CUNY School of Medicine Sophie Davis Program

Health Care July 2021 PREMIUM
Written by Annabel Santana, Assistant Dean for Academic & Faculty Affairs CUNY School of Medicine-The City College of New York

Located in the heart of Harlem, the CUNY School of Medicine (CSOM) builds on the successful Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, an innovator in medical education since 1973, whose mission is to provide access to medical education to youth from economically disadvantaged and racial/ethnic backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented in medicine (URiM). The School’s mission is also to produce broadly educated, highly skilled medical practitioners who can provide quality health services to communities historically underserved by primary care practitioners. CSOM’s BS/MD program is designed as an integrated curriculum in medical studies, that incorporates MD courses throughout the 7-year trajectory. During the first three years of the program, students fulfill all requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree. After successfully completing the three-year sequence and meeting all MD program requirements, students transfer into the four-year MD segment of the program. No additional application or MCAT exams are required.

In addition to the BS/MD program, the CSOM is home to one of the nation’s oldest Physician Assistant programs leading to the Master of Science degree, which shares the same mission of training primary care clinicians to serve New York’s most vulnerable and underserved populations. The CUNY School of Medicine is a unit of the City College of New York (CCNY) - the flagship college of the nation’s largest public university system, the City University of New York (CUNY).

Recruitment and admissions

Almost all of CSOM’s BS/MD students are admitted directly from high school.  The admissions process consists of a holistic review of each applicant’s academic profile (e.g. high school transcript, exam scores and performance in math and sciences); student essays and recommendation letters.  Evidence of leadership potential, participation in enrichment/honors programs, extracurricular activity, volunteerism and community service are also considered. Students who meet the minimum academic requirements and demonstrate interests and qualities that align with the school’s mission are invited to interview.

The CUNY School of Medicine offers two pipeline programs: The Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP), that encourages underrepresented minority high school students to consider careers in science and medicine; and the Health Professions Mentorship Program (HPMP), an enrichment program for rising high school juniors considering health care careers.

(For details regarding admissions and the pipeline programs, see: )

Student body and student life

Since its founding in 1973, the Sophie Davis program has enrolled and trained URiM medical school graduates at rates more than three times those of other US medical schools. In the academic year 2020-21, 51% of CSOM’s students identified as URiM (ie, Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino) as compared to 14% nationally and 13% in NY medical schools1. Among URiM students, 14.5% of CSOM’s students identified as Hispanic or Latino, versus 6.7% nationally and 5.8% across NY State2. Seventy-five percent of the incoming class of fall 2021 self-identify as URiM.

CSOM students are active in a wide variety of student organizations reflecting their special interests, and have access to a wealth of cultural, social and artistic events, nearly 150 student organizations, and an extensive intramural and intercollegiate athletics program at the City College. CSOM also provides opportunities for students to participate in research with program faculty.

Student support

The CUNY School of Medicine provides a number of supports to students to help them succeed:

•  Summer Pre-matriculation Program: open to all newly admitted students, the program provides an introduction to our curriculum and to mastery learning seminars that address a variety of topics, such as study skills, time management, teamwork, effective study groups, and information about progression through all phases of the program.

•  New Student Seminar (NSS 100): In their first semester, all students complete a required noncredit orientation course designed to help students adjust to the demands of college and eventually to the demands of medical school.

•  Learning Resource Center (LRC): Staffed by a team of learning specialists, the LRC provides free individual and small group tutoring and other resources designed to help students develop lifelong learning skills, and assist students in completing their medical education.

•  Student Advising: Upon admission to the program, each student is assigned an academic advisor who meets with students both individually and in small groups, and remains engaged with the student throughout the undergraduate segment of the program.

  Career Advising: provides individual advising on career planning, specialty selection, and the residency application process to students in the MD segment of the program.

•  AccessAbility Center: provides coordination and implementation of academic adjustments, auxiliary aids, and support services for students with disabilities.

  Psychological Counseling Services: staffed by licensed clinical psychologists and a psychiatrist who have a detailed knowledge of the school’s programs, the CSOM Counseling Office provides counseling services to students free of charge.

•  Parents Council: founded to enhance communications between parents and the school, the Council is a source of strong support for CSOM and its programs.

Our Alumni

Two-thirds of the program’s 2,000+ graduates currently practice in New York State, and to date, more than 40% of graduates have pursued primary care careers – an overwhelming majority of these physicians are URiM. The Sophie Davis Program/CUNY School of Medicine remains committed to meeting the needs of underserved communities, increasing diversity in the medical profession, and changing the way the nation approaches medical education and delivers health care.

1. Association of American Medical Colleges. Table B-3: Total U.S. Medical School Enrollment by Race/Ethnicity and Sex, 2016-2017 through 2020-2021.  Available at

2. Association of American Medical Colleges. Table B-5.1: Total Enrollment by U.S. Medical School and Race/Ethnicity (Alone), 2020-2021.  Available at

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