Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) is the largest medical college in the US and the only Academic Health Center for Osteopathy. With branch campuses in Florida and New York, its 2,200 medical student intake is certainly impressive.
But do its numbers point to its quality?
We did some digging and here’s what we found out.
Is LECOM A Good Medical School?
Yes, LECOM is a good medical school. Boasting a 98.1% COMLEX pass rate, flexible entry pathways (optional MCAT), and cheaper than average tuition fees ($37,000), for many students, it’s a solid choice. Possible downsides like its group interview format and its strict dress code might not make it for everyone, however.
Read on to find out more about LECOM, learn more about its pros and cons, and see if it’s a good fit for you.
LECOM: The Positives
Based on our research, here’s what we found to be the main positives of LECOM that make for its reputation as a good school.
1. Good faculty student ratio at 1:1
This better allows students to speak and form relationships with their professors and feel more comfortable discussing topics and answering questions. That’s not only something that can help improve grades but also help secure great letters of recommendation (LOR) for future residency applications.
2. Flexible entry pathways
LECOM is one of few institutions that accept an alternative to the MCAT.
They want a minimum Academic Index Score of 123 and a GPA higher than 2.7 to meet the entry requirements.
3. Reasonable tuition
LECOM is a private family-run institution.
For 2020-2021, the undergraduate tuition fees were $37,000 per year – a lot cheaper than the $60,000 private school average.
4. Wide campus choice and a customizable curriculum
Attending LECOM, you have a choice of several campuses; Erie and Greensburg in Pennsylvania, Bradenton in Florida, or Elmira in New York.
The school also offers 3 major learning pathways:
- Lecture directed pathway: Mandatory lectures from Monday to Friday (8 to 4). Certain modules are self directed. As you progress through the years, you have more self-study time and fewer mandatory classes.
- Problem based learning: Self learning and regular meet ups with a PBL team and a professor to review progress.
- Directed Study Pathway: A mix of the above 2 options.
The Erie campus gives a choice of all learning pathways while Greensburg, Bradenton and Elmira use PBL only.
For more on how medical school curriculums work, see this article: Medical School Curriculum Types (What’s The Best?)
5. Clubs and extracurriculars
There are many clubs and organizations to get involved in for each study program.
Students can also serve the community through activities like public screenings and volunteering.
The Diversity in the Higher Education Magazine ranked LECOM #14 for the highest diversity among doctorate-granting institutions.
7. Teaching hospitals
That means students get a ton of clinical practice and opportunity.
8. Regular monthly exams
LECOM challenges its students with 3 comprehensive exams every month before board exams.
Students positively report this helping them memorize and apply key concepts in preparation for the real thing.
9. Accelerated programs
The Erie campus’ Primary Care Scholars Pathway allows students to graduate in only 3 years. Graduates will receive a degree equivalent to a traditional 4-year osteopathic medicine (DO) program via this route.
This is in part due to the college’s acknowledgment of a national shortage of primary care physicians, with the goal to increase graduate recruitment into specialties like Family and General Medicine.
In addition to this, there is also an Accelerated Physician Assistant Pathway. This allows Certified Physician Assistants (PA’s) to earn a DO degree in 3 years.
This option is only available at the Greensburg campus.
10. Board Pass Rates
LECOM boasts a 98.1% COMLEX pass rate for first-time test-takers.
This is one of the highest figures in the US!
You can view the full list of institutions and pass rates here.
LECOM: The Negatives
And while most of our research points to LECOM being reputable and decent, there are some negatives that students and applicants report.
1. No campus housing
LECOM does not provide campus housing but the college does assist in helping students find accommodation nearby.
2. Dress code
A professional dress code is a prereq for all LECOM’s students. Everyone is required to dress in formal attire on campus at all times.
Depending on how you see it, that can be somewhat restrictive!
3. Weather and climate
Eerie’s main campus can be a little challenging. Extreme weather conditions are not unusual. Come prepared for snow!
4. Ranking and prestige
LECOM’s rank at #93-123 in US News’ Best Medical Schools: Research and #80 for Best Medical Schools: Primary Care isn’t the greatest in the country. But it’s not totally unusual for an osteopathic, rather than an allopathic, medical school.
5. Clinical rotations
The organization of clinical rotations is the student’s responsibility. This can be a good or bad thing depending on how diligent and well-prepared students are.
Students are expected to take their own initiative and work independently for the most part (more on this later).
6. Group interviews
LECOM’s interview process is a little controversial among its applicants. They work with 9 students at a time and last around an hour. They take the format of brief introductions followed by an ethical debate with a professor on major medical issues.
Some students dislike this format and argue it to be overwhelming managing the interviewer’s expectations while interacting with other students.
The charts and infographics available over at The Student Doctor Network provide more information on student feedback regarding LECOM’s interview process.
Is LECOM A Good Medical School? Reddit’s Opinion
Finally, Reddit is a great place to go to get an unchecked opinion on how good/bad a school is. In LECOM’s case, commentators had quite a bit to say!
Positive opinion on LECOM
They help students who need further motivation and a push to excel
“If you are someone that needs a lot of push, a lot of help, a lot of motivation and structure, LECOM is AN EXCELLENT PLACE for you. LECOM actually excels at taking those at the bottom and bringing them up. Yes they are very paternalistic about this process, but it’s unfortunately what [some] misguided students need.”– u/feartheferrettis
Good Step 1 Prep
“At least at the Erie campus, we overall got very good Step 1 prep (some minor exceptions). Our microbiology department was very strong and we routinely do very well on Step 1 microbiology, which is a big part of the exam. One of the main professors was one of the big lecturers for Kaplan Microbiology. There was only a short “dedicated” Step 1 time but it was more than adequate for everyone.– u/feartheferrettis
They prepare you well for residency (and tuition’s a plus)
“LECOM is strict and makes you work harder than a lot of schools (so many MD schools have a very easy 4th year) but that prepares you well for residency. And the tuition is still a bargain. LECOM is a tightly run business but they offer a really fair tuition compared to so many other schools.”
Negative Opinion on LECOM
“We are not allowed to review our exam questions. We only get an automated report based on subjects: i.e.: pathology 85% correct, incorrect subjects include brain tumors, etc. We’ve been told that it’s too inconvenient for the school to allow us all to see the exams.”– u/Ancient_Discount8850
Organization and miscommunication
“Informing us at the last second about paperwork needed to be done prior to rotations…they gave us 2 weeks to prepare background checks, fingerprints, hours long training, titers, and flu shot information (all at our own cost, except the shot) for rotations,”– unt8850
Of course, it’s important you do your due diligence when it comes to reading about LECOM on Reddit. You’ve also got to appreciate that every school has its good and bad points!
LECOM’s Match Data
One thing that points to LECOM’s status as a good medical school is its high match rate.
For the Class of 2021, 97% of the 177 participating graduates matched into their chosen specialties. You can see the full list here.
Note that the highest proportion of students went on to Internal Medicine and Family Medicine.
How Many Applicants Does LECOM Get?
Only 536 members of the College’s Class of 2017 were chosen from more than 12,000 applicants. That’s still a very competitive acceptance rate despite LECOM’s apparent low ranking.
How Long Does It Take To Hear Back From LECOM?
It usually takes 2-3 weeks to hear back. That’s standard for most medical schools.
Does LECOM Offer Scholarships?
The LECOM Student Scholarship Fund is something else that can help back up its credentials as a good medical school. The scholarship helps students ease the financial burden of their education, with $4 million in funds being distributed across the 4 campuses.
Does LECOM Accept AP Credits?
They accept both coursework from accredited community colleges (to meet the 90 hours requirement) and AP credit for prerequisites and electives. That’s a huge plus!
Conclusion: Is LECOM A Good Medical School?
LECOM is a good, affordable option for students looking for more flexible ways into med school. Its high diversity, varied curriculum options, and accelerated programs further add to its credentials.
Of course, it’s not perfect (as the above negatives show) but it does provide a positive student experience for the most part.
Now we’ve covered the main pros and cons, take a look at LECOM’s admissions page here to find out more about what you need to do to get in and how you can apply. Hopefully, that’ll help give you even more of an idea if it’s the right fit for you!
Finally, the video below is also worth checking out and details more on what it’s like becoming a medical student at LECOM…
Hey guys, I’m Sumran. I’m a British 5th-year international medical student at the Medical University of Varna, Bulgaria. I transitioned straight from completing my A-Levels into university. Currently, I have interests in Psychiatry and Gastroenterology. Outside of medicine, I enjoy reading crime novels and visiting art exhibitions.