So I come across this link for Stewart Uniersity: New Scotland International School of Medicine, which is apparently a “new medical school” and is somehow just down the road from Stanford. Funny, I’ve never heard of it. So I delve a little deeper, and my “sketchy”-dar (similar to gaydar) starts to go off. As I delve a bit deeper, I’m even more concerned for students and potential applicants (has scamming moved to medical schools now?). Let’s investigate the general info first:
- Right off the bat, the school claims to be “the #1 leader in US medical education.” Them’s some big balls you got there, Stewart.
- “Stewart University is the first medical school to open west of the Mississippi in the past 45 years.SM” Okay, fine, got me there — we need more doctors!
Stewart University is an International School of Medicine. Our curriculum is the standard allopathic (MD) degree discipline. The accelerated 16 month MD degree curriculum completes the basic science courses in first four semesters.
The World Health Organization (WHO) requires recognized MD degree granting programs to be at least 30 months in length. The Stewart University MD program is 34 months in length for a student with normal degree progress.
So they’re somehow an “International Medical School,” operating in the US. While the WHO may recognize an MD program as one with 30 months of teaching, I’m pretty sure the AAMC and other licensing bodies require a 4-year medical school, no?
2 years and ten months total program length
3 starting classes per year: January, May, September
No MCAT – NOT required for MD licensure
No Bachelor’s Degree – NOT required for MD licensure
No Minimum Undergrad Credit Hrs -NOT required for MD licensure
No AMCAS Application, Apply Directly via School Website
No Age Limit
Provisional Admittance – for those without prerequisites
Equal Admissions Process for All Applicants
Immediate Admissions Application Review
Okay, it is freaking awesome that you wouldn’t have to take the MCAT. But really–you don’t even need to go to college? No Bachelor’s Degree?
- Letters of Recommendation are not required.
- Interviews are done over the phone. Fine by me!
- $950 non-refundable “seat reservation fee?” That has to be paid, via Paypal, within 48 hours of “initial acceptance?” Skeeeeetchy.
- Stewart University School of Medicine reserves the right to change or modify tuition rates at will. So I could enroll, and two days later the tuition could be $100,000 an hour?
- I love the handy Tuition Comparison Chart. Wow, if you go to Stewart University, you save a whole $9,000 a year over Stanford or USC. And you receive, according to the chart, a Curriculum with “Equivalent books and instruction as other Calif Med Schools**”. I had no idea.
- This has to be a joke, right? None of the administrators (most of which appear to have their most recent photo from World War II) have an MD, and there’s only 4 faculty, and only 3 with MDs?
- Two big red flags here: Student Recruiter job posting and one of the 4 staff positions is Marketing Illustrator (shown at left).
- On further inspection: It’s called Stewart University because most of the university is run by The Stewarts! William Bullock Stewart, Sr. is Provost Emeritus, his son, William Bullock Stewart, Jr. is Provost, and his son, William Bullock Stewart, III is Chancellor. The Board of Advisors, Ronald S. Steward, Rosemary E. O’Hara, and James T. Stewart are all of the Stewart clan as well, as well as the Marketing Illustrator.
- Okay, good, they say they cover all the basic science stuff for preclinical work, and their textbook list is probably pretty similar to what I mostly studied from.
- “The Basic Science phase includes didactic instruction (and may have cable television instruction available also).” Where are they getting the bodies for anatomy? Are they even allowed to have bodies to dissect if they’re not accredited?
The Clinical phase of the curriculum is intended to be conducted at various U.S. Veteran’s Administration hospitals around the United States and Caribbean Island locations. This affords great flexibility to the student, particularly those on active duty or mobilized, to perform clinical rotations in military treatment facilities and tertiary care military hospitals around the world.
I guess this is how international medical students do it.
- It would seriously worry me if my school had a whole section on Accreditation, and the first sentence of the page was, “It is not illegal to operate a school without possessing an accreditation.”
- And the kicker, buried in the text: “For-profit institutions almost always have to wait 2 years after starting operations before they are eligible to submit an application for accreditation.” Oh, well there we go. You’re a for-profit medical school. I was guessing I’d find that somewhere. So you can teach, and provide the same training as any other California medical school, and take a cut as profit? Color me skeptical.
- There’s also a blank but present page on Known Falsehoods, whatever that means.
- Finally, there’s a big long-winded explanation about how the school is somehow on “Federal land,” not “California State Land,” so if you call California, they’ll say the school is not recognized, but it doesn’t matter, ’cause it’s on Federal land.
It all leaves me pretty darn puzzled, ’cause when you Google the school’s address, you end up with A Postal Annex Store in Los Gatos, California — no medical school listing — and I’m pretty sure the Postal Annex isn’t Federal Land.
Sure, some of these features go along with some of the features of the Caribbean Medical Schools — but an accelerated curriculum, with almost no requirements for admission, and a campus that appears to be a mailbox in a Mailboxes Etc. store? Stay away, pre-meds, stay far, far away.
(I know my tone in places is snarky or sarcastic, but in all seriousness, I think there are reasons that American medical schools require things like the MCAT, admissions essays, and letters of recommendations. Mainly those being that as an MD you will be responsible for people’s lives, and it’s not something you should be able to just “sign up and do ’cause you feel like it,” which seems like the gist of the marketing campaign of Stewart University. I’ll admit I don’t know a whole lot about the Caribbean medical schools or licensure process in the US for IMGs, but these groups at least seem more interested in putting out good doctors than just somehow skirting around the requirements to get an MD through a loophole.)
Update: I just spoke to a man who answered the phone, who was very confrontational when I asked “Where is the school located?” He started rambling about how ValueMD and StudentDoctor have been harassing and stalking people from the school. He admitted the address on the website is a PO Box, and said the school does not release the address or location of the school until an applicant has been accepted. (“Fine by me,” I said, “But it seems a little weird that a medical school wouldn’t be visitable or even map-able.”) He then noted that “members of Al Queda have been in contact” with the school, and the school had to file a “400 page document with the FBI” because of this. Yowsers.
Update 2: A spammer for Stewart University was banned from ValueMD, and a little more searching finds that Stewart University was removed from Wikipedia for possible fraud. According to this poster, none of the MDs from Stewart University were licensed in the state of California.
It looks like the school took over the high school in Oxnard, CA, because let me tell you, these photos are definitely not from beaches in Northern California, and it was trying to buy the high school apparently.
On Stewart University’s News page almost none of the links lead to actual stories. The Stanford Daily has published no stories about it, The San Jose Mercury News has no stories on it, nor does The LA Times. Hmmm.