It’s no secret that incoming medical students face many challenges and hurdles throughout their professional careers. During their time as undergraduates, many worry about what the upcoming medical exam is going to look like. What types of questions will there be? How much time is allowed to take the exam? With so many fields of medicine and health care, it can also be difficult for students to choose which path is best for them. The Pre-Health Club can help.
For students seeking a career in health or medicine, the Pre-Health Club connects them with professionals in the healthcare field. It also gives them the opportunity to network with other students that have similar interests. Students whose majors range from biology to event management can join and participate in the club. They meet monthly throughout the year to help navigate members toward their path to professional school while continuing to connect them to others that are on a similar path.
Pre-Health Club members come together and plan an annual student-led Pre-Health Symposium. The symposium planning team consists of three co-presidents and nine program chairs, all filled by students with a passion for pre-health. This event appeals to students who want to get a head start in a health-related field.
This year’s symposium, held on Feb. 25, consisted of a graduate school fair, a professional panel, and various workshops.These workshops gave students the opportunity to experience the practice of medicine through case studies. One workshop, in particular, featured an optometrist who discussed the latest advances in eye care. Students learned about breakthroughs in early diagnosis and possible treatments.
Abigail Fowler (‘23 microbiology) has expressed interest in going into biomedical research in the future. She serves as a co-president and has helped organize the symposium for the past few years. Part of her responsibilities are to ensure that future officers are prepared to plan upcoming events and to educate her peers.
“We started the Pre-Health Symposium with the intent of sharing resources with students who didn’t have access to those resources initially. We want to uplift other students and help them explore where they could potentially work in the future,” Fowler said. “I really hope it makes future Iowa State students feel not only supported by the university, but also easier to find connections with their peers.”
Inspiring and educating
This year’s keynote speaker featured Karen Stenger, a nurse practitioner leader in the intensive and specialty care nursing division from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa.
She discussed the numerous opportunities a profession in health care can provide students, as well as the impact that many health care professionals have on patients. As a case in point, Stenger was accompanied by one of her past patients, a burn survivor.
Kent Kerby, assistant dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and faculty advisor for the Pre-Health Club, attended the symposium and noted the importance of students learning about provider-patient relationships.
“The students worked really hard this year. This is our third conference and it was put together to solve the issues of students recognizing that health care is a team sport and to have awareness of what other professionals do in the healthcare world,” Kerby said. “The professionals that attended the conference not only talked about what they do but also the rewards they get from working with patients.”
“We started the Pre-Health Symposium with the intent of sharing resources with students who didn’t have access to those resources initially. We want to uplift other students and help them explore where they could potentially work in the future. I really hope it makes future Iowa State students feel not only supported by the university, but also easier to find connections with their peers.”
Preparing for what's to come
Although this year’s symposium just ended, the Pre-Health Club team has already begun planning next year’s event. Current officers will soon elect new team members who will organize future symposiums.
Abigail Krull (‘23 genetics) said that she first had an interest in becoming a genetic counselor. After becoming a member of the Pre-Health Club, she quickly changed her mind and has her sights set on becoming a doctor. She serves on the board of officers as the event management chair and has been involved with planning the symposium for the past few years. She appreciates the leadership opportunities that the symposium has provided her.
“I was a committee head last year, and I really enjoyed being involved in that way. I wanted to keep being involved so I applied for the event management chair. I love organizing and working with other people,” Krull said. “I appreciate any exposure that I can get through collaboration or working with other people. That’s exactly what medicine is all about – working with teams.”