Thursday, December 21, 2006
Pre-med students get hands-on opportunities at OUBy Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
On Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. to midnight, Tess Solanskey might witness anything from brain surgery to the life-saving heroics of doctors trying to save a shooting victim. And she’s not sitting in front of her television watching the latest medical drama. As a biology major intending to go on to medical school, Solanskey is participating in the Henry Ford Hospital Clinical Research Elective for undergraduate students. The course is just one of the many opportunities OU pre-med students have to help them become successful in the medical field.
“I always knew I wanted to do something with science. I got to college and decided to major in health science. It was very difficult and I considered going into something easier, but then I heard about the Henry Ford research program and I really wanted to do it. During my first shift at the hospital, I knew I wanted to be a doctor,” said Solanskey, who is also president of the Pre-Med Society. “So I changed my major to biology and I’m doing everything I can to bring awareness to students about the opportunities available to them.”
The Henry Ford Research Program is available to OU students interested in research and medicine. The two-semester program is worth four credits each semester. Students work with emergency room doctors who are collecting patient information for research projects. The students meet three times a month for lectures and to learn more about the research studies being conducted. Then, they work one day a week throughout the semester.
“You’re in the emergency room. You get to screen all of the patients that come in for the research. In the process you get to see cases in the trauma room, you get to see shooting victims, drug overdoses and childbirth. You’ll decide after the first day if you really want to go into medicine,” Solanskey said.
Solanskey was deterred from medicine because she thought it would be too difficult, but she has found a solid foundation through OU and support from her peers through the pre-med society.
Jennifer Hischme, CAS ’92, now works at a family practice office in the area. She knew she wanted to go to medical school and chose OU as the best route to her goal.
“I could save money by going to Oakland. I got a scholarship and I could stay at home. In addition, I had classes that gave me a great foundation for my career as a doctor,” said Hischme, who went on to medical school at Wayne State University. “My first year of medical school, there was nothing that was really brand new. I had already had a taste of most of the stuff as an undergraduate student.”
While Hischme wasn’t involved with the pre-med society, she was involved in a sorority and developed OU pride that she still has.
“When I went to OU, people still got it confused with Oakland Community College. Oakland University provides a very solid foundation for whatever you want to do next. I have three-year-old twins and they will go to Oakland,” Hischme said.
In the early 1990s, the pre-med society had a lot of members and was very active on campus. Within the last year, the group has reorganized and provides more events for students including volunteer opportunities, speakers and information on medical schools. This year, the group has already welcomed a number of speakers, including OU’s pre-med adviser Keith Berven, a Kaplan MCAT prep instructor and Ronny Otero, associate research director in Emergency Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital. Next semester, Solanskey hopes to have a pediatrician and current medical students come to future meetings to speak to students.
About 40-50 students participate in the pre-med society events throughout the semester. Students are all interested in going into medicine, though it varies from family practice to emergency medicine; some even have an interest in veterinary medicine.
“We want the pre-med students to feel more involved. We provide information on the MCAT, medical schools and even do volunteer work, which you need to have for med school applications,” Solanskey said.
Solanskey said students can also learn about on-campus research and lab opportunities.
“Students at Oakland have the rare opportunity to work in the lab right next to their professors. Some even have the chance to work on research papers and have their work published before graduation. Having a research background is always something you can fall back on,” Solanskey said.
One of her favorite parts of being a biology major: the cadavers.
“I hear only about eight to 10 schools in the country let their undergraduate students work on cadavers. It’s very humane and very respectful. But we get to do dissecting and really see and learn what the bodies look like inside,” Solanskey said. “It gives the Oakland student an edge, especially the first year in medical school.”
For more information on OU’s biology programs and pre-professional studies, visit the Department of Biological Sciences Web site. For more information or to get involved with the Pre-Med Society, contact Solanskey at email@example.com or call (248) 370-3554.