Thursday, May 4, 2017

Student Leadership Advisory Board Spotlight: Lindsey Vu, UVA ‘19

What research have you been involved with at UVA?
Since my first year, I have been a research assistant in the Clore Emotions Lab with the UVA Psychology Department. Initially, I volunteered in the lab for a few months, to gauge whether or not I had a true interest in research. I soon learned to love everything about it – from waiting on the IRB’s approval, to putting in the hours of labor to conduct research procedures, and finally to performing the data analysis. Through this opportunity I discovered more about my academic interests and learned to effectively work with others towards a common purpose.

I am now also one of the research assistants for the Obstetrics and Neonatal Outcomes Study at the University of Virginia Medical Center. The ultimate goal of this project is to improve pregnancy outcomes for all women by creating a repository of maternal tissue samples linked to maternal and neonatal demographic and clinical information. In this lab, I process biological samples, handle electronic medical records, receive direct patient interaction, and obtain unique clinical experience in a hospital setting. It is a sweet deal, especially since I am considering Obstetrics & Gynecology!

How has joining a research team prepared you for a career in healthcare?
My involvement in research has greatly improved my communication skills. I have learned how to speak effectively to a broad population of patients. I also gained time management skills, since becoming invested in a research project is similar to adding another class to your schedule. My private investigator has also taught me many aspects of health care that cannot be learned from a textbook.

Why do you recommend this opportunity for other UVA undergraduates?
I encourage other undergrads to explore research opportunities, because in addition to further developing your communication, time management, and analytical skills, the project you undertake will have a large impact on the scientific community. While obtaining important interpersonal skills, you also have the opportunity to make a difference and improve our understanding of various processes related to the field of study. In addition, some majors at UVA (such as biology and psychology) allow you to conduct research for credit. I highly recommend doing so because research is a fun and interesting way to obtain credits towards your major.

How does one become involved in research?
The first step is to determine which area of research you would enjoy pursuing. Do your own research. Visit the department’s homepage, where you will find links to all faculty members, and read about the research being conducted at UVA. Once you have narrowed down your interest, create a generic email template containing an introduction of yourself, your interests, and your desire to meet with the faculty advisor to learn more about the project. You will have to send this email to several professors, and it may take time to finally receive a response. In my case, it took me a month before I received a response from Professor Clore, but don’t give up hope! Utilize the resources available through the Undergraduate Research Network including UNLEASH.

Do you plan on incorporating research in your future endeavors?
Yes, during my bridge year I hope to continue conducting clinical research to deepen my experiences and understandings of the medical field and health care. I am currently perusing possible research fellowship options abroad. The great thing about research is that your options are limitless because there is still much the scientific community does not understand. There are many unexplored frontiers.

Hello! My name is Lindsey Vu and I am one of the members-at-large on the Pre-Health Student Leadership Advisory Board. I am currently a third-year undergraduate pursuing a double major in Biology and Psychology on the pre-med track. I was inspired to pursue a medical career by the doctors who treated my ill grandfather when I was young. I saw how the physicians were not only able to treat his pain, but also to ameliorate our worries and concerns. This compassionate, humanistic side of medicine truly enticed me.

On Grounds, I have been involved in several service organizations such as Medical Services, Pet Pals, and Relay for Life. I have also held leadership positions with the Vietnamese Student Association and The BIG Event. However, being involved in research is what I have enjoyed the most throughout my time at UVA.

Student Leadership Advisory Board Spotlight: Pouya Pairo, UVA ‘17

Cape Town South Africa Summer Field School
Q: What is UVA in Cape Town South Africa Summer Field School?  
A: It’s a five-week summer program for students interested in public health and medicine. The field school fully immerses participants in a public health project from inception to completion. You will start with a preparatory project, which helps you understand the community and how to effectively interact with community members. As a music major, my preparatory project was to explore the role of music in our township! My teammates and I spent hours going door-to-door asking residents what types of music they listen to!

After presenting the preparatory project, you will be assigned your main project. There are students from many different academic backgrounds, so projects change every year based on the background of participants and needs of the community. Some projects are more pre-health focused and some are heavier on anthropology. I was part of a team of six undergraduate students working on social behavioral effects of chronic illnesses in the community. Our project required a public health and anthropological approach. I have engaged in public health projects in the past, but what made this program unique was the utilization of anthropology to help produce results for some core public health issues.

Q: How did you learn about this program?
A: During my Critical Public Health PHS2559.

Q: What made you decide to engage in this clinical opportunity?
A: I took a J-term course in critical public health. I was quite nervous both because it was my first public health course and a J-term course. The coursework was quite heavy, but within two weeks, I found myself fully engaged in the topic. Towards the end of the term, our instructor introduced the program, and I decided to take what I had learned to the next level.

Q: What did your experience in this position consist of? Can you describe a typical day?
A: A typical day would start with Xhosa lessons. Xhosa is the local language in our township, so we spend an hour everyday sharpening our language skills before going out to the community. Every project was led by a public health professional as project advisor and a local resident as translator. After mapping out the area and identifying our interviewees, we would go conduct our interview which would typically take about an hour. During each interview, we had two teammates ask questions and one take notes. After each interview, we would reconvene to reflect and discuss the quality of the interview. After an hour break around noon for lunch, we continued the interview and discussion cycle until 5pm.

Q: What distinguished this opportunity from other options you might have pursued?
A: I have always enjoyed public health, fieldwork, and in general community work, but I was always doubtful if I could do well abroad. This program helped me realized how much I enjoy fieldwork and community work. In the past, I feared language barrier and cultural differences might get in the way, but we are all part of human race and with some genuine mindfulness we can connect each other regardless of the language we speak or our cultural background. As result, I’m applying for Peace Corp after graduation.

Q: Why do you recommend this opportunity for other UVA grads?
A: The program has an extensive focus on health disparity and equity; this topic is also very significant in many communities here in the U.S. Therefore, for those who are planning to pursue a degree in health or work in underrepresented communities, this program is an invaluable experience. For those who are planning to pursue medicine, this program would help them to establish and maintain a stronger and more meaningful connection with their patients in the future.

Q: How did this experience help to prepare you for your next step?
A: First and foremost, this program helped me to expand my view towards health work in general. It enabled me to identify multi-layer issues around health disparity and choose an effective method of analysis for further studies. In a broader sense, this program made me a better observer, a better listener, and a better teammate, all of which are essential for my future fieldworks. It also helped me develop a greater sense of respect and appreciation towards different perspectives through hours and hours of fieldwork.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share?
A: Life starts at the end of your comfort zone, so never fear challenge but be prepared!  

Pouya Pairo is a 4th year transfer student in the College majoring in Music. He is the Vice President of Programs for Daniel Hale Williams and has served on the Pre-Health Student Leadership Advisory Board for two years. He is interested in public health and the osteopathic approach to medicine.

Post-Baccalaureate Medical/Surgical Assistant Opportunity

Are you looking to fill a gap year with direct, hands-on medical experience? Anne Arundel
Dermatology, P.A. offers a Post-Baccalaureate Medical program to prepare you for your career
as a future clinician. If you are interested in a career in medicine, we invite you to explore our

Anne Arundel Dermatology, P.A., has been serving patients in Anne Arundel County Maryland
and surrounding areas for over 40 years. Our longevity and growth in the area speaks volumes
for our outstanding corporate culture and vision as well as an exceptional professional
environment. We currently employ 55 of the area’s best clinicians, with 21+ clinical offices also
offering Clinical Cosmetic/Medical Aesthetics, a Mohs surgery center and a Dermatopathology
Lab. We have state of the art, fully integrated EMR and we employ the area’s best, top quality
administrative and clinical support staff. We offer flexible scheduling, great corporate culture,
competitive compensation and health benefits.

Anne Arundel Dermatology offers a paid post-baccalaureate program for graduates seeking
additional experience prior to entering medical school and physician assistant programs. Work
alongside the area’s leading Mohs Micrographic Surgeons to gain experience in direct patient
care. Responsibilities include performing basic medical assistant techniques such as obtaining
vitals, completing patient intake, assisting with biopsies, excisions and skin cancer surgery. Must
be a team player and like a busy work environment. Flexible schedule of at least 4 days per
week availability required.

The program is structured similar to a paid internship with opportunities for community outreach
to include Miles for Melanoma 5k, a Community Free Clinic, and Clinical Research

Job Details

  • No experience necessary, although Scribe experience a plus. Willing to train the right
  • candidate!
  • Competitive hourly rate
  • Some travel required with compensation or transportation provided.
  • 1-2 year commitment preferred

For more information, please submit your CV to Jeannie Sheehan, Manager of Physician
Recruitment at

Monday, May 1, 2017

Advice from Alums for Future Applicants

Pre Health Hoos who successfully gained admission to a health professional program during the 2016-17 application cycle offer reflections and tips for future applicants:

Preparation for the Health Professions
“Shadow different professionals in the health profession you are interested in!”
-Danielle Hester, UVA ‘17, Optometry

“Stay committed, don't get discouraged at initial setbacks, and reach out to upperclassmen and your physician mentors for advice.”
-Yash Maniar, UVA ’17, Medicine

“Take advantage of all the resources UVA has to offer, especially the pre-health advising office. Persistence and planning ahead of time will lead you to success in whatever field you choose!”
-Rachel Zaragoza, UVA ’15, Medicine

“It's a marathon, so get discouraged at the first obstacle! I had a C and C+ in hard science classes and still got in at multiple medical (MD and DO) schools. Also, I cannot understate the importance of playing the long game. Make a plan ASAP and follow through! Where are you going to shadow? What year will you take the MCAT? Gap year? Are my grades okay? Volunteering? Essays?  It sounds like a lot but once you beat some of it into shape (with a plan!) it becomes much more manageable bite sized steps.”
-Jack Hawkins, UVA ’17, Medicine

“Start getting involved with clinical activities early and build a mentorship team.”
-Kiera Sibbald, UVA ’14, Medicine

“Follow your dreams at UVA, even if it doesn't include a science major. Stay well rounded in the process and learn yourself in and out before applying!”
-Briana Brazile, UVA ’14, Dentistry

Application Process
“While it is important to get your application in as early as possible, do not be afraid to take some extra time to make your application/personal statement as polished as possible. Also, do not take any entrance exam (DAT, MCAT, OAT, etc.) unless you feel ready (usually indicated by a desire to get the test over with). It is okay to postpone your test and make use of the extra time to study.”
-Quang Do, UVA ’17, Dentistry

“Good GPA and test scores are important but having your individuality, enthusiasm and dedication to the field expressed through great recommendations and essays is what will make you shine among other applicants.”
-Adrienne Lewis, UVA ’17, Physical Therapy

“Do your research on schools ahead of time! Think about what area you'd be comfortable living in for the next few years of your life. Think about why you're applying to each specific school. That way, you will have points to bring up in an interview and also, so that you don't waste tons of money on applications that could go towards your education instead!”
-Ani Bournazian, UVA ’17, Occupational Therapy

“Medical school admissions committees want to learn more about who YOU are, not who you think they want you to be. I was surprised to find that many of the things talked about most in my interviews were what I saw to be relatively minor, such as my love for hiking or my involvement in musical theater. However, these are the things that best show who I am as a person and allow for a more personal connection. Celebrate what you love to do and what makes you unique; you'll be surprised how much these experiences will be helpful in building rapport and making you memorable. Your personal interests and passions will stick in the mind of an interviewer far better than another award or research project that they can already find in your application.”
-Jeremy Jones, UVA ’17, Medicine

“Be yourself and follow your heart during your applications. Show them how you have become academically, intellectually, and socially competent through your experiences. Also, start early and stay on top of everything - it will be a rough process!”
-Kevin Kim, UVA ’15, Medicine

“Don't worry about any one rejection - there are plenty of other schools!”
-Caroline Kerr, UVA ’17, MD/PhD