Michigan State University

This post is in response to Old Man Dave’s “Idear” last year (that I somehow missed) that we provide information about our schools for those in the applying/interviewing process. Since it is that time of year again, I thought I’d give some information about the school, and if anyone has questions feel free to ask, and I’ll do my best.
First MSU has two medical schools, the College of Human Medicine (CHM), and the College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM). I attended CHM, but can answer basic questions about COM as well, as we had frequent interaction and took our first year basic science courses together.
MSU is located in East Lansing, Michigan. East Lansing is a college town, but has lots of other things to offer, for us non-trads. It is about two hours from Detroit, and about the same distance to Ann Arbor. There is a plan to expand and add a Grand Rapids campus in the next few years, but I honestly haven’t followed that enough to comment on it. If anyone has questions, I can find the information.
MSU is a community based medical school, with a decided interest in primary care, although students do go into all specialties. The first two years are spent at East Lansing, and the clinical years are spent at one of six communities, each of which has it’s own unique characteristics and flavor. These communities are: East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Flint, and Marquette. With the exception of the Marquette and Saginaw campuses, the community assignment is based on a sign-up system at the end of first year. Students are given the opportunity to visit the communities and decide which they like. Each community has a certain number of slots available, which varies. After the visits are completed, students sign up for the community they are interested in on large, public boards. If one community has two many students, and another two few, a lottery system is put in place. There is also the opportunity for some students to waive the lottery and stay in E. Lansing if they have extenuating circumstances (i.e. a spouse also in med school but a different year, a child with special needs, etc. Buying a house is NOT alone enough to be granted this, but they tell students that upfront).
The Marquette campus is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and the students who go there apply for that campus at the time they apply to MSU. Once granted admission to MSU, they are considered for the Marquette campus, and interviewed separately, etcetera. There are 8 slots. This campus has an emphasis on Rural Health Care, and many, but not all, of the students that go there are from the area. There is no obligation to practice rural health care, or family practice, but just to have an interest (last year of the 8 graduating seniors, two went into surgical specialties, one into radiology, one into emergency medicine, one into peds, and three into family practice.)
The Saginaw campus has a new program that started with my third year class. It is an emphasis on underserved populations, specifically migrant worker health care (I believe). The curriculum includes a rotation in Belize, at no additional cost to the student. This program is applied for at about the same time as students start to sign up for the other campuses (I think). It had just changed to this with my class, so I don’t know how many slots are available.
The CHM curriculum is primarily lecture-based in the first year. There are a lot of small groups for things like Clinical Skills, ethics, etcetera. The basic science courses are taken jointly with COM.
The second year at CHM is primarily PBL (with optional lectures twice a week). The COM curriculum is lecture based both of the first two years, the second year being system-based, the last I heard. At CHM you begin Clinical Skills training the first week of school, and it is continued throughout the pre-clinical years. There are several clinical experiences built in during that time.
Grading at CHM is true Pass/Fail. There are no Honors or High Pass given at all in the first two years, and no ranking of any sort during that period. This makes for a collegial atmosphere that I truly enjoyed. During the third and fourth years, the grades are Honors, Pass, Conditional Pass, No pass. The “ranking” in the class is based solely on the number of honors achieved during third year which is put in the Dean’s letter. There are objective criteria by which to honor each rotation, and no limit on how many people can honor a given rotation. Each rotation has a SHELF exam, either an oral exam or a problem-based assessment, and clinical performance evaluation. To honor a rotation, you must honor all three. Unfortunately there is no High Pass for honoring two out three components. The Dean’s letter will then state if the student is “Outstanding, excellent, very good, good, or marginal”, based solely on the number of honors in the third year, and will report how many people got each ranking. However, until the day of Dean’s letter release, you have no idea how many people will receive each ranking. The difference in the percentage of students in each category between last year’s class and my class was pretty striking. It doesn’t give the residencies much to distinguish students on based on that. Transcripts DO NOT show classes honored, only Pass or Fail. The Dean’s letter discusses each of the third year clerkships, and indicates if the student honored, passed, or failed each clerkship, and provides comments from the clinical evaluations. Students CAN be AOA. There is a number of clerkships honored in third year criteria for nomination, and then the process is the normal one.
I only belabor the point about the grading system because some students might not be happy with it. It doesn’t seem to be a problem for residencies-- we have students going into every specialty at virtually every institution-- but I can see where for some highly competitive specialties it might be hard to have to say, “I’m somewhere in the top 17%” versus “I’m 5 out of 106.”
Overall, I must say I’ve been very happy at CHM. Although there have been moments of frustration, after doing away rotations and meeting other students, I’m convinced that I’ve received an excellent medical education, in a collegial and supportive environment.
If anyone has any questions, or wants more information, please ask!
Class of 2006

Hi Deb,
What’s the outlook on out-of-state applicants? I’m from Illinois, but would love to vie for the Marquette spot if I had a chance. My fiance and I have spent a lot of time up in the UP and love it there. Juse curious about that!

I forgot to mention that-- MSUCHM takes a fairly high percentage of out-of-state students… up to 20% of the class (each class is between 100-110 students) is what they say. The UP program doesn’t have a cut off number. I am at Marquette, and this year I am the only out of stater (the only non UPer for that matter), but in the class behind us there are several students from out of state. There are also several non-trads in the classes behind me. The one drawback is the MSU’s out of state tuition is very high, and I believe most students have to pay it all four years. If you want to see more info on the program (which is officially known as the Rural Physician Program), go to echt.chm.msu.edu and from there click on Communities, and from there click on Marquette. If you have any more questions let me know