Guidance for Aspiring Doctors

The number of Mizzou students admitted to medical and dental schools is well above the national average, due in part to the support student receive from MU’s MedOpp Advising Office.

The process of applying to graduate programs in the medical and dental fields can be daunting, but the MedOpp Advising Office provides valuable tools and support to help guide students through the process.

MedOpp InfographicMedOpp provides pre-professional advising for all pre-med, pre-dental, pre-optometry, pre-physician assistant and pre-podiatry students. The program offers seminars, workshops, activities designed to complement academic and scholarly achievement, application support, letter services, committee interviews and free resources to students looking to go into a career in medicine or dentistry. Currently, the program serves about 2,000 students.

Since 2007, the number of incoming pre-med undergraduate students has increased by more than 50 percent. Although the incoming freshman class for the 2016-2017 academic year was smaller than in previous years, the number of incoming pre-med students increased substantially with approximately 850 incoming freshmen declaring as pre-med.

MedOpp program manager and chief health professions adviser Susan Geisert believes that the number of incoming pre-med students remains high because medicine is a popular career path to pursue these days.

“It’s one of those careers that’s always in top 10 as far as making money and job satisfaction,” Geisert says. “Students want to be able to have a career where they can help people and where they can make a difference, and they see medicine as a good avenue for that particular kind of career.”

The MedOpp Program places students on a path to achieving their career goals by expertly preparing them for the medical or dental school application process. The 2016-17 Honors College annual report data indicates that MedOpp students see much higher rates of acceptance to professional programs for both first-time applicants and re-applicants compared to the national average.

The overall national acceptance rate for osteopathic medical school in 2016-17 was 34 percent, while the MedOpp overall acceptance rate was more than double that at 73.8 percent. The first-time applicant acceptance rate for MedOpp students was also much higher than the national average at 70.8 percent, as was the re-applicant acceptance rate at 78 percent.

For allopathic medical school, the national acceptance rate was 39 percent in 2016-17, while the MedOpp overall acceptance rate was 56 percent. The first-time applicant MedOpp acceptance rate was 57 percent and the re-applicant acceptance rate was 54.5 percent.

The dental school national acceptance rate in 2016-17 was 45 percent while the MedOpp overall acceptance rate was 76 percent, with first-time applicants accepted at a rate of 83 percent and re-applicants accepted at a rate of 50 percent.

Geisert says the higher acceptance rates can be chalked up to greater preparation on the part of MedOpp students at MU when compared to students at other universities.

“If you look at universities across the United States, not all of them have a team specifically for helping students get into medical or dental schools,” Geisert says. “When you don’t really know what you’re supposed to be doing, getting into those schools can be very hard. We know what medical and dental schools are looking for, so we can help guide students in that direction.”

Geisert believes that the MedOpp Program’s focus on personalization sets students up for success. Each MedOpp student meets one-on-one with an adviser throughout each semester to develop customized strategies specific to his or her own unique goals, needs and abilities.

“We start with incoming freshmen and work with each level of candidates all the way through,” Geisert says. “We focus on personal development and evaluating experiences during students’ sophomore year. Then, in their junior year, we actually walk the candidates through the application with a series of workshops and one-on-one appointments so that they are really prepared by the time they get to the application process.”

With the MedOpp Program’s help and support, students are being accepted to and attending world-class medical schools such as Harvard, Vanderbilt, Emory, University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis, in addition to the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Thirty-three students in the MU School of Medicine’s Fall 2017 entering class worked closely with MedOpp during their undergraduate years.

“Giving them all that information up front and then helping students to follow through using resources,” Geisert says, “is what I think sets our candidates apart.”