How 15 Extra Weeks of Medical School Makes a Difference

June 20, 2024
a medical school classroom with students raising their hands

Over 20 years, Adtalem’s Medical Education Readiness Program has helped more than 4,000 students better prepare for life in medical school, residency, and beyond. 

Medical school is a high-pressure, high-stakes environment. How do you know when you are ready to jump in? Adtalem Global Education’s Medical Education Readiness Program offers a way to find out.

Dr. Chris Lizon, MD ’24, started his medical school journey in MERP and finished as the student-elected commencement speaker for American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine.  

a headshot of Dr. Chris Lizon
Not every doctor begins their journey the same. With this program, you are getting one of the best starts to that journey. It was a significant steppingstone in learning how much to study, how to prepare for exams, and providing a foundation of knowledge for what to expect as an incoming medical student.

Since its inception, more than 4,000 students have successfully completed MERP and advanced to begin medical school at Ross University School of Medicine and American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine.

Students who complete MERP are expected to begin medical school with a greater understanding of key scientific disciplines, confidence in their ability to meet the demands of medical school, and a community of friends, professors, and classmates to support them on their journey.

Providing Knowledge

Over 15 weeks before the first semester of medical school, MERP students take four science-based courses with similar content and depth taught in the early semester of medical school. The courses—clinical anatomy, medical biochemistry and molecular biology, medical microbiology and immunology, and medical human physiology and biophysics—help students who otherwise might not have been ready for direct admittance to medical school to prepare for their education.

Even eight years removed from her time in MERP, Dr. Chelsea Azevedo, MD ’20, puts her foundational knowledge into practice as a fourth-year internal medicine resident. 

“I still find myself using mnemonics and study habits I first learned in MERP. I can look at bacterial test results and make decisions about antibiotics without knowing the culture proven organism because I am so confident in my microbiology foundation. The professors cared so much about not just teaching the material, but helping you commit that material to memory forever.”

Since 2019, AUC and RUSM graduates that started in MERP have obtained more than 1,000 residency positions.

All MERP instructors hold either an MD or doctorate-level degree and have established experience in teaching medical and undergraduate or graduate-level students.

Dr. Gannady Raskin, executive director of MERP for 10 of its 20-year history, leads the program and spends time in the classroom teaching.

“I have had an academic career spanning more than 25 years, living and working in many different countries, and I have never worked in such a great program in terms of dedication from faculty to help our students achieve success and from our students committing themselves to their goals.”

Fostering Confidence  

Dr. Azevedo had taken many years off between undergraduate and medical school, which made her nervous to re-enter an academic setting, especially one like medical school. Through MERP, she gained confidence she never thought imaginable and still carries with her as she prepares for a hematology and oncology fellowship at the University of California-Los Angeles. 

a headshot of Dr. Chelsea Azevedo
Feeling prepared for my first year of medical school set me up for success in all my basic science courses which led me to excel in clinical sciences, which then led me to match at a competitive university program and has now led me to match in a very competitive fellowship.

Dr. Lizon shares a similar sentiment: “MERP helps build self-assurance that we, as students, have been tested and can learn the right ways to push ourselves academically to become the best doctor.”  

Building Community

Following his graduation earlier this year, Dr. Lizon is now an internal medicine resident for Advocate Health in his hometown Chicago.

Learning he would need an extra 15 weeks of medical school brought some initial disappointment, but in hindsight, it was one of the most rewarding experiences for the community he joined and continues to be part of.

“I am truly grateful for the lifelong friendships I have built with my MERP peers. These bonds have led to collaborative efforts on various research and volunteer opportunities, and I hope to continue nurturing these connections through our shared experiences.”

For more information, email the Adtalem Global Communications Team: