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Percentage of pre-meds increases

By Cathy Su

The percentage of MIT seniors applying to medical schools has been increasing over the past three years, according to records of the Pre-Professional Advising and Education Office.

Approximately 9.4 percent of this year's senior class are seeking medical school admission, compared to 7.7 percent last year, 6.8 percent two years ago, and 5.4 percent in 1986.

One hundred twenty undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni are currently using the services of the Pre-Professional Office in applying to medical school. Of these 120, 62 are men and 58 are women -- statistics which indicate a slight increase in the number of women applicants over last year.

In addition, 93 of these applicants are undergraduates, while the recorded number of alumni applicants is 22. The alumni number, which is smaller than last year, may not reflect the number actually applying since not all alumni use or inform the Pre-Professional Office at this early date.

On average an MIT applicant applies to 13 schools; the nationwide average is lower. Although 108 of the 127 US medical schools belong to a centralized application processing service, "the service does not necessarily make it easier to apply" says Chee Chia '90. After reviewing preliminary application material provided by the service, each medical school sends its own secondary application. This may make the process more time-consuming as well as more expensive for the student.

Recommendation letters must also be sent to all the schools -- a process that is handled by the Pre-Professional Office. The final step in the application process is an interview at the school.

MIT students fare well

In this early-December time period, it is too early to tell exactly how this year's class will fare, but "MIT students characteristically do exceedingly well," says Jeannette L. Gerzon, an advisor to pre-professional students. Three medical students have already been accepted through an early decision program, but most premeds are still struggling with secondary applications or interviews.

While nationwide applications to medical school have been declining, MIT's overall applicant pool appears relatively steady. According to Pre-Professional Office advisor Gjyl Mustafa, the students who are applying have a real commitment to helping people and are genuinely concerned with learning more about others. She cites as examples the enthusiasm some students have for working as missionaries abroad or as small town doctors.

Gerzon, who has been an advisor for seven years, believes MIT premeds have always had a humanistic and scientific commitment to medicine. Because of the multiple options an MIT education provides, students will apply out of interest, she says. One possible reason Gerzon cites for the slight increase in undergraduate applicants is the recent expansion in MD-PhD programs, which confer both degrees in seven years and train the graduate for both academic research and clinical practice.

While medical practice is being limited by federal regulation and a higher degree of legal intervention, even doctors are discouraging their own children from entering the medical profession. According to Dr. Sheldon C. Binder, a pre-medical advisor and surgeon, "I am trying to talk my daughter out of going into medicine. Yet at the same time I can't imagine myself wanting to do anything else."