Advisement Program Helps Students Land Top Professional Schools

HOWARD COLLETT & KENT CROOKSTON

The acceptance rate of BYU undergraduates into medical and dental schools is unfailingly above the national norm. Over the last 25 years acceptance rates for BYU students have been 82 percent (dental) and 60 percent (medical); national averages for the same period have been 56 percent (dental) and 47 percent (medical).

Comparison chart between BYU's and national's acceptance rates
BYU consistently places students in professional schools above the national acceptance rate. (national data not available for podiatry schools)
"We've been consistent with these kind of acceptance rates year after year," said Don Bloxham, retiring director of BYU Health Professions Advisement Center. "And there are several reasons for that. First and most important is the outstanding quality of students at BYU, measured by their academic skills, maturity, hard work, sacrifice, and goal setting. Second is their solid preparation for the graduate application, including the quality of BYU teaching and courses that are prerequisite. Our service courses, for example, introduce students to the health professions and teach them what they have to do to be a successful applicant. When they finish, they know what they are getting into."

Over the past 10 years BYU students who took the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) had an average score of 28.4 compared to the national average score of 24.4.

Third on Bloxham's list is the application preparation process. Students provide written materials and receive feedback for improvement,  which prepares them to apply early. "Our interviews are very much like what they will experience at professional schools," Bloxham said. Finally, Bloxham points out that BYU students who have gone on before have established a reputation which benefits those who follow. "Schools often report that BYU students are instrumental in solving problems rather than creating them," he said.

Christian Anderson (Napa, CA) said he felt the BYU standards were purposefully set high to insure excellence and to keep students humble. Anderson applied to 14 schools and half accepted him. He chose the University of   Louisville. "This university recruits heavily from BYU," Anderson said, "because most BYU applicants are married and have a great work ethic."

Professor Don Bloxham
Don Bloxham discusses graduate school options with pre-dental student Jared Bruggeman.
"We do require our students to plan ahead," said Bloxham. "There are no exceptions for missed deadlines; it takes a lot of time and can be intimidating." "Some people wonder about our high acceptance rates," said Jeanine Ehat, health pro fessions office specialist. "We count everyone who applies. If an applicant has 60 BYU credits and applies, we count them. It's not that we have only a small number of select applicants," she said. "For the entering class of 2006, 297 BYU students applied to dental schools. The average number of applicants from the other top ten schools was 132 students. BYU has a prominent presence and reputation among the nation's dental schools."

Medical and dental applicants come from just about every program at BYU, but those from the college's Biology major make up 40 percent.

Professor Bill Bradshaw, who has worked with the college's premedical program for thirty years said, "The pre-professional program has come a long way in regards to student access to good information. The personal relationship that Don Bloxham has established with admissions people around the country has greatly helped."

"It's a tough job," Bradshaw continued. "When only two-thirds of all applicants are accepted you can never please everyone. But the bulk of our students are happy because they are well prepared academically and present themselves ably in interviews, both here and at their target schools."


Former Med School Dean Helps Fund Applications

Val and Alice Hemming
BYU benefactors Val and Alice Hemming.
Is BYU’s health professions advisory program really that good? According to Val Hemming, it’s among the top in the country. “There are few schools that market their pre-med students as well as BYU,” said Hemming, former dean of the F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland. “Preparation is a critical part of the battle. Many universities find that this is an expensive undertaking and don’t provide such services. But it’s an enormous help in getting a student accepted to medical school, especially to a good medical school.”

At Hebert, which prepares physicians for military service, Hemming reviewed applications generated by BYU’s pre-professional program for 20 years. “I was impressed by how well BYU students were prepared and marketed to medical schools,” he said.

When Hemming retired two years ago, he met with Don Bloxham, director of BYU Health Professions Advisement Center, and offered financial help to students who had a special need for funds to apply to medical school. “It’s expensive to apply to medical school,” said Hemming. It costs $100 to $200 per application and students can spend thousands more in travel to interview at just two or three schools.” Along with his wife Alice, Hemming renewed his grant again this year. “Lack of money reduces a student’s ability to compete for the best schools,” he said. “I’m glad we can help a few of these well-prepared students have more opportunities for their professional education.”