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Challenging Traditional Premedical Requirements as Predictors of Success in Medical School: The Mount Sinai School of Medicine Humanities and Medicine Program

Muller, David MD; Kase, Nathan MD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181dbf22a
Premedical Requirements

Purpose: Students compete aggressively as they prepare for the MCAT and fulfill traditional premedical requirements that have uncertain educational value for medical and scientific careers and limit the scope of their liberal arts and biomedical education. This study assessed the medical school performance of humanities and social science majors who omitted organic chemistry, physics, and calculus, and did not take the MCAT.

Method: The authors compared and contrasted the academic outcomes of 85 Humanities and Medicine Program (HuMed) students at Mount Sinai School of Medicine with those of their 606 traditionally prepared classmates for the 2004-2009 graduating classes. The authors analyzed basic science knowledge, clerkship performance, humanism, leadership, community service, research fellowships, distinctions, and honors.

Results: There were no statistically significant differences between the groups in clerkship honors other than psychiatry (HuMed students outperformed their peers, P < .0001) or in commencement distinctions or honors. Although HuMed students were significantly more likely to secure a scholarly-year mentored project (P = .001), there was no difference in graduating with distinction in research (P = .281). HuMed students were more likely to have lower United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 1 scores (221 ± 20 versus 227 ± 19, P = .0039) and to take a nonscholarly leave of absence (P = .0001). There was a trend among HuMed students toward residencies in primary care and psychiatry and away from surgical subspecialties and anesthesiology.

Conclusions: Students without the traditional premedical preparation performed at a level equivalent to their premedical classmates.

Author Information

Dr. Muller is associate professor, Departments of Medical Education and Medicine, dean, Medical Education, and chair, Department of Medical Education, Mount Sinai School of Medicine of New York University, New York, New York.

Dr. Kase is professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science and Department of Medicine, and dean emeritus, Mount Sinai School of Medicine of New York University, New York, New York.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Muller, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1255, New York, NY 10029; telephone: (212) 241-8716; e-mail:

© 2010 Association of American Medical Colleges