Students With Humanities Background Do Equally Well in Med School

They met and sometimes surpassed peers with traditional pre-med requirements

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 4, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Medical school students with a humanities background are as successful as those with the traditional science-based pre-med requirements, according to U.S. researchers.

The team analyzed 2004-09 data from students at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, which accepts students majoring in humanities or the social sciences and does not require them to take the traditional entrance exam, or MCAT. Of the 691 students examined, 85 were in the Humanities and Medicine (HuMed) program.

The HuMed students were compared to non-HuMed students in seven outcomes criteria and performed similarly to, or sometimes surpassed, their classmates with traditional pre-med preparation.

The study also found that HuMed students were more likely to choose residencies in primary care and psychiatry.

The HuMed program at Mount Sinai was created in 1987 to encourage students with a humanities background to consider a medical career.

"Our results show that Humanities and Medicine students are not at a disadvantage for having bypassed standard pre-med requirements," study leader Dr. David Muller, chair of the department of medical education, said in a Mount Sinai news release.

"In fact, a liberal arts background may provide these students with enhanced communications skills and improved bedside manner. These students also have a heightened interest in primary care, which is important considering the nationwide shortage of primary care physicians," he added.

The study appears in the August issue of the journal Academic Medicine.

More information

There's more on physician training at the American Medical Association.

SOURCE: Mount Sinai Medical Center, news release, July 30, 2010

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