How Do You Like Loma Linda?

How do you like Loma Linda?

Over the course of this interview season, this is a question that I have been asked numerous times. The person asking me really doesn’t care whether or not I like the city of Loma Linda. The implied question is whether or not I like Loma Linda University School of Medicine. The question is one that has been asked by fellow interviewees. It’s not unusual. While waiting in a room full of interviewees, conversation usually starts out with asking each other what school one is from. This question is usually followed by a “how do you like it there?” question. Invariably, the answer is positive — or at least neutral.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard an applicant say they didn’t like the school they came from. And for some reason, I somehow doubt that anyone would admit to disliking their soon-to-be alma mater — at least not while on the interview trail.

So how do I like Loma Linda? I like it very much. I think medical schools are more similar than different. We learn the same material. We take the same national exams. Sure, each institution offers their twist on how the material is presented, but the material is the same.

One thing that is different here is Loma Linda’s emphasis on Whole-Person Care. The curriculum is designed to not only emphasize the physical pathophysiology, but to also highlight aspects of spiritual care as well. I feel like I have been encouraged to go beyond the diagnosis — to treat the patient and not just the disease.

I have accepted that I attend a medical school whose name does not carry the weight of an ivy league establishment. I have become accustomed to puzzled looks when I say that I go to Loma Linda University. Many people outside the area have never heard of this place. Saying I attend a medical school in Southern California usually gets guesses of UCLA or USC. But once in a while I do come across people who have heard about Loma Linda.

On a recent interview, a program director in another state noted my educational pedigree. Glendale Adventist Academy for high school. Walla Walla College (now Walla Walla University) for my bachelor’s degree. Loma Linda University for medical school. “You must be a Seventh-day Adventist,” he said to me. He continued, “we like students from Loma Linda. Do you realize that your ethics curriculum is more extensive than most other schools?”

On another interview a resident asked me what school I came from. When he heard I was from Loma Linda he said that it was plus for me since the program liked Loma Linda students — they’re usually a really nice group of people.

It was nice to go outside of the this insulated, geographical area where everyone knows of Loma Linda University and hear other opinions of my home institution from people who have no incentive to say anything nice about it. Or maybe it was just a little bit of validation that I appreciated hearing.

So how do I like Loma Linda? Evidently, I like it very much.

  • Mark

    I am a first year at Loma Linda (not sure how I didn’t know you were also). Anyway, this school is amazing in its own ways. Compared to other schools, it teaches the same information. I have a few friends at other schools, and despite different organization styles, we all learn the exact same things. We have those amazing teachers in courses other schools have don’t, and vice versa. Anyone who knows physicians from Loma Linda always give them good reviews.

    What’s really awesome is the extra stuff available that is tailored to people whose lives are grounded in God. The school offers mission trips and outreach programs with a strong Christian emphasis. There is a weekly mandatory chapel service, which is nice for students who are often busy with erratic extracurricular and study schedules. There’s a weekly bible study (and free lunch) taught by an awesome neurologist. I am not SDA and have never been to a “religious” school, but I am Christian and enjoy taking advantage of the opportunities Loma Linda offers. It’s nice to know that faculty and staff hold many of the same core values as me.

    As for the ethics, I am a dual MD/MA Ethics student, and I understand why people hold such high regard for the program. It is taught by very intelligent PhDs and MDs, and the bioethical focus is clear and applicable. We constantly discuss cases in all my ethics classes, and I am privileged to sit on the hospital’s ethics panel to discuss current cases. 

    Much of the critisism of LLU is based on false premises. The low MCAT averages are a reflection of the values the school holds beyond test numbers. The people who get in with a 24 are often amazing, well-rounded people. They are passionate about what they want to do and end up making great physicians. Nationally, LLU has good Step 1 scores, and the gap between MCAT to Step 1 is HUGE here precisely because the admissions comittee looks beyond scores to the actualy person. As for most graduates going into primary care, it is more of a reflection of values than competitiveness. There are incredibly driven and intellegent people who honestly want to go into primary care. That is part of the reason why the school has such a great reputation. 

    I didn’t know it at the time, but going to Loma Linda was the best decision I ever made as a future physician and as a person. 

  • Well you probably didn’t know I was from LLU because I don’t like to advertise that on here too much. 

    But it’s great to hear another perspective on LLU — especially from someone who doesn’t come from an SDA background. 

    Thanks for comment, Mark! And good luck!