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College graduates who want to go to medical school are running into a hurdle created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

They aren’t able to take the standardized Medical College Admission Test, and some can’t finish prerequisite courses due to campus shutdowns.

The MCAT, which is scheduled at a public venue, has been postponed until restrictions created by the coronavirus crisis are lifted.

Medical college officials are urging prospective students to submit their applications and not worry about how soon they will be able to take the test.

Admissions Process Adjusted

The pandemic has forced college officials to reassess how students are selected for admission, said Dr. John Graneto, dean of the medical school at California Health Sciences University in Clovis.

Portrait of Dr. John Graneto, dean of California Health Sciences University

“The sooner you get all the other materials in, the sooner we’ll be able to look at you, regardless of when you take your MCAT.”Dr. John Graneto, dean of CHSU Medical School 

CHSU’s inaugural class of medical school students is preparing to start later this year; their admissions applications and MCAT testing came well before the pandemic struck, he said.

Students who will start in the fall of 2021 are the ones affected by the MCAT postponement, which is typically used early in the screening process for medical school admission decisions, he said.

Students also are reporting that they’re running into snags in completing prerequisite classes, Graneto said.

Don’t Wait to Apply

But even though they can’t take MCAT quite yet, students should still proceed with their applications, he said.

“The sooner you get all the other materials in, the sooner we’ll be able to look at you, regardless of when you take your MCAT,” Graneto said.

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine has suggested alterations to admissions procedures, he said.

Likewise, the UCSF School of Medicine has had to make adjustments because of the coronavirus impacts on students and their coursework, said Dr. Loren Alving, director of the UCSF San Joaquin Valley PRIME program, which targets Valley students for medical school enrollments.

Flexibility in Admissions

If the MCAT testing resumes prior to October, when applications are finalized, students can still take the test, Alving said. But if no tests are administered by then, admissions officials will need to make their decisions based on the available application materials.

Portrait of Dr. Loren Alving, director of the UCSF San Joaquin Valley PRIME

“I would certainly encourage anybody who’s interested in SJV PRIME, or medical school in general, to apply. We want you to apply, whether or not the test has been taken.” — Dr. Loren Alving, director of the UCSF San Joaquin Valley PRIME 

“I would certainly encourage anybody who’s interested in SJV PRIME, or medical school in general, to apply,” she said. “We want you to apply, whether or not the test has been taken.”

Alving noted that the university has posted a special section on its website that addresses many concerns that potential medical students have, such as whether pass/fail course credit or online coursework during the pandemic will be accepted (they will).

“UCSF is trying not to put barriers up, and is trying to work with what students have to work with,” she said.

Disclosure: Privately funded CHSU was founded by the Assemi family of Fresno. GV Wire’s publisher, Darius Assemi, is a member of the CHSU board of trustees.

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