A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona SOMA is a small osteopathic college which is the first to introduce a new concept of medical instruction. SOMA’s focus on training physicians who will work in under-served areas has led them to develop a new method of instruction. Rather than the traditional method of medical instruction which generally includes 2 years of basic science training followed by 2 years of clinical rotations, students at SOMA will spend only 1 year at the Mesa Campus followed by a second year of coursework integrated in the community health environment. Students will remain in their selected community health environment for the roations which follow their second year. Due to the experimental nature of this style of medical education, students interested in SOMA should be sure to discuss the impacts of this with an admissions faculty and others who are familiar with this process. ATSU – Mesa opened its doors to the first class of students in 2007 and currently holds temporary accreditation. This fact should not discourage students interested in applying. School Mission/Focus: SOMA’s official purpose statement is: “To effectively prepare the highest quality osteopathic physicians, using innovative strategies, to serve the national need for community oriented health care (” From a recent visit to the SOMA campus in Mesa, I was able to get a bit more insight into their overall purpose for medical professionals. SOMA’s primary focus is on training primary care physicians who will work in underserved areas. This does not mean you necessarily have to want to work in a small town as a G.P for the rest of your career, but admissions will favor students who exhibit and interest in community health care. Location: SOMA is located in sunny Mesa, Arizona. Mesa is a large metropolitan area connected to the Phoenix Valley. Application Requirements:GPA (Cumulative)*: 2.5 minimum (average GPA of ’07 matriculates was 3.36) GPA (Science)*: 2.5 minimum (average GPA of ’07 matriculates was 3.23) MCAT: Required. No data is available for a minimum score required on the MCAT (average MCAT score for ’07 matriculates was 24.37) Student must have completed the follow undergraduate course work:

  • English (6 semester hours)
  • Biology (8 semester hours) – must include a laboratory and a basic course in General Biology or General Zoology
  • Physics (8 semester hours) – must include a laboratory
  • General or Inorganic Chemistry (8 semester hours) – must include a laboratory
  • Organic Chemistry (8 semester hours) – must include a laboratory

Recommended courses:

  • Biochemistry
  • Anatomy

Background check required: Yes All students meeting the minimum application requirements will be sent a secondary application which should be returned as soon as possible. Secondary applications will require:

  • Letters of reference – 1 letter from a physician or employer, 1 letter from Admissions Committee Boards, Science Faculty member or pre-medical advisor
  • $60 application fee

Curriculum:While most other osteopathic medical schools have very similar curriculum, SOMA is a pioneer of a new method of medical education. From a pamphlet I received at the campus: “Students will spend their first year on the Mesa, Arizona campus learning together in small groups using real-life patient interactions and simulated clinical experiences. Students’ education in years two through four will be based at one of the 11 select Community Health Center campuses across the country. The second year is spent in learning additional clinical presentations, observing patient care, and gaining an understanding of the local health system and community health practices. Third and fourth year students will complete their rotations at a variety of Community Health Center campuses and associated hospitals, independent healthcare providers and their healthcare institutions.” Here is a typical course schedule:

st Year (at Mesa Campus) Principles of Healthcare Musculoskeletal Neurosciences and senses Cardiopulmonary Renal Endocrine Medical Skills and Evidence Based Medicine Osteopathic Priciples and Practices Clinical Experiences 2nd Year (at selected Community Health Center) Reproduction/Human Development Urology Gastrointestinal Skin Blood The Mind Integrative I Course Integrative II Course Medical Skills and Evidence Based Medicine II Osteopathic Principles and Practices II Integrated Clinical Experiences 3rd Year Rotations (42 weeks of rotations in the following areas at selected Community Health Centers) Surgery Internal Medicine Family Practice Pediatrics Obstetrics and Gynecology Psychiatry Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine 4 weeks of electives 4th Year Rotations (14 weeks of required rotations, 16 weeks of selective rotations, and 12 weeks of electives at selected Community Health Centers) Required Rotations: 4 weeks of critical care 4 weeks of cardiology 4 weeks of emergency medicine two weeks of neurology Selective Rotations: 4 weeks of pediatrics based 4 weeks of surgical based 8 weeks of medicine based Elective Rotations (may include offerings such as): Addiction Medicine Anesthiology Bioethics Clinical Genetics Clinical Immunology / Allergy Critical Care Cardiology Dermatology Endocrinology ENT Emergency Medicine Family Medicine General Surgery Gerontology Gastroenterology Health Care Management and Public Health Internal Medicine Infectious Diseases Interventional Radiology Maternal-Fetal Medicine Nephrology Neonatology Neurology Nuclear Medicine Ob/Gyn Oncology/Hematology Osteopathic Principles and Practices Ophthalmology Orthopedic Surgery Pediatrics Psychiatry Pain Management Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Pulmonary Medicine Pathology Radiology Rheumatology Rural/Underserved Family Medicine Sports Medicine Toxicology Thoracic Surgery Transplant Medicine Urology

The location of community health training during the last 3 years at SOMA is chosen during the admissions process. Students are able to elect their top choices for location and can generally expect to spend the remaining 3 years in that one location unless chosen electives are not available in those areas. Community Health Center campuses are located in:

  • Sunset Park Family Health Center, Brooklyn, NY
  • Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, Beaufort, SC
  • Alabama Medical Education Consortium, Troy, AL
  • Health Source of Southern Ohio, Milford, OH
  • North COuntry Community Health Center’s Northern Arizona Health Education Center, Flagstaff, AZ
  • An American Indian focused campus based in Phoenix, AZ
  • Family Healthcare Network, Visalia, CA
  • NW Consortium, Portland, OR
  • Community Health Centers of King Count, King County, WA
  • Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health, Waianae, HI

School Demographics:

Total enrollment: 107

Total male: 62

Total female: 45

First-year enrollment: 107

Cost of Attending:

uition: $35,000 Fees: unknown

Living in Mesa, AZ:

opulation: Mesa is one of the fastest growing cities in the US with an estimated population of about 460,000. It is located in the heart of the Phoenix Metropolitan area which has an estimated population of over 4 million people. Demographics: Mesa is predominantly caucasian (about 84%) and hispanic, however, it is an extremely diverse population and warmly welcomes many cultures. Approximately 10% of the Mesa population are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). Housing: Mesa is not a cheap city to live in. Housing costs can be extremely expensive in the more central areas of the city. Look to suburban cities such as Gilbert for housing that is a bit cheaper (although not much). An average 2-bedroom apartment will cost about $800-$1100 to rent in Mesa while purchasing a home can range anywhere from $140,000 – $600,000. Cost of Living:The cost of living in Mesa, AZ is slightly above the national average. As a quickly growing metropolitan area, Mesa attracts many higher income families and retirees looking fora winter escape. While living in Mesa can be expensive, careful shoppers can find good deals with a bit of legwork. Employment Opportunities: Jobs abound in Mesa. Looking for extra works should not be difficult. Weather: Mesa, AZ can be very warm all year round. Pack lots of shorts and bathing suits for studying by the pool. Here are average temperatures for January and July (in Fahrenheit):

anuary: High = 67, Low =41

uly: High = 106, Low = 77

Things to do:There is plenty to do for anyone living in Mesa. Museums and concerts can be found easily and are often very cheap or free. It is warm enough all year round to do plenty of outdoor activities. Every amenity that one could want is available in the area. Phoenix, AZ is rated as #15 “Best Cities For Singles, 2008.