The University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (UP-KYCOM) ranks high in DO school rankings for graduating the most doctors who enter primary care, as well as being a leader in training physicians to practice in rural areas. The school shows a preference for in-state students and applicants from Appalachia, but students from all states are welcome to apply. The school is not one of the easiest medical schools to get into and has rigorous academic standards.
This article will detail more about the admissions requirements, academic offerings, and what you need to do to get your DO school application noticed.
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“The mission of the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (UP-KYCOM) is to provide students with an osteopathic medical education that emphasizes primary care, encourages research, promotes lifelong scholarly activity and produces graduates who are committed to serving the healthcare needs of communities in rural Kentucky and other Appalachian regions.”
The school makes clear that its mission is based on its founding principles – to provide medically underserved residents of Eastern Kentucky and the Appalachian region with high-quality medical care. Like most other DO schools in the South or Appalachia, it prefers applicants from these areas but accepts applications from all US students. If you are interested in primary care, rural medicine, or practicing primary care in rural settings, then you should consider UP-KYCOM.
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Overall Acceptance Rate: 24%
In-State Acceptance Rate: 23%
Out-of-State Acceptance Rate: 0.7%
Minimum MCAT Score to Interview: 498 or higher
Minimum Cumulative GPA to Interview: 3.4 or higher
Average MCAT of Incoming Students: 500–506
Average GPA of Incoming Students: 3.9
The school’s stated mission is to train doctors who will serve in Kentucky and Appalachia, which comprises states such as South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. But it does accept applications from students from all over the US. Although medical school acceptance rates may seem low, the school is known to admit many out-of-state applicants. Many student doctors from out of state have said that they were accepted without any additional or supplemental application requirements. All out-of-state applicants must nevertheless meet the minimum academic requirements of the school and have at least a strong MCAT or GPA score to be considered for an interview. The school applies this minimum MCAT and GPA to all applicants, regardless of their geographic origin.
Although KYCOM is an out-of-state friendly medical school, it still remains focused on its mission to serve its communities and is a leader in graduating students who go into primary care and rural medicine. So, if these are your interests, this school is one to consider.
The school has other technical standards that all entrants should be able to meet, such as having the physical and cognitive skills to follow instruction and perform certain physical duties like observing, being ambulatory (assisted or not), and being able to communicate effectively (assisted or not).
MCAT and GPA
Minimum MCAT Score to Interview: 498 or higher
Minimum GPA Score to Interview: 3.97 or higher
The school has a stated minimum MCAT and medical school GPA requirement to be granted an interview after applicants submit their secondary application. You should use these benchmarks as a guide to ensure your application is competitive, even when you submit your primary AACOMAS application. The school is not one of the medical schools that don’t require the MCAT, and you must supply MCAT scores no older than three years with your primary application.
You must also supply the school with your most recent GPA score. Your cumulative GPA should be 3.97 or higher, which is crucial to getting your application considered. Several rejected applicants were told specifically by the director of admissions at UP-KYCOM that their MCAT score or GPA were too low to be considered. These students were also encouraged to reapply and retake the MCAT to improve their chances in the next application cycle.
Coursework and Undergrad
All applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree to apply to UP-KYCOM. The school requires that students receive a C grade for prerequisite courses that all students must complete to be considered for admission.
Prerequisites and Recommended Courses
The list of prerequisites class include:
These credits are mandatory and are different from the courses the school recommends for all students applying to the medical school. Those recommended courses are:
The only non-science prerequisite course is:
- English – 6 credit hours
The single non-science recommended course is math/statistics, in which students are recommended to have at least 3 credit hours.
AACOMAS Experiences and Achievements
The UP-YCOM uses the AACOMAS application service to accept all applications from prospective medical school applicants. The AACOMAS service imposes its own application requirements regarding what a complete application consists of, which includes filling in the AACOMAS experiences and achievements sections, which is where you can list things like extracurricular activities, non-healthcare volunteer or community enrichment, work experiences (health care and non-health care). The achievements section is where you can list things like any awards, honors or other distinctions you have received in your undergraduate or post-bac or any other college or university.
Medical school personal statements are a way for admissions committees to see what kind of person you are outside of all the numbers and figures representing you (MCAT, GPA) on your medical school application. Since not all applicants will make it to the interview portion of the process, your AACOMAS personal statement is a formal way to present yourself, your experiences, and your motivations for wanting to become a doctor. Looking at examples can help you get a jump on how to craft and format your letter.
Many applicants use the opportunity to answer the medical school personal statement and interview question, “why do you want to become a doctor?”. The “tell me about yourself” medical school interview question could also be addressed in your personal statement, so you will need to decide what you wish to share in writing and what is more appropriate to discuss in an interview. However, the most important subject to address in any DO school application is the question of why you want to be an osteopathic doctor, specifically.
Medical school secondary essays are a school’s way of soliciting more information from you, as they have seen the contents of your primary application and are interested in what else makes you an attractive candidate. Secondary essays are structured around certain prompts that you should respond to in a clear, concise manner.
“Why this medical school?” is among the most common medical school secondary essay prompts, but there are many more. You can read through medical school secondary essay examples to get an idea of what to expect if you are invited to submit a secondary application. Some schools, like UP-KYCOM, use a single prompt for all secondary applications.
UP-KYCOM Secondary Essay Prompt: “Please describe your experience with osteopathic medicine, such as your care and treatment from a DO and your shadowing experience with a DO (including number of hours). Please describe how your experience has influenced your decision to apply to an osteopathic medical school.” (500 words or less)
I suffered a serious injury when I was in high school. I fractured two of my lower vertebrae when I fell from a ladder. I had needed surgery and titanium rods implanted in my spine. I spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from surgery and could not walk for almost the entire time I was in the hospital.
When I got out of the hospital, I had to wear a brace, and I had limited mobility. After a few months, I didn’t feel any better. The doctors at the hospital told me that all I had to do was wait and let my wound heal. I waited for almost six months, but I felt pain every time I walked and still had limited mobility.
I had never gone to an osteopathic doctor before, but I went because a friend recommended them to me. I went to see Dr. Diane Rodier, who examined me and asked me all about my medical history, not just what happened to me during my accident. She took the time to figure out what was happening with my back.
She even told me to stand up and walk so that she could see my posture, which is something that impressed me, since it is something I had never thought of before. A week after my first treatment, I started to move better and feel less pain. Dr. Rodier performed a few more manipulations on me, and a few weeks afterward, I was able to move as I did before my accident.
Being a former patient, I went to Dr. Rodier to ask if I could shadow her, and she agreed. I ended up spending 55 hours shadowing Dr. Rodier and seeing how she took an individualized approach to each patient, much like she had done with me. Dr. Rodier took the time; that was what impressed me the most about her, and her patients loved her for it. It made me realize that osteopathic medicine was something I wanted to do as well.
Medical school recommendation letters are always a given when applying to any medical school, regardless of whether it is MD vs. DO. Every school has its unique requirements for who your referees should be, but medical school requirements often focus on any previous science faculty who were also your instructors. The UP-KYCOM requires two letters (but you can submit up to three) for each applicant with the following requirements:
- Required: one letter from a physician (DO preferred, MD accepted)
- Required: one or more letters from a) previous science faculty members who taught you; b) a pre-med advisor; c) your school’s pre-med committee
Your referees should outline what qualities you have that make you an ideal medical school student. Asking your letter writers to submit letters on your behalf is also like a mini-interview since they may ask you why you want to become a doctor. You could use the opportunity to reflect on your answers when, or if, you get to the actual interview stage with the medical school.
The school holds interviews only with applicants who have submitted their primary and secondary applications and have met the requisite requirements to be granted an interview. The school makes clear its requirements for being granted an interview, which are mainly academic, as stated in previous sections.
Interviews are held both virtually and in person, depending on the student’s preference. Students are also required to schedule their interview by calling the admissions office directly after they receive their invite.
The interview is a traditional one, so you do not have to read through MMI practice questions, since the school does not use that format. Instead, you can think of reasons why you want to attend UP-KYCOM specifically, as it is a school with a very specific mission and purpose. Given the school’s geographic preference for in-state applicants or students from Appalachia, you might mention something about your hometown or community that inspired you to choose this path. If you are an out-of-state student, you could, conversely, try to make a connection between where you’re from and Kentucky or Appalachia.
To prepare for medical school interview questions, you can look at examples to help you perform at your best in your interview:
UP-KYCOM Sample Interview Question
“Tell us about how you handle stress.”
I’ve always dealt with stress by telling myself, “this too will pass." In my most harrowing moments, when the situation seems impossible or never-ending, I always put my faith in time. I trust that it will do what it's supposed to and will always do – keep going. So I keep going too, marching with time toward a better, less stressful place. On the other hand, some amount of stress is a good thing; a challenge may get my blood pumping as much as a crisis, but this can be beneficial. Without challenges in our studies or in a medical career, we would never grow. So, for me, stress is never much of a problem, as I will face it gladly and do everything in my power to embrace and leverage the learning that comes with it. Finally, however stressed I may feel, the patients are more so, and this is what we must always keep in mind as physicians. We manage our stress to give our patients a better sense of security.
Acceptance and Waitlist Information
UP-KYCOM has a reputation for responding within a week to notify students of whether they have been granted an interview or whether they have been accepted. Some students even report they were invited to an interview the day after submitting their secondary application. But if you do not receive a response quickly, then be patient and wait for at least seven days. If you don’t hear anything within seven days, wait another week.
Some schools include information on how to get off a medical school waitlist, but UP-KYCOM does not say what students should do. Many rejected and waitlist students who applied to UP-KYCOM have said the director of admissions or someone in the admissions office was open to discussing their applications and how to improve them, so you should always check with the school directly before sending any unsolicited materials (medical school letter of intent, update to coursework, etc.).
Students who are sent an acceptance by the school and want to accept should meet entrance requirements, like paying a non-refundable $1,000 deposit (same for in-state and out-of-state applicants), undergoing a criminal background check at their expense, and meeting immunization requirements.
Primary and Secondary Application Deadline (AACOMAS): March 1st
Earliest Day to Submit an Application: June 15th of (year before you submit)
The school does not have a deadline for primary or secondary applications but sets the deadline for all applications as March 1st of the application year. The school encourages all applicants to submit as early as possible since it uses a rolling admissions policy to send out acceptances, so the earlier you apply, the earlier you will be notified.
Tuition and Debt
In-State and Out-of-State Tuition Fees: $51,500
In-State and Out-of-State Annual Fees (lab, computer access, student services): provided by the school
Average Yearly Cost-of-Living Expenses: $24,030
Average Student Debt of Graduating Students: $169,047
The school’s Student Advantage Program was created in the spirit of equality, which is a founding principle. To ensure that all incoming medical students have the same opportunities, regardless of their background, the school provides them with educational tools and equipment like lab coats, an OPP table, stethoscope, ophthalmoscope, an iPad Pro, as well as all required medical textbooks.
Tuition and fees are the same for in-state and out-of-state students. The yearly fees students pay also cover the fees associated with taking the COMLEX Level 1 and COMLEX Level 2 CE exams. But students must pay for any subsequent attempts at taking the tests, as the school only covers the first attempt.
According to the most recent data, 90% of first year students enrolled at UP-KYCOM use federal aid to offset the cost of tuition and other expenses. Loan amounts range from $40,500 – $47,167 per year and per student. One direct, school-sponsored scholarship is the Pikeville Promise, which is open only to Kentucky applicants.
The school awards students who have already received some other form of assistance (federal Pell loan, academic scholarships) additional funding based on the amount available in the scholarship.
The Pikeville Promise scholarship has academic requirements students must follow to maintain their scholarship throughout their four years. To start, students must maintain their eligibility for all their other assistance programs, whatever they may be – federal loan, private or institutional scholarship. They must also complete:
- 24 credits per year
- A new FAFSA application every year
The Pikeville Promise scholarship is only one of the many institutional scholarships available to all students, incoming, current medical school, or graduate students that each have their own eligibility requirements. However, the school has a base set of guidelines students need to follow when applying for any institutional scholarships. These guidelines include:
- Completing and submitting a FAFSA application
- Not applying to scholarships that cannot be combined
- All institutional scholarships must go toward tuition (students with athletic or activity scholarships may have other spending rules)
- Some scholarships can be awarded to undergraduate students enrolled in the school’s early admissions program
Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students
This federally funded scholarship is available to all full-time medical students who demonstrate financial need, along with other disadvantages, whether economic, or environmental – “environmental” in this case referring to anything that inhibited a candidate’s education and progress, whether it be their economic background or geographic region.
The selection committee also looks at factors like whether the applicant is a first-generation medical student or if they are the first person in their family to attend university. Meeting the criteria of being “economically disadvantaged” set forth by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is also an eligibility factor.
Academic requirements are that the student must remain in “good academic standing” and be enrolled full-time in the medical school. The maximum amount awarded to students who qualify is $30,000 per year, but award amounts fluctuate and are based on the amount remaining in the scholarship.
Residency Match Rates
Data from the most recent Match Day saw 97% of UP-KYCOM graduates match with their first-choice residency program. The location of the residencies was primarily in Kentucky, with 102 students choosing to perform their residencies in-state at schools like the University of Kentucky Medical Center and the University of Louisville School of Medicine.
A majority of the residencies were in primary care specialties like the family medicine residency (134 students) and internal medicine residency (132 students) programs. Other primary care specialities were the next most popular residencies, as emergency medicine (42 students), pediatrics (33), and general surgery (22 students) had double-digit enrollment figures.
According to the World Directory of Medical Schools, a DO medical degree from UP-KYCOM is recognized in Canada. The WDOMS is the best place to certify your degree, as it will be recognized in other countries, and many countries refer to it as confirmation that your medical school degree is from an accredited and recognized school.
Review of Available Programs
1) Four-Year DO Program
Years 1 and 2
The four-year DO program at UP-KYCOM consists of the standard two-year preclinical phase followed by two years performing clinical rotations at a variety of training sites. First year students are introduced to clinical sciences like gross anatomy, physiology and biology, and biomedical skills. This is also when students are educated on the fundamental principles of osteopathic medicine and how it dictates everything from patient interaction to clinical treatments.
Students learn more about particular specialties in the second year, as they take foundational courses in subjects like internal medicine, pediatrics, and gynecology. They also increase their knowledge of osteopathic medicine by learning about systems-based approaches to diagnosing and treating disease as well as osteopathic manipulative treatments. Students must complete the required 42-credit course loads for each of the first two years of medical school.
Years 3 and 4
The final two years consist of going into clinical training by performing required and elective rotations around various sites in Kentucky. Students must complete the 76-week requirement for successful completion of their medical school degree. The 76 weeks are divided into 19 four-week rotation blocks, which are subsequently organized into required rotations and electives.
Students also have the option to perform a scholarly activity rotation or a COMLEX study rotation to prepare for their osteopathic licensing exams. The core rotations and time required are:
Another requirement of the last two years of your medical degree are the selective requirements that consist of one, 4-week block in the following four specialties:
After completing the core requirements, students are also given 24 weeks to complete elective rotations in a variety of locations and subjects. A research elective is one option (as stated above) or students can continue taking rotations in clinical, inpatient, or outpatient settings if they are not sure yet how to choose a medical specialty.
2. Osteopathic Medical Scholars Program
Both the University of Pikeville and the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine offer this program to qualifying high school students from Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia. Students from these areas can apply in their senior year of high school for entry into this 4 + 4 program that pairs four years of study to obtain a bachelor’s degree with the four years of a DO degree.
Students are admitted to the OSMP based on their SAT and ACT scores, as well as their GPA. All eligible students must have:
- Minimum 1200 SAT or 26 ACT
- GPA between 3.5 and 4.0
Campus and Faculty
The entire UP-KYCOM school is located within one building on the greater University of Pikeville campus, called the Coal Building. The building is new, nine stories, and spans 84,000 square feet, containing multiple classroom and training spaces, simulation labs, and lecture halls outfitted with interactive, multimedia technology. It is also where administrative offices are located if you have any questions or concerns that you need to bring to the school’s attention.
The Clinical Skills Training and Evaluation Center is one prominent feature of the building, as it gives students multiple chances to practice hands-on training with real-life volunteer patients, human models, and robotic simulators. The Coal Building also hosts a free community clinic for students and other members of the osteopathic school community. The University of Pikeville itself is located in the Appalachian Mountains, and the surrounding area is ideal for students to relax and participate in outdoor activities like hiking, climbing, and bike riding, among others.
Affiliated Teaching Hospitals
- Pikeville Medical Center, - Pikeville, Kentucky
- Highlands ARH - Prestonsburg, Kentucky
- ARH Our Lady of the Way - Martin, Kentucky
- Paul B. Hall Medical Center - Paintsville, Kentucky
- McDowell ARH Hospital - McDowell, Kentucky
- Tug Valley ARH Hospital - South Williamson, Kentucky
The research priorities at UP-KYCOM are focused on the health and well-being of residents of Appalachia and Kentucky, who are affected by certain ailments more than residents of other areas of the country. For example, almost 23.4% of residents of Pike County, where the University of Pikeville is located, are diagnosed diabetics compared to the national average of 10.8%.
Aside from diabetes research, the school is also focused on researching black lung and cancer, as these are two conditions regularly suffered by mine workers in and around the state. Some of the school’s other research priorities are:
- Cancer prevention and treatment
- Cardiovascular physiology
- Diabetes research
- Black lung
- Medical education
1. Malgorzata Simm, PhD, MSc - Associate Dean of Biomedical Sciences/Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
Dr. Simm has published in several medical and science journals, such as Journey of HIV and AIDS and Innate Immunity. She completed her postdoctoral studies at Columbia University, where she was also a tenured member of the Department of Pathology. In addition, she held a teaching position in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.
2. Shumaila Hanif, PhD, MSc, MBA - Associate Professor of Microbiology
Dr. Hanif is a leading researcher in developing new treatments for tuberculosis. She is also involved in researching new diagnostic methods for the disease while exploring whether a vaccine can be developed to prevent TB.
3. Guichun Han, MD, PhD - Associate Professor of Physiology
Dr. Han studies the female hormone system and its effects on the cardiovascular health of women. She is also researching how osteopathic manipulative medicine can help patients suffering from a variety of different ailments. Her work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, such as Steroids, Diabetes, and PLOS One.
Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine
147 Sycamore Street
Pikeville, KY 41501
Main phone: (606) 218-5257
Phone: (606) 218-5257
Fax: (606) 218-5405
1. What is the mission of the University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Medicine?
The mission of the UP-KYCOM is to serve the communities that surround it by training and graduating professional, well-trained osteopathic physicians, especially in primary care specialties. The school does accept students from outside of its region; they are encouraged to apply if they meet the admission requirements.
2. Do I need to take the MCAT and submit my scores?
Yes, UP-KYCOM does require that students submit MCAT scores no older than three years and has a minimum MCAT cut-off to be considered of 495. To be competitive, the school encourages students to have an MCAT somewhere between 500 and 506.
3. What is the minimum GPA requirement?
The GPA requirements are the same for both in-state and out-of-state students. Students are expected to have at least a 3.9 GPA to be considered for the interview stage of the application process.
4. What kind of degree do I need to get into UP-KYCOM?
You need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university to be considered a competitive candidate or have taken up to 90 credits from a school in the US.
5. Are there prerequisite courses I have to take?
Yes, UP-KYCOM requires that students complete 12 credits in biology or zoology and 8 credits each in chemistry (organic and inorganic) and physics. The recommended courses include anatomy, biochemistry, and genetics.
6. How can I apply to UP-KYCOM?
All applicants must submit their primary application via AACOMAS and then wait for notification from the medical school to submit a secondary application to them directly.
7. How much does one year at UP-KYCOM cost?
According to the university’s own data, one year of medical school in the four-year DO program costs $51,500, for in-state and out-of-state residents. The cost-of-living expenses for one year of a student’s life are estimated to be around $24,030.
8. Is it hard to get into UP-KYCOM?
The school is not one of the easiest medical schools to get into, but it has a reputation for being responsive and welcoming to applicants and students, so there are many factors that go into whether you are accepted or not. It does have high academic standards, but those apply equally to in-state and out-of-state applicants.
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