By Nancy J. Brandwein
The Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program–Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S) linkage program reached a milestone this year with the enrollment of the 50th linkage student at P&S since the agreement was established five years ago. One of 13 linkage programs through which Columbia’s Postbac Premed Program students can forgo the traditional application year, “P&S is by far the largest we have in terms of students who apply and who are accepted each year,” says Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Victoria Rosner.
Rosner attributes this success to the great fit with the Postbac Premed Program student profile, saying, “We recruit students with life experience, students with a strong sense of personal commitment to the practice of medicine, students who are interested in working with underserved populations, and those are exactly the kind of mature, diverse, self-directed students that P&S is interested in recruiting.”
One such student is Emma Marquez ’15PBPM. While an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, Marquez designed her own women’s health research project. After graduation, she went on to work for an NGO doing cervical cancer research, and she eventually landed a position at Columbia Medical Center. She says, “I love the hospital. I love the staff. I loved the patient population. When it came time to apply through linkage, there was no question.” There was no question, either, for Reuben Heyman-Kantor ’15PBPM, a former associate producer for 60 Minutes, who left journalism for medicine to make a direct impact on people’s lives. Heyman-Kantor says P&S’s commitment to the underserved was inspiring and is evident in its choice of Dr. Stephen Nicholas for Associate Dean of Admissions. A pioneer in the care of HIV-infected children, Nicholas was a strong advocate for the medically underserved in Harlem and Washington Heights. “Putting a man like that in charge of admissions says a lot about the type of doctors they want to produce,” says Heyman-Kantor.
“We recruit students with life experience, students with a strong sense of personal commitment to the practice of medicine, students who are interested in working with underserved populations, and those are exactly the kind of mature, diverse, self-directed students that P&S is interested in recruiting.”
--Victoria Rosner, Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Rosner says another draw to P&S is its belief that doctors should be well-rounded individuals, which is made possible through a “really robust extracurricular organization, the P&S Club.” The Club is an array of over 70 activities—from sports teams and professional groups to theater and cultural programs. Claire Tobias ’12PBPM, who entered P&S through the linkage program and will graduate in 2016 says, “P&S focuses on you as an individual, not just on your GPA.” Tobias has been active in the Bard Hall Players and MCJA, the Medical College Jewish Association. She admitted she is loath to leave P&S and said the school “gave me the opportunity to do other things and build a community here.”
The fact that students like Tobias are happy socially and academically at P&S is certainly no accident. The Postbac Premed Program’s strength and its advisors’ astuteness about P&S’s requirements ensure the Columbia P&S linkage program will continue to deliver successful outcomes for Postbac student applicants. Rosner explains the Postbac Premed Program’s commitment: “We worked really closely with P&S over a number of years to develop a finer sense of the kind of students they are looking to recruit so that we can advise our students who would be a good match.”