Is VCOM A Good Medical School? (All You Need to Know)

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM-VA) is a private medical school located in Virginia state. Located on the campus of Virginia Tech, it also has branches in South Carolina (VCOM-Carolinas), Alabama (VCOM-Auburn), and Louisiana (VCOM-Monroe). It recently also added Bluefield College, Virginia, to its campus list.

As the second-largest medical school in the country, is VCOM’s size (1,800 plus students) a sign of its quality as a great medical school? As a med student wondering this question myself, I did some research, and here’s what I found out!

Is VCOM a good medical school?

Yes, VCOM is a good medical school. It has excellent educational credentials; both in its 99% COMLEX pass rates and its 99% match rate, and strong research and training opportunities. Its only possible downsides are its split across several locations (creating an inconsistent student experience) and its hectic exam scheduling. Its primary care focus may be either good or bad, depending on your residency interests.

Now you know the short answer, read on to find out more about VCOM to gain better insight as to if it’s a good fit for you.

The positives

1. VCOM’s educational credentials

VCOM is fully accredited by the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation and is recognized on The World Directory of Medical Schools list.

Its COMLEX first attempt pass rate for the years of 2015-18 is 94% and above across each of its campuses. In the 2018-19 cycle VCOM-VC had a 587 mean COMLEX first attempt score. That was well above the national average of 571.

It also has an exceptional match rate (more on this later).

2. Connections with Virginia Tech

VCOM-VC’s campus is located adjacent to the Virginia Tech campus. This means students of the med school have the same benefits as Virginia Tech students in their use of the following top-tier facilities:

  • Recreational facilities
  • Library
  • Student center
  • Intramural progtams
  • Access to Virgina Tech football (and other athletic events)

Virginia Tech’s MD school, Virginia Tech Carillion School of Medicine and Research Institute, is also on-site. That brings further networking, research, and clinical experience opportunities.

3. VCOM is open-minded

VCOM admissions put a lot of weight on the activities and extracurriculars of their applications, rather than being pedantic about grades. For applicants worried that they’ve fallen short on certain prereqs, that does help put them in a very positive light.

I was accepted to VCOM-VA, and I had a C in Gen Chem.

-u/AegonTheC0nqueror

I got into VCOM with a C- in intro physics. They verified with me pre-interview that I would retake the course before matriculation.

– u/RecklessMedulla

Out-of-state applicants pay the same as in-state, while the male-to-female matriculant ratio is near equal.

Related: Do Medical Schools Actually Verify Activities? (7 Important Answers)

4. VCOM’s beautiful campus locations

Outside of the main Virginia campus, VCOM’s other centers are in some pretty stunning areas of the country.

The VCOM-Carolinas campus, for example, also has access to Northside direct primary care, a college-affiliated campus in leafy Spartanburg, South Carolina.

5. Graduate opportunities

Three fellowship programs are available to access through VCOM; geriatric medicine, sports medicine, and osteopathic neuromusculoskeletal medicine. Students also have the chance to match into the college’s own family medicine residency program that’s run out of Johnston Memorial Hospital.

6. Research opportunities

VCOM conducts research into the following areas:

  • Concussion and Brain Trauma
  • Primary Care
  • Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine and Infectious Disease
  • Sports Medicine

Students have the chance to get involved and network within these projects. They’re funded internally by groups such as the One Health Program.

The negatives

1. VCOM’s data is skewed across campuses

Owing to the fact VCOM has three separate campuses, it’s hard to say that each individual campus is equally “good”. Because VCOM’s data differs across each campus, with some being more established than others, it’s hard to get a gauge on how consistent the quality of education is across the individual sites.

Research suggests that VCOM-VA has higher pass rates than other campuses, alongside VCOM-Carolinas. The lack of clarity does make judging things difficult!

2. VCOM chooses campuses for you

Another potential annoyance is the fact that VCOM will choose your campus. They’ll take a look at your secondaries and which campuses you’ve ranked as preferences, and then allocate you to whichever one they feel you best fit.

For med students who want to be in a particular city, that can be a pretty big negative.

Even more so considering some of their campuses (Monroe, Louisiana) and (Bluefield, Virginia) are new and don’t have that many older students to rely on.

3. VCOM’s curriculum

Many students report VCOM’s curriculum being a little hectic around exam time. Unlike other med schools, the curriculum isn’t “block-based”. That means you could be taking unrelated exams next to each other in a very short time period.

Related: Medical School Curriculum Types (What’s The Best?)

These are internal and unrelated to the COMLEX however.

4. VCOM’s primary care focus

The two largest specialties VCOM graduates (from class years 2017-2020) completed Primary Care Residencies in are:

  1. Family Medicine (26%)
  2. Internal Medicine (23%)

And those figures remain broadly the same for alumni opting to work in primary care in surrounding rural areas.

With such a weighted focus on primary care, it could be tough to match into other medical specialties. Depending on where your interest lies (surgery, psychiatry, etc.), that could be a possible cause for concern.

5. VCOM’s annual tuition

At $46,900 annual tuition and fees, VCOM isn’t the cheapest DO school and neither offers an in-state discount.

For reference, the cheapest DO school is the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth College of Osteopathic Medicine ($13,078 in-state/$28,766 out-of-state).

What is VCOM’s medical school ranking?

VCOM ranks below almost all allopathic medical schools in U.S. News Best Medical Schools Report. It ranks jointly in positions 93-123 in both Research and Primary Care.

For reference, the top DO schools are all ranked in the same range. VCOM is among them.

What is VCOM’s acceptance rate?

VCOM had 8257 total applicants for the class of 2024. 156 students matriculated. I’d estimate the acceptance rate to be around 4%.

What is VCOM’s match list like?

One of the reasons VCOM is arguably a good medical school is that it boasts a very high match rate. Match data from the recent graduation classes are as follows:

  • Class of 2017: 93% First Match/100% Final Match
  • Class of 2018: 90% First Match/99% Final Match
  • Class of 2019: 91% First Match/100% Final Match
  • Class of 2020: 96% First Match/99.8% Final Match

Is VCOM a good medical school? Reddit’s opinion…

Reddit has a lot of nice things to say about VCOM…

I am going to be starting at VCOM in a few months. When I interviewed, I really liked the facility and the students. Everyone was friendly, the first two years were system-based, which I liked, and there were lots of opportunities for both outreach (the mission trips, which they really encourage), and research (both collaborations with VT and at VCOM). The VA campus matches well and their pass rate for step 1/2 of COMLEX is pretty good.

– u/dogasaurus_rex

But also a couple of negatives…

As far as I can tell, the biggest potential downsides are their exams, which aren’t in blocks, but scattered throughout the week, so you can have three unrelated exams in one week (see the calendar on the VCOM website to see what this looks like) and that the school does have a heavy primary care (think family medicine in rural, underserved populations) focus, so there’s more family med and internal med rotations in the 3rd year, including a required underserved care rotation. So if you’re set on specializing, you won’t have as much exposure to non-primary care fields during your third year. However, you have 4 months (possibly more) of electives in your 4th year to do away rotations anywhere you like, so that helps.

u/dogasaurus_rex

Communication is a weak point from what I’ve heard. Don’t expect to get emails back. Call if you want anything important done (updates in application, etc), and confirm on the phone that the change has been made. They’re a big fan of silent rejections.

– u/TheBrightestSunrise

Conclusion: Is VCOM a good medical school?

VCOM is a great medical school if you’re interested in primary care and don’t mind being located across one of any five campuses. Its COMLEX pass rates are consistently strong across each of its campuses and its attrition rate, as of 2020, was less than 3%.

Now you know what helps make it a good choice when it comes to pursuing an osteopathic medical degree, perhaps it’s time to dive into the school’s individual prereqs and application process. You can find all the most relevant up-to-date information on VCOM’s admission page here.

For a closer look at the school, and how its D.O. course is structured, check out the video below…

Sources