Two Universities Collaborate to Develop Autism Specialist Training Program
St. Joseph’s University and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia are collaborating to develop the country’s first program to train future physicians as autism specialists.
According to a report by Whyy.org, the program will begin this year, and will allow St. Joseph’s students majoring or minoring in autism behavioral studies to participate in Jefferson’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College Scholar’s Program in their junior year. Students will also have the opportunity to enter medical school “MCAT-free” following graduation.
Dr. Mark Tykocinski, provost of Thomas Jefferson University, said the U.S. health care system is “woefully unprepared” to meet the needs of the autism population outside of autism-specific interventions. Over 3.5 million Americans are now living with autism, according to Whyy.org’s report. Tykocinski believes training physicians will “fundamentally change medical care for individuals with autism.”
In order to be admitted to Sidney Kimmel Medical College through the autism program without submitting M-CAT scores, St. Joseph’s students must maintain a 3.5 grade point average in science, and spend at least 500 hours working directly with individuals with autism. According to the report, they must also “achieve an ACT score of 30 or a minimum composite SAT score of 1350 with no score in either the critical reading or mathematics section lower than 650.”
Students participating in the program will have the opportunity to pursue research at Jefferson University under Joseph McCleery, an autism researcher and executive director of academic programs at the Kinney Center. Students will also attend a six-week “summer experience” at Jefferson after their junior year, that will focus on scholarly research and case-based learning.