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Wingate, VCOM agreement opens doors for healthcare students

by Luanne Williams

According to the  Association of American Medical Colleges, more than 53,000 students applied to medical schools last year, but fewer than 22,000 were accepted. Wingate University and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine signed an affiliation agreement Oct. 13 to help create more opportunities for well-qualified students to find a new pathway into healthcare when they are passed over for a seat in med school.

“What we understand is that some of these well-qualified students, who are graduates of the VCOM Master of Biomedical Science program and are not offered medical school admission, would prefer to continue to pursue a healthcare career,” explained Wingate President Dr. Rhett Brown. “So we are setting aside 16 seats in our four health sciences graduate programs and 10 more in a master’s of public health program that we’re exploring for next year.”

Those 26 slots will be earmarked for VCOM MBS grads not offered med-school admission or other VCOM students looking for a different health career track. 

“We believe many of these students would be excellent candidates for admission to our Pharmacy, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy programs or for Public Health, which we are looking to add,” Brown said.

John Rocovich, VCOM chairman, signed the agreement, by which the medical school is bound to provide students in its Master of Biomedical Science Program with information about Wingate and the benefits of the affiliation agreement and also provide Wingate with the academic profiles of students leaving VCOM and applying to a WU health science program.

The agreement, signed Tuesday at the Laverne Banquet Hall on Wingate’s campus, is the latest in a number of joint efforts between VCOM and Wingate. Already Wingate students with an eye toward medical school can qualify for a guaranteed interview program if they have a high enough GPA, score well on the Medical College Admission Test and complete at least 100 hours each of healthcare volunteer work and community service. VCOM also offers an early-acceptance program, Rocovich Scholars, that targets minority students, those with low socioeconomic status and those from medically underserved areas. If they complete volunteer work and maintain high grades, they can sidestep the MCAT and have a provisional acceptance to VCOM as early as their sophomore year at Wingate. Further, Wingate students who pursue a post-baccalaureate in VCOM’s MBS program, gain a preferred admissions status to the medical college.

“Our relationship with VCOM has greatly benefited many of our pre-med students over the years. We want to return the favor and give VCOM students preferred admission to the leading healthcare educator in western North Carolina,” Brown said. “We look forward to opening our doors to VCOM’s Master of Biomedical Science students so that they can become physician assistants, pharmacists, physical therapists and occupational therapists.”

Oct. 20, 2020