First-year students discover medical careers in Prehealth Advising-led SP.252

”I’m not sure what I want to do, but I know I want a career where I can directly improve people’s health.“

These sentiments are what Prehealth Advising’s first-year discovery subject Careers in Medicine (CiS) SP.252 helps students explore and, over time, answer. The course is designed to expose first-year students to the variety of career paths one can have in medicine. The class also offers Prehealth Advising an opportunity to engage first-year students early and assist them in their career development. Like this quote from a student’s assignment, “When someone’s says ‘career in medicine,’ the first profession that comes to mind is a doctor,” we recognize that many students interested in STEM explore the idea of becoming a physician, yet over time consider other interests where they can also improve people’s health through conducting research, developing medical devices, or public policy. Careers in Medicine helps students explore these interests by hosting alumni and faculty guest speakers, facilitating a variety of career exploration activities like CliftonStrengths’ Assessment, and coordinating site visits to labs on campus. Kien Phuong’s reason’s for signing up for the class align with this goal perfectly stating “I signed up for Careers in Medicine because I want to discover more about possible career paths in medicine, whether becoming a MD, MD-PhD, MD-MBA or primarily research. I think the class will help me figure out if I actually will like becoming a physician or not.”

Akunna Rosser, Senior Assistant Director for Prehealth Advising, leading a discussion on Values & Career Planning

Thus far, the first-year students in Careers in Medicine have been able to hear current seniors and graduate students attending medical or graduate school and working in industry discuss why they chose their major and how they decided on their current career path. The students mentioned that it was helpful to hear from their peers – it not only lessened their concern with choosing the ‘right’ major, but they also received tips on navigating the MIT environment.

Jonathan Tagoe ’21, Reed Robinson ’22, Diane Zhang ’22, Javier Vila ’22, Atharv Oak ’21

The class also helps students understand that career success and satisfaction are directly linked to doing work that aligns with one’s values – accomplished through a fun activity called The Career Values Card Sort. For many of the students, this was their first time identifying what their core values are, and it is one of our office’s favorite activities. Kien also enjoyed this activity stating “the assessments are extremely helpful in confirming my values and strengths and revealing other aspects of a career I hadn’t considered.”

In addition to panels and career exploration activities, students have also had the opportunity to hear Dr. Shawn Ferullo, MIT’s Chief of Sports Medicine & Student Health, discuss his career path and passion for student health and family medicine. Dr. Sophie Chung ’14, general surgery resident conducting a year of research at Boston Medical Center, also recently visited the class, discussing her experience in medical school/residency and a career in surgery. The students enjoyed Dr. Sophie’s favorite memories of being a MIT undergrad, though videos of her fairly invasive surgeries had mixed reviews, confirming to a few students they may not be as comfortable with the human body as they assumed.

Our class also toured the Center for Clinical & Translational Research (CCTR), a state-of-the-art facility for conducting MIT’s translation and human research needs. Faculty and staff in CCTR exposed our students to the way medical interventions, like drugs and medical devices, progress from discovery and development to directly benefiting patients.

With roughly half the semester complete, the students in Careers in Medicine have learned a lot so far – they’ve learned about their own career values, career options in the medical field, and – probably most surprising for them – that a successful career path doesn’t have to be linear, and will instead involve a variety of twist and turns determined by our ever-changing values. We look forward to hearing more on this from our upcoming guest speakers below!

Gaudalupe Hayes-Mota ‘08, MS, MBA – A healthcare and biotech leader focused on expanding medical treatment to patients globally

Angela Koehler, PhD – MIT Associate Professor of Biological Engineering

Briana Stephenson ‘07, MPH, PHD – Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Dr. Sharmin Ghaznavi ’00, MD-PhD – Associate Director & Director of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Center for the Neuroscience of Psychedelics at MGH

Mariana Arcaya, PhD – MIT Assistant Professor of Urban Planning & Public Health

Dr. Giovanni Traverso, MD-PhD – MIT Assistant Profess of Mechanical Engineering; Associate Physician in Gastroenterology at Brigham Women’s Hospital

By Akunna Rosser
Akunna Rosser Senior Assistant Director, Prehealth Advising