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Along with eclectic, individualized internships, Arciero over- sees two larger programs, in nursing and medicine, at Saratoga Hospital. (She’s also a liaison for Skidmore’s new articulation with New York University’s nursing school, spearheaded by its former dean Terry Thomas Fulmer ’76. The first two students in that program earned their NYU nursing degrees this past spring, so “it’s getting rolling nice- ly,” Arciero says.) Each spring up to 12 students do six one-week rotations with


nurses in various departments of Saratoga Hospital. At 45 hours, the internships are worth one credit. The medical internship, totaling 90 hours for two credits, is offered each fall to three outstanding students. Orthopedist Bill O’Connor facilitates three four-week rotations, each beginning with lectures by one or two participating physicians, whom the students then shad- ow closely in their specialty work in orthopedics, general sur- gery, urology, nephrology, and cardiology. All the while, they’re enrolled in a one-credit independent study in medical patholo- gy with Arciero.

“I can tell stories from my health-care career,” she notes, “but the hospital experiences are firsthand. Our students don’t just observe surgery by standing against the wall like other visi- tors; they get to scrub in and stand shoulder to shoulder with the surgical team at the operat- ing table.” She says she loves hearing the excitement (or reading it in middle-of-the- night e-mails) when students recount “holding a one-hour- old baby in their arms, or help- ing to summon the emergency team and watching them save a patient’s life.” Sponsoring physician O’Connor enjoys passing along his craft, plus, he says, working with “young, in- quisitive minds sharpens my game.” Recalling his early un- certainty about the right career niche for him, he hopes the in- ternships help clarify students’ decisions, “whether positively or negatively,” about the career they truly want.


sion interviews, on which med schools rely heavily. “I think Skidmore has a healthy social and cocurricular life that builds our students’ social skills. We educate kids, plus we foster their development into well-rounded people and community mem- bers.” He says medical schools “do rec- ognize that broadly educated students make better doctors, with better clinical skills such as dealing with patients and colleagues.” Even though Skidmore’s number of pre-med applicants has more

than doubled, their acceptance rate is holding strong at 75 per- cent, well above the national average.

Pure academic horsepower also fuels the success of Skidmore physicians: they complete joint MD/PhD programs at more than twice the national rate. “These are the people who will run scientific foundations, make research grants—they’re the ones who’ll lead the field of medical research,” Possidente says. But two new wrinkles will crop up in 2015. That’s when the

1990s Skidmore freshmen interested in pre-health each year: 1990s Skidmore seniors applying to med school each year:

Medical schools in the US: Applicants to US med schools each year:

2010s Skidmore freshmen interested in pre-health each year: 2010s Skidmore seniors applying to med school each year:

Med schools that Skidmore students typically apply to: Med school acceptances they typically receive:

US applicants admitted to one or more med schools: Skidmore applicants admitted to one or more med schools:

Proportion of MDs earned by grads of liberal arts colleges: Proportion of all undergrads who attend liberal arts colleges:

US medical students nationwide who earn a joint MD/PhD: Medical students from Skidmore who earn a joint MD/PhD:

MCAT will start covering more social sciences and humanities. At the same time, instead of a standard course list, medical col- leges will specify each year the 300 or so “competencies” they’ll seek in their candidates for admission. “With both these historic changes,” Possidente says, “pre-med students and advi- sors can shape courses of study more creatively and flexibly.” Still, Ray Giguere in chemistry counsels cau- tion. He says, “We know what works in preparing our students to succeed in med- school applications. I think we should keep a strong, solid base of natural-science knowledge—surely that won’t hurt anybody’s record or admissibility.” He worries that the MCAT’s demand for wider knowledge might leave pre-med students less time for arts or other elec- tives. But he hopes Skid- more’s “emphasis on inter- disciplinary liberal educa- tion, which already requires

30–45 10

135 43,000+

70–120 30

15–20 1–3

44% 75%

30–40% 5–10% 3%


hanks in part to such real-life experiences, Skidmore’s med- school applicants have done remarkably well. Possidente has records showing that those with grade-point averages and Medical College Admissions Test scores a bit below the nation- al average for admission (3.65 and 31) have enjoyed a 100 per- cent acceptance rate over 10 years. Of course, even those with more stellar GPAs and MCATs face stiff competition. But Possi- dente believes Skidmore students’ interpersonal and self-pres- entation skills help them outperform other finalists in admis-

20 SCOPE FALL 2012

plenty of breadth, will mean that our students will have those non-life-science competencies well covered.” That breadth is at the heart of the Skidmore strategic plan’s third goal: to “achieve a unique integration of the sciences with the arts, humanities, and social sciences.” Certainly Possidente sees that upside to the MCAT revisions, positing, “Now medical school is even more of a perfect fit for liberal arts students.” Fehling says nursing and PA programs still require or favor particular courses, but “as the new HPAC chair, I’d like to meet this year with every department and program, to get updates about which of their courses cover any of the crucial competen-

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