University News

Med school softens new PLME policy

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 24, 2009

After stirring opposition from students, the University has reconsidered a policy shift that would strip undergraduates in the Program for Liberal Medical Education of their reserved spots at Alpert Medical School if they choose to apply to other medical schools.

According to an e-mail sent to PLMEs Monday by two top med school deans, students who “apply out” will in fact be guaranteed a spot in a med school class at Brown, though they may be deferred for a year.

The initial policy change, which was announced earlier this month, drew anger from some students who criticized the new system, particularly because it affected current as well as future students enrolled in the program.

According to the e-mail, students will now be asked to inform the Med School whether they intend to  apply out by Sept. 15 of their senior year. Those students who do choose to apply elsewhere will be guaranteed a spot in the “first available” Alpert class.

“This may mean a delay in matriculation to AMS should they not secure a spot at another school,” Associate Dean for Medical Education Philip Gruppuso and Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences Edward Wing wrote in their message to PLMEs.

According to Gruppuso, the original change was intended to account for the delicacy of the medical school admissions process and the need for schools to be sure they would enroll a full incoming class each year.

“Honestly, if we were not confronted with the competitive reality of medical school admissions, we would never have been motivated to make this change at all, and especially not for students already here,” he told The Herald Monday.

The number of PLMEs applying out to other schools has increased in recent years, according to the deans’ e-mail. That complicates the calculus required of admissions officers to ensure a full class, Gruppuso said.

But after students expressed opposition and met with the administration, the deans moved to modify the policy.

“We were trying to balance two conflicting desires: to provide to students the flexibility they’ve come to expect, and at the same time … the good of the institution,” Grappusso said. “We arrived at a policy that we think is the best solution to a difficult issue.”

About two weeks after the policy was announced earlier this month, a group of four PLME students met with Gruppuso in person to discuss their misgivings about the change. It was that meeting, Gruppuso said, that pushed the administration to work toward a policy that more students would like.

“The key for me was sitting and talking to these four juniors,” Gruppuso said. “It was a very constructive discussion.”

Arune Gulati ’11, one of the four students, said he was happy to have reached a compromise with the administration and that the revised policy was “definitely a step in the right direction.”

“It definitely works out for the Med School, because they fill their class. And for us, it takes away the whole uncertainty that we won’t get in anywhere,” he said. “We’re still guaranteed a spot, which is fantastic. So I guess in that way it works out for both sides.”

But Gulati expressed disappointment in the fact that the policy change will affect current students. “Then again, this is what it should have been all along, because this is what we were promised,” he said.

Unikora Yang ’12, a PLME, also commended the new policy. “It is a good policy considering that medical school admissions is a complicated system,” she said.

Gruppuso said the situation was difficult for both sides.

“We know that there are very valid personal reasons for wanting to make a change,” he said. “It’s just a question of, ‘In what ways do the needs and desires of the individual trump the health of the institution?’ “