiving the percentage can be. If you divide the number of Democrats in the state Legislature by the number of registered Democrats in the state of Utah, you get a higher rate of Democrats being elected to the Legislature than Republicans. As anyone who has been following local politics can tell you, the Legislature has an overwhelming majority of elected Republicans-not Democrats-contrary to the percentage rates.

Additionally, the legislative audits tried to pinpoint why women and minorities were being accepted at a higher rate in the past five years and they could not find proof of any bias to the admission procedure. They also omitted the fact that the rate of admissions for men has also increased within the same time period. It is important to note that women are usually stronger candidates with extensive experience in the non-academic components and strong academic backgrounds. The Legislature has recognized that women are more differentially qualified.

We realize that those who apply to the U School of Medicine tend to be very strong applicants. A higher percentage of applicants from Utah are accepted to out-of state medical schools than from any other state with a public medical school.* Therefore, we suggest that applicants denied admission apply again next year and take advantage of the willingness of the admissions office to meet with every applicant who got denied.

*Information taken from the U School of Medicine Web site.

Chris Dodgion

Second-year U Med Student,

Melissa Cheng

First-year U Med Student