Medical Should I choose new DO or established DO school?

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Jun 11, 2010
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Hi team.

So I'm incredibly lucky to have to choose between two DO schools now and of course I'm stuck. One of them is very new - they're only on their third year's class and the other is well established and one of the top 3 DO schools but costs kookoo bananas. Here's my lean pros and cons list:

New school: Potentially better schedule for me as their classes are M-F, 8-12 and I'll have a newborn. In my hometown, even though I don't have family who still lives there, where daycare is hella cheap. Tuition is about 55K. Cons are that their first year's boards were about 89% pass, and no one knows how they'll do on the match. Rotations are established for you, but not necessarily at top notch hospitals.

Established school: My parent's alma mater, so emotional ties for me. Incredible school, well established rotations, good research opportunities, known success with boards/match. The overall cost of living is about the same except for child care which is about 1/3 again as much as in SA. Possibly better job opportunities for my husband, but who knows right now with COVID. Tuition is about 75K. Cons are the hefty pricetag.

I'm on the waitlist for the VA's new HPSP and am planning on applying for Army and Air Force HPSP's for years 2-4 (I couldn't apply right away because for some reason you can't apply while pregnant but you can the day after you deliver), but who knows if that will come through. That means that for year 1 I'm looking at either 75K of loans or 95K since my husband's job doesn't quite make enough to cover our entire cost of living (damn I miss having a paycheck).

At the moment, I'm most interested in OB/GYN with a possibility for Gyn-Onc or MFM fellowship but I loved my ENT and Orthopod shadowing, and the lifestyle of anesthesia appeals to me. All that being said - is the possibility of owing extra 80-100K over 4 years worth the prestige, especially now with USMLE being pass/fail? I'm still working on 75K in private loans from my undergrad and post-bacc. Hubs paid all his off two years ago so I'm the only one with student debt.

So long story short - if you're interested in a moderate to competitive specialty, is an extra 80-100K in loans worth the prestige of an established school?

Thank you in advance, for me and all the other neurotic pre-meds you've helped over the years!
How new is the new school? Like, ICOM/ARCOM/UIWCOM having not graduated a class?

The newer schools are more risky because they need time ot gel and deliver a coherent curriculum. They also will have less resources for help in students, and their clinical education is more iffy.

I normally recommedn going tot he chepaer school, but in your case, if it's a brand new school better to go for the more established ones.

Also keep in mind that there are several schools that I can't recommend:
Nova: Two of the four last years have declining first-time COMLEX pass rates. The last two years for which we have data are in the low 90s. Some 7% of their 2018 grads failed to match, ditto 4% of their Class of 2019. There are also signs of significant delay to graduation in these numbers. That’s still not good for a veteran school. I’d expect > 95% pass rates and match rates closer to 100%. These problems are you expect from a new school, not a veteran. Something is very wrong there. See: Residency Match Data and COMLEX Level 3 Board Scores | NSU COM

Wm Carey: VERY high attrition rates and only a 92% placement rate for their Class of 2018. That means 8% of their grads are now unemployed, NOT doing residency. No SOAP, no scramble, no TRI. This is simply NOT acceptable. In addition, there is no data for COMLEX pass rates for takers of 2017-18, 18-19-nor 19-20. That's THREE years of data they're hiding. I choose those words carefully.

LUCOM: I have a profound distaste for the politics of their parent organization; they’re disingenuous about whether their strict lifestyle rules apply to medical students (they do); and their Faculty make blatant attempts to twist facts to match their theology. In the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, Liberty president Jerry Falwell Jr insisted that the campus stay open! This was in violation of state law.

From the wise gyngyn: Liberty is poorly regarded due to the history of intolerance of their founding fathers. This school's reputation for intolerance puts its grads at a disadvantage at many reputable residency programs.


LMU: granted continuing Accreditation with Heightened Monitoring. “Accreditation with Heightened Monitoring: This indicates that fewer than three standards are non-compliant and ongoing monitoring will occur via progress reporting. For schools with this status, accreditation will be granted for four years.”

This is the only COM that has this level of accreditation status right now.


BCOM: COMLEX pass rates are a disaster, even for a new school. In my own school's experience, people who fail the exam will almost always pass the second time around. Yet some 9% of BCOM's second class still couldn't pass on the second try. These are people who are now far less likely to ever become doctors. Their inaugural Class of 2020 has had a 25% attrition rate (160 down to ~120).

ICOM: Not recommended due to the apparent dishonesty they had in setting up their school that poisoned the relations with hospitals in Idaho and/or the Idaho Medical Association. In addition, most of their rotation sites are very far away from the school. This raises the risk that the rotations are not adequately supervised and preceptors a
 
Jun 11, 2010
66,902
2
102,848
276
Somewhere west of St. Louis
  1. Non-Student
Thank you for your thorough and thoughtful reply!
Yes, the new school is only on its third year and it's not a branch campus. My biggest concerns are their ability to help students secure away rotations, especially outside of their immediate location bubble, and the first time COMLEX pass rate of 89% (although I know it's not always a reliable metric without a trend).
The second school is one of the original 5 DO schools, I'm not sure how much that "prestige" matters now with the ACGME merger?
Prestige is not a thing with DO schools. However, established schools serve as feeders to residencies as as such, their grads are a known product.

New schools will have lower COMLEX pass rates and median scores because they have accept more at risk students and will not dismiss them when they need to be. An 89% pass rate is pretty standard for a new school.

I believe that it is much safer for you to go to the establish school. Yes you're going to have more debt, but you'll eventually make it back as a doctor. And your chances of getting into a more lucrative specialty will be higher.
 

TheBoneDoctah

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Eh, I would feel nervous going to a super new DO school. They just don’t pop up and roll like the MD schools do. It takes them time. Even some of the schools that are newer are still trying to figure out what’s going on. Personally, I would go into a little more debt to know I am going to get a solid education. As far as getting into a competitive residency, it’s more up to you than the school you attend.


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