COVID-19 Updates

This page will be updated periodically as new information and FAQs come in. Please be sure to check back regularly for the latest resources and advice.

Official Updates:

Allopathic Medicine (MD)

Osteopathic Medicine (DO)

  1. Did your school move to offering only online curriculum during the COVID-19 crisis?

  2. Did you have an opportunity to receive a letter grade for any of your courses taken during the COVID-19 crisis?

  3. The third is an open response essay question prompting applicants to describe how COVID-19 has impacted their pathway to medical school. The question is open ended and allows applicants up to 2500 characters for them to describe any academic, personal, financial or professional barriers that COVID-19 may have presented for them. 

Dental Medicine (DMD/DDS)

Podiatric Medicine (DPM)

The AACPM is suspending, in part, its current Traffic Rules to mitigate requirements for the following:

  • Official MCAT. The colleges have agreed to temporarily waive Item II.5 of the AACPMAS Traffic Rules for the remainder of the application cycle, which states "Schools and colleges will not take final admissions action, including a request for deposit or a matriculation agreement, prior to the receipt of an official MCAT (or DAT) standardized test score. An official score is accepted only through the AACPMAS program."

If your spring MCAT (or DAT) has been cancelled, this means the school or college now has the prerogative to modify testing requirements for you. Each school or college will provide you with their specific modifications. Additionally, the AACPM and its colleges of podiatric medicine wish to confirm the following:

1. Acceptance of online and/or distance learning prerequisites: all schools and colleges will accept Spring 2020 prerequisites that are delivered via online or distance learning.

2. Courses taken as Pass/No Pass: all schools and colleges will accept Spring 2020 prerequisites that are graded Pass/No Pass

3. In-person Interviews: Interviews may now be conducted via video-conference technology or other acceptable means.

While the AACPM is a resource for you during the application process, we do encourage you to reach out to the schools and colleges of podiatric medicines’ offices of admissions for additional guidance on starting or completing an application. Contact information for each college can be found here: https://www.aacpm.org/colleges/.

Allied Health Professions

Pharmacy: American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)

Physical Therapy: American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)

Physician Assistant: Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA)

Veterinary: Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC)

Testing Services Websites

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What academic policies have changed for OXY this semester?

“You will have the option to elect Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) grading mode for each of your courses after seeing the letter grade.” Please review the message from Wendy Sternberg, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College on the new grading policy for Spring 2020.

What will medical schools think if I opt to C/NC?

We encourage you to stay motivated, persevere with hard work, and strive for alpha letter grade, especially for BCPM courses. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your adaptability and resiliency as aspiring healthcare providers, clinicians, and scientists.

As of May 5, 2020, AAMC declared that alternative grades such as CR/NR are considered as supplemental hours. Supplemental hours will not be included in the AMCAS GPA calculation. Medical schools are well aware of the unique challenges that students are facing now, so courses taken in Spring 2020/Summer 2020 will be reviewed in context. That said, Bs are fine grades and you shouldn't select CR/NC just because you are worried you may get one or more Bs this semester. Also, a “C” by itself won't keep you out of medical or other health professions schools. Consider opting to CR/NR for non-science classes if that helps you focus on doing well on the prerequisites, and be sure to reach out to your faculty and OXY’s Academic Support team for personalized support.

Ultimately, one course/one semester is a small part of your academic performance and it should not impact the big picture. For first-year and sophomore students, be sure to demonstrate an upward GPA trend. For juniors and seniors, focus on doing well on MCAT and securing strong letters of recommendation.

What if I have an incomplete course?

For any course in which a student has received an Incomplete, and then a letter grade after completing the course, students will list the grade as I/A (or I/B, I/C, depending on the student's grade) in AMCAS. Students should click the "Incomplete" box for this course. During the AMCAS verification process, the alpha letter grade will be confirmed and calculated appropriately into the GPA.

Can I take courses over the summer? Do I need to transfer the credits to Oxy? What would medical schools think about an online course?

You may take courses over the summer, but with limitations. Students can transfer coursework from an accredited institution to Oxy for credit. However, students currently registered at Oxy must obtain prior approval to take courses at another institution. All transfer courses require prior approval by the department offering similar courses at Oxy, and by the student’s adviser. Transfer courses used for Core requirements also require prior approval by the Core Director. The “Transfer Credit & Course Substitution Form” is available through the Office of the Registrar. Refer to the Transfer Credit section of the catalog for complete information.

If the summer course is not needed to fulfill Occidental College graduation requirements, but is a prerequisite for medical or health profession school applications, you do not need to obtain prior approval from any department or adviser, nor do you need to transfer the credits to Oxy. For online courses, refer to the Official Updates section above. Each program’s COVID-19 pass/fail policies might also include information about online courses and labs. However, be sure to visit each school’s admissions website for the most current policy regarding online courses. When you are ready to apply to medical or health profession schools, you must submit official transcripts from Occidental College and all other accredited institutions, regardless of the type of courses completed.

My summer plans got cancelled/postponed. How can I stay involved with pre-health activities while staying at home?

This summer, it may be challenging to accumulate clinical or volunteering hours. We cannot predict when opportunities will become available. Remember, such change is universal, so you are not at a disadvantage. We encourage you to stay engaged in positive activities, to get creative, and to find alternate ways to give back with limited contact. Afterall, it is extremely important to stay healthy and safe during this time. The AAMC article, “Highlighting Non-Medical Related Experiences,” reminds applicants that experiences outside of clinical settings are valuable. See this evolving, crowd-sourced list of ideas for pre-health students. From this list, here are some suggestions that will help you to continue developing the  core competencies that medical schools and health profession schools look for in applicants:

  • Volunteer virtually: Tutor low-income K-12 students online with Learn To Be. Answer texts from people in crisis with Crisis Text Line. Send a card, letter or note to those undergoing chemotherapy with Chemo Angels. Lend your eyes to solve tasks for blind and low vision people with Be My Eyes. Find more ideas on Operation Warm.
  • Learn something new: Free courses are offered about pandemics (Harvard), global health (Yale), bioethics, biomedical big data, globalization, and  genomic medicine (Georgetown). Don’t forget to explore the 450 free online courses offered by the Ivy League colleges.  
  • Read, read, read: Recommended titles in  non-fiction, fiction and poetry, and health career exploration are offered by Princeton University. 
  • Listen to podcasts: The AAMC shares  podcasts for you to hear about the application process, medical students’ perspectives, and practicing self-care. Johns Hopkins Public Health on Call currently features science and evidence-based insights on the public health news of the day.
  • Watch documentaries: "Vaccines - Calling the Shots" on PBS, “Making Rounds,” and inspiring stories on MPH Online can give you a look into the lives of doctors and health professionals in the United States and around the world. 
  • Reflect and write: After engaging in any activity, think about how it has motivated you and your future goals. Princeton University offers some ideas on journaling. Also, use the AAMC Anatomy of an Applicant Self Assessment Guide and AACOM’s Qualities of a Successful Medical Student to consider your preparation for medical school and the medical profession. In applications and during interviews, be prepared to describe how COVID-19 has impacted your decision to apply. In addition, you may be asked to address any academic, personal, financial or professional barriers. 
  • Develop a working list of schools: We provide an extensive list of online resources for pre-med and pre-health students. Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) will allow you to see specifics required by US and Canadian medical schools. Other online directories of accredited schools are also available for other professions. Create a list of schools where you’d like to apply. A spreadsheet might help you track and consider important factors aside from pre-requisite coursework and test scores, e.g., mission statement, state residency, tuition and costs of living, and admitted student profile/demographics.

My MCAT is cancelled. What should I do?

As of April 6, Pearson VUE has closed U.S.-based test centers for the safety of employees and examinees. Please follow the guidance provided by Pearson to reschedule your exam.If you are applying to the 2021 matriculation cycle without an MCAT score, you can submit your AMCAS with a single school selected. This will put you in the queue for application verification, and you can opt for adding more schools or withdraw from the current cycle depending on your test result.

We strongly encourage submitting your AMCAS by mid-June for fast processing, which allows for earlier access to secondary applications and earlier file completion at schools, and your application verification is not dependent on MCAT results. When rescheduling your MCAT, ideal dates will be before August, so that your test score will arrive in time to complete your application file. Medical school admissions is rolling-based, be sure to be proactive about the timeline.

I am feeling stressed about my pre-health plans. What should I do?

Emotional distress is common and normal in the context of uncertainty. Stress can present itself in different ways, including physical, emotional, or cognitive ways. Some may experience aches and pains, and appetite change; some may feel sadness, anxiety and fear; some may respond with decreased concentration or memory issues. All reactions can be normal. The important thing is to pay attention to how you are feeling, and if your symptoms become too severe, reach out for help. 

Starting 3/23/20, there will be an Emmons counselor available Monday-Friday from 9am -12 pm and 1-4 pm for immediate consultation. Counseling and therapy services are available for OXY students remaining in California. Counselors will speak with students over the phone, and will be able to provide consultation, support, and linkage to additional resources. For more information, please visit the Emmons Wellness Center.

Guide yourself with relaxation practice instructed by Dr. Herbert Benson, or you can practice Yoga with Down Dog app (Free for all students till July 2nd, 2020).