SUNY Downstate Medical Center students ace ‘boards’

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Medical students at SUNY Downstate Medical Center scored a perfect pass rate (100 percent) on the most recent Step One medical licensure exams, also known as the Shelf exams or “boards.”

“That’s a remarkable achievement,” said Ian L. Taylor, MD, PhD, dean of SUNY Downstate’s College of Medicine, who added that the score was significantly higher than the national pass rate of 94 percent. “It speaks volumes about the excellence of our students and faculty.”

Students are required to take this test at the end of their second year of medical school. Those who do not pass the exam on their first try are permitted to take the test again, but a passing grade is required to advance to the third year of medical school.

All SUNY Downstate medical students who took the most recent test received a passing grade in their first effort. It is the second year in a row that SUNY Downstate students did exceptionally well on this exam. The prior year, the initial pass rate was 99 percent. Both years’ results are above the national average.

Second-year student Sadia Hussain, whose class will take the exam this year, said, “Medical school is chock full of information, and Downstate classes are designed to break down the material in a very organized, clinically oriented way. I will soon be taking my boards, and in my review have found how truly well prepared we are. It is no wonder that Downstate students had a 100 percent pass rate.”

The high pass rate on the board scores, plus Downstate’s reputation for providing intensive clinical training, are likely among the reasons why Downstate is attracting record numbers of applicants. More than 5,000 applicants are vying for 185 slots in next year’s entering medical school class.

“We offer a strong curriculum and a strong teaching environment,” said John C. LaRosa, MD, president of SUNY Downstate. “But we also attract exceptional students and an exceptionally diverse student body.”

Downstate’s College of Medicine is the only public medical school in New York City and is located in the heart of central Brooklyn, the area that encompasses East Flatbush, Bedford Stuyvesant, and Crown Heights.

Historically, the College of Medicine’s student body includes large numbers of first generation-Americans, students from homes where English is not the primary language, and underrepresented minorities.

Third-year medical student Elena Pereira, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Portugal, said, “My experience at Downstate has been a great one. Above all it has taught me to find a type of balance in medicine. This is an environment that encourages us to be involved in the surrounding community, while preparing us in a practical way for the world of medicine.”

Pereira’s class scored the 100 percent pass rate. She added, “My third-year experience has also been wonderful. The variety of patients we interact with and the dedication of the clinicians we work with prepare us for dealing with clinical situations. Living in this community has fostered in me a profound appreciation of diversity, both in the patient population and in my future colleagues.”

Taylor also noted, “A diverse medical workforce is essential if we are to deal with the issues of healthcare disparities and limited access that have a negative impact on our current healthcare system. Moreover, there are few, if any, U.S. medical schools more diverse than SUNY Downstate. We are the personification of the American Dream.”

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is located at 450 Clarkson Avenue.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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