June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.1119.1 - 13.1119.7
Suitability of an Undergraduate Curriculum in Biomedical Engineering for Premedical Study
We sought to determine whether our Biomedical Engineering (BME) basic sciences curriculum would be accepted as fulfilling the de facto basic science requirements for admission to medical school, with a particular emphasis on our internal biology curriculum. 119 domestic medical schools were surveyed. Overall, 90% of responding medical schools responded favorably to our BME undergraduate biology curriculum. Data from MCAT scores and admissions rates support the conclusion that our program of study, and by implication that of many other BME programs, meets the requirements for medical school admissions without compromising the rigor of the engineering curriculum or requiring additional coursework beyond organic chemistry. Advanced physiology and cell biology lectures and labs are of key importance.
Academic advising for biomedical engineers presents special challenges, given the wide range of careers, graduate and professional education options that are open to them. Biomedical engineering (BME) programs generally find that a large portion of their graduates are bound for medical school. Anecdotally, it is often claimed that BME is superior as a pre-medical course of study to traditional pre-medical majors in academic preparation 1, or when measured in admission rates. Indeed, the field is rife with claims of supra-normal medical school admissions rates, with some program web sites claiming medical school admission rates of up to 90%.
Defensible quantitative data on the admission rate to medical schools of BME graduates is lacking. So too are concrete demonstrations that BME programs are truly meeting the needs of pre-medical students and the educational expectations of medical schools. Are BME programs generally meeting the educational expectations of medical schools without overloading pre-med students with additional coursework? To what extent are additional biology and chemistry courses needed to meet those requirements? Are BME majors indeed matching or exceeding the MCAT scores and admission rates of other engineering and non-engineering majors?
We sought to answer these questions for our undergraduate program in BME at the University of Virginia (UVa).
Our pre-medical curriculum
The biomedical engineering degree program requires 126 credit hours of coursework spanning the humanities, social sciences, mathematics, science, and engineering. During the first year of study all engineering students enroll as undifferentiated engineering students. Students select their major at the end of the first year. Once in the program, students work with their advisors to craft a program of study that includes 16 elective courses. The curriculum therefore offers ample room to customize study to students’ interests and career goals. One objective we had in designing our curriculum was to make it possible to complete typical pre-med math/science
Guilford, W., & Bishop, K., & Walker, W., & Adams, J. M. (2008, June), Suitability Of An Undergraduate Curriculum In Biomedical Engineering For Premedical Study Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4430
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