A new program from West Virginia Wesleyan College and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine called “Go D.O.” aims to inspire more students to become doctors and make medical school more accessible.
“All things we do in admissions at West Virginia Wesleyan, we try to break down barriers,” said John Waltz, vice president for enrollment management at West Virginia Wesleyan.
Wesleyan, a private, nonprofit libreral arts college in Buchannon, West Virginia, and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, a public graduate institution in Lewisburg, announced a new collaboration last month, but the program has been in development for three years.
Waltz said the program makes medical school more accessible by waiving the Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT, which is a test required by almost all U.S. medical schools to determine eligibility into a medical program, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Wesleyan and the osteopathic school will instead look at a student’s academic achievements both in high school and while pursuing their undergraduate degree at Wesleyan.
“The student is able to come and do their undergraduate work knowing that as long as they meet the prerequisites along the way, that they are able to matriculate directly into medical school,” Waltz said. “That high level of success and that preparedness is really what was at the heart of what drove this partnership.”
High school seniors have until Dec. 1 to get priority consideration for the first group of this new program, but the schools will be accepting applications on a rolling basis after that. Each year, 10 students will be selected for the program.
Waltz said the program will be competitive.
An eligible high school senior must have at least a 3.75 GPA and earn at least a 30 on the ACT or a 1390 on the SAT. Students can gain entry into the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine after completion of program requirements and after a successful interview with the osteopathic school.
“Something we’re very, very interested in is students being able to study here, not only do their undergraduate, but their graduate work in the state of West Virginia,” Waltz said. “And to be able to contribute to our great state, hopefully in careers and in service, for years and years to come. That sustainability is really what’s most important to us.”
Waltz said through high school outreach, they’ve identified more than 860 eligible West Virginia high school seniors. Out-of-state students can also apply.
The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine is one of West Virginia’s three medical schools.
Marshall University and West Virginia University also offer similar pathways for high school and undergraduate students interested in pursuing medical school. However, only Marshall and the School of Osteopathic Medicine school have opportunities that waive the MCAT.
A WVU spokesperson told West Virginia Public Broadcasting that the MCAT is not waived in the university’s program, because “it is an important part of our holistic review process.”