Category: Pre-Medical

Click to learn more about the student experience in the pre-medical program at Michigan Tech University. Learn about ways to get experience by shadowing medical professionals, volunteering in the local community (EMT, hospice, social organizations), doing undergraduate research, studying abroad, and so much more.

Pre-health students win top awards at Michigan Tech

We know students who choose pre-health are top-notch. They go above and beyond in everything they do. So it comes as no surprise to see them recognized for their scholarship and community service. Congratulations to our outstanding pre-health student award-winners.
Read more about pre-medical student Christian Johnson (double major in human biology and English) and pre-physician assistant student Bella Menzel-Smith (human biology major).

Michigan Tech EMS: Chloe Looman’s Experience as Captain.

Chloe Looman, EMT Captain, Biological Sciences Major

Hello, my name is Chloe Looman and I am this year’s Captain of Michigan Tech EMS. Our agency certifies students and local community members to the EMT level, and in exchange, we volunteer as responders to the Michigan Tech campus and surrounding community. Our response time is mere minutes in comparison to the Mercy ambulance company, which can sometimes take 30-40 minutes to respond as they serve the whole Keweenaw Peninsula. 

As Captain, I oversee the three to four responding squads that rotate being on call every 72-96 hours. My journey with the agency began when I was lucky enough to be selected as one of a handful of incoming first-years to the EMT class. The course each year trains about 16-20 students to be EMTs (the lowest level certification that can work in an ambulance) in exchange for volunteering as a responder for a full academic year afterward. Coming to MTU I had my sights set on medical school. I love creative problem solving and people, despite being an introvert, but had little evidence that medicine would be where I would truly thrive. I joined the program not only as a way to gain experience prior to med school but also as a way to explore the clinical side of things.

Through my involvement with the agency, I got just that, and so much more. The EMT course for me was like 3D school. Our tests were practicals where we had to physically demonstrate our skills with the equipment and learn how to ask all the right questions as well as think on our feet. The personal growth I got during the course was immense, and it confirmed that medicine was absolutely the right path for me. After earning my EMT license I got a job as a medical responder at Michigan’s Adventure where I got to treat patients all summer long. This set me up to be very prepared for the next academic year when I was responding with MTU EMS. Living in the dorms gave me the extra advantage of often being the first responder on the scene many times. I got to initiate and direct patient care as well as establish how to take a good care report.

In my second year responding, I got to take the role of Squad Leader. With this position, I got to take a more directive role with my squadmates. In the second semester of that year, I got to move to Lieutenant of my own squad, where I was in charge of driving the EMS Tahoe to scenes and overseeing the patient care. I loved that in this role I got to use my leadership skills to delegate tasks and allow my newer responders to also get the same formative experiences I had gotten as a general responder.

For my final year at MTU as Captain of the agency, it has been incredible to get to direct the inner workings of the agency having served every role at some point myself. I love that with my experience as an introverted leader, I get to use my role to encourage the participation and ideas of every member as well as work closely with the class of students that may someday take my place. Michigan Tech EMS has allowed me to develop strong leadership skills as well as discover that medicine is where I feel most at home. I am currently on three medical school waitlists and eager for a lifetime of treating patients.

Healthcare job growth projected at 16%; Michigan Tech Pre-Health professions helping to meet demand

It’s no secret the older we get the more we need healthcare. And the U.S. is getting older. Currently, 16.5% of the U.S. population of 328 million people, or 54 million, are over the age of 65, according to the latest census. By 2030, that number will rise to 74 million, a 37% increase. And the number of people over the age of 85, who generally need the most care, is growing even faster.

So it comes as no surprise that healthcare is expected to create jobs at a faster clip than the rest of the economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 16% growth across all healthcare professions. And these professions pay very well, too. The table below lists just some examples.

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020
Occupation Projected
Job Growth
Median
Pay
Audiologists 16% $81,030
Chiropractors 11% $70,720
Dentists 8% $164,010
Optometrists 9% $118,050
Occupational Therapists 17% $86,280
Physical Therapists 21% $91,010
Physicians Assistants 31% $115,390
Podiatrists 2% $134,300
Speech Pathologists 29% $80,480
Veterinarians 17% $99,250

Michigan Tech’s Pre-Health professions minor has been preparing tomorrow’s healthcare leaders and helping to fill the growing demand for healthcare professionals. Pre-Health professions features helpful faculty and staff ensuring students: meet academic requirements for professional programs, receive valuable clinical experience and successfully navigate the application process. All of which results in a 70% acceptance rate into all health professional programs. For Tech students applying to medical school, they have a 65% acceptance rate (approximately twenty-five percentage points above the national average).

Students can pair this minor with any degree/major they choose at Tech. Popular pairings are made with Human Biology, Medical Lab Science, Biomedical Engineering, Exercise Science, Chemistry, and Psychology. While students can choose any major, these are the most common! 

But don’t let us tell you. Hear from our students first-hand how they prepared for the health professional program of their choice.

Listen to Jill Poliskey describe how a study abroad program in Ireland helped her decide to change her focus and her major and decide to go to medical school to become a doctor.

Listen to Abigail Botz describe how getting involved in research on campus and working as a peer health advocate has helped to strengthen her application.

Learn about Alyssa Meinburg’s progression from MTU’s prehealth program to prosthetics and orthotics school.

Emma DeBaeke shares her journey from Tech into into Physcial Therapy school.

And Karmyn Polakowski talk about her entrance into med school thanks to Michigan Tech’s Early Assurance Program (EAP) with Michigan State University.
Learn more about Pre-Health at Michigan Tech or contact Nicole Seigneurie, Director, Pre-Health Profession directly at 906.487.2850 or nmseigne@mtu.edu.

Karmyn Polakowski: Preparation for Medical School

My name is Karmyn Polakowski. I am currently a first-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

What was your undergraduate major at Michigan Tech? How do you feel this major has prepared you for medical school?

I majored in Medical Laboratory Science (MLS). This degree choice was vital to shaping me into the medical student I am today—I am a strong believer that in order to be a fruitful physician we must know the ins and the outs of medicine from the lab all the way to the patient rooms. Simply because if we don’t know how we got to the answers such as the origin of a particular lab result, it’s difficult to make a diagnosis and explain it effectively to a patient.

The curriculum devised for MLS students is one for students with a desire for perpetual learning and a mind full of curiosity. I promise you, the courses will feed these cravings. 

What experiences/resources did you have at Michigan Tech that you felt set you up for success?

Michigan Tech did an amazing job at shaping me into a competitive medical school applicant as well as a successful medical student by providing me with both the people and activities to make me a well-rounded person. Medical schools emphasize not only the necessary science skills but also the soft skills and I truly believe that MTU set me up to do both. In particular, I had awesome instructors, an amazing pre-health advisor, and extracurricular groups that pushed me to be this type of person.

Why did you apply to Michigan Tech’s Early Assurance Program (EAP) with Michigan State University?

I chose to apply to the EAP simply because I knew that MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) was the perfect fit for me. MSU CHM places an emphasis on producing primary care providers in rural health care settings and that is my personal goal as well. So because my goal aligned with their mission statement so well I decided to apply and even better, apply a little early.

Do you have any tips or advice for future students applying to EAP? Or students applying to Medical school in general?

BE A GENUINE PERSON! Applying to medical school can be frightening because of all of the numbers and statistics about GPAs, the MCAT, etc– however, discovering why you want to do medicine and making that apparent through a genuine and compassionate attitude will take you so much further than a score will. That being said, make sure that you’re always trying your best to do well on your exams and projects, but make sure that you’re also doing things outside of school to shape yourself into a well-rounded person. After all, medicine is about human connectedness, not your best test score.

What type of experiences or extracurricular activities were you involved in?

I was involved in Michigan Tech EMS for a couple of years and it was definitely the highlight of my undergraduate career. I was not only able to deploy my patient interaction and care skills, but I found the EMS family that created bonds to last a lifetime. EMS brings out special qualities in everyone and learning how to utilize everyone’s strengths is really quite eye-opening. This lesson in itself makes me confident in my ability to work well as a physician amongst a group of other healthcare workers someday soon.

Cassie Cecchettini’s Advice for Pre-Meds at MTU

I graduated from Michigan Tech in 2018 where I majored in Biological Sciences (emphasis in pre-professional/pre-med) and minored in Psychology. I liked that this major allowed me to easily get in all of the prerequisites for medical school plus made me take some classes that, while not required, I HIGHLY recommend including immunology, microbiology, and anatomy & physiology. I also believe this major made me more well-rounded because we had to take classes that I probably never would have otherwise, such as ecology, and I tried to think of these classes as a way to gain more outside knowledge rather than just getting educated in strict biology/medicine. 

The sheer number of opportunities available at Michigan Tech set me up for success in addition to the faculty. Professors were always willing to answer questions and make themselves available. I only had Nicole for one year, but she is amazing and helped me immensely even after I graduated. At Tech, I participated in research, was the president of the Pre-Health Association, secretary of MEDLIFE where I went to Lima, Peru twice, co-founded Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Professional Honor Society Michigan Theta Chapter, and was an undergraduate teaching assistant for Anatomy Lab. I also shadowed through Tech’s Job Shadowing Health Professions class and volunteered through the clubs I was involved in and at a hospital in my home state over the summers. During my gap years, I worked as a medical scribe in the emergency department and an oncology/hematology clinic and volunteered at an animal rescue. 

As I’ve learned happens to a lot of prospective medical students, I did not get accepted the first time around. This was a very defeating feeling, but I worked hard to improve my application which included adding non-healthcare experiences (very important!!!), and I reapplied. I received several interviews and several acceptances during my second cycle which ultimately landed me at the University of New England in Maine. The location was a big draw for me as I wanted to get out of the Midwest and explore other areas of the country. Outside of location, I liked UNE because they have an integrated curriculum and a really strong anatomy program. UNE is also one of the more established DO programs with a lot of connections and good match rates. 

A big tip I have for premed students is to take the classes I recommended above! Especially immunology and anatomy & physiology. Having a foundation in those has been critical for my success thus far. Get involved in activities you really enjoy and stick with them. Don’t feel obligated to get involved in a million extracurriculars. Shadowing and volunteering is a must, but as I mentioned earlier, volunteer in a non-healthcare setting to show that you have interests outside of medicine as well. My last piece of advice is to pay attention in class. That may seem silly but getting a good grasp on organic chemistry now will help you when you have to study for the MCAT and helps you establish good study strategies. Oh, and take a gap year! Or 2 or 3. This is a really long journey that will always be here for you. Take time to travel and do things that you love before school starts. 

Ross Michaels. Pre-Med. Researcher. Husband. Hero.

“Where else could I have led a research project on liver fibrosis; watched autopsies; designed a device for the insertion of a myocardial pacemaker via a minimally invasive procedure; published a paper detailing a 3-D printed device we designed and made accessible to the entire world to help diagnose childhood malnutrition; married my high school sweetheart; pole-vaulted and learned to throw a discus, shot-put, and javelin; coached high school football and track; and saved my best friend’s father’s life on a bike trail in the middle of the woods?

Ross Michaels, ’17,  Biomedical Engineering | Pre-Medical, U of M Medical School, Fall 2018 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.