SVC students bound for med school

This year’s seniors will soon be closing the book on their Saint Vincent College experience. However, there are a number of 2016 SVC seniors that will be beginning a new chapter of their life’s journey at a medical school. Some of the seniors that make up this group include Ben Carnahan, Vincent Centore, Michael Couser, Brett Kurpiel, Natalie Nakles, Alexis Oropallo and Alex Smaracheck.

Some of these students’ interest in working in the medical field was acquired at an early age. Kurpiel, a biology major who will be attending the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine, said that he knew at the age of ten that he wanted to become a doctor. He cited a traumatic medical experience as something that increased his desire to dedicate his life to the field of medicine.

Couser, a biochemistry major bound for Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, said that he has always been fascinated by biology, but he was especially inspired by the positive experiences he had with his doctor and by the way that doctors helped his grandparents battle cancer when he was still a child.

Centore took inspiration from his mother, who worked as a nurse, and from his childhood dermatologist, who helped to cure his bad case of acne and boost his self-esteem. “I thought it would be great if I could have that kind of impact on someone’s life,” said Centore, a biochemistry major who will be studying at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

A pre-professional health committee begins to help students turn their childhood inspirations into preparation for the medical school application process shortly after they arrive at Saint Vincent College, according to Dr. Michael Rhodes, a biology professor and the head of the committee. Rhodes said that the committee has been working with more students because there has been an increasing number of them that want to go to medical school. “We’ve been seeing a pretty big increase in the number of students applying [to these graduate schools],” said Rhodes. “It keeps us on our toes because we have more individuals to keep track of.”

Rhodes said that biology and biochemistry majors are the students that the committee assists most often. However, Rhodes added that there have been physics, psychology and even history majors that have wanted to apply to medical school and have been guided by the committee.

Oropallo, a biochemistry major and future Liberty University medical school student, said that the committee had brought in a variety of insightful speakers over the years to talk to the SVC students that are considering medical school. “I was able to get different perspectives on different types of jobs that I could go into,” said Oropallo.

According to Rhodes, these speakers are often alumni who returned to SVC to talk about their experiences in medical school and in the field. “I think that it really helps our [current] students who are going through the [pre-med] process,” said Rhodes.

Couser cited Saint Vincent College’s liberal arts curriculum as another beneficial source of knowledge as he prepares for his time in medical school. According to Couser, SVC’s interdisciplinary course offerings were ideal for him because his medical school program is going to be based on the idea of “focusing on the whole person” and not strictly biological concepts. “You get the whole perspective on things [at Saint Vincent College],” said Couser.

Rhodes said that the liberal arts curriculum at SVC helps students improve on the MCAT exam, a critical factor in being accepted by a medical school. According to Rhodes, the exam has recently been revised to include more questions from other fields of study, such as psychology. He said that SVC students would be more prepared for these new types of questions thanks to the college’s interdisciplinary course requirements.

Furthermore, Rhodes said that the liberal arts curriculum would benefit the SVC’s pre- med students in the long-term. “I have no doubt that the things they’re learning in the core [curriculum] will make them better physicians down the road,” said Rhodes.

The 2016 seniors have some ambitions that go beyond medical school. Couser said that he wants to contribute to the field of emergency medicine. “I think that [emergency medicine] can be very impactful, not just for the patients, but for their families and friends as well,” said Couser.

Kurpiel’s goal is to take care of HIV and AIDS patients. “I want to do my best to help those living with these diseases to have a successful life,” said Kurpiel.

Oropallo and Centore both emphasized being highly respected by their patients. “I’d like to retire and know that my patients found me be a kind and compassionate person,” said Oropallo.

Centore said that he wants to focus on being an empathetic doctor. “I want people to know that I really care,” said Centore.

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