Category Archives: Pre-Health

PA is the #2 Best Job says Money magazine.

Twice in a row, Money magazine has listed the PA profession as #2 Best Job. And the #3 “hottest” growing profession. Well, it is no wonder that it is very competitive to matriculate into Emory’s PA program, ranked #3 nationally. Last week, several Emory students were fortunate to hear from Dana Sayre-Stanhope, Director of the program and Terry Mize, Director of Admissions about what it would take to be accepted by this program. For one, you need at least 2000 hours of contact time, directly dealing with patients to be accepted into the program. “Sick people,” said Terry, “you have to have dealt with sick people.”

It is clear that service plays an important role in evaluating the applicant.  On average, successful applicants demonstrate 5800 hours of direct health experience.  During their 28 months at Emory, PA students spend almost as much time in community and humanitarian service.  There are more women than men in the program, with high GPAs (average 3.4), 10% have Master’s degrees and GRE scores of 1100. Oh, did I mention, the 1100 compete for 50 seats! Phew. The hopefuls in the room were glad to have an opportunity to meet and mingle with current PA students. One of them, Kathryn Aiken, a second year PA student, originally from University of Florida said to me, “Tell your students to shadow a PA. It is not enough to shadow a doctor. Their interviewer will want to know why they are interested in a PA, not MD or nursing. And they need a convincing answer.”

“We look for a story.” U. Chicago Medical School Provost

I was so impressed by Dr. William McDade’s compelling presentation to Emory college students yesterday. Dr. McDade is an MD, PhD, and serves as Deputy Provost for Research and Minority Issues and Associate Professor of Anesthesia & Critical Care at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. I hope the students in the audience heard him clear and loud. “We look for a story,” he said. Pritzker looks beyond grades to find the human in the numbers. “We want to hear, what makes you remarkable?” Like every other school, when they are trying to “make the class”, they have a strong focus on diversity. “Diversity breeds excellence.” he went on to say. If I was a premed, I would listen.

Very specifically and very clearly, Dr. McDade told the students in the room that he sees students taking the most rigorous science courses they can find in an effort to impress admissions committees. While that is good, he adds, “Don’t go crazy. Take the premed core and do something else. Learn about compassion, ethics, literature. Learn how to relate to people.” One significant competency needed by successful physicians is collaboration skills and Dr. McDade emphasized the need for college students to develop this skill. “Learn how to be in a team.”

Don’t you see this as another definitive vote of support for significant role of a liberal arts education in preparing future physicians? Is this not another argument for why we want our premeds, our future physicians to be, not only able to handle the science, but also have learned about being human through intellectual engagement with subjects like ethics, philosophy, history and experiential encounters that build the skills of compassion, collaboration and caring? Premeds, are you listening?

Stanford Advice to Emory premeds

Emory undergrads were privileged to hear Mr. Greg Vaughn, Assistant Director of Admissions at Stanford Medical School talk to them about what Stanford was looking for in a premed applicant.  A standing room only crowd kept Mr. Vaughn for at least three hours, as he explained, took answers, fielded questions and provided information.  There are several applicants to Stanford in this year’s Emory applicants, and we hope they were all present.  Also present were many freshmen and sophomores, and Mr. Vaughn was especially welcoming to these early starters.


What DOES Stanford look for?  I particularly liked the very first slide in Mr. Vaughn’s deck, “What We Value”. The answer is “Scholarly Endeavors, Clinical Experiences, Service.”  In the next few slides Mr. Vaughn talked about how the application should bring out evidence of “originality and creativity” in academic and non academic activities. I also heard the theme of “Deep involvement in research and scholarly activities”.  If you are considering applying to Stanford, not only should you have research on your resume, but you should also be prepared to talk about your research project, its impact on you and your academic career.

On Leadership, Mr, Vaughn shared with us a model of a Leadership Ladder, from involvement to advocacy to legacy.  You start by attending a prehealth club for example, move to become the president, then become an active advocate for the cause, and leave a legacy behind that persists after your departure.  For many in the audience the concept of “distance travelled” must have been reassuring; Mr. Vaughn noted wisely that when looking at applicants, Stanford considers where applicants started in their freshman year and where their academic journey took them.  It is the distance travelled that is meaningful – not a list of activities.

Of course, most important, an applicant should be able to articulate what they hope to get out of a Stanford education, because like everyone else, Stanford is looking for the perfect “fit”.  Learn about the curriculum.  Learn about what makes this school of medicine distinct and different.  Learn about yourself and know what you seek in your graduate professional experience.  And be able to articulate that!

PreMeds, listen up!

Everyone is rethinking premed! “AAMC/HHMI Committee Defines Scientific Competencies for Future Physicians
New Report Offers Blueprint for Designing Premedical and Medical School Curricula” and exciting news within. See

Here at Emory, we are already working on it. This Fall, the very new PreHealth Mentoring Office will open its doors for business. Note the word Mentoring. It will be about mentoring: long term, relationship building, opening doors, holistic, promoting excellence and success and everything else that comes to mind when you say, Mentor. Lucky Emory premeds! Stay tuned for more.