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
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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: 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
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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!