N.J.'s newest future doctors begin med school career at RowanSOM

N.J.'s newest future doctors begin med school career at RowanSOM

By Kelly Roncace for nj.com

More than 5,620 students applied to attend the Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine's four-year medical program beginning in August, but only 162 of those hopeful doctors made the class.

According to Paula Watkins, assistant dean of admissions at RowanSOM, the 5,623 applicants for this year's class represent nearly a 15 percent increase over last year's total, making this the largest applicant pool ever.

"We're only accredited for a certain number of students," Watkins said, noting the admissions committee looks for the "best of the best" to enter the program. "It's a difficult job to determine which students would be the best fit for our mission."

In this year's class of 162, 83 percent are from New Jersey, with more than 20 percent hailing from South Jersey.

These 162 students will officially begin their medical school journey on Sunday at the White Coat Ceremony in Pfleeger Concert Hall at Rowan University in Glassboro.

For one of those students, getting to this point has been a long time coming.

Courtney Courter, of Long Beach Island, graduated from Rowan University two years ago with a biochemistry degree and immediately applied for the school's medical program.

"The first time I was wait-listed, but I never got accepted," she said. "It was crazy because I kept waiting and waiting and I had almost given up at one point. I started thinking about doing other things."

But Courter decided to give her dream one more shot and, this time, she was accepted into the program.

"It's scary, but exciting," she said, noting that the knows the workload is going to be tough, but is looking forward to embarking on her medical career.

The difficult course load and wait to be accepted into medical school haven't been the only challenging issues Courter has had to endure.

Courter was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) — a condition that occurs in only 1 in every 3,000 births.

"It's a joint disability," she explained. "When I was in my mother's womb, I didn't move around enough, so my joints stayed nearly fixed in position."

Babies can be born with AMC when there isn't enough room in the uterus, causing joints to contract and become "stuck" in a position.

In Courter's case, she has joints that cannot straighten, stunted growth — she is a petite 3 feet 9 inches tall — scoliosis, and respiratory problems. She uses a wheelchair to travel long distances, but is not letting any of that hold her back.

"I've always been this way," she said. "I don't know any different. I'm much more independent than people assume."

She also credits her condition for sparking her interest in the medical field.

"There are a lot of things in my life that have led me to wanting to be a doctor," Courter said. "I've been around the medical field a lot, but on the patient side."

Since she was just a baby, she has received medical care from countless doctors.

"All my life I've wanted to help people because so many great doctors have helped me," she said. "My whole life was a process of me becoming interested in the medical field."

Before being accepted in RowanSOM, Courter began dabbling in the medical field by working in doctor's offices and volunteering at hospitals.

"I think that was more to what led me to want to explore the physician side," she said.

While Courter isn't sure which field she wants to go into, she is looking forward to beginning medical school and experiencing the different avenues to find which one suits her best.

"I'm trying to be open-minded," she said. "When we start rotations, we are exposed to a lot of different practices and can try different things."

Courtney will be walking across the stage to receive her white coat at the ceremony.

The new RowanSOM class will begin a four-year program — two years of classroom and two years of clinical rotation — in August.

"We expect to graduate all 162 students in 2019," Watkins said.

Additional Details:

Date Published: Saturday, August 1, 2015 - 13:30
Source URL: nj.com