Rhode Island students on the pre-med track have an impressive program available to them, the URI-Brown Early Identification Program. The program is open to college students who are Rhode Island residents, have graduated from a Rhode Island high school and have been an integral part of their community in some way.

The program is highly competitive, looking for students with a 3.5 GPA or higher, exceptional motivation and understanding for medicine, and a strong connection with their community through unique experiences.

“Medical school admission has gotten much more wholistic over the past decade or so, meaning the emphasis on grades and MCATs is still really strong,” Dr. Andrew Simmons, the director of pre-health professions advising at the University of Rhode Island, said. “But there is an emphasis on what an applicant has done beyond the classroom, in terms of their position in the community, their orientation towards people, and that sort of thing,.”

To apply, eligible students must write to the URI Health Professions Advisory Committee (HPAC) for nomination. After reviewing each student’s application and supplemental interview, the HPAC will forward nominations along to the Brown-Alpert Admission Committee. From there, interviews at Brown are given out, which will determine Brown’s decision for each candidate that has been promoted to this point.

“What I liked about the program was after I got accepted, it sort of freed up the rest of my undergrad so that I could do more of what I wanted to do and follow more of my interests,” Haran Mennillo, a first-year medical student at Brown accepted through the URI-Brown Early Identification Program, said. “For example, I committed to a double major in philosophy, in addition to my major of biology,”

Brown takes a holistic approach to their review of each applicant. Students accepted to the program suggest students follow their own passions and interests to demonstrate well-roundedness and versatility.

“They’re looking for students who demonstrate exceptional promise early in their time in college. Not only in terms of academics, but in terms of their commitment to the community and to Rhode Island,” Simmons said. “If you’re a really strong student and you have a real connection to Rhode Island, and you want to serve the community in some way, I think Brown is the place for you.”

What makes Brown different from other medical schools? Brown focusses not only on medicine, but also cultural competence and art, as they want to produce well-rounded doctors.

“They want you to preserve your creative interests and artistic endeavours outside of class, which is something that gets lost in medicine I think a lot of the time,” Victoria Zeyl, a current senior at URI accepted into the URI-Brown Early Identification Program her sophomore year, said.

Zeyl demonstrated well-roundedness through teaching art to children of poor communities in Honduras, majoring in Spanish and helping immigrants obtain Green Cards, along with the competencies expected by medical schools, including community service, clinical experience and campus involvement.

“Let yourself enjoy things outside of science,” Zeyl said. “If you have a passion outside of science, definitely pursue it in college. It will make you a happier, more passionate person and medical schools are looking for applicants who are different from their typical biology people.”

For Rhode Island students interested in going to medical school, this may just be the program for you. Simmons and Mennillo advise students to speak with their advisor to learn more about the program and how to develop into a competitive candidate.