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Medical program shortened by USF/UCF venture

Medical students have many worries.

There are the expensive classes, the growing collection of student loans and difficult course work that takes up all of their waking hours, and many of the ones set aside for sleep.

But now the University of Central Florida and USF have joined forces to make earning a medical degree a little less difficult. The institutions’ new plan, the UCF/USF Accelerated Medical School Program, will shave a year off earning a medical degree.

The program will allow qualified freshmen accepted to UCF’s Burnett Honors College to finish their senior undergraduate year concurrently with their first year of medical school at USF, cutting the usual eight-year path to seven.

After completion of their four-year bachelor’s degree program at UCF, students will attend USF’s medical school and be awarded their medical degree after three years.

In addition to being accepted by The Burnett Honors College, students must be Florida residents, have a 1,300 SAT or equivalent ACT score and earn a 3.7 unweighted grade point average before they can enroll in the program. Students must also apply to the program after being admitted to The Burnett Honors College.

Anne DeLotto Baier, a USF Health Sciences Public Affairs spokesperson, said the program is rigorous, and students must work consistently for all seven years.

“All along the way, they have to keep it up,” she said. “After the first year, you have to make it through the second year and keep meeting all the requirements.”

While at The Burnett Honors College for the first three years of the program, students must maintain an overall 3.5 GPA during the first year, a 3.6 in the second and a 3.7 in the third. Students will be required to submit two recommendation letters from UCF faculty members and interview with the USF College of Medicine Admissions Committee at the end of their freshman year. Students also need to complete all courses the USF College of Medicine requires for admission and courses to complete their undergraduate major. Program participants must also have an MCAT score of 30 or better and complete 40 hours of clinical experience.

Students who meet all these requirements will be accepted to the USF College of Medicine during their senior undergraduate year.

Baier said she wasn’t sure how many students would enroll in the program during fall semester but said there are 23 students accepted to The Burnett Honors College who are eligible.

Dr. Paul Wallach, associate dean for curriculum and medical education, said the program benefits not only students as individuals but also the university as a whole.

“It’s good for the student because as an undergraduate, you wonder if you’re going to get into medical school. This program takes the mystery out of it, and it shortens studies by a year,” he said. “For USF, it really does two things. It establishes an academic relationship with UCF that we hope to build on, and it will help to recruit the best students.”In a news release distributed June 25, UCF president John Hitt said the program goes beyond benefiting just the two institutions.

“This collaboration is reflective of our ongoing cooperative relationship with USF, which benefits our constituencies and our state in so many ways.”