The Western Michigan University Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine (WMed) is one of the newest medical schools in Michigan and has a unique admissions process. The school does participate in the AMCAS application service but it has introduced additional steps that all applicants must pass to be considered (more on that later). WMed reviews all applications holistically by adhering to the EAM model (Experiences, Attributes, Metrics) so it looks for the most well-rounded candidates, even though it has both a minimum MCAT score and medical school GPA requirement to apply. This article will look at the school’s unconventional application process, its academics and detail ways you can get in.
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“WMed is committed to excellence and health equity through transformative medical education, high-quality patient care, innovative research, and community partnerships within a just culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.”
“Health equity” is a concept central to the school’s vision of itself and its purpose and it manifests in various ways. The school seeks to train various demographics to become doctors and wants to attract non-traditional medical students with its holistic review and emphasis on Experiences and Attributes as two of its main selection factors.
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Overall Acceptance Rate: 1.9%
In-State Acceptance Rate: 2.6%
Out-of-State Acceptance Rate: 1.7%
Average MCAT of Incoming Students: 513
Average GPA of Incoming Students: 3.76
Preference for master’s or PhD: No
Experience of Accepted Medical School Applicants
WMed is a privately funded school so it does not have any obligation to show preference for Michigan residents over out-of-state applicants making it a very out-of-state friendly medical school. However, the school does have Preferred Relationships with various regional universities to whom the school gives “first-look” privileges to students applying from those schools, which include:
- Western Michigan University
- Kalamazoo College
- Grand Valley State University
- Albion College
But that is the extent of the preference WMed shows to these applicants, as they must submit their applications via AMCAS and meet all the regular medical school requirements. Students from these schools must also meet the individual requirements of the Early Decision Programs, which include an overall GPA of 3.7 and an SAT score of 1350.
Canadian applicants who have completed their degrees in Canada can apply, but must also hold US citizenship or permanent residency. International students who have earned their bachelor’s degree outside the US or Canada must have their foreign degree verified either by World Education Services (WES) or Educational Credentials Evaluators (ECE) and submitted along with their primary application.
Minimum MCAT to Apply: 499
Minimum GPA to Apply: 3.0
WMed is one of the few medical schools that have a minimum MCAT score to apply, so it is not a medical school that doesn’t require MCAT. The minimum is set at 499, which would be considered a non-competitive score by many other medical schools in the US, but as WMed’s guiding principle is “health equity” it aims to accept as many diverse and non-traditional applicants as possible.
The school will look at your entire MCAT history, but only consider the highest score. It also recommends applicants submit their most recent test score and will allow only test scores from the last three years. Upward trends are something the school also applies to your GPA, and it will judge your entire academic history – undergraduate and graduate – when considering your application.
The GPA requirement is also intentionally low to be able attract those with less than competitive GPA scores or those who are not sure how to get into medical school with a low GPA. “Experiences” is one of the most important factors the WMed Admissions Committee considers when reviewing applications so having plenty of extracurriculars for medical school is one the better ways to stand out if applying to WMed.
Coursework and Undergrad
WMed does require all applicants to have a full bachelor’s degree either by the time they apply or when they are admitted to the MD program. Another requirement the school stipulates is that 90 credits of the bachelor’s degree must have been taken at the school that granted the degree. However, having only 90 credits of a bachelor’s degree will not be accepted, as students must have the full degree to be considered.
Prerequisites and Recommended Courses
In another bid to make medical school open and accessible to as many people as possible, WMed has done away with the traditional medical school prerequisites and instead gives students a list of recommended courses to complete. The school assumes candidates who are applying to the MD program will have foundational knowledge of biology, physics and chemistry to have completed their undergraduate, which is why it does not stipulate students earn a requisite number of credits or grades in a particular course.
The list of recommended courses includes:
- Human Anatomy
- Human Physiology
The WMed Admissions Committee also recommends students have a broad knowledge and understanding of the Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences to be fully prepared for the rigors of the academic program.
AMCAS Work and Activities
The school has a candidate profile that is similar to many other programs, in that it looks for candidates who are prepared both academically and mentally for the demands of medical school and later, the medical profession. Candidates should exemplify “altruism, accountability, responsibility, duty, honesty, and integrity” but also have experiences in medical and non-medical areas and excel academically.
But WMed has devised its own assessments and interview process to determine whether applicants align with the school’s mission, or not. The school still requires all applicants to apply via the AMCAS application service meaning all applicants must register with AMCAS and fill out all section of the online application including the AMCAS Work and Activities section and AMCAS Most Meaningful Experience section.
Sample AMCAS Work and Activities Entry
During my undergraduate studies, I volunteered at a local soup kitchen, where I developed a deep sense of altruism through my interactions with the guests. One experience that particularly stands out was when I met a man named Tom who was struggling to provide for his family. He had lost his job and was having trouble finding stable employment.
Through our conversations, I was able to offer Tom emotional support and connect him with local resources that could help him find a job and secure housing for his family. Over the next few weeks, I continued to check in with Tom and his family, offering assistance and support whenever I could.
Applicants to the WMed must also write a 5300-character Personal Comments essay, which is another name for the AMCAS personal statement, and submit it with their primary application. The Personal Comments essay is a medical school personal statement that outlines the reasons for you wanting to enter medical school and why do you want to be a doctor.
Writing a good personal statement also requires that applicants talk about what steps they have taken to reach their goal of entering medical school, which could mean anything from getting clinical hours for medical school in a paid or volunteer capacity or enrolling in a post-bac program for medical school.
Medical school secondary essays are part of every medical school’s application process but WMed’s process has a few unique characteristics. As mentioned, the school has a minimum MCAT and GPA to apply so candidates who do not meet those standards are not sent a secondary application. Those who do qualify are sent a unique login and password to create an account with the school’s online application portal.
This portal is where applicants can complete the three steps involved in the WMed secondary application process. First, writing an essay based around three distinct medical school secondary essay prompts the school provides on its website so applicants can prepare in advance for when they have to write the essay. Second – and this is where the school’s application process differs – is completing an online assessment, which consists of 50 different multiple-choice questions.
The school does not publish much information on the questions. Others who have taken the assessment liken it to a combination of the CASPer test, the AAMC PREview test, and the MMI format, meaning WMed’s assessment also aims to assess a candidate’s non-academic suitability to the medical profession through posing several dilemmas and situations for them to respond to.
The assessment is timed and applicants only have 30 seconds to respond to each question, which are often common medical school interview questions such as “tell me about yourself” and “why should we choose you?” The third part of the secondary application is paying the $100 application fee.
Want to learn how to create your medical school personal statement? Check out this infographic:
WMed Secondary Essay Questions (2000-character limit)
- Describe why you wish to enroll at WMed. You should describe any connection that you have to Southwest Michigan.
- Describe what you bring to the practice of medicine - your values, skills, talents, and life experiences - and how you add to the cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity of the medical profession.
- WMed Re-Applicants Only: Describe the changes to your application from previous cycles - include academics, experiences, and/or personal attributes.
Sample Essay for Question #1
When I was a child growing up in Kalamazoo, I loved playing football with my friends. But, during one game, I was tackled hard and went to the emergency room. I was scared and I remember feeling overwhelmed by the noise and activity of the ER. I remember being short of breath and how painful every breath felt, which only added to my panic.
Fortunately, that is when I encountered Dr. Allen Reid, who quickly put me at ease with his gentle manner and calm demeanor by asking me what position I played and telling me what position he played as a child. Dr. Reid took the time to explain the medical procedures that I would undergo (chest x-rays, MRI, blood tests), since they were still not sure whether I had a concussion or broken ribs.
I spent another few days in the hospital and Dr. Reid continued to check in on me. I was struck by his deep commitment to patient care and his willingness to go above and beyond to help those in need. I realized that medicine was not just a job, but a calling, and that physicians like Dr. Reid had the power to make a profound impact on the lives of their patients through simple, human gestures.
This experience inspired me to pursue a career in medicine but my desire to attend the Homer Stryker School of Medicine has more to do with my family than anything else. My grandfather was an employee of the Stryker Corporation but also benefitted from one of Stryker's inventions, namely the femoral head extractor commonly used in hip replacement surgeries, which my grandfather had a few years ago.
The legacy of Homer Stryker and the Stryker Corporation is another source of inspiration for me, as the example of Dr. Stryker, who was rejected from medical school the first time he applied, is that of someone with unending drive and determination. I believe that Western Michigan University School of Medicine embodies this legacy by providing students with a cutting-edge education and a commitment to excellence in patient care.
WMed asks all applicants to submit up to three and a maximum of four medical school recommendation letters, with at least two letters written by former instructors either from undergraduate or graduate programs. Non-traditional applicants may submit letters written by current or former employment references as a substitute if they have been out of school for a long time.
Applicants who are able to obtain a pre-medical advisory committee letter are encouraged to, but that letter will only fulfill two or three letter minimum. Applicants are also encouraged to send their potential letter writers the list of attributes that WMed looks for in their candidates, so they can properly format their letters. The attributes include:
- Commitment to the profession of medicine
- Degree of enthusiasm of referee reference
The next step after submitting all your secondary application materials is what the school refers to as an Experiences Review, where they will review the experiences, you have listed on your AMCAS application, personal statements, and essays to determine whether you fit into the school’s mission. But here is where the other distinguishing feature of the WMed application process enters.
Once this review is complete, the school sets up a phone interview with each prospective candidate to learn even more about their personal experiences and qualities. A third-party interviewer (someone not associated with the university) will call to ask candidates a series of questions similar to common MMI questions, such as posing ethical dilemmas and opinion questions.
As with other situational judgement tests, interviewees are not expected to have any previous medical knowledge or experience to be able to answer the questions. They are judged based solely on the responses given. Some tips for doing the phone interview include:
- Have a pen and paper handy to write out responses or parts of question
- Get rid of all distractions (phones, devices, TV)
- Speak slowly and clearly
- Ask for clarification if you do not understand a question
- Smile when answering
But this phone interview is only a preamble to a larger, virtual interview that all qualified candidates will undergo as part of the application process. The school does not use MMI, but rather, an open-file, one-on-one interview with a member of the Admissions Committee along with a group interview with current medical students.
Sample Virtual Interview Questions
- “How did you arrive at the decision to pursue a medical career?”
- “Why here?”
- “Given your excellent research background, what made you decide to pursue a MD degree over a PhD degree?”
Sample Interview Answer to Question #3
Thank you for your question. I decided to pursue an MD degree over a PhD degree because I realized that being a doctor would allow me to have direct patient experience and make a positive impact on people's lives in a very tangible way. One specific incident that reinforced this decision for me was when I met a long-COVID survivor named Sarah, who shared her experiences of struggling with the lingering symptoms of COVID-19 such as fatigue, migraines and vision problems long after her initial diagnosis. As we spoke, I could see the pain and frustration in her eyes as she described her symptoms and the impact they had on her daily life. It was at that moment that I knew that I wanted to be able to help people like Sarah directly and to make a difference in their lives.
Acceptance and Waitlist Information
The school practices rolling admissions so, candidates who applied and interviewed first are usually the first to know when do you hear back from med school interviews. However, the school tries to inform students as quickly as possible after the interview and they take up to four weeks to start notifying applicants of their final decision.
Students will either be accepted, rejected or place on the medical school waitlist. The Admissions Committee regularly reviews the waitlist to see if there are any candidates who meet the requirements of the program, but admits them only if there are still any open spots (there are 86 spots every year) left at the end of the application or cycle or if accepted candidates have declined their offers.
Primary AMCAS Application Deadline: November 15
Secondary Application Deadline: January 5
The AMCAS application window opens in May and students are encouraged to submit their completed AMCAS application as early as possible if they want to hear back first from the medical school. The school begins to send out decisions about a month after interviews end, which is in March following year and it continues to send out acceptances until the class is full.
Tuition and Debt
Tuition and Fees: $67,893
Average Yearly Cost-of-Living Expenses: $27,641
Average Debt of Graduating Students: $265,096
WMed has several internal medical school scholarships that all incoming and current medical students are eligible for whether because they show financial need or have excelled in some way (merit-based scholarships). The school’s list of internal scholarships is not made public and the Student Scholarship Committee decides which students are deserving of financial assistance to offset the costs of medical school tuition and medical school housing.
Students interested in being eligible for an internal scholarship must complete a FAFSA application and submit it with their matriculation documents, if they have accepted their offer to attend. Students do not need to submit individual applications for scholarships, but are instead notified of their eligibility for financial assistance via email.
Residency Match Rates
WMed can boast of being one of the medical schools with the best match rates, as 98% of its previous graduates matched into their preferred residency programs on their rank order list. The near-perfect 98% match rate follows other equally successful years where graduates were able to match into residencies all over the country. There was not a significant concentration of graduates entering residency in Michigan.
Graduates opted instead for programs throughout the Midwest, West and East Coast and near the Great Lakes. Primary care specialties were less popular than specialized residencies in hospital-based settings, although more graduates ended up in an internal medicine residency (22) than any other specialty – primary or secondary – while only 7 graduates decided on a family medicine residency, as general surgery was the second most popular specialty.
WMed Residency Match Rates
Review of Available Programs
1. Four Year MD Program
WMed recently introduced a revamped curriculum, which they have “decompressed” meaning it has divided time-off into shorter intervals and spread them out through the entire four years. The CLEAR (Clinicians, Leaders, Educators, Advocates, Researchers) Curriculum is the school’s attempt to integrate more time-off into the curriculum for students to avoid burnout, give them more free time to participate in medical school electives and increase their chances of successfully completing the program.
The curriculum takes a systems-based approach to introducing the fundamentals of medical science, but there are also up to five different longitudinal studies that run through the entirety of the first two years. These courses are designed to train students on the non-scientific aspects of doctoring, such as health care policy, leadership training, patient advocacy and professionalism. Only two of the longitudinal courses, Profession of Medicine and Advances and Perspectives in Medicine, endure for all four years of medical school.
The first 18 months of the Foundations of Medicine also include aspects of hands-on training as students are introduced to a clinical environment in their first weeks at the school’s state-of-the-art Simulation Center. Teaching methodologies switch between in-class instruction for up to 7 hours a week and team-based learning activities where students collaborate with each other to solve problems posed by faculty by integrating science and clinical practice.
As this new curriculum gives students more evenly distributed free time, they have many opportunities for independent learning and can choose several elective courses to take (pediatrics, massage therapy, forensic pathology, etc.) or participate in research or lab work. The Clinical Applications phase, which is the curriculum’s term for clinical rotations, begin at the end of the second year with a Transition to Clinical Applications course where students learn how to prepare for clinical rotations.
The rotations are divided between six blocks each constituting its own specialty, so students take six or eight weeks each of the following core rotations:
- Family and Community Medicine (6 weeks)
- Medicine (8 weeks)
- Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (6 weeks)
- Psychiatry and Neurology (8 weeks)
- Surgery (8 weeks)
- Obstetrics and Gynecology (6 weeks)
The first six blocks of core rotations are followed by the last year where students take Advanced Electives and complete only three required clerkships in the following subjects:
- Advanced Emergency Medicine
- Advanced Critical Care Medicine
- Advanced Hospital Medicine
At any point of their four years at WMed students can also choose to participate in one of the seven different Academic Distinction Programs, which are specialized tracks that require between 30-40 extra hours to complete. The Programs span several different specializations having to do with health care and medicine and each have their own distinct admissions requirements.
One common feature of every ADP is that students must, by the end of the ADP, submit a “deliverable product” in the form of a research paper, Capstone project or any other department-approved scholarly activity that demonstrates their understanding of the particular track. The seven different tracks are:
- Clinical Informatics
- Global and Public Health
- Interprofessional Focus in Community Health
- Medical Ethics, Humanities, and Law
- Promoting Excellence in Medical Education
- Well-Being in Medicine
2. Albion College and WMed Joint Admissions Program
This partnership between Albion College and WMed is intended to give exceptional students from disadvantaged or minority backgrounds a chance to earn a BA from Albion and an MD from WMed. The program will select and recruit potential candidates from high school but they must first meet with academic requirements and show an interest in pursuing medicine. Albion College was chosen as the program’s most applicable partner, as all AC graduates have successfully entered the MD program on their own.
This collaboration between WMed and the Van Andel Institute Graduate School confers a combined MD/PhD at the end of eight years (four for the MD, four for the PhD). Interested students must indicate on their primary AMCAS application their desire to enroll in the program and have separate interviews with both WMed and the Van Andel Institute. Students do not have to take the GRE test, but must submit MCAT scores.
The doctorate will be in Cellular and Molecular Biology and students must successfully present and defend a thesis by the end of the PhD portion. Accepted students will enter medical school first and complete two years before switching to the Van Andel Institute to begin and complete their PhD studies. After four years of graduate school, students return to WMed to finish the remaining two years of the MD program.
This dual-degree program sees interested medical students pursue an MBA from the Haworth College of Business alongside their medical school studies. Students who have already completed a bachelor’s in business administration do not need to complete any of the core required courses of the MBA program. Those who have not must take these required courses the summer before medical school, since it would be too difficult to complete them during.
The MBA program adds another year to the four-year curriculum so students take a break from medical school after their third year, complete the 24 credits and 3 electives to complete the MBA and then return to finish their final year of medical school. Interested applicants can indicate on their AMCAS application or choose to enroll in the program in their first year of medical school.
Campus and Faculty
The WMed campus is located in the heart of downtown Kalamazoo and has a mix of urban and suburban amenities that suit students of all background. The main medical building, the W.E. Upjohn MD Center, takes up almost 350,000 square feet in the center of Kalamazoo and recently underwent renovations to improve its clinical and research capacities. The eight-floor facility also houses the school’s famed Simulation Center, which divides into several specific simulated environments such as a pediatric emergency room or virtual clinic. The buildings other important amenities include faculty offices, the library, research labs, classrooms, study rooms and a fitness center.
Affiliated Teaching Hospitals
- Ascension Borgess Hospital
- Ascension Borgess- Lee Hospital
- Ascension Borgess-Pipp Hospital
- Bronson Methodist Hospital
- Bronson Battle Creek
- Bronson LakeView
- Bronson South Haven
- Bronson Health Foundation
- Bronson Athletic Center
- Grace Health in Battle Creek
- Battle Creek VA Medical Center
- Oaklawn Hospital
- Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital
- Biomedical Informatics
- Biomedical Sciences
- Emergency Medicine
- Family and Community Medicine
- Investigative Medicine
- Medical Education
- Medical Engineering
- Medical Ethics, Humanities, and Law
Steven M Crooks, PhD
Professor, Department of Medical Education
Michael E Busha, MD, MBA
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Chief Academic Officer
Chair, Department of Medical Education
Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine
Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Education
Robert J Baker, MD, PhD
Fellowship Program Director, Department of Family and Community Medicine
Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine
Sravani Alluri, MD, MS
Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine
Peter Chang, MD, MPH
Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine
Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine
300 Portage Street
1. What is the mission of the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine ?
The main mission of WMed is to promote health equity, which means ensuring that everyone has access to health care but also that people who have been traditionally underrepresented in medicine have a chance to serve their communities by training to become doctors.
2. Do I need to take the MCAT and submit my scores?
WMed requires all applicants submit their most recent MCAT score. The school also has a MCAT minimum to receive a secondary application, which is 499.
3. What is the minimum GPA requirement?
The school’s official minimum GPA for undergraduate students is 3.0. This is the minimum to receive a secondary application.
4. What kind of degree do I need to get into WMed?
The school requires all students to have a full bachelor’s degree by the time they apply or when they matriculate. 90 credits of their bachelor’s degree must be taken at the institution where the degree was earned.
5. Are there prerequisite courses I have to take?
The school does not have a list of required courses applicants must take, but instead lists a series of courses that all applicants should be familiar with to successfully complete medical school, which include biochemistry, genetics, human anatomy, human physiology, immunology, statistics.
6. How can I apply to WMed?
The school participates in the AMCAS application service, so all primary applications are submitted online. Only applicants who meet the school’s minimum GPA and MCAT requirements are sent a secondary application, which requires applicants to complete an online assessment and participate in a phone interview.
7. How much does one year at WMed cost?
WMed is a privately funded school so it does not charge separate tuition for in-state and out-of-state applicants. A full year of medical school at WMed is the same for everyone and is estimated to be about $95,534.
8. Is it hard to get into WMed?
It is not hard to get into WMed if you follow the school’s selection model (Experiences-Attributes-Metrics) and accumulate a lot of medicine and non-medicine volunteer experiences, which the school prizes most. The school has no residency restrictions so the application process is the same for Michigan residents and non-residents. The minimum MCAT and GPA are attempts at inclusivity, as they signal to applicants with low MCAT scores that there is a way how to get into medical school with a low MCAT.
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Disclaimer: BeMo does not endorse or affiliate with any universities, colleges, or official test administrators. 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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