The California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine is one of the newest medical schools in California and graduated its first class of osteopathic doctors last year. The school was created to address a primary care doctor shortage in Central California, which the school hopes to remedy in the coming years. The school has a stated mission to train residents of California, and even though a majority of its students are California residents it still accepts applicants from anywhere making it an out-of-state friendly medical school. As the program has only had one graduating class, it is still working on expanding its academic offerings, but this article will detail what the school has to offer as of this writing, and give you an idea what to do to prepare your DO school application.
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“To graduate exceptional Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine by:
- Inspiring a diverse student body to commit to careers that serve our region, with a focus on recruiting students from the Central Valley;
- Developing compassionate, highly trained, intellectually curious, adaptive leaders capable of meeting the healthcare needs of the future through a performance-based education;
- Empowering people to teach, serve, research, innovate, and practice collaboratively in areas of skill and expertise in disciplines related to osteopathic medicine.”
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Diversity and serving and training the residents of the Central Valley rank high on the school’s mission followed by training doctors to be more than just physicians by instilling and developing compassion, curiosity, and leadership qualities. But even though the school says it has a focus on helping residents of the surrounding area, you should not be discouraged if you are thinking about applying. CHSU-COM does accept out-of-state applicants, and its class size has already increased from the 79 graduates of its inaugural class.
Overall Acceptance Rate: 1.97%
In-State Acceptance Rate: 2.5%
Out-of-State Acceptance Rate: 0.45%
Average MCAT of First Graduating Class: 505.5
Average GPA of First Graduating Class: 3.4
Preference for Masters or PhD: No
The school accepts students from out-of-state, as well as permanent residents of the US, and students who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status in the United States. International students who have neither US citizenship nor permanent resident status are not permitted to apply, as the school does not sponsor visas. However, students who have completed undergraduate degrees at schools outside the US or Canada and are legally allowed to work and live in the US may apply, if they have their degrees and coursework verified by an accreditation agency like World Education Services (WES).
MCAT and GPA
Minimum MCAT to Apply: 500 (scores for every section of the MCAT must be above 25th percentile)
Minimum GPA to Apply: 3.0 or higher
The school increased its minimum MCAT score for admission from 498 to 500 for its latest application cycle, so its medical school GPA requirements and medical school requirements may also change in the future, as it has only recently begun its DO program. In keeping with the same rules as other DO schools, the COM will accept MCAT scores as old as three years, but no older. Even though the bar is set at 500, you should aim to submit a score equal to or exceeding the score of the latest DO matriculants, which is 505.5. Successful applicants are also expected to have other extracurriculars for medical school, such as previous experience in health care settings, and a strong commitment to community service.
Coursework and Undergrad
The school does require all applicants to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to apply, but if you are wondering “do you need a master’s of PhD to apply to medical school”, the school does not have a specific requirement for applicants with graduate degrees. Around 20 students from the first graduating class had a master’s degree with 3 holding doctorate-level degrees, but students with only a bachelor’s degree who meet the minimum academic and non-academic requirements are encouraged to apply.
Prerequisites and Recommended Courses
The COM does have a set of medical school prerequisites that all competitive applicants must complete before applying. Students must complete all these courses before July 1st of their enrollment year, and they must be completed within ten years before applying. The school also requires applicants to have achieved a grade of C or better to be considered.
The following list comprises the school’s required course work to enter the COM:
- Behavioral Sciences - 3 credits
- Biology - 8 credits
- Inorganic or General Chemistry - 8 credits
- Organic Chemistry - 8 credits
- Physics - 8 credits
- English Composition or Literature - 6 credits
The school also lists several upper-level science-based courses as recommended courses for applicants to take if they wish to have a competitive application, but also ensure their academic success in medical school, if they are accepted.
The recommended courses are:
AACOMAS Experiences and Achievements
The school uses the AACOMAS application service to collect, organize, and review all applications to its DO program. This centralized application service allows applicants to upload all the necessary documentation through an online portal, which the admissions committee of the CHSU-COM will review to determine whether an applicant will be sent a supplemental application.
The documentation all applicants are required to admit include:
- MCAT and GPA scores
- Official transcripts
- AACOMAS letter of recommendation
- AACOMAS personal statement
Along with these documents, students must also complete dedicated sections of the AACOMAS application that highlight their non-academic qualities. The AACOMAS Work and Experiences section gives students room to list relevant experiences from their past that have prepared them for medical school. This section is similar to the AMCAS Work and Activities part for applicants to allopathic medical schools, although AACOMAS does not have anything similar to the AMCAS Most Meaningful Experiences section.
Sample AACOMAS Work and Experience Entry
During my time as a volunteer at the Community Health Center in San Francisco, I had the opportunity to assist a patient named Maria, who was facing multiple health challenges. I helped Maria by providing her with emotional support and guidance throughout her treatment. I accompanied her to various appointments, helped her communicate with doctors and nurses, and made sure that she received the proper care and medication.
Through my work with Maria, I learned the importance of providing holistic care to patients. I saw firsthand the impact that personalized attention and compassion can have on a patient's wellbeing. My experience at the Community Health Center not only allowed me to help Maria, but also helped me grow as a person and a future healthcare provider.
The one venue where applicants to all osteopathic schools can write about their most meaningful experiences and how they inspired them to apply to medical school is their medical school personal statement. The requirements for all AACOMAS personal statements are that they not exceed 5300 characters and that they must be written directly into the AACOMAS online portal, since copying/pasting the document from another writing program could cause formatting issues.
The content requirements of a great medical school personal statement should focus on how you’ve prepared to enter and succeed in medical school, whether it be virtual shadowing of a practicing doctor or taking a MCAT prep course. You can include a short autobiographical sketch but remember to always talk about how details from your past have inspired and motivated you. You can also write about why do you want to become a doctor and explain to the admissions committee, why should we choose you.
Submitting the AACOMAS application is the first step in applying to most osteopathic schools, but the second step requires you to submit a secondary application directly to the school. The secondary application is a normal part of the application process, and gives the school an opportunity to see how you would contribute to the medical school’s particular mission.
To do this, many medical schools ask students to write short essays based on a specific prompt involving the school’s particular mission, whether it be to serve medically underserved communities or to address disparities in health care in the US, for example. Every school uses its own particular prompt, and the best way to prepare for writing one of these medical school secondary essays is by reading over the school’s mission and values.
The two prompts given to students who apply to the CHSU-COM are:
- CHSU-COM values a diverse student body that reflects our region and our world. Please explain how you personally would contribute to diversity at CHSU-COM. (250 words).
- Describe some common healthcare disparities that may be found in a resource-limited area, such as the California Central Valley. How might the presence of CHSU-COM help to alleviate those disparities. (250 words).
Sample Answer to Prompt #2
Finding health care disparities in the Central Valley is not hard. There are many and they affect everyone from the very young to the very old. But starting with the very young, for example, the rate of teenage births in the Valley is higher than anywhere else in California. According to the California Department of Public Health’s statistics, this high birth rate among adolescents has led to higher-than-average infant mortality rates, along with early hospitalizations for children suffering symptoms of preventable diseases.
All this occurs at the same time the Central Valley wrestles with one of the worst primary care doctor shortages in history, as there are only 45 PC doctors for 100,000 residents. With these disparities in mind, the creation of the CHSU-COM DO program could not have occurred at a better time. I feel that, given the newness of the program, there is ample time and opportunity to shape the school’s curriculum in a way that addresses these particular disparities, while also looking for innovative approaches to brining medical services to these underserved areas.
I understand that the CHSU-COM DO program is still in its infancy, but creating other schools to train health care professionals like nurse practitioners, physician assistants is a step forward to address these needs. I would point to the example of the Charles R. Drew university, which was also created to eliminate health care disparities in urban South-Central Los Angeles, as a precedent for CHSU to follow, given how successful that institution has been in training and graduating health care professionals in several disciplines from the community.
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The admissions committee has standard medical school recommendation letters requirements, as well as restrictions about who can write them. One distinction about the CHSU-COM's requirements is that are only required to submit two letters, no more, no less. However, if a student is able to obtain one letter from a pre-med or pre-health committee, they only have to submit one. If not, they must submit:
- One letter from a practicing DO or MD physician; preference for a DO
- One letter from a former science instructor of the applicant
Applicants cannot submit letters from personal sources such as friends or family members or even their personal doctor. All letters should be written on official stationery bearing the names, credentials and logos of the organization or individual. They must all be signed by the letter-writer as unsigned letters will be rejected.
The school’s entire application process (from primary to secondary applications to interviews and acceptances) operates on a rolling admissions basis, which is why it encourages all students to apply as early as possible in the application cycle. Only students who have submitted a complete supplemental application will be screened for osteopathic medical school interview eligibility.
If selected, the interview will be either virtual or in-person, depending on the applicant’s preference. It is a blind review, so interviewers will not see any of the applicant’s information such as transcripts or MCAT score. There is no need for applicants to know how to schedule medical school interviews, as the admissions committee will contact selected candidates and present them with a set of dates and interview times. The interview itself consists of a panel interview with one or more admission committee members. They will grade the applicant’s performance and add their scores to the full application package sent to the Dean, who makes all acceptance decisions.
Sample Interview Questions
- “What are you short term and long-term goals and how can CHSU help you achieve those goals?”
- “Why osteopathic medicine?”
- “Tell me about yourself”
Sample Answer #1
“At the moment, my short-term goals involve being admitted to the DO program, and a little further down the road, I want to improve my Spanish so I can pass my first-year Medical Spanish class, since Spanish, outside of English, is the language spoken most often by residents of the Central Valley, and speaking even basic Spanish will help me communicate with patients, their families, and other people in the community. Long-term, I think I want to further my education beyond my residency by pursuing a master’s degree in Health Care Administration, since I see myself returning to the Central Valley to work with state and federal agencies to expand the ACA to underserved areas of the community.”
Acceptance and Waitlist Information
As mentioned, the Dean of the College of Medicine makes all final admittance decisions and notifies each admitted applicant via writing. The Dean also decides who is rejected and which candidates qualify to be put on a medical school waiting list, but the admissions committee notifies those applicants, not the Dean.
The school will keep qualified applicants on its waiting list up until the last day of spring orientation for the incoming class. Admission from the waitlist seems to be based whether there is a vacancy to fill and whether a selected applicant declines the school’s offer. The school has only graduated one class so there may be changes to the waitlist rules for subsequent classes.
Primary Application Deadline: March 1st
Secondary Application Deadline: April 1st
These are the hard deadlines for admitting primary and secondary applications, but the school recommends submitting your primary application as soon as possible. The application window opens in May of the previous year, so that gives you plenty of time to gather your necessary materials like letters of recommendation, transcripts and MCAT scores and submit them as soon as possible.
Tuition and Debt
Tuition Fee: $57,500
Average Cost-of-Living Expenses for First Year Students: $42,350
Average Cost-of-Attendance: $99,850
Average Student Debt of Graduating Students: $141,555.59
At the moment the CHSU-COM does not have internal scholarships to help students pay for their medical school tuition, but they do offer students a list of external scholarships offered by various organizations both public and private. Students who require assistance for how to pay for medical school can also apply for student loans, again, from both private and public, government-funded organizations. Students must complete a FAFSA application to be eligible to apply for both government loans and any scholarships they apply to that are given out based on financial need.
1. Golden Ticket Scholarships
The American Osteopathic Foundation (AOF) awards Golden Ticket medical school scholarships to osteopathic students in their second, third or fourth year in recognition of the obstacles (financial and non-financial) they had to overcome to pursue their studies. Aside from the financial need aspect, successful applicants must also demonstrate their commitment to community service, altruism and osteopathic medicine, in general.
The scholarship is awarded to a total of four students, but one student will be selected by the scholarship review committee to receive a $20,000 educational scholarship, while three other finalists will be award $5000 each. The full list of eligibility requirements is:
- Being in the top 25% of their class or show some other form of outstanding academic achievement
- Be actively involved in some form volunteerism
- Demonstrate leaderships capabilities among their colleagues
2. Jeffrey Grove, DO, LGBTQ+ Pride Scholarship
This AOF funded scholarship was founded by Dr. Jeffrey Grove, an advocate for LGBTQ+ health care rights who has pushed for the medical establishment to recognize the particular needs of LGBTQ+ community members. The scholarships are awarded annually to a second-year osteopathic medicine student who has demonstrated a genuine interest in furthering the needs of all minority patients from marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ members.
The full list of eligibility requirements:
- Promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion in osteopathic medicine
- Participating in extracurricular activities that promote minority rights and equality in health care
- Active volunteer in a group or organization that promotes LGBTQ+ or minority causes
3. Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. Medical Diversity Scholarship Program
This private scholarship is awarded to any medical student (this is not a competition between DO vs. MD) who shows a commitment to promote diversity in the medical profession. Applicants must identify with an ethnic minority group to be eligible or otherwise show a previous history of promoting diversity within their community, and must write a one-page essay describing how they will continue to do so after they graduate.
The scholarship awards a $2000 prize to a successful applicant, who must submit an application via the law firm’s dedicated online application form. The full scholarship eligibility requirements include:
- Have a minimum GPA of 3.0
- Be enrolled full-time
- Have completed one full semester
- Be a US citizen at the time of applying
4. Future Black Physicians and Physician Associates Scholarship
This prize is sponsored by GoodRX, a telehealth and online health care platform that aims to increase diversity in the medical profession. To this end, GoodRX Helps - the philanthropic arm of the company - awards $5000 each to five medical students (DO or MD) and five physician assistants.
The eligibility requirements include:
- Being a current or recently graduated medical school student (DO, MD) or physician assistant student
- If you are a recent graduate, you must have graduated no later than the previous year
- Minimum GPA of 3.0
- Identify as Black or African American health care student
Residency Match Rates
The DO program is still so new that they have not yet published residency match rates for its students. However, it has matched visiting students from other osteopathic schools, such as the A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine and the Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine. These visiting students came to the CHSU-COM to take elective courses or to puruse dual-degree programs, but all 17 visiting students matched into their preferred residency, giving the school a 100% match rate, and the right to claim it is one of the medical schools with the best match rates.
Review of Available Programs
1. Four-Year DO Program
The only academic offering from the College of Osteopathic Medicine, this degree program is split into two different modules, similar to the way most all allopathic and osteopathic degree programs are divided. This means students train in pre-clinical skills in the first two years, and complete their clinical training in their final two years at various clinical sites in and around the Central Valley of California.
However, the program at CHSU-COM has drawn from several different styles of medical school curricula to create something completely new. The school has implemented a two-pass, problem-based learning model that sees students introduced first to the different systems of the body, then, the different maladies and diseases that can affect these systems.
For example, students focus on the “normal” state of various systems of the body, such as the normal state of a person’s anatomy, biochemistry and physiology. They are then shown the abnormal states of these systems when they are affected by disease or some other abnormality. Students are also introduced to clinical elements, such as direct patient experience in their first year.
They are assigned to a particular medical clinic to participate in Physician’s Role Experiences (PRE) offered through Physician’s Role in the Health System modules that they complete in their first year. First year students participate in their normal system-based learning, while also participating in the PRHS courses, such as nutritional learning and Medical Spanish, which form part of the school’s desire to address the specific needs of the surrounding community.
The second year brings students closer to understanding more about diseases that affect all the different systems of the body. The didactic portions of these years include courses like Mechanisms of Disease I and II, which are taken alongside other system-based courses like Gastroenterology and Behavioral Science and Psychiatry.
Upon completing their pre-clinical training through various modalities like team-based learning, in-person simulations with holographic and high-fidelity patient models, students enter their clerkship years that take them to various clinical sites across California. In these years students learn how to choose a medical specialty and how to prepare for clinical rotations in their fourth and final year.
The types of medical specialties that students receive training on include several primary care specialties like family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, surgery and behavioral medicine. The clerkship rotations required in their final year include emergency medicine and primary care, while select students can participate in the AAMC’s Visiting Student Learning Opportunities to take elective rotations at other medical schools in the state.
Campus and Faculty
The entire CHSU-COM is housed in one building in Clovis, California, which is located in the heart of the Central Valley and surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The entire facility was built recently and houses everything from the administrative offices, student service departments like admissions and finance to Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine labs and simulation centers that mimic the environment of an active emergency room and inpatient clinics.
The main CHSU-COM building is also home to the library, and on-site teaching kitchen, where students can learn about nutrition and healthy eating as the foundation of preventative medicine. The kitchen serves many purposes. Students can learn how to prepare healthy meals for themselves to promote their own wellness, while also learning how to teach future patients about health-conscious eating.
Affiliated Teaching Hospitals
- Bautista Medical Group
- Veteran Affairs Hospital
- Central CA Faculty Medical Group
- Raymond Kidwell, MD
- Amie Holmes, MD
- Clovis Community Medical Center
- Omni Family Health (FQHC)
- Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center
- Dr. Sayed Basel
- Infinite Women’s Care
- Camarena Health
- Sutter Health Los Banos Memorial Hospital
- Boswell Dermatology
- Trust Clinic
- Urology Associates of Central California
One research area the recently inaugurated osteopathic medical school has some knowledge of is how to change medical school education. The school has incorporated new technology like augmented reality in its patented HoloLens Augmented Reality Anatomy lab along with its two clinic simulators that replicate the conditions of an active inpatient and outpatient clinic. The two clinic simulators along with the Augmented Reality Anatomy lab are all located within the school’s Simulation Center.
- Samuel Kadavakollu, PhD, MSc, Department Chair of Biomedical Education, Associate Professor
- Lisa Chun, DO, MEd., FNAOME, CPE, OHPF, Associate Dean, Osteopathic Clinical Education and Simulation Interim Chair, Osteopathic Principles and Practices Professor
- Jeffrey Hill, PhD, Professor Biomedical Education
- Geni Perryment, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor Biomedical Education
- Sherese Richards, MD, MBA, MMEd, Assistant Professor Biomedical Education
California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine
2500 Alluvial Ave.
Clovis, CA 93611
Main phone: (559) 712-4200
Phone: (559) 712-4222
1. What is the mission of the California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine?
The CHSU-COM has only recently graduated its first class and has a stated mission to continue training students recruited from the Central Valley and California to serve in a primary care capacity in these same underserved communities. Part of the school’s strategic plan is to enroll in-state residents to make up 50% of every incoming class, so if you are from this area of California and interested in medical school, this might be the ideal school for you.
2. Do I need to take the MCAT and submit my scores?
CHSU-COM is not one of those medical schools that don’t require MCAT and you must submit your most recent MCAT score, which cannot be older than three years old. The minimum MCAT score you need to be considered is 500, while the average score of the first graduated class was 505.
3. What is the minimum GPA requirement?
The CHSU-COM has a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0 or higher for all AACOMAS applications. For reference, the average GPA of the latest graduated class was 3.4.
4. What kind of degree do I need to get into CHSU-COM?
All applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree at an accredited university in the US to be considered for the College of Medicine. International students must have their course work and transcripts verified by an accredited licensing agency to be considered.
5. Are there prerequisite courses I have to take?
Yes, all applicants must complete the required course work prior to matriculation. The courses include behavioral sciences, biology, chemistry, physics, and English composition or literature.
Recommended courses include microbiology, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, genetics, immunology.
6. How can I apply to CHSU-COM?
The school uses the central AACOMAS application service to accept and review all primary applications, but it accepts supplemental applications directly from selected candidates if they meet the medical school requirements. If you submit both a primary and secondary application before the deadline, and meet the requirements, you will then be invited for an interview with the admissions committee.
7. How much does one year at CHSU-COM cost?
One year of tuition at the CHSU-COM costs $57,500 for both California and non-California residents. But the total amount, including tuition, school fees and living expenses is estimated to be around $99,850
8. Is it hard to get into CHSU-COM?
CHSU-COM has only started its DO program and its MCAT requirement changed from 498 to 500 this cycle, so it may change its admission requirements as it progresses. But, in general, the school has similar entrance requirements to other osteopathic programs, and perhaps, even less, since it is a completely new program. You can also bolster your application by having direct patient experience in a clinical or non-clinical setting and show your commitment to serving residents in the Central Valley by participating in community service organizations.
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo
BeMo Academic Consulting
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Disclaimer: BeMo does not endorse or affiliate with any universities, colleges, or official test administra-tors. The content has been developed based on the most recent publicly available data provided from the official university website. However, you should always check the statistics/requirements with the official school website for the most up to date information. You are responsible for your own results.
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