Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2011 23:18:37 -0500
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Paul Harrison <pharriso**At_Symbol_Here**UNIVMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA>
Subject: Re: ACS accreditation of undergraduate programs
Comments: To: Carl Fictorie
In-Reply-To: <20110104203808.1A659126728**At_Symbol_Here**>


Dear Ms. Bucherl: while I agree in principle with the learned opinion of Carl Fictorie, I would like to point out a few cautions: Given the large numbers of students who enter University with a plan to go to medical school, and the limited number of places, I strongy urge all such students to have a plan B. Experience suggests that many don't, but we know that not all will get into med. school. It may not be appealing to students to think of "failure," but reality says that they should. Further, many young people change their minds about careers, so a plan B is a good idea in this case too. What is plan B? I suggest that your daughter take the courses that will place her in the best position to take up plan B, if plan A doesn't work out. if plan B (and C, D etc.) all involve professional schools, then aim for that. But if plan B involves graduate school, then a rigorous program is essential. Many of our students who aim for medical school take courses (and programs) that give them the highest grades. However, medical schools are no fools, and we have programs from which students graduate with high grades, but don't get into med. school and cannot then enter grad. school because the program lacks the rigour expected. They are therefore stuck, and not happy about it. So, a carefully crafted plan is essential. I hope this helps. Paul On Tue, 4 Jan 2011 14:38:01 -0600 Carl Fictorie wrote: > Ms. Bucherl, > > I'm a prof at a small liberal arts college that does not offer an ACS accredited degree, plus I advise premed students at my institution, so I think I have a few useful insights for you and your daughter. > > My memory of the ACS requirements are based on an older version (that I used as a reference for a review of our program), but as I understand them, they had structured their requirements around a chemistry core with various emphases in areas such as biochemistry or chem ed. It is possible that School B has a curriculum built on these older standards, and in that older system biochem was a minor component, an add-on to the general chemistry core, and biology was not expected to contribute to a biochemistry emphasis in any significant way. I also learned that the original purpose (80+years ago) of ACS accreditation was to satisfy potential employers of chemistry graduates, and had little to do with preparation for graduate work or medical school. My skimming of the recent version suggests they are much more flexible in the requirements, but those changes take time to show up in any particular college's program. > > A second factor you should note is that even within schools that have approved programs, only about 1/3 of chemistry graduates graduate with the certified program. (Details are available on the ACS website: Also, approved programs only produce about 2/3 (guestimating!) of all chemistry graduates in the US, with non-approved programs (such as ours) accounting for the remainder. In other words, no more than 1/4 of chemistry grads (including biochem) in any given year even get a certified degree, and a large percentage of those who do not are pre-professional health students (pre-med, pre-pharmacy, pre-dental, etc.). Finally, I have not seen any science graduate programs give preference to certified grads in terms of admissions, and we have never had qualified applicants turned down by graduate prog! rams in > chemistry. > > That allows me to switch hats to premed advisor. My experience with mid-western medical schools is that they also do not concern themselves with certification of a particular major. They are concerned that applicants have completed the prerequisite coursework for their program, and show only minor concern for other coursework. Whether or not research is important depends on the particular medical school: The University of Iowa (our state med school) likes research experience, The University of Minnesota at Duluth (a rural medicine oriented school) does not consider it. In fact, the comments I hear from medical school admissions people suggest that broad based liberal arts is a more useful preparation than a strong but narrow science program, which BS programs tend to be. Therefore, I advise students to take fewer biology and chemistry courses and take more writing, social science, and arts courses to round out their experiences. In my opinion there's no benefit to c! ompleting > a certified degree in biochemistry en route to a medical career. > > I hope you find these comments helpful and if you have more questions, feel free to ask. > > CPF > > Carl Fictorie, Ph.D. > Professor of Chemistry > Co-Director, Kuyper Scholars Program > Premedical Program Advisor > Chemistry Department > Dordt College > 498 4th Ave. NE > Sioux Center, IA 51250-1697 > phone: 712-722-6283 > email: fictorie**At_Symbol_Here** > > > > >>> Stacy Bucherl 1/4/2011 1:34 PM >>> > Sorry this is a bit off topic, but a lot of you work in higher education and > I could use your help. > > My daughter's college choice was primarily driven by finding a school that > offered an ACS accredited BS in biochemistry. At the last moment, she > switched from school A to B (school B offered a full ride). On arrival at > school B, she discovered that their particular ACS biochemistry program is > so rigidly chemistry-focused that it only allows 3 bio classes. After > several discussions with her adviser, she switched to the BA in > biochemistry, which gives her room to study the bio part of the degree. > Daughter is likely going to med school and she wants to do research. So... > > I talked to ACS to gain an understanding of the accreditation process. Do > any of you have experience in developing the ACS accreditation curriculum > for your school? I would like to have a discussion with School B to try to > understand their rationale to minimize bio from the biochem degree, but > don't know where to start. > > Advice? Suggestions? > > Stacy Paul Harrison Associate Professor of Chemistry Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology McMaster University 1280 Main St. W., Hamilton, ON, L8S 4M1, Canada Phone: (905)525-9140 ext. 27290; FAX: (905)522-2509

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