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Baylor College of Medicine versus UT Southwestern Medical School

Updated 9/11/2015ย – new rankings

For some Texas medical school applicants, there comes a point where they must decide between matriculating to Baylor College of Medicine or the University of Texas Southwestern. Why is this such a tough decision? Quite frankly, both schools are fantastic. They’re the top two in Texas according to US News. They each have unique amenities. But as with any school, there are pros and cons.

Here’s a brief summary outlining the differences between the two medical schools:

Baylor MedUT Southwestern
TypePrivatePublic
Research Rank2125
Primary Care Rank1117
LocationHouston, TXDallas, TX
Enrolled738953

(Information gathered from school websites andย US news)

Now personally, I prefer Baylor Med over UT Southwestern for several reasons.

  • BCM is situated in the world’s largest medical center providing ample opportunities for medical students to pursue research/volunteering close to their campus.
  • Being a Houstonian myself, BCM is “right around the corner.”
  • The 18 month basic science curriculum coupled with flexible scheduling for USMLE Step 1.
  • The fact that BCM students can take their core clinical clerkships/electives in any order makes far more sense than having to wait till the end of medical school to “try out” the rotation that you were originally interested in. By that time, residency applications should be virtually complete.

How do you weigh the differences between Baylor Med and UT Southwestern?

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 75 comments

  1. HighSchoolSenior

    anybody know the acceptance rates for these schools?

  2. …with the way the curriculum is organized and the way the school is run.

  3. UTSW Med School – Some Gripes
    Overall impression: Misallocations of funding with regards to medical education are rampant (ex $30k for senior class film and we have some student computers that are “too slow to run windows 7 when upgraded from XP” and an “online curriculum” with a format/design that has not been updated in 12 years…literally).

    People will say that the faculty listen to the students. This is mostly true, but they take a least a year to make even the slightest change. Ex: We cannot get lecture slides posted before the lecture because “that is not the culture” and “it would put undue pressure on the lecturers”. It should not be that hard to change something like the posting of lecture slides. Do students have a voice? Yes. Does anyone listen? Yes. Do they actually care? Not enough to do something about it in a timely fashion.

    There is only ONE faculty individual in charge of medical student research.

    First semester of first year is pass/fail…EXCEPT for that giant physiology exam at the end of the semester which definitely counts toward your physio grade. I felt lied to when I learned this.

    First year: mostly a waste of time except for anatomy and maybe 30-40% of physio. Biochem was a complete waste. 90% of the information you need to know for the exam is useless. The other 10% you might already know. Very little thinking required for exams.

    Second year: Butt load of memorization – maybe useful for STEP. Probably useless in 10-15 yrs. Slightly more thinking required for exams. The pictures in pathology are of poor quality and there is no easy way to compare normal vs pathological findings other than a Google image search.

    A quote form more than one student: “I didn’t really understand what they taught first and second year until I started studying for Step 1”. To me that is a nice way of saying that the curriculum is ineffective in teaching the basic principles of medicine.

    I wish that I would have paid more attention to “curriculum style” rather than just cost and reputation. I have a feeling that “case based curriculum” might be more effective.

    These are all personal opinions. Obviously I take issue with

  4. redact idiot at utsw

    please forgive my idiot friend of a friend who sabatoged my laptop yesterday. said “idiot from utsw” is bitter for not getting into utsw and being the frat boy he is thought the comment was funny, it’s not and unprofessional. please redact that comment. utsw is a great place to train but it is tough.

  5. Today: 10-12 for first two lectures, 1-3 for second two lectures. All lectures videostreamed, mp3’d, powerpoints posted same day. About half the class comes to class. The rest stay at home and watch at 2.5x speed. Lots of flexibility. Great place. Great people. Come visit to learn more.

  6. Two quick questions:
    1. What is UT Southwestern’s daily schedule – Is it 9 to 5 every day?
    2. Does anyone have a copy of the BCM match list?

  7. Updated the rankings today. For primary care, BCM went from 33 to 28 and UTSW from 20 to 24. For research, BCM went from 24 to 22 and UTSW from 20 to 22. Can’t say I’m surprised that BCM is back on the rise, but I am surprised UTSW fell a little. ๐Ÿ™ Oh well, like I’ve said many times, these rankings have to be taken with several grains of salt.

  8. I am a junior finishing my undergrad. I am taking my MCAT this spring and applying in May for the starting class in 2012. I am between UTSW, UTMB, or BCM. I really like the block schedule that UTMB offers. I went to the conference offered at UTSW in November and I liked the school. I really do not know which school to pick as my number one choice….:(

  9. Hm, idk why this has been neglected, but all curriculum arguments are quickly summed up by the fact that BCM has higher Step 1 scores, despite less time to learn the info, and having “a lack of correlation” with review books.

    All I need to know!

  10. Hello all you bushy tails! want some advice you can really use? I’m a UTSW grad and it is a fine school. Baylor is fine too, and if you like cancer, you cant beat MD Anderson. The learning is all there if you want it. You can polish your knives and eviscerate each other just the same at either place. But here’s the real question – why, oh why, do you want to do any of this? Medicine as it exists today is a soul-crushing graveyard for bright shiny brains like yours. I know what you’re thinking, and say what you will, but you’ll know what i mean soon enough regardless of where you take those first tentative steps. Oh yeah, and the hazing ritual at UTSW on the first day of anatomy is not to be missed. good luck!

    • So, basically what you are saying is… not to become a doctor? ๐Ÿ™
      A friend once told me, “just because you can do medicine doesn’t mean you should.”

    • Considering that you’re a graduate, your opinion definitely has credibility; however, I really think it’s shared by some (but not all) medical students. It’s true that no where near 100% of people are pursuing medicine for noble, selfless reasons, but to say that it’ll crush us is a rash generalization. Though I’ve been a student for less than two months, I can tell the journey will continue to get more difficult. Nevertheless, it is very “do-able”, and there will always be a place for physicians.

      • Yes. I agree. And though it may seem disingenuous coming from me, I’m glad there are still people out there like you. I hope you keep up that attitude. One day I’ll need a doctor myself, and I hope its someone like you. But rash as what I say may seem, if there are any of you out there who aren’t sure about medicine, or may suspect that your reasons for entering the field are less than sincere – please consider this: if there is anything else you love, no matter how poorly it may pay, or how much it may lack prestige, do that instead. Unless you are wealthy, medicine is a path you must finish once you start. There is certainly a point of no return for most of us. Don’t find yourself on the other side of it with regret.

        • I wholeheartedly agree with pursuing another career if you have an interest. I myself had considered a career in IT, but I’m relying on technology’s influence in surgery to help me fulfill both interests simultaneously. We’ll see how well that goes. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for your comments, bobjenkins.

  11. Make sure you get Clinically Oriented Anatomy – by Moore and Dalley (***only to read the very important Clinical Blue Boxes***) – it’s the “Bible” for Gross Anatomy classes. For actual text though it is very verbose. Essential Clinical Anatomy by Moore is the smaller, more readable version of the above book.

  12. hey guys-
    I know this is a pretty specific blog about baylor vs utsw..
    but i was wondering peoples thoughts on two more schools: UT Houston and USC?!

    I figure you may have some knowledge about these schools and others reading this post may be wondering about UTH at least…

    Basically, I am trying to decide between UTSW, UTH and USC (technically by today).. and I love all three schools.

    I have a 8K scholarship to UTH where my family is, and i love the facilities and people there..

    and I have my sig other in Los Angeles for USC, but it is extremely expensive (72k budget per year!)..

    and Dallas just seems like a good bang for the buck compromise with family 4.5 hrs away, bf 3 hrs by plane.. and affordable,even without scholarship..

    any insight?! im torn three ways! thank you to all.

  13. In 2007, Rice had 11 million dollars of NIH funding.

    By the way that USN&R does their research rankings, a merger between Rice and BCM would not make much difference in terms of “going up spots”

  14. The tuition/fees might be a bit off. I think UTSW makes non-res students eligible for in-state tuition after a $1000 scholarship. Everyone ends up paying $12,100 I believe.

    • While that’s true, I’m going to leave the information as is. The numbers were taken from US News, and since many schools offer the in-state tuition to non-residents (assuming they fulfill certain criteria), I’d rather keep the numbers synchronized with theirs. Thanks for pointing it out though! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • That’s cool, I just thought that US News says tuition was $19, 650 for BCM and $12, 100 and $25, 200 at UTSW for in-state and out-of-state, respectively.

        Anyhow, here’s what BCM says specifically on their website:

        http://www.bcm.edu/financialaid/?pmid=7448

        This is trivial, but is there any chance you can switch the order of the primary and research ranks of the schools above? I hate putting this much stock into the rankings, but one can’t deny that people do consider them when making their choice of school.

        The research rank is the one that people usually consider. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the primary rank is based on the number of students going into the primary care specialties while the research rank is based on the NIH funding that a school gets. If you want to go into pediatrics, family med, or another primary care field like emergency med (yeah, I didn’t know it was a primary care field either), then you might be interested in the primary care ranking of a school; however, it’s the research rank that tells you how much money a school actually gets. The more funding BCM or UTSW gets, the more money they have to recruit top physician/scientists that can teach their basic sciences classes and hopefully the better prepared we ultimately are for the boards. That’s how I see the rankings directly affecting us. Other than that, it might stroke your ego to know that you go to a top 20 school but who really cares other than mommy or daddy?

        My 2 cents.
        Peace.

        • You’re absolutely right. I apologize for that oversight. I’ve updated the post accordingly, and also granted your request about switching the ranking order.

          Rankings are great for the books and prospective students, but in reality, we both know that both schools are fantastic for med school as well as residency. We can debate all day how much money plays into bringing good faculty, and if good faculty really does translate to good board scores, but in the end, it’s up to student to use their med education coupled with their outside studies to ace those USMLE exams. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Medical school rankings:

    Baylor:

    In the last two years, the school has fallen from 10 to 17.

    This has nothing to do with their president situation or the fact that their hospital has been put on hold.

    It has to do with the fact that Baylor’s finances are not what they used to be (hence their desire to merge with rice) and the fact that in the past several years their some of their best research faculty have been lured away by other institutions (hence less NIH money). I have not heard of them recruiting anyone spectacular, recently.

    UTMB

    I feel bad, I feel this school was headed in the right direction in terms of recruiting faculty and intensifying its research. Since the storm, prominent faculty members have been leaving for other schools.

    The Shriner Hospital looks to be closing, this will be devastating to UTMB as they used to have some of the best burn-related research.

    UTSW

    UTSW seems to be the most stable of the TX medical schools. The school, as stated above, is growing through a period of rapid growth and they are currently being very successful at recruiting young and also established faculty members. The university is continuing to conduct some of the nations best basic science biomedical research, but is now working increasingly hard to bolster its reputation in clinical research.

    Today, it was announced that Al Gilman, noble prize awarded for G proteins, would be stepping down as dean of medical school and provost. He will be chief scientist for the state funded cancer initiative. He will still be associated with the university as professor emeritus. To my knowledge he no longer runs a research laboratory and it is unknown what the impact of his departure for the university will mean.

    I think in 5-10 years UTSW will outrank BCM in USN&R. However, in most research circles, UTSW has been long known to overall possess stronger research (evidenced by ScienceWatch rankings).

    My 2 cents,
    MD,PhD candidate

    • Dusty Road you hit it RIGHT on the money. When it comes to research, UT Southwestern is very well known for it’s basic biomedical science research. Now some medical students might say: “Well I don’t want to do research, I just want to be a clinician, so why should that matter?” I even thought that at one time, that USWN&R rankings are useless because a huge portion of it is dependent on how much NIH money they get for research. But this aspect is actually VERY IMPORTANT for med students even if they don’t want to go into research.

      More NIH funding —> being able to attract superior PhDs or MD/PhDs to do their research —> better class basic science instruction for medical students since profs in return for research funding have to teach medical students who then benefit from qualified, enthusiastic professors —> better learning for all students —-> better board scores and medical students who may want to participate in some type of research whether they want to do it or for the sole purpose of expanding their CVs for the residency match can do so that at UTSW.

      Pretty much if you can keep your PhDs and MD/PhDs happy at a medical school (which takes money which is hard to find. lol), the benefit all around in all aspects: school ranking, etc. is immense. Personally, I thought that is where Baylor was lacking in its funding base with respect to research and the split from Methodist made it only worse and they lost A LOT of good faculty to Methodist.

      But from even a residency application point of view is very well respected as it takes dedication, hard work and patience (as I’m sure you know being a MD/PhD candidate), vs. clinical science research, which I guess Baylor more concentrates on, which for medical students just ends up being mainly case reports and MAYBE a clinical trial paper if you’re lucky.

    • Thank you both for your insight on this issue. I’m still leaning towards a prospective success on the horizon (especially in terms of funding) if everything goes smoothly with Rice… but then again… when do mergers ever go smoothly? ๐Ÿ˜€

      • I do believe though that once Baylor hooks up with Rice (to augment it’s basic biomedical science research as Baylor tends to be more “clinical” research oriented) and if they were to patch things up with Methodist Hospital (where MS-3s used to do their rotations and where many Methodist faculty would come in for their basic science classes to teach interconnections btw basic sciences and clinical medicine) Baylor will do very very well.

        I do remember with the split, there was a lot of bad blood btw Baylor and Methodist (who were together for 50 years), at the time the split was happening, I know people who were really caught as they had wonderful people as bosses at both places and had to decide who to side with. I don’t know if building Baylor Clinic (an outpatient clinic) was worth losing a site for medical students to do their MS-3 rotations. I guess it wasn’t as Dr. Traber resigned.

        • I agree. Baylor Clinic’s formation cannot redeem what was lost by severing ties with Methodist. Heck, they had to entirely halt construction on the Baylor Hospital because, oops, they ran out of money, lol. I’m just eager to see what’ll transpire in the next five years or so.

          In other news, I’ve updated the original post to reflect the new US News information. GPAs and MCAT scores will be updated accordingly once that information is released for the class of 2013.

  16. I’ve heard this as well…I guess what matters is what you do once you’re there.

    or ppl could just go to UTMB and be top of their class to land that sick residency ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. as a 4th year at UTSW, i would suggest all of you look at the match list for UTSW and BCM. i dont think anyone outside of texas gives much of a damn about UTSW. it will train you clinically in my opinion better than anyone due to sheer volume but if you expect to go to some sick residencies this may not be the place for you.

  18. MEDICAL SCHOOL GRADING SYSTEM CHANGE ANNOUNCED

    On February 2, 2009, the Faculty Council of UT Southwestern Medical Center unanimously adopted a new grading system for the medical school after several months of study and input from both faculty and students. Both students and faculty alike agreed that the medical school grading system must find a balance between providing meaningful information for residency program applications and the
    inevitable stress inherent in any grading system.

    The new grading system will be effective beginning in July 2009 as is as follows:

    The first half of the first year will be Pass/Fail. Students will be provided feedback about performance on examinations so that each student can be aware of how well he/she is mastering the material, but the final grade will be either Pass or Fail. This change will allow students to make the transition into the new environment of medical school more gracefully.

    Beginning with the second half of the first year and continuing through the clinical rotations of the third year, students will be graded using a letter grade system (A, B+, B, C, & F). The numeric cutoffs for grades will be publicized at the beginning of each course. Having grades awarded in this manner rather than a โ€œnormativeโ€ basis (grading curve) should eliminate any perception among students that they are competing with each other for grades. This change should encourage students to focus on the mastery of material and the collegiality essential in the care of patients.

    The fourth year will continue to be graded on a Pass/Fail system.

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! THIS IS AWESOME!!

  19. It is nice to take all those fancy subjects again, but with better professors and a more thorough pass.

  20. For the love of God, the HAM-TMC Library is not owned by either Baylor College of Medicine or UT-Houston. It’s owned by the Texas Medical Center.

    In all honesty, no one outside of Texas knows jack about BCM (people think you’re talking about Baylor University in Waco (although they are not connected) so Baylor University actually benefits, not BCM – all the more reason to combine with Rice and rename BCM) and UT-Southwestern mostly known for its phenomenal biomedical research base and graduate program, thus making our basic science preparation and USMLE Step 1 preparation awesome.

    Our curriculum is much easier to use subject-based board review books with (most board review books are by basic science subject, not by organ system). Also with respect to grades, our credit hours are much smaller, compared to BCM:

    UTSW MS 1:
    Anatomy – 4.0 credit hours
    Biochemistry – 3.5 credit hours
    Cell Biology – 2.0 credit hours
    Embryology – 0.5 credit hours
    Genetics – 1.5 credit hours
    Human Behavior – 1.5 credit hours
    Immunology – 1.0 credit hour
    Neuroscience – 3.0 credit hours
    Physiology – 4.0 credit hours

    BCM – MS 1:
    FBSM: Core Concepts – 14.5
    FBSM: Cardiovascular-Resp-Renal (CRR) – 11.5
    FBSM: GI-Met-Nut-Endo-Reproduction (GIMNER) – 14.0
    General Pathology & General Pharmacology – 4.0, 2.5
    Head and Neck Anatomy – 4.5
    Immunology – 5.0
    Behavioral Sciences – 6.5
    Bioethics – 2.5
    Infectious Disease – 13.0
    Nervous System – 14.0

  21. 4 yr UTSW gsurg resident

    We work hard. If the most important thing for you in residency training is lifestyle, please switch to ER. If not, best of luck in your malpractice-filled, short lived career as an attending. Besides work, most of us play sports/ go to the gym, go to bars, restaurants, clubs, movies etc.. Many of us either started married, got married here or are in committed relationships (and some not-so-committed!). In the past year alone 2 residents have had babies including a chief and a third year, and we have 3 more in the oven.

    http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=415072&highlight=UTSW+UT+Southwestern

    The only reason I posted this was because…I like sports.

  22. Just to add some fuel to this discussion- turns out that UTSW actually outranks BCM in residency director assessment and peer assessment score (for those not in the know, and I wasn’t before today: Peer assessment scores asks deans, adcoms, and other administrative personnel from medical schools to rate other med schools from 1 (marginal) to 5 (exceptional); similarly, residency director assessment score asks the same evaluation from various residency programs to rate med schools in the same fashion).

    http://www.swivel.com/data_columns/spreadsheet/1660847?order_by_direction=DESC

    http://www.swivel.com/data_columns/spreadsheet/1660846?order_by_direction=DESC

    These are from 2006ish, but a post on SDN today confirms that this trend holds for 2008 as well.

  23. Baylor and UTSW are fine institutions. Both are in large cities and thus have great clinical exposure. The college system at UTSW looks really awesome as far as getting early clinical exposure goes. I would be perfectly fine with going to either institution.

    http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=446207

  24. Just a few comments away from being most discussed post..

    BCM gets something like 4 wks during the summer post-MS1. By the time they get the 6 months off to do anything, it’ll be too late to have a publication or anything noteworthy for the residency adcoms to see.

    UTSW, on the other hand, gives you something like 10 weeks pre-MS1 and post-MS1 during the summers for research. Looking at their track record, a lot of the students that take advantage of these opportunities are getting published before rez applications even begin. A huge plus in my opinion.

  25. 20-25 MS1 students at BCM got to deliver babies for the first time last month. Until recently, UTSW provided little to no patient contact during pre-clinical years; however, with the new college system in place, UTSW students don’t only get patient contact but also a mentor that can write a great letter come residency time.

  26. Oh, I just forgot that Baylor does things the non-traditional way, not as separate basic science subjects.

    From the prior link I posted:
    “Foundations Basic to Science of Medicine (FBSM) – Fall I is a five-month unit titled Foundations Basic to the Science of Medicine. This unit consists of three modules, containing integrated material from the traditional disciplines of Biochemistry, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Physiology, Gross and Microscopic Anatomy.”

    The books above where I say, “(to learn through coursework)” – I mean that these are better when learning things the first time in class and are way too dense for boards review, so either borrow them, or I checked it out from the library.

  27. A book to buy regardless:

    http://www.amazon.com/First-Aid-USMLE-Step-2009/dp/0071548963/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1230523452&sr=8-1

    These you can buy as you go through coursework.

    ANATOMY
    Gross – BRS Gross Anatomy (to learn through coursework), High Yield Gross Anatomy (for boards)
    Embryology – High Yield Embryology
    Histology – High Yield Histology [now renamed High Yield Histopathology in the newest edition]
    Neuroanatomy – BRS Neuroanatomy (to learn through extensive coursework), High Yield Neuroanatomy (for boards)

    BIOCHEMISTRY – Rapid Review Biochemistry, High Yield Genetics, High Yield Cell and Molecular Biology (1999 edition – latest edition is too much info.)

    BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE – BRS Behavioral Science

    MICROBIOLOGY – Review of Medical Microbiology and Immunology by Warren Levinson

    PHYSIOLOGY – Physiology by Linda Costanzo (ISBN: 1416023208 to learn through extensive coursework); BRS Physiology by Linda Costanzo (boards)

    PATHOLOGY – Rapid Review Pathology by Edward Goljan; Goljan Audio and Notes (download off Internet or through torrents)

    PHARMACOLOGY – Katzung & Trevor’s Review of Pharmacology by Anthony J. Trevor, Bertram G. Katzung, and Susan B. Masters

  28. Thanks Upperclassmen!! That was wonderful!!
    I am really looking forward to being a part of the college system recently set up at UTSW. Having an attending as a mentor for 2 years will be invaluable when it comes time for the recommendation letter. Other things I like about UTSW:

    1) Their fitness facilities are excellent!

    2) Dallas rocks!!

    3) Their Internal Medicine, Surgery, and integrated Plastic Surgery (Rod Rohrich) residency programs, in particular, are top notch. It’ll be much easier getting into these programs coming from UTSW. Plus, I’ve heard that UTSW IM graduates land almost any competitive fellowship that they like. This is a plus considering that Cardiology is of particular interest to me.

    4) Research experience available before and after 1st year with some of the best researchers in their respective fields.

  29. When I was a 2nd year, UTSW had already offered Clinical Medicine class, composed off didactic and also clinical skills under supervision of senior residents. You got to interview patient, present and discuss with your residents.
    Now, the school offer a more elaborated version of it with the Colleges system that 1 attending physician/5 students for the whole 2 year. They will teach you clinical medicine,ethics, show you patients, etc.. I don’t have first hand knowledge of this system, but having an attending physician knowing you for 2 year can be very advantageous.
    As for having clinical experience before Step1, it is varied depend on the person’s style. I personally think that it is best to have 2 months without any duty to prepare for Step1. Step1 still has the majority of question compose of basic pathophysiology. Pharm questions are very straight forward. I thought I had studied too much clinical knowledge for Step1 and not enough basic science!!!
    When we were in 3rd year, we wished that we would still have that much undivided attention that we had in 2nd year to study for the shelf exams. Yes, seeing hernia, hepatocellular carcinoma may help solidify your knowledge, but you will spent a majority of your time managing patients, order labs, prepraing for round and looking up article, topics for the attending etc. You also will likely to see that some diseases over and over again since those diseases are very common (even with a big diversified county hospital like Parkland, we’ve never seen some diseases that we learned in 2nd year). On the other hands, board exam will ask you everything, especially the rare but very lethal one.
    Hope this helps

  30. Further info I think worth bringing up:

    As you know already, UTSW is graded A/B/C/D/F and Baylor is graded H/HP/P/MP/F. So it IS the same thing, just different names. Regardless, by having these 2 systems – it is able to be used to compute class rank on your Dean’s letter and for induction into AOA. I’ve made all A’s, hence I prefer the letter grade system (go figure).

    You can go to this website to see which ones are truly graded on a strict Pass/Fail scale:
    http://services.aamc.org/currdir/section1/grading1.cfm

    My friend who went to Baylor told me the only bad thing about the basic sciences there is that Pharmacology really isn’t taught formally and is one of those things they have to self-study. That may have changed now, but it was a problem he mentioned: http://www.bcm.edu/osa/handbook/?PMID=5608

    Also each one of our basic science classes contributes a lot less credit hours, as compared to Baylor. For example at Baylor – Foundations Basic to Science of Medicine (FBSM) – 40 credit hours. Yikes!! Our credit hours are nowhere close to that: Physiology 4 credit hours, Biochemistry 3.5 credit hrs. etc.

    Also, just so you are aware almost ALL schools now have some preclinical experience integrated in the first 2 years (UTSW too).

  31. I can’t imagine being in classes from 9-4 everyday. (I don’t know the schedule @ UTSW but I know this is the case for other schools). Baylor’s 8am-12pm core curriculum is priceless and gives its students the time out of class to read/review/learn the material. The faculty know we’re smart kids and that we can handle the same volume of material in 1.5 years. The best part is that we then have 6 – 12 months of CLINICAL experience before we have to take Step 1. I don’t think people realize how priceless that experience is. You may not remember all the presenting features of a patient with hepatocellular carcinoma or what your primary concern is with a premie born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia if you learn it in class… but oh goodness! if you see a patient with it… it sticks in your head like glue. Furthermore, if you didn’t learn an area very well during your basic science coursework, the clinical rotations that you do before your step are so good at synthesizing the material for you and giving you such a great review!

    • Absolutely! Thatโ€™s the thing about BCM which has always set it apart from the other Texas medical schools in my mind. Having that clinical experience while our peers at other schools are still in their 2nd year of core sciences is, as you said, โ€œpriceless.โ€

      • LOL. Schools always talk about how their students get “early exposure” to patients and clinical medicine, as if it’s some big shit. It really doesn’t make a difference at all and now every school has it, including UTSW, UT-Houston, etc. It really doesn’t make any difference or stand out at residency interviews as ALL students have different curriculums and all schools boast so program directors could care less.

        You only see the blatant propaganda AFTER you get in med school. It’s like those schools that advocate PBL and make it sound like the coolest thing when in actuality it is more of a pain in the ass and a useless activity for students and less time to study.

  32. As as UTSW student, this is my 2 cents :
    When taking step 1, I realized how fortunate to have a 2-year curriculum for basic science instead of accelerated one . There is so much knowledge to absorbed in 1 and 1/2 year to be fully prepared for Step1. I also am grateful to have the summer between 1st and 2nd year that introduce me to research. Our 2nd year curriculum is also fully integrated with clinical medicine for a few years now, I feel that it adequately prepare me for Step 1 and the wards.
    As long as there is class rank reported to the residency director and competitive specialty out there, there will be competition for grade. We only appreciate the grading system when we reach 4th year. You may be made to think that High Pass is good enough until you reach 4th year and see that your class rank will not get you into good program. In the end, there is only 1/6-1/5 of the class (regardless of school) will ever get AOA.

    • Always nice to have the input from someone who knows this information first hand. I was thinking about exactly what you addressed – โ€œhigh passโ€ not being good enough. It seems kind of pointless to strive for high pass if such a large fraction of the class falls into that category from exam to exam.

  33. I am from Dallas. I have grown up wanting to go to UTSW.

    UTSW Pros (important to me):

    – Faculty is second to none (most nobel lauretes and members of national academy of science by a large number in texas)

    – The school is growing at a phenomenal rate: new parkland hospital ((1000 beds)in future), new ut southwestern hospital ((800 beds) in future), new tower to childrens hospital(just finished), new 5 story research building (just finished), 14 story research tower (under construction), new biomedical research – industry park (under construction)

    Now, I just need an acceptance.

  34. http://mdapplicants.com/viewprofile.php?id=9785

    Hey, sorry for the delayed reply. I’ve loved it at BCM and would make the same decision in a heartbeat. The clinical experience is wonderfully diverse and I believe you get a vigorous and thorough training. The opportunities of the medical center are unsurpassed, in my opinion. And the mentors and teachers are supportive and highly capable at what they do. Stuff I don’t like – lack of affordable parking in the TMC, so you make do with the rail and the bus. The basic science curriculum, although seemingly abbreviated in time, still covers the same volume so it feels very rushed. However, this is probably inherent in most schools’ curriculum. Although we do start clinics earlier, we have a shortened first year summer and our semesters start a month earlier than other schools in the first two years. So really, they haven’t shortened the curriculum time or cut out unnecessary stuff, it just appears to be that way. That said, the meat of medical education, IMO, is the clinical part anyway and I wouldn’t trade my BCM training for anything else. Furthermore, the opportunities for residency training in the med center are great for certain areas, so if you’re interested in those you’d tend to have a higher chance of getting to stay here being a BCM student.

  35. 1) The TMC IS the largest in the world.
    2) “Baylor HAD DeBakey, all they have now is his legacy.”
    3) UTSW kick’s Baylor’s butt by a long shot.
    4) HBU is Houston’s Best University!

  36. yes I’m a UTSW student. I think BCM is also an excellent school. I just don’t want people making decisions about a school based on assumptions or incorrect information.

  37. call me doctor, are you a current UTSW student?
    I personally love the school!

  38. Thank you for clearing that up! I didn’t post anything regarding the grading system on my original post, since I figured that it would change from year to year. I’m glad you made us aware of this fact.

  39. for the record, the only class graded on that 20-30-30-20 rule is the first one during first year which is biochem. And yes while some people may not like it, it actually benefits a large percentage of the class who come in and have not quite adapted. EVERY other class/block is graded on a cut off scale where if you make above a certain grade you get an A or whatever the grade is REGARDLESS of what the rest of the class makes. People PLEASE get your information right before you start talking down another school.

  40. I take it that you’re a BCM student? Haha, at least you can content yourself with the fact that whether BCM merges with Rice or not, you’re still a BCM medical student. ๐Ÿ™‚

  41. I’m sitting in the TMC library right now…
    Baylor looks awesome at night around Christmas!!
    Standing outside by the fountain, in front of the main entrance..
    I gaze up at the large bold print letters sprawled against the plaster of the building: METHODIST
    Oh, how I long for the good old days.

    Pros for BCM if merger w/ Rice follows thru:

    WE GET A GYM!!! AND ACCESS TO A SWIMMING POOL!! WHOOOOOOP!
    WE CAN HIT ON GOOD LOOKING RICE GIRLS!!!! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP!!
    WE CAN TELL THEM WE’RE MED STUDENTS AND SHOW THEM “OUR ANATOMY” lab……..BOOYEAH!

  42. Most every premed has his or her own dream school, but whether they get in is a matter of luck. All med schools are stressful but everyone still comes out a doctor at the end, regardless of the school. Do you really think a patient gives a damn if you went to UT Southwestern or BCM? Hell no! They don’t care where you became a doctor so long as you fix ’em up and get them healthy again. It is not set in stone that someone with a perfect GPA will necessarily become a better doctor than someone with say, a 3.7. Patients don’t care about that. If you became a doctor, then chances are very high that you are smart; otherwise the MCAT and your undergraduate studies would have ruled you out from Med School consideration. Competition in Med Schools will always exist, as you have to jock for top residency positions. However, if a doctor earned his degree in say, Guadalajara, and in his career saved more lives than a doctor who graduated from BCM or UTSW, then the most successful physician is the one from the inferior Guadalajara Med school. At any rate, patients come first, premed and med school student’s whims come last. That is my $0.03. Take it or leave it. But leave it…I need money. ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. At UTSW, only a certain number of students can get an A, B+, B, C, etc.
    At Baylor, if everyone does well, they could potentially all make As (highly rare though).
    For example, on any particular block exam at Baylor, 50% of the class could potentially make high honors, while only 20% of students are allowed to make an A at UTSW. UTSW implements the bell curve for Biochem & some other classes. For classes that don’t use the bell curve, the tests are usually made in such a way that the distribution looks Gaussian (i.e., more difficult that usual).

  44. Whats the real difference between pass/fail( masked A/B/C/F) and regular letter grading? Does it really make anyone feel better that instead of getting a B+ you’re getting a high pass? its all the same. The letter grading doesn’t foster a competitive nature…being a medical student fosters competition.lol. They are both wonderful schools, as someone said earlier…med school is stressful and a challenge regardless of where you go.

  45. Where we belong.
    If only it were so clear!
    My only reservation for choosing UTSW over BCM (if I were so fortunate to have the choice!) would be the grading system. I’m afraid of the UTSW method fostering excessive competition and ultimately compromising our characters.
    The specialty we find ourselves in ten years down the road mean very little if we lack the humility, compassion, and integrity to lead lives of greatness.

  46. Being the intelligent individual that you are, you’ll make the right decision based on where you felt the “best fit.” As for the other individuals, I guess you could auction off that BCM acceptance to pay for your first year at UTSW? ๐Ÿ˜‰ BCM is made out to be a flawless school, but if the last month has taught us anything, it’s the exact opposite. Regardless, my preference for BCM is for reasons which are completely independent of the politics. Its been my number one choice for a decade, but as I’ve matured, the reasons for the choice have changed. I just hope we all get in where we belong. ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. My heart tells me that UTSW is the right place, the best place for me; however, everyone around me puts Baylor on a pedestal. If I were to be fortunate enough to receive two acceptances this year, I wonder if I would have the courage to choose what is best for me rather than what is best for others…

  48. I’m a big UTSW fan =)
    If the grading policy changes to pass/fail or even the masked pass fail, I’m definitely heading there!!
    GoSpursGo, I think your stats for UTSW are correct. BCM’s mean MCAT went up a bit to 34.8 though, I believe.
    I heard that UTSW proposed the pass/fail idea not too long ago but that it was not passed. It would definitely be a step in the right direction =)

  49. Haha well regardless of whether I get in at UTSW, I know I’m going to a great school, and honestly, though if I got into UTSW I think that the second look weekend might play a big role in where I go, if I had to choose today I’m probably leaning towards BCM just because of the curriculum ๐Ÿ™‚ Just wanted to throw in my $0.02 on UTSW since it’s obvious that everyone around here pretty much has a love affair going on with BCM ๐Ÿ˜‰

  50. Thank you for contributing such a pragmatic review of both schools! Always appreciated. Honestly, I hope you don’t get into UT Southwestern. Houston needs more people like you. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Nah, I hope you go wherever you want to! Holding a BCM acceptance, you’re definitely on the right path. ๐Ÿ™‚

  51. Just a couple of notes; note that I’ve done research for two years at UTSW, so I’m not entirely unbiased:

    1) I really don’t and wouldn’t put much stock in those US rankings. They’re fairly arbitrary and do very little to tell you what school would be the best fit for an individual applicant; for med school, you really have to go with the best “fit.” Similarly, you can discount “prestige” for Baylor when comparing to UTSW, since as you point out, both get sick matches, so both are obviously well-respected. Also, you can toss out “stressful,” because honestly med school’s gonna be stressful wherever you go, regardless of the system- as you point out, two BCM students have committed suicide in recent years.

    2) Some of those numbers don’t sound right to me about UTSW. My MSAR for last year reports a median MCAT and GPA of 34.5 and 3.83; perhaps your source for UTSW was using means? Those numbers for Baylor are what I have in my MSAR.

    3) I heard from two very good sources (a Nobel Lauriate and one of the deans) while I was interviewing at UTSW that they are going to get rid of the bell curve soon, if not in time for our cycle of applicants, then soon after. It will be moving to pass/fail, though they’re not sure if it will be outright P/F or similar to Baylor’s masked A/B/C/D/F (aka H/HP/P/MP/F).

    Anyways, I adore the research opportunities at UT Southwestern, but I’m biased having done two summers of research there. Also, I love, love, LOVE Parkland, and I actually agree with UTSW’s system of having MS3s take “real call” (e.g. 30 hour shifts) as it gets you ready for residency. That said, as much as I love Parkland, I can’t lie-the TMC pretty much can’t be beat for clinicals, and I love the idea of the accelerated curriculum. Both schools are top-notch.

  52. Impartial Med Student

    Thanks so much for posting this, Rishi =)

    Let’s start with Baylor pros:

    TMC is amazing
    1.5 accelerated curriculum
    Prestige
    Possible merger with Rice
    Proximity to family, HBU, museum district, rose gardens, the list goes on..
    Sick residency matches

    Baylor Cons:

    Traber is gone (new president could be better or worse)
    DeBakey is gone (left a pretty cool legacy though)
    Feigin is gone
    BCM-affiliated Methodist doctors are leaving (could be fixed if the new president reunites Baylor with Methodist)
    MS1 is gone (committed suicide November 18, 2008 )
    MS2 is gone (MS1 committed suicide in 2007 )

    UTSW Pros:

    New Parkland slated to be built (won’t affect the class of 2013 much, but still pretty cool)
    Awesome Research (4 Nobel Laureates, more than any med school in the world)
    New College System is like the House system in Harry Potter (not a great reason to go to UTSW, but still pretty cool idea)
    Long White Coats (again, not the best UTSW selling point, lol)
    Dallas is clean and has nice drivers
    Sick residency matches

    UTSW Cons:

    Biochem & a few other classes graded on a curve
    First 3 years are A, B, C, D
    Stressful

    I tried to keep this unbiased as possible. I don’t want to offend anyone =) In the end, it ultimately depends on which school fits our personality the best. Hope this helps future applicants!

    • UTSW classes aren’t really graded on a curve- grades are only curved up (never down). So if the whole class does terribly, they’ll curve grades up so grades will be better but your grades will never be curved down. I just finished my second year at UTSW and I can honestly say we never had a class curved at all.

      I’ll admit I’m a bit biased since I go to UTSW. I didn’t even apply to Baylor (I was too connected to both of the students who recently committed suicide and didn’t want to put myself in the same situation they were in).

      I do agree to pick what fits your personality. I don’t know too much about Baylor since I didn’t apply there but UTSW is great- great faculty, great fellow students- lots of teamwork, group studying, and e-mailing of study sheets before tests. The colleges system is fantastic- you get a lot of small-group time with a faculty mentor so you learn the whole history and physical exam plus getting to practice taking histories and doing physicals on Parkland and St. Paul patients (including psych). And you form a relationship with a faculty member who’s there to help you with anything- it’s a great resource and a great starting point for any problems or questions you might have. And the first semester being pass/fail is pretty awesome, too…

  53. Honestly, I like BCM more, more so than Harvard Med. I had never heard of UT Southwestern until I started HBU, which pretty much denotes my ignorance, but now that you have shed information on it, I am inclined to apply with them, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Baylor has a rich history, and the accelerated core sounds appealing to me, too, as I want to finish ASAP. However, I wouldn’t mind getting out of the city, there are too many things distracting me in Houston, and I cannot study well at times. Must be my little nephews screaming all the time when they visit. Besides, there are more talented applicants than myself that SHOULD go to that school. I am Super Sayain, but you are Super Sayain 3…with the long hair.

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