Another Diploma …

by Lorien E. Menhennett

When I started my post-baccalaureate program at Dominican University, it was a certificate-granting program. That’s not the reason I chose Dominican, though (a certificate is certainly not necessary for applying to med school). I don’t even think I would have completed the certificate because it required you to take classes I just didn’t have time for. But thanks to the hard work of our program director, Dr. Louis Scannicchio, as well as Dr. Hughes (she teaches Clinical Behavioral Medicine in the program), I now have the opportunity to earn not a certificate but an actual second degree.

It’s called a “Bachelor’s of Medical Science,” or BMS for short. As with the certificate program, there are some specific course requirements, but because I’m a second-year student and already have my courses set, Dr. Scannicchio has agreed to waive a couple of those requirements for me (and other current students, depending on GPA and other considerations such as additional courses you have taken). I met with Dr. Scannicchio this morning, filled out my paperwork, and submitted it to the registrar. The only major decision I had to make was how I wanted my name to appear on my diploma, which I will receive when I graduate in May of this year. I decided that because I’m a big fan of all three of my names, I’d display them all: Lorien Elisa Menhennett. Other than that, all I had to do was sign on about a dozen lines and hand the papers in.

So what will this degree do for me? Well, as with the certificate, it isn’t a make-or-break thing for applying to medical school. That said, having a second degree with both the words “medical” and “science” in it can’t hurt, and might give me a leg up in terms of applying for MD/PhD, given that most of those applicants have hard science degrees such as biology or chemistry. I’m also hoping that this degree will give me additional credibility when I apply for jobs during my “gap” year.

lab workerI am applying to medical school in June, and will (hopefully) have interviews during the fall and winter in order to matriculate in the fall of 2013. That leaves me with an empty year, which we in the non-traditional pre-medical community refer to as a “gap” or “glide” year. Some people take classes, some people work. I can’t really afford to take more classes, and I have rent to pay, so a job it is. Given that there are less than zero writing/editing jobs out there, and that’s the field I’m exiting, I’ve decided I want to work in a lab. I have looked on job search sites (mainly, which is my favorite, and seems to be the most comprehensive), and have found quite a few. Of course, I won’t be able to apply for jobs until the spring, but it’s nice knowing they seem to exist. I don’t need to make a lot of money; just enough to pay for my rent, car, insurance, groceries, and the various and sundry other items that come along. But with the economy the way it is, I’m guessing those jobs are pretty competitive to get. So having this “science” degree will, hopefully, lend some credence to my claims that I know my way around a pipette and PCR machine.

It’s kind of nice, really, to be “getting” something out of the two years (and tens of thousands of dollars) I’ll have spent at Dominican, something that aims to help me get into medical school and get a job. I know Dr. Scannicchio and Dr. Hughes put their hearts and souls into making this happen. So here is a shout-out “thank you!” to them.