Hometown: Clearfield, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate: University of Pittsburgh, BS in Math and Economics
Graduate: Case Western Reserve University, MS in Physiology
Medical School: Drexel University College of Medicine Class of 2021
Can you tell me a little about yourself before you came to Drexel?
I am originally from central Pennsylvania and come from a family of medical professionals. As a result, the thought was always in my head that I may go into the field of medicine. However, when I got to the University of Pittsburgh as an undergrad, I realized there were so many career options I never considered! I ended up studying math and economics, while also taking the pre-med prerequisites to keep my options open.
In my studies, I was drawn to public economics and its capacity to have positive effects on people's lives at the population level. I spent a summer working in Congress on economic policy, and through this experience, realized that I needed more personal connection with those impacted by my work. I wanted to delve into the lives of those I would serve and have them direct how I could best serve them. From there, I decided to pursue a Master's in Physiology at Case Western Reserve University and build my application for medical school. I took a gap year to apply to schools, during which I worked as a medical assistant for a dermatology practice here in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Do you know what kind of medicine you'd like to specialize in?
I don't know for sure, so I am keeping an open mind. I love delving into the whole person with all of the physical, emotional and social factors playing into their current state, but I also really love working with my hands and the procedural side of medicine. For now, the specialties that stand out are: family medicine, emergency medicine and psychiatry. I am really excited to be able to explore the multitude of specialties next year on rotations.
Why did you apply to Drexel's medical school?
What stood out to me was Drexel's inclusion of critical topics at the forefront of medical education in the curriculum. During my interview, students shared with me their experiences learning about topics like social determinants of health, harm reduction and implicit bias. This, combined with seeing the dedication of the student body to serving the underserved in the local community, made Drexel University College of Medicine stand out above the rest. I knew that this was a place that sought not only to develop knowledgeable physicians, but also, the necessary compassion and awareness of social issues that impact the lives of patients. After only one year, they have greatly challenged how I think about others and my self-awareness, which is necessary to begin to sensitively interact with patients of diverse backgrounds. This has already allowed me to work more effectively with the patients we see in our clinics and when interacting with the community through the various organizations I'm involved in.
How has the program been going so far?
I have really enjoyed the program thus far. As the first class to go through this new curriculum, I have been very impressed with the level of dedication and care the faculty has put forth. They really have worked to make it a good experience for us by continually seeking feedback and implementing anything they are able to adjust for us along the way. I also really enjoy the new curriculum overall since so many of us come to med school with varying educational and clinical experiences that produce different strengths and weaknesses. Because we do all of our primary learning and lectures on our own, I don't have to spend as much time on things I know well and can be more efficient with my time. For example, I do not need to spend as much time on physiology because of my background, and then I get to take that time to invest in biochemistry, which I do not have a strong foundation in. In-class time is actually used to work in groups and apply knowledge with exercises and activities rather than getting first pass exposure to information that you may or may not retain. So when we have class, we get to use that time to apply the knowledge of the material we have already optimized learning on our own time. It feels like our time is utilized in more meaningful ways and leaves us more time to do things like shadow, research, enjoy friends and family, and so forth.
What is your relationship like with the faculty?
The faculty are great and really seek to have a relationship with us as students. One of the things that I think is great about Drexel is that the teaching faculty are here with minimal other responsibilities, and it shows in their availability. Most of them don't have office hours because they are largely available any time they are not in class sessions with us. All we have to do is stop by their office or simply send them an email to set up a time that works to meet. They are super responsive, and I have had many of them get back to me all hours of the day and night via email to respond to questions about content or to set up a time within the next day or two to meet with them in person. I can't really ask for any more than that!
What is your relationship like with your fellow classmates?
My classmates are wonderful. I always tell students, if you want an environment that is collaborative, supportive and not the feared “cut-throat” dynamic, come to Drexel! I think they definitely try to foster this environment based on who they grant acceptance to, but I also think like-minded people who care about being empathetic are drawn to Drexel. The result is a pool of people who are pretty altruistic toward each other and really do care about the person sitting next to them. No one hesitates to share resources that make learning easier. We look out for each other if there is something that would be easy to miss in our schedule, for example, and we offer each other help if needed. The student body is also pretty diverse in terms of experiences before coming to medical school. Combining this with everyone's willingness to share tips and tricks that may help you grasp or understand concepts really enhances the learning environment. We work closely together in so many different groups for class that you get to know a wide array of people as well, which sets us up to have great relationships with a broad number of classmates—many more than I would have if I just went to lecture and sat in the same people every day! Overall, my fellow classmates have been fantastic and the culture that Drexel fosters makes it a really great environment.
Are you involved in any extracurricular activities, such as volunteering or clubs?
I am! My primary involvement currently is serving as co-president of the Naloxone Outreach Project (NOP), which works to provide educational trainings on how to perform an opioid overdose reversal to decrease overdose related deaths. We work with high-risk populations throughout Philadelphia on the community level and also train other health professional students here in the city. I am also involved as a patient advocate at our student-run medical clinic that takes place at the city's needle exchange, Prevention Point, in addition to serving as a crisis counselor with Crisis Text Line and in leadership for DUCOM's Advocacy Club.
Do you like living in Philadelphia?
I have really enjoyed Philadelphia so far and can honestly say it has so much to offer. There is always something to do, and there is something here for everyone! The food scene is truly amazing, there are ample museums and galleries, and people here are surprisingly active if you like to get outdoors! For example, DUCOM's Queen Lane campus is located near one of the largest city parks that offers a lot of running and hiking trails if you like to get lost away from the hustle and bustle of the city. However, we are also close to Kelly Drive which has a walking/running path that trails along the river right into downtown if you want to see some city sights on your run. I think it's also a fantastic city to be a medical student, with the large number of other medical schools here, which I didn't really think about beforehand. There are very few states, let alone cities, that have as many medical schools as Philadelphia does! It creates unique opportunities, such as having med student mixers with the chance to interact with students from other schools; a lot of interesting professional opportunities; and a rich scholarly medical environment throughout the city with no shortage of resources.
What advice do you have for someone who is considering coming to Drexel for medical school?
First, I would say to definitely talk to as many students as you can from the schools you have narrowed down. That is the best way to get a sense of whether a school may be a good fit for you. Hearing the opportunities available to the current students and what they did with their 4 years will inform what may be available to you at that institution. Second, and not to state the obvious here, medical school is long and challenging, and you will have times of significant stress. Optimizing how happy and healthy you are able to be in these 4 years is incredibly important. You want to be in a place where you feel supported and where the type of physician you want to be is in the mind's eye of the faculty responsible for your professional development. This makes it easier to trust the process during the tough times, and all of the requirements become easier to stomach. Think about the things you need as a person to have a sense of personal wellness and evaluate whether the school—its philosophy, environment, et cetera—provides those things.