CUMC Staff Tapped for Help with MCAT Prep

December 22, 2014

Columbia University was well represented in this year’s competition to create free online resources to help students prepare for next year's MCAT medical college admission test. The MCAT has been revised for 2015 to reflect changes in medical education. For example, a social and behavioral sciences section has been added in recognition of the importance of sociocultural and behavioral determinants of health outcomes. A new critical analysis and reasoning skills section acknowledges the need for well-rounded applications from a variety of backgrounds.

Last year, the Khan Academy, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created two competitions to identify resources that will help students prepare for the MCAT. One P&S student was among last year's 15 winners. The Khan Academy has posted 500 videos and 600 practice MCAT questions since the competitions began.

This year, three people associated with Columbia were recognized in the competitions. They received hands-on training with Khan Academy leaders to create new videos, questions, and articles for the academy’s MCAT collection, which provides free resources for undergraduate and pre-med students interested in pursuing health professions.

Garrick Trapp, a research assistant in the CUMC Pancreas Center, was a competition winner this year in the MCAT question/article category. “I am excited by the opportunity to develop open access to education, which can profoundly alter the lives of many individuals by making a health care career more attainable.”

Sruti Nadimpalli, a fellow in pediatric infectious diseases at P&S until she left in June to join the Stanford medical school faculty, was also a winner in the question/article category. “Having had the privilege of a quality education and excellent teachers throughout my medical career, I believe that any person driven to learn should have unfettered access to expert instruction,” says Dr. Nadimpalli.

Efrat Bruck was an MCAT video competition winner. A former high school teacher, Ms. Bruck worked in a nephrology lab run by Jonathan Barasch, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and of pathology & cell biology, when she entered the competition. She is currently a technician in the lab while she applies for medical school for admission in 2015. “Khan Academy has always been an invaluable resource for me. It enriched my undergraduate experience, aided me in preparing for the MCAT, and helped me tremendously in my educational work as a high school teacher,” says Ms. Bruck. One of the videos she submitted, “Kidney and Nephron Structure,”  is available on YouTube. Her DNA tutorial is on the Kahn Academy website.

The three were among 12 video competition winners and 20 question- and article-writing competition winners this year. Read more about the competition at the Khan website.