U of S Medical College changes requirements

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Applying students will now require a four-year degree

A four-year degree is the national standard for med school applicants. / Darko Stojanovic

A four-year degree is the national standard for med school applicants. / Darko Stojanovic

This past semester saw the University of Saskatchewan change its program requirements for their school of medicine. Students wanting to apply to the school of medicine will now be required to have a four-year degree, or take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). These changes have directly affected current students and professors on the University of Regina campus, and their pre-medicine program, as well as any future student wishing to get into this already difficult to get into program.

The Carillon was able to talk to U of R chemistry professor Dr. Stephen Cheng who is just one of the people on campus who will be affected by the changes made by the U of S. Dr. Cheng noted some of the major changes that will be taking place.

“Pre-med students will spend at least four years (to finish their degree) before they are eligible to enter medical school. Back in 2014, they could possibly enter medical school after as little as two years at the U of R.”

Beyond that, the school will also be weighing academic performance to personal qualities in a different way, which Dr. Cheng was also able to explain.

“Another change that has taken place is the weighting of academic performance to personal qualities is now 35-65. As you can see, the focus is more on personal qualities. Previously, the weighting was the other way around.”

As for the reasoning behind the changes made, Dr. Cheng was able to shed some light on the situation, and the university’s recent accreditation problems dating back to 2013, when they were placed on probation.

“The changes make U of S more in-line with other medical schools in Canada. As you may also know, the educational program leading to the MD degree at the U of S was placed on Accreditation with Probation by its accrediting bodies.”

Dr. Cheng also explained that the changes might help to regain accreditation for the school.

Finally, Dr. Cheng was able to explain how the U of S would consider these new changes a success. Again, it goes back to whether or not they are able to get off the probation list, as well as them becoming an all-around better medicine school, where they are currently rated near the bottom compared to other medical programs.

“The end goal behind these changes is to raise the performance of the medical program. As mentioned above, the accreditation of the program is on probation. They are also ranked 14 out of 15 schools in 2014. I guess it’s quite clear that we know they are successful if they regain accreditation.”

The Carillon was also able to get the perspective of a student when third-year pre-med student Kristin Lett agreed to share her opinion on the subject, and exactly how it will affect her current and future studies. Lett said that she was turned down by the program last year, and will now be unable to apply until she has completed another degree. These changes have caused Lett to think about having a backup plan in case things don’t work out in her favour.

“It made me want to do an honours degree, so I’m going to apply and do that next year, because you don’t want to have all your eggs in one basket. I’ll now have to take an MCAT when I wasn’t planning to, and they’ve changed that too,” Lett said. “They’re making it more difficult, but I think they’re also going to be getting better students that know how to study, and have more experience. You’re basically doing four years of university learning in two years.”

While these changes might seem drastic at first, they seem to be with the intentions of trying to make the U of S med-school a far-improved place to learn.

To learn more about exact changes made to the med-school program in Saskatoon, visit the U of S college of medicine admissions page.

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