Illustration by Sofia Reeves

Students register for LCs “intent to apply” program

The new program will guide students and alumni through the year-long medical school application process

The Center for Community and Global Health launched its inaugural Intent to Apply program for medical school after its registration period closed on Sept. 24.

Carolyn Zook began serving as the associate director of the center for community and global health in Fall 2020. Zook created the program to guide pre-health upperclassmen and alumni in addition to one-on-one pre-health advising, which was previously offered. The Intent to Apply program is yet another addition to Lewis & Clark’s recent pre-health expansion. Other additions include the health studies minor and $750,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant.

This year’s cohort, made up of three alumni and two undergraduate students, plans to apply for medical school in June of 2022 and attend their respective schools starting in the Fall 2023 term. The process to apply for medical school typically takes a full year. Registration for the next cohort will begin in August of 2022.

For Zook, the Intent to Apply program is a key component in making medical school more accessible for students. The program is divided into monthly hour-long meetings that address different parts of the application process.

“The reason why we plan the program to meet only once a month is so it’s a little bit less overwhelming for the students,” Zook said. “We know a lot of the students have very heavy course loads, are involved in extracurriculars, athletics (or) have jobs, so we thought we’d start earlier to make it a little less cumbersome.”

According to Professor of Psychology Jerusha Detweiler-Bedell, who also heads the center, another one of the program’s key assets is creating a sense of community amongst pre-health peers. 

“I think often that the process of getting your application together feels very isolated, lonely and stressful,” Detweiler-Bedell said. “So not only is Carolyn an amazing resource in terms of one-on-one mentoring — but to come together in a group setting with others who are going through the same thing, getting feedback from them with more concrete guidance makes you feel less alone in the process.”

Lucas Heilbroner ’19 graduated from LC not initially planning to apply to medical school. He decided to pursue the opportunity after doing an internship with an environmental law organization that had a public health focus. Heilbroner got in touch with Zook, who later sent him a personal invitation to register for the Intent to Apply program.

So far, Heilbroner said the program has been helpful in the application process.

“It’s nice to have some formality to it,” Heilbroner said. “It’s easy to burn out doing the individual research and self education you have to do, so having some structure is really nice. Having some communities is nice, particularly for me as a post-(baccalaureate) student and even just in general, my social scene has never been a bunch of other pre-med kids.”

The program’s September meeting provided an overview of the application process and budgeting for application expenses, including financial aid options. Zook described the experience as an “eye-opener” for the program members. Heilbroner’s experience at the first meeting resonates with this account.

“Getting financial aid in the way that Carolyn detailed, it felt like a load off for me because I’ve been trying to save up basically a war chest to apply for medical school,” Heilbroner said. “But knowing that if I meet these specific criterias, I can save money, that’s super helpful.”

The upcoming session will address the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) process. MCAT registration for the 2021-22 testing year opened Oct. 13 to 14. Other sessions will cover writing personal statements, mock interviews and prepping other application materials.

Detweiler-Bedell and Zook both spoke on the importance of extending the program to alumni.

“I try to make it very clear to any student regardless of if they’re going into medical school, or any other program, that we are available as a resource for them,” Zook said. “Even after they graduate, they get the same access to me as their pre-health advisor.”

Zook views this year’s five-person cohort as a success and said she would be “thrilled” to have 10 members in  the next cohort. For now, Zook is focusing on this year’s group of applicants.

“It’s exciting to be here in-person, to be able to finally launch something that’s been in my head for a year now and to see it come to fruition,” Zook said. “We’re very excited, and I hope the students get everything that they want out of it.”

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