Pre-Med Program in Excellent Health

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A lot of South Jersey doctors got their higher education start at Rowan University, and the numbers just keep on increasing.

During the last three years, 100 percent of Rowan students?all

A lot of South Jersey doctors got their higher education start at Rowan University, and the numbers just keep on increasing.

During the last three years, 100 percent of Rowan students?all biological science majors?who applied to a medical program were accepted, according to Dr. Elizabeth Brooks, biological sciences assistant professor and associate pre-professional advisor, who works with Dr. Richard Meagher, biological sciences professor and pre-professional advisor and founder of Rowan's pre-professional program.

The prognosis is good for this year's class of medical school hopefuls and others: already 92 percent of those who have applied for a position in a professional school have been accepted, and the rest are waiting for responses.

That puts Rowan at the high end of schools producing future doctors. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, approximately 45 percent of medical school applicants (not limited to biology majors) in 2005 were accepted into a program.

Meagher founded the pre-professional program more than three decades ago to work with students interested in various medical fields. Throughout those years, the program consistently has placed students into medical, dental, podiatry, allied health and veterinary programs, among others, at exceptionally high rates.

"We have an excellent rate getting students in, and I think it's because from their freshman year we counsel them about what they need to do. Our strong point is we have a small program and students receive individual attention they can't always get at larger schools. There never are any surprises," Brooks said. She added, "We have a proven track record with medical schools. They know when Rowan bio majors get there they will perform."

Faculty members devote the time and attention that draw students eyeing the medical field to study biological sciences at Rowan. From freshman year on, students work with pre-professional advisors as well as academic advisors.

Rowan also offers a mentoring program that lets students shadow physicians in the office and the OR. The University participates in a research assistant program with Cooper Hospital through which select students can spend a semester in an emergency room, attend lectures with medical school students and discuss cases with residents and medical school students while earning credit. Rowan faculty take students to the morgue at Temple University Hospital or the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey to witness dissections of cadavers under the supervision of medical students. Rowan's pre-professional club meets once a week and provides students with opportunities to meet admissions officers and practicing physicians who can provide them with insight.

Faculty place a lot of emphasis on preparing for medical school in other ways. They help students through the application process, provide references and stage mock medical school interviews.

Meagher said, "Pre-professional advising is about developing a unique strategy for each student and then tweaking it during the years (he or she is) here. At Rowan, we have been blessed with students who have both determination and ability. I truly love seeing how successful our students have allowed themselves to be and how this, in turn, has helped our program to grow.

Another plus for Rowan students: the University has articulation agreements with numerous institutions, including UMDNJ's schools of Osteopathic Medicine and Dental Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ross University School of Medicine, Pennsylvania College of Optometry, New York College of Podiatric Medicine, Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine and Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. Students who meet certain qualifications are extended automatic admission into those institutions.

"These medical schools are actually holding seats for our Rowan students. Some schools get thousands of applicants for 155 seats, and a slot is reserved for a Rowan student," Brooks said.

Students and alumni aren't surprised about Rowan's high placement rate. Jefferson Medical College student Heather Ragozine, a 2004 Rowan graduate from Marlton, was one of the successful med school applicants, and she credits Rowan at least in part for her achievements.

"Rowan prepared me in many ways for medical school," said Ragozine, who is focusing on emergency medicine with a specialization in terrorism preparedness. "Rowan offered all the classes I was required to take before taking the MCATs (Medical College Admission Test) and entering medical school. I was able to participate in advanced classes that were taught in a manner similar to the classes I am taking now at Jefferson. However, Rowan offered much more than just the classes. I loved meeting one on one with my pre-med advisors. They advised me in everything from choosing classes and activities to bolster my application to how to dress for an interview. I was able to participate in research that was published in magazines and featured on various local news programs, CNN and 20/20. Rowan also prepared me by allowing me a chance to gain leadership skills throughout my various extracurricular activities. I grew as a person at Rowan; I learned how to create lasting relationships with peers and faculty, how to communicate and convey ideas in an intelligent manner and how to deal with people in general. The small class sizes and one-on-one attention were huge contributing factors in my success. For all these reasons I am thrilled I attended Rowan."

Sophomore biological sciences major Janora Homer hopes to be another med school success story. "The best thing about the pre-professional program at Rowan is definitely the resources, because the advisors, Dr. Brooks and Dr. Meagher, are very knowledgeable about the many different pre-professional careers and schools," said Homer, from Logan Township. "Along with being well-informed, the advisors are also very approachable. They were not intimidating, and I knew that I could talk to them because they had my best interests at heart."

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