Most professions have established standards for their members and for the preprofessional education programs that serve as entry points. However, in dynamic professions such as medicine, where both the knowledge base and the demographics of students in preprofessional programs are undergoing rapid change, these standards, along with the educational process itself, need to be continually examined.
A medical school's curriculum and its expectations for student learning are affected, in part, by the prerequisite knowledge required of those who are enrolled. For example, for many decades, medical schools in the United States have required that all applicants for admission complete a full year each of biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics as undergraduates. To help determine if applicants have the subject knowledge required to be successful, schools use the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to assess mastery of content that is deemed important by most medical schools in the United States (Etienne, 2002a ) and is taught in most of the required undergraduate science courses (Etienne, 2002b ).