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Student Admission & Recruitment Initiatives

The Office of Admissions (OA) works closely with COM OD&I and Office of Multicultural Affairs, and is responsible for medical student pipeline, recruitment and retention programs.

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The Associated Medical Schools of New York State (AMSNY) Post-baccalaureate Program

Description: As part of its commitment to increase diversity in medical education, Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) offers a post-baccalaureate program at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. This program is designed to increase the enrollment of academically qualified applicants from groups that are underrepresented in medical schools in New York State. Candidates are referred from SUNY Upstate's COM Admissions Committee to the Post-baccalaureate program to strengthen their academic preparedness for
admission the following year. Students are offered conditional acceptance to the COM upon satisfactory completion of the program (as defined by the Admissions Committee). There are about five students per year who enter our medical college through this program.

Diversity categories target for program: Black/African American, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, Low socioeconomic status, Female; Students must be New York State residents to participate in this program.

Responsible individual: Krystal Ripa, Director of Special Admissions Programs

Funding Source: There is no specific annual budget. The process is built into overall recruitment allocation. AMSNY provides financial support for this program based on the number of participants.

Organizational Locus: Admissions Office

Dean's Distinction Awards

Description: The intent of the Dean's Distinction Awards is to identify incoming medical students who demonstrate need and exemplify the mission and goals of SUNY Upstate Medical University. The award is aimed at lowering the burden of debt for medical students and recruiting outstanding candidates for Upstate. Elements taken into consideration include academics, application information, estimated family contribution, total student debt, household income, household size, and other funds that a student may be receiving. Other factors considered are: under-represented minority, rural student, or first-generation college student. Recipients will be incoming medical students, chosen by members of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid using the social and financial information described above. The award will cover tuition and housing at Geneva for all four years of medical school and include a $5,000 stipend per year. The award is given to full-time students and is applied directly to the student's account. As a result, the recipient’s loans will be reduced. Students are be notified by the Admissions Office that they have been awarded the scholarship.

Diversity categories target for program: Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Rural, First Generation

Responsible Individual: Jennifer Welch, Associate Dean Admissions & Financial Aid

Funding Source: College of Medicine Dean's Office

Organizational Locus: Admissions & Financial Aid

Health Justice Conference

Targeted diversity categories: All students, with a focus on all of our diversity categories

Description: Since 2018, Upstate has hosted an annual Health Justice Conference on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to address and dissect the health disparities we see in our local community and state-wide. The program continues to grow in size each year. In 2019, 250 students attended; in 2020, 330 students attended.

The 2021 conference was held virtually and allowed more than 850 participants across the globe. The theme for this event, was “The Time is Now: Action for Health Equity.” That referred not just to the pandemic but also to raising awareness of inequitable treatment by the criminal legal system and unequal outcomes in health care. Attendees include prospective and current students, community members, professional staff, faculty and more. The admissions office helps to plan the annual Health Justice Conference and admissions staff attend for the whole day, interacting with prospective students.

Responsible Individual: Brian Thompson, MD, Senior Ambassador for Indigenous Affairs

Funding Source:  FSA

Inspire Upstate

Targeted diversity categories: Black/African American, Native American, Low Socioeconomic Status

Description: In 2019, the Inspire Upstate program, facilitated by the Health Science Library, was created for summer youth program students at PEACE Inc., a Syracuse community non-profit organization. During the three-day camp, students met and heard from a respiratory therapist, a physical therapist, nurses, physicians, stroke team members, a music therapist and others, including admissions officials, all with the message that these jobs are attainable and available for all with hard work and the right education. Due to Covid-19, the program was canceled for 2020 and 2021as PEACE shifted their focus to food insecurities. We hope to be able to resume the program and host another group of 25 students in July 2022.

Responsible Individual: Olivia Tsistinas, Library Clinical Outreach Coordinator

Master’s in Public Health Scholars Program

Targeted diversity categories: Underrepresented groups, Low Socioeconomic Status, Veterans, Female, Rural, Other Disadvantaged

Description: The Public Health Scholars program provides historically disadvantaged and underrepresented students the opportunity to strengthen and cultivate their academic, clinical and analytical skills in preparation for medical school. It also helps to strengthen a students' academic record for medical school, and participants are offered conditional acceptance to the MD program. This program has seen over 40 students successfully enter the MD program. Recent enhancements to the program include scholarships via the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), and the co-education of Public Health Scholars with traditional MD/MPH joint degree students, allowing for greater exchange and peer mentorship between the programs. Additionally, in 2020-21, this program was condensed from a two-year program into a one-year program. All of our internal special pathway programs also receive a “Success Series” including topics like academic support, medical student panel, diversity panel, study skills and time management and more.

Responsible Individual: Christopher P. Morley PhD, Professor & Chair, Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine 

Funding Source: The program is supported by the Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, and AMSNY grant funding on a year-by-year basis (contingent upon availability of funding program and successful grant application)

Organization Locus: Admissions Office

Medical Scholars Master’s in Medical Technology Program

Targeted diversity categories: Black/African American, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, Low Socioeconomic Status, Female

Description: The MedTech MedScholars program provides historically disadvantaged and underrepresented students the opportunity to strengthen and cultivate their academic, clinical and analytical skills in preparation for medical school. The medical technology program specifically helps to strengthen students' scientific background for medical school. Since 2019-20, five students have matriculated in each academic year. All are under-represented minority students. All of our internal special pathway programs now also receive a “Success Series” including topics like academic support, medical student panel, diversity panel, study skills and time management and more.

Responsible Individual: Krystal Ripa, Director of Special Admissions Programs (0.1 FTE). 

Funding Source: AMSNY and New York State Department of Health; $16,000 per year

Organizational Locus: Admissions Office

Medical Science Education Transition (MEDSET)

Description: MEDSET is a summer course aimed at preparing incoming first year medical students for transition to the rigors of the curriculum. Participating students are primarily identified by the Admissions Committee but may also self select, and are introduced to academic content, support services, and study techniques. The director of Educational and Career Success, who also holds a faculty appointment, coordinates this summer course. The director works with faculty members who teach in the first year for content delivery. The course is supported by the COM.

Diversity categories target for program: Black/African American, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, Low socioeconomic status, Female; Non-traditional/Return to school

Responsible Individual: Mary Ann Grandinetta, Director of COM Educational and Career Success

Funding Source: COM Dean’s Office

Organizational Locus: Office of Student Affairs

MedPrep Academic Enhancement Program

Targeted diversity categories: Black/African American, Native American, Low Socioeconomic Status, Rural

Description: The MedPrep Academic Enhancement MS in Medical Technology Program offers the opportunity to earn a Master's Degree in Medical Technology in preparation for application to medical school. As a rigorous one-year program, the MedPrep Academic Enhancement MS in Medical Technology program gives students the opportunity to strengthen and cultivate their academic, clinical and analytical skills. The curriculum includes on-going admissions and academic advisement, academic support, tutoring and medical-student peer mentoring. Acceptance into this program guarantees an admissions interview at Upstate.

In the first year of this program (fall 2019 matriculation), the program accepted five students – four from underrepresented and/or low socioeconomic backgrounds and one from a rural and medically underserved community. In fall 2020, eleven students matriculated into the MD program from MedPrep, and 13 in 2021. Similar programs are typically double or triple the price of the Upstate program’s tuition. This program responds to a regional need for an affordable resource for students hoping to make themselves more competitive for medical school.

Responsible Individual: Krystal Ripa, Director of Special Admissions Programs (0.1 FTE). 

Funding Source: COM Dean’s Office

Organizational Locus: Admissions Office

Pre-Admission Workshop (PAW) for Native American Students & Increased Native Student Recruitment

Targeted diversity category: Native American

Description: SUNY Upstate Medical University and the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) invite pre-med/health American Indian and Alaska Native students to a 2 1/2-day Pre-Admissions Workshop (PAW). PAW provides students with the information and skills necessary to succeed in the medical and health-profession school admission process. Student participants have the opportunity to network with peers, admission and financial aid officers, to participate in mock interviews, to hone personal statements and more.

For the inaugural PAW program in 2018, we hosted 20 Native American students. In 2019, our program participation increased to 26 students. In 2020 and 2021, 30 students participated in the program virtually. We continue to modify and improve program sessions and content based on student feedback. We communicate monthly with those students who attended in order to continue our role as “advisors” during their undergraduate years. In spring 2020 we held a webinar with our partners at the Association of American Indian Physicians to provide more in-depth information on various admissions-related topics to reach more students. The webinars are available to previous PAW participants and to prospective students who could not attend a PAW.

Responsible Individual: Krystal Ripa, Director of Special Admissions Programs (0.1 FTE). 

Funding Source: COM Dean’s Office, annual budget $25,000

Organizational Locus: Admissions Office and Assistant Dean for Diversity

Presidential Scholars Summer Internship

Description: The Presidential Scholars Summer Internship Program is a 10-12 week summer program that provides recent baccalaureate graduates the opportunity to engage in meaningful and relevant experiences in preparation for employment and/or for advanced degree study related to occupations in the health care industry.  The goal is also to attract and retain talented under-represented professionals from the Syracuse Metropolitan Area (SNMA: Onondaga, Madison, Cayuga, & Oswego counties).

This program is a strategic initiative sponsored by the Office of the President, and coordinated by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion in collaboration with the urban community

Responsible Individual:  Connie Gregory, Community Engagement Specialist

Funding Source:  President’s Office

Organizational Locus: Office of Diversity & Inclusion

Rural Medical Scholars Program (RMSP)

Description: Upstate recognizes the need for doctors in rural communities and is committed to assisting small, rural areas in New York State (NYS) in meeting their health care needs. The RMSP is designed to provide additional support for students who may want to practice medicine in New York state's underserved areas. The program was started in 2007 and has, on average, an enrollment of seventeen students per year. Students accepted into the RMSP receive early assurance of acceptance into the Rural Medical Education Program (RMED), which pairs third-year students with board-certified family physicians in small communities in the region. Students in the RMSP program also have the opportunity in their first and second years of medical school to participate in jobshadowing experiences, lectures of interest, and on-site visits with current RMED students and preceptors. Learn more...

Diversity categories target for program: Rural NYS

Responsible individuals: Carrie Roseamelia, PhD, Assistant Dean of Rural Medicine
Robert Ostrander, MD, RMED Medical Director
Jennifer Welch, Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid

Funding Source: Funding is provided through the overall recruitment allocation.

Organizational Locus: Admissions Office and RMED Program

Student National Medical Association (SNMA) PreHealth Exposure Day

Targeted diversity categories: Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American

Description: Since 2017, Upstate has hosted an annual Pre-Health Exposure Day for minority undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare field. This day is organized by Upstate’s SNMA group and staff from the Admissions Office. In 2020, 230 individuals registered for the conference (compared to 180 students registered in 2019.) Sessions include content on admissions, the student experience, financial aid presentations, minority faculty keynote speakers, campus tours, suture clinics, gross anatomy lab exposure, resume/CV workshops, and a clinical vignette from a course in a first year course in the MD program. Conference attendees come from many undergraduate institutions including but not limited to: Cornell, Binghamton, LeMoyne, Syracuse University, and RIT.

Due to Covid-19, this program is on hold.

Student-to-Student Advising

Targeted diversity categories: All students, with a focus on all of our diversity categories

Description: Upstate Student-to-Student Advising Program (USSA) connects current Upstate students to undergraduate and high school students to advise them on their path to health careers, graduate or medical school, and potentially recruit them to the different programs at Upstate. Through this program, we hope to be able to provide additional oversight, support and resources to student mentors as an extension of the admissions office. We have identified and confirmed mentors within the medical school for students at local Central NY high schools within a 30-mile radius of SUNY Upstate; these schools have a very diverse enrollment. We have also developed formalized mentoring programs with SUNY Binghamton, Cornell University, and Syracuse University.

Syracuse City School District (SCSD) Medical Education for Diverse Students (MEDS) Student Mentorship Program

Targeted diversity categories: Black/African American, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, Low Socioeconomic Status, Female

Description: The MEDS program provides hands-on instruction in medical/basic sciences, public health, and healthcare career exploration at Upstate Medical University and University Hospital.

Each year, 25 SCSD students in 10th and 11th grades are selected to participate in this 8-month program to explore Upstate's campus, experience where research and healthcare take place, and interact with our students. The MEDS participants are brought to campus once a month and introduced to individuals in the various healthcare professions and can ask questions about professional roles and responsibilities as well as career path. To date, the MEDS program, which is now in its 7th year of operations, has served over SCSD 150 students.

Responsible Individual: Simone Seward, MPH, Director, Director of Health Equity Research and Programs

Organizational Locus: Community Engaged Learning Program

U-CARE Volunteer Immersion Program

Targeted diversity categories: All students, with a focus on Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American

Description: The U-CARE Program, launched in 2018, is a full-time, volunteer, immersion opportunity for 24 undergraduate students at Syracuse University, Rochester Institute of Technology and Hamilton College. Program participants volunteer in the hospital to gain hands-on clinical experience to better prepare them for a career in healthcare. Four weeks are spent working side-by-side with unit nursing teams, and two "Doctoring Weeks" are spent with physicians through lectures and patient rounds. Additionally, the program participants can meet with Upstate admissions staff to receive individualized advice to best prepare their own applications to the health professions. Students build strong bonds living together in our campus housing and also receive meal stipends from Upstate.

Due to Covid-19, this program is on hold.

Upstate Accelerated Scholars

Targeted diversity categories: Diversity categories vary by each agreement, but will include Black/African American for historically black colleges and universities (e.g., Spelman College and Hampton University)

Description: The Upstate Accelerated Scholars (UAS) program provides an early admission pathway to students who wish to major in subjects not typically associated with a pre-medical track. Through the creation of these admissions pathways with rigorous undergraduate institutions, Upstate hopes to create a more diversely trained workforce of physicians and relieve students of the pressures of taking the MCAT and the pressures of applying traditionally to medical school.

The UAS program now partners with the following institutions (www.upstate.edu/uas): Adelphi University, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Binghamton University, Colgate University, Hamilton College, Hampton University, Purchase College, Rochester Institute of Technology,  SUNY Polytechnic Institute, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Spelman College, Syracuse University, University at Albany, and Yeshiva University.

A diverse campus-wide task force with representation from faculty, students, and professional staff is charged with building meaningful summer programming for our UAS students. Each summer term (summers 1-4) is each framed around a specific AAMC Pre-Medical Competency to develop students’ skills in ethical reasoning, cultural competence, critical thinking, effective communication, practice MCAT sessions with near-peer constructive debriefing, and more. The summer programming also affords students the opportunity to become familiar with the campus, facilities, resources, and their future medical school cohorts.

Responsible individual: Jennifer Welch, Associate Dean Admissions & Financial Aid; Krystal Ripa, Director of Special Admissions Programs

Funding Source: COM Dean's Office and Office of Student Admissions

Organizational Locus: Office of the Associate Dean of Student Admissions

Upstate Association of Native American Medical Students

Targeted diversity categories: Native American

Description: In 2020, Upstate students and staff launched the first chapter of the Association of Native American Medical Students (ANAMS) at SUNY Upstate Medical University. This new group supports the newly prioritized recruitment effort mentioned above (PAW) and provides continued support to retain native students. In addition, ANAMS students are acting as mentors to our 113 PAW participants/Alumni.

Responsible Individual: Brian Thompson, MD, Senior Ambassador for Indigenous Affairs

Upstate Medical University Mentoring at Syracuse Academy of Sciences and Utica Academy of Sciences

Targeted diversity categories: Black/African American, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, Low Socioeconomic Status

Description: Launching in 2020, Upstate Medical University and Syracuse Academy of Sciences have partnered to deliver mentoring, academic rigor and volunteerism opportunities to students beginning in the 8th grade that are interested in pursuing a career in science and/or healthcare. In 2021, Upstate broadened this program to partner with Utica Academy of Sciences.

Both academies have a large population of students historically underrepresented in medicine an have a high number of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. We hope to provide rigorous academic and healthcare experience opportunities and exposure to local primary education students in our community and increase recruitment potential for competitive students to Upstate Medical University. A component of the program will require registering and meeting requirements for a congressional award, which will also increase volunteerism in our communities. We have also started a monthly counselor-in-residence program to have a physical presence at the acamedies for an hour each month.

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