College of Human Sciences Pre-Health Students Celebrate Admission to Medical School

Charlotte Tuggle | Communications Editor

Medical schools across the southeast have granted early admission to students in the College of Human Sciences pre-health program. Catherine Maige, Claire McCarthy and Nick McCarthy will attend Florida State University, Mercer University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, respectively.

The pre-health Nutrition Science degree track prepares graduates to practice a holistic approach to health care in the fields of medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, physician assistant, and physical and occupational therapy. The program launched five years ago and has since grown to more than 100 students.

“I credit the growth and success of our program to the unique opportunities that Human Sciences presents its students,” pre-health advisor Linda Bruner said. “Our pre-health students benefit from the Health Professions Reception that brings in health professionals in the community to discuss the rewards and challenges of healthcare, personal statement workshops which enhance the credibility of the essay portion of their professional application, alumni support from students currently enrolled in professional programs, and individualized pre-health advising catered to each specific pre-health journey.”

Catherine Maige is a fifth-year senior accepted into Florida State University’s College of Medicine. She was drawn to Nutrition Science to study how diet affects predisposition to disease and its connection to overall health.

In one of her classes, a discussion about the interplay of nutrition, mental health, physical activity and disease introduced her to the field of integrative medicine.

“I desire to pursue medicine because I can further investigate my fascination with the human body as well as the heart and mind that makes us humans, human. My heart is to see my future patients as people, not their symptoms. I want to be a physician who approaches my patients’ health from an integrative medicine perspective,” Maige said. “I desire to practice this personalized, investigative approach to patients’ future care. I want to see the patient’s full picture, and to think about why their symptoms may be manifesting in a particular way. Furthermore, I desire to ask ‘Why?’ and ‘How can we lead them to a better quality of life?’”

Maige calls attending Auburn “the best decision she’s ever made,” and advises students to engage in the College of Human Sciences’ research opportunities, find ways to serve the community, practice several times for the MCAT and not to give up in the face of any challenge.

Claire McCarthy will graduate in May 2021 and go on to Mercer University’s medical school. Since the eighth grade, when she started volunteering at her hometown’s pediatric hospital, McCarthy knew she wanted to become a physician. While medicine has always been her focus, her interest in how food affects health turned to passion during her sophomore year.

McCarthy reflects on the College of Human Sciences support system for pre-health students and how it helped her successfully apply to Mercer. “My time at Auburn prepared me in so many ways for applying to medical school. Services like the Pre-Professional Advisory Committee, the advisors and the close relationships I was able to form with my professors were essential for my success in applying,” McCarthy said. “Auburn sets up their students to perform well and stay on track for the strict deadlines that are required by medical schools. The people involved in the process truly know how to help students succeed and gave me all of the advice that I needed.”

McCarthy said the pre-health curriculum is rigorous, and students who combine their studies with work they’re passionate about outside of the classroom will set them up for success both at Auburn and on their journey to medical school.

Nick McCarthy grew up an Auburn fan and found a community in the pre-health program. He said the science curriculum, pre-health resources and Bruner’s guidance helped his successful application to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Medicine.

And even as he celebrates his recent admission into medical school, McCarthy said he’s thinking of life after he graduates as a doctor. “I chose Nutrition Science because it left me more career opportunities beyond medical school. As a future physician, I am passionate about prevention and education,” McCarthy said. “I’m really looking forward to learning so much more about the human body and how to optimally care for it through building healthy lifestyle habits. I hope to develop meaningful relationships with my patients, and I am also considering getting into healthcare policy later on in my career!”

McCarthy said for students in the program, one of the most important things to do is shadow a professional in their career of interest and find out exactly what they will be able to do in their career.

Get more information on the pre-health program in the College of Human Sciences.