Category Archives: Student Stories

Students who are pursuing a pre-health concentration at Michigan Technological University

Dominique Aleo’s Pre-Med Journey

I was sitting in my car outside the dentist’s office, wondering how on earth I was supposed to call my mom and about 5 others with only 3% battery. I had just opened the email telling me I had a conditional acceptance to MSU’s College of Human Medicine for August 2019, and I was overwhelmed with emotion. I did it, I couldn’t believe I really did it.

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. I began shadowing at a young age and I soon noticed many obstacles our town faced from being medically underserved. The more I saw and learned, the more I knew I wanted to work in rural and underserved areas as a physician. This realization is what drew me to MSU, as part of Michigan State’s mission for CHM is to train dedicated doctors that will return and practice in underserved areas. For me, MSU was a perfect fit, and it seemed my aspirations met their criteria as well. I decided to apply through the Early Assurance Program (EAP), as it would be a great opportunity to show that my goals were aligned with theirs. Some of the positive aspects of the EAP application is that they have a preference for Michigan residents who are first-generation college students, graduated from low-income schools, and lived in medically underserved areas. I fit all of this criteria, which in combination with their mission, made the EAP seem like an opportunity I could not pass up.

I majored in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Pre-Medicine, so the majority of what I studied was MCAT orientated. I personally knew many doctors and medical students whose major was not geared towards the health professions and had a bachelor in Art, Norwegian Culture, and Religious Studies. However, I chose Biological Sciences not just because I felt it would help me prepare for the MCAT, but also because I loved the subjects I would be studying.  

When I was first looking at colleges as a high school senior, Michigan Tech was not my first choice. Now I know it’s exactly where I needed to be as Michigan Tech had many different resources and options that would allow me to succeed. Medical schools need to see that you’ve had experiences that have cultivated skills and assets that you’ll need in the medical field. This puts an enormous pressure on students to have everything; research, volunteer, shadowing, health-related jobs, teaching, lots of involvement in multiple organizations with leadership positions in those organizations, all on top of a stellar GPA. It’s helpful to keep in mind that most of these are guidelines and that anything that has meaning to you can be used to show others how it has helped to mold you into a well-rounded individual.

Experiences are about quality, not quantity, and Tech is able to offer both. There many different Student Organizations available at Michigan Tech so that you can be involved and do something you enjoy. Also, the shadowing program Nicole, our Health Professions Coordinator, has set up with Portage and Aspirus makes it easy to build physician shadowing hours. There are always notifications for volunteer opportunities, as well as many resources to help you succeed in class, such as Learning Centers. Michigan Tech is full of above-average professors and teachers that always have their doors open to students, and there are many options to those who are interested in pursuing research such as working in labs, volunteering as a participant, or applying to conduct research of your own.

I worked 30 hours a week the entirety of my college career and worked overtime during breaks and holidays. Although I was not involved in as many activities and organizations as I would have liked, work was filled with many experiences that helped to build character and skills that are necessary for the health professions and everyday life, even if the work I did was not directly health related. I invested my free-time in organizations that I really felt I was making a difference, such as MEDLIFE, Pre-Health Association at Tech (PHAT), and later the AED Pre-Professional Honor Society. All these things and more gave me the opportunity to grow as an individual and gain experiences that helped to shape me and allow me to be successful.

The Pre-Med journey has not been an easy one, but it’s not supposed to be. Every stressor is an opportunity to condition and better yourself for the future. In terms of tips or advice, I have quite a bit from my own experiences. With every opportunity to succeed, there will also be the possibility of failure, so if you fall short, don’t make excuses for yourself. Instead make an effort to re-evaluate, learn, and then try again.

Take the time to talk to your advisors, professors, and Nicole, because they are all trying to help you succeed and they all know what they are doing. Begin studying for the MCAT early, and surround yourself with people who have the same drive and determination as you do, as it really helps to have that support from your peers. Last of all, do not let someone decide your future or discourage you. As I said before, it’s a hard road ahead, and there will always be those who don’t think you will cut it. You determine your own goals and means of success, and you do not need to be a cookie-cutter applicant to be successful. Never let there be a time where you ask yourself “what if I had…”, and instead, do everything possible so that you know you did your best.

I will always be grateful for the bonds I have made at Michigan Tech and the experiences that have helped to shape me into the person I am today, and I am so excited to begin the next part of my journey.


Pre-Physical Therapy Alumni Lindsay Winter at Central Michigan

Lindsay WinterMy name is Lindsay Winter, and I currently a first-year student at Central Michigan University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy (PT) program. At Michigan Tech, my undergrad degree was in exercise science with a minor in psychology. I felt my undergrad education provided me with a well-rounded foundation to begin PT school. Between my exercise science and psychology courses, I feel I graduated from Michigan Tech with a firm background in physical, mental, and social health.

Throughout my undergrad, a variety of experiences and resources helped prepare me for PT school. The courses that were included in my undergrad really emphasized the importance of having hands-on experience with the technology in our Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology (KIP) labs. I found it helpful that we were able to actually work with some of the equipment that would be used in physical therapy research and have an understanding of what the technology would be used for. Second, Michigan Tech has really made an effort to bring in speakers and create classes that are helpful for prospective physical therapy students.

A KIP Seminar Series was created to bring researchers to campus and have them present on their current and past research projects. Also, I was able to take a PT Seminar class that was taught by a physical therapist that graduated from Michigan Tech! I found all of these to be very helpful in providing me with extra information related to physical therapy and made me more interested in the recent topics related to my field.

Another important aspect of my success at Michigan Tech was the KIP department and Pre-Health staff. They were always so helpful throughout my time at Michigan Tech and in my PT school application process. Even though applying to PT school can be stressful, they always made sure our concerns were heard and made an extra effort to address any areas of the application we were struggling with.

Central Michigan University has been a great fit for me so far. It’s obvious that all of the professors are passionate about their profession and want to see us become successful physical therapists in the future. They do a great job of challenging us to learn beyond what is taught in the classroom and make sure we are provided with the resources to do so. Finally, I really enjoy how the program stresses the importance of building relationships with our classmates and staff both in and out of the classroom.

A tip that I would give to future students would be to do as much shadowing as possible.

In addition, I would tell them to shadow in multiple different areas of physical therapy. The more experience you have coming into PT school, the better understanding you will have for how each area of physical therapy works. Many students are content with just shadowing outpatient clinics, but I would recommend that they try to gain experience in pediatrics, women’s health, inpatient care, neuro, etc. You never know where your passion may be!

In my undergrad, I was on the women’s basketball team at Michigan Tech. Being involved in athletics and experiencing the injuries that go along with them is what drew me to become interested in physical therapy. Also, being apart of the team really allowed me to be extremely involved in the community. I was able to be a volunteer for numerous events throughout Houghton, which I found very enjoyable and a great learning opportunity. These events helped me realize that I wanted to work in a profession that allowed me to positively impact the lives of others and improve someone’s quality of life as well.

 


Nick Carlson’s Advice To Get To Chiropractic School

Nick Carlson
Nowadays, most aspects of the medical field are moving from treating the disease/problem/injury/etc. after it happens to prevent the disease/problem/injury/etc. from happening in the first place through the use of things like exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle choices in general. The chiropractic field isn’t really any different, rather than just adjusting joints every time they go out of alignment, many chiropractors look to prevent this from happening in the first place. The field of chiropractic medicine is also gaining ground every year, allowing chiropractors to do more with each passing year. It’s not just about adjusting and manipulating the spine anymore, it’s about nutrition and disease and muscle function and looking at disease, injury, and the entire human body holistically.
The Exercise Science program, in which I’m pursuing an undergrad, and curriculum at Michigan Tech embodies the transition both in the medical field as a whole and in the field of chiropractic medicine. It teaches you about the anatomy and physiology of the human body while also teaching you about nutrition and exercise and other aspects of preventative medicine. Also the “capstone” of the Exercise Science Program is the internship. It’s a three-credit class, where you spend 126 (or more) hours working with a professional in a field of your choosing (whatever you’re planning on going into). Honestly, my experience was by far more rewarding than pretty much any other experience I had at Tech.  I did my internship with a local chiropractor, and my patient interaction skills and my knowledge of treatments and holistic medicine grew so much, I can’t even begin to explain it.
I had almost limitless resources to use at Michigan Tech. The ones that I feel helped the most were Career Services and the Pavlis Honors College (PHC). I first went to career services during like my second week at Michigan Tech to revamp my resume from my “high school/college application” to my “college/real life” version. Not only did it give me a good outline for what my resume should look like, but it also opened up my eyes to what opportunities and experiences I was lacking in and what I should be looking for. The PHC was also huge for my development from a high school student to a graduate-school ready adult. It helped me to learn how to talk about myself and reflect on the experiences that I’ve had and the things that I’ve done (one of their big things is reflections). It also pushed me to do more and get more out of my time at Michigan Tech.
Michigan Tech, whether you’re in an engineering program or not, develops your analytical thinking skills and teaches you to ask questions and solve problems.
I will be attending the College of Chiropractic at Northwestern Health Sciences University (NWHSU) beginning in January of 2019. The Chiropractic program at NWHSU is based on scientific evidence rather than tradition and is designed to integrate basic knowledge and chiropractic technique throughout the program. These two programs meshed well for someone like me, who approaches problems from an analytical perspective. NWHSU also has programs for Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, Nutrition, and Chinese Medicine, allowing for tons of opportunity to learn about other aspects of holistic medicine. NWHSU was also the closest chiropractic school to my home (Mohawk, Michigan), so that was an added bonus.
My best advice is to not worry about it too much. I spent months worrying about doing the application before I actually submitted it. In reality, the thought of doing it is worse than actually doing it. I don’t know what the official stance is, but from my perspective application to chiropractic school is not very similar to applying to other graduate schools. While it is more competitive than most undergraduate programs, it’s not like trying to get into medical school or physical therapy school. Your GPA doesn’t need to be perfect and you don’t have to have a resume full of awards and clubs and achievements and projects.
My feeling was that the process was a lot more personal than what your resume and grades say about you. It’s about who you are as a person, about your commitment and effort and interest.
Don’t get me wrong, any chiropractic program is still intense and takes years of hard work and, to use one of Michigan Tech’s favorite words, tenacity to make it through; it’s not a cakewalk, and it shouldn’t be. Basically, take the process and schooling seriously because it’s not a joke, but remember that you’re going into a field that’s about the person, not about the numbers and definitions.
I was pretty heavily involved in the Student Athletic Training Internship program. Basically, it’s just an option for students with an interest in athletic training and sports medicine to get hands-on experience assisting the athletic trainers during practices and games. I learned a lot from this program, including how to tape and how to perform treatments like ultrasound. It allowed me to get more experience with handling people in a more professional setting. It’s also something that looks great on a resume. Also they’ve recently restructured the program so that it’s a series of classes, each with different goals and milestones, like how to fit crutches or do ultrasounds. It sounds like it’s going to be a great program. The goal by the end of the program is for the students to basically be able to handle the basic needs of an athletic team on their own, at least that’s what I gathered.

Stephanie Dietrich’s Physical Therapy Experience

Stephanie Dietrich 201703010012When I first decided to pursue a career in physical therapy (PT) I had no clue how to go about the application process or what steps were involved. Being clueless is OK. There’s a lot of people in the same boat. Start by talking to your advisor and developing a plan. Current PT students are also an excellent resource because they’ve “been there”.  In addition, Michigan Technological University provides many other resources to support students on this path (the writing center was one I highly recommend using for essays).

Many of the courses required for my major overlapped the requirements for PT school which made the application process much smoother. In addition to that, additional requirements for my major, such as biomechanics, exercise physiology, and sports nutrition, have given me a stronger background to tackle my current PT courses. The knowledge base I gained in my undergraduate studies at Michigan Tech has made the shift to graduate school much easier due to exposure to many of the concepts I am currently studying.

I am currently attending PT school at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. This PT program really appealed to me due to the focus on research here, which was the highlight of my undergraduate studies. In addition to that, La Crosse has this amazing opportunity to participate in EXPAND (Exercise Program for Adults with Neurologic Disorders) where PT students get the chance to apply classroom knowledge while giving back to the community. The number of clinical rotations was also instrumental in my decision; in total, I will be exposed to five unique settings.

I owe much of my success to my strong support group at Michigan Tech which consisted of my advisors, professors, a research team, volleyball team, and coaching staff. My advisor, Kathy Carter, was instrumental in my dream to pursue PT from day one. She directed me to all the resources I needed and more. I also had engaging professors that kept me excited to continue down this path. My involvement with undergraduate research, examining the differences in subjective and objective measurements of sleep in collegiate athletes with Dr. Jason Carter, was definitely the highlight of my undergraduate studies and influenced my decision in PT school seeing as La Crosse stresses research involvement. Ultimately, my experiences at Tech prepared me well for PT school not only through coursework, but through developing lasting skills in communication, leadership, and problem-solving. Below are some of the wonderful experiences and extracurricular activities I was involved in during my time at Tech:

Michigan Tech volleyball

  • Student-athlete
  •  Assistant coach for youth camps

Undergraduate Research Assistant

  • Kinesiology & Integrative Physiology Lab (Advisor: Dr. Jason Carter) Determine differences in subjective and objective assessments of sleep in collegiate athletes
  • Clinical Observation – Inpatient and outpatient settings in Michigan and Minnesota

Community service

  • Bounce-O-Rama Event Volunteer
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation Sales Attendant
  • Athletic Event Parking Attendant
  • Chuck-A-Puck Sales Attendant

Pony Power and Performance Instructor – Summer strength and conditioning program for middle and high school athletes


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.

 


Hard work pays off—Taylor 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!