The six-year medical program allows students to complete their medical degree in six years, which is two years shorter than the traditional path taken by students at other universities.
One third-year student who wishes to remain anonymous, is concerned with the medical school facilities.. She said she feels the buildings are not well-maintained. In addition, they lack any significant plan to improve the conditions. Elevators are being replaced and individual unit sections are receiving repairs but she said more repairs are necessary.
She said she also believes more space would improve the condition of the building. For example, once students reach year three of the program, they receive their own offices. These offices are intended for professional use only, but students often conduct private studying within these spaces. There have been instances when offices have had to be shared among students.
“To share an office is a bit cruel,” she said. “These office spaces are the size of closets.”
She believes it is ridiculous for students to have to share office space when tuition ranges from $50,000-$150,000 per year, depending on grade level.
Gaining acceptance into the school, she believes, is fair, but once accepted, she encountered other problems.
“Admissions are not a problem,” she said. “Basic science classes are a problem.”
She said teachers who instruct the basic science courses that most students take campus wide are subpar. Classes are far too large and the focus is only on rote memorization, with no real learning involved. While there are a few basic science teachers who are welcoming and take interest in their students’ learning, some teachers are oblivious to concerns.
“I like the teachers at the medical school,” she said. “They are very personal and the class sizes are smaller.”
She admits that this is her own personal opinion of the teachers and classes, as she has asked other medical students and some prefer the large classes for the convenience of skipping class.
“One of the best qualities of this program is docent,” she said.
Docent groups allow the medical students to familiarize themselves with each other on a more personal level. In addition, students are introduced quickly to the medical field and what it entails outside of the classroom. They are in essence mini-internships spread throughout the students’ semesters in school.
She, however, said she would not trade her experience as a UMKC six-year medical student for any other.
Dylan Wyatt, first-year med student, is not as concerned about the need for renovations, but believes the elevators are frightening.
“There is a plot to make the med students healthy by making us use the stairs,” Wyatt said.
He said he is much more concerned with the admission process.
“There were many extensions from people in my grade,” Wyatt said. “They were not prepared to go into the program. I know the program is so rigorous, so it’s understandable.”
He described the process as “a bit of an academic slap in the face” and hopes there will be more support for the new students.
Wyatt. said a new problematic procedure is occurring in his medical microbiology class. Due to changes because of accreditation, students must now teach each other the class material. Instead of teachers, the students of the class form groups that rotate. Each week, an individual group presents lessons to the rest of the peers.
“Teaching each other and presenting to the classes sounds good on paper,” Wyatt said. “But it’s too huge for us because we don’t know anything. There is so much information, we just want to know what is important.”
Wyatt commented that the test average for medical microbiology dropped compared to last year’s exam. This teaching technique may be applied to the pathology class in the future.
“In my opinion, clinic is the most important,” Wyatt said.
In clinic, students interact with patients and aid doctors by diagnosing the patients and writing up the doctor notes. The level of responsibility increases as the students progress in the program. This opportunity is offered early to students in the program and, because of this immediate exposure to performing like a professional doctor, Wyatt chose UMKC’s program.
“Having four years of [clinic] instead of two in other med schools will make me that much better of a physician so I can better take care of patients,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt also appreciates the program because students are not required to take the MCAT to get into the medical school. He explains that applying to medical school and taking the MCAT are challenging and stressful.
“A lot of people want to be doctors, but the medical school slots aren’t increasing fast enough,” Wyatt said. “I don’t know if I would have been able to spend four years making my grades perfect — absolutely perfect.”
He likes the pace at which the program eases students into medical school work and that the focus is a bit less on grades and more on performance.
Wyatt said that his goal as a doctor is to constantly help the underserved communities in the nation. With the various opportunities in Kansas City, from Sojourner’s clinic to Kansas City Free Eye clinic to Truman Hospital, he always has the opportunity to serve the underrepresented in the city.
“I think it’s very important for a doctor to have the chance to look a patient in the eyes and handle this,” Wyatt said. “You have to do more than give meds. You have to consider their living situations and environment. This education puts everything in perspective.”