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Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (IHS) Robert Charles Barton II IHS Class of 2016

Robert Charles Barton, II - Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Student

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Undergraduate: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Student's next step: Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science

Can you tell me a little bit about your life before coming to Drexel?

I'm originally from the West Coast. I was born in Los Angeles, California, and my family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, when I was 11 years old.

I completed my undergraduate studies at UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas). I majored in biology and minored in economics. Someone once told me that doctors don't make good businessmen, so I pursued courses in economics and business to provide me with stepping stones for running a successful business one day.

Have you always wanted to be a doctor?

I always knew I wanted a career that married my passion for helping people and challenged my analytical skill. Toward the end of high school, I started making a list of careers that would allow me to do that. As I made my way through my undergraduate years, I was able to cross some careers off the list. But I always went back to medicine. After I arrived at Drexel, I shadowed doctors in different specialties and that reinforced my decision to pursue a career as a physician.

Why did you decide to get a master's degree before going to medical school?

My early years as an undergraduate weren't as strong as they could have been. Being a young college student in Las Vegas came with some challenges. I eventually got on track, but I knew I needed some assistance with improving my application.

As I was finishing up at UNLV, my friend was a student here at the College of Medicine. She had gone right into medical school and didn't do a PMPH (pre-med pre-health) program, but she knew a couple of current medical students who did the PMPH program and encouraged me to look into it. I did some research and ended up applying.

Why did you choose Drexel?

I chose Drexel for a few reasons. A friend of mine graduated from the College of Medicine in 2014, and she always spoke so highly of Drexel. Her strong recommendation planted the seed. I also knew that I wanted to attend to an institution that I could grow with, and I wanted to be in a city that would allow me to thrive and find my passion within medicine, so Drexel ended up being the best fit for me.

What's the curriculum like for the IHS program?

It's a really good program. We have our foundational courses, which are mandatory. Outside of that, there's a pretty comprehensive list of elective courses. There are some really interesting classes like forensic pediatrics. They give you a list of about 40 different classes that you can rank. You should be prepared to work, but the courses make it interesting work.

What has your relationship with the faculty been like at Drexel?

Dr. Jost is amazing. She did a lot to help guide me. Dr. Walker also had an open door for guidance. I volunteer a lot in the city and Dr. Walker is a liaison between me and the organization I volunteer for. If I had to pick a favorite class, it's Dr. Hurley's physiology class. She's an incredible professor.

What organization do you volunteer for?

I volunteer for the Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia, better known as SREHUP, and I currently serve as the president of Drexel's chapter. The organization provides shelter to homeless men between the months of November to April. We usually have approximately 20 guys who come in. I started volunteering there two years ago serving food and chatting with the guys. It helped me get to know the dynamic of Philadelphia. I continued working with them and this year I became the chapter president for Drexel and work as a liaison between Drexel and SREHUP.

Have you done any other work in the community?

I'm currently working as a medical scribe at a non-profit in Camden, NJ, called Project H.O.P.E. It serves the underprivileged, uninsured population of Camden, which is a majority of the city. Project H.O.P.E. has helped me to appreciate the realities of medicine. We care for a diverse population of patients who are non-compliant. You have to be an educator, clinician, and a therapist all in one day.

As a scribe, I work with the physician to dictate notes and put information into the system. I'm like the eyes and ears of the doctor. It saves them a lot of time and allows them to see more patients. It helps me study the craft of medicine too. It's great timing as I head into medical school, so at least I won't be starting from ground zero. I know how to properly write an HPI (history of present illness) and I know how to better interact with patients.

Were you successful in getting into medical school?

Yes. I had a total of eight interviews and ultimately decided on Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, IL.

Do you know what kind of medicine you may want to pursue?

I want to keep an open mind. I have a general idea, though. I realize that when I start medical school in August, I'm going to learn about so many things, so check with me in a couple years and I'll probably have a better answer.

What has your relationship been like with other students at Drexel?

When I started at Drexel, I was appointed as the Graduate Student Association president for PMPH division, so I've been in a position to get to meet a lot of students. We're very diverse. People come from all over the country and from all walks of life. It's great because I get to pick up little tidbits from everyone—study tips, what to do in town, etc. I've had a pretty good relationship with just about everyone.

Do you have any advice for future IHS students?

Be prepared to work. It's not easy. It's really setting the foundation going forward for how you'll operate in medical school, professional school, or wherever you go after. Be strong, get involved in the community, and ask a lot of questions. Oh, and have fun. I would have burned out very quickly if I didn't find outlets to relax.

IHS is a strong program and will provide you with the necessary tools to be a successful student. Be smart in navigating your way through the program. Choose classes that will make you a prime candidate for medical school or whatever program you're applying to.

How to apply to the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences program

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Graduate students in a Interdisciplinary Health Sciences lecture at Drexel University College of Medicine.