To say that Meredith’s pre-health post-baccalaureate certificate program is successful is an understatement.
In the three years since its creation, the program has tripled the size of its annual cohort and maintained 90 percent or higher graduate placement rates. Not to mention the highest number of prospective students of any of the College’s graduate programs, with more than 400 in 2015.
“Our growth is overwhelming and exciting,” said Dr. Andrea Marritt, program director and assistant professor of biological sciences. “I’m most proud of the fact that we’re helping our students get into great schools.”
It’s the only program of its kind in the Triangle, and it continues to attract applicants from all over the country.
“Our program is very diverse,” Marritt said. “We have men and women from many different backgrounds, and people move here from as far away as Alaska and California to participate.”
Program graduates have gained acceptance into a variety of health-related programs – such as medical, PA, nursing, anesthesiology, and dentistry – at a number of different institutions, including Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, East Carolina University, Campbell University, Wake Forest University, Emory University, and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, with which Meredith has an articulation agreement.
“In my position, I get to know every single student very well, and it’s so rewarding to see them succeed,” Marritt said. “I’ve had graduates send me letters about how much the program has changed their lives.”
One such alumnus is Alexander Foster, who graduated from the program in May 2013. He was accepted into the University of Washington School of Medicine.
“My time at Meredith was a second chance for me,” Foster said. “I often spent my daily commute from Durham to Raleigh reflecting on all the folks just like me who didn’t make it into medical school on their first try and how blessed I was to have the opportunity to follow my goal of serving others through medicine.
“Washington was my dream school,” he said. “I could not have made it into this high-caliber program if it weren't for Meredith.”
First offered in fall 2013, the one-year full-time program offers two tracks for men and women who want to apply to graduate programs in health-related fields.
The preparation track provides non-science degree holders the opportunity to earn prerequisite coursework needed for admission into health programs. The enhancement track is designed for students who need to improve their academic credentials for re-application to a health professional school.
Each track offers a flexible pre-health certificate program, small class size, shadowing and clinical experiences, and individualized advising. MCAT preparation also is available for those applying to medical school.
For alumna Margaret Nelson, ’13, Meredith’s program helped establish her path as a pharmacologist.
“Although I initially entered the program in hopes of pursuing a clinical career, I soon realized that I enjoyed biomedical research more,” said Nelson, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine. “I was able to volunteer in Dr. [Karthik] Aghoram's lab, which provided me with the basic skill set and laboratory techniques I needed to pursue a graduate career in research.”
Marritt is confident the program will continue to evolve as the demand for health-related pre-professional programs keeps climbing.
“That’s the important question – how much do we expand?” she said. “We’re at 30 students now and looking at 35 for next year. We started not long ago with 10. We would like it to keep growing, but we also want to be sure we’re getting the right applicants and providing the best possible experience for our students. It’s an ongoing – and exciting – conversation.”