By Reagan Foster
Posted on: March 7, 2019
As the instructor of two University 401 pre-med sections, Eileen Korpita has the opportunity to teach some of the brightest and most driven students on campus. Over twenty years ago, Eileen proposed and began teaching a Transitioning to Medical School section of University 401 after realizing in her role as the university’s director of Pre-Professional Advising that students did not know what to expect when making the shift from an undergraduate college experience to the realities of medical school. Several years later, Eileen recognized a different need and created a second course, Preparing for Your Med School Application, to help students navigate the medical school application and interview processes.
University 401, Transitioning to Medical School, provides students with first-hand
information and perspectives from current medical students through in-class Q&A sessions.
Additionally, students hear from different types of physicians who talk about their
choice to practice medicine and details about their careers, perspectives the students
do not hear elsewhere in their pre-med curriculum and that deepen their understanding
of the career path they are working toward. The course also includes a lesson about
problem-based learning, a teaching method frequently used in medical schools, that
requires students to solve and diagnose a patient case. During the course, the class
even has a chance to go to the medical school anatomy lab and the simulation lab at
Palmetto Health Richland for hands-on activities. Eileen teaches this course alongside
physicians and faculty members from the medical school who she calls “the real experts.”
One of the things I love most about the class is the honest answers I get from the presenters and instructors about the world of medicine. Sometimes people will give you a surface answer to the tough questions about their careers, but that has not been the case with this class.
- Ryan McNutt, Former University 401 student
One of Eileen’s fall 2018 students, Ryan McNutt, took the course so he could gain a better understanding of the changes he would need to make moving forward into medical school. He wanted to be prepared for what medical school and the medical profession would be like, and this course answered many of his questions. “One of the things I love most about the class is the honest answers I get from the presenters and instructors about the world of medicine. Sometimes people will give you a surface answer to the tough questions about their careers, but that has not been the case with this class. I’ve heard the good and bad sides of the world of medicine and medical school. That honesty is very appreciated and refreshing to have.”
On course evaluations, students consistently agree that the Transitioning to Medical School course helped them feel more prepared for medical school and the medical profession. Students frequently reach out to Eileen after they have made it to their first year of medical school and express that, without the course, their transition would have been much more difficult and foreign. Several students even say it was one of their favorite college courses.
Eileen’s second University 401 class, Preparing for Your Med School Application, is
just as well-received by students. Using personality-type assessments, opportunities
for reflection, and a lot of discussion, students learn how to better present themselves
in a personal statement and during an interview. Eileen believes the class is successful
because it helps students reflect in ways they have not before. “Nobody teaches them
how to write a personal statement, so when it comes time to do that, many students
are stuck. The same goes for the interview. Most haven’t thought about the best way
to articulate their strengths and weaknesses or the specific reasons they want to
go to medical school. They need more than, ‘I like science and I want to help people.’
So we delve into those things. It’s a different experience for each student, because
they all have their own personal reasons and characteristics. We just try to uncover