Johns Hopkins University
Fall/Winter 2007
Vol. 5, No. 1


A Conversation with Matthew Crenson '63

> A New Kind of Pre-Med

Freshman Book Discussion Yields Rich Insights

[Tech Tools] Museum World Tour 2007

[Tech Tools] A Melding of the Muses

[Classroom Encounters] Mass Media's Messages

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A New Kind of Pre-Med

One originally planned a career in music. Another spent two years in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan. A third arrived from Yale with a BS in mechanical engineering. Unlikely as it may sound, all three young adults decided to take a major career U-turn and enroll in medical school. To get there, they turned to the Krieger School's Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program.

Launched seven years ago by David Trabilsy, a former admissions dean at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the 14-month program gives each annual class of 25 to 30 students the science grounding they need-and more-to hit the ground running in medical school.

"What I wanted to do when I came to start the program was to develop a model for pre-med education," says Trabilsy. "It's worked out far beyond what I had dreamed."

Students begin in the summer, continue throughout an entire academic year, then wrap up at the end of the second summer. During the "glide" year that follows, when they are applying to medical schools, most complete a one-year fellowship or work in a lab. To date, all 99 who have completed the program have been accepted to medical school-most to top-tier institutions.

Those in the program take all their foundational science courses—biology, chemistry, physics—with other Hopkins undergrads. It's what happens beyond the classroom, says Trabilsy, that differentiates the Hopkins program from others throughout the country. Through medical tutorials with Hopkins medical faculty and independent research projects, post-bac students have an unparalleled opportunity to do bench science and participate in clinical research, he says. To date, more than 40 students have been cited in publications (on occasion as first author), poster presentations, patents, and grants. Many end up presenting their findings during the program's Student Research Symposium in the spring.

The fall semester also brings a Mini Medical School, a series of lectures given by faculty, mostly from the School of Medicine, that deal with issues of patient care and medical science. At the conclusion of the lectures, students break up into seminar groups led by a retired surgeon and then pair up to write papers based on what they've learned.

When the program first started in 2001, Trabilsy was seeing many applicants who were career changers-men and women in their late 20s and early 30s who were leaving lucrative professions in business and other fields. Lately the program has begun attracting more recent college graduates who want to move away from, or build upon, the field they majored in as undergraduates. Among the most popular majors of late: neuroscience, psychology, and business.

Whatever their backgrounds, says Trabilsy, "what they bring is a wide range of experiences and talents that have broadened the experience of medical school students in general, as well as the profession as a whole."