The First Cohort of Rowan’s Accelerated Degree Program in Medicine are on the Path to Saving Lives

In September of 2016, the first cohort of five students started their journey to becoming doctors in Rowan University’s 7-year Accelerated Degree Program in Medicine. The program allows these students to start medical school at Cooper Medical School at Rowan University (CMSRU) or the Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM) after successfully completing three years at Rowan. Rowan is only the second school in the nation (Michigan State University) to have two medical schools attached to it and to offer both MD and DO medical programs, whether accelerated or traditional.

Upon their first completed year at CMSRU or RowanSOM, the students earn their bachelor’s degree. The program allows these students the chance to get into the field at an accelerated rate of seven years compared to the typical eight. The application deadline for the program is December 31st for the following academic year. Students applying to the program can choose to get their bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, biological sciences, biomedical engineering, or biophysics.

One of the many benefits that the students are raving about, is not having to deal with the stress of applying to medical school upon graduation. Poyani Bavishi what really makes the program stand out to her, “The main appeal for me was the conditional acceptance to CMSRU. The medical school has a strong mission statement that it stands by in both teaching and in practice.” Bavishi is pursuing her BS/MD in biological sciences.

Applicants are required to make a selection in regards to which program they plan on pursuing, whether that be the BS/MD program through CMSRU, or the BS/DO program through RowanSOM. Each program accepts up to three students each. To remain in the program, students must maintain a grade point average of 3.6 or higher throughout their career at Rowan.

Another student, Shubh Bhambri, who was accepted into a few different programs in the area, describes what made Rowan stand out. “RowanSOM is an excellent medical school. While I received acceptance to other programs, I chose the seven year at Rowan as it is in association with one of the best osteopathic schools in the United States. Being a part of this program is truly a blessing and a dream come true.” It is a rigorous program, but nonetheless the benefits can be considered endless.

All of the students who were accepted into the program had some type of prior experience with medicine early on in their educational careers. This varies from shadowing physicians to working with EMT staff. When asked what exactly he would hope to do in the future after graduation from medical school, Anil Bhatnagar stated, “After medical school, I hope to perform research on diseases and their therapies to further progress in the field.  It is important to continue work on innovations to improve the quality of life of our patients while driving the future of medicine.”

Bhatnagar also participates in Cooper Medical School’s Premedical Urban Leaders Summer Enrichment (PULSE) program and he joined Rowan’s EMS to expand his perspective in the medical field, as well as learn new skills he can use later on in his career. The primary goal of PULSE is to provide students from underrepresented and/or educationally and financially disadvantaged backgrounds exposure to medical professions.

The five students who were accepted into this program can describe their relationship with each other as motivational and supportive. Mallika Mendu describes the feeling of being part of Rowan’s first ever accelerated medical school cohort as a privilege and an honor. “Not only have I been given a wonderful opportunity to gain a robust undergraduate education and interact with like-minded students having similar goals and aspirations, but I have also been able to interact with and integrate into Rowan's medical community, which has further bolstered my passion for medicine.”