Hubbard Center hires new pre-med adviser

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Colleen McCracken, DePauw Unviersity's
new pre-med adviser at the Hubbard Center
for Student Engagement. 
COURTESY OF DEPAUW.EDU

After being in her new position at DePauw University for about three weeks, Colleen McCracken has her work cut out for her.

McCracken was hired as the Health Professions Adviser in the Hubbard Center for Student Engagement on Feb. 17.

She hopes to create programming and resources for those seeking careers in the medical field by the start of the next academic year.

McCracken previously worked for Indiana University, and she has a PhD in Exercise Physiology. She has taught fitness, physiology and kinesiology classes at the college level.

In her free time, she is a yoga instructor and is interested in wellness as a whole.

Prior to McCracken’s hiring, Ken Kirkpatrick was doing a lot of the pre-med advising. Students then sought additional help and advice from trusted professors, their academic advisers and whoever else they could get advice.

“There wasn’t one designated person doing all of that,” McCracken said.

She hopes to create specific programming for each type of medicine. This means that the pre-dental advising would look different than the pre-med advising. She wants to create a general timeline in which students should complete some of the core classes for post-graduate medical programs.

McCracken believes in DePauw students’ ability to get into some of the top programs in the nation when they graduate.

“[DePauw Students] are a special class of students,” McCracken said.

As a result, she wants to make getting into medical programs less of a guessing game.

“It’s about helping [students] be successful and streamlining the process,” McCracken said.

She will be taking some students to a health sciences fair at Indiana University this semester, and she is meeting with the medical fraternity, which currently has about 50 members, next week to find out what they think could better help students wishing to pursue a career in medicine.

So far, McCracken likes DePauw.

“There’s a very special DePauw connection that is unparalleled to any other institution,” McCracken said.

She said that having better pre-med programming does not undermine the basis of liberal arts. .

First-year John Sherers, an intended biology major who hopes to go to medical school, expressed the same sentiment.

“We can still have a liberal arts range of classes,” Sherers said. “We would just have a particular branch towards our end goal, but we’d still branch out into other subjects.”

Sophomore Aaron Mahoney also believes that there is not a disconnect between suggested pre-med courses and the idea of liberal arts.

“I think [having a health sciences adviser is] almost more necessary in a liberal arts school,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney, who is a philosophy major that intends to go to medical school, pointed to the fact that non-science majors apply and are accepted to medical school.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, for 2014 applicants, 41.1 percent were accepted, 40.3 percent of applicants that majored in biological sciences were accepted, 46.1 of applicants that majored in humanities were accepted, 46.5 of applicants that majored in math and statistics were accepted, 46.8 of applicants that majored in physical sciences were accepted, 40.9 of applicants that majored in social sciences were accepted and 34.5 of applicants that majored in specialized health sciences were accepted.

This data shows that the acceptance rate is nearly constant despite the major. However, according to the 2014 data, humanities majors scored higher on the MCAT than biological sciences majors in all categories.

Mahoney pointed to fellow pre-med seeking philosophy major, Kristina Mulry, ’14. Mulry is currently studying at Indiana University’s school of medicine.

 “We don’t necessarily need to have a pre-med program per se,” McCracken said.

Instead, McCracken wants to be there to help students find the resources that they need and to recommend additional things that students can do to increase their odds of being accepted to a graduate program.

“I’m just very excited to be here,” McCracken said. “I feel very very welcomed and very fortunate to be part of the Hubbard Center team.”