Denisonians in Health Professions: Osteopathic Medicine

Denisonians in health professions: osteopathic medicine - 04-22-19-kristen-brennan-283x300.jpg image #0Name: Kristen Brennan
Denison Graduation Year: 2018
Denison Major: Biology
Professional School: D.O. from Midwestern University- Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM), Class of 2022
Contact me: brenna_k1@denison.edu

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
While the curriculum at every medical school is different, the focus of my first year of school has been focused on learning the human anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and also working with standardized patients (actors) to develop my formal interpersonal skills required to be a doctor. Being a student of osteopathic medicine means that all of my classes tie in and demonstrate the role of osteopathy in every condition present. My training thus far has consisted of a lot of hands on work — learning to identify the human body by touch, distinguishing normal from abnormal, practicing osteopathic manipulations and techniques, and ultimately being able to decipher what pathologic process the structural or functional problem is indicating internally on the patient. All of my classes interest me, I love being a medical student. As a first year student, I believe the most engaging component of my schooling is when I can see how every class ties together. I now understand the necessity of all of the prerequisite courses I took at Denison before medical school, as most of my courses now are based upon and pull in material that I learned throughout my time in undergrad. My most engaging medical school moments are when I get to interact with a standardized patient. In these moments, I am being assessed on my ability to take their health history, develop patient diagnoses, and ultimately put knowledge into action.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
I have always felt very fortunate that from a young age I knew that I wanted to be a doctor. Every exposure to the profession only reinforced my desire to one day be a physician and for that reason my time was spent more on trying to get into medical school and selecting the one that I found best suited for me. Being an athlete my entire life (Go Big Red Volleyball!), I had my battles with acute and chronic ailments. Chronic back pain plagued my Denison volleyball career and what kept me going was preventative rehab, treatment, and hands-on care. Feeling the massive benefits that this type of care brought me really drew me towards the osteopathic field. My own body was so angry with me, so out of its normal structural alignment, and constantly compensating for the physical toll I was putting on it. Painkillers helped my pain to go away temporarily, but working to counteract those stressors with preventative and targeted physical modalities provided by my doctors, incredible athletic trainers, and physical therapists is what made me better long term. I still keep up with these preventative methods daily, and feel so much better because of it. For that reason, I felt the strong urge to be the type of physician that would emphasize and utilize the body’s “normal” structure and function as a roadmap to help make my future patients better.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
One of the largest challenges I faced on my way to medical school was multifaceted. My challenges stemmed from my desire to “do it all” at Denison. School was my priority; however, I also was a member of the volleyball team, worked for Admissions as a tour guide and a senior interviewer, was a member and held leadership positions in multiple clubs, participated in sorority and fraternity life, and mentored younger students. In addition to these things at school, I had to make sure I was fulfilling the extra service work, research, and shadowing experiences necessary to be a competitive medical school applicant. Almost every minute of my days were planned, I would even pencil in times to eat! I do not regret it for a second because it is what I wanted to do; however, every day presented a new challenge. I think the biggest challenges I faced and that so many other medical school students I have talked with face during their pre-med journey involve sacrifice and fears of inadequacy. Figuring out what to prioritize when everything is important led me to sleepless nights, and sacrificing time with friends and people I cared about. Most days I felt like there simply was not enough time in the day. Throughout the path to medical school you are constantly being evaluated on your grades, extracurriculars, and ability to hold it all together. Daily stressors of not being good enough are present for most pre-med students. I think getting over that fear and being proud and happy with all of the work you put in as a student is one of the biggest keys of success. A positive mindset and a great support system will really get you a long way.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
While I am unsure of the exact type of doctor I want to be right now, I plan to match into and enter a residency that will provide me the tools and training to go forward and be able to practice independently as a physician for the remainder of my career!

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
Never give up. If becoming a physician is your dream, make it happen. There will be people who do not believe in you, grades that discourage you, and days that make you wonder if all of the effort is worth it. Go back and think about why you want to be a doctor, ground yourself, and keep pushing forward. While of course I would advise students to do well in school, be involved, and find ways to demonstrate your passions, I do not think that would be the most important advice I could give you. The two most important pieces of advice I can provide are: 1) surround yourself with people who support you and 2) take care of yourself. I am so grateful to have had such an amazing support system including my family and friends, professors and advisors, and even my bosses.  This is a tasking journey and you are going to need their hugs and cheers along the way. Never forget to thank them and make time for those people, because at the end of the day that is what is important in life. I will say that while getting into medical school might have been one of the greatest days of my life thus far, the best part about it was being able to share it with the people who helped me to get there, and thank them for everything they did. Secondly, while the support system is so vital — those individuals are, for the most part, not trying to go to medical school. You are your biggest advocate and if you do not take care of yourself first, you are not going to be able to get done what you need to do. Listen to your mind and your body. Take breaks!! Exercise, eat well, drink lots of water, laugh, and make time for the things that make you happy!!!! I cannot stress that enough. Recognize when you need to reach out for help and do just that. Finally, Denison is the best place in the world. My time on the hill grew me into the person I am today. Take advantage of the incredible people and opportunities that Denison provides you. Every member of the Denison community only wants your success. Believe in yourself, be a better you every day, and never give up on your dreams!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Allopathic Medicine

Denisonians in health professions: allopathic medicine - 04-08-19-hannah-glick-300x300.jpg image #0Name: Hannah Glick
Denison Graduation Year: 2018
Denison Major: Biochemistry
Graduate School: MD at the University of Michigan, Class of 2022
Contact me: glickhh@umich.med.edu

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
he focus of my program is training to become a medical doctor. I am currently in my M1 year at the University of Michigan. In our program, we have a condensed curriculum meaning that we only have one preclinical year and we go to the wards to do our clinical rotations starting our M2 year. The first few months of school we learned foundational material that covered biochemistry, genetics, immunology and diagnostic therapeutics. We are currently learning the normal physiology and abnormal pathophysiology associated with all the organ systems of the body. Additionally, we have year long courses, some of which focus on things like inter-professional experiences, biostatistics and diagnosing chief concerns and communication and physical exam skills. The content I find most engaging right now is learning about all the different pathological states that can occur in the human body and how medicine has evolved/is currently evolving to treat or cure different disease states.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
The University of Michigan Medical School was always my dream school for many reasons. One reason is the condensed curriculum. Whereas many schools have 1.5-2 preclinical years, we get to go into the wards and start interacting with patients very early on, even before we take our first board exam. Another thing that impacted my decision was location. Being from Ann Arbor, I was so excited to get back home and be close to my family. Medical school is hard and taxing, one of my biggest stress relief activities is going to the gym with my mom or going home and playing with my dogs!

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
I think some of the most difficult parts of my road to medical school were because of mental health issues or issues where I ‘failed’ at something. I’ve always been very hard on myself so every exam I took at Denison really mattered and I really stressed myself out. There were a few semesters that I thought ruined my chances at getting into medical school because I was struggling with anxiety and depression and my GPA suffered. First and foremost, I had to take care of my mental health, which I did (use Whisler if you need it!). I then bounced back and had my best semesters of college, GPA wise. Once I got to the application process, I decided to use my lower GPA semesters to my advantage and show schools my resilience. I openly wrote about my tough times and showed major GPA improvements in the following semesters while still keeping up with my extracurriculars at Denison like volleyball and research.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
Although I’m not sure what field of medicine I will enter in to, I hope to pursue a residency at an academic institution like Michigan where I will have opportunities to do research, interact clinically with patients and train the next generation of physicians below me!

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
There is no direct path to medical school and taking time off is right for you if it’s right for you just like going straight through is right for you if it’s right for you. The application process is challenging and daunting but take your time and never give up. Always ask for feedback and continue to constantly learn. If you stay humble and ask questions, people will want to help and teach you. Please reach out and email me if you have any other questions!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Osteopathic Medicine

Denisonians in health professions: osteopathic medicine - 03-25-19-ryan-vagedes-1-300x296.jpg image #0Name: Ryan Vagedes
Denison Graduation Year: 2017
Denison Major: Biology, Spanish (minor)
Graduate School: DO from Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2021
Contact me: rv1581616@ohio.edu

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
he focus of OU-HCOM is developing primary care physicians practicing in underserved communities in Ohio. The most engaging thing for me at OU-HCOM has been being able to explore public and global health. I was able to combine my experiences from Denison (studying Biology and Spanish) and translate them into developing intentional global health research in medical school. Because of Denison, I was able to develop and be the lead investigator on an international research project focused on understanding social determinants, HIV transmission, and care received by people living with HIV/AIDS in urban and rural communities in Ecuador.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
I knew I wanted to go to medical school since I was pretty young. From my experience shadowing physicians in different specialties as well as seeing my sister go through medical school, I wanted to attend an osteopathic medical school. Why osteopathic medicine (DO)? There’s a strong emphasis on preventative medicine and primary care, promoting wellness, and focusing on the interconnectedness of the body and mind, taking a “whole person” approach. In addition to taking all the same classes as allopathic medical schools (MD), you take an additional courses in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) which is a form of manual medicine (think physical therapy) than can help diagnose and aid in the treatment of different medical conditions.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
During your first year of medical school, it is a lot like transitioning into college. You have to rethink the way you learn and how you study. While the material you learn is not harder than at Denison (in many cases, it is actually easier), the pace at which you learn is very different. Things move a lot faster. Each medical school lecture usually covers the amount of material in about 3-4 undergraduate lectures. Being proactive (rather than reactive) in your learning is what helped me adjust to medical school. Reaching out to second year students, using all the resources you have available, and getting tutoring when you think you need it is how you succeed. There is no shame in asking for help.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
Right now, I am interested in going into general internal medicine and splitting my future practice into inpatient hospitalist work and outpatient primary care. I want to practice in a medically under-served area. I am also interested in public health, social medicine research, and practicing internationally (e.g., Doctors Without Borders). If I can find someway to combine all that together, that is what I want to do!

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
If you are thinking about going to medical school (or really any health profession), I suggest to shadow some professionals to get a sense of what the practice of medicine is like in whichever field interests you. If you are not sure if you are competitive for a certain program/school, call them! You can call or email the admissions office of nearly any school and ask them what kind of applicants they accept (e.g., MCAT scores, GPA, research, volunteering, etc.). I scheduled a meeting with an admissions officer and brought my resume. We chatted about what kind of applicant I would be and how to be more competitive. The best advice someone can give you about being competitive for medical school are the people who accept you to medical school. Overall, I think osteopathic medicine is very much a continuation of the the liberal arts philosophy at Denison. When looking at applying to medical schools, keep osteopathic medicine on your radar. It is a rapidly growing field. Now, about one in four US medical students attend an osteopathic medical school. If you ever have any questions, I can do my best to answer them. Find me on LinkedIn, and we can chat from there.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Pharmaceutical Science

Denisonians in health professions: pharmaceutical science - 03-04-19-lauren-thompson-300x300.jpg image #0Name: Lauren Thompson
Denison Graduation Year: 2018
Denison Major: Biochemistry, Mathematics (minor)
Graduate School: PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Class of 2023
Contact me: thomps_l1@denison.edu

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
I am in a Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD graduate program. While the classes are fascinating and challenging, I most enjoy my time in the lab. My program has us rotate through 3 different labs in our first year so I’m getting experience working with cell lines, mouse models, and patient clinical data.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
For me, the interviews were vital in really getting a feel for a program. In talking with the students and faculty, I was able to tell where I would fit in. Additionally, it was important to me that whichever program I chose had multiple labs that I was interested in. This way I would have a chance to rotate and make the best decision for myself.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
I had spent the first 22 years of my life surrounded by friends and family in Ohio. Graduate school was my first time going off on my own. While this is certainly challenging, my parents have been very supportive, especially with the big move (21 hours of driving!). Living alone in a new state is certainly scary but the other students in my program have been a great resource and I’ve even connected with some old Denison friends!

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
I’ve only just started my program so I’m not entirely sure yet but I’ll likely end up in pharmaceutical industry. If not, I could definitely see myself running a research lab in an academic institution.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
Talk with other students who have been there! Don’t be afraid to reach out to Denison connections and even faculty members at programs you’re interested in. They’re surprisingly approachable and it can help your chances at getting an interview! Also, the absolute best thing to prepare yourself for graduate school is your lab experience. Get involved on campus, look for summer programs in fields you’re interested in (I did a couple in Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical Sciences labs off campus), and make sure you really understand your previous research and can talk about it!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Occupational Therapy

Denisonians in health professions: occupational therapy - 02-18-19-logan-berlet-264x300.jpg image #0Name: Logan Berlet
Denison Graduation Year: 2016
Denison Major: Psychology
Graduate/Professional School: Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) from Washington University in St. Louis, Class of 2019
Contact me: lberlet15@gmail.com

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
I am currently in my last year of my clinical doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy (OT) at Washington University in St. Louis. In our OT program we have the opportunity to get exposure to many areas of practice through clinical experiences (fieldwork), research experiences, and classroom clinical exposure. I am specifically very interested in the hand therapy area of practice within occupational therapy, so I am currently completing my doctoral research in hand therapy, mentoring students in a student-run hand therapy clinic, and have completed one of my two 12-week clinical experiences (fieldwork) in hand therapy. Despite my interest in hand therapy, I am very grateful that I have had exposure to other areas of practice through clinical experience in the program, including acute care, pediatric therapy, inpatient rehabilitation, mental health, and other areas of the field.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
After my freshman year, I knew I was very interested in psychology, education, and healthcare. However, I wasn’t sure if I could find a career that incorporated all of my areas of interest. My cousin is an occupational therapist, but at the time I had no idea the field of occupational therapy existed. Quite a few members of my family work in various aspects of healthcare, so I began to ask them about what they did and how they got there. When I talked to my cousin, she explained to me that she worked as an occupational therapist in an outpatient neurology clinic working with patients who had undergone a stroke or had other neurological conditions who were having difficulty with various activities in everyday life. She explained to me that occupational therapy involved working with patients to get them back to doing the activities they do on a daily basis (occupations) and that an occupational therapist gets to use knowledge of medical conditions (anatomy, physiology, etc.), creativity, an understanding of people, and education to help individuals get back to the things they want and need to do every day. This conversation really peaked my interest, so that summer I shadowed at an outpatient pediatric clinic working with younger children with developmental delays. That summer I got to shadow two licensed occupational therapists as they evaluated children and worked with them to get them back on track with their developmental milestones.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
Once I decided I wanted to pursue graduate school for occupational therapy, I had to find a mentor who understood my career and graduate school goals. This was challenging because I couldn’t find a lot of people that knew about the field I was interested in and there were not many alumni that I could find who followed the path to graduate school in occupational therapy. Eventually, I found Dr. Gina Dow and worked closely with her for three years at Denison to make sure I was getting experiences that would be beneficial before entering an occupational therapy graduate program. Dr. Dow helped me to determine classes I would need to take both at Denison and during the summer to meet application requirements and helped me to gain experience with individuals in the community she knew. I worked with Dr. Dow for an independent study my senior year focusing on Transition to Independent Living for Developmentally Disabled Adolescents and got exposure to a lot of individuals in the community. Denison did not offer some of the courses I needed for application requirements, so I took a few of them when I studied abroad in New Zealand, took a few courses over the summer, and got creative with the independent studies I completed at Denison.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
I currently have one academic semester left in St. Louis, which includes mentoring and teaching experiences, and then I will complete my second 12-week clinical experience in inpatient rehabilitation in Colorado and complete my doctoral experience in advanced clinical practice with a focus on upper extremity amputation and prosthetic rehabilitation. I would love to get my first job in hand therapy, but that can be difficult as a new graduate, so I am open to starting my OT career in another area of practice. Overall, I am so happy I chose a field that encompasses all of my interests and allows movement across areas of practice. After graduating with my OTD and passing my board certification exam, I will be qualified to work in almost all areas of OT practice, which opens up a lot of opportunity.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
I’ll start off my advice with a funny story: I remember talking to somebody at the career center at Denison at the beginning of my sophomore year to find out as much information as possible about occupational therapy. I learned about a 3-2 program with Washington University in St. Louis in which I could complete 3 years of my undergrad degree at Denison and then finish requirements for my Masters in Occupational Therapy at Washington University. I remember thinking to myself that I did not want to join this 3-2 program because it would limit me to just one graduate school and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to move to St. Louis, MO. Ironically enough, I ended up at Washington University after all that and have had an amazing experience here. So, my advice after this story is that for graduate school, specifically OT, you end up going to school where you get in. Unfortunately, you have a lot less choice when it comes to these programs because they are competitive. Another piece of advice would be to try to get shadowing experience in a variety of areas of practice within occupational therapy. Try to shadow in pediatrics, in a hospital, in a nursing home, in a hand therapy clinic, or other areas locally. Getting a variety of shadowing experiences will really help you to understand the field of occupational therapy better and set you up for success when applying to OT school. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about occupational therapy or occupational therapy graduate school, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Nursing

Denisonians in health professions: nursing - frances-hinkamp-284x300.png image #0Name: Frances Hinkamp
Denison Graduation Year: 2016
Denison Major: Athletic training
Graduate/Professional School: Pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN), at Resurrection University, class of 2019
Contact me: franceshinkamp@gmail.com

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
Although I enjoyed many of the clinical rotations and classes that I have taken in my program, I really enjoyed OB- labor and delivery as well as postpartum.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
After graduating Denison, I really did not know what I wanted to do with my major and what I was interested in. I shadowed my aunt, a nurse anesthetist and fell in love with nursing. I looked at many programs in Chicago both bachelors and masters programs but I really liked the facility at Resurrection University and that I could finish a program in 16 months. I still had to finish some prerequisites but most of the classes I needed I had already taken at Denison. I was really excited to apply my athletic training background from Denison to nursing.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
One of the challenges I faced applying to nursing school was not knowing what programs to apply to/the process of applying. I did not really have a lot of guidance in applying to schools and felt like I did not really know what I was doing. Applying to colleges, I had a college counselor who helped me with the process but I did not have anyone guiding me for this. Fortunately, there are a lot of programs in the Chicago-land area so I was able to apply to many schools. However, none of the schools had the exact same prerequisites so it was challenging making decisions on what programs to apply to and all the different prerequisites I had or needed to take in order to apply.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
To work as a registered nurse on a medical-surgical floor of a hospital.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
I definitely think I would have benefited from someone helping me through the application process. Since I made the decision to go to nursing school after I had graduated from Denison, I was not able to use the resources on campus. I would say if you know you want to go to graduate school to take advantage of the resources at Denison through the career center. Having someone to guide you through the process would be extremely beneficial. I also think it would be helpful to reach out to people who have already graduated from Denison who were/ are currently in a similar program to reach out to them for specific advice about the program.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Osteopathic Medicine

Denisonians in health professions: osteopathic medicine - bryan-margaria-281x300.png image #0Name: Bryan Margaria
Denison Graduation Year: 2016
Denison Major: Biology
Graduate/Professional School: Pursuing a DO degree at Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, class of 2020
Contact me: margar_b1@denison.edu

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
I did the pre-medical track at Denison, with a major in Biology. I focused on plant biology primarily. I chose to go into medicine based on my experiences as a medical assistant and clinical research (during my first year and sophomore summers), and through mentorship I got from professors such as Dr. Hauk, Dr. Kuhlman, and Dr. McCall. Additionally, I knew from my introductory courses in chemistry and biology that I had a strong passion for the sciences.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
A challenge for me throughout my time at Denison was time management. I was involved in many areas of campus life such as playing on the soccer team, being a resident assistant/head resident, and holding various leadership positions such as in DCGA. I struggled at times to find enough time to study; I overcame this by learning how to make the best use of all the time available in the day. I had a schedule I stuck to daily, and made sure to do my homework in all the gaps in between.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
I plan on specializing in some form of medicine such as oncology, neurology, or anesthesiology.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
My first piece of advice would be to focus on building strong study habits throughout your time at Denison. Denison will provide a challenging and rigorous undergraduate education; take advantage of it! Building strong study skills such as discipline and dedication will go a long way in preparing you for medical school. Learning how to manage your time will also pay dividends in the future. Do not forget to have fun as well! Denison was some of the best times of my life; live your life to the fullest and enjoy the time you have. My second piece of advice would be to have a well rounded application. Experiences such as being involved in leadership activities and hands on experiences such as research really help boost your chances of getting into medical school. Grades and MCAT scores are important, but being a well rounded applicant will set you apart in the process. Finally, take the time to figure out if going to medical school is the right move for you. To give you an idea of what a day in the life of a medical student is like: wake up at 7 am, attend class (or watch lectures online) from 8 to 3, then frantically study from 3 to 12 pm or later. This schedule becomes even worse when you start studying for board exams. There is time for some fun, but only after exams every couple weeks. Many times parents will encourage their student to follow the premedical track when the reality is the student would prefer to be doing something else. Follow your passions! Denison offers amazing programs in many different disciplines. Medical school is among the toughest academic environments on the planet; you have to love what you are doing or you will struggle.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Dentistry

Denisonians in health professions: - liz-bailey.png image #0Name: Liz Bailey
Denison Graduation Year: 2015
Denison Majors: Biology (BS) and English (BA)
Graduate/Professional School: completed a MS in Biology from Northern Arizona University in 2017 and currently pursuing DMD at University of Pennsylvania, class of 2021
Contact me: 123eab@gmail.com

What was the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content most engaged you?
I have just finished my first year of dental school at Penn. I particularly like that dental school is a mix of both art and science. Didactic work focuses on curriculum similar to medical school, while the lab work prepares you for common clinical procedures in general dentistry. I enjoy working with my hands in lab, interacting with patients in the school clinic, and learning about the interactions between oral and systemic health.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
Sometimes figuring out what you don’t like can be extremely insightful and guide you towards what you do like! After Denison I attended a Master’s program in Biology. I realized a few months into my program that a research career was not for me. I explored other career options while in school by shadowing multiple professionals. Shadowing helped me better understand the challenges and rewards of many different professions and confirmed that dentistry was the path I wanted to pursue.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
Applying to dental school while in the middle of my Master’s program was very demanding, but having a timeline and checklist helped me accomplish what I needed to while still in school and working a second job. The fact I had already completed undergrad and could not continue taking prerequisite classes during the application process made my process slightly different. Because of the structure of Denison’s chemistry curriculum, I was limited in where I could apply to dental school. Most programs require two semesters of general chemistry and two semesters of organic chemistry. I had only taken the three semester chemistry sequence as an undergrad. After contacting many programs with my transcript to determine which chemistry class they thought I was missing, I decided it was easiest for me to apply to the limited number of programs that only required three semesters of chemistry.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
I hope to pursue a career in general dentistry after I graduate in 2021!

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
My first piece of advice is to find something you love to do that isn’t academic or motivated by needing something that “looks good on an application.” The process of applying to school can be stressful, but having something you enjoy doing gives you “work/life balance” and will keep you sane (both during the application process and later on in any type of professional program)! During my interviews, I was always asked about my hobbies and how I managed stress. Find something you genuinely enjoy! Your career is not your entire life and applying to school shouldn’t be either. In terms of the actual application process, have a rough idea of where you may want apply, because this can impact what required courses you take at Denison. Each school has its own set of required classes. The chemistry requirements can be particularly difficult to match, so talking with the schools you want to apply to early can help you determine what classes you may be missing. Also, consider joining a local ASDA pre-dental chapter or start one on campus if there isn’t one! Student Doctor Network is also really helpful when researching schools and getting answers to questions you have about the process. Finally, shadowing was extremely helpful for me and you will also need hours for your application. Shadowing helped me better understand the pros and cons of the career and allowed me to see how different dentists and specialists tailor their practices to fit their lifestyle and goals. I suggest shadowing at multiple practices too, because no two practices (or even corporate offices) are alike. Best of luck and feel free to contact me any time if you have questions or want to chat!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Public Health

Denisonians in health professions: public - omar-almudallal-225x300.png image #0Name: Omar Almudallal
Denison Graduation Year: 2017
Denison Major: Biology
Graduate/Professional School: pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree at Case Western Reserve University, class of 2019
Contact me: almuda_o1@denison.edu

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
I am interested in health promotion and disease prevention.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
The connections that Case offers in the Cleveland area really impacted my decision.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
I didn’t do that well in some science classes but I just kept my head down and worked hard.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
I plan on getting my PharmD and an MBA and working for a pharmaceutical company.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
Make sure to look at all your options and be open to new things.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Physician Assistant

Denisonians in health professions: physician assistant - emily-lipsitz-248x300.png image #0Name: Emily Lipsitz
Denison Graduation Year: 2015
Denison Majors: BS Biology, BA Athletic Training
Graduate/Professional School: pursuing a Masters of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) at the University of Charleston Physician Assistant Program, class of 2019
Contact me: emilyalipsitz@gmail.com

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
I wanted a role in the healthcare field where I could combine my interests of working in diagnostics and directly with patients. PAs are at the interface of curing and caring, forming the bridge that connects other members of the medical team. PAs practice in collaboration with a physician but exercise substantial autonomy in diagnosing and treating patients. They have the intellectual capacity to assess symptoms and determine a diagnosis, but the time to interact and form personal connections with patients. I believe that becoming a PA will allow me to work in a career that best takes into account these different perspectives.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
I always knew I wanted some kind of career in medicine and while at Denison I was fortunate to have multiple opportunities to shadow different professionals including physicians, nurse practitioners, physical therapists and the like. Once I shadowed a physician assistant I knew it was the right fit for me. I would definitely recommend shadowing people if you have the opportunity to see what the day to day life is like in said profession before committing to multiple years of higher education. Once, I decided on pursuing a degree to become a Physician Assistant I looked through all the programs that I fulfilled the requirements for and made lists of pros and cons for each program. I then applied to ten programs. I received interviews from multiple programs and was accepted to a couple programs. Of the programs I was accepted to, I again made a list of all factors; cost, program length, PANCE pass rate etc. and decided on the University of Charleston. Ultimately what helped me make my decision was the fact that at UC I would have more opportunities to gain hands on experience during my clinical rotations because the need for medical care is much higher than other cities where the other programs I was accepted to. My thought process was the demand for PAs is so high and “you can’t teach experience” so I will be able to take my experiences anywhere I choose to pursue a career.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
Applying to PA school, med school, whatever, it may be is extremely competitive and can be quite overwhelming. In regard to the PA school application process I didn’t really know many people who had done it before but was fortunate to meet a friend of a friend who offered some guidance. My advice would be to use your resources. Contact alumni (I’m happy to help!), friends, read blogs and advice columns. Knowledge is power, so the more prepared you can be the better. Another challenging area were interviews. I worked as a Senior Interviewer at Denison and have also been involved with the interview process at my program and again and again the people who succeed are the ones who find ways to differentiate themselves. So, my advice would be to get involved in a program or organization that is different than the “typical” applicant. For me this was a cross-country bike trip with an organization called 4K for Cancer. Now, I’m not saying hop on your bicycle right now, but deliberately choose extra curricular experiences whether it be research, volunteering or work experience that sets you apart from other applicants.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
I am currently between applying to a residency program in a specialty role or applying directly to a job as an individually practicing PA. Currently, I am in the middle of rotations so it will depend how they go and what areas I am interested in when I finish. I currently see myself working in a pediatric speciality or the emergency department for my first role out of PA school. The PA profession is great because it allows you the flexibility to switch specialties multiple times throughout your career. While I plan to pursue a traditional career at first, my ultimate career goal is to purchase a bus and transform it into a mobile clinic and provide medical care to underserved populations.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
I would definitely recommend getting all your “ducks in a row” before applying. First off, it can be a very expensive application process and being prepared increases your chance of only having to apply once. Secondly, there is no “right” timeline, it’s when it is “right” for you. Personally, I took a year and a half off after graduating from Denison and worked as a Research Coordinator at Boston University and I am SO glad that I did. I was not ready to go right back to school and the time between gave me valuable perspective and opportunities that made me a more prepared student and a better practitioner in the long run. My main point is don’t feel pressured to go right back to school if you need a break and don’t feel pressured by the timeline of your friends and peers. I have classmates in my program who are 42 years old and classmates who are 21. In my opinion, whether you graduate professional school at 25, 30 or 35 it really does not make a major difference. You have your entire life to be whatever profession you choose to pursue but you never get these precious years after graduation back. So take whatever time you need to see the world, “find yourself”, gain experiences and when it’s time to pursue your next professional step you’ll know and you’ll be grateful for the time you took for yourself.