September 9, 2021

These are the doctors of tomorrow

The Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine trains physicians from a wide range of backgrounds.

After an unusual and competitive admissions process during the COVID-19 pandemic, the class of 2025 gathered for welcoming events before the school year began.

Getting into medical school in 2021 was more challenging than usual given a nationwide surge in applicants, inspired in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, nearly 2 dozen medical schools saw applications jump by at least 25%. With a class size of just 50, the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine received so many applications it was only able to accept 0.5%, making its admission rate among the most competitive in the country. 

The school opened its doors in 2020 and officially welcomed its second class to campus in Pasadena, California, in August 2021. Over the next 4 years, the school’s leaders and faculty will guide these students on their journey to becoming outstanding doctors and advocates for change within the medical profession.

Training medical students with diverse backgrounds

The class of 2025 reflects the school’s vision of increasing the number of doctors in America with a broad range of backgrounds and experiences. Improving diversity in the medical profession is critical to providing care that meets the needs of diverse patient populations and reduces disparities in health outcomes.

Among the 50-member class, 40% come from groups that are underrepresented in medicine. For example, 30% of students self-identify as members of the LGBTQ community. More than 26% come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, and 18% were the first in their families to complete a 4-year degree.

In addition, 34% are nontraditional students — including people 25 and older, career changers, and others who didn’t go straight to medical school after completing a 4-year college degree.

“The class of 2025, like our inaugural class, is deeply compassionate, diverse, and intellectually curious,” said Mark Schuster, MD, PhD, founding dean and CEO of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine. “We are thrilled to welcome them as they embark upon their medical school journey.”

Anne Eacker, MD, senior associate dean for student affairs, added, “We are looking forward to what the next year holds for the school as we continue to build a radically inclusive community for students, staff, and faculty.”

Creating opportunity by reducing debt

The school has waived tuition for all students entering from 2020 through 2024 for all 4 years of their education. This helped the school recruit and admit a diverse group of students, including those who may have thought medical school was beyond their financial means. It also will give graduates more flexibility in choosing career paths, since they won’t be burdened by significant debt from student loans.

Olivia Goodman, a member of the class of 2025, hopes to focus on reducing health disparities.

“The school’s mission to work at the intersection of public health and medicine spoke to me and my goals,” she said. “The promotion of health equity through quality patient care is of the utmost importance. I want to dedicate my career to this aspiration.”