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MD Program Meet Zack Kosak

Zack Kosak, 4th Year Drexel Med Student


Hometown: Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate: King's College, BS in Biology and Neuroscience
Medical School: Drexel University College of Medicine, Class of 2019


Can you tell me a little about yourself before you came to Drexel?

I grew up in a small town in Northeast Pennsylvania called Tunkhannock. Our Little League softball team made the Little League World Series Finals recently and it was funny to hear the ESPN reporters try to pronounce the name. I went to college in Northeast Pennsylvania too, and then started medical school right out of college. I didn't take any gap years. Before medical school, I spent a lot more time with my local volunteer fire company and ambulance squad. I'm a big Penn State fan and big Penguins fan, though we don't talk about that in Philly!

When did you know you wanted to be a doctor?

I knew I wanted to do something with medicine when I started college. The school I went to had a pretty large physician assistant (PA) program, and I did some shadowing during high school and the beginning of college. I discovered that I wasn't interested in the PA life. I enjoyed seeing the ways that physicians developed relationships with patients and how they got to really advocate for their patients. The idea of walking into work every day to something new, but still being able to develop relationships and take care of people, was appealing.

Why did you apply to Drexel's medical school?

There's a lot of history here. It's simultaneously one of the newest and oldest medical schools. It's kind of funny how we have this rich history with Hahnemann University Hospital and Woman's Medical College, but we also have so many new things going on in terms of technology and our new curriculum that Drexel brought when they took over the medical school. Additionally, Philadelphia is not too far from my family, so it's easy for me to get back home. I also think that Drexel does a very good job at being a place where it's easy to get direct interactions with faculty that might not happen at other medical schools, even though our class is so big.

What is your relationship with the faculty like?

It's been great. Currently I've been working with one doctor for the last three weeks. It's the attending, sometimes a resident, and myself and one other student. We work directly with him. As fourth year students, we'll be running the show next year, so he gives us a chance to try out our treatment plans with his supervision. He is really giving us the experience to be the caregiver, to talk to the patients, to explain what their options are and to help them pick an option that will work best for them.

What is your relationship with your classmates like?

I think that Drexel has a really supportive class. Every time I'm flipping through Facebook, there's always something going on in our Facebook group. Recently someone was looking for housing for a block in Los Angeles, and people were helping out. People seem to try to help whenever they can. I think that's a testament to how supportive the class is of each other. I've done a lot with admissions, so I've ended up in other Facebook class groups, and the same types of things go on there. People will look for ways to get discounts on resources together, and it's something that I think makes Drexel unique—the fact that we really do care about our classmates and we want to try and help out each other however we can.

What's in store for you for your fourth year of medical school?

I finally made my decision on what type of residency program I'm applying to. I'm going to apply to family medicine programs. For the rest of fourth year, it's going to be a lot of filling out residency applications, going on interviews, making a rank list and deciding where I want to spend the next three years. Additionally, I'll also be taking electives and clerkships to best help prepare for my residency.

I'm on a geriatrics elective now because I'm going to be spending a lot of time with older folks in primary care. We have a lot of great opportunities to try to get the intricate details of medicine down during fourth year. Not every school has a geriatrics elective or an EKG elective like I'm taking in two months. I think that being able to hone in on some of those skills that I'm going to need as a resident and as an attending physician is really important during fourth year.

How did you decide to pursue family medicine?

I originally thought I was going to do something else, but when I did my family medicine clerkship during third year, I really loved it. I loved the interactions that my attendings had with their patients who they had seen for years and years. I love the diversity of it. You can have pregnant patients and OB/GYN-type patients, pediatric patients, and adult and geriatric patients all in the span of an afternoon. I think it takes a special type of skill set to be able to go from one type of patient to the other. I really liked how challenging it was, and I think the combination of being challenged by whatever my patients have and the opportunity to develop relationships with families and have patients for 20, 30 and 40 years really appealed to me.

Have you been involved in any extracurricular activities, such as volunteering or clubs?

Yes. During third and fourth year, there's much less time for clubs, but during first and second year, I was involved in the Emergency Medicine Interest Group, because that's what I thought I was going to do at that time. I've done a bunch of stuff with admissions, such as interviewing applicants and serving on committees. I volunteer at our Health Outreach Project (HOP) clinics a lot. I really love our Streetside Clinic in Kensington and our Salvation Army Clinic in Roxborough.

It's fun to talk to people, because particularly at the Salvation Army clinic, they're very open about their past. It's located at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. The patients have already identified that they have a problem, and they're seeking help. It's interesting to talk to them about what their life has been like, what they've seen and what they've experienced, and try to put yourself in their shoes for a little while to figure out what we can do to make their time trying to stay sober a little less challenging for them.

Have you been involved with any special projects or research while you were here?

I've had the opportunity to do a case study with a resident and publish that in a journal, which was a good experience. I also worked with some of the emergency medicine faculty on categorizing some Free Open Access Medical Education resources (FOMED), which was a really good chance to learn what emergency medicine was about. It also made me think about how we educate medical students and residents. Does it have to be the expensive textbook model of learning or, with the amount of YouTube videos and blog posts are out there and open on the internet, could be a different way? I think that we can integrate more ways of learning, especially as people continue to develop those type of resources.

How do you like Philadelphia?

Moving to Philly was a little shocking after living in a small town most of my life, but living here has been great. I lived in East Falls for the first few years, and then over the last year and a half or so, I've lived in Manayunk. Philly is a great city. It's got a little bit of everything for everybody. I've had the best meals of my life in Philadelphia, particularly during Restaurant Week when everything is much cheaper. You've got all sorts of great concerts and sporting events. There's no reason to come to Philadelphia and be bored. There's really something for everyone, and I think that Philly's neighborhoods really have a lot of character.

Since I come from a rural area, starting in East Falls was probably a little easier transition for me than moving to Center City. There's green space, trees, parking lots and things that I was more used to. Meanwhile, SEPTA buses would still run down the street. It was a great way to transition to living in a big city when you're coming from a town of 2,000 people that doesn't have public transportation.

What advice would you have for someone who's considering coming to Drexel?

The biggest thing that I think that you don't really understand until you show up here are the relationships that classmates develop with each other and that students develop with faculty. The faculty here really loves students. They love to teach, and they're an active part of trying to educate students. From talking with friends at other medical schools, sometimes I feel like they haven't been lucky enough to have those types of experiences like I have here at Drexel. I think that it's hard to understand how great the community environment is until you show up on campus and see people interact with each other. You'll see that Drexel really is a tight knit community, even though we might have a large medical school class.

Contact Information

Drexel University College of Medicine
Office of Admissions
60 N. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

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