Going the Pre-Med Route


(Photo by Preston Zubal)

(Photo by Preston Zubal)
(Photo by Preston Zubal)

Sometimes it seems like every student at the U is going the pre-med route.
Every biology class is brimming full of bright-eyed future doctors. And many students can’t stop talking about their anatomy class.
Keely Coxon, who graduated in 2008 in public relations, is one of those students. She returned to the U this year to complete pre-med requirements.
Coxon graduated when she was 21 and started her own company. She worked with Pepsi, Starbucks, KFC and local non-profit organizations as well. When in school, Coxon said, she found herself split between medicine and writing. Ultimately, her passion for writing pushed her to pursue a major in communication.
In 2011, however, Coxon’s mother was diagnosed with Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. Coxon said her mother was healthy until this happened and the illness changed her life. She had three heart attacks in nine months, and although she now can do basic household tasks, she currently has eight stents on her heart to keep the arteries open.
Coxon cared for her mother during this time and decided to change her career path as a result of the experience.
“Being part of her journey really helped me see that I wanted to get back into medicine,” she said.
Coxon’s mother supported the decision to go back to school with a quote from George Eliot: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
This quote, Coxon said, continues to stick with her.
“If you’re passionate, [you] make it happen,” Coxon said.
After being accepted into Columbia University and New York University’s post-back programs, which help students like Coxon, she decided to return to the U to study pre-med disciplines after speaking with the academic advisors here.
Coxon said many students at the U go pre-med because they have a strong sense of altruism. As for her future, Coxon plans to go to Peru in the spring for a medical mission and is crossing her fingers for an acceptance letter from the U’s School of Medicine.
Mitchell Peterson, who graduated from the U in exercise physiology, said students who plan to study medicine for the money should stop now. He said with schooling that takes about twelve years to complete, people who aren’t in it for interest will burn out fast.
Peterson said many freshmen start their college career planning to go into medicine to please their parents and their pocketbook.
Hemantha Walaliyadda, a junior in biology, said he was initially interested in the pre-med route because his parents are both doctors.
“Everyone needs doctors,” Walaliyadda said. “The internet can’t help everyone.”
Walaliyadda gained experience in medicine by helping victims of tsunami from a few years back and volunteering at hospitals.
Since there is not an actual “pre-med” major, the U’s Pre-Professional Advising Center offers a list of pointers for success in getting into medical school.
“Any major is appropriate for pre-med,” the webpage states. “Study something you love.”
According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges from 2012, only half of students who enrolled in medical school majored in science. The study also found humanities majors scored higher on the MCAT exam than those who majored in science. The new MCAT, to be used in spring, now has psychology section to reflect this shift in thinking.
Peterson was originally an undeclared major until he enrolled in a human physiology course. At the time, he remembered thinking “maybe I can do this pre-med thing.” He said he also realized the human body is fascinating and is happy with his decision to study medicine.
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