What I Learned Visiting WVSOM

I was very impressed with the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. The campus was beautiful. The school used to be an old military base and it was converted into a school. The school has taken great care to keep everything looking nice, and they seem to continually update the facilities.

The lecture halls are huge. WVSOM has 2 lecture halls; one for first year students and the other for second year students. The sound is great and the screens for overheads are big, so really there isn’t a bad seat in the room. I sat in on a lecture and spoke with a professor about classes and she took the time to show me the online system. WVSOM records all the lectures in MP3 form. Students are able to go back and listen to any lecture they feel they need. I liked that idea a lot.

The anatomy lab was also really nice. They had 50+ cadavers to work with. One strong selling point was that the lab did not have the tradition stench of other anatomy labs. The faculty at WVSOM has devised a ventilation system that keeps the room smelling pritine and clean.

WVSOM has a fair amount of construction going on at the moment. They had 2 new buildings in progress when I visited. One was a new research facility (I think). The other was a brand new wellness center for students and families to use. It was in the initial phase of construction, but it looked like it will be very nice.

West Virginia, like LECOM, offers lecture track and problem based learning. However, their PBL system is very new and still developing. One nice thing is WVSOM always has a DO and a PhD in the room with the students working their cases. LECOM only had one faculty member.

Last of all WVSOM has robots that simulate real patients. They were very nice. Students have the opportunity to work on cases and learn from mistakes before heading into the real world to work on real people. I will talk about these simulators in a later post since multiple schools have them.

The one downside I found in the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine was the out of state tuition. In-state tuition was fantastic; somewhere around $22,000. Out of state was $50,000+.

What I know after visiting LECOM

Since LECOM was the first school that I interviewed with I was not sure what to expect. LECOM’s interview is different from any other school I visited. I was interviewed by 2 doctors at the same time. One of them had a PhD and the other was a DO. The thing that made LECOM’s interview different was that neither of the interviewers had access to my file. LECOM’s admissions commity has the opinion that if you were good enough to receive an invitation for an interview then your interviewers should just get to know you. I found the interview to be very relaxed and actually enjoyable. The PhD interviewer was very friendly and loved to talk.

On the interview day they talked a lot about what sets LECOM apart from other osteopathic medical schools; most importantly they focused on the 3 learning modes:
Lecture track was very traditional but seemed to be the most time intensive in terms of the schedule they give you.
Problem based learning was very intriguing and it also seemed very time intensive, but in PBL you get to set the majority of your schedule for yourself. PBL is a beast (good and bad) of its own and deserves a post all by itself.
Independent study is a route that you get to set your schedule pretty much by yourself; however, many students reported that independent study was actually less independent than the PBL mode of learning.
Erie, PA, was a very nice place. The peninsula that juts out into the lake was really cool. Many students utilized it as a place to relax. LECOM plays a big role in the Erie community and they have places all over town for students. One of the new places in Erie is the wellness center that should be finished in time for the incoming class of 2013. The fitness center is huge and the plans look very nice. LECOM has also renovated an old restaurant and turned it into a student center. Of all the schools I attended LECOM/Erie was the least rural and seemed to have the most to do.
One other interesting thing I learned at my interview was that LECOM is starting a Seton Hill University branch starting summer 2009. The Seton Hill branch will be strictly PBL like Bradenton, FL.

What I Knew Before Visiting LECOM

My first interview was at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Erie campus. I first learned about LECOM when a representative from LECOM came to present at Utah Valley University. I left the presentation very excited about the school, and was convinced that LECOM was a great school for me to apply to.

LECOM-Erie has 3 learning methods for students: lecture track, problem based learning (PBL), and independent study. The 3 modes of learning excited me because it showed that the school understood that every student is different and may benefit from different teaching styles.
The representative also talked about the role that the MCAT and GPA play in LECOM’s application process. LECOM is recognized by many people as a school that accepts applicants with lower scores. He explained that they made sure that applicants meet a certain academic level and then LECOM is more concerned about the type of person you are than about scores.