Students compare 6-year with 4-year medical program

 Accepting students right from high school, the University of Missouri- Kansas City School of Medicine follows the six year medical school program. With the majority of United States medical schools following the eight year program such as the University of Missouri, the UMKC route is a not a typical one.

Accepting students right from high school, the University of Missouri- Kansas City School of Medicine follows the six year medical school program. With the majority of United States medical schools following the eight year program such as the University of Missouri, the UMKC route is a not a typical one.

Stazi Prost

Accepting students right from high school, the University of Missouri- Kansas City School of Medicine follows the six year medical school program. With the majority of United States medical schools following the eight year program such as the University of Missouri, the UMKC route is a not a typical one.

While medical school may seem far off for any high school student aspiring to be a doctor, for some, this is the next step in their life. Because of the six-year medical school program offered at University of Missouri- Kansas City, a combination of undergraduate and medical education,  students have the option of studying medicine right out of high school, something senior Abby Spaedy has already set her mind to.
“When I was younger, I would always follow my dad around at work and he is cardiologist,” Spaedy said. “I would just see the way he would interact with his patients, not only as like another patient but he interacted with them like they were actually people. He would care about how their days were and stuff and I wanted to make a difference in patients’ lives like my dad has.”
Since the UMKC medical school program is a combination of undergraduate and medical education, students save two years of their life in this two-in-one program. In the traditional  route of medicine, it takes eight years of experience before one is ready to enter residency, which includes four years of college and four years medical school, but students in the UMKC program can apply to residency only after six .
Another benefit of the program includes no Medical College Admissions Test for its students.  The MCAT is a five hour test “designed for students who are in college, who have already graduated from college and who are preparing to be medical school applicants,” said Alison Martin, Director of Admissions, Recruitment and Career Planning at the University of Missouri School of Medicine.  The MCAT plays an important role in the medical school admissions process, according to Martin,  but since the UMKC students are already admitted into the program right from high school, they are assured a spot in the medical school. Because of this guarantee, the MCAT serves no purpose for the UMKC students.
But even with the temptation of a shorter schooling time and an avoidance of the MCAT, some students aren’t ready to dive into medicine just yet. Since they still have four years of college left to “have fun,” many want to take advantage of this opportunity.
“I would rather go eight years because that way you get the full undergraduate experience,” senior Lily Qian said. “With the six year program you have to do everything with two fewer years so you have to rush it and that means you don’t have as much free time to really experience what college should be like. You know as a freshman in college, you won’t have time to do as many extracurriculars as you want to do, maybe you won’t have time to hold a part time job. It is just going to be so stressful with the six-year program … I feel like for me personally it is not worth it because I would rather be able to enjoy college because once I get past college, I have to really focus. So I want to look back on college as a fun time and if I do the eight year program, if I do what I love, it is not going to be much of a difference.”
In addition to providing four more years of “freedom,” college also provides more time for students to figure out what exactly they wanted to do with their life. According to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com,  50 percent of college students change majors, with many of them changing their majors two to three times. Sometimes even then, those four years aren’t enough to figure out what they want to do.
“Personally, I knew from high school that I wanted to go to medical school so I’d say I may have been an exception but I say for a lot of people it does take them four years to decide what they want to do,” said Ryan Neff, a MU Medical School Student and 2007 RBHS alumni. “There is a lot of people in my medical school class that they have gone the non-traditional path so they went to college, they got a degree, and there were several years between them graduating from college and applying to medical school. So I definitely think that 18 year olds [average age of applicants to UMKC] won’t always know what they want to do, so that is probably another advantage to that traditional path.”
While in agreement with Neff that some 18 year olds won’t know what they want to do with the rest of their lives, current UMKC student and 2010 RBHS graduate Anchal Sethi said “it comes down to what experiences  you have been through.”
As long as a student has been exposed to several aspects of the health care field before applying to UMKC, the student should know very well if medicine is something he or she wants to pursue and if the UMKC program would be a good fit.
“I would strongly encourage [potential students] to shadow a lot of doctors, talk to a lot of doctors and just see if that is actually what they want to do and the biggest thing for most people is that I would tell them to go see a surgery to see if they can even handle the sight of blood because some people are pre-med and then junior year, like one of my friends, he was like ‘I saw blood and I passed out. I can’t be pre-med anymore.’ So you don’t want to come here and be like you can’t handle certain situations. You want to rule all that out beforehand,” Sethi said. “So I would recommend going to see a surgery, doing a lot of shadowing, having a lot of conversations with doctors, but not only doctors but like nurses and physical therapists because some people know they want to go into the health care profession but they are not sure of how they want to do it, maybe even trying everything out before they make that decision so it is not completely centered on being a doctor so they have a very informed decision.”
But regardless of whether a student attends a six year or eight year program, “every medical school will prepare you for residency,”  Sethi said. “It is just in UMKC it happens faster.”
Besides, one of the most important things a medicine career comes down to is maturity. Whether someone matures through their medical experiences in high school or in college, as long as they have this enough of this characteristic, he or she can be ready to face one of life’s biggest career challenges.
“Maturity is really important to us and that would be one of those characteristics that we access and so maturity doesn’t necessarily correlate with age,” Martin said. “Sometimes you can be  like a 22 year old recent graduate that honestly can be very mature or you can be an older applicant and obviously be mature through your years of experience of living life, but maturity is very important because of course there is probably no other profession that deals with people who are suffering and in need more exactly than in health care and so maturity is really important to help deal with that, those crisis and deal with handling the health care of others.”
By Stazi Prost
Are you thinking about a career in medicine? What do you think?