On March 16th 2014, the TAGC (Telugu Association of Greater Chicago), in coordination with the Chicago Children’s Heart Association (CCHA), Tamil Sangam, Kannada Kuta and Balaji Temple hosted a seminar featuring four medical professionals. Including Parents, about eighty people attended the seminar – a great number – and most students were in high school, which showed our enthusiasm about entering the medical field. Keeping this in mind, each invitee discussed different aspects about applying to medical school and more generally – what the medical field is like.
Mr. Sakthi Palani kicked off the event with warm welcome, Karthik Sakthivel introduced Dr. Kyle Henderson, Havisha Pedamallu introduced Dr. Robert Gaffin, Yugan Sakthi introduced Dr. David Barefield and Simona Rachapalli introduced Dr. Bhargavi Nettem M.D.,
The first professor, Dr. Kyle K. Henderson, is on the interview committee for Midwestern University’s medical school admissions. Beginning his presentation, Dr. Henderson talked about the evolution of medicine from the pre-historic era until today. Personally, I found this to be very exciting. It took mankind 1500 years to develop medicine and another two thousand to understand the anatomy of the human body. Only five hundred years passed by to get to the medical technology we have today. Knowing that most of our modern technology has developed in only the last two hundred years gives perspective of the exponential growth of medical technologies.
Dr. Henderson continued to talk about the multitude of paths students can take in the medical field. Although a lot of us knew that healthcare is an emerging field, Dr. Henderson explained specifically why it is an emerging field and what we can do to take advantage of it. Because he was on the admissions board, he gave us pertinent advice when going for an interview or applying to medical school. His advice was very useful as we are beginning to apply to colleges and looking for our higher education.
The next speaker – Dr. Robert Gaffin from University of Illinois at Chicago – spoke from a different perspective. He has a very extensive background with research and talked a great deal about volunteering. He talked a lot about being very involved with your community because it shows that you do care about it, which is exactly what medicine requires you to have – a caring nature. One of the important things he talked about was not only volunteering in the community, but also volunteering in research projects and labs. Getting experience from a lab gives you an understanding about what happens in labs and whether or not you’d like to work in one. Going off of that, he began giving us the information that all of us wanted: the different programs medical students can take. At UIC, they offer GPPA, which is a guaranteed medical seat upon entering undergraduate college, and 5 or 8 year dual degree graduate programs. This information, especially the GPPA, gave us an insight on what to look for when applying to college.
The third speaker – Dr. David Barefield – works in Dr. Sadayappan’s lab at Loyola and he gave a lot of details about the MCAT 2015. Basically, the testing committee decided that the MCAT needs to be revised to more accurately predict a student’s success in medical school. The new test increased to 7.5 hours and includes a brand new sociology/psychology and biochemistry section. There are many more details that I won’t bore you with, but Dr. Barefield gave us a clear understanding of what the MCAT is going to be like when we take it. He also talked about applications for medical school and how to get letters of recommendation from professors. This, I thought, was the most useful to us as high school students. Not only is it necessary to have a letter of recommendation, it has to be good; and Dr. Barefield went through how to properly ask for a good letter.
Lastly, Dr. Bhargavi Nettem who is part of Executive Committee of TAGC and Physician and Director of Mohana Medical and Urgent Care, Chicago, IL shared her experiences with her ‘day in the life’ as a Doctor.
Then Dr. Sakthivel explained about CCHA and Thanked TAGC President Mr. Srinivas Pedamallu for initiating the event and all CCHA Volunteers Palani Sakthi, Jagadeesan Arumugam and their families and other volunteers for all the coordination. Srinivas Pedamallu, Varadheesh Chennakrishnan and Dr. Bhargavi Nettem felicitated our guests with the mementoes and then opened for panel discussion where several parents and students took opportunity to ask questions and get clarifications. TAGC Secretary Hari Raini and Youth Committee Chair Mrs. Vandana Reddy thanked all speakers and participants for making this event successful.
Generally, everyone came with the purpose of learning as much as they can about medicine as a career. While everyone was truly enthralled by the amount of information we received, a lot of us got the chance to speak with the professors directly – which I took advantage of. The seminar was a grand success and we all hope it’ll stay that way for the future.