A new program at Western University of Health Sciences helps aspiring health professionals gain an edge when they apply for health professions college programs.

The first Master of Science in Medical Sciences class began on Monday, June 21, 2010 with 25 students. The one-year program provides students with an opportunity to enhance their learning and reasoning skills and improve their chances at successfully applying to the professional colleges at WesternU and other institutions.

Some need to fill out their CV with additional leadership opportunities or health care experience. The MSMS program offers clinical shadowing, research opportunities and help in improving standardized test scores, said Jodi Olson, MA, Director of the MSMS program.

Faculty and staff also will work with students on their interviewing skills and how to request and receive good letters of recommendation.

“”This program is poised to offer help in whatever area they need,”” Olson said.

Coursework in anatomy, microbiology and other core science classes will provide the foundational work needed for graduate-level health professions programs, she said.

The first MSMS class has 19 pre-DO students, five pre-DMD students and one pre-OD student.

Some of these students entered into early assurance programs, where if they meet certain GPA and test score requirements, they are guaranteed admission into their respective professional programs upon completion of the MSMS program.

Each student has a stake in the success of the program, said WesternU President Philip Pumerantz, PhD.

“”You have the opportunity to shape and form this program,”” he said. “”The charter class sets the tone. You’re in an important position.””

The students are ready to take on that responsibility. As the first class, they will be in a position to help future students, said Taryn Liu, MSMS ’11. She would like to enroll in the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, and the MSMS program provides her with a great opportunity.

“”This is ideal for me to build relationships within the university,”” she said. “”This is going to be a great way to freshen up on science classes.””

All of the students in the program have compelling stories, said Steven Henriksen, PhD, Dean of the Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences.

“”They’re going to make a difference,”” he said.

The rigorous program will give students a chance to prove themselves, said Elizabeth Rega, PhD, WesternU Director of Strategic Alliances & Special Projects.

“”It’s up to you to show you can succeed with no excuses,”” she told them during orientation.

The goals of students and the MSMS administrators are the same.

“”Your goal is to get into professional school,”” Rega aid. “”Our goal is to get you into professional school.””

More than three quarters of the class fall into ethnically underrepresented or financial need categories. In helping these students attain their goals, WesternU hopes to increase the number of doctors who make a difference in underserved communities, Olson said.

“”It’s a win for the student, a win for us and a win for the world,”” she said.