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Health Track Office Created

By Alice Chen Posted: 08/28/2009
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Emory launched its first Pre-Health Mentoring Office this fall to offer well-anticipated assistance to students who are on the medical track.

Following the lead of peer institutions such as Duke University and Johns Hopkins University, Emory is “playing a bit of catch-up,” according to Peter Sederberg, special assistant to the provost.

Sederberg said now is the right time to install the office because of higher expectations. The Pre-Health Mentoring Office, he said, aims to provide the kind of assistance that Emory students need.

“Emory students should aspire to get into a top-20 medical school,” Sederberg said. “The educational challenge they need to cultivate to get into one of these schools has become increasingly demanding.”

According to the Career Center, 53 percent of Emory students applying for medical school were accepted last year, while institutions such as Rice University had 87 percent of applicants last year get into medical school.
Assistant Dean of Science and Executive Director of the Pre-Health Mentoring Office Preetha Ram wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel that one goal was to provide consistency.

Previously, the Office for Undergraduate Education’s academic advising program and the Career Center provided assistance to pre-health students. Ram wrote that having one office will “cut down confusion.”

There is more to succeeding in the health field than just getting the degree, Sederberg said. He said that medical students must have an understanding of the humanities. It is also important for students to have significant examples of commitment to service, clinical exposure and experience past simply “shadowing Uncle Bob over Christmas Break,” Sederberg said.

“Medical education is more than just checking off the appropriate boxes,” said Sederberg, who also suggested Spanish as an important course because of the increasing number of Spanish speakers in the United States.

“Here, students will not be getting just an Emory degree, but also an Emory education,” he said.

Sederberg said that while viewing education as a life-long process is important for all students, it’s more urgent for medical students.

He said that while music majors may find careers based solely on talent, medical students need a more holistic background.

Ram wrote that the office will offer mentoring sessions to help build relationships between students and mentors and to provide individual attention.

The composite letter is a more individualized project, Sederberg said.
This letter, written for each student by one of about 50 faculty volunteers, serves as an introduction to an application. The letter is based off of the application, letters of recommendation and an interview. According to the office’s website, the absence of such a letter could put a student at a disadvantage.

Right now, Ram wrote, the focus will be geared towards sophomores, but the office will also provide assistance to other levels.

She wrote that the office will offer events and special office hours for freshmen.

Ram wrote that she hopes the office will bring Emory’s strengths in the health sciences and liberal arts together and thus respond to students’ needs.

“I believe the Office addresses a critical unmet need at Emory College and represents a leadership opportunity for us to develop a national model for an undergraduate liberal arts education with a health sciences context,” Ram wrote.

— Contact Alice Chen.

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