Tech to Host Michigan Physiological Society Meeting and Teacher Workshop

Virginia Miller
2018 Keynote Virginia Miller, PhD Mayo Clinic

A great opportunity for Pre-Health students to connect with professionals and gain valuable insight into physiology.

The fifth annual meeting of the Michigan Physiological Society will be held on the Michigan Tech campus tomorrow and Friday (June 14-15) with some activities starting today.

The event features lectures, poster presentations and break-out sessions by and for physiology professionals from throughout the state. Friday’s teacher workshop is open to local teachers and students and is free of charge.

Things get started at 4 p.m. today with the Michigan Physiology Quiz (MiPQ). Five student teams from Alma College, Ferris State, Michigan State, Wayne State and Michigan Tech will compete. Questions will cover a range of topics—cardiovascular, neural, renal and respiratory physiology—presented in a Jeopardy-style format.

This year’s keynote speaker for both the annual meeting and the teacher workshop is Virginia Miller, professor of surgery and physiology and director of the Women’s Health Resource Center at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Her presentation “Sex-specific Risk for Cardiovascular Disease” will take place at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow in Memorial Union Ballroom A.

On Friday the meeting includes the Life Sciences Teacher Workshop. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. with the teacher workshop starting at 8 a.m.The workshop, which is also open to area high school students, includes lab tours and breakout sessions featuring several Michigan Tech staff.

Miller will also deliver the keynote for the teacher workshop “Sex as a biological variable—what you need to know,” at 11:30 a.m. in the Memorial Union Alumni Lounge. Following the address, high school students and teachers will join Miller for lunch in the Ballroom.

A  complete schedule of the meeting is available here.


Meditation Could Help Anxiety and Cardiovascular Health

Waves in an ocean with rocks in the foreground.In a student-led study, one hour of mindfulness meditation was shown to reduce anxiety and some cardiovascular risk markers.

It sounds like a late-night commercial: In just one hour you can reduce your anxiety levels and some heart health risk factors. But a recent study with 14 participants shows preliminary data that even a single session of meditation can have cardiovascular and psychological benefits for adults with mild to moderate anxiety.

John Durocher (Bio Sci) is presenting the work of a team of Michigan Tech researchers about mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce anxiety at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting this week in San Diego, which is attended by approximately 14,000 people.

Read the full story on mtu.edu/news.


Lasers Gather Better Data for Firmer Skin

Three biomedical engineering students work in a darkened Biomedical Optics Lab with laser in safety glasses.
Three biomedical engineering students work in Biomedical Optics Lab

A team from Michigan Tech has partnered with Avon to develop a laser-based technology that measures the elasticity and firmness of skin.

As people age, their skin loses its youthful bounce, which leads to wrinkles and sagging. Skin-firming serums and anti-wrinkle creams seek to boost skin elasticity, but companies like Avon currently rely on visual grading by dermatologists or subjective verbal feedback from consumer panels to assess their products.

Using technology developed by Sean Kirkpatrick, professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, the Michigan Tech team is refining a system that could lead to handheld devices that measure the effectiveness and longevity of beauty products. The technology could help Avon create and test experimental formulas quickly and objectively.

Read the full story on mtu.edu/news.

Biomedical Engineering is one of the pathways in which pre-health professions can choose to pursue.


Hard work pays off—Archibald accepted to PA program

Taylor ArchibaldA moment that I thought about for many years had finally come.

I could not put into words the joy and excitement I felt when I saw the acceptance email from the director of the Physician Assistant (PA) Program at Central Michigan University (CMU).

My journey to becoming a PA began in high school. I was eager to obtain my certified nursing assistant (CNA) license so that I could begin to immerse myself in the medical field and learn new skills that would help prepare me to become a PA in the future. For the last four years, I have worked as a CNA in multiple health-care settings and volunteered in the community, while pursuing an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. I believe that my varying health care experiences allowed me to develop as a person, and my confidence has grown significantly.

I learned more about the day-to-day routine of a physician assistant once I began shadowing multiple PAs in different specialties. I would encourage anyone pursuing a PA career to begin shadowing as soon as possible! Shadowing is a great way to start forming relationships with mentors in the field that can help you throughout the application process, and to see what qualities are desired in the profession.

“As you prepare yourself for a career in medicine, focus on meaningful experiences that challenge you as a person and future medical professional”

Leadership is an instrumental quality PA programs look for in prospective candidates, not only within a health-care setting but in extracurricular activities. I had the opportunity to be a part of the Michigan Tech Women’s Varsity soccer team for four years. Balancing academia and athletics as an undergraduate provided me with invaluable time management and leadership skills that I take with me as I pursue graduate school and my PA career.

Take the initiative to seek out your own opportunities and begin to network with physician assistants early on. Thoroughly look into the programs that you intend to apply to. Each program emphasizes different prerequisite courses, GRE test scores, and number of health-care and shadowing hours needed. It’s important to plan ahead, but don’t get discouraged by the numbers! Be confident in yourself. Getting into a PA program is not a race; if you need to take extra time finishing up prerequisite courses or experiencing more patient care, that is OK.

Throughout the application process, I was drawn toward the emphasis the CMU PA program places on addressing the medical needs of underserved and rural populations. The program immediately felt like the perfect fit for me when I visited the campus, interacted with faculty, and talked with current students. In just a couple months, I am excited to continue my journey, joining CMU’s PA class of 2020!


Twists and Turns with Carly Joseph

Carly JosephI was speechless as I read the acceptance email from the Central Michigan University (CMU) College of Medicine in October 2017. Starting in fall 2018, I get to dive into the first year of my medical training in a program that could not be a better fit for me.

CMU College of Medicine’s commitment to rural and underserved populations in Michigan, research opportunities in neuroscience, and smaller class size immediately piqued my interest when I was deciding where to apply. I felt very at home with the school’s mission and curriculum structure that includes a longitudinal patient care experience. I was glowing with excitement after my interview experience at CMU.

While being accepted to medical school has been awesome, my journey to this point has been full of twists and turns. Some students know medical school is their goal when they start college. I was not one of those people. I’m majoring in biomedical engineering, and was initially interested in graduate school or working in the industry. I even spent a year double majoring in materials science and engineering. Three years in, the sum of my undergraduate experiences showed me that medical school was what I really wanted to do, since it would allow me to combine my passion for science with helping others in a very direct way.

I was able to accomplish more during undergrad than I had ever imagined.

During my fourth year, I had to take many of the medical school prerequisite classes that were not part of my engineering curriculum and build a Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) study plan into my schedule. It’s OK if you’re not on the pre-med track right away when you start college; pursue experiences that genuinely interest you and rely on guidance from your faculty mentors to navigate your path.

There’s a lot of pressure to have as many leadership roles as possible and be involved in tons of student organizations. For me though, having a few deep and lasting experiences was the way to go. I chose to invest my time in research, improving my Spanish, and volunteering.

Starting in the Engineered Biomaterials Lab during my first year and sticking with it through my fifth year gave me the time to learn how to think critically and ignited my passion for science. I started off simply learning about biomaterials from older students in the lab, then gradually worked up to doing my own experiments and eventually presenting at conferences. It definitely didn’t happen overnight, but by choosing to make research a main priority each semester, I was able to accomplish more during undergrad than I had ever imagined. Consistently spending time in the lab over four years helped me form close relationships with my faculty mentors, which has been invaluable on my journey to medical school.

Pursue experiences that genuinely interest you.

It may be counterintuitive to take time away from the rigorous curriculum while at Tech, but spending a semester in Chile focusing on language, culture, and people challenged me in ways that technical classes couldn’t, and was critical in my preparation for medical school. If you’re thinking about studying abroad, do it. Communication and understanding different cultures are crucial skills for anyone entering the medical field, and medical schools look for applicants who make the effort to broaden their horizons culturally.

Another great way to prepare for being a doctor is to spend time volunteering in the community. The options can be limited here in Houghton, but I have really enjoyed working with Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly. They have many different programs and services. As part of the Forever Friends program, I am matched with an elderly woman who I visit a few times a month. I’ve formed a great friendship with her, and hopefully, help alleviate some loneliness. It’s a win-win!

Dedicate your time to quality experiences that allow you to serve others, grow as a person, and grow as a scientist. Stick it out through the difficult classes and demanding schedules. The future doctor in you knows it’s worth it.


Erin McKenzie Tells Her Pre-Health Story

erin-mckenzieMy name is Erin McKenzie and I am pursuing an undergraduate degree in biological sciences, with a pre-professional concentration.

Preparing for medical school doesn’t just include studying for the MCAT and acing your interviews. The nice thing about Tech is that much of the learning experiences are designed to provide knowledge that is applicable to future education and careers. Tech isn’t an easy school, and many of the classes my peers and I took were also taken by chemical engineers, biochemists, and biomedical engineers. Having to network with peers to master material, to hone study skills, and to effectively manage time are all things required by Tech. Many of the teachers at Tech invest in their students’ learning and are open to going beyond what is expected to help a student in need.

“It’s understandable that medical schools like Tech students, since we have already mastered these personal skills in our undergraduate experiences that they expect in medical students.”

I applied to the Michigan State University Early Assurance Program (EAP) because a few local students I knew had, and from their experiences, I knew that Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine (MSU CHM) was where I wanted to complete my schooling. MSU CHM’s mission statement was what really drew me to them; their dedication to serving the underserved and excelling in primary care. The EAP gives students from colleges with fewer pre-medical resources a chance to apply before others who have more resources, to bring in students who are more apt to practice rural or inter-city.

I have always wanted to return to the Houghton-Hancock area, where I grew up, and to serve my rural community. MSU CHM has two certificate programs, Leadership in Rural Medicine (LRM) and Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved (LMU). Through LRM, I hope to participate in their Rural Physicians Program (RPP), which would allow me to complete my third and fourth years in Marquette, Michigan. Since I hope to practice primary care in a rural area, the RPP would allow me to be closer to the area I want to return to and to prepare for being a physician in an underserved area.

When applying for the EAP program, it is important to know that they prefer Michigan students from rural or underserved areas that want to return to the same type of area. If that’s not you, I would suggest still considering MSU and EAP. The application is free, since it’s an EAP, and it provides an opportunity to practice applying, writing essays and personal statements, and gathering letters of recommendation. Considering different schools gives you an idea of where you want to attend, and helps you choose the best school for you. Talking to students who have been accepted into medical school gives insights into interviews and medical curriculum, and reaching out to admission committees with specific questions are always options and very helpful. If you don’t get accepted into the school of your dreams, it’s OK! Schools have many applicants and can’t take everyone.

My dad, who has been a family physician for 29 years, often tells me, “An MD is an MD, it doesn’t matter where you go to school.”

A tip for interviews: be yourself. Practice and research what schools are looking for, and look into mission statements. Through interviews, schools are interested in learning who you are and what kind of student and person you are. Schools invest in students and their education and try to promote a good fit. A tip for the MCAT: study early. Everyone says to find a course/book that works for you. I used the Kaplan book series, and studied by reading, highlighting, and taking notes.

The Kaplan books went well with what I had learned at Tech and was outlined in a way that was very understandable and memorable. When you take practice tests, which I suggest doing many times, don’t let your score spook you. The real MCAT was not as hard as the Kaplan test, in my opinion. Also, your advisors can help you with your application processes and can help keep you on track.

Medical schools like to see commitment in their applicants, be it to sports, work, or extracurricular activities. In college I continued many activities I started in my youth. I worked, and joined several organizations at Tech including the Pre-Health Association (PHAT, of which I am the public and community service chair) and Blue Key National Honor Society (I am secretary). I’m also on the founding e-board and vice president of a new honor society, Alpha Epsilon Delta. It’s always easier to not join clubs and just do homework and relax, but devoting time now to extracurricular commitments is worth it in the long run. These experiences also give you good opportunities to get to know people who can write the letters of recommendation medical schools require.

All this hard work paid off. I was accepted to Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in June 2017.