By Karen Angelo
Seda Babroudi will move one step closer to her goal of becoming a physician when she graduates from Tufts University School of Medicine in May.
Medical school has been rigorous and all-consuming, but Babroudi, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the Kennedy College of Sciences in 2014, felt well-prepared.
“Medical school can be difficult, stressful and exhausting at times, but ultimately, it’s a truly unique and rewarding experience,” she says. “From my undergraduate studies, I always felt I could handle anything that was thrown at me in medical school.”
As an undergraduate, Babroudi worked with an advisor in the Kennedy College of Sciences who helped her choose research experiences that would give her more exposure to medicine, build her resume and strengthen her medical school application.
To help students like Baroudi who are interested in pursuing advanced health degrees, the university has increased and centralized advising support and program coordination.
“We are attracting outstanding students, and we want them to know that they can go anywhere from here, no matter what their college or major,” says Julie Nash, vice provost for student success. “If we’re able to give more students advice on course selection and application requirements earlier in the process, they will be more successful. This is why we decided to centralize pre-health services and make a major resource investment on a new hire.”
Maria Halepis, the new coordinator of the pre-health professions program, is bringing more speakers to campus, advising students and expanding resources such as mentoring and preparing students for entrance exams. She’ll work with Assoc. Prof. Peter Gaines of biological sciences, who has managed the program for many years as faculty director, and Assoc. Dean Deirdra Murphy of the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences.
UMass Lowell offers graduate health professional programs in physical therapy, public health, advanced practice nursing, clinical lab sciences and pharmaceutical sciences.
More Opportunities and Increasing Competition
While medical doctors, physician assistants, dentists and other jobs requiring advanced health degrees are growing faster than other professions, competition to get into these graduate schools has also heated up. For example, the Association of Medical Colleges reports that medical schools saw a 50 percent jump in the number of applicants between 2002 and 2017.
“While admission to postgraduate health professional schools is very competitive, we help students build a strong application package by advising them on appropriate requisite coursework and ideas on how to obtain clinical and shadowing experiences,” says Halepis. “We also provide an MCAT prep course, conduct mock interviews and hold events where students can meet with practitioners and admissions staff of graduate institutions.”
Building on Past Student Successes
Alumni and students who are pursuing health-related professions say strong undergraduate academic advising and career guidance have been key factors in their success.
When senior Ellen Panetto started the medical laboratory science program at UMass Lowell, she had no idea that pathologists’ assistant careers even existed. During her first clinical rotation at Tufts Medical Center, she learned that a pathologists’ assistant performs all of the surgical and autopsy functions of a pathologist leading up to, but not including, the diagnosis.
Panetto – who sees the profession as a way to use her knowledge of disease pathways and her love of anatomy – was recently accepted into the pathologists’ assistant program at Indiana School of Medicine.
“I can’t say enough good things about UMass Lowell and the medical laboratory science program,” she says. “I received really good feedback from the schools that I interviewed with about my clinical rotation experience. I feel very prepared for graduate school and pursuing a rewarding and interesting career.”
Matthew Carroll, who is graduating from UMass Medical School in May, says that he received excellent advice from faculty across the university.
“I often think about all of the support I received while I was at UML and am very grateful to have learned from invested faculty in such a supportive environment,” says Carroll, who graduated from the clinical laboratory sciences program in 2014.
He plans on doing his residency in general surgery with the hope of pursuing a pediatric surgery fellowship.