Breaking Out of the Box
They say change begins when you step outside of your comfort zone. But let’s face it, comfort zones are nice. They’re familiar, safe and secure. They keep us calm and worry-free, enveloping us like a warm and cozy cocoon.
Sometimes, however, we realize that comfort zones have become boxes that we didn’t even realize we were in. Safe and secure boxes, but boxes nonetheless. At a place like Albright, where curious and creative students are encouraged to want more, question everything, challenge themselves in new ways and to never put limits on what they can do, we as administrators should know better than to slip into our own comfort zones—our own boxes.
Well, I’ve loved the box that I’ve been in as editor of this magazine for almost two decades. Getting to tell Albright’s story, and so many of your stories, through these pages, has been inspiring, gratifying and incredibly humbling as I’ve shared your words of achievement, adversity and accomplishment.
Nevertheless, it’s time I stepped outside of my comfort zone; time to break out of the box.
As you’ll see later in this issue, President Fetrow announced a leadership and administrative restructuring that will better enable the College to do the important work that lies ahead. As part of that restructuring, I am now thrilled to be leading the new Communications Division. So, while I’m not leaving Albright College, my new responsibilities mean breaking out of my editor’s box so that I can strategize new and exciting ways to tell Albright’s story. Is this new responsibility scary? YES! Is this new responsibility exciting? YES! Will I make a mistake or two along the way? Of course, and hopefully they will be small ones. Will I continue to love Albright and do everything I can to tell the Albright story in ways that will have an even greater impact? You bet!
Wishing you all joy and peace in the new year.
– Jennifer Post Stoudt
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THE LAST WORD
The Path with Many Turns: Careers in Health Sciences
“I want to be a doctor.” When prospective students are asked why they want to study biology at Albright, this is the typical response. There are variations on this theme, of course.
I have been teaching the introductory biology course for science majors since the fall of 1989. Over the past three decades, many things about entering science students have changed. Their preparation in the sciences, as evidenced by honors courses, Advanced Placement credits and dual-enrollment courses, has changed. Their use of technology and the many enrichment experiences they have encountered along the way have changed.
The one thing that hasn’t changed, however, is that many students discover early in the fall semester that it was their high school science teacher that they liked, rather than the subject itself! We all know Albright alumni who are successful in business, law or any number of other professions who started out as “premed” until they discovered an academic path that was more suited to their interests and abilities.
It might seem that the path for those who remain in the sciences, tackling the biology, chemistry and physics prerequisites for professional programs in medical fields would be relatively straightforward, at least in terms of the end goal. For these students, too, the choice of direction has become much more complex. When I joined the Health Sciences Advisory Committee, we worked with students who were applying almost exclusively to MD programs, dental school or veterinary school. While osteopathic medical programs leading to DO degrees were becoming more popular in the United States, the emphasis on osteopathic manipulative treatment in combination with traditional medical education yielded practitioners who were largely limited to primary care until the late 1970s, and so many premedical applicants were reluctant to apply.
With well over 100,000 practicing DOs in the United States today, in all general and specialized areas of medicine, we now have students who apply only to DO programs.
Developing a path following an unsuccessful application to professional programs has always been important for students who want to be more competitive applicants while reapplying. Today, pursuing programs beyond Albright before applying to professional programs helps some of our students become more competitive in a market that includes applicants with graduate education. PCOM opened its biomedical sciences master’s program in 1993. Many Albright students have participated in this and similar programs, which include course work as well as research opportunities. While some students find this their entry into clinical research, others have the opportunity to enter the professional program after only one year.
Clinical experience is an important component of these post-baccalaureate premedical programs. At Albright, we place an emphasis on helping students gain undergraduate clinical experience. Relationships with the Reading Health System (now Tower Health) and Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Medical Center provide medical externship programs, Scribe opportunities, and the ability to place Albright students in paid clinical nursing associate and phlebotomist positions, to enrich each student’s understanding of their potential place in clinical medicine. These experiences have allowed students to develop a better understanding of the role of many other medical professionals, including physical, occupational and respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners and genetic counselors. The growth of Physician Assistant programs in the U.S. has opened the door to even more possibilities. These two-year professional programs train our graduates for health care roles alongside physicians in a wide variety of venues, offering yet another possible path.
So when a student tells me, “I want to be a doctor,” I smile a little. I know it will be a challenge to follow this path, not just because of the demands of the course work, but also because of the ever expanding options they have yet to explore.
– Karen Campbell, Ph.D., Professor and P. Kenneth Nase, M.D. ’55 Chair of Biology