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Emeritus College faculty help Emory students and alumni prepare for medical school
The Luce Center at Emory University

Emory students and alumni aspiring to enter medical or dental school often turn to the faculty and staff of Pre-Health Advising (PHA), a part of the Pathways Center, for guidance in creating competitive applications. When these applicants are invited to interview for their desired programs — the next step toward admission — they have a unique opportunity to request a mock interview from Emeritus College, which has marshalled it members to provide this service since 2019. In the last five years, nearly 150 students have participated.

Interviews for health care programs are capstone moments — and a special challenge — for applicants. Both parties ask questions to determine potential fit and applicants may draw on anything they have learned, but must do so in real-time. While formal interviews result in an admissions committee’s decision to admit or decline, mock interviews with emeritus faculty conclude with valuable advice.

Dani Laupert, associate director of PHA, encourages students to request a mock interview to build familiarity with the process. “Mock interviews with emeritus faculty give students a confidence boost,” she says.

Bhagirath Majmudar, formerly faculty in the Emory School of Medicine, likens a mock interview to a vaccine that ameliorates the tension, nervousness and anxiety of a formal interview.

Abel Lindley, a fourth-year student who studies neuroscience and behavioral biology, participated in a mock interview with K.V. Thrivikraman, formerly of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He has already received offers of admission and is grateful for the mock interview opportunity and the other services PHA provides.

“As a prospective first-generation student in medicine, I entered the application process completely lost but through reaching out to others, it became much more manageable,” he says. “I wholeheartedly recommend that others utilize all the resources they can.”

In mock interviews, students are met with the decades’ worth of experience that retired faculty bring to the process. Whether they sat on an admissions committee or prepared their own students, Emeritus College faculty have considerable expertise. The mock interviews provide an opportunity for them to continue interacting with and mentoring students via Zoom.

Majmudar, who retired in 2015 after 45 years in the Departments of Pathology and Gynecology-Obstetrics, brings 26 years of experience as a member of the admissions committee to the mock interviews. He is one of 19 members of the Emeritus College who volunteered this year to support students and alumni through the process.

According to Dianne Becht, Emeritus College program coordinator, mock interviews attract students who want to prepare for medical school and retired faculty interested in helping them prepare. The program has grown every year.

Each interviewer approaches the practice conversation differently, and with their own favorite questions. Students are often asked about their clinical, volunteer and leadership experience, along with what they do for fun and why they are pursuing a career in health care.

Kay Vydareny, formerly of the Department of Radiology and Imagining Sciences, asks students about a class or experience they didn’t do well in — and what they did to improve. William W. Woods, formerly of the Department of Pediatrics, asks students to share what their strengths and weaknesses will be in health care, and what role research will play in their careers.

Sometimes students will have their own requests. Lindley asked Thrivikraman to practice answering the questions that arise as part of a Multiple Mini Interview (MMI), during which students progress through a series of stations where interviewers pose questions to gauge their soft skills. Thrivikraman asked Lindley to reflect on how he would respond to morally complex moments like clinical encounters with noncompliant patients and colleagues who breach HIPAA standards. Looking back on it, he appreciated the feedback he received from Thrivikraman, who advised answering thoroughly but concisely.

As in their pre-retirement roles, emeritus faculty are invested in the students they interview and often ask them to keep in touch about admission results.

Jocelyn Spizman 23C, who now studies medicine at the University of Michigan, wrote to Woods to express her appreciation for his support and guidance.

“Jocelyn was one of the strongest interviews I’ve had over the past three years,” he says. “She’s the kind of person you’d want for your doctor.” He was gratified to hear of her success, and says mock interviews are positive experiences for interviewers as well as students as they allow emeritus faculty to advise and instill confidence in new health care leaders.

“It is very satisfying to feel one is helping the next generation of medical providers,” Vydareny says.

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