Andrea Marritt, associate professor of biological sciences, has joined Meredith as director of the pre-health post-baccalaureate program, a one-year graduate certificate program for men and women who may need more science work or required prerequisite courses for medical school. It’s one of only two such programs in North Carolina.
“We help students gain the prerequisites for any post-medical field,” Marritt said.
It’s an individualized, full-time program designed for each student that includes 75 hours of clinical and service work. Some students shadow a physician or dentist. Others volunteer at health clinics. Last year, some of the students offered CPR certification courses for Meredith students, faculty, and staff.
“It’s very competitive. We have tons of applicants,” Marritt said. “[Students] from all over want to come to school here. We are pre-health not pre-med so we can attract all health students.”
Meredith graduated its first cohort of nine students last spring. Those who applied have had 100 percent acceptance into medical schools or Ph.D. programs.
“They’ve done very, very well,” said Marritt.
There are 19 in this year’s cohort, and numbers will grow as large as 30 students for the third cohort late this year.
One of the graduates of this first cohort is Alex Foster, who majored in sociology as an undergraduate student but decided later to become a physician. He needed to complete several science courses that he never took as an undergraduate student. Foster came from Alaska to spend a year in Meredith’s pre-health program.
“I just felt that Meredith would give me the opportunity to apply where I wanted and I’m now in my top choice [of medical schools],” Foster said.
Foster is in his first year of medical school at the University of Washington’s medical program in the satellite location in Anchorage, Alaska. It’s a program where medical students from four underserved states study and train in their home state with the hope they’ll remain there to practice later. Foster hopes to become either a cardiologist or an orthopedic surgeon and remain in Alaska.
“The courses I took at Meredith are comparable [to my medical school classes],” he said. “I’m a good student this year because of the work I did at Meredith.”
Before applying to the post-bac program, Foster first applied to 30 medical schools and didn’t get accepted. While in Meredith’s pre-health program he applied again, this time to 15 schools, and was accepted to all three of his top choices.
“As competitive as getting into medical school is, the [pre-health] post-bac is a feather in your cap,” Foster said. “You show your seriousness [by completing the program]. The post-bac is typically for the student who comes from a nontraditional background but is still willing to put in the effort.”
According to Marritt, the pre-health program has been created out of many classes already offered at Meredith.
“We’re using the resources we already have but are able to help different students,” she said. “It is in incredible demand at the moment. We can serve a whole new group of students without changing what we were already doing. We’ve had a very high caliber of students coming in.”
— Adapted from Preparing Students for a Changing World in the spring 2014 edition of Meredith Magazine