Denisonians in Health Professions: Mental Health Counseling & Behavioral Medicine

Name:  Emily Grabauskas
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2018
Denison Major:  Psychology, Religion (minor)
Graduate/Professional Degree Type:  Master of Arts (MA) in Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Class of 2020
Contact Me:  egrab@bu.edu


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?

I looked into both Mental Health Counseling and Social Work degrees to decide what best fit my goals. I talked with people in the field and then chose some schools to apply to! I ultimately chose BU because it is a counseling program that also provides its students with classes such as Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience counseling courses, which was incredibly appealing to me.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?

I was very nervous about moving to a new city where I didn’t know anyone, but I decided to live with another Denison Grad and I joined the alumni chapter of Theta, so I still had a little bit of Denison with me while still starting fresh in a new city. In regards to coursework, I felt very prepared by Denison for what was ahead of me in graduate school.

What has been your favorite part of your graduate school experience so far?

My favorite part is the clinical experience I am allowed. I am currently an intern at a Substance Use Detox and Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program. The opportunity to actually engage in the work you will be doing while also attending school is wonderful.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

I plan on working in the field of addictions counseling moving forward!

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Choose a path you are passionate about. It makes all the difficulties like moving and making new friends so worth it!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Osteopathic Medicine

Name:  Courtney Testani
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2015
Denison Major:  Biology, Spanish (minor)
Professional Degree Type:  pursuing a Doctor of Osteopathic (DO) degree from Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2022
Contact Me:  cjtestani@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?

I always knew I was interested in pursuing some sort of scientific career, but I was never 100% sure if I wanted to pursue medicine. Quite frankly I kept trying to look at what other options were out there because I knew how much of a commitment medical school would be. When I attended a job interview in a different field however, I knew I wasn’t in the right place. I instantly realized that medicine was the field I wanted to be in.

What challenges did you face on the way to medical school, and how did you overcome them?

Because I didn’t make my decision to apply to medical school until second semester senior year, I had a bit of catching up to do. I moved back home and took all the courses I still needed to meet the prerequisite requirements for most medical schools. Once these were completed I took the MCAT. In total I took 3 years off in between graduating from Denison and starting at Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine. During that time (in addition to what I’ve already listed above) I also gained invaluable experience working as a medical technician and surgical assistant for a retina specialist. It was a very grueling road to get into medical school and I often questioned why I was doing it. It absorbed all of my time and a lot of my finances, and I often felt like I needed more guidance from someone who knew how this process worked. The thing that helped me the most during this time was contacting anyone I could possibly think of who was in medical school and had recently gone through this same process. People in the medical field know how hard it can be, and pretty much all of them will want to help you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone, even if it’s a strange connection like a friend of a friend. I promise you they will be happy to answer your questions. All you have to do is shoot them an email or ask them if they have time for a 15 minute phone call. It will help guide you in the right direction during the application process, and reassure you that you’re doing the right thing. If this is truly the path you want to take, the hard work will 100% pay off.

What has been your favorite part of your medical school experience so far?

I just completed my first year of medical school and my favorite part so far has been the incredible professors and mentors that I’ve met. We have an incredible faculty of physicians and it has been such an inspiration to hear their experiences in the field.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

When I graduate my hope is to get a residency in Orthopedic Surgery, or a residency in Internal Medicine and then a fellowship in Sports Medicine.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask for help! Medicine is an incredible field but you need to be prepared. Know what programs require of prospective applicants and make sure you have your ducks in a row before you begin to pursue your applications. It is a very competitive field and you want to make yourself as desirable of an applicant as possible the first time around. With that being said, do NOT be discouraged if you don’t get accepted anywhere the first time you apply. This is becoming more and more common, and it happened to me too. It is certainly frustrating, but if you know this is what you want to do, just ask yourself what you could do to make yourself look better for the next round, and apply again. My second round of applications to medical school were much more successful than my first and now I’m already a quarter of the way done!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Physical Therapy

Name:  Thomas (Tommy) DiFilippo
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2015
Denison Major:  Physical Education/Athletic Training
Graduate Degree Type:  pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree, from Nazareth College, Class of 2018
Contact Me:  tdifilippo5@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school pathway: what impacted your decision?

In reality, the first part of the decision is based on admission. Don’t down play this, it is hard to get accepted into these graduate programs. After that, I reached out to professionals in the area to get a sense of the reputation of the program, cost of private vs. public etc. as well as extras or perks that set the school apart.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate school, and how did you overcome them?

The main challenge is the academic rigor and time commitment. It can be more challenging than undergrad to work, balance a social life, etc. I found it crucial to do other things with my life to “escape” physical therapy for a little because in graduate school it can be all you think or do.

What was your favorite part of your graduate school experience?

My favorite part was networking and working with people all interested in the same field. This is the point where you truly choose what exact route you want to go and you take classes and meet professionals with the same interests.

What have you enjoyed most about your work post-graduation?

Putting 7 years of education into practice and having patients trust you immediately made it very rewarding.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Do your research. Shadow, talk to people in multiple jobs, think hard about career goals. These programs are very time consuming and very expensive. Make sure you want to be that type of professional and then commit 100%.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Physical Therapy

Name:  Alexandria Nickles
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2017
Denison Major:  Biology
Professional School:  pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy from High Point University, Class of 2020
Contact Me:  alexandria.nickles1@gmail.com


What is the focus of your professional school and what content has most engaged you?

I definitely spent a lot of time talking to individuals who had gone through the process of applying to physical therapy school before me to gain advice on how to proceed moving forward. Their advice helped guide me into understanding the process a little better and helped prepare me early on in my Denison career to make sure I could attend PT school right after graduation. I also was fortunate enough to apply to schools that had interviews so I was able to explore different campuses before I made my final decision.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?

I faced many challenges applying to graduate school. One of those challenges was trying to show schools all of the wonderful things that I learned at Denison beyond my GPA. I definitely worked a lot with mentors at Denison and mentors within my desired field to help edit my application to make sure that was showcasing my diverse experiences from my undergraduate degree. Future, I also struggled with knowing if physical therapy was exactly the way I wanted to go with my career as went into my junior and senior years at Denison. To make sure, I actually spent a lot of time with alumni of Denison and my mentors at Denison talking through my options. They were the best sounding board of reflecting what my career goals were with my interests.

What challenges did you face on the way to medical school, and how did you overcome them?

My favorite part of my graduate school experience was getting to attend a medical mission trip to Jamaica this summer. I was able to go down with a few of my classmates and my mentor here at High Point for a week and a half to provide care to patients with neurological conditions such as strokes, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. I had a completely life changing experience through learning about many different clinical techniques, the importance of inter-collaborative patient care, the cultural differences that exist in the medical field worldwide, and through all the people that I met.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

Post graduation, I plan on finding a job as a physical therapist in a hospital system, hopefully specifically a hospital with an inpatient rehabilitation facility. I hope to continue to pursue mentorship and education wherever I work to someday hopefully become a clinical instructor and maybe a faculty member at physical therapy program.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Definitely start looking into programs that you think that you want to attend early in your career. It will help you plan out classes that you want to take throughout your Denison career so when it does come time to apply you don’t have to take classes outside your Denison education. I would also recommend reaching out to your Denison mentors and asking their advice when it comes to what you personally should look for in a graduate program. They are full of knowledge and can help you prioritize a list of characteristics in schools that fit your learning style best.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Genetic Counseling

Name:  Samone Schneider
Denison Graduation Year:   Class of 2016
Denison Major:  Biology
Professional School:  Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics, Class of 2018
Contact Me:  vt.samone@gmail.com


What is the focus of your professional school and what content has most engaged you?

I entered college knowing that I wanted to become a genetic counselor. The field is very new and continuously expanding with many different opportunities. In addition, I had a real passion for genetics and a desire to work closely with patients. Genetic counselors work with their patients to evaluate their personal and family history and determine which tests are the most appropriate. Also, genetic counselors work very hard to obtain true informed consent and educate the patient on not only why we are offering the given test, but how it can impact the patient and their family.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?

The majority of individuals who enter a genetic counseling training program end up taking at least one gap year. The acceptance rate for these programs is actually quite low, so it was important to have an impressive resume. While your academic performance is very important to these schools, so are your experiences outside of the classroom. One of the largest examples is some sort of counseling experience and some exposure to the field itself. Personally, I quickly became a part of SHARE on the Denison campus and became as involved as possible (being an advocate, being on-call trained, participating in events, and presenting during freshman orientation). For my exposure to the field, I spent all three of my summers shadowing and eventually interning with a genetic counselor. My summers were quite busy, because I also worked throughout the summer too. It took a lot of work, but I was able to get into the program straight from undergrad.

What challenges did you face on the way to medical school, and how did you overcome them?

Definitely my relationships with my classmates. Graduate programs tend to be quite small (mine was ~25 individuals), so it becomes a very tight knit community. In addition, our program worked very hard to eliminate a competitive environment and instead made us feel like we were working together to accomplish a goal. This attitude extends to the professional community as well: genetic counselors tend to look out for one another.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

That is a very hard question! I love my job for many different reasons, probably the most of which is the relationships I am able to cultivate with my patients. I have a lot of autonomy in my job, so I can really take the time my patient needs to hear them out and what they need from me or the hospital. It can be an extremely satisfying job.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Take the time to build your resume with things that make you an interesting applicant. There are many experiences you can get while at Denison (ex. tutoring, TA-ing, SHARE, research, etc.), but it is also important to get experience off campus. Take advantage of the internships that are available. Also sometimes you need to create your own opportunities. When I was shadowing with a genetic counselor I kept asking what I could do to make her life easier. I ended up getting involved in research with her and eventually becoming her intern. Even if you are only given the ability to redraw pedigrees for example, that is still a huge learning opportunity. To find a genetic counselor, use the NSGC.org Find a Genetic Counselor tool. Many hospitals have strict rules about students, but even chatting with a genetic counselor over coffee is something you can add to your resume. In addition, many programs do “career days”, which can also count as exposure to the field. I am also always happy to speak to any student in more detail!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Allopathic Medicine

Name:  Carol Vitellas
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2018
Denison Major:  Computer Science
Professional School:  Pursuing an MD at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Class of 2022
Contact Me:  carol.vitellas@osumc.edu


What is the focus of your professional school and what content has most engaged you?

At the OSU College of Medicine, I am most engaged when working with patients. What makes being a medical student at OSU so unique is that during your first month of school, you are paired with a physician and get to work in their practice every other week for 2 years. In my first month of medical school I was taking real patient vital signs and histories, as well as presenting this information to the doctor. At other institutions, medical students usually do not get to work with patients until their 3rd year, so I am very appreciative of this opportunity. The ability to help real patients not only gives me valuable practice with my clinical skills, but it also gives meaning to my schoolwork at times when studying can seem overwhelming and tedious.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?

While at Denison, I had two seemingly conflicting passions: medicine and computer science. I had always known I wanted to attend medical school upon entering college, but accidentally fell in love with computer science during my first semester. Rather than give up one of my passions, I pursued a degree in computer science while simultaneously completing my pre-medical course requirements. I was constantly asked why I was majoring in computer science if I wanted to go to medical school, as the two fields seemingly have little overlap in their application. However, I actually found that computer science opened several unique opportunities to me! One such opportunity was the ability to lead data analysis for a clinical research project in a gene therapy lab at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I also had the opportunity to design an artificially intelligent diagnostic algorithm for breast cancer in my Artificial Intelligence class. Not only were these projects extremely interesting to partake in, but they also provided great talking point for interviews! In fact, my computer science major was brought up in every interview that I attended, and it was really neat to have something to talk about that helped me stand out from other applicants. I would therefore encourage pre-med students to pursue their passions, even if they don’t fall within the typical pre-med pathway! Medical schools are interested in you as a whole person, and your unique abilities, talents, and interests will only add depth to your application.

What challenges did you face on the way to medical school, and how did you overcome them?

While I have only received one-semester of medical school education, I have definitely encountered several challenges. The main challenge that I did not foresee was having to completely change the way that I study. Although I have been a high achieving student in the past and had a great handle on how to study in high school and undergrad, medical school proved to be an entirely different ball game. It is not unusual for my peers and I to put in 10-12 hours a day reviewing material. The sheer amount of information forces you to come up with new, more efficient, and quicker ways of studying just to keep from falling behind. Every student that I know in my class has also had to adapt to new study methods this year, and everyone’s technique is constantly shifting and evolving, even now that we are in our second semester! My advice to students who are entering medical school would be to be ready for change, focus on what works best for you and not what works best for your peers, and to be patient with yourself as you adjust to this new way of learning!

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

When I graduate from medical school in 2022, I plan on entering some kind of residency program, but I am currently very unsure about what specialty I would like to pursue. Although it is a little scary being so uncertain about the future, people tell me that going into my 3rd and 4th year rotations with an open mind will help me find the field that best suits me. I hope they are right!

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Apply EARLY. I cannot stress this enough. Medical schools admit students on a rolling basis and classes will fill up, so it is in your very best interest to apply right on June 1st. I took the MCAT late and couldn’t apply till the fall of my senior year. This put my application deep under the pile of the students who had applied early, and definitely added unneeded stress onto my application process. While some students were interviewed in August and received acceptances in October, I didn’t receive interviews until January, and acceptances until a few weeks before graduation! Do yourself (and your mental health) a favor and apply as early as you can! On another note, I would recommend students complete some sort of anatomy coursework before they enter medical school. I did not take anatomy in high school or in undergrad, and found it challenging to adapt to the anatomical terminology used in our most recent muscular/skeletal system unit. It is absolutely not necessary to take anatomy, but it will definitely make the transition into medical school a lot smoother and easier! Even if it is just taking a free online “Intro to Anatomy” class the summer before, I would recommend students familiarize themselves with the field before entering medical school.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Biomedical Sciences

Name:  Maria Mancini
Denison Graduation Year:  2016
Denison Major:  Biochemistry
Professional School:  pursuing an MD at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Class of 2021
Contact Me:  mancin_m1@denison.edu


What is the focus of your professional school and what content has most engaged you?

I am currently in medical school, which involves not only education in the biomedical sciences and the development of clinical skills, but also engagement in social justice issues and bioethics. Of the medical science topics studied, I favor histopathology because I find it a very beautiful representation of cause and effect, and being able to directly visualize the cellular basis for a diagnosis is incredibly satisfying. However, in considering my medical education as a whole, I most enjoy how it fosters a growth in social and cultural awareness, and it is rewarding to see the positive effects on patient outcomes when these factors are considered in patient care.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?

I chose to attend medical school because my deepest passion in life is puzzles. I’ve always been drawn to the sciences because of their inherent puzzle-like approach to understanding phenomena. I explored various scientific career paths–interning with and shadowing many areas of healthcare at the Cleveland Clinic, spending several years immersed in research that ranged from organic and analytical chemistry to behavioral ecology, self-studying basic computer programming, and much more–and while research satisfied my need for puzzles, I often felt the human aspect was missing. I enjoyed solving research problems, but I didn’t get the satisfaction I got from learning from and attempting to aid the doctors I worked with to really understand a patient. I truly felt at home in medicine.

What challenges did you face on the way to medical school, and how did you overcome them?

I faced a number of challenges including some significant physical and mental health issues as well as personal trauma that stretched me to the limit of what I could cope with. However, these are the experiences that help you become a good doctor. When you understand pain, you are often more sensitive regarding the pain of others. I was fortunate enough that my inner drive and stubborn refusal to quit were strong enough to keep me going. However, given how hard this was on my physical well-being, when treating patients I hope to promote the idea that there is no single definition of success. Sometimes choosing to discontinue the path you are currently on is what is best for you. I believe that is a much healthier attitude to take when approaching challenges.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

I am currently undecided on a specialty, but I am heavily considering pathology or OB/GYN.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Really use your time in undergrad to perfect your wellness rhythm. Although you may feel as though you are consistently stressed and crunched for time right now at Denison, the amount of information you are given at a time increases by tenfold and the amount of time you must spend studying increases exponentially in medical school. Use this time to figure out how you best study, how you de-stress and take care of yourself, how you plan and stick to your schedule, and basically how you do you. Because if you have this down, you will be much more likely to be able to apply it when things go crazy in med school (i.e. always) and it will significantly protect you from overwhelming anxiety and burnout.

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.