Month: October 2019

Tessa Sprague, Pre-Physician Assistant Program

Tessa Sprague

Michigan Tech offered so many resources that greatly improved my success. Grades are very important when applying to Physician Assistant (PA) schools, so the learning centers and tutoring kept me on track with my goal GPA. There was also a wide range of volunteer opportunities in health-related areas that helped me become more comfortable as a healthcare provider.

Bachelor of Exercise Science major helped me prepare for PA school by requiring a summer internship which opened doors for me getting more direct patient care hours which is a big focus for many PA schools. I also really enjoyed the tests and research I was able to do throughout my courses in this major.

I applied to CMU’s program initially due to the success rate of their students in passing their PANCE exam first round and how driven they were in helping the underserved which is a large part of medicine. After interviewing at CMU for a spot in their program I felt the most comfortable with the faculty and students’ view on community. Coming from Michigan Tech and a good program, community was very important to me in my decision. In summer 2019, I was accepted into Central Michigan’s Physician Assistant Program!

The biggest advice I have for future students is to do extracurricular activities that will make you stand out through the application process. I was involved in Michigan Tech EMS which helped me become certified as an EMT. I then used my certification to build up experience and direct patient care hours for my application. I would also suggest taking a gap year between undergrad and PA school to get some job experience that will make certain aspects of PA school much easier.

I did a variety of extracurricular activities while at Michigan Tech. I worked for Student Health and Wellness as a Peer Health Advocate which strengthened my communication skills and was the best job I could’ve had throughout school. I volunteered with Michigan Tech EMS as a first responder giving me valuable patient experience. I was involved in research and was part of the Spartners program helping educate children about nutrition and fitness.

Michigan Tech helped me in my success in getting into PA school as well as giving me a good base of knowledge to help make connections with the new material. The application process isn’t always easy but just remember to be yourself and show them what makes you stand out!


Maya Braden, Pre-Med Journey

Maya BradenPreparing for Pre-Med

I graduated from Michigan Tech with a major in Biological Sciences and concentration in Ecology. I had a few majors during my time at Michigan Tech. I originally came in as a biomedical engineer and quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. I switched into biochemistry and molecular biology, which was my major for the majority of my time at Michigan Tech.

By the end of my third year however I was really inspired by my time with the conservation corps and I wanted to learn more about natural resources, so I once again switched, this time into biological sciences with a concentration in ecology. Completing my ecology concentration classes were by far the best preparation for medical school and definitely allowed me to develop a different way of thinking about interactions, whether it’s a wetland or an organ system.

Narrowing the Path

I am currently a student at Michigan State’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. One of my favorite primary care providers was a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine(DO), and after shadowing a DO I found that my personality fits more with the osteopathic providers compared to allopathic. I like the DO philosophy and its holistic view of people. I was also interested in having the extra tool of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine to treat patients. Having OMM classes now in the fall semester is definitely a nice break from traditional classwork and feels great to have classmates practice techniques on me after sitting and studying for long hours.

Striving for Success

Knowing who to know is everything as a pre-med. This includes advisors, upperclassmen, classmates and professors. No one becomes a doctor on their own. If someone was considering pre-med my first step of advice would be to contact Nicole Seigneurie, the pre-med advisor. She is incredibly helpful and will do her best to help you succeed. After that, it would be to network with those around you because you never know what opportunities will come from it. For university resources, I utilized learning centers often, took research opportunities that were available to me, and shadowed at local hospitals.

My favorite extracurricular activity that I participated in during my time at MTU was with MTU Emergency Medical Services. Everyone in the organization is dedicated to growth, learning, and genuinely cares about others. It gave me a great introduction to medicine. Other extra circulars that I enjoyed while being at Michigan Tech was being a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, a Girl Scout Troop Leader, a resident assistant, biology learning center coach, research, and working various jobs across campus. The best experience that I could have sought was doing an AmeriCorps service term and taking a break from school to investigate my other interests and understand what it means to volunteer and contribute to a community.

Passing it Forward

I would say to financially plan ahead, applying to medical schools is expensive and a lot of people have to do it more than once before they are successful. That being said, as soon as you’re accepted, find out information on as many scholarships as possible and don’t wait to apply for them. I learned about the National Health Service Corps scholarship, which pays tuition and stipend in exchange for working primary care in underserved areas from a doctor my mom was working with. I applied for it and with lots of help from letter writers, was awarded it. I would highly encourage anyone considering primary care to apply if it aligns with your career goals.

As far as how to pick programs, apply for programs whose mission statement you identify with and can see yourself being passionate about. Mission statements tell you a lot about a school’s priority and what kind of providers they want to graduate. If you are considering medical school I would really encourage people to look at both routes, MD or DO, and investigate what each one really means before choosing. DO has a lot to offer and will be competing for residency spots with MD’s now that the residency merger has taken place. I’m really glad that I was exposed to DO and think that DO programs have a lot of great things to offer their students.


Elise Cheney-Makens, Pre-Med Advice

Elise Cheney-MakensMy name is Elise, and I’ll be attending the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in the fall of 2020.

I graduated in the spring of 2019 with a major in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (with a concentration in Biology) and a minor in Spanish. I liked that my undergrad degree was so diverse. In addition to biology classes, I also took lots of courses in chemistry, physics, writing, and even computer science, and it was really fun getting to explore all these different disciplines and challenge myself in new ways all the time. My major definitely kept me on my toes, which I know will help me during medical school.

With all the challenging classes I was taking, it was helpful having so many supportive resources available to me. The learning centers and my professors and advisors helped me at every stage of my college career. This is so overused I’m sure, but when Dumbledore tells Harry Potter, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it,” well, that’s definitely also true of Michigan Tech. There’s always going to be someone willing to guide you, advocate for you, teach you, care about you – you just need to be willing to ask for help.

Another amazing resource at Michigan Tech is the Early Assurance Program (EAP) through the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. I applied for the EAP because I liked the innovative and flexible curriculum at Michigan State and the focus of the EAP program, in particular, on serving underserved populations. I knew I was looking for a medical school with a holistic approach to delivering education – a school that was academically rigorous but heavily emphasized balance and student well-being.

My best advice about applying to school is to dig deep and find some gratitude for the process, even when it feels stressful. I think applying to medical school is actually an amazing learning opportunity in so many ways. You get to be introspective about your life, experiences, and values and how they’ve shaped you into the person you are now. And you get to really start exploring and sorting through what medicine means to you. I highly recommend collecting stories about medicine for inspiration on the days that you’re struggling to find some. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, this piece in the New York Times Magazine is one of my all-time favorites. 

Even the MCAT is such an important experience. It is a behemoth of an exam, but learning how to study for it, what strategies work best for you, and simply that you are capable of doing something this difficult is so valuable for school and life in general. I really would not have imagined I could study for anything so intensely for so long (4 months in my case). But now that I’ve done it – and succeeded – I know I can do it again throughout medical school and my career.

In terms of choosing what things to get involved in outside of class, there are definitely no “right” activities or extracurriculars for pre-med students. But if you do things that you enjoy, that passion will shine through in your application and your interviews. For me, this included working as a writing tutor in the Multiliteracies Center and a counselor at Summer Youth Programs, volunteering for the Young Women Leaders Program and Ronald McDonald House, leading a Girl Scout troop, and doing research on campus and a research fellowship at Mayo Clinic. I was also in the tennis club and played cello in the orchestra.  

Ultimately, all of this – being an undergrad student, applying to medical school, everything beyond – is a marathon, not a sprint. Remember to take it at your own pace, keep an eye on the long game, and be true to your values throughout the process.