Volume 42, Number
IN THIS ISSUE
Careers Beyond Medicine
Conversation with the President
Time for Questions
the Iowa Web
Ask The University of Iowa's first-year students this fall
about what their intended careers and it won't take long before
one answers, "I'm in premed."
Hundreds of students come to campus knowing that they're interested
in medicine and science. At the other end of four years, fewer
than 130 will be accepted into the College of Medicine. Of course,
students apply and are accepted in other schools, too. But many
of those entering students will decide on alternative careers
during their time at Iowa.
"Usually when a student wants to go into medicine, we talk
about their interests-what prompted them to select this career,"
says Charles Hauck, who with Anne Frankel advises freshmen considering
medical careers. Hauck and Frankel are advisers in the Academic
"We have a chart here that shows other careers," he
says. "Basically, it divides them into preprofessional track
and other careers that do not require as much advanced training,
such as podiatry.
"The College of Medicine has two undergraduate majors, Clinical
Laboratory Science and Nuclear Medicine Technology, and we discuss
those possibilities, too," Hauck says. "While these
majors have limited enrollment, in my experience, solid students
can get in."
Outside of medicine, Hauck describes biology, biochemistry, chemistry,
and other possible related careers. Biomedical engineering is
a possibility. Biomedical engineers work directly with physicians
and nurses, helping to build the equipment or measurement devices
or prostheses that physicians need for their patients. It is
a very rigorous major that may take up to five years to complete,
"I usually refer students to Career Development Services
for help with career-related questions in any major they're interested
in," he says. Career Development Services specializes in
helping students select not only an interesting career, but also
internships or job-shadowing opportunities that can help students
confirm that they're on the right track early in their academic
careers. Volunteer work also serves that purpose, he notes.
Nursing, dentistry, and pharmacy are popular with students. Nursing
offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, while pharmacy begins
in sophomore year and ends five years later with a Pharm.D. degree.
Dentistry is a graduate program.
"In all these discussions we're trying to see how firm their
premedical goal is, and make sure they know that other options
exist," Hauck says.
"One thing I always tell them is not to choose an undergraduate
major because they think it will help them get into medical school,"
he says. "If you're not really interested in your major,
it might not work out academically. Medical admissions officers
look at academic performance, scores on the Medical College Admission
Test (MCAT), and achievements in extracurricular activities,
as well as indications of who this student is. They don't concentrate
on what major the student chose."
Some students apply for admission to the College of Medicine
and don't get in. They may wind up discussing their future with
Tom Taylor, who directs admissions for the College of Medicine.
Students who are not accepted have the right to an interview
with him, and during that interview he tries to help them redirect
"I try to help them decide if they should fine-tune their
application a bit and try again," Taylor says. "If
not, we have a general discussion of why they applied for medical
school in the first place. We look at their skills and interests.
For example, a student primarily interested in science of medicine
might be advised to look at the Ph.D. programs in basic sciences,
with an eye on a research career. Someone who generally wants
to care for others might look at social work, counseling, or
"And those who just want to make money I send to the College
of Business Administration, where they should have been all along!"
"It's very individual. We help them focus on their abilities
so they can go out and find a satisfying career. We never know
if they succeeded or not."
The College of Medicine also has two popular graduate programs
other than the traditional M.D. degree: the physician assistant
program and physical therapy. Both are ranked among the best
programs in the United States in their fields, both are very
popular with students-and both are just about as difficult to
get into as medical school.
By Anne Tanner