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Information for MSPEs

Medical School Performance Evaluation (MSPE)

Unique Characteristics of the Educational Program:

Advising--COM Learning Communities: Our medical school classes are divided into smaller cohorts that have community-established identities. Each community is made up of students from each of the four classes and is facilitated by a team of faculty and professionals.

The Rural Medical Scholars Program (RMSP): The Rural Medical Scholars Program is a multi-departmental program organized and coordinated through the Department of Family Medicine. Its purpose is to enhance the educational experience of students who may wish to practice in a rural or small town community. The RMSP seeks qualified applicants with an interest in rural health, provides special training and support in the preclinical years, and includes training in a rural community in the clinical years.

MD/PhD Program: Upstate Medical University’s MD/PhD Program is designed for individuals interested in pursuing a career as physician-scientists in academic medicine. During the students' first two years of training they complete courses in the College of Medicine. They then advance into the laboratory where they spend three to four years completing additional coursework and dissertation research under the auspices of one of the faculty members in College of Graduate Studies. The time in the laboratory culminates with the defense of the doctoral dissertation, after which students re-enter the College of Medicine to complete their training in the various clinical clerkships. The total time spent in the program should be no more than eight years. Throughout the training students will also participate in MD/PhD specific coursework and activities.

MD/MPH Program: A joint degree program in which a student interested in both medicine and public health can obtain both degrees in five years. Recognizing the impact that public health issues have on patient health and healthcare, this joint degree is designed to train medical students to be effective physicians using both patient-based medical education coupled with population-based public health training. All students in the MD/MPH program must meet the same graduation requirements as traditional MPH students.

Average Length of Enrollment of Students in this Graduating Class: 4 years

Compliance with AAMC Guidelines for Medical Schools Regarding Academic Transcripts: The College of Medicine at Upstate Medical University is in compliance with the guidelines.

Description of Evaluation System: 

Years 1 & 2:  Beginning in academic year 2013/14, all required courses and electives taken in the first two years of medical school are graded pass/fail:

  • Pass (P) - Successful completion of all requirements for the course.
  • Credit (CR) - The CR grade is assigned whenever credit is awarded for work completed at another institution or another college within the Upstate Medical University. 
  • Fail (F) - Failure to meet all the requirements of the course successfully.
  • Conditional (CO) - A failure requiring specific remedial work for part of the course requirements that was not successfully completed in a first attempt. Standards for remediation attempts for a conditional grade should not vary from original requirements.
  • Conditional Pass (CP) - Successful remediation of a conditional grade.
  • Conditional Fail (CF) - Failure to meet the requirements for remediation of a conditional grade.
  • Incomplete (I) - The requirements of a course have not been completed.
  • Withdrawal (W) - Withdrawal from a required course prior to the completion (prior to Fall 2018 semester withdrawal prior to 50% of the allotted time for the course).
  • Withdrawal/Passing (WP) - Withdrawal while passing from a required course after 50% completion (prior to Fall 2018 semester).
  • Withdrawal/Failing (WF) - Withdrawal while failing from a course after 50% completion or not officially withdrawing from a course (prior to Fall 2018 semester). The "WF" is considered an academic deficiency and is subject to review under the rules of promotion and graduation.
  • Fail (Academic Dishonesty) (XF) - Student was found guilty of academic dishonesty by judicial process.

Clinical Years: In addition to the grades above, in the clinical years, a student's academic performance is evaluated on an Honors/High Pass/Pass/Fail system, utilizing norm-referenced, criterion grading.  Grades have three scored components: NBME scores; Standardized Patient Exam; and Clinical Evaluations.  The student's score in each category is indicated followed by last year's ranges.

  • Honors (H) - Outstanding performance in the subject area, far exceeding the requirements of the course.  Criteria for Honors grade in each clerkship will be set based on previous years' historical data in that clerkship.
  • High Pass (HP) - Performance significantly above expectations, but not qualifying for honors.  Criteria for High Pass grade in each clerkship will be set based on previous years' historical data in that clerkship.
  • Commendation - Commendation may be awarded to students for outstanding performance in the required clerkships. To qualify, a student must earn at least 24 credits of honor in any of the required clerkship courses and have no deficient grades in the required clerkships. Regardless of the number of credits of honors earned, a student may not be commended if the transcript records any violations of the Student Code of Conduct or if there have been concerns about unprofessional behavior. A student who earns Commendation will receive a letter from the Dean of the College of Medicine and a permanent notation will be recorded on the academic transcript.

All students take an Upstate Medical University administered Gateway examination at the end of the first year of medical school. The Upstate Gateway examination is a comprehensive examination of the integrated content of the first year curriculum. Scores on the Upstate Gateway examination are not factored into academic standing.

USMLE Requirements: 

Step 1 
Upstate Medical University requires that all students pass USMLE Step 1 before entering the clinical years. Students are allowed up to three attempts within one year of completing the basic science curriculum to pass USMLE Step 1. 

Step 2 Clinical Knowledge
Upstate Medical University requires that all students pass the USMLE Step 2 Clinical examination to graduate. Students must sit for the exam by December 1 of their fourth year. Students are allowed up to three attempts and one year from the original December 1 deadline to pass the USMLE Step 2 Clinical examination.

Clinical Skills Exam (CSE): 
All students are required to pass an Upstate Medical University administered Clinical Skills Exam at the beginning of the fourth year of medical school to assess the core clinical skills of communication, data collection (history and physical exam), and clinical reasoning (differential diagnosis, diagnostic therapeutic plan).  In addition, most core clerkships require passing a subject specific Standardized Patient Exam as part of the overall evaluation of the medical student performance and to pass the clerkship.

Use of Narrative Comments with Grades and in MSPEs: 
Students are evaluated through examinations, both oral and written, and by direct observations in laboratories, discussion groups, and in the clinical setting. Summative evaluation results in a grade for each course, and may also include a narrative evaluation of the student. All of the clinical clerkship grades are accompanied by a narrative. Basic science courses may include a narrative if the amount of personal contact between the faculty and student allows knowledgeable assessment of performance that is not otherwise captured by the course grade. Grades and clinical narratives are printed, verbatim in the MSPE.

MSPE Composition and Student Review: 
The MSPE for each student comprises all objective and subjective formal evaluations during medical school. Other information is provided by the student regarding their co-curricular and research experiences. The MSPE process is facilitated by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and MSPE writers include members of the Dean’s staff. Students are permitted, and encouraged, to review the MSPE prior to transmission.