UCLA exposed

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concernedman

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Many people on X/twitter (including Elon) have started discussing UCLA's med school admissions practices as well as the strength of their current med school body in light of faculty leaking information.

Just some highlights from the article (all directly from it):


'So when it came time for the admissions committee to consider one such student in November 2021—a black applicant with grades and test scores far below the UCLA average—some members of the committee felt that this particular candidate, based on the available evidence, was not the best fit for the top-tier medical school, according to two people present for the committee's meeting.

Their reservations were not well-received.

When an admissions officer voiced concern about the candidate, the two people said, the dean of admissions, Jennifer Lucero, exploded in anger.

"Did you not know African-American women are dying at a higher rate than everybody else?" Lucero asked the admissions officer, these people said. The candidate's scores shouldn't matter, she continued, because "we need people like this in the medical school."'

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'Lucero has even advocated moving candidates up or down the residency rank list based on race. At a meeting in February 2022, according to two people present, Lucero demanded that a highly qualified white male be knocked down several spots because, as she put it, "we have too many of his kind" already. She also told doctors who voiced concern that they had no right to an opinion because they were "not BIPOC," sources said, and insisted that a Hispanic applicant who had performed poorly on her anesthesiology rotation in medical school should be bumped up. '

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'Led by Lucero, who also serves as the vice chair for equity, diversity, and inclusion of UCLA's anesthesiology department, the admissions committee routinely gives black and Latino applicants a pass for subpar metrics, four people who served on it said, while whites and Asians need near perfect scores to even be considered.

The bar for underrepresented minorities is "as low as you could possibly imagine," one committee member told the Free Beacon. "It completely disregards grades and achievements."'

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'"We were always outnumbered," an admissions officer told the Free Beacon, referring to committee members who expressed concern about low grades. "Other people would get upset when we brought up GPA."

Lucero hasn't been kind to dissenters. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, six people who've worked with her described a pattern of racially charged incidents that has dispirited officials and pushed some of them to resign from the committee.'

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'She has lashed out at officials who question the qualifications of minority candidates, five sources said, suggesting naysayers are "privileged," implying that they are racist, and subjecting them to diversity training sessions.

After a Native American applicant was rejected in 2021, for example, Lucero chewed out the committee and made members sit through a two-hour lecture on Native history delivered by her own sister, according to three people familiar with the incident. No applications were reviewed that day, an official present for the lecture said.

In the anesthesiology department, where Lucero helps rank applicants to the department's residency program, she has rebuffed calls to blind the race of candidates, telling colleagues in a January 2023 email that, despite California's ban on racial preferences, "we are not required to blind any information."'

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Officials say, Lucero uses proxies like zip codes and euphemisms like "disadvantaged" to shut down criticism of unqualified candidates, citing a finding from the Association of American Medical Colleges that, technically, most students with below-average MCATs make it to their second year of medical school. How well they do after that point goes undiscussed and undisclosed.

"We have asked for metrics on how these folks actually do," one committee member said. "None of that is ever divulged to us."

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After a Native American applicant was rejected in 2021, for example, Lucero chewed out the committee and made members sit through a two-hour lecture on Native history delivered by her own sister, according to three people familiar with the incident. No applications were reviewed that day, an official present for the lecture said.
I have no serious comment, but this part could be straight out of a sitcom
 
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I have no serious comment, but this part could be straight out of a sitcom

haha. all I could think of were movies like 1984. like they're using those diversity lectures to torture/brainwash their adcom (half-joking here)

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Regardless of the validity of the content in this article, I think it's very important to point out that "The Washington Free Beacon" is a neoconservative right wing website specifically designed to promote outrage.
Agreed, it's a bad source. And none of their sources would go on the record, which is always concerning. The entire thesis is that using race in admissions is lowering the quality of students, but there's no real statistical analysis to even make that claim.

I think the curriculum changes are a much more likely explanation for struggling students than the adcomm working to create a diverse class. And with a median MCAT and GPA of 514/3.85, that's still above average compared to other schools.
 
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Common sense tells me that UCLA did not suddenly start accepting minority applicants, so blaming minority students for the recent increase in the number of failures is obvious misdirection.
 
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Agreed, it's a bad source. And none of their sources would go on the record, which is always concerning.
Given what has happened to medical faculty who have questioned the impact of Affirmative Action policies on academic standards in the past, are you really surprised no one wants to go on record?
 
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You would think these reports (even given anonymously) would surface during the LCME visit. Full accreditation until 2028-2029, continuous since 1951.
 
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You would think these reports (even given anonymously) would surface during the LCME visit. Full accreditation until 2028-2029, continuous since 1951.
The crux of the faculty dissatisfaction, at least as presented by the article, has occurred after the 2021 LCME visit where accreditation was awarded? Especially as the Step 1, 2 and Shelf results have trickled out?

Or do I have the timeline wrong (am not academic, but going by the UCLA link you provided).
 
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The crux of the faculty dissatisfaction, at least as presented by the article, has occurred after the 2021 LCME visit where accreditation was awarded? Especially as the Step 1, 2 and Shelf results have trickled out?

Or do I have the timeline wrong (am not academic, but going by the UCLA link you provided).
LCME always has its doors open to complaints. They don't go to sleep for 6 years.

I assure you that most of these visits require the schools to provide their board passage data, including proportion of first failures, number of students held back, etc. If these are true numbers, the institutional assessment folks must provide answers to satisfy the site reviewers and the LCME office at-large. Student assessment is routinely discussed (as per LCME expectations) so faculty get access to the minutes and data from each meeting. I don't know about the accusations that such findings are kept from other faculty.

Also remember, they came back to give Charles Drew provisional accreditation. If these problems were existent, I would have trouble believing LCME would green-light the separate Charles Drew program.
 
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LCME always has its doors open to complaints. They don't go to sleep for 6 years.

I assure you that most of these visits require the schools to provide their board passage data, including proportion of first failures, number of students held back, etc. If these are true numbers, the institutional assessment folks must provide answers to satisfy the site reviewers and the LCME office at-large.

Also remember, they came back to give Charles Drew provisional accreditation.
It takes time for LCME review. The site visits are the real time of review, and many things can happen in between visits that don't bubble to the surface.

In the case of UCLA, they've had several recent big issues. The student performance issue was noted in another post from faculty, and they associated it with a very rough transition to a 1 year pre-clinical that's left many students unprepared for step 1 or clerkships. It's possible that both the student selection and curriculum have together caused a major problem for the student body (a 30-50% failure rate on shelves is a massive issue, and was noted on the other thread as well).
 
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If we take everything in the article at face value the admissions dean is probably breaking the law but like others here I don’t think you can lay all the issues at the feet of affirmative action admissions when they recently had a big curriculum change that doesn’t seem to going particularly well. (discussed in detail by a concerned anonymous faculty member here a month or so ago)
 
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Many people on X/twitter (including Elon) have started discussing UCLA's med school admissions practices as well as the strength of their current med school body in light of faculty leaking information.

Just some highlights from the article (all directly from it):


'So when it came time for the admissions committee to consider one such student in November 2021—a black applicant with grades and test scores far below the UCLA average—some members of the committee felt that this particular candidate, based on the available evidence, was not the best fit for the top-tier medical school, according to two people present for the committee's meeting.

Their reservations were not well-received.

When an admissions officer voiced concern about the candidate, the two people said, the dean of admissions, Jennifer Lucero, exploded in anger.

"Did you not know African-American women are dying at a higher rate than everybody else?" Lucero asked the admissions officer, these people said. The candidate's scores shouldn't matter, she continued, because "we need people like this in the medical school."'

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'Lucero has even advocated moving candidates up or down the residency rank list based on race. At a meeting in February 2022, according to two people present, Lucero demanded that a highly qualified white male be knocked down several spots because, as she put it, "we have too many of his kind" already. She also told doctors who voiced concern that they had no right to an opinion because they were "not BIPOC," sources said, and insisted that a Hispanic applicant who had performed poorly on her anesthesiology rotation in medical school should be bumped up. '

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'Led by Lucero, who also serves as the vice chair for equity, diversity, and inclusion of UCLA's anesthesiology department, the admissions committee routinely gives black and Latino applicants a pass for subpar metrics, four people who served on it said, while whites and Asians need near perfect scores to even be considered.

The bar for underrepresented minorities is "as low as you could possibly imagine," one committee member told the Free Beacon. "It completely disregards grades and achievements."'

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

'"We were always outnumbered," an admissions officer told the Free Beacon, referring to committee members who expressed concern about low grades. "Other people would get upset when we brought up GPA."

Lucero hasn't been kind to dissenters. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, six people who've worked with her described a pattern of racially charged incidents that has dispirited officials and pushed some of them to resign from the committee.'

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

'She has lashed out at officials who question the qualifications of minority candidates, five sources said, suggesting naysayers are "privileged," implying that they are racist, and subjecting them to diversity training sessions.

After a Native American applicant was rejected in 2021, for example, Lucero chewed out the committee and made members sit through a two-hour lecture on Native history delivered by her own sister, according to three people familiar with the incident. No applications were reviewed that day, an official present for the lecture said.

In the anesthesiology department, where Lucero helps rank applicants to the department's residency program, she has rebuffed calls to blind the race of candidates, telling colleagues in a January 2023 email that, despite California's ban on racial preferences, "we are not required to blind any information."'

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Officials say, Lucero uses proxies like zip codes and euphemisms like "disadvantaged" to shut down criticism of unqualified candidates, citing a finding from the Association of American Medical Colleges that, technically, most students with below-average MCATs make it to their second year of medical school. How well they do after that point goes undiscussed and undisclosed.

"We have asked for metrics on how these folks actually do," one committee member said. "None of that is ever divulged to us."
You are missing some key highlights from the article:

“Nearly a fourth of UCLA medical students in the class of 2025 have failed three or more shelf exams, data from the school show, forcing some students to repeat classes and persuading others to postpone a different test, the Step 2 licensing exam, that is typically taken in the third year of medical school and is a prerequisite for most residency programs. Around 20 percent of UCLA students have not taken Step 2 by January of their fourth year, according to the data. Ten percent have not even taken the more basic Step 1—an "extremely high number," one professor said, that will force many students to extend medical school.”

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(including Elon)
Wow, if Elon is saying it, we need to pay special attention! After all, his nuanced understanding of medical education (and education in general) is well known.
citing a finding from the Association of American Medical Colleges that, technically, most students with below-average MCATs make it to their second year of medical school.
The horror of using data to make decisions because it's "technically" correct.
 
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The horror of using data to make decisions because it's "technically" correct.
Partially arguing the other side, given I completely agree with diversity in admissions and think it's clearly not enough -
  • Both statements can be (and still are) true. Even taking the unsourced reports at face value, a "large" majority of students are progressing at UCLA. The AAMC data shows there's finally a dip near the 500 mark, to a 95-90% success rate.
  • Biggest problem I have with uncritically using AAMC stats is the range restriction effect: the people who got into med school with (well) below average MCAT scores are absolutely not random - some adcom(s) saw something in their file and decided to give them a chance. It is completely wrong to say low MCAT, without unspecified massive compensating factors, is not a barrier.
 
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Partially arguing the other side, given I completely agree with diversity in admissions and think it's clearly not enough -
  • Both statements can be (and still are) true. Even taking the unsourced reports at face value, a "large" majority of students are progressing at UCLA. The AAMC data shows there's finally a dip near the 500 mark, to a 95-90% success rate.
  • Biggest problem I have with uncritically using AAMC stats is the range restriction effect: the people who got into med school with (well) below average MCAT scores are absolutely not random - some adcom(s) saw something in their file and decided to give them a chance. It is completely wrong to say low MCAT, without unspecified massive compensating factors, is not a barrier.
Oh, I don't disagree with this at all. Just an issue I had with the wording from the article and the original post.

I do think your added nuance is a great perspective to remember- and it very much ties into holistic admissions. There are so many folks (they crop up here, too) that think the MCAT is some holy grail indicator for success in medical school....
 
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Given what has happened to medical faculty who have questioned the impact of Affirmative Action policies on academic standards in the past, are you really surprised no one wants to go on record?
So I’m going to respond to this with how I think through applicants. It’s not really affirmative action (although you’d probably call it that).

Let’s say you have student A and student B. They have the exact same grades (3.7 GPA and 512 MCAT). Student A grew up upper-middle class, while student B grew up on welfare and food stamps. Which applicant achieved more? Clearly student B.

Now factor in race, gender identity, etc etc. and the scores may be slightly different, but that’s how we’re thinking about these things.

Besides, once you get a certain MCAT score (low 500s), you’re smart enough to be a doctor. I have a better MCAT than basically anybody sitting at UCLA or Harvard or Mayo or NYU, but that doesn’t make me a better M3 than those students. At a certain point the test score is just a competitive discriminator among equally qualified people because we don’t have enough spots for everyone.
 
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Should incoming students be concerned about the failed shelves and delayed USMLE’s? This hints that curriculum may be too free or missing some important steps? What should we do to avoid missteps?
My understanding is that the first cohort through the new curriculum is the class that struggled and produced these shelf fail rates. The 2nd cohort in the new curriculum is performing as well as cohorts prior to the curriculum change (and well into the past).

This begs the obvious question - is this a problem with the students (and/or admissions) or the curriculum (and the answer is obviously the curriculum, which these right-wing instigators will, of course, fail to mention).

Any school will face difficulties when implementing new curriculum, especially such a radical change to a 1-year preclinical. To argue the fail rates are because the school is accepting unqualified applicants is wholly unsubstantiated (and just straight up racism)
 
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“A fourth of UCLA medical students in the class of 2025 have failed three or more shelf exams.“ that is laughably awful. Honestly, that can’t be overlooked and at the very least warrants the medical school to be investigated or put on probation. That is a systemic issue when you have that many students failing shelf exams yet alone 3+
 
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My understanding is that the first cohort through the new curriculum is the class that struggled and produced these shelf fail rates. The 2nd cohort in the new curriculum is performing as well as cohorts prior to the curriculum change (and well into the past).

This begs the obvious question - is this a problem with the students (and/or admissions) or the curriculum (and the answer is obviously the curriculum, which these right-wing instigators will, of course, fail to mention).

Any school will face difficulties when implementing new curriculum, especially such a radical change to a 1-year preclinical. To argue the fail rates are because the school is accepting unqualified applicants is wholly unsubstantiated (and just straight up racism)
If what you are saying is true then it’s still to early to compare data as the class of 2025 just finished their clinical exams and the class of 2026 has yet to begin them. We will see if the class of 2026 performs better during clinical, but I still think there is no excuse for 25% of your students to fail 3+ shelf exams. That is truly horrible
 
I'm even more confused with my own situation after reading the article.

Direct quote from the article: Race-based admissions have turned UCLA into a "failed medical school," said one former member of the admissions staff. "We want racial diversity so badly, we're willing to cut corners to get it."

And also
The bar for underrepresented minorities is "as low as you could possibly imagine," one committee member told the Free Beacon. "It completely disregards grades and achievements."'

In my situation, I am URM, FGLI, disadvantaged, LM 72, did a pipeline program at UCLA DGSOM, have a LOR from a UCLA DGSOM faculty who worked directly with Dr. Lucero, submitted early, and submitted a letter of interest/update, yet was still rejected here (didn't even get an interview)???? Based on the sentiment from the article, I should have been a complete and utter shoo-in for this school.

Not discrediting the article per se, but it's clear in my case that UCLA is not making race the end all be all factor in its admissions criteria and is looking for something else in its candidates (something that I clearly didn't have 😭 - in case you're wondering, yes, UCLA was one of my top choices this cycle).

Just wanted to add this info as a data point to slightly counter what the article may be suggesting
 
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Am I the only one who is surprised that UCLA SOM Admissions Committee members are supposedly speaking to the Free Beacon?
 
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This year’s shelf exams. Nearly all students are passing all shelf exams.
 
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And past 3 years of Step 2 scores. All have been above national average.
 
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If what you are saying is true then it’s still to early to compare data as the class of 2025 just finished their clinical exams and the class of 2026 has yet to begin them. We will see if the class of 2026 performs better during clinical, but I still think there is no excuse for 25% of your students to fail 3+ shelf exams. That is truly horrible
If you mean shelf exams, this isnt true. C/o 2026 is more than halfway done clerkships.
 
There are many distinct issues in the article that are being lumped together.

1. The article alleges that the UCLA med school adcom is using race in admissions, which is counter to a California ban on affirmative action. If true, UCLA will face a serious lawsuit.

2. The UCLA admission dean seems to be creating a hostile workplace based on the article.

3. UCLA med students are performing poorly on shelf exams (25% failing 3+ shelf exams!!) and delaying step 1. This doesn't necessarily seem to be a result of issue 1. The 10th and 25 percentile MCAT scores at UCLA Med for matriculated students are 504 and 507, which seem high enough to ensure students can pass the shelf exams and step 1. I suspect that the curriculum redesign may have played a role.

There could be an argument that some medical schools are letting in weaker students who cannot pass the curriculum. However, in this article we don't learn the grades/scores of the struggling students.
 
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There are many distinct issues in the article that are being lumped together.

1. The article alleges that the UCLA med school adcom is using race in admissions, which is counter to a California ban on affirmative action. If true, UCLA will face a serious lawsuit.

2. The UCLA admission dean seems to be creating a hostile workplace based on the article.

3. UCLA med students are performing poorly on shelf exams (25% failing 3+ shelf exams!!) and delaying step 1. This doesn't necessarily seem to be a result of issue 1. The 10th and 25 percentile MCAT scores at UCLA Med for matriculated students are 504 and 507, which seem high enough to ensure students can pass the shelf exams and step 1. I suspect that the curriculum redesign may have played a role.

There could be an argument that some medical schools are letting in weaker students who cannot pass the curriculum. However, in this article we don't learn the grades/scores of the struggling students.
Students are not performing poorly on shelf exams lol. They literally just released their current shelf scores and past 3 years of Step 2 scores, posted above.
 
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View attachment 387238
This year’s shelf exams. Nearly all students are passing all shelf exams.
I don’t know… If you’re going to convince us you’re going to have to do better than unbiased hard data…

For the record, it’s not clear where your data actually comes from, but I believe it because no medical school would allow 25% of their class to fail multiple shelf exams simply because no medical school would advance that many underperforming medical students to M3. It’s not in the school’s interest to do so.

I don’t know the Free Beacon. But if it’s an ultra conservative news outlet, it certainly is in their interest to invent a narrative about a prominent CA professional school going to Hell in a hand basket because of “woke ideology.”

This is why I try to restrict my news sources to NYT, WSJ, Reuters, and other reputable news sources that actually do fact-checking. They can still get things wrong and there is some ideological bias, but they are far “less bad” than most of the others.
 
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I don’t know… If you’re going to convince us you’re going to have to do better than unbiased hard data…

For the record, it’s not clear where your data actually comes from, but I believe it because no medical school would allow 25% of their class to fail multiple shelf exams simply because no medical school would advance that many underperforming medical students to M3. It’s not in the school’s interest to do so.

I don’t know the Free Beacon. But if it’s an ultra conservative news outlet, it certainly is in their interest to invent a narrative about a prominent CA professional school going to Hell in a hand basket because of “woke ideology.”

This is why I try to restrict my news sources to NYT, WSJ, Reuters, and other reputable news sources that actually do fact-checking. They can still get things wrong and there is some ideological bias, but they are far “less bad” than most of the others.
The data I posted was sent directly from administration to current students.
 
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View attachment 387238
This year’s shelf exams. Nearly all students are passing all shelf exams.
The sample size here is much smaller (15-31 students) than the one published in the article so it doesn't actually refute the claim made in the article. If you wanted to be cynical, you might wonder if this small sample was cherry picked.
 
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The sample size here is much smaller (15-31 students) than the one published in the article so it doesn't actually refute the claim made in the article. If you wanted to be cynical, you might wonder if this small sample was cherry picked.
The sample size is smaller because the data are only from the most recent shelf exams, Block 3(B). The data presented in the Free Beacon "article" are from Block 1. I think it is clear that the curriculum shift at UCLA caused some initial difficulty with students passing shelf exams, but they are adapting. Regardless, it has absolutely nothing to do with the student body's race.
 
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The sample size here is much smaller (15-31 students) than the one published in the article so it doesn't actually refute the claim made in the article. If you wanted to be cynical, you might wonder if this small sample was cherry picked.
I'm starting to wonder if you have a bias and/or experience to be evaluating this data.
 
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The sample size here is much smaller (15-31 students) than the one published in the article so it doesn't actually refute the claim made in the article. If you wanted to be cynical, you might wonder if this small sample was cherry picked.
If I wanted to be cynical, I’d wonder why you’re more inclined to question the veracity of this data opposed to blurry pictures from a hit piece with zero journalistic integrity (only citing an SDN thread from an unverified faculty member).
 
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UCLA wrote a very indignant statement that did not deny the veracity of the data about shelf scores. The university did not dispute the figure that 25% of students failed 3+ shelf exams. Instead, they posted this much smaller data set.

I don't have confidence in the journalism of the Free Beacon, but that doesn't mean there's no truth to the story. UCLA is actually lucky this story is in a less reputable outlet that can be dismissed for its ideological bias and incomplete reporting. As I wrote above, I believe that the curriculum redesign played a major role but the article doesn't dig deep enough into this issue.

The truth of this story will be resolved by looking at the 4-year graduation rate for UCLA medical school over a multi year time frame.
 
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