Hopeful future doctors and health care workers gathered on Saturday, March 7 in the Klaus building for Tech’s third annual Pre-Health Conference.
Over 230 students from all sorts of diverse majors attended the conference, which was put on by the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) to make Tech pre-health students stronger applicants to medical schools after graduation.
The goal of the conference was to provide students a forum in which they could come together and realize that there are a significant number of pre-health students at Tech as well as many resources available to them.
“We just wanted the campus to know that [pre-med students] are here. The conference was to [not only] raise awareness within the pre-health population that support is available for them at Tech, but also to tell the rest of the world that pre-health exists here despite Tech being an engineering school. Our original intent was to show that Tech has a diverse, growing population of students that are strong applicants to med schools,” said Nehal Patel, president of Tech’s AMSA chapter.
The conference featured two keynote speakers and five workshop options.
The morning keynote speaker was Neil Schulman, a physician and author of the novel Doc Hollywood.
Schulman spoke about his experiences in the medical field, including the more humorous side of what it is like to be a doctor. “Schulman was a very dynamic speaker,” said Vijay Palvia, AMSA conference manager. “He really got the audience involved by telling jokes and stories. He even stood up on a chair at one point. It was a really prestigious and interesting address.”
After the morning keynote, students had the option of attending three of five different offered workshops. The workshops covered an array of health-related topics from the career-based workshops like “A Day in the Life of a Health Professional” and “Life After College” to med school-specific workshops addressing admission trends, financial aid, interviews and writing a personal statement.
The goal of these sessions was to give students more specific information based on personal interests or concerns.
“I felt like they did a really good job of communicating really clear and relevant information… It was nice to be able to pick topics you care about,” said John Paul Schacht, third-year NRE.
After a lunch, students listened to Scott Lind, chief of Surgical Oncology at the Medical College of Georgia.
Lind spoke of what it was like to be a surgeon and what it takes to get to be a surgeon.
“I wanted the students to get a taste of what life as a surgeon is like. They need to know that it takes a lot of work, but in the end has great returns. Sometimes students get a slightly misguided view of what life as a surgeon is like from TV and other media, but it is important to go [into medical school] with a balanced perspective,” Lind said.
The day ended with a health school fair. Students could speak with representatives from 50 medical schools and health programs. Students were encouraged to ask questions about admissions and find out more about specific programs.
“We hope students will explore their options and really take advantage of the opportunity to talk to admissions people one-on-one, to ask questions and get candid answers,” Patel said.
After the conference, Patel and the rest of AMSA hope that more students will take advantage of the help of Jennifer Kimbel, the pre-health advisor and AMSA’s other resources to be strong pre-med candidates.
“We wanted the campus to know that we’re here if you look for us, and we’ve got help to get where we want to go,” Patel said.