Panel Discusses Med School Admissions

The College Counseling office hosted a virtual event March 25 for middle and high school students interested in pursuing careers in the medical field. “Beyond Benjamin: The Pre-Med Pathway,” featured first year medical student and alumna Noelle Matese ‘19, Dr. Michael Gaines, and parent and trustee Dr. Amy Zito, as expert panel guests. 

The three panelists discussed what students interested in medical school should consider in an undergraduate program at the college or university level. 

Dr. Gaines, a professor at the University of Miami, emphasized the importance for students to tailor their undergraduate program to courses they are genuinely interested in. 

“Don’t be who you think they want you to be, be who you are and have a passion for what you do - that will make you shine,” said Gaines. Gaines said he is against the idea of students feeling obligated to pursue a pre-med major in order to gain entrance into medical school.

“I think at a university or college you want to expand your horizons . . . think about Shakespeare, Othello, think about Hamlet . . . I think what you really want to do is show that you’re intellectually interested, that you’re not a typical pre-med who takes all science courses,” said Gaines. 

Gaines said he encourages his students to major in what they’re passionate about. A range of experiences, he said, shows intellectual breadth. 

“You’ll stand out because you love these courses, not because you’re doing them for strangers on an admissions committee,” he said.

Alumna Noelle Matese ‘19, who is a first year medical student at The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, credited her time at Benjamin for preparing her for medical school. 

“Medical school is hard, you have to really want it. That helps you keep going when times get tough,” she said. 

Dr. Gaines said ultimately, the world needs physicians who deeply care about people.

“Show that in high school - not by checking boxes, but by getting involved. Do the things where you really believe in a cause,” he said. 

A premier PK3 - Grade 12 independent, coeducational day school with campuses in North Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. Since 1960, The Benjamin School has provided a challenging college preparatory education to a diverse student body in a structured, nurturing community environment.
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