The Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans (LSU-NO) has a long history and has grown from a small medical school in Louisiana to one of the most innovative, and multi-disciplinary medical schools in the US. The School of Medicine is one of six schools housed at the campus of the LSU Health System located in downtown New Orleans. With its myriad of schools, programs, and research centers, the LSU-NO is an ideal place for prospective medical students and residents, as close to 50% of the last graduating class opted to pursue residencies in Louisiana. This article will detail other pertinent facts about the LSU-NO and give tips on how to get in.
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“Louisiana State University School of Medicine - New Orleans educates medical students, residents, and other learners in an environment that nurtures intellectual curiosity, and that reflects the diversity of its community. The School of Medicine, striving for excellence in medical education, clinically relevant research, and healthcare delivery, partners with other LSUHSC schools, local health care systems, and community organizations, to provide a strong and supportive environment for learners and their faculty.”
The school emphasizes its multidisciplinary nature in its mission statement, which makes it an attractive choice for students who want to pursue dual degrees or a residency in Louisiana. Community service and engagement are also high on the school’s priorities, given its location and historical role as a center for health care education dating back to the early 20th century, and the fact that over 70% of all health care professionals in the state trained at the LSU Health System.
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Overall Acceptance Rate: 4.5%
In-State Acceptance Rate: 25%
Out-of-State Acceptance Rate: 0.3%
Average MCAT of Incoming Students: 511
Average GPA of Incoming Students: 3.73
Preference for master’s or PhD: No
Accepted Applicants Experience
The LSU-NO is a public school and receives state funding, which means it has legal obligation to admit Louisiana residents to the medical school over out-of-state applicants. However, the school does accept applications from out-of-state, but judging by the medical school acceptance rate, it is not the most out-of-state friendly school.
The school considers Canadian applicants in the same pool as out-of-state applicants, so any Canadian students interested in applying do not have to meet any extra medical school requirements other than having permanent residency. As the school requires all students to have completed their coursework from either an American or Canadian institution, non-traditional medical school applicants such as international students will not be considered, even if they have their transcripts verified or have US permanent residency.
MCAT and GPA
The LSU-NO does not have a stated minimum MCAT or GPA to apply, but applicants to all medical schools should strive to have their scores at 500 (MCAT) and 3.0 (GPA), respectively, at the minimum to be considered. Higher scores are better, as evidenced by the median MCAT score for the last incoming class, which was 511 so that should give you a blueprint for what your score should be. The school will accept any MCAT score as old as three years, but students are encouraged to take the test right before they apply to better prepare them for other aspects of medical school, if admitted.
Coursework and Undergrad
All applicants to the LSU-NO must have completed at least 90 credits toward a bachelor’s degree, but the school recommends that all applicants have a full bachelor’s degree when they apply. The credits or degree must be taken at an accredited US or Canadian institution, as the Admissions Committee does not recognize any foreign course work, even if it has been verified and accredited. The school also does not recognize any course work that has been completed online or remotely.
Prerequisites and Recommended Courses
The medical school prerequisites required for LSU-SOM are fewer than most schools’ and they focus mainly on basic sciences. This course work must be completed with a C grade or higher to be considered by the Admissions Committee. For applicants who have not completed these courses with the requisite grade and therefore have a low science or overall GPA, the school employs a way to help you get into medical school with a low GPA.
The school has instituted what it calls the “30-hour policy”, which is one of the best post-bacc programs for medical school since it gives undergrads the opportunity to improve weak science and overall GPA scores, if necessary. If students wish to improve their GPA, they can take an extra 30 hours in any of the required courses before they apply, which would replace their previous low GPA and be applied to their medical school application instead.
Along with the 30-hour policy, students with a low GPA may also choose to enter a Masters or PhD program before medical school, even though it is not a requirement, if you are thinking, “do you need a master’s degree or PhD to get into medical school”. This step is recommended for students who have a low GPA, but who also want to, in general, improve their science knowledge or who took the required courses a long time ago, as the school recommends that all applicants not be out of school for more than two years before they apply.
The list of required courses is:
A few of the recommended courses include:
- Cell biology
- Comparative vertebrate anatomy
- Computer sciences
- Embryology (developmental biology)
- Molecular genetics
AMCAS Work and Activities
The school states that it looks for three main qualities in all applicants:
- Humanitarian qualities (volunteer or charity work)
- Overall excellence (academic achievements, awards)
- Diversity of experience (non-traditional applicant or member of a minority group)
So, it places a premium on a variety of attributes, such as extracurriculars for medical school, and clinical experience, both paid and volunteer. The school practices a holistic approach, so there are many things that you should attain so you can write the best AMCAS Work and Activities section along with the AMCAS Most Meaningful Experiences section, which are integral parts of your AMCAS application.
AMCAS Work and Activities Example #1
I was enrolled in ROTC classes during my undergraduate and we were participating in an obstacle course to capture another team’s flag during one of the hottest summers in Louisiana. As soon as I was within sight of the flag, I noticed someone on the other team was struggling to climb a net. She seemed more confused than exhausted, like the beginning of heat stroke. Instead of going toward my goal, I turned around and went to see if she was OK. She wasn’t. The game was stopped and medical attention arrived to help her and she recovered.
I was relieved that I had a moment of clarity and acted rather to help her rather than ignoring the problem to achieve my own ends.
You must also submit the following materials with your primary AMCAS application:
- Official and unofficial transcripts
- Letters of recommendation
- MCAT scores
- Personal statement
The medical school personal statement is a common feature of all medical school applications and it is one of the only ways applicants, aside from the medical school interview, can address the Admissions Committee directly. An excellent personal statement should be genuine and authentic when relating the reasons and motivations behind your decision to enter medicine. It should also illustrate how you translated your motivation and desire into real-world actions to prepare you for a career in medicine. But another way to approach writing your AMCAS personal statement is by answering the question, “why do you want to be a doctor?” and write in 5300 character or less what
Medical school secondary essays are yet another way for the Admissions Committee to get to know you better, as they should be more focused and personalized. But the LSU-NO secondary application is a little different. The secondary application is where students indicate their interest in the many specialized tracks (Rural; Primary Care) or dual-degree programs (MD/PhD) the school offers, which require separate applications. The school has a specific page with instructions for how to properly submit a secondary application, as well as downloadable forms that you must complete for the tracks.
Re-applicants must also submit a separate form detailing what they have achieved in the time since they first applied. This form can be used to show what courses they have taken, or if they have completed a degree and what volunteer or clinical experiences, they have undertaken to improve their application.
The secondary application does not contain the traditional medical school secondary essay prompts, but a series of questions about your background, where you grew up, whether your parents attended college or university and in what specific setting (rural, urban, inner-city) you imagine practicing medicine. You are required to submit at least two letters describing which setting you would like to practice medicine.
However, if you apply to any of the specialized tracks, such as the Rural or Primary Care, you are asked other questions about how your experiences relate either to rural medicine and practicing primary care. Some of the prompts given to students submitting either the general application, the rural or primary care applications are as follows:
In what kind of community do you plan to practice? (Rural; small town; large city; inner-city low-income area)
Why do you feel you are a suitable candidate for the Rural Scholar Track (RST)?
What other career possibilities have you considered?
Sample Answer – Primary Care
Working in a restaurant was my first job and I grew to enjoy it, so much so that I thought about going to culinary school for a time. I didn’t end up going but I still ended up working in a lot of kitchens and I feel like a lot of the skills, I learned while working in kitchens apply to the medical profession. The stakes are obviously higher in medicine, but anyone who has worked in a restaurant can tell you it can feel just as demanding. One of my first jobs in a restaurant was as a prep cook who also washed dishes. I had to move between both areas of the kitchen to keep up. I had to be fast and take care of several different jobs at once, which taught me how to manage my time wisely.
When I moved up to a Garde manger and worked the cold side of a kitchen, there was more pressure since I couldn’t rush my work or do it sloppily. I had to use precision and timing to prepare a dessert or salad exactly how the chef had showed me. It was a job that had to be repeated often, and have the exact same result every time without deviation and you had to do it while keeping calm under pressure. But even though I moved up in the line, I still got into the dish pit whenever our dishwasher decided not to show up, because kitchens are like that.
You develop a sense of teamwork and sacrifice. There’s no giving up in a restaurant. Whatever obstacle or problem presents itself you deal with it. And almost every night is like that. If you run out of something, you substitute it for something else. If your dishwasher doesn’t show up, you wash dishes. You have to be constantly thinking about a million different things and you learn how to deal with the pressure so you can do the job and do it well. And I think those skills (teamwork, precision, timing, calm under pressure) will serve me well in medical school and beyond.
LSU-NO strongly recommends applicants obtain and submit a pre-professional or pre-med advisory board letter as their primary medical school recommendation letters. The school is aware that not all applicants may be able to obtain this letter of recommendation, so it does allow another option. Applicants must submit a minimum of three letters (maximum of five) from previous science or math instructors.
However, if applicants have been out of school for longer than two or three years and are unable to obtain even these letters, then the Admissions Committee will accept up to two letters from former or current employers, preferably the most recent or current. You can also add two personal references to this packet from anyone who knows you well, except for family.
Applicants who qualify for an interview after submitting their primary and secondary applications are notified by the school directly. The school will send a time and date, which eliminates the need for figuring out how to schedule medical school interviews, since it is done for you. The interview period begins in September of the application year and continue on until March of the forthcoming year. The interviews are held virtually for the upcoming interview period and consist of a panel interview with members of the Admissions Committee who are typically faculty members, admissions administrators, and fourth-year medical students.
Interview Questions and Sample Answer
- “Why do you want to be a doctor?”
- “Tell me about a time where you used teamwork.”
- “What is your plan for your career post-residency and how can LSU help you achieve that?”
Sample Answer for Question #1
I want to be a doctor because I think it is as close as a person can get to holiness short of becoming a priest. In fact, being a priest was an idea that I entertained for a time, since it is a profession that – similar to a doctor – is lifelong and accompanies people throughout their entire lives. I know that modern Western medicine wants to separate itself from any association with the divine or faith and I do not want to challenge that impulse, but the man many consider the father of modern medicine, William Osler, was also a man of faith.
Osler said that “Without faith, man can do nothing; with it, even with a fragment...all things are possible to him”. And I have had more than a fragment for a long time. I come from an observant Catholic family and the afterlife and its parting between Heaven and Hell are two things that you are always aware of, wary of, even. A Catholic’s life is marked by several important rites known as sacraments and they follow you throughout your life, from birth (the rite of Baptism), to death (the Last Rites). In Catholicism, a priest is the one who administers all these sacraments as the representative of Christ, and the role of doctor and priest, I believe, are similar.
A doctor is also present throughout your life, from beginning to end and it's that continuity, that constant presence that has always attracted me. Being a doctor is being a healer, but it is also being a counselor, a guide, a reassuring presence. I’ve always wanted to be a part of a person’s journey through life and being a doctor is one way to have this unique perspective on how people grow and develop and end, eventually. I want to be a doctor to see how people’s lives unfold for as long we are both here.
Acceptance and Waitlist Information
The entire LSU-NO Admissions Committee meets to review and make a decision regarding each applicant after their interview. Acceptances are sent out in mid-October after the first initial interviews have been held. Applicants will either be sent acceptances, rejection or notification that they have been placed on a medical school waitlist.
The Admissions Committee does regularly admit students off the waiting list, and they continue to work to fill all the open seats until the first day of spring enrollment. You do not have to do anything other than wait if you are waitlisted, since the Admissions Committee meets every three weeks to make a final decision on whether to admit or reject each waitlisted candidate, whom they will then notify.
There is an early enrollment pathway at LSU-NO and students who qualify for that program have a different deadline than those applying for the regular admission. LSU-NO will screen primary applications based on their requirements and then send qualified applicants a link via email to complete the secondary application. Both Louisiana residents and non-residents need to download the application, complete it and submit it by December 1st.
Tuition and Debt
In-State Tuition and Fees: $32,936.95
Out-of-State Tuition and Fees: $61,114.29
Average Yearly Cost-of-Living Expenses (in-state and out-of-state): $20,403
Average Debt of Graduating Students: n/a
The LSU-NO offers students several opportunities to help cover the costs of going to medical school. There are many awards offered by the school itself in the form of merit or service-based medical school scholarships that students at every year of their education can apply. Of course, students always have the option of federal student loans as one option for how to pay for medical school, since working and studying is discouraged by the school, who may even ask you stop working if your academic performance falters.
The university’s Scholarship Committee decides the eligibility requirements, prize amount and application requirements of each scholarship and recommends them to the Dean of the Medical School every year. They also make the final decisions on who receives the scholarships. The following is a list of the available scholarships available to all medical students.
- The Medical Alumni Association Scholarships
- The Fred Allison, Jr., M.D. Scholarship
- The Sidney F. Guyol and Jay Guyol Chetta, MD, (‘48) Endowed Scholarship
- The James Alexander Thom III, MD (‘42) Scholarship
- The Edgar Hull, MD, Scholarship
- The Clay Elliott Easterly, MD and Mary Elvira Easterly Memorial Scholarship
- Henry (‘43) and Delia Selby Merit Scholarship
Residency Match Rates
LSU-NO graduates had 98.6% match rate for the previous year and many of those who matched did so in Louisiana. Close to half (46%) chose to pursue their residency in the state with an overwhelming majority (81%) choosing the LSU Health System as their primary training site. It only goes to show how revered the entire medical training infrastructure at LSU-NO is given how many students decided to stay at LSU-NO.
But the reverse is true as well, since students who decided to go out-of-state were just as in-demand as placement in LSU residencies. Many LSU-NO graduates entered programs at other venerable medical schools such as Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and Duke University School of Medicine. Graduates matched mostly into primary care specialties, as 54% went into specialties such as a family medicine residency or an internal medicine residency.
Review of Available Programs
1. Four Year MD Program
The curriculum at LSU-NO was revamped only a few years ago to:
- Blend medical science with clinical knowledge
- Help develop student’s critical thinking
- Expand the scope of medical school education to include topics such as health care delivery, and global health
- Increase exposure to clinical and research practice and give students more opportunity to apply their knowledge in real-world settings
However, even with the reforms, the curriculum and progression of student’s training follows a traditional two-block division between pre-clinical and clinical education. Students begin their first year by taking some of the courses introduced because of the updated curriculum's objectives to create more critical thinkers such as Critical Consciousness in Medicine Part 1. The first year is rounded out by science courses such as Gross & Developmental Anatomy, Biochemistry, and Introduction to Human Behavior and Development.
The Critical Consciousness in Medicine modules continue in second year where the curriculum adopts a systems-based approach to introduce other aspects of human anatomy and biology, such as Cardiovascular, Renal and Musculoskeletal. The elective courses in the second year also reflect the school’s priorities when it comes to serving underserved communities and expanding the knowledge base of future doctors, as you can choose to take electives as varied as Nutrition and Health, End of Life Care or choose something non-science-based such as Humanities in Medicine or Introduction to Social Medicine.
The clerkship years begin in the third year with a two-week class to learn how to prepare for clinical rotations. Afterward, students dive in head first into a segmented schedule that includes rotations in:
- Internal medicine (10 weeks)
- Family medicine (4 weeks)
- Surgery (9 weeks)
- Pediatrics (8 weeks)
- Psychiatry (6 weeks)
- OB/GYN (6 weeks)
- Neurology (3 weeks)
Along with these medical rotations, students must also complete a two-week course to learn how to choose a medical specialty. The fourth and final year consists of only two required clerkships, along with a mandatory Primary and Secondary Acting Internship position, and four electives in a variety of topics chosen based on a student’s own research and career interests. There is also one senior research elective to complete in the fourth year.
Students interested in this dual-degree program must indicate on their secondary application to the LSU-NO. There are various admissions requirements to this program, which are different from the standard medical school requirements. Students applying to this program must have a GPA higher than 3.5 and an MCAT score of 507 or higher. They must also possess some previous research experience.
The program is offered in collaboration with the LSU Graduate School, and all applicants interview with both the medical school Admissions Committee and the PhD Admissions Committee. There is a tuition waiver tied to duration of the program, while students also receive financial support for their final two years of medical school. The almost eight-year program, which comprises four years of medical school and up to four years of graduate school, aims to blend several disciplines with its core focus on seven areas from Biochemistry and Molecular Biology to Human Genetics.
This dual degree offered with the cooperation of the School of Public Health aims to train future doctors who can also act in a public health capacity. The degree program is split into five different concentrations:
- Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
- Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
- Health Policy and Systems Management
The entire program takes only four years, as students begin their Master of Public Health instruction in the summer before medical school. Students take a semester break to focus on their foundational medicine courses in their first year, then return to Master of Public Health courses for the remainder of their time in medical school.
4. Integrated OMS MD Program
This highly competitive program allows four select dental school graduates to also become medical doctors by performing their residency in oral maxillofacial surgery at LSU-NO and completing medical school courses. Accepted students have already completed the DDS program and they complete their three-year residency alongside the three years it takes to complete their medical school education. The school recognizes their entire dental school education as akin to one year of medical school.
5. Primary Care Program
The Primary Care Program is a highlight of the LSU-NO curriculum and has a specific goal to increase the number of graduates who choose primary care specialties. It is for students who also wish to benefit from the small class sizes and direct training and mentorship from primary care physicians beginning in year one.
Students indicate whether they want to enter the PCP on their supplemental application. But this track has three separate specializations that applicants must also indicate on the secondary application. The three different tracks are:
- Rural Scholars Track (RST)
- Rural Experience (RE)
- Urban Experience (UE)
The RST is the main pathway, but students can indicate their interest in any of the other two options as well. The PCP accepts anywhere between 8-16 students per year and the spots are coveted for the opportunities these tracks offer, such as being assigned a primary care prorector, participating in summer research opportunities, taking select courses online, and performing rotations in small, rural clinics.
Students who enter the PCP and choose either the Rural or Urban Experience are also eligible to apply to a dedicated scholarship only for PCP students (RST students receive tuition waivers for most of their medical school education). The Patrick F. Taylor Primary Care scholarships are available to both RE and UE students (RST students are not eligible) and cover tuition in the final two years of medical school in exchange for students signing a two-year service commitment to practice in Louisiana.
Campus and Faculty
The LSU campus is located in the heart of New Orleans and takes up 12 different buildings, which house the other professional health sciences programs offered by LSU such as the School of Dentistry, Graduate School and Nursing. The school is also abutted by two major teaching hospitals, the VA New Orleans hospital branch and University Medical Center of New Orleans.
As the various schools are all situated together, students from all medical programs train and use the same facilities located in the Medical Sciences Building or Clinical Sciences Building. Thers is also a Residence Hall located on the downtown campus for students who cannot afford medical school housing on their own. Despite its central location in New Orleans, the LSU Health System has branches and satellite campuses all over Louisiana including at Lafayette and Baton Rouge.
Affiliated Teaching Hospitals
- Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center
- Our Lady of Angels Hospital
- Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center
- UMC New Orleans
- Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport
- University Hospital
- Moss Memorial Health Clinic
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Center
- Cardiovascular Center
- Neurosciences Center
- Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center
- Center for Healthcare Value and Equity
- Comprehensive Alcohol Research Center
- Ernest N. Morial Asthma, Allergy, and Respiratory Disease Center
- Epilepsy Center
- Eye Center
Allen A. Copping Excellence in Teaching Award Winners
- Andrew Hollenback, PhD, Professor Department of Genetics
- Brian Barkemeyer, MD, Professor Department of Pediatrics
Other Notable Faculty
- David H. Martin, MD, Professor of Medicine
- Ya-Ping Tang, Ph.D.- Associate Professor of Anatomy
- Jean T. Jacob - Professor of Ophthalmology
- Jayne S. Weiss, MD - Professor and Head of Ophthalmology
- Udai Pandey, PhD - Assistant Professor of Genetics
- Judy Crabtree, PhD - Assistant Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
2020 Gravier Street, 5th Floor
New Orleans, LA 70112
433 Bolivar Street
New Orleans, LA 70112
1. What is the mission of the Louisiana State University School of Medicine New Orleans?
The LSU NO has a particular mission to admit and train Louisiana residents to become health professionals and serve in the state, which means it does show preference for Louisiana residents. Still, the school and teaching hospitals have become well-known internationally as centers of medical and research excellence, which is another important aspect of the school’s mission, to further research into all sectors of health care from delivery to education.
2. Do I need to take the MCAT and submit my scores?
Yes, the LSU-NO does require all applicants to submit MCAT scores no older than three years, but the school recommends all applicants take or retake the MCAT as close as possible to their application deadline to ensure they are better prepared for medical school.
3. What is the minimum GPA requirement?
The school uses only a suggested minimum GPA to apply, which is 3.0, but competitive candidates will have a GPA much higher than that. As the school also has a minimum grade for completing all required course work (C or higher), you must ensure your grades are high enough to pass that threshold as well, so it behooves you to obtain and maintain as high a GPA as possible.
4. What kind of degree do I need to get into LSU-NO?
A full bachelor’s degree or higher is preferred by the school, but the satisfactory completion of the required course work and 90 completed credits of a four-year degree are acceptable.
5. Are there prerequisite courses I have to take?
Yes, all applicants must complete the required course work to be considered. The course work involves the usual subjects of biology, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, English and statistics.
6. How can I apply to LSU-NO?
All applicants must submit their application via the online AMCAS application portal. The secondary application is submitted directly to the school along with supporting documentation such as essays and letters of recommendation.
7. How much does one year at LSU-NO cost?
LSU-NO is a public medical school at a state university so tuition fees are different for residents and non-residents. One year of medical school at LSU-NO for in-state residents is $63,687, and one year for out-of-state students is $91,865.
8. Is it hard to get into LSU-NO?
LSU-NO is hard to get into for non-residents, but not so hard for Louisiana students. Still, it is possible for out-of-state students to apply, if they have an excellent application with above-average stats, letters of recommendation and extracurriculars for medical school. The school gives all students ample opportunities to improve their application and encourages re-applications.
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