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Brown’s Program in Liberal Medical Education

Mar 3, 2020

You probably already know that getting into an undergraduate degree program at an Ivy League is extremely competitive; their acceptance rates ranged from 5.9%-14% in 2018. I’m sorry to tell you future doctors that it only gets harder down the road. The top medical schools in the U.S. tend to have acceptance rates below 5%. So knowing that Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School has an acceptance rate of 2.8% overall, but 76% of med school-bound Brown graduates attend it, you might be curious why. This phenomenon is largely due to Brown’s unique and prestigious Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME). The PLME is the only combined baccalaureate-MD program in the Ivy League, and is a major route of admission to Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School.

What is Brown’s PLME?

Brown’s Program in Liberal Medical Education is a combined med program consisting of about 50 students per class who plan on pursuing a medical degree after their undergraduate years. The program technically takes eight years to complete, but some students defer their medical school enrollment for one or two years pursuing other advanced degrees. During years one-four (your undergrad years) you will be required to demonstrate competence in the “preclinical” disciplines: biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, as well as the humanities and social sciences. Then, in years five-eight (med school) you must demonstrate competence in the basic medical sciences, the behavioral aspects of medicine, and in core clinical areas. Core clinical areas include medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, family medicine and community health. While pursuing your MD, you will have the freedom to work toward another advanced degree, such as a Masters of Public Health or Masters of Science in Population Medicine.

What is the PLME not?

  • The PLME is not an accelerated program; it takes eight years to complete just like the traditional bachelors + MD track.
  • It isn’t restricted to the sciences, but rather encourages students to pursue other academic interests in the humanities and social sciences, as well as, of course, natural sciences.
  • PLME is not a binding program, meaning that if you decide not to apply to other medical schools, Brown will simply withdraw the position they had held for you at the Warren Alpert Medical School. You must notify Brown of your decision to “apply out” by September of your senior year.

Is the PLME a good choice for me?

PLME is a good choice for students who aspire to attend a top medical school, are very certain of their plans to become a doctor, and would be comfortable attending the same school for undergraduate and graduate studies. Additionally, the PLME is an especially attractive option for students who are passionate about the humanities or social sciences in addition to medicine. As we will discuss in more detail below, the PLME is a highly competitive program, so it is best suited for students who have proven to be high-achieving in their high school career and are self-disciplined enough to work hard throughout the eight-year program.

How competitive is it?

According to the admissions results for the class entering in 2019, 2641 students applied to the PLME. Of those students, 94 were accepted (20 in Early Decision, 74 in Regular Action), making the acceptance rate 3.5%. In the end, 61 students matriculated, all of the ED students and 41 of the RA applicants. The average SAT scores of matriculated students over the past five years have been 770 in Math, 742 in Reading and Writing. Numbers don’t mean everything, but it’s safe to say that the PLME is a highly selective program, only slightly less so than Warren Alpert Medical School’s overall acceptance rate of 2.8%.

Pre-med programs at many other top universities produce competitive, stressed students who spend four years fighting tooth and nail to gain acceptance to a med school program after graduation. Despite the initial competitive process of admission to Brown’s PLME program, it offers a handful of students the peace of mind of already having secured their place in a top med school. The PLME is one of the best combined med school programs you will come across, so your vision of your future involves med school, you should definitely consider applying.

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