Spotlights

Spotlights

Our student spotlight continues to shine on our students. May you be inspired by their experiences! Click on their name if you would like to correspond with them to learn more about the program from their perspective.

Fall 2017 Cohort

 What was your academic and career background prior to this program?
In high school and throughout college, I developed an interest and passion for the voice. As a singer, I was interested in the physiology of the human voice. Knowing that speech-language pathologists treated voice disorders, I decided to pursue a career in speech pathology. This merged well with my interests in psychology and language. I completed my Bachelor of Science in Human Communication Sciences at Northwestern University with a minor in Spanish. I then went on to the University of Iowa, where I completed my master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. Toward the end of my time at the University of Iowa, I began to focus more on learning about voice and swallowing disorders. This led me to complete several internships in voice and swallowing clinics where I completed some research on the voice therapy process. I continue to diagnose and treat voice and swallowing disorders while conducting some clinical research into patients' perceptions of therapy and their adherence to therapy at home.

What led you to pursue medical school at this time in your life?

As an undergraduate student, I had considered going into medicine since I knew I enjoyed understanding the body, problem-solving, and helping others. However, it wasn't until I started practicing clinically as a speech-language pathologist that I realized how much more I wanted to know and to do. Doing only behavioral therapy with patients, though rewarding, was not wholly satisfying. I wanted to know more about how the body worked. I wanted to know more about medication interactions. I wanted to be able to do more for patients. This was not all that surprising to me. Though I considered continuing practicing speech pathology for a few more years, I realized that that thought was based in a sunk-costs fallacy. I had also gained some insight from working alongside otolaryngologists and other resident physicians, which helped me solidify my decision to go back to school.

Why did you choose the U of L program? How has it proven to be beneficial so far?
U of L’s program aligned perfectly with everything I was looking for. I was in search of a program that would allow me to continue to work while providing me with all the resources and guidance needed for applying to medical school. I could not have found a better program. With this program, I can take classes part-time and work part-time. Not only that, but the program has given me so many opportunities to learn about various aspects of medicine – opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Finally, I can’t overemphasize how beneficial it is to have a team actively working to help you apply to medical school. The path to medical school is a maze and this program really helps you navigate that maze well. 

Please share what challenges you’ve faced and/or adjustments you’ve made while in the program.  How have you remained motivated?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced is finding a balance between school, work, and life. I’ve continued to learn how to manage my time and to prioritize what is important within a day. However, there are several days where I can feel burnt-out at the end of the day. I stay motivated knowing that this post-bac-while-working process is only for a short time. It’s easy to see the goal. It’s also helpful to have some exposure to real-life medicine through my work in the clinic. That keeps me thinking and helps me actively apply my knowledge. Still, there are days in which I rely on my support system to tell me I can do it and provide some extrinsic motivation.

What word of advice would you give to a prospective applicant or newly accepted student to the program?
Now is the time. Make it work. Go for it. Maintain perspective.

Fall 2017 Cohort

 What was your academic and career background prior to this program?
I came right out of undergrad, so I’m not really a “career-changer”—more of an education extender. However, I am still a “mind-changer”, because I did have a change of heart about what I wanted to do. In undergrad, I got bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and psychology, with minors in cognitive science and political science. That may sound like a lot, but I did it over the course of 5 years, so it was really a reasonable workload. Furthermore, I didn’t study all those disparate subjects to be an overachiever—I did it because I was searching for my passion in life. Rather than viewing college as a sort of vocational training, I viewed it as an opportunity to explore deep questions about life, such as meaning, happiness, and the like. Fortunately, doing this led me to the conclusion that medicine was right for me. And I believe that the Post-Bac Premed Program at Louisville was the perfect fit for me.

What led you to pursue medical school at this time in your life?
Around the end of my sophomore year, I started getting really interested in neuroscience, and many of the sciences more generally. This led me to question if I should have done the pre-med track, since that’s what you do if you’re interested in those kinds of classes. However, I was starting my junior year, and I was close to finishing a degree in philosophy with a minor in political science. Scrapping all of that progress and starting over seemed like too much at the time. So, I decided to keep going down the track I was on.

As time went on, one event that had a strong impact on my decision to look at post-bac premed programs was my grandpa getting dementia. When this happened, I saw all of my disparate interests in neuroscience, philosophy of mind, and ethics come together in one clinical disease.  Seeing him lose his sense of self, for instance, prompted all sorts of questions about the nature of the self. Knowing that this loss of self ultimately had to do with the malfunctioning of neurons, reinvigorated my passion for the sciences. And, most importantly, the prospect of being able to help someone like him—whether through research or proper clinical care—was a deal breaker. It was clear then that medicine was the field for me. I started volunteering at the Mercy Medical Clinic and never looked back.

Why did you choose the U of L program? How has it proven to be beneficial so far?
I chose the UL program because it offers assured admission to UL med school, everyone was very collegial when I interviewed, and I am from Louisville. Also, I have always been a UL fan (go cards!)

 Please share what challenges you’ve faced and/or adjustments you’ve made while in the program.  How have you remained motivated?
Science classes are a little different than the other classes I was used to taking. In science classes, you really have to practice the material. You can’t just read over the slides or book. You have to get out a pen and paper and make sure you know how to solve the problems. It requires a slightly different way of thinking, which I think is valuable. These classes, however, do not require a separate kind of “science” intelligence. It’s still just general reasoning that is applied in a slightly different way. So, that is to say, if you’re one of those people who think that they could never succeed in science, I invite you to think again!

As for motivation, I try to remind myself of a couple things. Number one, you’re learning really interesting and important things every day. Even though these classes can sometimes feel tedious and irrelevant, the truth is that you’re learning how the world works. You’re learning the answers to questions that philosophers had contemplated for centuries. So, whenever I feel jaded, I remind myself that getting to learn is an awesome opportunity, not some arbitrary obstacle.

The second thing I do to stay motivated is to volunteer in the healthcare setting, because when I do this I get to see the impact that learning all this science can have on other people—that is, on someone’s mother, someone’s loved one, someone’s everything. Indeed, it can often feel as though there’s a world of separation between the realm of your loved one’s consciousness, and the ions flowing through their plasma membranes. But the reality is that, somehow, these two realms are inextricably linked. And seeing this connection in real time is all the motivation I need.

What word of advice would you give to a prospective applicant or newly accepted student to the program?
My advice would be to develop a stress management technique that allow you enjoy the present moment, because the path you’re about to embark on involves a lot of work, and it won’t get any easier in med school. Indeed, after med school, residency will probably be even harder. And, once you finally reach that far off point—that idyllic spot in your dreams, the place that is supposed to justify all your suffering up till then—you may just reset the checkpoint. Now, it’s not becoming a fully practicing physician—now it’s retirement. Or it’s just a few more years to get that promotion. Or just until the kids go off to college. No matter what, it’s always a little in front of you. It’s always somewhere in the future. Somewhere with a little less stress, and a lot more dopamine. But it’s never right now. It’s never this moment.

The point is that this habit of mind leads to a sense of never being fulfilled in the moment, and yet the present moment is all we ever have. Furthermore, premed tracks, I believe, are fertile grounds for developing it, because there’s so much work, and there is a sequential trajectory to the path.  There is always the next thing to look forward to, for example.

For me, the way out of this mental habit is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation teaches you how to be content in the present moment. It teaches you how to appreciate the present. And doing this, I believe, will not only lead to greater enjoyment, but also more success. For example, there are literally thousands of studies showing how mindfulness helps with focus, attention, anxiety, and stress, which are certainly the greatest obstacles in a premed program.  Thankfully, there are lots of mindfulness resources at Louisville for interested students! Health Promotions offers classes, and some friends and I created a mindfulness club. So, students always have options here at Louisville! In addition to mindfulness, exercise, eating right, and sleep are really important for your stress response, mental acuity, and overall happiness! My advice is to do them all, and I think Louisville is a great place for it!

Fall 2017 Cohort

What was your academic and career background prior to this program?
My background is in design—I have a B.S. in Design, Product Development from DAAP, which allowed me to intern in various fields in Berlin and New York. After graduation I worked in a strategy, trend forecasting, and design research role at a branding agency in Cincinnati. This career taught me so much design thinking and creative problem solving—plus it exposed me to different cultural settings around the world. I'm forever grateful!

What led you to pursue medical school at this time in your life?
I never woke up one morning and said, "I want to be a doctor!" Instead I spent years feeling unfulfilled, knowing I needed a change but lacking direction. Some aspects of my career I loved—learning what makes people tick, finding creative solutions to their problems—but I was ultimately just selling people more stuff. It felt bad; it didn't align with my values. So I embarked on a self-discovery journey to understand my strengths, weakness, values, and passions. Along the way I met a psychiatrist, an oncologist, and a neurosurgeon who each opened my eyes to the vast world of medicine. One day, something clicked—and after much shadowing and research, I knew this was the right path. 

Why did you choose the U of L program? How has it proven to be beneficial so far?
The U of L program is THE. BEST. Seriously. I chose it because I was scared of this huge life change and knew I'd need support. The U of L program promised individual guidance and a collaborative environment—and has surpassed my expectations. We all entered the program with (conditional) medical school acceptances so there's no competition, which is fantastic because I could not survive my courses without the help of my program friends. We have mentors in the post-bac, mentors in medical school, and professors who are incredibly invested in our success. I couldn't ask for more. 

Please share what challenges you’ve faced and/or adjustments you’ve made while in the program.  How have you remained motivated?
Overall, my biggest adjustment has been learning how to learn. Design school was quite different—and I haven't taken a science course in more than a decade! These classes have required an iterative study approach in which I must constantly pivot to uncover what works for me. I also commute from Cincinnati and freelance on the side, so the days can be long. But I volunteer weekly in a local hospital—which is a great way to reset my values, remember what's important, and keep my goals in mind. 

What word of advice would you make to a prospective applicant or newly accepted student to the program?
To any prospective applicants like me ("Am I too old? Have I wasted all this time on another career? Is it too late to switch? Am I entitled? Can I afford it? Does it really take a decade? Am I even cut out for this?!) I would say three things. First, make sure it's the right path for you, because it is difficult and you will make sacrifices—in this program, but especially in med school. It may be worth it and it may not, and that's okay. Second, a medical career is one long journey. You'll always be learning, you'll always be studying, you'll always be testing, even well into your professional career. Embrace this step as one amazing piece of that journey instead of an annoying hurdle to rush through. Third, in the words of writer Elizabeth Gilbert, "you are young and life is long and everything in you will be used." Everything in you, everything you've learned along your lifepath, will be used! You are NOT starting over, you are growing and your evolution is beautiful. 

Fall 2017 Cohort

What was your academic and career background prior to this program?
Before returning to school as part of the post-bac pre-med program I was a musician, having received my doctorate in clarinet performance from Arizona State University. I had performed with orchestras, in smaller groups, and as a soloist, and was managing a music store and publishing company in Louisville after relocating from Arizona. 

What led you to pursue medical school at this time in your life?
I had gone to school to be able to play my instrument, to perform as a soloist and as part of a group, but found myself able to do that less and less as responsibilities at the music store took more of my time. When the music store moved out of Louisville, I took it as an opportunity to explore other career options. After some soul searching I realized that while I loved music, it was no longer what I felt compelled to do as a career. I had previously met a student in the post-bac pre-med program at a get together with friends, and after looking into it further I found that medicine shared many of the team- and goal-oriented facets that I enjoyed so much about music.

Why did you choose the U of L program? How has it proven to be beneficial so far?
I chose the program at the University of Louisville largely because my family was already settled here, and it enabled me to pursue my new career without uprooting us from our support system. Now that I am here, I can’t imagine a better place to be, with amazing staff, faculty, and classmates who are always eager to help.

Please share what challenges you’ve faced and/or adjustments you’ve made while in the program.  How have you remained motivated?
My biggest challenge in my return to school has been in balancing my family life with my work. As the father of three children (5, 2, and newborn), I have to make sure that I stay on top of schoolwork, since it would be impossible to play catch up with everything else to do at home.

What word of advice would you make to a prospective applicant or newly accepted student to the program?
I would encourage any new or prospective students to not let the demands of life (family, children, work, etc.) scare them away from pursuing their dream of a career in medicine. The post-bac program staff are incredibly supportive, the faculty at the University are understanding when life occasionally does get in the way of school, and your fellow post-bac students are always there when you need help. Everyone here wants you to succeed, and all the resources you could need to succeed are available.

Fall 2016 Cohort

 What was your academic and career background prior to this program?
I graduated from Centre College in the spring of 2016 with a double major in Behavioral Neuroscience and Spanish.  Although after graduating I went straight into the post-bac program, I had previously spent 3 summers during college interning in the human resources department at a hospital and originally thought that I would find a career in human resources after I graduated.

What led you to pursue medical school at this time in your life?
During my internship we were assigned a career coach.  He suggested that I pursue a career as a doctor, but I always thought that being a doctor wasn’t for me.  It wasn’t until my last semester of undergrad that I took a class on how drugs affect the brain. To me it was fascinating to learn how different substances affected the brain and the body, and how the brain and the body worked.  This class along with some shadowing experiences really helped me to see that medicine was a field that I was truly interested in pursuing.

Please share what challenges you’ve faced and/or adjustments you’ve made while in the program.
I came straight from undergrad into the postbac program, so there was not a big adjustment to get back into the school mindset.  However, the school I went to for undergrad was very small.  I knew most people in all my classes, and always had someone to ask for help if I needed it.  When I first started this program I was a little overwhelmed by how big the school and my classes were, but I quickly found that everyone in the program was super friendly and willing to help if you had a question.  The hardest part for me became when I had classes that didn’t have any of my fellow postbacs in them.  However, I learned that there was always someone in the program who was able to answer questions when I needed help.

What are some experiences you’ve had in the program so far that have proven beneficial?
Having other students in the program that can offer advice has proven to be extremely helpful.  Whether those students are in the cohort above and offered advice about classes or professors or previous program members that are currently in medical school that have shared their experiences so far, everyone is so willing to help each other because we are all reaching for the same goal.  Additionally the enrichment sessions with the physicians from different specialties have helped expose me to the different areas, problems, and strengths of the medical field.

How have you remained motivated and not given up on your dream?
Some days when I’m sitting in the library studying for a big test, I question why I really want to be a doctor.  Then I think about how close I am to reaching medical school, and how fast my time in the program has already passed.  I also think having such good relationships with the other members of the program helps me to stay motivated as we encourage each other to do well and finish strong.  Finally one of my biggest motivations stems from my tech position in the hospital.  I interact with all these patients and keep reminding myself that one day I’ll be a doctor who will be able to impact not only these patients but also my community in a positive way. 

What is your favorite quote, motto and/or song to keep you moving forward?
There are two that I really like the first is “It’s always too early to quit,” and the second is “do your best, be your best, no regrets.”   

Share some advice you’d give to a prospective applicant or newly accepted student to the program.
Everyone in this program is working towards the same goal, and we all want each other to achieve that goal!  Each member of this program is so caring and so quick to help.  We volunteer together, study together, and celebrate successes together.  There is always someone who has already been in your shoes and can offer advice when you need it whether that be a current student, past student, or one of the program coordinators.  The path to medical school can be challenging, but the support you receive from the program makes it a little easier.

Update:  Morgan completed our program in December.  She will be attending the University of Louisville School of Medicine entering 2018 Class of 2022 this fall!

 

Fall 2016 Cohort

 What was your academic and career background prior to this program?
I graduated from Miami University as a double major in Marketing and Kinesiology, with a minor in Chinese. I have previously worked as a strategic planner at an advertising agency, a rugby coach, and a strength and conditioning intern at Miami University.

What led you to pursue medical school at this time in your life?
Near the end of my time as an undergrad, I experienced some health challenges. This led to an extended time viewing various aspects of the medical profession through the eyes of a patient. By the time medicine gave back my normal life, I found it left me with a desire to provide for others what was provided to me. Volunteering at the local emergency department further cemented my decision to pursue a career in medicine.

Please share what challenges you’ve faced and/or adjustments you’ve made while in the program.
There is definitely an adjustment period as you get back into the school mindset. I have found that one of the hardest things to do, is to keep focused on the current task in this lengthy process. It is easy to get caught up thinking about all the hurdles to overcome down the line in our journey. The difficulty comes in remembering you’ll have time for that later, because you have a physics exam and a chemistry lab tomorrow.

What are some experiences you’ve had in the program so far that have proven beneficial?
Being surrounded by people at different stages of the process is immensely helpful. You’ll have people in your classes with you, those who have just finished those classes, and those who have graduated and moved on to medical school. This allows you to gain a unique perspective and learn from them as you progress.  

How have you remained motivated and not given up on your dream?
There are going to be some tough days, find time to reflect on what this all leads to. Make use of the numerous opportunities to get exposure to medicine, serve the community, or hear from doctors and medical students over lunch.

What is your favorite quote, motto and/or song to keep you moving forward?
"There is more to life than increasing its speed." You’re signing up a lot of hard work ahead. Sometimes all you can do is the task at hand, to the best of your ability. Put forth the effort, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Be proud of how far you’ve come and be ready to put in the work again tomorrow.

Share some advice you’d give to a prospective applicant or newly accepted student to the program.
Don’t think you have to do this alone. Your cohort and the staff will be an invaluable resource each step of the way. From someone to study with, a place to grab coffee, or figuring out what comes next. You will be surrounded by great people invested in your success.

Update:  Connor will complete the program this semester.  He has been accepted to the University of Louisville School of Medicine and still being considered at additional medical schools for the entering 2018 Class of 2022!

Fall 2016 Cohort

 What was your academic and career background prior to this program?
I graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.A. in Psychology and with a focus on social psychology research.  While working at the UK Disability Resource Center I became interested in medicine. Before the program I moved to Louisville to work as a scribe and for a home-based primary care company. 

What led you to pursue medical school at this time in your life?
During my time as an undergraduate, I found myself fascinated during the behavioral neuroscience classes; however, I was never ready to commit to a career in medicine as I had such a variety of academic interests.  After scribing in the emergency department and working in health care, I was confident in my decision to apply to the program. 

Please share what challenges you’ve faced and/or adjustments you’ve made while in the program.
Switching back to student mode is challenging, especially if most of your friends are working a typical 9-5 day.  Also, the subject material was drastically different than what I was used to.  That’s why this program is so amazing; you don’t have to go through these challenges alone.

What are some experiences you’ve had in the program so far that have proven beneficial?
The cohort, program coordinators and faculty at UofL have been incredibly supportive and encouraging in this endeavor. This support really does make all the difference when pursuing a goal that can be very daunting at times. 

How have you remained motivated and not given up on your dream?
I think back to my experiences as a scribe.  During that time working in the hospital, I was learning and seeing so much.  It was during that time I fell in love with medicine.  When I start to feel discouraged, I think of how this program is providing me the opportunity to be a successful physician.

What is your favorite quote, motto and/or song to keep you moving forward?
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is definitely my favorite quote.  It became so after dancing in Dance Blue, a 24 hour no sitting, dance marathon to raise money for the pediatric oncology unit. 

Share some advice you’d give to a prospective applicant or newly accepted student to the program.
Lean on the members of your cohort, mentor, faculty and staff.  They truly are invested in your success and well being.  Also, pay attention to negative self-talk.  Everyone is here to support you, but you have to cheer yourself on too!

Update: Emily is completing the program this semester and will give the graduate address.  She will be attending the University of Louisville School of Medicine entering 2018 Class of 2022 this fall!

Fall 2016 Cohort

 What was your academic and career background prior to this program?
I graduated from The University of Florida in 2003 with a B.A. in English.  Soon after completing my undergraduate degree, I moved to Lexington to be closer to family and enrolled at The University of Kentucky College of Law.  I’ve been practicing law at a small civil litigation firm in Lexington since earning my J.D. in 2007, and I continue to practice part-time while pursuing my post-bac studies at U of L.   

What led you to pursue medicine at this time in your life?
I’ve had a strong interest in medicine and healthcare for as long as I can remember, but for personal reasons, I chose to take a different path after college.  I considered going back to school for the better part of the past decade, but it wasn’t until I discovered the post-bac program that I felt like my dream was realistic and attainable.  Between that and the loving encouragement of family and friends – including several physicians who gave me invaluable guidance and shadowing experiences – I finally worked up the courage to take the next step.

Please share what challenges you have faced in the program.
Before starting at U of L, I had a set work schedule and plenty of free time to enjoy with friends and my wife and daughter.  Even though my family is fully supportive of my goal of becoming a physician, commuting to Louisville for school while finding time for my job and personal life has been quite an adjustment and balancing act.    

What are some experiences you’ve had in the program so far that have proven beneficial?
My cohort and the staff and faculty at U of L have been very welcoming and encouraging, and it’s made all the difference in the world in terms of helping me get back in the groove of academic life after being away for so long.  The program culture is very collaborative and we are all invested in each others’ success, which has been very helpful when the going gets tough. 

How have you remained motivated and not given up on your dream?
I try to be appreciative of all of my successes, no matter how big or small.  Whether it’s getting a good grade on a test or making time to take my daughter to see Star Wars, being mindful of the little things helps the process itself feel like an important part of the goal.

What is your favorite quote, motto, and/or song to keep you moving forward?
Before every exam I put my headphones in and listen to “My 1st Song” by Jay-Z! It’s about staying humble and treating everything you do like it’s your first project, even if you feel like you’ve done it all before. That song always gets me focused and calms my nerves when I’m feeling stressed.

Share some advice you’d give to a prospective applicant or newly accepted student to the program.
Don’t be scared to reach out to students or anyone involved in the program if you need help, advice, or just someone to talk to.  A big part of what makes this program special is that we aren’t competing against each other and we all want to succeed together.  Also, don’t lose sight of what makes you you – do your best to make your hobbies and interests outside of school a priority.

Update:  Kris Collman will be attending the University of Kentucky College of Medicine entering 2018 Class of 2022 this fall!