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School of Medicine Virginia Commonwealth University VCU Medical Center
School of Medicine: Message From the Dean

Step I Board Scores Bring Good News to Medical School

A major milestone for our students has brought some outstanding news to our school. The National Board scores are rolling in for the Class of 2010. And it is shaping up to be our best year ever on the crucial exam that is officially known as Step I of the USMLE.

Linda Costanzo, Ph.D.

To prepare for Step I of the USMLE, students must master the over 10,000 pages of syllabus that represent the first two years of medical school. Linda Costanzo, Ph.D., is their coach and cheerleader as she leads an intensive board review that starts with weekly sessions in January and offers to meet individually with students to construct detailed study schedules based on their strengths, weaknesses and concerns.

The Class of 2010 took Step 1 In June. Now, three months later, with all but two of the scores in hand, the average score for the class was 223.2—our highest ever! The students achieved a 95.7% pass rate, with 42% of the class scoring 230 or above, and 13 students scoring above 250. These statistics will surely exceed national averages, which will be published later in the year.

Physiology Course Director Linda Costanzo, Ph.D., may well be our students’ secret weapon. Her enthusiastic teaching has been recognized nationally with the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society’s coveted teaching award. And her best-selling textbook Physiology and her physiology review book for the Board Review Series have been overwhelmingly adopted by medical students throughout the country. But it’s our own students who benefit from her offers to meet individually to construct detailed Step I study schedules based on their strengths, weaknesses, and concerns.

Since 1991, Dr. Costanzo has been their coach and cheerleader as they seek to master the over 10,000 pages of syllabus that represent the first two years of medical school. She leads an intensive board review that starts with weekly sessions in January. That schedule ratchets up dramatically in May, when she gives them a jump-start into their own personal study plans with an eight-hour marathon physiology review.

It is that sort of commitment to our students’ education and training that she will bring to her newest role—that of Assistant Dean for Medical Education. Together with Isaac Wood, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education and Student Affairs, and Alan Dow, M.D., M.H.A., another recent appointment to the role of Assistant Dean for Medical Education, Dr. Costanzo will be instrumental in designing a new curriculum and developing the programming for the new School of Medicine Building that will open in 2013.

I look forward to this creative and committed team setting a new standard for what medical education will look like in our school and, no doubt, across the country.