Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Alumni Who Care

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By Glenn N. Cummings, Ph.D., Director of Health Professions Advising

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for showing up on Tuesday evening for the Benjamin Rush Pre-Health Honor Society’s 2nd annual med student panel.  It was great to have such a strong turnout for the Society’s final event of the year.  Josh Rosen ’10, Erik Kelly ’10, and Dylan Smith ’13 talked to us about nearly all aspects of med student life at their three respective schools (Drexel, Jefferson, and Temple).  Nearly 40 students came, asking some terrific questions for over an hour.  Special thanks goes to Kelsey Kreyche ‘15, Scott LaValva ‘15, and especially Munsha Sidhu ‘14 for their hard work in putting the alumni speaker series together this year.  I’m proud of all that Ben Rush has accomplished this year—officers old and new, pat yourselves on the back!

As often happens when I meet alumni in med school, our guests Tuesday night stressed how well F&M’s science departments prepared them for the med school curriculum, making the transition smooth academically.  Shout-outs went to Professor Fields’ Biochemistry and Professor Jinks’ Neuroscience in particular, as examples of courses that were taught in such medically relevant ways that those blocks in med school had been largely review.  They all agreed that patience is required during the first two years of med school, when everyone is eager to jump at every opportunity to be in clinical settings.  “You really do need to take the time and learn the name for every tendon in the hand,” Josh pointed out, no matter how ready one feels to be in the clinic.  Dylan also demystified the notion that there is no time in med school to do anything but study—in fact, all three agreed that their personal lives and their hobbies and outside interests had not been ignored.  Erik took us through the residency match process as well, a challenging time ahead that most pre-meds aren’t very aware of.  Congrats to Erik for matching at Mass General in Medicine!  He’ll be headed to Boston in time to start his residency this summer.

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending another wonderful event involving alumni in healthcare.  Shahnaz Hanna ’11 and Matt Demczko, MD ’08, co-chairs of the Philadelphia Alumni Chapter, Catherine Jasons ’76 of the Leadership Council, and our fine staff in Alumni Relations hosted an evening at a country club in Lafayette Hill called “From Bench to Bedside to Community:  F&M at the Leading Edge of Healthcare.”  Professors Jinks, Miller, and Rice were the headliners, presenting the research they’ve been doing that has both direct and indirect impact on the health of the Lancaster area.  I had the opportunity to go over quickly the basics of Health Professions Advising as well.  We had alumni in attendance who were surgeons, obstetrician-gynecologists, veterinarians, med students, pediatric residents, executives at pharmaceutical companies, and more.  We had current students who took the time in the middle of Spring Arts Weekend to talk about their research.  For me, the event was an impressive example of how the F&M community reaches far beyond our modest campus.  It left me feeling quite optimistic about the unique relevance F&M has as a contributor to the health and well-being of the world around us.  As I understand it, the event was the first of its kind for the Philly area.  I’m confident the event won’t be the last of its kind. 

I can blather on as a pre-health advisor until I’m blue in the face, encouraging and cajoling and policing the every move of our students as they prepare for lives after college as doctors, PAs, dentists, vets, PTs, nurses, and the like, but no advice is more powerful than the advice coming from someone who has traveled down the path just ahead of you.  Alumni have a potent impact on how pre-health students view the professions they are intending to enter.  As a College and as Health Professions Advising at OSPGD, we have made some real strides this year to engage the alumni in healthcare.  These two events from the last week show me that we have some definite momentum.  Let’s keep it going!

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