The Best Medical Schools in Pennsylvania

If there’s one thing that we all learned over the past year, it’s that the world needs highly qualified medical professionals. We’ve always known that medicine is a challenging and rewarding field, but we’ve been reminded just how much doctors do to improve our lives. For many, the year has been inspiring, and people all over the nation are looking for the best schools to study medicine.

While those on the east coast may immediately think that New York is their best choice, Pennsylvania also offers an impressive array of medical schools with a much lower cost of living. In the state, you can find everything from busy metropolises in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, along with all the cultural and financial attractions one expects, or one can find a quiet rural small liberal arts college.

There are many factors one should consider when choosing a medical school. The rankings provided by U.S. News & World Report are among the most respected in the world and are a fine place to begin. But it’s not all about basic numbers. There’s more to choosing a college than just their ranking. 

This list follows the rankings provided by U.S. News. If US News has two schools tied, or if any schools in the state are unranked, College Gazette’s team will determine the order of the school.

By reading about the benefits of each program, the alumni they’ve graduated, and their unique visions and methodologies, you’ve made the first step toward a career in medicine – a career that’s important to everyone! 


9. Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (Philadelphia, PA)

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
photo via Wikimedia Commons

One of the oldest medical schools in the United States, the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) was established in 1899. Since then, the school has produced a long line of impressive doctors, including Sean Conley, who served as Physician to the President under former President Donald Trump, and Ronald R. Blanck, the first osteopathic physician to be named Surgeon General to the U.S. Army. 

Students pursuing medical degrees at PCOM follow the standard path of classroom instruction and hand-on rounds in the school’s many teaching hospitals. They also gain experience serving in one of PCOM’s primary care healthcare centers, including Cambria Division Healthcare Center, Lancaster Avenue Healthcare Center, and Family Medicine at PCOM. The school also houses the Center for Chronic Disorders of Aging, which strives to improve the quality of life for all individuals suffering from age-related chronic diseases and disorders. 

With these resources, the school stands ready to continue its history of producing excellent practitioners, as demonstrated by the recent election of PCOM students to national student leadership positions in the American Medical Women’s Association.


8. Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine (Hershey, PA)

With 26 basic science and clinical departments and several hospital affiliates, Penn State Med is a worthy extension of its respected parent university. Established in 1963 by a $50 million grant from the M.S. Hershey Foundation, the school has been a national leader in training future doctors and advancing research goals. 

In addition to the multi-hospital Penn State Health system, the school also partners with the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, and several other practices across the state. These hospitals help Penn State Med achieve its community outreach goals, working to improve the lives of citizens in their area while also teaching their students. Most importantly, students in the College of Medicine operate LionCare, a free clinic for underserved populations in Central Pennsylvania. 

But a world-class program like Penn State Med does not limit its focus to its own state. As part of the Global Health Scholars program, students can travel the world to improve medical care across the planet while also learning their craft. 


7. Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (Scranton, PA)

Located in Scranton, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine strives to be the community’s medical school. So while they provide all of the training and support one expects from a modern med program, GCSM also takes active steps to engage with the citizens of Central Pennsylvania. 

They achieve this goal through their Regional Education Academy for Careers in Health – Higher Education Initiative (REACH-HEI), an out-of-school program that provides academic enrichment opportunities. Through the initiative, medical and graduate students mentor low-income and/or first-generation-to-college students throughout Pennsylvania to help them succeed in health-related professions. Likewise, the school’s Behavioral Health Initiative (BHI) enlists students and other stakeholders to increase awareness of mental health in the area. 

GCSM succeeds in these endeavors because they work to draw students from the area. According to profiles of the Class of 2020, 12% of the class is from groups historically underrepresented in medicine, and 29% of the class is specifically from Northeastern Pennsylvania and North Central Pennsylvania. 


6. Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (Erie, PA)

The largest medical school in the United States, the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) serves over 2,200 students. The school focuses on problem-based learning, with students learning their trade in one of their outreach offices. In these offices, students gain hands-on experience practicing their trade while also improving the lives of those in the community. LECOM combines these practical concerns with a dedication to research, which culminates in participation in research competitions

These goals come together in the college’s desire to increase diversity in the medical field by providing first-class training at an affordable cost. However, LECOM combines the ambition to bring new people into the profession with a commitment to high standards, as demonstrated by its 3.1% acceptance rate. 

Recognizing the need to serve all communities across the globe, and the tools to train this new generation, LECOM works to make the world a happier and healthier place. 


5. Drexel University College of Medicine (Philadelphia, PA)

Drexel University College of Medicine
photo via Wikimedia Commons

What do YouTube sensation Dr. PimplePopper (aka Sandra Lee) and the American Society of Clinical Ontology CEO Clifford Hudis have in common? They earned their medical degrees from Drexel University’s College of Medicine. 

Of course, such famous alumni shouldn’t be surprising from an institution that can claim two notable firsts. The school traces its roots to the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, the first U.S. medical school for women, and the first U.S. college of homeopathy, Hahnemann College. 

Today, Drexel Med continues this proud tradition by increasing diversity in the field and advancing research innovations. These innovations include MD student Rohan Sehgal, who joined the National Institute on Aging to study the effects of biology on aging. After recently earning $10 million in research grants, Drexel is sure to prepare many more to follow Dr. Sehgal’s steps to success. 

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