Centre parent Dr. Lillian Meacham coaches current pre-med students
Centre’s class of 2013 boasts an impressive 89 percent acceptance rate to medical school, and most students are certainly well-prepared by Centre’s rigorous coursework, busy schedules and well-rounded curriculum. However, these students have another very important ace up their lab coats: Dr. Lillian Meacham, Professor of Pediatrics at Emory University.
Dr. Meacham has been conducting interviews for medical school applicants at Emory for 10 years, but it was not until she began talking with classmates of her daughter Betsy Meacham ’12 that the idea to consult with Centre students was born.
“One year we had a gathering of all pre-med students, from first-year to senior, where myself and Dr. Joe Workman talked about the med school application process,” Meacham says. “We included a session where students pulled a random question out of a hat and had to answer it. We then gave them pointers on how to improve their responses.”
This year’s consultations were different, however; instead of a group seminar or general information session, Dr. Meacham scheduled private appointments with students, who submitted their personal statements in advance and were given a mock interview.
“This is an opportunity to give students feedback on their interview responses, their personal statement, and other parts of their resume,” says Meacham. “Sometimes it involves just minor tweaking of something in a student’s application.”
This year’s consulting happened over Fall Break, a coincidence that Meacham was convinced would waste her trip to Danville.
“We actually had the biggest turnout ever,” she says. “There were 12 students who came back to campus during Fall Break to be interviewed. I think it actually worked out better that way, because usually, students have so many conflicting things that they’re trying to do.”
For Meacham, the annual journey to Centre is well worth it.
“I like helping future doctors,” she explains. “I look at it as an investment in my profession, and Centre students are a good investment. I enjoy being able to take students with such potential and help them strengthen their application further.”
One such student is Rahul Joseph ’14, a biochemistry-molecular biology (BMB) major who is interested in Emory University School of Medicine.
“The most helpful advice I received was to keep my points concise, concentrating on the most relevant or significant statements,” he explains. “Coupled with the reassurance that I did indeed have insightful and engaging things to say, I think this advice will allow me to engage more effectively with my interviewers.”
Indeed, Joseph has already seen the benefits of his time with Dr. Meacham, as he describes a recent interview at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.
“I could tell that my interactions with each interviewer were more engaging and balanced than when I began the practice interview with Dr. Meacham,” he says. “Such opportunities to practice being interviewed build familiarity with the common types of interview questions and awareness of the image I am projecting to the interviewer.”
While Meacham’s help is certainly needed, she points out that Centre students are already strong medical school candidates.
“Centre provides a great education,” she says. “Students get the attention they need and professors really know their students. Also, their research experiences are very strong, and they are generally well-rounded applicants, which is important.”
Meacham also praises the flexible and intense nature of CentreTerm, the three-week January term, for giving pre-med students opportunities to improve their resume and experience.
“I’ve seen several Centre students use CentreTerm to shadow physicians and develop internships that involve clinical exposure or research,” she says. “It’s unique to Centre.”
Meacham’s advice differs from student to student, but overall, she urges all medical school applicants to “be memorable.”
“Everyone who applies to medical school is going to be very similar to you in many ways,” she explains. “You should try to identify something about yourself that is unique and will stand out.”
A particularly memorable student is Lauren Fall ’14, whose major in French is something that differentiates her from the pack of science majors who normally apply to medical school.
Fall echoes Joseph’s feelings about the valuable opportunity to get inside the mind of a medical school interviewer.
“Dr. Meacham helped me to better articulate the goals that I have for my medical career,” she explains. “The most helpful advice that she gave me was to have several pointed questions in mind to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview; these questions show a candidate’s true interest in the medical school.”
Like Joseph, Fall also tried out her new-and-improved skills at a recent medical school interview.
“I felt much more comfortable than I would have had I not practiced one already,” she says. “I’m very thankful for Dr. Meacham’s help, and I am truly confident that she has dramatically impacted my future through the generous donation of her time.”
Professor of Chemistry and Chief Health Professions Advisor Joe Workman, who has worked with Meacham to coordinate these practice sessions, cannot say enough about what a unique resource this dedicated Centre parent and friend of the College offers to Centre students.
“It is invaluable for our students to have a practice interview with someone who doesn’t know them and who is part of the admissions process,” he explains. “I know our students are grateful for the time Dr. Meacham has taken with each of them and her honest assessment of their qualifications for medical school.”
By Mariel Smith