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Pathways to the Medical Profession

March 30, 2015
Biochemistry alumni, Petar Golijanin ’13 and Dave Daniels ’13 offered some valuable advice for current Merrimack students looking to enter the medical field.

Dr. Charlotte Berkes and Dr. Jimmy Franco hosted “Pathways to the Medical Profession” for current students interested in pursuing a career in the medical industry.

Two recent Merrimack graduates, Petar Golijanin and Dave Daniels of the Class of 2013, attended the event to offer their advice. Petar has been studying for the MCAT tirelessly while also gaining professional experience for the past two years and was recently accepted to Dartmouth Medical School. Dave has also been studying and working hard for the past two years. Having recently passed his MCAT exam, he is currently applying to medical schools. The two shared many stories of their journey the past two years and great advice for current students to walk away with. Here’s some helpful information for those interested in the medical profession, courtesy of Petar, Dave, Dr. Berkes, and Dr. Franco:

  1. You don’t need to be a science/health sciences major in order to be qualified for medical school. Dr. Berkes shared that only about half of all matriculated students in medical school were a biology major as an undergraduate. The other half were of various liberal arts majors, such as english, psychology, etc. Don’t feel discouraged or under qualified! The difference in admittance per major is likely because…

  1. Reading comprehension is imperative when taking the MCAT. English majors and other liberal arts programs emphasize reading comprehension and writing throughout the student’s collegiate experience, which will certainly assist them during the MCAT. During the verbal test, Dave noted that your reading speed will help your efficiency on the exam. The faster you can read and comprehend, the more time you have for answering questions. Petar noted that this is especially important for international students to remember, suggesting to work on their English language vocabulary while studying as well.

  1. The intangibles of your undergraduate career- and beyond!- are just as important as your transcript. By intangibles, they meant your co-curricular involvement. Getting involved on campus isn’t just a way to have a well-rounded college experience. When you’re applying for medical school, they look to see what your skills are other than what you learned in the classroom. They want to know what your passion is. Show them! Petar emphasized being involved in a select few organizations deeply. Instead of joining five or six different organizations per year, immerse yourself into two or three- whatever your schedule can work with. Once you graduate, it is important to continue being involved. This will then take the form of a job once you’ve left the college. Gaining professional experience in the field and making network connections helped Dave and Petar get ready for medical school, in regards to their knowledge of the field as well as their personal readiness to take the next step.

  1. Studying for the MCAT is similar to the work you put in for college. The only difference is that you don’t have a professor guiding you through the course and motivating you when you’re struggling– it’s all on you! Fortunately, through becoming involved in research or in other ways in your department, you build close relationships with various faculty in your department. Utilizing these connections was very helpful for Petar and Dave throughout their time studying.

Overall, the message Dr. Berkes, Dr. Franco, Dave, and Petar wanted to send was that it is certainly not easy to enter the medical field, but with persistence and lots of effort, almost all aspiring medical students are capable of success. Encouraging thoughts for the twenty students that were in the room!

If medical school may be in your future, talk to Dr. Berkes (Merrimack’s Pre-Med advisor) and visit


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