Alternatives to the scalpel and stethoscope

Not all aspiring health professionals who slog up Science Hill three times a week opt to attend medical school after Yale.

In an effort to provide these Yalies with as much guidance as their pre-med peers, Undergraduate Career Services hosted its fourth annual New England Health Professions Career Fair Thursday at the Omni Hotel. Students had the chance to speak with representatives from 70 graduate schools and programs — including public health, veterinary medicine and dentistry — during the three-hour event. The fair, which Yale sponsored along with 15 other colleges, is the largest of its kind in the country.

“We put [the fair] together so students could have an overview of all health professions,” Edward Miller, director of the health professions division of UCS, said. “There’s a lot more out there than being a doctor.”

While approximately 95 percent of the undergraduates Miller’s office advises say they want to go into traditional M.D. programs, that number usually falls to around 30 percent after their first consultation with him because many students opt for Ph.D. and dual-degree programs instead, Miller said.

“They only say they want [an M.D.] because that’s all they know,” Miller said.

While many students in attendance said they were interested in attending medical school, the event also included representatives from two veterinary schools, three dental schools and six nursing schools.

Yale and other Ivy League schools historically do not send many graduates to dentistry school, but this trend could change during the next few years, said Edward Thibodeau, assistant dean of admissions at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine.

“There’s going to be a shift, even within the Ivies, of people considering dentistry as an alternative to medical school,” he said. “Dentistry is coming through as one of the few professions that allows balance in your life.”

Still, Thibodeau said dentistry school applicants must exhibit the same fundamental priorities as medical school applicants.

“We are looking for someone with a commitment to science and service,” he said.

Though not statistically the most popular choice, some Yale students also pursue careers in veterinary medicine. LaTasha Crawford ’02, currently a third-year student in a V.M.D.-Ph.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, said a career as a veterinarian ultimately seemed more appealing to her than being a physician.

“Once I looked into it more and saw how vast the field is and all of the clinical research opportunities, I was convinced,” she said.

Brandy Johnson, a senior at Mount Holyoke College who attended the fair, said nursing appeals to her more than being a physician.

“I like nursing because it is caring for the family and the community, and not just the disease,” she said.

Seven percent of Yale’s Class of 2004 are currently enrolled in medical schools, according to the Office of Institutional Research. The office did not have statistics detailing the number of students enrolled in veterinary, dental or other public health programs.

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