By Pranay Malempati | Sports Writer
Each fall, over 3,000 freshman come to Baylor and begin their undergraduate career. Of those students, approximately 800 to 900 start on the pre-med track and plan to go to medical school after they graduate.
The first step for students is to take a class during their freshman year called “Foundations of Medicine,” which shows them the basics of what going into the medical field entails.
Dr. Richard Sanker, director of prehealth studies, said the committee wants to make sure that students are the ones making final decisions about their future.
“What we want to do is make sure the students know it is their decision to pursue, that it is not a decision that anybody else should make for them,” Sanker said. “We help them explore what it takes to become a physician, what the journey is that they’re about to pursue. [We help them] understand what the professional schools and the medical profession will be seeking from them once they join that profession.”
Jane Lin, assistant director of prehealth studies, said after students take their pre-requisite courses, they enter a process with the pre-med committee. Lin said the committee evaluates the students’ application and creates a packet for them, with a recommendation letter, that they can submit to medical schools.
“Most people start the committee process in the fall semester of their junior year,” Lin said. “In the spring semester, they will be interviewed by a committee member. We will have a committee evaluation meeting in April. In May, we will put their committee letter together.”
Lin said that approximately 250 students start the committee process and about 200 complete the process. She said after that, students decide to take a gap year and about 150 end up attending medical school the next fall.
Sanker said the reason a lot of students drop out of the pre-med track is not necessarily because they are not succeeding in their classes. He said that students often come to realize that they don’t enjoy science or medicine enough to go down this career path.
Tomi Ifelayo is one student who did make it through Baylor’s pre-med process and is currently a third-year student at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. Ifelayo said that she was pre-pharmacy for most of her Baylor career and made the switch to pre-med late.
Ifelayo said Baylor’s pre-med staff were a huge reason she was able to make a successful transition to pre-med and eventually enter medical school.
“Ms. Lin and I had that conversation,” Ifelayo said, “She told me, ‘I knew that medicine is for you,’ so having that adviser that not only cares about what you are doing to prepare for your goal, but actually knowing you well enough to see where you would be a better fit, or seeing where your path should be headed is gold. I don’t know where I would’ve landed if I didn’t already have someone who already saw that in me.”
Ifelayo said she is glad to have been at Baylor through her decision-making process.
“[The process] made me really appreciate,” Ifelayo said, “ [of]the value of good mentors and good faculty and advisers that are there for you. I really am grateful that I was at Baylor at that time because I don’t think that would have happened anywhere else in that way.”