You’ve likely heard the Kaiser Permanente name before. Kaiser began offering residency programs in 1946 and has health insurance programs and healthcare facilities. But Kaiser also made the news several years ago when they offered free tuition through 2024 for incoming medical students. Pre-med students flocked to Kaiser to apply. What’s remarkable is that there were no strings attached. Most schools have stipulations when they offer incentives. For example, you might be asked to go into a specific specialty. But Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine truly offered free tuition for the first five incoming classes.
Does Kaiser sound like the kind of medical school you’d want to attend? If so, keep reading to learn all about:
- The programs Kaiser offers
- The requirements for getting in
- Acceptance rate and class statistics
- Primary and secondary applications
- Secondary essays (with samples)
- Interviewing at Kaiser School of Medicine
- How IMA can help
By the time you’re done reading this guide, you should have a good idea of whether you want to apply to Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine. Let’s dive in!
Programs Offered at Kaiser School of Medicine
Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine offers the following programs. The dual-degree programs are offered in partnership with other universities. We’ll review each one in detail.
- Doctor of Medicine
- Doctor of Medicine / Doctor of Philosophy
- Doctor of Medicine / Master of Public Health
- Doctor of Medicine / Master of Healthcare Administration
- Doctor of Medicine / Healthcare Systems Engineering
Doctor of Medicine
The Doctor of Medicine program is the traditional, four-year program that Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine offers. The curriculum is called INSPIRE. Each letter stands for a value that the curriculum emulates:
- Population Health
Additionally, Kaiser School of Medicine is “built on the three pillars of Biomedical School, Clinical Science and Health Systems Science.”
The curriculum is as follows:
- Early Immersive Experience
- Fundamentals of Integrated Sciences (IS)
- Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC)
- Service Learning
- Integrated Sciences I
- Integrated Sciences II
– Infectious Disease
– Nervous System
- Integrated Sciences III
- Core Clerkships
– Family Medicine
– Internal Medicine
– Obstetrics / Gynecology
– Emergency Medicine
- Service Learning
- USMLE Step 1 Prep
- Advanced Clinical Knowledge Training
- Required Clinical Experiences
– Advanced Medicine Selective (4 weeks)
– Advanced Selective (4 weeks)
– Critical Care Selective (4 weeks)
– Community Medicine Selective (4 weeks)
– Neurology Selective (2 weeks)
- USMLE Step 2 CK by March of Year 3
Year 4 follows the same pattern as Year 3. Students will take clerkship shelf exams and more.
Finally, the following is woven into all four years of the Kaiser medical school curriculum:
The Four Threads
- Advocacy and Leadership
- Inclusion and Diversity
- Health Promotion
- Interprofessional Collaboration
You can learn more about the four threads on the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine website.
Doctor of Medicine / Master of Public Health
The Doctor of Medicine / Master of Public Health dual degree comes from a partnership between Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine and the University of California Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health.
You’ll complete the full MD curriculum as outlined above. You’ll tack on an extra year of your education at UCLA. There are five specialties from which you can choose:
- Community Health Sciences
- Environmental Health Sciences
- Health Policy and Management
You can learn more about these topics on the UCLA website.
Doctor of Medicine / Master of Healthcare Administration
The Doctor of Medicine / Master of Healthcare Administration dual-degree is offered through Kaiser School of Medicine’s partnership with the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy.
In addition to the MD curriculum, you’ll spend a year at USC completing the MHA portion of your dual degree. You’ll learn about the following topics:
- Healthcare management
- Healthcare policies to address ongoing issues in technology
- Behavioral science
- Healthcare law
If you want to practice medicine and have a leadership role, then an MD/MHA dual degree might be perfect for you.
Doctor of Medicine / Healthcare Systems Engineering
The Doctor of Medicine / Healthcare Systems Engineering dual degree is brought to you by Kaiser School of Medicine and Loyola Marymount University. The Master of Healthcare Systems Engineering program teaches students:
- Lean methodology
- Project management
- Systems engineering principles for patient safety
- Integrated healthcare
- Healthcare technology
- Population health
This is the ideal dual degree for you if you want to “improve the complex healthcare systems” in which doctors work.
Cost of Attendance
Now that we’ve discussed all the programs that Kaiser School of Medicine offers, let’s look at how much it costs to attend Kaiser if you’re not in the first five matriculating classes. But even if you were in the first five classes, keep in mind that free tuition doesn’t mean a totally free ride. Your total cost of attendance includes tuition, but it also includes living expenses. Kaiser estimates that students will have $35,000 per year in living expenses.
If you pay tuition at Kaiser School of Medicine, you’ll likely pay at least $54,719 per year. We say “at least” because Kaiser has advised prospective students that costs will go up approximately three percent every year.
Can’t afford to pay that much money? To be honest, most students can’t. That’s where financial aid comes in handy. You can apply for federal aid, which includes FAFSA, grants, scholarships and student loans. Of course, you won’t want to pay for student loans if you don’t have to, so apply for those as a last resort. You can also apply for privately-funded grants and scholarships. The government and private institutions are your best bet for paying for medical school.
Does one of the programs offered at Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine interest you enough to consider applying? Let’s look at what it takes to get in.
If you’re accepted, you’ll be among about 50 students who get accepted. The Kaiser Permanente Medical School acceptance rate is right around one percent. The average MCAT score is 516. The average GPA is 3.68, and the median GPA is 3.74.
No minimum GPA or MCAT scores are required at Kaiser School Of Medicine. But you’ll need to score in the average range to be considered for admission. This is because the acceptance rate is so low that they’ll look at the highest-scoring applicants. It’s the same concept as applying for a job. The most qualified applicants will be considered first.
To be considered for admission, you must take the following courses prior to being accepted.
- Behavioral or Social Science (1 semester)
– Ethnic Studies
- General Biology (1 year with lab)
- General or Inorganic Chemistry (1 year with lab)
- General Physics (1 year with lab)
- Humanities (1 semester)
While the following courses aren’t required, they are highly recommended.
- Organic Chemistry
- Public Health
- Foreign Language
Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine is strict about MCAT scores. They will only accept scores between July 2019 and September 2021. Scores from before or after those dates will not be accepted.
Primary and Secondary Applications
If you’re ready to apply to Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine, you’ll need to fill out your primary and secondary applications. You’ll fill out your primary application with AMCAS, the application service provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Once you’ve submitted your primary application, you’ll receive an invitation to fill out the secondary application. While some schools pre-screen applicants before sending out secondary applications, Kaiser doesn’t. You’ll fill out both applications and cross your fingers for an interview. In the next two sections, we’ll go over the secondary essay questions and provide sample essay responses. Then, we’ll discuss how interviews work at Kaiser School of Medicine.
The following are the secondary essays that Kaiser School of Medicine provides. You have 250 words to answer each question.
Throughout your career, you’ll likely face obstacles and challenges that you must overcome. You must be resilient to face everything that will come as a doctor. Describe an experience you had where the outcome was not in your favor. Tell us about your reaction and how you could have handled the situation better. What did you learn about yourself?
Conducting physical examinations and diagnosing and treating patients comes with a host of things you’ll deal with on a daily basis. Some will greatly challenge you. It’s impossible to know what will happen in advance, so it’s important to be able to face adversity head on. This question is a classic example of an adversity question. It’s okay to acknowledge where you want wrong because that’s what the question is asking. Just pick a story that doesn’t mortify you!
Here’s an example:
During my first semester of college, I was assigned to a group project where the best presentation would be exempt from the final exam. My group agreed to meet in the library later that night. But I was the only one who showed up. Everyone had an excuse for why they couldn’t be there when we met again in class. So I moved on and asked them how their parts were going. No one had started yet, but they all promised that they would do their parts. Our project was due the very next class period. So, I completed the entire project by myself.
But then each of my classmates emailed me their part of the project. Their work looked like it had been done at the last minute. I decided to use what I had prepared instead. That was a mistake on my part. The professor could tell that it was all my “voice.” She told my classmates they should have prepared. But she told me that it was a group project. If I had included their parts, we would have gotten a B. She gave us a C.
I was disappointed in how I handled the situation. I learned to communicate more with others, trust my groupmates to do their part and not replace other people’s work with my own. My next group project was the following semester. I dealt with a similar situation but applied the lessons I’d learned from the last time. We got a B.
“Kaiser Permanente is nationally recognized for its achievements in the realm of equity, inclusion, and diversity. How will you contribute to the diversity of Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine?”
Here’s an example:
I will contribute to the diversity at Kaiser Permanente because I grew up in a very culturally-diverse town where I, being white, was in the minority. None of my close friends growing up were of the same race as me. Most of my friends were Hispanic, Latino, Black or African American.
One summer my family and I vacationed in Island Park, Idaho, where the tourists were mostly white. For the first time, I was surrounded by people who looked just like me, and it was downright weird. But what stunned me was the racism that I witnessed. A group of white kids at one of the pools ostracized a little black boy who wanted to play water sports with them. He left the pool crying because they wouldn’t let him play.
That memory has stayed with me all these years. When I got home, I felt lucky that my friends of different races accepted me for who I was, even though I looked different from most of them. After all, most of them had darker-colored skin than I did. I will contribute to the equity, diversity and inclusion at Kaiser Permanente because of the community I grew up in and my belief that everyone should be treated equally.
As a doctor, you’ll never stop learning. You’ll have continuing education and daily learning experiences. This will include self-reflection and the ability to receive constructive feedback. “Tell us about an area of intellectual exploration you are passionate about and have sustained over time. What means have you used to explore this area?”
Here’s an example:
Hola, me llamo Holly. Vivo en la ciudad de McKinney, en Texas. Vivo aquí desde que tenía siete años, cuando mi familia se trasladó desde un pequeño pueblo llamado Kerrville.
Hi, my name is Holly. I live in the city of McKinney, in Texas. I’ve lived here since I was seven years old when my family moved here from a tiny town called Kerrville.
Growing up in Texas, I was surrounded by Spanish-speaking people. I started taking Spanish classes in junior high and fell in love with the language. I took AP Spanish all throughout high school and have remained fluent. I find it fascinating how different words in different languages can all communicate the same thing. By being bilingual, I’m able to communicate with more people.
Having two languages in my mind at the same time can get confusing sometimes. I find myself speaking the wrong language to the wrong person. But I’ve also had wonderful conversations with Spanish-speaking individuals. I would miss out on learning from those individuals if I couldn’t speak their language.
My intellectual pursuit of Spanish will assist me in my career. Even though I want to attend medical school in California, I plan to return to my Texas roots and practice medicine here. I’ve already started learning medical Spanish by shadowing a Spanish-speaking doctor in my area, and I plan to take elective courses to help me pursue my goal to treat both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking patients.
“Please describe how you have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Here’s an example:
COVID-19 kept me from seeing my grandmother before she passed away. At age 78, Nana lived in a nursing home. She contracted pneumonia right around the time when everything shut down. Because her symptoms mirrored COVID-19, but testing kits weren’t widely available, she was quarantined. She was considered a COVID “long-hauler” until she passed away in isolation. Her autopsy report showed pneumonia without COVID-19, so she was unnecessarily isolated. But they were doing their best to keep elderly citizens safe, so I couldn’t blame them, even though I did.
COVID-19 prevented me from graduating on time. Not only was my Nana dying in quarantine, but all my classes went virtual when my university shut down. I don’t do well with online classes, so I took the option to withdraw. I was able to take on-campus classes in the fall. So, I’m graduating a semester late.
COVID-19 made it impossible for me to enjoy life while we were in quarantine. I was stuck in my university dorm until we were kicked out, and then I was stuck at home with my family for months on end. My parents were separated, but my mother hadn’t had a chance to secure a new apartment. Pretty much every leasing office was closed for months. I spent three months listening to them yell and shout at each other before quarantine lifted. I moved out as soon as it did!
Simply put, COVID-19 drastically altered my junior year of college.
Interviewing with Kaiser School of Medicine
Congratulations! Medical school interviews are hard to come by because the competition is extreme. Kaiser’s acceptance rate is one percent, making it harder to get into than some Ivy League medical schools. So, simply put, it’s a very big deal.
Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine utilizes a hybrid interview format. You’ll participate in both MMI and traditionalinterviews as part of the school’s process to get to know applicants on a deeper level.
We’ve covered both types of interviews comprehensively. If you have questions or need help preparing for your interviews, consider medical school admissions consulting with International Medical Aid. We offer mock interview prep to help you prepare for your big day.
How International Medical Aid Can Help
Providing definitive guides to medical school is just one of the many things we do here at International Medical Aid. We also offer medical school admissions consulting and pre-medicine internships to help you prepare for medical school. Our consulting services mirror that of traditional admissions committees.
Our pre-medicine internships are like no other, taking you to underserved populations in countries within East Africa, South America and the Caribbean. We are here to help you in any way we can as you progress in your journey to medical school. It’s a long, difficult road, but the passion for medicine makes it all worth it. We’ll be here if you need help on your journey.
While you’re here, check out the other medical schools we’ve covered here on our blog. Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine is a great medical school to attend, but you’ll want to apply to several other schools to increase your chances of getting into at least one medical school. Remember, it’s very competitive.
- Touro University of California
- CHSU College of Osteopathic Medicine
- UC Davis School of Medicine
- Harvard Medical School
- UC Riverside School of Medicine
- USC Keck School of Medicine
- UT Southwestern Medical School
- Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio
- University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine
- UT Austin’s Dell Medical School
- UTMB School of Medicine
- McGovern Medical School at UT Health
- Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
- McGovern Medical School at UT Health
- The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine
- UNT Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
- University of Houston College of Medicine
- Texas A&M College of Medicine
- Johns Hopkins Medical School
- Baylor College of Medicine
- George Washington University School of Medicine
- Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
- St. George’s University School of Medicine
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (in Pennsylvania)
- Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
- Wake Forest University School of Medicine
- Western University of Health Sciences (in California)
- Drexel University College of Medicine
- Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago
- Georgetown University School of Medicine
- Yale School of Medicine
- Perelman School of Medicine
- UCLA Medical School
- NYU Medical School
- Washington University School of Medicine
- Brown Medical School
Good luck from IMA! We believe in you.