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October 13, 2016

New med school courses, programs

Arthur S. Levine, senior vice chancellor for the Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, elaborated on the most recent class of Pitt medical students and some changes in medical education at Pitt as part of his Oct. 6 state of the School of Medicine address.

Class of 2020, by the numbers

The medical school Class of 2020 is made up of 71 men and 77 women. They hail from 82 different undergraduate colleges and universities and represent 29 states and one foreign country. Fifteen percent come from underrepresented groups.

They were selected from 5,872 students who applied for the 148 available positions.

Nearly all — 94 percent — of this year’s class have relevant experience in research; 87 percent have medical/clinical community service experience; and 76 percent have non-medical community service/volunteer experience.

In-state tuition for first-year students is $52,510; for out-of state students, $54,036. Including living expenses, the average annual cost of attending is $77,276 for in-state students; $78,802 for out-of-state students.

Many will leave with a debt exceeding $300,000, Levine said. “That in fact is a gigantic national problem, particularly as reimbursement for clinical care goes down.

“It used to be said that all physicians are rich so therefore they can afford to pay off this debt, but that is increasingly not correct,” he said. “A big concern that I have is finding the money for scholarships, helping our students in every way possible so they don’t have these humongous debts.”

Beth Piraino, the medical school’s associate dean of admissions and financial aid, said the school’s financial aid has doubled in the past decade, currently standing at just over $9 million a year.

New course for 4th year students

This year’s fourth-year medical students will be the first to take a new course, Changing Science, Changing Society.

Levine said, “The science of medicine is changing with such rapidity now that whatever they learned in the first and second years may be out of date by the fourth year.”

The course will cover developments in such fields as genome editing, precision medicine and neuroscience, as well as in social determinants of health and health care. “In the wake of the Affordable Care Act in particular we have to be focused on the psychosocial and social determinants of health, the impact of socioeconomic status, caring for diverse populations, advocacy and health policy and the evolution of health insurance,” Levine said.

Graduate program changes

Levine noted that the medical school’s graduate programs are changing:

• The immunology-microbiology program, historically part of the interdisciplinary biomedical graduate program, now will stand on its own as an autonomous PhD program.

• A master of science in biomedical science program is being launched.

The post-baccalaureate program, in part, serves students “who decided later that they want to go to med school and have to have the premed sciences in order to be considered for admission,” Levine said. They will be guaranteed an early decision regarding admission to Pitt’s medical school, and “I suspect the quality of these students and the training they receive will be sufficiently high that they probably will be likely candidates for admission here,” the dean said.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 49 Issue 4

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