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  • 2023
  • SCU’s Master of Science in Medical Science utilizes technology, USMLE-styled questions to prepare students for entry into medical school

SCU’s Master of Science in Medical Science utilizes technology, USMLE-styled questions to prepare students for entry into medical school


SCU’s post-baccalaureate Online or Blended Master of Science in Medical Science (MSMS) degree is designed to assist students who want to enhance their academic credentials for entry into medical, dental, physician assistant, veterinarian, or other professional healthcare programs, preparing them for careers as transformational leaders in healthcare. Alumna and MSMS Director Award Recipient Philline Eunice Castanares Tumbaga is one such student. In Fall 2022, she completed her MSMS degree and has since been accepted into the Doctor of Medicine program at Ponce Health Sciences University School of Medicine at St. Louis (PHSU).  

The MSMS program is designed to be an accelerated academic program to quickly move students forward in their careers. As part of SCU’s university partnerships, the top 20% of each MSMS graduating class is offered an interview at Ponce Health Sciences University, a U.S. regionally accredited M.D. program with locations in St. Louis and Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Building students’ confidence to excel in healthcare professions

SCU alumna Philline Eunice Castanares Tumbaga at the PHSU white coat ceremony

After her successful placement, Philline celebrated her commencement in the latest cohort of PHSU medical students in the white coat ceremony July 27, 2023.

Speaking with SCU, Philline said she aspires to be a physician who works in a fast-paced environment. The way the MSMS program mimicked the first year of medical school reassured her that it was the right path for her and helped her prepare for entry into a rigorous medical school program at PHSU.

“MSMS definitely gave me more confidence in excelling in medical school, and having the opportunity to do it a second time around will make me better equipped to remember the high-yield important topics for the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) exam,” she said.

SCU utilizes USMLE-styled questions to build upon current educational models for effective learning. The MSMS curriculum and course delivery give MSMS students insights into how they will perform on future admissions, board, and licensure exams while also preparing them for a range of fields.

“The program includes a wealth of foundational health sciences knowledge including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, histology and cell biology and many more courses that help create new pathways to many healthcare careers,” Program Director Dr. Raheleh Khorsan said.

Assessing performance in a flipped classroom

Technology is essential in aiding in the creation of these pathways. One way technology is used to assist both students and faculty in the MSMS flipped classroom format is through the iClicker platform, which encourages engagement as well as provides data on how students are performing.

Philline noted that “The iClicker questions held me accountable to watch the Self-Directed Learning videos and study the material before attending class. The data provided after each question gave me an idea on what I know, what I don’t know, and what I should’ve already known based on how my peers answered.”

In addition to iClicker assessments, which track student responses in real-time, SCU’s video engagement tool tells students exactly how much time they have spent with the Self-Directed Learning videos on a course-by-course basis.

Each student is assigned a faculty advisor to help them achieve academic goals, address challenges, make timely progress toward degree completion, and succeed as a future healthcare professional. If a student is at any point concerned about their performance, they can work with their advisor, MSMS faculty, and program director Dr. Khorsan to develop a support and improvement plan.

As an online or blended master program, MSMS utilizes a flipped classroom format, emphasizing self-directed learning of theoretical content through online lectures and completing assigned readings before class. 

During class, students’ time is dedicated to immersive discussions, interactive cases, and collaborative group work. Students also have access to pre-recorded lectures given by MSMS faculty on concepts and learning material critical for in-class sessions and examinations.

In class sessions, students are tested in real-time using iClicker response clickers and engagement tools. These interactive engagement tools empower students to assess their understanding of the material, and feedback is submitted to MSMS faculty in real-time so that they can better adapt to students’ learning needs.

Data is collected daily from MSMS students and then combined with MSMS students at SCU partner institutions to measure student comprehension, identifying subjects where students need help and highlighting areas where students excel.

Clicker quizzes are also used along with Canvas quizzes and other exam analytics in MSMS monthly analytics reports, which include a breakdown of how students are performing in each USMLE system and discipline across their classes. “The MSMS analytics gives students the confidence to know they’ll succeed when entering secondary health science programs including medical school, dentistry school, physician assistant school, and many more,” Dr. Khorsan said.

Setting future medical practitioners up for success

When asked if she has any advice for current and future MSMS students, Philline stressed, “Take it one exam at a time, but also make sure you aren’t falling behind. Designate a time to relax and do the things you love. It’s very important to have a strong support system who will understand the demands and rigor of the program and this career path.” This emphasis on balance and having a strong support system has set her up for success at PHSU and in her future career endeavors.

The MSMS program is available both online and blended, with starting dates in the fall, spring, and summer terms. Students may opt for one of three program schedules and delivery method combinations, and the entire program can be completed in as little as three terms.

In addition to PHSU, SCU’s MSMS graduates are eligible for guaranteed interviews and scholarships at three additional partner institutions: American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, A.T. Still University of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona, and Ross University School of Medicine. To learn more, visit scuhs.edu/.

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