By: Malavika Raj
University of the Pacific prides itself as a health science school, attracting students across the country to their esteemed pre-dental and pre-pharmacy programs. Although there is a good portion of students pursuing these professional degrees, the university also has a decent amount of pre-med students, who have banded together to start the Pre-Med Society.
The society was started in April of 2018 and aims to support students who are planning on pursuing a medical degree. It hosts workshops, invites guest speakers, and provides a network for students enduring the long and often difficult path of getting accepted into medical school.
“I decided to join Pre-Med Society mainly because I wanted to be a part of a community that was on the same path as me. Since my freshman year, I wanted to find an organization that focused on pre-medicine and when I found out about this organization, I instantly joined,” said Narinder Kaur, Biological Sciences, ‘23. Kaur also serves as one of the club’s two vice presidents.
In order to gain admission to medical school, students are required to take the six hour Medical College Admission Test, otherwise known as the MCAT. The Pre-Med Society assists students who intend to sit the examination by hosting MCAT workshops. Audrey Kim, Biological Sciences, 21’ who is the society’s president, leads these events.
“What we are currently doing right now is a two part MCAT workshop. I present about what is on the MCAT and the components and the scores that are required for medical schools in general. I am also presenting about how to study for it,” said Kim.
Kim, who is graduating this Spring, mentioned that since there are no pre-med advisors on campus, she was in charge of gathering research on her own in order to lead the workshop. She also mentioned that she drew from her personal experience taking the MCAT.
“I do all of this research on my own since I did not have anyone to look up to,” said Kim. “I’ve taken the MCAT already and I am going to do the application process over the Spring. So I [teach] in a very straightforward manner to the other students who wouldn't be able to access this information as easily if it wasn’t for this society.”
Other than MCAT workshops, the pre-med society has brought in guest speakers such as medical college admissions officers and current hospital residents to talk to the club members.
“We’ve had admissions officers from different medical schools, a guest speaker who was in her residency who was a Pacific Alumni, and we’ve had an application officer,” said Kim.
The society aims to host about two meetings a month.
In terms of how Pacific could help support pre-med students on their journey to medical school, the officers suggested having advisors specific to medicine. Currently, Pacific only offers advising for students who are interested in the general pre-health category.
“I do not think pre-Med students have enough resources compared to pre-pharm and pre-dental students,” said Yeonho Hannah Choi, Biological Sciences, ‘22. Choi serves as co-vice president of the Pre-Med Society. “There are no academic advisors that are deeply knowledgeable in this field and this does not help in setting us up for the future,” she added.
Kim mentioned that it is understandable that Pacific does not have specific resources for pre-med students because the university does not have an adjoining medical school, but she says that the Pre-Med Society helps to fill in those gaps.
“There are large fraternities and clubs for pharmacy and dentistry but not for medicine. We do not have an advisor for pre-med. And we do not have anyone looking for opportunities for us. That is why this society is very important so there is more of an even ground for going into medicine,” said Kim.