PC grads accepted into competitive UK medical school program

Morgan Sydnor, a 2016 graduate of PCHS, and Molly Burgemeir, a 2017 grad, have been selected to participate in the Early Assurance Program [EAP] at UK’s College of Medicine. This program, built in cooperation with 10 schools across the state, allows for sophomore college students who are focusing on pre-med studies and who demonstrate the qualities of compassion, academic excellence, and professionalism to be assured a position in the College of Medicine upon graduation from a pre-med program. Few positions are allotted to each participating colleges and universities.
    According to Dr. Steven Haist, Associate Dean of UK College of Medicine on the NKU Campus, the program is geared toward college sophomores who are planning to attend medical school. The program is in its second year, and UK has partnered with 10 schools in the state to allow pre-med students a chance of being guaranteed acceptance into UK Medical School upon their graduation. The guarantee does have strings, of course.
    “To get in, students have to have a composite ACT of 26 or above or an equivalent SAT,” he explained. “During their freshman and sophomore years, they have to have completed two biology courses with labs, three chemistry courses with labs, and two English courses. They also have to maintain a 3.6 or higher overall GPA, and that includes a 3.6 or higher in science classes, as well.”
    The prospective students also have to complete an interview process. Each of the 10 participating colleges--Asbury, Bellarmine, Berea, Centre, EKU, Georgetown, NKU, Thomas More, Transylvania, and University of the Cumberlands-- have two positions allocated.
    The benefit is that the students who maintain their ends of the bargain are assured admittance upon graduation. Another benefit is that they receive coaching for the MCAT, the medical school admittance test.
    Those who complete the EAP will be admitted to the four-year medical school that will be opened on the NKU campus Fall 2019.
    Sydnor, a junior, at NKU, is in her second year of the program. Since her freshman year of high school, she has known that she wanted to go into the health field. She first focused on nursing; however, she later decided to work toward becoming a physician.
    She credits her high school experiences--teachers and the dual credit classes at PHS--for helping her set her goals. According to Sydnor, these factors also had a large role in her ability to gain the position in the EAP.  
    “My teachers said, ‘Go big. College is for you.’
    “With the AP and dual credit courses, I learned how to study like I have to in college. I had to learn to juggle soccer, extra-curriculars, and work, and still get my homework done. I learned to work by a calendar. Doing that in high school gave me the discipline I needed to make college studying work.”
    Her plan at this time is to go into family practice or pediatrics.
    “The EAP gave me some background in the different possibilities. I’ve shadowed in family practice and in pediatrics. I have also volunteered at Children’s Hospital and at St. Elizabeth’s NICU.
    “The program emphasizes that we have a family practice deficit in Northern Kentucky. It is a lower-end paying field, but I like it because it has the most impact on the community. You can help your neighbors--the people you know--more.”
    Burgemeir, a sophomore at NKU, was accepted into the program this year. She will start full-force in the summer. She is looking at the specialty of dermatology, but she is also examining the branches of pediatrics or family care.
    “I’ve known since I was a sophomore in high school that I wanted to be a physician,” she shares. “Mom and Dad held me to a high standard, and that played a role in my decision.”
    Burgemeir also credits her high school experience as a catalyst for her successful admittance into the program.
    “When I graduated from PHS, I had 27 college credit hours. I felt prepared because I knew the best study methods for college, and I knew I couldn’t procrastinate when it came to homework.”
    Burgemeir also carried a load of extracurriculars, and she had to learn to work around that to be successful in high school. She admits that she still felt unprepared for college study life, however, when she walked onto NKU’s campus. “I wasn’t really prepared for the three or four hours a day of schoolwork outside of school.”
    Both young ladies are encouraged by the layout of the EAP, however, and while it is demanding, they find it to be worth it.
    “I’m guaranteed admittance,” Burgemeir states, understanding the competitive nature of the admittance process of any medical school. She is also aware of less obvious benefits. “We have small classes--around 15 students. We can form relationships with teachers that we couldn’t in the larger settings we would encounter outside the program. And the MCAT prep class is a huge benefit.”
    Sydnor agrees. “While there is more stress on me to succeed, the program alleviates stress, as well. The program is set up to help you out, and while we have to do more, there is more room for error.”
    Sydnor has also had a year of shadowing experiences that were set up through the program to experience the world of medicine outside the classroom. “We are in an area that is bringing about and discovering medical innovations here. This area is exploding with career possibilities in the medical field.”
    As excited as the girls are about their admittance into the program, Dr. Haist appears to be just as excited to watch their progress. “Both look like they have excellent college careers,” he says. “And I know that NKU thinks a lot of them.