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Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve found that students frequently ask the following 10 questions when comparing pre-health programs at different universities.

1.  How is the pre-medical advising system structured?
At Richmond, Dr. John Vaughn, director of pre-health education, holds a dedicated position for pre-health advising and program development. This is in contrast to many schools our size, where science faculty members take turns serving as the pre-medical advisor in addition to their teaching and research responsibilities.  Our system ensures individualized attention and consistency in the advising process and provides adequate time and resources for the director of pre-health education to develop meaningful program components such as MCAT preparation, clinical externships and mentoring programs.

2.  What is the acceptance rate of your students to medical school?
There are many ways to report medical school acceptance rates. These include reporting the acceptance rate for all first-time applicants, for first-time and repeat applicants combined, or for a pre-selected group of applicants. Therefore, be sure that you understand what group of students is being reported on.  Many colleges, including Richmond, have pre-medical committees that interview students and write letters of recommendation that are sent to medical schools.  Some schools, unlike Richmond, impose minimum GPA and MCAT score requirements to be eligible for a committee letter of recommendation.  When such schools report the acceptance rate of their applicants, it may be for this pre-selected group rather than all of the students at their college who applied to medical school. At Richmond, anyone who wishes to apply to medical school may use our pre-medical committee, regardless of their GPA and/or MCAT score. Acceptance rates reflect all applicants to medical school. For the 2008-13 graduating classes, 78 percent of all Richmond applicants to medical school were accepted. (Note: The national acceptance rate to medical school during this period for first-time applicants was 45 percent.)

3.  Which medical schools have your recent graduates attended?
Richmond has a strong track record with medical schools. From 2008 to 2013, our graduates enrolled in approximately one third of all U.S. medical schools, including several top-25 schools as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. Check out the complete list.

4.  What research opportunities are available to students?
We have recently completed a $40 million renovation and expansion of the Gottwald Center for the Sciences. The new facility boasts state-of-the-art equipment and laboratory space that rival those found at many large research universities. However, unlike many schools, research at Richmond is conducted primarily by undergraduates—not graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Therefore, students at Richmond can readily enter top-notch research labs and work closely with our faculty, starting as early as their freshman year. It is not uncommon for pre-medical students to have co-authorship on a scientific abstract or publication prior to their graduation.

5.  What clinical externship opportunities are available to students?
The University of Richmond is located in a vibrant capital city that features major hospitals and clinics, a biotechnology park and a medical school at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Medically related community service opportunities and job shadowing abound. The Career Development Center manages a clinical shadowing program that matches our students with local physicians and dentists.

6.  How large are pre-medical classes?
As a small liberal arts school, we value providing individualized attention to our students. Therefore, our class sizes are quite small. Introductory science classes average 25 students, allowing students and faculty to know each other well. This particularly benefits pre-medical students who rely on letters of recommendation from faculty when they apply to medical school.

7.  How do you prepare students for the Medical College Admissions Test?
For many medical school admissions committees, the MCAT is as important a factor in the application package as the undergraduate transcript. Richmond offers a comprehensive MCAT preparation course that is team-taught by full-time faculty in chemistry, biology and physics. 

8.  What support is provided to students during the medical school application process?
Dr. Vaughan meets frequently with students during their application year to guide them through the process. His sessions include interview preparation, personal statement preparation, medical school selection and the nuts and bolts of using the centralized application service.

9.  What is the attrition rate of your pre-medical students?
Pre-medical courses at Richmond are not designed to weed out students. Rather, our small class sizes and close faculty-student interaction provide a nurturing environment for learning. Of those who enter the pre-medical program as first year students, approximately 60 percent go on to apply to medical school. Those who leave the program rarely do so because of poor academic performance. Rather, they are usually attracted to some other field of study to which they had not been exposed prior to college.