FlexMed is the early assurance program offered by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Any undergraduate sophomore is eligible to apply, and it does not have any requirements for what major you are pursuing. The beauty of the program is the freedom that it affords undergraduates after acceptance. While my peers were studying for the MCAT, I was pursuing research 3D printing prosthetics for children with symbrachydactyly. While my friends were writing their medical school applications, I was filing for a patent for a potential medical device company. While my friends were flying out for interviews, I was working for a private anesthesia company. Once accepted, the program waives the MCAT, several pre-medical requisites, and affords its students the flexibility to pursue what they are the most passionate about in their undergraduate years without the burden of needing to apply to medical school.
FlexMed is geared towards passionate pre-medical students who may have gone into college aspiring to become a physician in the future, but who also have interests outside of the typical pre-medical curriculum and extracurriculars. However, this isn’t to say those who are pursuing one of these majors (biology, biochemistry, chemistry, etc.) or similar extracurriculars are somehow at a disadvantage. The program accepts students from every single major: biosciences, humanities, social sciences, and engineers. Often, students will apply to this program as an attempt of circumventing the MCAT and other pre-medical requirements, but the strongest applicants have definitive reasons as to why FlexMed would afford them greater opportunities and ultimately enhance their roles as future physicians.
What are the requirements?
A browse through their website will show you all of the nitty-gritty details of the requirements, but generally those following a pre-medical track in undergrad will be able to apply by their second year of college. Notable requirements, however, include your SAT or ACT exam scores, your high school transcript, the transcript for your first year (and eventually second year) of college, three letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. For the letters of recommendation, they recommend a high school mentor or teacher, a college professor, and a supervisor from a professional setting. All of this is to ensure that they can see you as holistically as possible, and understand how your superiors would describe you in different settings.
So What sets students apart?
Strong grades and strong testing can only carry you so far for FlexMed. This question circles back to whole purpose of this program. FlexMed was developed in order to allow those accepted to truly be unencumbered by the red tape of applying to medical school. Those who have demonstrated their passions in their first two years of undergraduate life, whether that’s through volunteering, research, working, or any other avenue of expressing their passion for some field, are the ideal applicants for the program. If you have come to love some activity and would benefit from having the last two years of undergrad to fully commit to it and explore that passion, this is the perfect program to apply to. The admissions officers are looking for those motivated students who can articulate what has been motivating them day-in and day-out during their first two years and how the time afforded back to them by the program would enable them to pursue these endeavors to the fullest.
What was my “Flex” activity/passion?
I found my passion conducting research during my first two years of undergrad at Rice. I was pursuing a major in bioengineering, and I was balancing working at a wet lab and designing and 3D-printing prosthetics for children in a bioengineering lab. I had demonstrated that despite the workload of a bioengineering pre-medical student, I couldn’t drop either of these research roles because I had fallen in love with the work. In my interview, I was able to show my interviewers a 3D printed finger I had brought with me and explain that this role has only solidified my interested in bioengineering as a field and has inspired me to think more creatively as I learn new subjects. Bioengineering was such a perfect intersection of technology and healthcare, and this research position taught me to learn to think critically about the technology already available in other sectors and attempt to integrate and adapt them to solving health-related issues. I was thus able to not only show my demonstrated interest in research but also explain that with the time afforded by FlexMed, I would be able to pursue my inspirations in engineering design and entrepreneurship. In the end, after getting accepted, I was given the time and opportunity to develop a medical device and attempt a startup, all while still completing my degree and knowing I was headed to medical school right after.
FlexMed is a wonderful program for those pre-medical students who have found something they are passionate about and want the support to follow those dreams unfettered. If anything written here has resonated with you, I encourage you to read more into the program - it is never too early to begin considering the program.