Policy Preface Faculty Council Approved—4/29/2020
Policy Faculty Council approved—08/27/2014, 01/31/2018, 08/31/2018
Policy Faculty Council revision approved—02/28/2019
Technical Standards Faculty Council approved—01/25/2017
In view of the extraordinary challenges posed by the current pandemic to undergraduate institutions, to standardized testing procedures, and, most importantly, to our applicants and future medical students, and with ongoing commitment to our holistic review process for all applicants to the Jacobs School as a means to matriculating the most diverse and excellent medical school class possible, we agree to the following time-limited changes to the admissions policies and practices of our school.
Online Courses: Our current admissions policy explicitly states that prerequisite courses should be completed in a classroom setting and that laboratory coursework must be completed in an actual – not virtual or online – setting. Given that all colleges and universities across the United States have closed classrooms and moved to online platforms for the spring semester of 2020 due to COVID-19, and that many colleges and universities are preparing to offer summer 2020 courses online as well, The Jacobs School will accept online coursework from spring and summer 2020 semesters.
Pass/Fail Grades: The admissions committee prefers that grades for prerequisite coursework be letter graded. According to AAMC, two thirds of undergraduate schools have adopted variations of a pass/fail grading system for the spring semester of 2020; therefore, we will accept pass/fail grades without prejudice for this semester.
MCAT: As part of our holistic screening process, the MCAT is one of many pieces of information that the Admissions Committee considers prior to offering an applicant an interview. At this time, the AAMC has cancelled MCAT exams from late March through May 21, 2020. Once testing resumes, test centers have indicated they will be operating with safe-distancing in mind; thus, fewer tests will be able to be administered simultaneously. This suggests that many of our applicants will have neither taken the MCAT, nor received their scores, by the time this year’s application cycle opens.
For this reason, we encourage applicants to apply once all other elements of their application are complete, even if the MCAT has not yet been taken, nor scores returned. Instead, we ask the applicant to submit their SAT or ACT scores through the supplemental application, so that these standardized test scores may be part of the screening review, in lieu of MCATs. We will then begin screening applications regardless of whether or not the MCAT score is in. We will require that the applicant take the MCAT and report the score, and we may reserve making a decision regarding admission until the MCAT score is reported and assessed by the committee.
The mission of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Jacobs School), University at Buffalo is “to advance health and wellness across the life span for the people of New York and the world through the education of tomorrow’s leaders in health care and biomedical sciences, innovative research and outstanding clinical care”.
The admissions policy of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Jacobs School) serves as the cornerstone for achieving our mission through admission of a diverse class of highly qualified individuals, of the highest integrity and ethical standards, who will become the next generation of competent physicians, medical educators and clinical investigators.
The Jacobs School embraces diversity as a core value embodying inclusiveness, mutual respect for persons of all backgrounds, heritages, races, and ages. Our goal is to recruit a class that brings a wide variety of life experiences, personal interests and academic achievements. We believe that student diversity enriches the learning environment, advances student performance, and contributes to the health of the citizens of Western New York and beyond.
To achieve diversity in medical admissions the Jacobs School employs a holistic review process. Holistic review provides a means to tailor the individualized assessment of an applicant's capabilities through balanced consideration of life experiences, attributes, and academic metrics that when considered in combination, predict how the individual might contribute value as a medical student and physician.
In making admission decisions, the Jacobs School does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, ethnicity, gender or sexual minority, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or military service. Further, the Jacobs School complies with the diversity policies of the University at Buffalo, and all state and federal laws.
Assessment criteria focus on essential and unique attributes that include, but are not limited to, academic and personal achievement, intellectual curiosity, industriousness, obstacles overcome, commitment to service, compassion, personal integrity, communication skills, potential for leadership and unique personal characteristics. Each entering class is selected from the total applicant pool to include individuals whose credentials indicate their dual capacity to meet the rigorous training requirements of medical school and to contribute to the diverse learning environment of their fellow students and ultimately to the diverse practice environment of the population served.
Since the Jacobs School is funded by the taxpayers of the State of New York, when qualifications are equivalent, preference is given to New York State residents, particularly to those residing in Western New York.
The Jacobs School employs a three-step process for selecting the medical class. Each step is performed independently.
In the first step, all applicants are holistically evaluated to determine their suitability and readiness for medical training. Dossiers are reviewed to select those applicants who will be invited for personal interview. In order to be selected for an interview, an applicant must provide compelling evidence that he or she possesses those attributes that are considered essential for successful careers in medicine as well as unique attributes and experiences that are likely to add diversity to both the learning and practice cultures of medicine.
In the second step, interviews are conducted to explore, in detail, the applicant’s unique potential to bring quality and diversity to the class and the Jacobs School. These interviews are blinded to all metrics, such as GPA or MCAT scores. The interview results in a narrative assessment of the applicant’s likelihood to meet the training and diversity goals of the Jacobs School.
In the third step, a summary review of all interviewed candidates is conducted and a medical class is selected for admission. The rationale for the final step is based on the fact that all candidates selected for interview are academically qualified based on historical academic performance norms for the Jacobs School. Accordingly, it is the unique potential of individuals in the interview pool that provides the basis for selecting a diverse medical class that meets the overall mission, goals and values of the Jacobs School.
Each step of the process contributes to the selection of students who are well positioned to contribute to and benefit from a unique learning experience that will prepare them to meet the diverse needs and expectations of their future patients.
In evaluating each applicant, the Admission Committee looks for those essential attributes that are required of all competent medical students and future physicians, as well as unique potential that brings diversity to the learning and practice cultures of the medical community. Included among these attributes are the following:
Academic readiness for successful completion of medical school is predicted from the aggregate of quantitative measures including GPA, improving grade trends, course load in conjunction with employment, successful completion of required science courses, rigor of undergraduate academic institution, completion of advanced degrees (MA, MS, PhD, MPH, other), and MCAT scores.
Attributes that reveal competency include intellectual curiosity, the capacity for diagnostic reasoning, and the cognitive ability to assimilate academic, scientific and technical knowledge with ease.
Genuine interest in a career in medicine is assessed from information provided in the applicant’s biographical data and through the interview process. Evidence includes personal experience in medically related activities, knowledge of current medical issues related to ethics, cost-conscious health care and health care delivery, as well as informed views regarding state-of-the-art medical research.
Evidence of a relevant strong work ethic is demonstrated by focused and passionate dedication to research, clinical exposure, and in evidence of the ability to persevere. This is requisite to weathering the vicissitudes of work in medical school and beyond.
Evidence of altruism may include participation in community service (particularly in underserved areas), experience in caring for the sick and disabled, and a thoughtful expression of one’s intentions to give of one’s time, energy and knowledge in service to those in need of care.
Evidence of empathy may be evident in the applicant’s personal essay and in letters of recommendation. The applicant’s response to vignettes designed to reveal one’s sense of empathy may be used during the personal interview. Focused questioning may be used to reveal the applicant’s capacity to recognize suffering and his or her willingness to act to alleviate the problem.
The personal behavior and attitude of the applicant must reveal an understanding of the level of honesty, ethics, integrity, professionalism and humanism required in the practice of medicine. Personal commitment to these character attributes may be gleaned from testimonials and letters of recommendation.
Written and oral communication skills are essential for a physician and are evaluated through the applicant’s personal statement, letters of recommendation, and communication during the interview process. The ability to communicate effectively in a team setting is also considered essential and is evaluated in the interview.
In a preclinical setting, collaboration is valued so that students can both teach and learn from their classmates. In the clinic, collaboration is necessary to be able to participate in and eventually lead interdisciplinary teams of care-givers.
Underserved populations may include patients from rural locales or the inner city or may include patients who are financially disadvantaged, from minority populations, or uninsured. Applicants with previous experience and/or a compelling desire to serve underserved populations are given consideration in the admissions selection process.
Applicants with compelling interest and/or past experience in medical education, in advancing cultural awareness, and in resolving health training disparities, especially those affecting populations experiencing inadequate health services or underrepresentation as physicians are given consideration for their value in contributing to a diverse training environment.
Physicians provide leadership in patient care, medical education and research, and in the development of health related public policy. Leadership experience and/or training are considered a valuable attribute and are given consideration in the admissions process.
Physicians serve patients from all walks of life and must have the cultural and ethnic sensitivity to treat each patient with empathy and respect. Unique life experiences that teach such sensitivity are valuable and given consideration in all admission decisions.
Applicants with interest and/or experience in research are likely to become the next generation of clinical investigators in biomedical science. Their presence and influence is considered an indispensable asset in the diverse intellectual environment of the Jacobs School and is given consideration in the admissions process.
Socioeconomic status is a component of diversity that contributes to the basic training of all physicians. Assuring training opportunities for individuals from the broad socioeconomic spectrum is a core value of the Jacobs School and a fundamental component of the admissions process.
Application for admission to the Jacobs School requires that each applicant submit the following documents:
Applicants must be United States citizens or permanent residents of the United States. Applicants who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status are eligible to apply. It is expected that a candidate will have earned an undergraduate degree prior to entering the Jacobs School of Medicine.
Since the practice of medicine involves intellectual communication among professionals and important personal interaction with patients, the Admissions Committee prefers that courses, particularly prerequisites, be completed in a classroom/laboratory setting. However, some on–line coursework may be accepted at the discretion of the Admissions Committee. Such coursework must be completed at a college or university accredited by one of the six United States regional accrediting agencies or one of the provinces of Canada. “Virtual” laboratory courses are not acceptable. The applicant must identify on-line courses if the educational institution does not indicate this information on the official transcript.
All applicants must have an unencumbered criminal background check and meet the technical standards for admission established by the Jacobs School (see Section 8).
Every applicant’s admissions folder is reviewed using holistic analysis to:
The Admissions Screening Subcommittee reviews all application documents provided by the applicant to assess the essential and unique attributes of the applicant.
The review process assesses an applicant’s academic metrics, attributes, and experiences in the context of the three criteria listed above.
Once an applicant is deemed capable of successfully mastering the challenges of the Jacobs School curriculum, specific academic metrics such as GPA and MCAT scores are not given additional weight during the review process; rather they are assessed within the context of the applicant’s other attributes and experiences.
At the completion of this review a select group of applicants will be invited for interview.
Members of the Admissions Interview Subcommittee, who are well versed on the mission and values of the Jacobs School and the rationale for our diversity goals, conduct standard interviews of each selected applicant. Each applicant is interviewed separately by two members of the Subcommittee. Interviews are focused on specific attributes and experiences that must be evaluated, and a narrative report is prepared detailing the outcome of each interview.
An evaluation form is completed after each interview. This evaluation delineates the specific qualities and attributes of each applicant with respect to the mission and values of the Jacobs School.
To allow for a complete, holistic assessment of each applicant’s attributes and experiences independent of academic performance, interviewers are blind to the applicant’s academic metrics both during the interview and when preparing the evaluation.
The Admissions Selection Subcommittee conducts a complete and holistic review of each interviewed applicant. Each applicant’s interviewers (still blinded to academic metrics) present their impressions, and are available to answer questions and engage in discussion. A quorum of ten committee members must be present to begin this portion of the process.
After this discussion, an overall summary recommendation is generated for each interviewee based on all available information with respect to the applicant’s experiences, attributes and academic metrics. This information is utilized to determine the likelihood that an applicant will be able to meet the academic challenges of the Jacobs School curriculum, fulfill the mission and values of the Jacobs School, and succeed in a medical career.
The Admissions Selection Subcommittee selects the class to include a critical mass of students that best matches the mission and diversity goals of the Jacobs School. The Jacobs School has no quotas for any particular quality or attribute.
The final decision for all applicants regarding admission to the Jacobs School rests solely with the Admissions Selection Subcommittee. Only applicants who have progressed through the entire admissions process will be considered.
The Admissions Screening Subcommittee evaluates all applicants for the purpose of selecting those who will be invited for personal interviews. The interview screening process is based on a holistic assessment of each applicant’s experience, attributes, and academic metrics. All essential and unique attributes are considered in this screening process.
The Admissions Screening Subcommittee is comprised of the Associate Dean for Admissions and Jacobs School personnel needed to accomplish the screening process. Members are drawn from full-time faculty and volunteer faculty, of the Jacobs School and are appointed by the Dean of the Jacobs School, or the Dean’s designee. The Dean (or designee) may also appoint local physicians and other community members.
The Admissions Interview Subcommittee conducts a detailed holistic assessment of the non-academic attributes, both essential and unique, for each applicant interviewed. The interview provides a means for acquiring detailed knowledge of those attributes that may have significant impact on the diversity of the entering class. An interview report, that includes a holistic evaluation of the applicant, is submitted to the Admissions Selection Subcommittee for final processing.
Members of the Admissions Interview Subcommittee are drawn from full-time faculty, volunteer faculty, local physicians, community members, and Jacobs School medical students. Subcommittee membership is through appointment of the Dean of the Jacobs School, or the Dean’s designee.
The Admissions Selection Subcommittee conducts a comprehensive review of all interviewed applicants and selects the medical class that best matches the mission and diversity goals of the Jacobs School.
Members of the Admissions Selection Subcommittee are Jacobs School faculty who have served on the Admissions Screening Subcommittee and/or Admissions Interview Subcommittee, who are appointed by the Dean of the Jacobs School (or designee). The Admissions Selection Subcommittee chair is selected by the members and serves a two-year term. The Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs, the Senior Associate Dean for Inclusion and Cultural Enhancement and the Director of the MD/PhD Program serve as ex officio, non-voting members of the Admissions Selection Subcommittee.
The Admissions Policy will be reviewed annually by the Standing Committee on Medical Admission Policy of the Faculty Council and modified when appropriate. Outcomes assessment of the admissions process will be conducted annually by the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs and reported to the Faculty Council and the Dean.
The Jacobs School recognizes the importance of inclusion and diversity in achieving excellence in the training of competent physicians. To meet our goals of excellence the Early Opportunity Program in Medicine program serves to identify and recruit qualified applicants from groups historically “underrepresented in medicine,” at an early stage in their undergraduate development. Students accepted into the EOPIM are provided the opportunity for professional interaction and career training at the Jacobs School before their graduation from college. Students at partner institutions who are nominated by Pre-health Advisory Committees and who fulfill the following requirements are eligible to apply to the EOPIM.
Eligible students must be in the second semester of their undergraduate sophomore year at a designated partner institution and must be from a group considered “under-represented in medicine.” The Jacobs School defines “under-represented in medicine” to include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and individuals born and raised in rural or economically disadvantaged locales.
The Pre-health Advisory Committee at each partner institution nominates students who have demonstrated strong interest and aptitude for careers in medicine. Nominated students are interviewed at the partner institution, or via video conferencing, by a senior member of the Jacobs School Admissions Committee and a member of the Jacobs School Office of Inclusion and Cultural Enhancement. Nominated students are invited to apply to the EOPIM.
The Jacobs School Admissions Interview Subcommittee interviews each EOPIM qualified applicant. Admission into the EOPIM is based on holistic review of each applicant with appropriate consideration of academic metrics, personal attributes and life experience. The Jacobs School Admissions Selection Subcommittee makes the decision to accept an applicant into the EOPIM.
Post-acceptance requirements for continued participation in the EOPIM and entry into the Jacobs School of Medicine include:
The Jacobs School Admissions Selection Subcommittee is responsible for determining compliance with all requirements of the EOPIM before the student is permitted to enter the Jacobs School of Medicine.
In the case of non-compliance with EOPIM requirements, the Jacobs School Admissions Committee may dismiss the student from the EOPIM and rescind the option to enter the Jacobs School of Medicine.
Application to the M.D./Ph.D. Program is made to a subcommittee of the Medical School Admissions Committee that is empowered to interview candidates to the M.D./Ph.D. Program.
This subcommittee includes members from both the Medical School Admissions Committee and members of the Steering Committee of the M.D./Ph.D. Program.
This subcommittee will submit a rank order list of candidates to the Director of Admissions.
Representatives of the subcommittee, who are regular members of the Admissions Committee, will present an oral and written summary of the candidate’s record and interview to the Admissions Selection Subcommittee who will vote on acceptability.
A United States citizen in other U.S. Medical or Osteopathic Medical Schools, or a foreign medical school, will only be considered for acceptance into the third year of the Jacobs School curriculum and only after successful completion of all basic science courses. The Admissions Selection Subcommittee will assure that admitted candidates show evidence of acceptable mastery of the Phase 1 curriculum including Clinical Practice of Medicine or equivalent coursework in preparation for clinical clerkships.
Candidates must submit a completed application and their USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) scores along with other required credentials for full evaluation pursuant to the Admissions Process. The Admissions Selection Subcommittee determines acceptance into the Jacobs School.
The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMS) Residency is a 6-year program which awards a Doctor of Medicine degree (MD) in conjunction with the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences as well as a Certificate in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
Candidates apply through the American Dental Education Association Postdoctoral Application Support Service (ADEA PASS) and are selected through the Postdoctoral Dental Matching Program, administered by National Matching Services Inc.
Residents are selected based on qualifications and eligibility that meet or exceed standards determined by faculty and program director, Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), NYS regulations, University at Buffalo Office of Graduate Medical Education and affiliated hospitals. Candidates must hold a Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine from a CODA accredited dental school or equivalent. They must have taken and passed Parts I and II of the JCNDE National Board Examinations, and submit their undergraduate, graduate, and dental school grades and transcripts.
All applications will be individually assessed and reviewed by the faculty and program director of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery of the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine. Acceptable applicants will be referred to the Jacobs School Director of Admissions who leads a subcommittee that evaluates the candidates based on the admissions selection criteria described in Section 3 with consideration given that they will enter as second year medical students.
Based on these evaluations, the Director of the OMS program invites applicants with adequate attributes and potential to interview with the Dental School faculty, program director, current residents and representative faculty from the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Admissions Committee. Qualities assessed will include but are not limited to: ability, aptitude, academic record, CBSE score, class rank, awards, scholarship, extracurricular activities, research experience, leadership, letters of recommendation, communication skills, and personal qualities such as dedication, compassion, altruism, reliability, motivation and integrity.
Candidates who meet these criteria are eligible to be included on the rank list submitted to the National Resident Matching Program. Determination of the final ranking position is the sole responsibility of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency Program Director.
The University at Buffalo, including the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Jacobs School), is committed to providing equal access to individuals with disabilities, including physical access to programs and reasonable accommodations for members of the University community as outlined in the University’s Reasonable Accommodation Policy Statement.
The faculty of the Jacobs School acknowledges its responsibility to present candidates for the MD degree who have demonstrated the requisite knowledge, attitudes and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to provide a wide spectrum of medical care.
Those students granted the MD degree will be prepared to enter postgraduate (residency) training as general physicians able to undertake specialty education.
LCME Requirement: “Each school must develop and publish technical standards for admission of handicapped applicants, in accordance with legal requirements.”
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990: The ADA prohibits discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodations, can meet the essential requirements of a medical school’s curriculum.
Association of Academic Physiatrists’ (AAP) “Recommended Guidelines for Admission to Medical School of Candidates with Disabilities”:
8.5.1. A candidate for the Jacobs School must possess the intellectual and behavioral qualifications deemed necessary by the Admissions Committee for the successful completion of the curriculum, for internship and residency training, and for the subsequent practice of medicine.
8.5.2. Intellectual qualifications are assessed by consideration of achievements in previous undergraduate and graduate curricula and by the results of standardized tests such as the MCAT.
8.5.3. Behavioral qualifications are determined on the basis of letters of recommendation and by personal interview.
8.5.4. In addition, a candidate must possess the physical and mental capabilities essential for the achievement of all essential functions.
8.5.5. Students with disabilities applying to the Jacobs School will be expected to have achieved the same requirements as their non-disabled peers, with reasonable accommodation, if needed.
8.5.6. The Jacobs School faculty and administration have historically considered the MD degree to be a broad, undifferentiated degree attesting to the acquisition of general knowledge in all fields of medicine and the basic skills requisite for the practice of medicine. However, it is accepted that there may be occasional exceptions to this premise. For example, students with disabilities which can be reasonably accommodated in the curriculum may not graduate as pluripotential physician candidates, but will have skills to offer in narrower focus.
8.5.7. All required basic science and clinical courses are considered essential. Specific courses may require students to be credentialed for their ability to perform technical procedures which may include, but are not necessarily limited to: arterial puncture, venous puncture, urinary catheter insertion, gynecologic examination with Pap smear, skin testing, insertion and removal of sutures/staples and surgical dressing changes. Students are also expected to be able to perform many other medical and surgical procedures where credentialing may not be required but proficiency demonstrated. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to allow qualified students to achieve the requirements. The use of trained intermediaries in assisting students in performing the requirements of the educational program may imply that the student’s judgment is mediated by another’s power of selection and observation and may be seen as compromising essential functions of the student/physician and, as such, may be unacceptable.
8.5.8. Candidates for the MD degree must have abilities and skills of the five varieties as recommended by the AAP (section 8.4 above):
8.5.9. The Jacobs School recognizes that otherwise qualified students with disabilities which do not clearly meet the technical standards, but which, with reasonable accommodation can be overcome, bring welcome diversity to our school. Welcoming such diversity is not only a matter of social justice; it enriches the medical school by exposing fellow students and faculty to the abilities and talents of students who are able to overcome specific limitations in order to achieve their goals in medicine. Further, it enriches our medical communities at local, state, and even national levels by improving the degree to which the medical community reflects the broader community served, and may well, in the long term, lead to improved access to care for those with disabilities within that broader community.
8.5.10. The Admissions Committee will make the initial determination of an applicant’s ability to meet the technical standards and suitability for matriculation.
8.5.11. Any applicant who requests a waiver or modification of the technical standards must present a complete plan of alternative completion of the standard with accommodations to an ad hoc committee appointed by the Dean with appropriate expertise for approval. If accepted, and between admission to the Jacobs School and matriculation, a plan will be coordinated and agreed upon by both the candidate and the school through an interactive process involving the candidate, the medical school, and the University’s Accessibility Resources, delineating what accommodations are likely to be necessary in each Phase of the required curriculum. This plan will include what “reasonable accommodation” costs will be borne by the school, and which costs will be borne by the applicant.
8.5.12. Any change in student status after matriculation, in terms of the ability to perform under the Jacobs School Technical Standards, will be reviewed by the Student Progress Committee or such committee designated by the Dean of the Jacobs School to review student compliance with the Technical Standards.
8.5.13. Reasonable accommodations may not significantly interfere with the essential functions of the Jacobs School and/or alter its academic functions.
8.5.14. Applicants or matriculated students whose performance is impaired by current use of alcohol, or who are using illegal substances, or who are using controlled substances illegally, are not suitable as candidates either for admission or for promotion.