New Med School prepares for first class

By Terri Nighswonger

Patricia Harper, director of admissions for Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, eagerly awaits the first class of students to the school’s Joplin campus but there is a lot of work to be done before classes begin in late July 2017.

“On Aug. 19 I heard that 40 percent of the building was complete,” Harper said. “We are currently hiring faculty and staff and planning for events and the recruitment class. There is still a lot to be done but a lot has already been done.”
Harper began recruiting nearly a year and a half before the fall of 2017 class will take their seats. Students apply in May when the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) opens up its online registration. That begins the process.
Once a student applies, it takes about 6-8 weeks for KCU to receive the application from AACOMAS. That organization verifies coursework and GPA.

Once KCU receives the application they review it for academic minimum, Harper said.
“If they meet or exceed the minimum and have had no felonies or misdemeanors, no serious red flags then they have permission to fill out a secondary application which is by invitation only,” she said. “They receive the secondary and when we get that back from them we then do a more holistic review. We look for a variety of things. If they pass those criteria they are then invited to an interview.”
Students come for an interview and meet with faculty and admissions staff. Once the interview is complete, recommendations are made to the admissions committee who make recommendations to the dean who makes the final decision.

This year, because there is no building, students will be interviewed on KCU’s Kansas City campus. Next year, interviews will take place in Joplin. “We’ll end our interviews in March or April and we will over accept because not everyone wants to come here,” Harper said. “We will sometimes not know up until the first day of class. We could be short and calling up the wait list the first day of orientation. It’s a moving target.” Some 150 students will be seated and once that happens, Harper said, KCU will be one of the largest medical schools in the country.
“It’s very, very exciting,” Harper said. “I love working with these young people. They are very inspiring.” KCU also plans a number of events in conjunction with the class selection. Accept day will happen around mid-May. “That’s the first time the students will see the campus,” Harper said. “We do big things for accept day.  It’s a big celebration.”

Orientation will take place in late July with the first day of class set for July 31. Just prior to the first day, there is a white coat ceremony. “They put their white coats on for the first time and take the oath,” Harper said. “It’s a big deal for healthcare.”
Missouri Southern State University, Drury University and Pittsburg State University, along with several other schools, all have a partner program with KCU that a student can apply for at the end of their sophomore year.
Should a student be accepted into that program, they will begin at KCU after their junior year. They do not have to take the MCAT. These students can be considered for either the Joplin campus or the KC campus. Harper said it’s not an early acceptance program so the student can opt in or opt out.

The other partnership program is only with MSSU and it is called “the advanced medical school acceptance program.” MSSU identifies students in high school that have met specific academic qualifiers. Those students are then given advanced standing into MSSU and KCU. They must maintain those qualifiers through high school and then when they enter MSSU another set of academic qualifiers must be met to secure their seat at KCU. These students do not apply through AACOMAS, they apply online through the KCU website and they do not have to take the MCAT. These students will only be applying to the Joplin campus.


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