Franklin Berkey, a 1994 Penn State graduate, is now enrolled
in the University's Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program, designed for
academically talented, highly motivated college graduates who don't have
a science background. Berkey, whose degree is in communications,
is now enrolled in the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
After working as an emergency medical technician,
he discovered the medical profession was more to his liking.
Photo: Greg Grieco
By Bill Campbell
Special to Intercom
If you want to learn something about a career change, you might talk to Jim Rogozinski.
After more than 15 years as a teacher and principal, he's on his way to becoming a dentist -- thanks to Penn State's Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program.
"My decision to change careers had nothing to do with not liking education," said Rogozinski, who received a B.S. degree in education in 1976 and a master's degree in educational psychology in 1978, both at Penn State.
"I was looking forward to a new challenge. I felt that if I tried it and it didn't work out, I could go back to education. I wasn't sure what I was getting into and my first semester was the most difficult. But midway through the semester, I became confident that I could study with and compete with younger students."
He did so well on the Dental Admissions Test that he was admitted to the University of Pittsburgh Dental School while still in the post-baccalaureate program. "Being admitted on the condition that I complete the program was a great motivation for me."
The Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program was established in 1995 as a cooperative effort of the Eberly College of Science and the Division of Continuing and Distance Education. It is designed for academically talented, highly motivated college graduates who don't have a science background, but want to prepare for admission to medical, dental, optometry, podiatry, veterinary, physical therapy or allied health schools.
Students in the program can learn what they need to know to take the next step in their chosen field in as little as 15 months, depending on the schedule they choose. They may enroll as either a full-time or part-time student and attend either regular daytime or evening classes.
Of 14 recent graduates of the program, 13 have been admitted to health professional schools and one is on a waiting list for medical school.
"An almost 100 percent placement rate signifies that the program is successful," said Mildred Rodriguez, program coordinator. "That success can be attributed to the students themselves."
Since its inception, the program has attracted students with a wide range of undergraduate backgrounds, including pre-law, music, psychology, parks and recreation, finance, political science, engineering, nursing, dance and classics.
Franklin Berkey, a 1994 Penn State graduate, was headed toward a career in communications after joining the College of Communications as publications coordinator and writer-editor in 1995. Berkey, who as an undergraduate worked as an emergency medical technician, took one of the required courses in the post-baccalaureate program and then decided to enroll full-time.
"After graduating from Penn State, I began to realize I had a greater interest in medicine and wanted to make it my full-time interest rather than part-time," Berkey said.
Berkey, who will begin classes this month at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, plans to focus on primary and family care and hopes to open a rural practice in the State College area.
Penn State's program consists of 38 credits of prerequisite science courses -- general biology, general chemistry, physics and organic chemistry, all including labs -- that can be completed in two semesters and two summer sessions, or in four semesters.
Also available are courses in medical ethics, health policy administration, biochemistry, physiology, immunology, anatomy, and small seminar classes in consequences of science and in medicine and society.
"The program has generated a lot of interest and there is a need for it," Rodriguez said. "A growing number of people are considering a career change. And the health professional schools are accepting more non-traditional students. Students who change careers to come into medicine are more mature and tend to be more motivated."
Jennifer Shaulinski, a 1995 Penn State graduate with a B. A. from the College of Arts and Architecture, had planned a career as a medical illustrator before making a change.
"I knew that I needed a master's degree to pursue a career in that field," she said. "While l was preparing to apply to graduate school, I started volunteering at the University of Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital and began working in the emergency department. I then made my decision to go into medicine and enrolled in the post-baccalaureate program."
Shaulinski, who completed the program with a 4.0 grade point average, was accepted by three medical schools and began classes Aug. 10 at the University of Rochester.
"I found the program to be very book-intensive in a very short time period," Berkey said. "But the program coordinators were very helpful, providing advising and academic support to help make you successful. It was difficult for me to make a career change, but I'm looking forward to medical school."
"I would give a high recommendation to the post-baccalaureate program for anyone wanting to change careers," added Rogozinski, who is now in his second year of dental school. "It certainly worked for me."
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