SOM Admissions Policy Statement
The primary goal of The University of New Mexico School of Medicine (UNM SOM) is to produce outstanding, skilled and humanistic physicians to serve the broad healthcare needs of New Mexico. The educational program strives to imbue the medical student with a deep concern for continuing intellectual growth that will lead to a lifelong commitment to learning. Having a diverse student body is essential to enhance teaching and learning for all students, and establishes foundations for expansive educational and health care related benefits.1 To these ends, the admissions process evaluates and selects individuals who demonstrate the capacity to meet both the academic rigor and personal challenges they may encounter in the career of medicine, which are fundamental to the making of a physician of excellence. Selection is based on evaluation of both intellectual and personal characteristics that the committee feels are desirable to produce excellent physicians.
Holistic-review admissions involves broadening the range of admission criteria to help medical schools establish and implement institution-specific, diversity-related policies that will advance their core educational goals and mission while giving balanced consideration to Experiences, Attributes and Metrics (EAM) of each applicant.2 All applications receive individualized consideration and are reviewed competitively in one pool. In evaluating applicants through a holistic admissions process, the following are considered:
Experiences: This category encompasses the applicant’s path to get to where they are.
- Examples of experiences include, but are not limited to, the extent to which the applicant has overcome educational and/or economic obstacles, being the primary caregiver for an ill family member, distance traveled, educational background, employment history, experience in a health care setting, or research experience.
Attributes: This category includes the applicant’s skills and abilities, personal and professional characteristics, and demographic factors.
- Examples of skills and abilities include active listening, problem solving, written and oral communication, critical thinking and being multilingual.
- Examples of personal and professional characteristics include integrity, resilience, adaptability, persistence, academic and personal motivation, intellectual curiosity, maturity, humility and empathy.
- Examples of demographic factors include socioeconomic status, parental education levels, geography (living or working in a rural community), being a first-generation college student, race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.
Metrics: This category includes the academic/quantitative components of the applicant’s portfolio, most notably GPA and MCAT scores.
The healthcare workforce strives to meet local and national healthcare needs as comprehensively as possible by providing quality, compassionate, patient-centered care to effectively reach all populations throughout the United States. The challenges to developing a physician workforce that reflects and can offer quality care for our complex and richly diverse nation are considerable.3 It is recognized that New Mexico has unique problems in the access to and delivery of health care, particularly in the distribution of health care personnel. UNM SOM has an obligation to help meet the physician workforce needs of the state by selection of students who are likely to train in specialty areas of need and to remain in or return to the areas in New Mexico needing physicians. Cognizance is also taken of attributes of applicants that indicate a strong motivation to practice in medically underserved areas of the state. Other applicant attributes that are viewed favorably by the committee include regional bilingual skills, demonstrated research capabilities, independent learning skills, excellence in educational achievement, demonstrated leadership abilities and evidence of commitment to public service. Consequently, while there are multiple paths to medical school, there is only one path to becoming a practicing physician. Admissions is an essential access point – a critical door to medical school education and the practice of medicine. Thus, the admissions committee, is uniquely positioned to shape the future physician workforce.
As noted by Dr. Darrel Kirch, AAMC president and CEO, “Research shows that groups of people with varied backgrounds and ways of viewing the world outperform groups of people who have similar backgrounds and perspectives. Medical students who are educated in a diverse group report that they are better able to work with patients of variable backgrounds. As a driver of excellence, diversity in its broadest sense if the key to achieving health equity.”4 "Our lives and work are increasingly global, interconnected, and unpredictable. Our nation is aging and diversifying, and disparities and inequities in health care are deepening. The health care system is becoming less accessible and affordable, and a significant shortage of health professionals looms. Yet despite these challenges, the promise and potential of medicine to cure disease, alleviate suffering, overcome disability, and improve our quality of life have never been greater."5
It is the goal of the UNM SOM to navigate these challenges, strengthen the communities we serve and improve the health of the State of New Mexico with a critical focus on the benefits of diversity in medicine. A diverse student body is essential to the School of Medicine’s educational mission. The committee strives to consider the unique qualities of each applicant who present with a wide range of diverse interests, accomplishments and goals. Diversity benefits all students by creating a dynamic, productive and positive learning environment as well as promoting the understanding of different backgrounds and cultural humility. In addition to benefits in the classroom, diversity in the medical-school setting also helps to improve access to health care for vulnerable populations.6 Diversity helps the School of Medicine educate individuals how to be effective clinicians in New Mexico’s multi-cultural environment. The School of Medicine is committed to racial and ethnic diversity with special reference to the inclusion of students from groups that are underrepresented in medicine in New Mexico. Having a critical mass of such students is essential for the educational benefits of diversity and for training doctors to practice in New Mexico’s medically underserved communities as well as diversifying the overall physician workforce in New Mexico.
As a state-supported institution in a state where health care needs are great, UNM SOM feels strongly that the majority of the accepted applicants should be residents of New Mexico, graduates of a NM high school or a dependent of a NM resident. The school acknowledges a secondary obligation to students in western states without medical schools through participation in the Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE) program and will continue to accept a few of these students each year. The school accepts a few out-of-state residents with exceptional qualifications: members of a Federally-recognized Native American tribe and active military stationed in NM.
As a subcommittee of the Committee on Admissions, the Combined BAMD Degree Program Admissions Committee considers applicants from NM and Navajo Nation high schools. The Combined BAMD Degree Program Admissions Committee adheres to the policy set forth in this document with a consistent mission.
The School of Medicine periodically reviews this Admissions Policy Statement to consider, whether it remains responsive to the needs of the school and the State of New Mexico.
Approved by School of Medicine Committee on Admissions: March 11, 2019
Approved by School of Medicine Committee of Chairs: May 29, 2019
Approved by School of Medicine faculty: August 29, 2019
- Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Functions and structure of a medical school: Standards for Accreditation of Medical Education Programs Leading to the M.D. Degree. (2016). Standard 10: Medical Student Selection, Assignment, and Progress and Standard 3: Academic and Learning Environments.
- Addams AN, Bletzinger RB, Sondheimer HM, White SE, Johnson LM. Roadmap to diversity: Integrating holistic review practices into medical school admission processes. Washington (DC). Association of American Medical Colleges; 2010.
- Coleman AL, Palmer SR, Winnick SY. Roadmap to diversity: Key legal and educational policy foundations for medical schools. Washington, D.C. Association of American Medical Colleges; 2008.
- Kirch DC. Transforming admissions: The gateway to medicine. JAMA 2012: 308(21):2250-2251.
- Association of American Medical Colleges, Group on Diversity and Inclusion. https://www.aamc.org/members/gdi/about/. Accessed on October 16, 2018.
- Talamantes E, Henderson MC, Fancher TL, Mullan F. Closing the Gap – Making Medical School Admissions More Equitable. N Engl J Med. 2019;380(9):803-805. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1808582.
The University of New Mexico is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity institution. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, this material is available in alternative formats upon request.