New Osteopathic Medical Scholars 3+4 Program Accepts First Student


Lauren Grasso first fell in love with osteopathic medicine during middle and high school, when she attended two pre-college summer programs, Future DOcs and OsteoCHAMPS, through MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Now a second-year undergraduate at MSU, Grasso’s passion for osteopathic medicine is as strong as ever.

“The biggest thing that drives me forward and that I would like to help address in the medical field is the idea of being comfortable with your doctor,” she said. Grasso’s goal is to become the kind of doctor patients feel at ease around, so they can really connect and feel confident telling her what they need.

So, it’s only fitting that she’s the first student to be accepted into the new Osteopathic Medical Scholars Program, or OMSP, 3+4 program, which allows certain qualified students to enter medical school during what would have been their fourth year of undergraduate studies.

Grasso learned about the program about a year ago from Dr. Katherine Ruger, associate dean of admissions and student life.

“It's been in the works for me ever since,” Grasso said.

The application requirements and process for the 3+4 program are rigorous. Students who want to take advantage of the program must pursue a major in biology at Lyman Briggs College and meet all the other requirements of OMSP admission, including maintaining at least 3.5 science and overall GPA.

From there, applicants complete several interviews with college faculty and administrators. If applicants are selected, they also attend a series of professional development seminars. Faculty and administrators use these seminars to determine if students may advance to their first year of medical school.

When they make it through this process, 3+4 program students gain two major advantages. They may be granted admission to MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine without taking the MCAT and without completing an additional admissions committee interview, and they save resources from reducing their academic trajectory by one year.

For Grasso, not having to apply to medical school via the traditional route feels like a huge weight off her shoulders.

“I'm also really looking forward to the professional seminars,” she said. “I’ll be learning about leadership, communication and other skills you need to be a doctor. I really enjoy working hands-on with professionals and doctors, and learning directly from them through experience. I think that will be like a really rewarding process.”

She’s also eager to begin her medical education, so she can get started on the career she’s been working towards for many years.

Unlike many other students who begin medical school early, Grasso will benefit from earning her bachelor's degree.

“In the past, a student who wanted to start medical school early could be admitted with 90 credits, but they would not have a bachelor's degree,” said Rosemarie Handley, director for the OMSP. “This way, students can still acquire one, which we think is a big advantage.”

The 3+4 program is an exciting opportunity, though it’s intended for a small subset of students who are very committed to becoming doctors.

“Students have to be very mature, and they may have to decide to put off or give up some of the more common college experiences, like studying abroad or joining a fraternity or sorority," Handley said. “I think it takes a special student to do this kind of program.”

Grasso’s advice to students who are considering applying to the program?

“I would say the biggest thing is to have confidence in yourself,” she said. “If you're going through the interview process, you are good enough to get into this program. You just have to show it.”