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How a Medical Education has Evolved

January 28, 2019
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  Two words changed the face of medical education: Flexner Report. In 1910, this report highlighted the need for standardized and centralized institutions and shaped the model for medical education as we know it today. It called for higher admission and graduation standards, strict protocols of mainstream science in teaching and research, and to increase the prerequisites to get into medical school -- among many other recommendations.   While many of these have remained true, medical education has continued to change and evolve over the years. Let’s take a look at a few of the ways that medical school is different today.  


Without a doubt, this is the most glaring difference over the last few decades. Medical school is no doubt expensive, but according to the Washington Post, the average cost of a medical education at a U.S. public institution has risen 312% over the last 20 years. In 2018, average tuition and fees amounted to $138,400 per degree in-state and $196,000 per degree out-of-state. That means most physicians will be paying back their medical education longer than they attended school. And for many qualified candidates, the cost will be a roadblock they just can’t overcome. At Saint James School of Medicine, we believe no one should have to sacrifice their dream because of cost. Our tuition and fees average $78,000, almost half that of US and Canadian schools, and one of the most affordable MD programs among all accredited Caribbean medical schools. SJSM also offers a variety of scholarship and loan opportunities.  


In the 1950s, you could expect 10-12 applicants for every position in med school. By 2010 that number rose to 40. Today it’s even higher. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of applicants to U.S. medical schools increased by more than 35 percent, rising from 39,108 to 53,042, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges admissions data. That means if you’re hoping to get into medical school, you need more than a stellar academic record and terrific MCAT scores. You need to stand out from the competition in your essays and extracurricular activities. Additionally, U.S. News & World Reports data shows that primary care programs have seen some of the highest increases in applications. The average number of applicants at the top 10 primary care programs rose from 3,273 applicants per class in 2006 to 7,175 applicants in 2016. At Saint James, we don’t require the MCAT for admission. But if you do take the MCAT, your scores can help with admission and even your eligibility for SJSM scholarships.  


One of the repercussions of the Flexner Report was in an effort to reduce the number of schools and students, American schools switched to male-only admissions. Times have certainly changed. Diversity is welcomed and celebrated. Students from different backgrounds provide different perspectives, enriching the experience for everyone and preparing students to work with a broader range of patients. Diversity in cultural background and age are encouraged at SJSM. Older students often find it harder to gain admittance to U.S. and Canadian schools. We welcome them with open arms.  


Flexner would be amazed at the advancements in technology through the years. Online coursework, smartphones and tablets, and digital scans are the norm in virtually every medical school. Students can even learn about surgeries and procedures from across the country and across the globe thanks to virtual classrooms and telemedicine. 3D printing is quickly becoming one of the hottest technologies in medicine. Prosthetics, joint replacement, tissue for grafts and even pills are just some of the things that 3D printing can create. Another growing technological advancement in medicine is robotic surgery. It aids in delicate and complex procedures offering precision, control, and flexibility.   While the changes may be many, at the core medical education still has one singular goal – creating the best doctors through the most complete and comprehensive medical training. Something you’ll find at Saint James School of Medicine.   If you’d like to learn more about our programs and discover even more reasons why SJSM is a smart choice for your medical education, call 800-542-1553.
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