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
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).