Tufts Pre-Health

Anecdotes and advice about preparing for a career in health

Category: Postbac (page 1 of 3)

Join a “You” Club

I believe that one of the most worthwhile decisions I have made was to join the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) club here at Tufts. When I was a sophomore, my BIO13 professor presented a quick slide about ASBMB, saying that some students were hosting an organizational meeting in order to form the club. At the time, I was looking for a group of people that I could “celebrate my nerdy side” with and talk about breakthroughs in science. After going to a few meetings, I found a friendly group of students that loved research, were always excited about science, and were eager to mentor other students. Whether it was giving tips about how to study for a certain class, how to shape a path in a certain major, or what internship opportunities there were available, the upperclassmen always had invaluable experiences. I found an endless wealth of resources just by going to the meetings and talking to them. There were also fun events such as lecture series, where I was exposed to the groundbreaking research done here at Tufts. Because I could identify with everyone there, I felt comfortable opening up and reaffirming my joy of science, which ultimately helped me choose a career path that involved research.

When I joined the club, there was no ulterior motive. I did not join ASBMB because I was pre-med and by joining this club it was going to help me get into medical school. In fact, there were virtually no pre-med students in the club. I joined the club because I knew I enjoyed talking about science and research, and I wanted to seek out other people who were the same. I encourage students to have the same goal in mind. Everything you do should not be medical school oriented, but “you” oriented. You may find that clubs you join or activities you do may help with medical school, but that should simply be a byproduct. You will find that joining a club that aligns with your passions will serve as an outlet for any pre-med stress.

Jasper Du, Biochemistry ’17


From Shaker Alumni to Tufts Postbacs: Eden

Shaker Heights, my hometown, is a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. It is also one of very few naturally integrated suburbs in America.  This means that the school district was integrated, not by mandated busing, but through a grassroots organizing initiative started by the residents. The town continues to be committed to racial and class integration and high quality schools.

Shaker is also the home to many of the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and MetroHealth healthcare providers. As a result, inequality and healthcare were subjects of lunch table conversations throughout high school.

I left Shaker for Wesleyan University in 2008. During my time at Wesleyan I became interested in research on healthcare issues in under-served communities. Most of my research at Wesleyan and since graduating has focused on veterans but I also worked to examine the role of race in healthcare disparities in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Race and inequality were common threads that ran through my work experiences after leaving home. My time in Shaker inspired both my decision to go back to school to attend the Tufts Postbac and my desire to provide healthcare to under-served urban communities—maybe even back home in Cleveland.

Eli, a fellow Shaker alum, also attended the Tufts Postbac a year before I did. In a small program it was so great to find another Shaker alum, eight years after leaving home! For Eli, Shaker was also important in his decision to go back to medical school and in his commitment to serving under-served populations. Here is what Eli had to say to me about Shaker:

Shaker Heights (or “Shaker” as it’s affectionately referred to) is a community of multitudes. From its early racial integration initiatives, to its renowned public school education with classes and extracurriculars that gave voices to marginalized groups, to its proximity to the city of Cleveland which has for a while walked the line between prosperity and poverty. The Shaker I grew up in embraced the need for responsible citizenship in a world of heterogeneity.  How could I not use my medical career for treating the under-served growing up in a community like that?

Although I don’t want to call the suburbs my home (Shaker is a textbook suburb after all), I’ve found my calling to become a doctor in rural communities which are disproportionately plagued by poor health education and limited access to health care providers.  Growing up in Shaker Heights planted that seed of serving others that guide me in my pursuit of medicine, and I’m sure guide countless others no matter what their calling is.



Year-End Celebrations

It’s a busy time of year for a university. Classes ended, finals came and went, and the seniors are having one last hurrah before commencement. We found a little bit of time to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating Health Careers Fellows and the students completing our Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program. Check out some photos from the events.

HCF Dessert Party

Students hug at HCF party

Underclassman introduces graduating senior

Postbac Premed Breakfast

Postbacs at breakfast

The director hugs the tutor

Congratulations to everyone!

Working at the Museum of Science

There are many ways to gain relevant experience before you apply to health professions school. Today’s post will help you to think a bit more creatively about what you can do with your love of science, human biology and working with people. Postbac Stephanie Tin talks about working at the Museum of Science:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the post-bac program, it’s that being pre-health doesn’t mean being a bio major. The path to being a clinician can start anywhere – from journalism in New York City, or teaching in South Africa – and it can include more than just taking classes, shadowing doctors, and working in research labs.

So when I started looking for medically-relevant extracurriculars, I didn’t limit my search to the clinical setting. I built off of my early education background and ended up at the Museum of Science in an exhibit dedicated to human health, biology, and behavior.

At the Museum of Science, I give an array of interactive educational presentations, like sheep eye dissections, bonobo skeleton reconstructions, and pig heart/lung demonstrations. I work with and learn from real anatomy every day, and I have picked up so much information that I wasn’t taught in class. (Did you know that a child’s heart rate is faster than an adult’s? Or that you can taste salt, but not smell it?)

The visitor interactions are fantastic. I have learned so much by helping others learn and exploring their curiosities. And my co-workers are a great resource! I work with about a dozen volunteers who give presentations with me, many of whom are retired physicians or professors of science, and every single one of them is there because they love working with people and sharing their experiences.

In the meantime, I am also designing a new presentation to bring into the exhibit, which requires research into biology (What should we teach?) as well as two different levels of education (How should we teach it to presenters? How should we teach it to visitors?).

You can learn without being in a classroom, you can study the human body without being in a hospital, and you can do research without being in a lab. My advice: make your pre-med path your own and you’ll enjoy every step.

Museum of Science

Dan Earley: My Time at Lahey

Our last post was about the Lahey Clinical Research Preceptorship from the perspective of someone who recently completed both the preceptorship and the Postbac Premed Program. Another former preceptor and postbac alum, Dan Earley, who has just begun medical school, talks about turning the preceptorship into a fulltime glide-year job:

As I start my first weeks of medical school, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the last few years that got me here. Late in my senior year of college I started thinking about a career in medicine but as a Classics major with only a few science classes, I knew I had a long way to go. I spent the first 6 months after college reflecting if this was the path I wanted to take, and researching ways to achieve my goals. After getting into the Tufts Postbaccaulaureate program I started classes in January following my graduation.

During the 18 months of my postbac studies at Tufts I had the opportunity to take part in the Preceptorship program at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center. While my classes gave me the knowledge base I needed to start medical school, at Lahey I worked on a retrospective chart review comparing rates of glaucoma among patients with herpetic eye diseases.

Before starting the research project, I shadowed an ophthalmologist in clinic and in the operating room to learn about the different kinds of patients seen in that department. While I learned much from doing the project and eventually traveling to present our findings as a poster at a conference, the greatest experiences I had at Lahey came as I was finishing up my classes at Tufts.

I was offered a full time position at Lahey in the Ophthalmology Department, working as a medical scribe. I would be in the room typing the doctors’ notes as they examined patients. While this freed the physicians from being tied to the computers (a fact that patients appreciated), the nature of the job also meant that I learned first-hand about patient-doctor interactions.

I was also in the room for minor procedures. Many times this meant managing equipment and specimens if the doctor was keeping a sterile field, but it also could mean figurative and literal hand holding (any procedure near a patient’s eye can be stressful).

Some workdays were definitely crazy. A single emergency could easily put us behind the eight ball. I had heard statistics of long wait times in doctors’ waiting rooms. Now I have a better understanding of what happens to cause this.

Patients with retinal detachments and infections threatening the whole eye have to be seen. Emergencies can be disruptive to clinic flow, but taking care of those emergencies is a crucial part of the job. As the year went on I got better at talking to patients and explaining delays.

But by far patients were the best at keeping other patients calm. Several times I would overhear patients whom we saw regularly calm down anxious or frustrated patients in the waiting areas. Patients who had previously had an emergency, or patients who had been seeing this doctor for years would say “trust me, s/he is worth it.” Those comments were manifestations of the good relationship the doctors had built with those patients.

After treating two retinal detachments late on a Friday afternoon, the doctor I was working with turned to me and said, “Dan, we did good today.” I knew he didn’t just mean we had done a good job; he meant that our jobs made a positive impact in others’ lives. I have spent the last 3 years going from a Classics major to 1st year medical student, and moments like that one confirm I’m on the right path.

Lahey Hospital Burlington

Lahey Hospital and Medical Center. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia

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