After a nine-month process, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has received all approvals needed to grow its class size from 42 to 49. The expansion will start with the Class of 2024, which is set to begin study this fall.
When Lee Learman arrived as the new dean in July 2019, one of his first initiatives was to explore growing the class size at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, which is currently among the smallest medical schools in the country.
In fall 2019, Learman formed a Class Size Incremental Increase Task Force to look at possible expansion. The task force featured faculty, staff, and students to get a variety of inputs and to weigh if there was room to expand. A high priority for the task force was maintaining the best parts of a small class size, including comradery among classmates, easy access to faculty, and some signature pieces of the curriculum, such as small-group, problem-based learning.
The task force recommended initial growth of seven students – the number chosen because it would require one additional small group for the problem-based learning method.
The medical school submitted a request to expand to its accrediting body, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), which approved the request in February. The college then sought approval from the university, Virginia Tech, as well as Carilion Clinic to make sure the additional students could be accommodated. With each partner’s approval, the VTCSOM Medical Curriculum Committee and Academic Committee formally approved the expansion this week.
“We thank all of the faculty, students, and staff who served on the growth task force and whose thoughtful recommendations guided our request for growth,” said Learman. “Also thank you to the commitment of Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and Carilion Clinic CEO Nancy Howell Agee for their support of these growth discussions over the last nine months.”
Since its charter class, the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has received thousands of applications for the 42 available spots. Over the last four years, the medical school received 4,000 or more applications for 42 spots. A majority of applicants are academically qualified for admittance.
“Increasing our class size using an incremental approach equivalent to one small group allows us to preserve part of what makes us special – maintaining close, personal relationships among students and faculty – while also giving more people who are deserving and qualified the opportunity to experience it each year,” said Learman.
The admissions team is monitoring current acceptances to see if additional offers will need to be made. Admitted students must hold only one medical school acceptance by April 30, so the class make-up will be more apparent by that date.
“If there was ever a time when we needed a strong, health-systems minded physician workforce, it is now. We look forward to welcoming 49 incoming students in the Class of 2024 to increase our contribution to that workforce,” Learman said. “Looking at the talent and diversity of our current applicants, I’m confident that these future physician thought leaders will fit in well with our growing community of students and alumni at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.”