Will The New MCAT Matter?
Date Posted: 05/05/15
Today we bring you some insight from an excellent article in Forbes written by 2 medical students on the impact of the new MCAT. The article can be seen here.
There is a growing body of evidence that patients want more from their doctors than just clinical knowledge. They want "customer service" - which includes a strong bedside manner, consideration of financial circumstances, passion, consideration of living situations, etc. In short, patients want a well-rounded doctor that they can connect with. A doctor with "street smarts" and "book smarts." For far too long, medicine has focused on only the "hard science" aspect of training and ignored the "soft" social sciences. The AAMC has taken a bold stance by implementing a major change in the MCAT designed to put the social sciences on an equal playing field. But, will it make a difference?
Many people don't realize that the MCAT has been here before. From 1946-1977, the MCAT had a general knowledge section that tested many of the social sciences: economics, history, sociology, government. The section was largely ignored by admissions committees (who focused on applicants' scientific achievements) and was eventually eliminated. This raises an important point about medical training in the US - it's the admissions committees that determine what's important in an applicant, not the AAMC. If admissions committees determine that the traditional hard sciences are more important, then applicants will seek to become stronger in these areas and ignore the soft sciences. There is further evidence of this point in the writing sample section of the MCAT. This section was added in 1991 but removed in recent years because admissions committees were ignoring the writing scores when evaluating applicants.
This leaves one big question unanswered: How will medical school admissions committees treat the new social sciences section? Will they treat the social sciences score as an equal to the physical and biological section? We will find out in the coming years.