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Med school a large draw

2,700 applicants for 40 spots

Published: Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Updated: Sunday, February 15, 2009 16:02

Duke, Harvard, Yale and UCF - put them on one list and more often than not, the first three are at the top of the list. But bring up the subject of medical schools and competitiveness, and that list gets reversed with the opening of UCF's medical school come fall 2009.

As of Aug. 22, more than 2,700 applications were submitted to the admissions office for just 40 available slots in the inaugural class.

Applicants from all over the country are applying to the new school. However, the record number of applicants may present challenges for the selection of the first class.

"The most challenging task for the admissions office at this time is reviewing the growing number of applications and giving every qualified candidate full consideration," Director of Admissions Robert Larkin said. "We take great care to do so because we know that students put a lot of effort into this and for many, this is their life's dream. We also have a great responsibility to recommend the best candidates to ensure our first medical class is a successful one."

According to Larkin, the medical school is attracting the best of the best from across the nation.

"I've been in this business for eight years, and I'm seeing a lot of things I've never seen before," Larkin said. "For example, the MCAT scores and GPAs from the applications we are receiving are among the highest I've ever seen."

The new medical school offers prospective students many advantages.

"UCF's medical school offers a strong program, which will provide students with all they need to know to become model physicians," Larkin said. "Students will learn from experienced faculty and renowned researchers while using the best and latest in technology and simulation, and we are the first school in the nation to offer a full scholarship to every member of our charter class. These ingredients make UCF's college of medicine an enticing choice for students."

Those scholarships are set at $40,000 to help medical students with tuition and basic living expenses but just won't be offered to any applicant. Larkin and the admissions staff are looking for more than the average student.

"We are looking for students with good MCAT scores and GPAs and for leaders who have demonstrated compassion for others," Larkin said. "We want students who will make a difference in the lives of their patients and who will make the discoveries of the century. We want students with a good mind and a true heart for medicine who will help us create the 21st century's medical school."

While being as selective and competitive as the Ivy League schools is impressive, the UCF medical school smashed application numbers of other state schools. The last medical school to open was that of Florida State University in 2002. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, FSU only saw 386 applicants its first year and didn't see a substantial increase until 2004 when the number jumped to 1,054. Last year's applicant records from the AAMC show that the still relatively new Florida State University medical program had the least with 2,369. Other big name, well established schools in the state are still below that of the amount of applicants for the new school at UCF. The University of Florida had 2,784, while The University of South Florida had 2,880. With the application deadline stretching all the way to Dec. 1, UCF could easily surpass all public schools in the state. The only higher numbers reported by the AAMC were that of the private University of Miami with 4,638.

Being selective and attractive at both the state and national levels speaks volumes for a new school.

"It's a tribute to UCF's national reputation for academic and research excellence," Larkin said. " It also says high-quality students recognize the opportunity they have to learn and grow at our College of Medicine. It also means we have the opportunity to welcome some of the very best candidates from around the country into the UCF family. It is an opportunity and a great responsibility because our first class will help lead the way for future classes. They will set the standard that each succeeding class will strive to surpass."

Just being popular, competitive and having an available full-ride scholarship aren't sole reasons to apply to a school though. Larkin urges prospective applicants to do their research about medical schools.

"Do your homework," Larkin said. "Work closely with your pre-medical advisors to carefully consider each medical school program. Specifically look into the curriculum for integrated basic science and clinical training and availability of "live" clinical training opportunities. Determine whether there are multiple and varied training hospitals that can provide a wide array of cases with diverse population groups. Finally look into the personal support and "comfort" of the program to make sure it is a good match for you based on your desires and passion. You will find all of these things in the UCF medical program that will lead the way into 21st century."

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