Two Bellarmine pre-med students will begin their junior year next month knowing they have an assured spot in the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Annabel Moore, a biology major, and Josh Finerty, a biology major with a minor in biochemistry, have been accepted into UK’s Early Assurance Program (EAP) at its Northern Kentucky campus.
“I was thrilled!” Annabel said. “I kept searching around the school for the letter because I thought they would send it to the mailboxes here. Then I got a call from my mom saying they had gotten an acceptance letter for me. I freaked out!”
“Annabel actually texted me the day that we got [our acceptance letters] and said it was at her parents’ house,” Josh said. “I immediately called my parents and they said they had something for me.”
The UK College of Medicine EAP offers pre-med students the opportunity at the end of their sophomore year to apply for assured admission to the Northern Kentucky campus. EAP students must continue to maintain at least a 3.5 GPA, score at the 65th percentile on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), get a good letter of evaluation from the Bellarmine Pre-Med Advisory Committee, apply to med school by Aug. 1 after their junior year and have a successful interview.
While this is still a daunting set of tasks, EAP students benefit from knowing they already have a spot reserved. Many students with higher GPAs or MCAT scores will not be admitted. Annabel and Josh are two of just 12 EAP students accepted into the 2020 entering class at the UK Northern Kentucky campus.
Bellarmine is one of only 10 schools participating in the Early Assurance Program. Dr. Carol Elam, associate dean of Admissions and Institutional Advancement at the UK College of Medicine, said she contacted Dr. David Porta, chairman of Bellarmine’s Pre-Med Advisory Committee, about the program because Bellarmine graduates who have attended the UK College of Medicine have been well-prepared academically and demonstrated leadership as well as commitment to community and service to others.
According to Dr. Porta, Bellarmine is one of only eight schools in the nation offering pre-med students the opportunity to practice in a gross anatomy lab dissecting human cadavers and take advanced courses like gross anatomy, histology and neuroscience. That and its well-rounded liberal arts curriculum were some of the reasons Bellarmine was chosen, he said.
The EAP was also seeking prospective medical students who would be interested in one day practicing in northern or north-central Kentucky.
“That’s the whole point of this program and satellite campus they have put together,” Dr. Porta said. “They want to find physicians for these underserved areas. The thought is if you find people from that area and they go to medical school near that area they’re more likely to practice in that area.”
“In developing our regional campuses, the University of Kentucky College of Medicine is demonstrating its commitment to care for the Commonwealth,” Dr. Elam said. “We are expanding the number of students and physicians we are educating annually and we are actively encouraging students to establish their medical practices in Kentucky when they complete their medical training to care for our citizens.”
Annabel is originally from Owensboro, and while she loves living in Louisville, she said she wouldn’t mind getting back to her roots after graduation.
“A lot of kids will become doctors and decide they want to leave and go somewhere like California,” Annabel said. “We need more doctors in Kentucky in general, and by committing to this program we’re also committing to staying in Kentucky. I would eventually want to come back to where my parents are and where I’m from anyway … That’s a big thing that drew me to the program: I know that is what they want and it’s what I want too. It’s a good fit.”
Josh, a native Louisvillian who grew up in Valley Station and attended St. Xavier High School, said his family was one of the major driving forces behind his interest in the program. His aunt works for St. Elizabeth Hospital, the partner hospital for the EAP, and his uncle works for Boston Scientific in Cincinnati, just across the bridge from the program’s target area. After talking with them about their experience in the area, he was more than ready to apply for the program.
Josh was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes when he was 15, which sparked his interest in the medical field. “I want to make an impact similar to what doctors have had on me in the past … I’m not with them every day; I’m with them once or twice a year, maybe once in my lifetime, and the way they can have the perfect mixture of personal interest and knowledge that just pours on me helps me be a better person. I just want to take what they’ve done for me and do that for someone someday.”
While Annabel and Josh are unsure what fields of medicine they would like to enter, they are eager to enter this program and learn where their passion lies.
“I feel like everyone says, ‘I want to help people’ as a doctor, that’s just the general response,” Annabel said. “I don’t know really what else you would want to do and obviously that is everyone’s goal when they go into this profession, but I just think that the ever-changing environment is a really good thing to be a part of. Even if you don’t discover anything or show people something new, the advice you give to people is still helpful.”
As a part of the EAP, Annabel and Josh will have the opportunity to job shadow in these underserved areas, giving them a taste of what to expect from the program. In addition, they will participate in boot camps and workshops with UK during their undergraduate career that will further prepare them to enter medical school after graduation.
“I think this is a huge honor,” Dr. Porta said. “It’s so tough to get into medical school to begin with, and to be able to get this slot at the end of your sophomore year is great.”
Story and photos by Emily Gahafer ’17