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.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Nutrition

Denisonians in health professions: - greta-garland-230x300.png image #0Name: Greta Garland
Denison Graduation Year: 2017
Denison Major: Biology
Graduate/Professional school: pursuing a Masters of Science (MS) in Nutrition & Dietetics from the University of Pittsburgh, class of 2020
Contact me: geg45@pitt.edu

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
I applied to different graduate schools based on their location and what the focus of their program is. I was more interested in clinical nutrition so I chose a graduate school that focused on this. My interview at the University of Pittsburgh is what impacted my decision the most because I felt from the interview that the professors and directors of the program would take an interest in me and my education, similar to the way that professors at Denison did. I also fell in love with the city of Pittsburgh when I traveled there for my interview.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
Learning about the journey and steps that were necessary to become a dietitian. There are many different pathways and options to become a dietitian but overall you need to have the required coursework and an accredited internship to be a registered dietitian. I ended up choosing a coordinated masters program which means that the necessary schoolwork and the accredited internship are combined into one program that you apply for. I didn’t realize what exactly I wanted to do post-grad until the end of my junior year. Figuring out all of the different things I needed to do to apply to the graduate school that was right for me senior year was a bit overwhelming but definitely worth it.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
This is an interesting question for me right now and one I have been asking myself quite a bit. I am currently working towards applying for medical school while in this nutrition graduate program but I am still trying to figure out my exact timeline. I have a strong passion for nutrition and I know that my ultimate goal is to be able to apply my nutrition education to be a practicing physician one day.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
Don’t ever think that you need to know exactly what you want to do with your life today, tomorrow, or even next year. Follow what you feel passionate about at the moment and try to get the most out of anything that you end up doing, while also realizing you can change your mind at any time. Nutrition and Dietetics is an incredibly important field and there are so many different opportunities and directions that registered dietitians can apply their knowledge. I think it is a great field to go into!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Osteopathic Medicine

Denisonians in health professions: osteopathic medicine - liza-haggenjos-300x300.png image #0Name: Liza Haggenjos
Denison Graduation Year: 2017
Denison Major: Biology
Graduate/Professional school: pursuing a Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, class of 2021
Contact me: lh245989@pcom.edu

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
In medical school, so far, I’ve enjoyed how applicable anatomy is when learning our systems based blocks. The relationship between structure and function helps when learning physiology. It also helps with our OMM course to visualize the muscles in the body.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
My junior year, I studied for the MCAT and took it in April. Then I researched the essay questions for the primary applications while asking mentors and faculty for letters of recommendation so as to have everything written and polished to submit my primaries as soon as possible. I subsequently did the same for my secondaries. After all that, my decision came down to location -did I get accepted to a place I wanted to live? I knew I wanted a DO program and I applied to those I wanted to be a part of.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
Medical school is always hard and is even harder when students don’t seek help for whatever their problems may be. During my first semester, I felt like I was falling behind and worried it would impact my performance. In response, I made an appointment with a professor and discussed how I can improve. The faculty at medical schools have seen everything and genuinely want their students to succeed.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
Residency, likely in primary care.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
First, shadow medical professionals or get as much clinical experience as possible to gain a good foundation of medicine in the US. Second, develop a good schedule to accomplish school work but to also build in time to relax.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Physician

Denisonians in health professions: physician - katelyn-benson-255x300.png image #0Name: Katelyn Benson
Denison Graduation Year: 2016
Denison Major: Biology
Graduate/Professional School: pursuing a MD (class of 2022) and has completed a Master of Public Health (MPH) at the University of Buffalo
Contact me: benson_k2@denison.edu

What was the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content most engaged you?
In graduate school for public health, I studied health behavior and community health. I was most engaged in linking homeless populations in Buffalo, NY to health care, as well as pilot study that integrated behavioral health and primary care services. I was excited to study the sociocultural factors that influence decisions surrounding wellness and healthcare. Next, I will begin medical school.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
A number of factors influenced my application decisions, but a few standout factors most impacted my experience in school. These were location and faculty interest. My graduate program was smaller, which allowed faculty to dedicate ample time to student interests. It was great to match with a faculty advisor who had similar research interests and extensive experience in the field. Location is particularly important in public health because of the practical field work tied to the degree. In Buffalo, local agencies lead essential public health programs that students are able to work within.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
Finding my specific passion was the biggest challenge I faced during my two years masters degree. When I started, I was interested in health care access and mental health. I found that these two areas are entirely too broad. To narrow my focus, I got involved in a couple different projects right from the start. From there, I was able to determine which aspects of the work sparked my interest and aligned best with my career goals. For me, this was direct communication with study participants and community members. For others, it may be more data analysis or public policy oriented.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
I will be starting medical school soon. Upon graduation, I hope to practice medicine in a primary care field while maintaining a role in health care access for vulnerable populations.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
If you are considering a career in public health, it is important to realize that it is an enormous field. Take time to consider your strengths and read about the various disciplines to see what might be right for you. From health services administration to infectious outbreak investigation, there is a specialty for anyone who wants to play a role in improving general health and wellbeing.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Nursing

Denisonians in health professions: nursing - khadijah-hawkins image #0Name: Khadijah Hawkins
Denison Graduation Year: 2016
Denison Major: Psychology
Graduate/Professional School: Accelerated Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) from Gwynedd Mercy University, class of 2019
Contact me: Hawkins.K@gmercyu.edu

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
When searching for nursing schools, I focused on affordability, being close to home, the curriculum and student-teacher ratios. These four categories were so important to me because I knew I wanted to be an low-stress environment and not being able to pay for school and being away from family/friends is a major stressor! I love the challenges of nursing school. It is fast-paced and rigorous yet so rewarding! Nursing school equips you with the skills to make an impact in someone’s life and that is exactly what you are learning to do each time you step into a hospital, long-term care facility or a home.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
I applied to two nursing schools out of the nine that I looked into. I was rejected by one and accepted by the other. I made an excel sheet of all the schools that I took interest in and made a list of tuition and fees, location, transportation, extra expenses (books, uniforms), student-teacher ratios, the school’s reputation and more. It is so important to have a spreadsheet with all options laid out on the table because it is much easier to eliminate schools that are just too far out, too expensive, etc. Another tip I would give is to attend the open house and ask current students about the program! They will give you the “real”.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
I was faced with the challenge of moving state to state, finding housing and just actually living on my own as an adult. It is different but definitely worth it! Denison taught me all the skills I needed to thrive as a adult in the post-graduate world. I was scared but I knew I could do it and I did!

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
Currently, to graduate nursing school in 2019 and land my first choice RN position at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse!

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
Ask questions, research your schools and make an excel sheet, be realistic about what schools you qualify for but don’t be afraid to apply to 1-2 where you wouldn’t be the “average candidate”. Also, set up meetings with current students and have lunch with them to go over the pros and cons of the program. Experience the school for yourself (attend open house if possible). Never take someone’s word for it. Always make your own choice!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Public Health

Denisonians in health: - emily-wall-270x300.png image #0Name: Emily Wall
Denison Graduation Year: 2017
Denison Major: Psychology
Graduate/Professional School: pursuing a Master of Science in Health Disparities of Neuroscience-Related Disorders at Wake Forest University, class of 2019
Contact me: wall_e2@denison.edu

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
My graduate program is a subset of our neuroscience program, called Health Disparities of Neuroscience-Related Disorders. By focusing on health disparities in my research, I felt like I was pursuing an opportunity related to the social justice topics we frequently talked about at Denison.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
While I wasn’t sold on applying to graduate school until the second semester of my junior year, while looking at programs I sought out the ability to do research in my field of interest (substance use), as well as programs I could realistically succeed in.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
I often doubted myself and my ability to apply and get into grad school – and I overcame my self-doubt with frequent conversations with encouraging friends and professors, as well as looking at my own application and realizing that on paper, I was a fine candidate for these programs. I frequently use this idea in grad school as well – when I doubt my ability to succeed here, I remind myself of my previous successes, as well as the way I am academically thriving in grad school.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
I plan on pursuing a PhD program after completing my masters this upcoming Spring. Eventually, I hope to be a professor and empower young women (and men) in the sciences, as I was empowered by my professors in undergrad.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
Have conversations with people in the program! I wish I had known more about what grad school was like, and what my specific program was like, prior to beginning here. I was so concerned about applying and getting in, that I often forgot about what it would be like once I actually got into the program!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Physician

Denisonians in health: physician - nail-scoggins-214x300.png image #0Name: Na’il Scoggins
Denison Graduation Year: 2017
Denison Major: Biology
Graduate/Professional School: pursuing an MD degree at the Medical College of Wisconsin, class of 2020
Contact me: scoggi_n1@denison.edu

What is the focus of your graduate/professional school and what content has most engaged you?
The focus of medical school is to learn how to fully care for patients through medical knowledge, cultural competency, patient advocacy, and interprofessional collaboration. Thus far in medical school, I have enjoyed the opportunities to interact with patients because it is a skill that we get to develop in clinics and the community. I also really enjoyed our clinical anatomy course. Each year, people sacrifice their bodies so that we can practice the art of dissecting to learn about the human body. Last, I enjoy the opportunity to problem solve. We have various opportunities to work alongside our classmates or physicians, before the clinical years, to solve through complex patient cases to provide the best care for them.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate or professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?
A number of factors went into me selecting the my current school, the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW). First, I wanted to choose a school that supported me as an underrepresented medical student. I participated in diversity pipeline programs from 2012-2017 at MCW so I knew I would be institutionally supported as a minority student. I also became part of the Student National Medical Association, a student-led organization that focuses on supporting underrepresented (pre)-medical students and creating culturally-competent physicians. Second, I wanted a school that allowed me to supplement my education in the first two science years with some clinical experiences and community involvement. MCW is part of a medical campus that includes Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and other specialty clinics, which are places I can volunteer or shadow physicians. I am also part of an Urban & Community Health pathway that allows me to volunteer in medical and non-medical ways in Milwaukee. Third, I knew that medical school would be more rigorous than college. Therefore, I wanted to attend medical school in my hometown so that I could have family support on this academic journey.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate or professional school, and how did you overcome them?
My first challenge was having to study for the MCAT the second semester of my junior year while also taking a full course load at Denison. I had a lot of late nights but pulled through the semester. In the end, I did not have to retake the MCAT so I received my score in good enough time to be a competitive applicant. Finances were also a challenge, with applications, travel, and lodging costs for interviews. I overcame some financial costs by qualifying for the Fee Assistance Program through the AAMC, funds through Denison’s Knowlton Center for Career Exploration, and asking medical school students to host me for interviews. Also, since prerequisites are slightly different between schools and it gets hard to keep track of schools and where you stand in the application process, a way I stayed organized was creating an Excel document with all this information in one place. Another challenge I had was not receiving adequate information early in my college career about the process of applying to medical school. Since I was a first-generation student, I overcame this by relying on my network of friends I made through MCW’s pipeline programs who had completed the medical school application process.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?
I plan to enter a residency program. I aspire to be a pediatrician but I am open to exploring other fields of medicine.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?
First, plan your schedule in a way that does not give you such a heavy course load while studying for the MCAT. Second, try to determine as early as possible whether you intend on being a traditional student (entering medical school directly after college) or taking a gap year(s). This will help you plan out your timeline to medical school better. Third, continue shadowing physicians and other health professions to make sure that being a physician is a career you want to dedicate your life to. Fourth, remember that you do not major in the sciences as long as you finish all the pre-med requisites. If you are not passionate about the extra science classes, you do not have to take them. However, it is more convenient because the pre-med requisites fit into science majors easier. Fifth, continue doing things that foster community and build relationships. Medical knowledge is important for being a physician but if you cannot make a patient feel comfortable enough to let you into their lives, the rest does not matter. Last, keep doing the things that you enjoy. Medical school is very stressful and there is even less time to do what you enjoy.

Denisonians in Health Professions: Osteopathic Physician

Denisonians in health professions: osteopathic physician - douglas-kubek.png image #0Douglas Kubek ’90

Role: Osteopathic Physician

Professional School(s) attended: Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, graduated in 1995 

Current titles: Henry Ford Health System Director of Residency Program Otolaryngology Facial Plastic Surgery, Director of Sleep Medicine Lakeshore Ear Nose and Throat

Fun Fact: I’m an avid surfer and backcountry skier  

Describe the process you went through to select your career path: what impacted your decision?
I did several internships with physicians to decide what specialty to pursue. I have always wanted to be a physician and was influence by my father who is a physician.

What are your favorite aspects of your profession?
Making connections with my patients and being part of the process to achieve better health for them. I also enjoy the surgical options for treatment.     

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Caring for patients that, unfortunately, ultimately die from their disease process.

Describe what a typical day looks like for you.       
I’m in the office 2-3 days a week from 8:00am-4:30pm and then have surgery scheduled for 2-3 days a week.

What advice would you give a student interested in pursuing your field?
Spend some time with a physician to see if this occupation/profession is a passionate calling. Study as hard as possible to achieve a high GPA and MCAT, get involved in clinical research and medically related community service.