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North Central College students prepare for careers in health sciences and medicine

Rebecca Kirk
North Central pre-health students receive preparation in academics, research opportunities, field experiences, personal counseling and placement assistance.

Oct. 19, 2011—At North Central College, pre-health students get a full dose of preparation: academics, research opportunities, field experiences, personal counseling and placement assistance.

Rebecca Kirk, a junior with majors in biochemistry and psychology, has had her heart set on becoming a doctor for as long as she can remember. “I’ve wanted to become a pediatrician since the day I was born,” she says.

North Central College honors J. Charles Eldridge with Outstanding Alumni Award

North Central College is honoring J. Charles Eldridge of Wake Forest, N.C., with a 2011 Outstanding Alumni Award.

This is the third of five weekly installments profiling individuals who will receive Alumni Awards & Recognition on Nov. 11 during North Central College’s Sesquicentennial Homecoming Celebration.

Oct. 18, 2011—North Central College is honoring J. Charles Eldridge of Wake Forest, N.C., with a 2011 Outstanding Alumni Award.

Dr. Rob Hoffert

Dr. Rob Hoffert graduated from North Central College with a degree in biology. He went on to earn a doctorate of optometry from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. He’s an optometrist with the Brenart Eye Clinic in Yorkville, where he worked part time as a lab technician throughout college.

“North Central was great because of its small class sizes,” Rob says. “I connected with many of the professors.” Two professors wrote him recommendation letters for graduate schools.

“Graduate schools really like applicants with liberal arts degrees,” he says. “They want a well-rounded candidate who is diversified in many different areas. Something has to set you apart from the thousands of other applicants. A lot of the larger schools put students on a fast-track through pre-med, where competition usually ensues and all of their classes are in the same area. To become a doctor, you must not only be good in the sciences, but you must also be good dealing with people. A liberal arts college like North Central gets you both.”

Britni Miller

When Britni Miller was considering veterinary schools, she noticed they gave “great consideration” to her application showing her as a North Central College graduate. “They know that we have a high quality education and have invested the time, effort and work that is required to succeed in medical school,” she says.

Britni says the opportunity to conduct research at North Central “gave me great experience for applying to veterinary school, and I have since used the knowledge and skills I gained from my research experience in my veterinary internships.”

Her decision to major in biology prepared her for entry into the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, she says.

“A lot of prospective students who plan on attending veterinary school question whether they should major in animal science or biology,” Britni says. “After my experience, I would recommend majoring in biology. By doing so, you gain a strong biological knowledge, which is the foundation of medicine.”

Alicia Carlson

Alicia Carlson works as a physician assistant for Dr. Jesse Butler’s practice, Spine Consultants LLC, based in Park Ridge, IL. She earned her bachelor’s degree in athletic training at North Central, then graduated from Midwestern University with a master’s degree in physician assistant studies.

Alicia says. “A liberal arts degree tends to give a more well-rounded educational experience. I truly believe that schools seriously look at those intricate details and differences.”

As a physician assistant, Alicia first-assists Dr. Butler in surgery, schedules all surgeries and procedures, coordinates post-operative care of the patients while in the hospital, sees patients in conjunction with Dr. Butler and independently when he is out of town, performs in-office procedures and injections, and writes orders and prescriptions and refills requests for patients. She has close correspondence with physical therapists, pain management specialists and primary care physicians to aide in the best patient care.

Erin McElheny

Erin McElheny earned her bachelor’s degree at North Central College and completed her doctor of physical therapy (D.P.T.) degree at Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL. She’s a physical therapist at TheraCORE in Lockport.

As an undergraduate at North Central, Erin learned the importance of good communication skills.

“Having those skills gave me an edge when it came to the interview process for physical therapy school,” Erin says. “Establishing rapport with people is a skill that someone working in the healthcare industry should master.”

During her senior year at North Central, Erin worked in physical therapy clinics and completed independent study courses that met prerequisites for admission to graduate school.

“The classes in North Central’s curriculum really prepared me for the classes I took in graduate school,” she says. “The smaller class sizes at North Central allowed me to get to know my professors and my classmates.”

Chris Allen

Chris Allen has set his sights on a career in pharmacy and knows that North Central College is providing him with a great learning environment and opportunities to prepare for his future.

“It’s a small school,” Chris says. “I figured I would do best here because I would be able to interact with professors.”

During his junior year Chris gained hands-on experience at Naperville’s Martin Avenue Pharmacy, one of the few remaining compounding pharmacies, where pharmacists make custom medications for patrons on-site.

During the summer between his sophomore and junior years, Chris volunteered to assist chemistry professor Jeff Bjorklund with research that was presented at the College’s Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research.

Chris also served as treasurer for the Black Student Association, the Pre-Health Organization and Chemistry Club. He spends summers with North Central’s Premier Scholars program as a Premier Team Leader.

“All the experiences I’ve had are helping me transition into my career,” Chris says.

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