Colgate students say they are well prepared to pursue medical careers

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Dr. Michael J. Wolk ’60, a noted cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, hosts a conference every two years at Colgate that provides real-world information for students exploring careers in medicine.

Members of the Class of 2014 seeking careers in the health sciences are now receiving offers of acceptance to medical schools around the country.

Brian Chernak ’14, of Rochester, N.Y., Nolan Cirillo-Penn ’14, of Bridgewater, N.J., Elizabeth Flory ’14, of Hanover, N.H., and Tue Nguyen ’14, of Vietnam, are just four of the latest students to be accepted into medical school, continuing Colgate’s proven track record of successfully preparing students who want to pursue careers in medicine.

Cirillo-Penn saw his application approved at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in N.J., and Chernak was accepted at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. Flory will be attending The George Washington School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and Tue will be headed to Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, La.

Colgate students interested in medical school usually begin preparing for it in their first year with help from the Health Sciences Advising Committee, a group of faculty and staff that provides advising and planning for careers in health professions.

“Really, most of the experiences and the opportunities I have had in the past four years that have helped me get to where I am right now, going to GW in the fall, have been a direct result of Colgate’s education and resources,” Flory said.

The medical school acceptance rate for first-time applicants from Colgate is between one and a half to two times the national average

“If a student (or alumni) has fulfilled the requirements set by the medical schools for medical school admission (both academic and non-academic), they are quite successful in gaining admittance to a variety of medical schools,” said Julie Chanatry, chairwoman of the Health Science Advising Committee. “We have graduates who have attended medical schools from all across the U.S.”

Kenneth Belanger, chairman of the biology department, said there are several reasons why a high number of Colgate students are accepted at medical schools.

“One is that previous Colgate students have been incredibly successful at med school,” he said. “Their level of preparation from their Colgate courses and research experiences, their ability to analyze data carefully and think critically, and their strong work ethic make Colgate graduates excellent medical students and physicians.”

Chernak said time management is one of the most important skills he has learned at Colgate.

“The education I received, notably Biology 212, taught me critical thinking skills I had not yet acquired, but it has been my ability to manage my day which will be the most helpful in preparing myself for the challenges of medical school,” Chernak said.

Cirillo-Penn said he was not considering medical school when he started at Colgate. Then he took a shadowing program that allowed him to watch a physician at work.

“Colgate certainly prepares you to think,” Cirillo-Penn said. “With some extra preparation I was able to get a good MCAT score in one attempt. Taking advantage of the shadowing program was extremely helpful and really solidified my interest in medicine.”

In addition to the shadowing program, Colgate has the nation’s only full-semester study group at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

From 2007 to 2011, 93 percent of the students in the NIH study group went on to study for an advanced degree after graduating from Colgate – and of those students, half enrolled in medical school.

Download a fact sheet for more information about how Colgate prepares students for careers in health sciences.