A new list dubbed “the world’s first ranking of the Best Colleges for Pre-Meds” has Centre College at #22 in the nation in a three-way tie with Harvard and MIT.
While this is good company to be in—with five Ivy League schools among the mix, along with prominent institutions such as Duke, Johns Hopkins, the University of Chicago, Stanford and Northwestern—it’s notable that Centre is one of 11 leading liberal arts colleges on the top-25 list.
And this makes an important point. Small can be better when it comes to preparing for medical school.
In fact, the Savvy Pre-Med methodology, composed of 13 weighted factors and 16 information sources, found that smaller schools are among the best at preparing students for med school. This is because they “lead to better student-faculty interaction, better letters of recommendation, more mentoring opportunities [and] more research opportunities.”
The factors range from quality pre-med advising, early assurance programs, small classes and research opportunities, to clinical and service opportunities. Since these are all areas in which Centre excels, the ranking comes as little surprise to Kerry Pickin Paumi, an associate professor of chemistry who also serves as Centre’s pre-med advisor.
Paumi points to the many value-added educational components at Centre, such as the new Early Assurance Program (EAP) partnership with the University of Kentucky, as well as the Centre Unites with Ephraim (CUE) program that provides for-credit internships in strategic partnership with Danville’s Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center.
In addition to the EAP and CUE offerings, Paumi adds, the College’s Center for Career & Professional Development has been able to assist with internship and research opportunities both here and abroad.
Besides in-state medical schools, like those at the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville, Centre graduates also attend medical school elsewhere across the country. Recent destinations include Dartmouth, Emory and Stanford, along with the flagship public universities in North Carolina and Virginia.
And it’s not uncommon that Centre students are accepted into medical school programs in advance of graduation.
“As we reach the end of the fall semester,” said Paumi, “we already have nine current students, all graduating seniors, who have been accepted to medical school, many of them into several programs, giving them exciting options on where to attend.”
These current Centre seniors include Erika Bell (a behavioral neuroscience major from Prospect, Kentucky), Lindsey Everett (a classics major from Paris, Kentucky), Chloe Grove (a chemistry major from Bucyrus, Ohio), Gillian Gurney (a biology major from Cincinnati), Madison Jeziorski (a chemistry major and religion minor from Bremen, Alabama), Josh Joiner (a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Danville, Kentucky), Olivia Honaker (a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Brandenburg, Kentucky), Manasaa Kannan (an economics and finance major from Louisville) and Kendall Yount (a biology major from Owenton, Kentucky).
Since women now make up the majority of U.S. medical students for the first time, the fact that the overwhelming majority of these Centre seniors are women fits a new pattern.
The range of options for all the students include the University of Kentucky College of Medicine; University of Louisville School of Medicine; Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of Pikeville; Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine at Lincoln Memorial University; Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine; and University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.
As the list of majors indicates, biology or chemistry are no longer required or expected majors. In fact, classics major Lindsay Everett says that her decision to pursue a non-science degree has been integral to her success on the pre-med track.
“I had studied Latin all through high school, so I already had a decent amount of the major completed,” Everett said. “This allowed me to focus more heavily on the prerequisite science courses, dividing my schedule fairly evenly between the two disciplines each semester. This, in turn, prevented me from becoming burned out in either field.”
Everett also emphasized that she thinks it’s important to study subjects you’re passionate about.
“In my case,” she said, “this love fell equally upon both language and science, and my liberal arts experience at Centre allowed me to study both.”
And the reason is important, she adds.
“Once you take that next step into medical school or some other health professional education, you will be studying science alone. Thus, I am a strong advocate for devoting time to passion and enjoyment while you possess that freedom.”
At the same time, Everett would want students to know that an unconventional major can set you apart from your peers in the application process.
“It shows that you have a unique skill-set and educational background that will enhance the diversity of thought in any professional team. Ultimately,” she adds, “the value of an undergraduate education does not lie in the facts and material you learn but rather the skills and strengths you acquire in the process.”
Finally, Everett concludes that classics has been more beneficial in her pursuit of medicine than she ever thought.
“The critical thinking, problem solving and presentation skills I have gained from this field are invaluable and extremely applicable in pursuing any professional career,” she realized. “This specifically helped me during my many research endeavors with physicians, leading to two written publications and a medical conference presentation.”
Senior Josh Joiner, a varsity tennis player from Danville who will be attending the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, took the more traditional route, majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology.
In thinking through how Centre helped him succeed academically and athletically, Joiner cites the discipline he was provided.
“At Centre, no pre-med student solely focuses in the biological sciences but instead participates in a wide variety of academic disciplines and extracurricular activities,” he said. “Through this, Centre has helped me develop a diverse and unique application for medical school and establish myself as a leader athletically and academically. It has also given me the confidence to speak to anyone about various topics because of its liberal arts education.”
Joiner’s also convinced that an internship sophomore year with the Memphis Urban Health Institute at Methodist Le Bonheur Hospital gave him an edge over other med school applicants.
“This is an internship provided only to students at Centre, Rhodes and Sewanee, and I relied heavily on this experience for both my AMCAS application and interviews,” he said. “This internship focused on the medical humanities and allowed me to see all aspects of healthcare in an urban environment, providing the hands-on type of experience that I believe medical schools love to see.”
Because it’s increasingly typical that graduates take a gap year or two before applying, Paumi said that six recent Centre alumni have also all been accepted into medical school.
They include Cole Alsip ’18, Maggie Finn ’18, Gabe Kindl ’18, Emily Ranseen ’19, Kate Spencer ’19 (who is currently studying at University College London on a Rotary scholarship), and Casey Thompson ’19.
Full information about the new pre-med ranking is available here.
For more information about pre-med studies at Centre, visit here.
by Michael Strysick
December 13, 2019
Above image: Graduates from the Class of 2017 attending medical schools (listed alphabetically): Karan Aletty, Sarah Bush, Alex Edwards, Lola Fakunle, Haidar Khan, Erin Macleod, David Malicote, Megan Turner and Jessika Young.