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We need to stop sweeping ASU’s premedical program under the rug

ASU's diverse research opportunities and close collaboration with the Mayo Clinic makes its pre-health program a strong one

ASU's Biodesign Institute is pictured on Oct. 26, 2016.

ASU's Biodesign Institute is pictured on Oct. 26, 2016.

ASU is often pegged as an excellent school for engineering or business, and the Ira Fulton Schools of Engineering and the W. P. Carey School of Business have lived up to these standards. Still, ASU’s pre-medical program shouldn’t be swept under the rug.

Although ASU does not have a graduate medical school like UA, its biological sciences undergraduate program offers more than adequate preparation for medical school and a career in medicine.

In fact, ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College has been working closely with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale and Phoenix to prepare undergraduate students for careers in medicine.

With the opening of the Mayo Clinic medical school at the Scottsdale and Phoenix campuses, this comes as no surprise. One could say that with this close collaboration, the Mayo Clinic is tailoring these undergraduate pre-health students to fit the standards of this new school.

Barrett’s Premedical Scholars Program first opened up in 2008, “to foster the career development of premedical students within the Honors College.” The program largely involves the endorsement of both the future college of medicine at the Mayo Clinic as well as the Arizona campuses of the Mayo Clinic.

The program has six specific interests, which include opportunities for undergraduate students to shadow physicians, participate in laboratory experiences, attend medical lectures, participate in community programs, acquire experience for medical school applications and pursue subjects of interest in a laboratory setting.

To further its connection with the Mayo Clinic, ASU purchased land near the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. Within the next year, construction will begin on a new Health Solutions Innovation Center, which will house the department of biomedical informatics and the school for the science of health care delivery.

ASU’s pre-health opportunities are not exclusive to the pre-medical scholars program. After all, there are a limited number of positions available in this program. Other biology and health-related internships and research positions are available to students who are willing to apply for them.

For example, ASU’s biodesign institute offers research opportunities for projects run by ASU faculty. Since 2003, the biodesign institute has expanded into a reputable source of research with over 200 bio-related projects being conducted currently and attracting more than $400 million in funding. Additionally, ASU broke ground in June on biodesign building C, which will serve as a multifunctional lab space for additional research projects.

Kaylin Sweeney, biological sciences sophomore, works for Dr. Jared Dickinson’s lab in downtown Phoenix studying the regulation of skeletal muscle cells. She believes this research experience gives her an edge in the pre-health program at ASU.

“I think (this lab) is preparing me very well,” Sweeney said. “It provides an interesting experience that those who go to universities that don’t offer research don’t get. The skills that I have learned have already come in handy in my class work. The research methods used in my lab give me a deeper understanding of the topics in my classes.”


Sweeney hopes to pursue medical school in the future, and she believes ASU is doing its job in giving her the tools she needs to succeed.

“I think ASU has prepared me just as well as any other pre-medical program by allowing me to have unique opportunities in the research field as well as more contact with upper level professionals in the research world,” Sweeney said.

Although ASU is a large school that encompasses many different majors, it is important to acknowledge that its pre-health program provides students with every opportunity to succeed, forging relationships that will aid students in pursuit of medical school.  

Reach the columnist at or follow @ghirneise2 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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