University of Maryland

I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get this posted. We just finished second year on Friday. I wanted to be able to take a moment to put some time into my post. In fairness to everyone on this board, I am going to address what I think are both good points and where there is room for improvement because when you visit schools for your interview, it’s very hard to get a feel for where the school needs to improve.
The good points:
- Maryland is VERY high-tech, both the school and the hospital. All of our lecture ppt’s and digital audio are put onto MedScope, the one-stop-shopping for schedules, small group answers, activities calendars, interest group websites, etc. The laptop is a mandatory purchase and part of your tuition. I say the laptop because the IT group (great people) chooses one and do a group purchase for the class.
- The current Dean of Academic Affairs is all about fixing the school (see below) from the students’ perspective. He started an open student advisory committee, which I attend, and he is not just trying to pacify us. He truly takes our recommendations seriously and acts on them in a timely manner. For example, when the 3rd and 4th years are on rotation, they are spread to the four corners and have very little contact with the first two years. In an effort to bring the four classes together, we have had several social events (including a hugely popular potluck picnic at his house down on the Magothy River) as well as academic events. Additionally, when we gave him our perspective on OSA, he brought the Dean of the Office of Student Affairs in before the committee to have an adult discussion of where that office needs to improve it’s customer service.
- My classmates are some of the greatest people I could choose as peers. Some of them have done amazing things, both before and during med school. For example, Maryland introduced a health care for all bill this past legislative session. A group of my classmates organized letter writing campaigns and rallies, as well as testified before both the state house and senate. However, with all good things, there comes some bad (see below)
- To continue the theme of classmates, Maryland students can initiate groups and projects, following their passions. If there is something you are interested in, there is probably a faculty member that you can link up with. If there is a research area, clinical or bench, that you are interested in, you can pursue it, with varying levels of commitment based on your schedule. I have lots of classmates who are getting published and I have others (of which I am one) who have found their niche in more service centered endeavors.
The bad points:
- The school has an identity crisis. Dean Wilson is very focused on making Maryland a research powerhouse. For example, it ranks 9th in research dollars per clinical faculty, which is ABOVE the school across town. Dr. Gallo, discoverer of the AIDS virus, is here as well as countless other world renown faulty. Maryland is also one of the top kidney transplant centers in the world. However, the school still advertises itself as being focused on primary care, as is seen in some of our curriculum requirements (8 week rural rotation, 6 weeks in peds, only 16 weeks for electives). This has a lot to do with the fact that we are the state school with a mission to produce physicians who will stay and serve in the state. Sometimes the students feel lost in the middle. As the President of our Student Council said, “students are not NIH grants.” I understand that much of this stems from the fact that of all state schools, Maryland is at the bottom of the list in terms of state funding. Actually, the school’s financial profile fits that of a private school rather than a public school, as is seen by recent tuition hikes that have taken the tuition above $20k.
- The Office of Student Affairs is BROKEN. They are unmotivated and don’t seem interested in setting up the students for success. For example, in setting up schedules for 4th years, you are forced to schedule your audition electives after they have scheduled everything else, including an 8 week rural medicine rotation (AHEC). So regardless of what you want to do, you are still forced down the primary care path in your rotations. The good news is that the Dean of Academic Affairs has made fixing OSA and AHEC a priority.
- Forty of the 150 people in my class come from the University of Maryland at College Park, a school well-known for its partying. Much of this lack of maturity and professionalism was brought with them to medical school. Sometimes I don’t know if my frustration with their behavior stems from the fact that I am nine years older or my nine years in the military. I have been disappointed in how the administration fails to openly deal with (what some of the students feel are) major infractions.
There are a lot of other great things about the school to share but I know this message has gotten long. I am confident that I am getting a great education and do not regret my decision to come here, but I felt it necessary to also let you know that the school is not perfect, though it is working hard to improve.
Please let me know whatever questions you may have and I will do my best to answer them candidly.

Hi Tara,
I was accepted to the University of Maryland when I was in the application phase. It was my third choice behind Medical College of Virgnia and Howard. I loved the location and I loved the faculty that I met during the interview process. I also loved the hospital.
When I was studying for USMLE Step I, I met many of the students from UMD who were super folks. We frequently ran into each other at national meetings and we always got together. The daughter of my faculty advisor graduated from UMD in 2002, the same year that I graduated.
All in all, Maryland is a solid medical school with good faculty. They seemed very interested in the development of the students. I also like UMD University Hospital, even better than UVA. I love Baltimore (great city with neighborhoods). It is easy for UMD to live in the shadow of Hopkins but it has a great feel and a better flavor for learning medicine. UMD University Hospital is tens times better and safer than Hopkins too.

I realized when I read Natalie’s post that I forgot mention about one on Maryland’s strongest assets- it’s curriculum. During the first two years, you are on a block system, with each block lasting from 4-10 weeksm, with exams every 3-4 weeks. We are in class from 8 am-12 pm each day, with one afternoon (1 pm-3 pm) during your first and fourth semesters for Practice of Medicine plus and additional afternoon from Jan – Dec during your second and third semesters for PBL. The average day is two hours in small group and two hours in lecture. During the first year, small group ranges from labs to giving presentations, depending on which block you are in. During the second year small groups you have a case presentation in which you work through a series of questions with your preceptor, who is (usually) an clinician in that specialty. During our cardio block, our preceptor too us up to the cardiac cath lab, gave us a tour and then showed us recordings of cases he had done. The instructors here, especially the physicians, bend over backwards to answer any questions you may have as well as invite you to contact them if you would like to shadow them or get career guidance.
Next year, they are integrating all of the separate courses (Intro to Clinical Practice, Physical Diagnosis, etc) into one course, called Practice of Medicine. Students have clinical contact during all four years, starting at orientation. During first year, you focus on your clinical interviewing skills. At the time it was frustrating that I couldn’t touch my patients to examine them, but I learned this year that the patient’s history is just as, if not more, important than the physical exam. I feel very comfortable with the clinical skills I have gained from my preceptors.
My third year schedule is typical of all third year students. What differs per student is the order you take your rotations in.
Surgery- 12 weeks (4 three week rotations)
Psych- 4 weeks
Neuro- 4 weeks
Family Medicine- 4 weeks
Peds- 6 weeks
OB- 6 weeks
Medicine- 12 weeks
I also have a year-long longitudinal ambulatory clerkship in which I will work with a General Internist (I also had the choice of a pediatrician as well as a family practitioner) two afternoons per month.
Fourth Year I have the 8 week rural rotation, which you also have the option to do at an Indian reservation. I will have 16 weeks of electives as well as two 4 week sub-internships in addition to a 4 week ambulatory clerkship (usually emergency medicine).
I hope I didn’t sound too negative in my earlier post. I just wanted to be open about an area that my school needs improvement in. Actually, Dr. Jarrell is making great strides in improving things administratively, so the system that most of you would see will be much better.
Maryland was my second choice, after Vanderbilit. However, when my husband received orders that would return him to Ft. Meade from Korea, we decided that I would stay here with him. My choices were then narrowed to two schools in DC and Maryland. The two schools I looked at in the DC area when to class all day, so Maryland’s schedule really appealed to me- I actually get to see him sometimes Also, housing is much more affordable up near Baltimore. We were able to buy our first house (single family on 1/3 acre) where we would have had a hard time affording a 2 BR apt in DC. I live 8 miles (10 min) from school and commute on the light rail.
While Maryland is strong is research, they do not push you that way. You are truly free to pursue what you desire, something I didn’t feel at another school that I had applied to.
Anyway, I am very happy at my school, just wish I were a queen for the day sometimes…lol.
If you have any questions, just fire away.

In an effort to make my post about Maryland shorter (and thus more user friendly), I made some bullet comments that may spur some questions. I tried to replace the longer message above, but the allowable edit time has passed. Hope this one is better.
- World-renown programs and professors (i.e. AIDS, Vaccine development, Bioterrorism, Trauma, Transplant- esp kidney…just to name a few) --> but the faculty are all very approachable and are sincere when they offer to serve as a mentor
- Curriculum (see above)
- Classmates --> a diverse group of people that have accomplished some amazing things, both locally and internationally
- Opprotunities in both clinical and basic science research as well as a strong focus on clinical medicine  you can pursue what you wish without feeling obligated to focus in either area
- New MPH program
- Good mix of locations to do rotations at  large academic university, private community hospitals (both inner city and suburbs), Catholic community hospital, private practice
- Very strong financial aid office --> while Maryland doesn’t have gobs of money to give away like some private schools, they work very hard to get students the best package available
- Opportunities to take (at no charge) classes in the other professional schools
- Administration --> needs more student focus --> is improving with new Dean of Academic Affairs (will probably be much improved by the time
- Classmates --> too many bring the “frat-house” atmosphere with them from College Park (40/150)
- While improving, there is currently not enough emphasis on ethics, legal, and business issues that are a key part of practicing in the modern world.
I think I keep revising my post in an effort to keep from studying for Step I


What Indian Reservations do fourth year medical student visit? Are the reservations near U of M?


Gerald Jimmy Jr.

aka (eagleeye)

You actually apply for it through the Indian Health Service (they have their own application process). As far as I know, there aren’t any reservations around here, but that wouldn’t stop you from travelling somewhere else to do the rural rotation.
Hope this helps.


In an effort to make my post about Maryland shorter (and thus more user friendly), I made some bullet comments that may spur some questions.

Hi Tec!
Thanks for you candor about the medical school.
I spent a semester there working on my PhD in pathology and found both my classmates and professors very pleasant and knoledgeble. However, as a future MD/PhD applicant with strong NIH ties, I found that research wise there are definite areas that need imporvement and unfortunately funding or the lack thereof, is a huge issue.