Changes to the MCAT are drawing applause from officials at the *University of Medicine and Health Sciences, St. Kitts (UMHS, St. Kitts), considered one of the top tier Caribbean medical schools.
After years of review, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which administers the MCAT, approved revisions to the exam updating it for the first time in over 20 years. Now with a greater focus on psychology, sociology, and biology, prospective medical school students’ endurance will also be challenged as testing time increases to 6 ½ hours.
Changes are to take effect in 2015, and while eliminating the writing sample, will now include the following new sections:
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
- Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
Additionally the exam will focus more heavily on principles of natural science, e.g. general and organic chemistry, biochemistry, biology – rounding out what is considered to be a more holistic and comprehensive evaluation.
In a press release outlining the changes, AAMC president and CEO Darrell Kirch said, “Being a good doctor is about more than scientific knowledge. It also requires an understanding of people. By balancing the MCAT exam’s focus on the natural sciences with a new section on the psychological, social, and biological foundations of behavior, the new exam will better prepare students to build strong knowledge of the socio-cultural and behavioral determinants of health.”
The implications to the future practice of medicine are many fold. One point in particular is the impact on patient care and advocacy. Supporting the changes in the exam, the AAMC released another report suggesting that with a greater emphasis on psycho-social and behavioral models, future physicians will be better prepared to meet the needs of their patients addressing higher standards of patient care and safety.
This move clearly spells changes for undergraduates who will need to choose courses that build a broader base of knowledge than previously required for premedical students. Admission requirements of many U.S. medical schools may undoubtedly require some review and rethinking as well, to take in the bulk of these changes. However, for the *University of Medicine and Health Sciences, St. Kitts, a well-rounded, thoughtful consideration of applicants has been part of the approach to admissions since the beginning.
Leaders at UMHS, St. Kitts, with a Basic Sciences Campus which rivals its U.S. counterparts, say they use the MCAT in conjunction with other compelling student information.
According to UMHS, St. Kitts’ President, Warren Ross, who is seen by many as a pioneer in medical education, particularly in the establishment of Caribbean medical schools, no single criterion can serve as a measuring stick for a student’s likelihood of success. “The UMHS admissions committee tends to look at each student in a holistic manner, and does not consider each variable in isolation. Any exam that can help us better understand the student and his ability to succeed in medical school will be thoroughly embraced.”
Newly minted UMHS, St. Kitts Director of Admissions, Sean Powers, (formerly of Ross University and DeVry Medical International) states, “with each graduating class, we continue to prove that the MCAT should not be the ultimate deciding factor it has become at other schools and that our holistic approach which considers many factors in each applicant’s background is a better model to follow to determine admission.”
With a set date of 2015, the AAMC has devised a comprehensive list of concepts and topics covered by the new exam as well as sample questions which can be found at the following link: “Preview Guide for MCAT2015.” From the AAMC website, students can also view an informational video that gives suggestions for how to prepare for the exam.
Though more information regarding these changes will become available after the AAMC’s annual meeting this fall, students and parents wishing to know more can go to the AAMC website to review the Final MCAT Recommendations.
Built in the tradition of the best US universities, the University of Medicine and Health Sciences focuses on individualized student attention, small class sizes and recruiting high quality faculty. For these reasons, UMHS is quickly becoming the school of choice among Caribbean medical schools.