Four incoming college freshmen have been accepted into a seven-year

bachelor’s and doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree program offered

jointly by Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) and Pitzer

College. If they complete their coursework, they will graduate from

WesternU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) in 2006.

The students are: Rohit Buttan of Porterville, Tiffany Le of Whittier,

Vythao Tran of Chatsworth and Elizabeth Tsay of Claremont.

The Medical Scholars Program allows students at Pitzer College to fulfill

the requirements for acceptance into WesternU in only three years. If they

complete the program and meet academic requirements they are offered

admission to COMP, and are able to earn bachelor’s and doctor of

osteopathic medicine degrees in seven years instead of the traditional


“”Finishing my medical degree in seven years will help me start my career

faster, or I can take that extra year and do missionary work,”” said Tsay,

18, a graduate of Vivian Webb School in Claremont. “”I’m really excited

about it, and knowing that I’m on a fast track into medical school takes a

lot stress off me.””

Another incoming student, 24-year-old Le, agrees. The Whittier resident

knows that medicine is the right field for her, and wants to waste no time

in getting started.

“”Knowing that I’m in a program specifically designed to meet WesternU

medical school requirements relieves some stress,”” Le said. “”I also like

that the program is only seven years long because I want to start working

as soon as possible.””

The partnership between the two schools began in 1998 after officials at

Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges consortium, and

WesternU agreed on the need for an accelerated medical program for

particularly talented, motivated students. The campuses are located about

five miles apart and share priorities of community service and quality

primary care.

The five students who began the program in the fall of 1998 are spending

the summer participating in a variety of volunteer and academic programs.

As sophomores next year they will continue on an accelerated curriculum

track and begin medical internships through WesternU.

“”The classes are difficult, but because we’ve already been accepted into

the linkage program we don’t feel the pressure of competition as much, and

as a result I think we learn a lot better,”” said Alicia King, 18, a

resident of Diamond Bar who just finished her first year in the program.

She’s spending the summer taking a physics class.

Participant Kent Lee, 18, is taking a summer Spanish class to help him

interact with non-English speaking patients. He also volunteers at San

Dimas Community Hospital.

“”The program is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun because we learn

about the social impacts of medicine as well as the scientific angles,””

said Lee, a Diamond Bar resident. “”Students going into this program need

to be prepared to work hard and be able to handle stress, but also have

compassion and understanding in their interactions with patients.””

Faculty members at Pitzer College and WesternU are thrilled with the

success of the program so far.

“”It has been a very intense first year,”” said David Sadava, PhD, biology

professor at Pitzer College and a coordinator of the program. “”The

students did well, and we assume the new class will hit the ground


During their first year in the program, students take introductory science

classes and attend lectures and clinical programs at WesternU. Dennis

Kiick, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry, is the WesternU faculty

adviser for the Medical Scholars Program.

“”After working with the students I can honestly say I’m sure they’re going

to be very good physicians,”” he said. “”As undergraduates they’re getting a

feel for what medical school is all about, and the experiences we are

giving them through the program will put them ahead of other students when

they begin their medical school training.””

Applications from students interested in beginning the linkage program in

the fall of 2000 are now available and are due to Pitzer College by

February 1. For more information, call (909) 469-5335 (WesternU) or (909)

621-8129 (Pitzer College).