by Sana Azam
One of six prestigious University of California (UC) medical schools, the UC San Diego School of Medicine teaches its students to care for the patients at a more personal level. Established in 1968 and located in beautiful La Jolla, California, the school has grown to encompass multiple specialty departments and is distinguished as one of the best medical schools in the nation.
Amaan Ali, a first year student and USC alum, shares his admiration for the school, saying, “UCSD believes in not just training competent physicians, but friendly and sensitive physicians. They realize that the way the patient feels…has a big impact on the healing process.”
The school has numerous accolades, including highly ranked departments, particularly Family Medicine, Neurosciences, and Surgery.
There is a large emphasis on research as well, with faculty members ranking number one for federal research funding per faculty member. As of 2014 the school is ranked 39th in the nation of public medical schools by US News.
Currently matriculating 125 students a year, the school has 502 students enrolled as of 2013. This includes students who deferred from the previous year and students repeating courses from their first year.
“Deferred and repeating students go through the same programs,” said Ali. “We have electives, but the core curriculum is the same for all students.”
A great benefit of being the only medical school in the area is that students have the option to gain experience from any one of the five different teaching hospitals associated with the school.
“San Diego is amazing,” said Ali. “Being the only allopathic medical school in the area, we kind of have a monopoly on the teaching hospitals.”
These connections provide the students with extensive opportunities to be trained by brilliant physicians and be exposed to a variety of health problems early in their medical careers.
For the first year and a half, students take information dense courses aimed to provide all the knowledge necessary before they move on to clinical rotations for the remaining quarters. Some of the courses of year one and two include the Practice of Medicine, Problem Based Learning, Cardiology, Mind Brain and Behavior, Hematology and Oncology. These prepare the students as they enter rotations in the spring of their second year.
The school also offers the Independent Study Project (ISP) that, according to the UCSD’s website, seeks to “prepare physicians who are scientifically expert, clinically astute, responsive to community problems, and compassionate toward clinical needs.”
As one of the requirements for graduation since its adoption, the program is a step in the right direction for students to be thoroughly engaged in their learning and encourage them have the initiative to pursue an academic project independent from the classroom setting.
Following their motto as “Fiat lux,” meaning “Let there be light,” UCSD’s School of Medicine and its students are sure to have a lasting impact on the medical field of the future.
The UCSD School of Medicine offers a variety of degree and dual degree programs. These allow students to explore their interests with greater range than just the medical atmosphere. The programs offered are MD, MD/Masters of Advanced Studies in the Leadership of Healthcare Organizations, MD/Masters of Advanced Studies in Clinical Research, MD/ Master of Advanced Studies in Health Law, MD/PhD, MD/MPH, as well as various independent PhD programs.
The application process is similar to most medical schools in the nation. After a primary application through AMCAS, the school asks for a $80 detailed secondary application, including, but not limited to, a biographical sketch (personal statement), list of extracurricular, publications, medical/clinical experiences, letters of recommendation and volunteer experience.
The interview process has changed in the last year, adopting the Multiple Mini Interview system that many other medical schools are also implementing. “The interview process includes questions about personal interests, what field of medicine you are interested in, etc,” said Ali. “It’s to get a better picture of who we are as people. If you are a nice, caring individual, who cares about patients and is going into medicine to help people, the interviewers can pick up on that.” The average overall GPA is about 3.75, with an average science GPA of 3.71. MCAT scores should be around 33.6 composite. With almost 6000 applicants each cycle, the acceptance rate of the school is about 2.1 percent.