Biology student thriving in Pre-Med Mentor Program with Kaiser

While conducting and presenting research focused on ocean acidification is giving Kate Romano ’20 a strong foundation in the sciences, it is her work in the Dominican/Kaiser Permanente Pre-Med Mentor Program that has solidified her decision to become a pediatrician.

The Pre-Med Mentor Program allows Dominican students to spend two semesters shadowing Kaiser Permanente physicians, providing a rare opportunity for undergraduate students to see firsthand the responsibility and role of a physician.

Dominican’s Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics created the program 10 years ago in response to the growing number of science students interested in pursuing careers in medicine. More than two dozen recent Dominican alumni now either work as physicians or are enrolled in medical school (see below).

“Many of our students are interested in careers in medicine,” says Dr. Kenneth Frost, Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “This program gives our undergraduates a unique opportunity to spend a year experiencing firsthand a typical day in the life of a doctor.”

The Dominican/Kaiser program received national recognition in 2011 when it was featured at the annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges in Denver.

Each year about a dozen students selected for the program. Throughout their junior year they meet weekly with their physician mentor, shadowing the doctor during primary care visits. Throughout the year the students also observe other physicians through rotations in the emergency room, as well as the anesthesia, ophthalmology, pediatrics, surgery, cardiology, and urology departments.

For Kate, who came to Dominican from Jefferson High School in Daly City, working with her Kaiser mentor has energized her to pursue medical school helping her understand the process is within reach.

“All the doctors I have met at Kaiser have been very kind. My mentor has answered a lot of my questions about the MCAT and the process of applying to medical school,” she says.

“I entered the program questioning whether medical school is really worth all the time it would take – should I really go through with something that will take about 10 years. But being able to see what a doctor does for a patient and being able to see that this is a career that will really allow me to help people – for me that’s what it is all about and something that I want to do in the long run.”

Kate, who is track to graduate a semester early, has balanced her work at Kaiser with her research in Dr. Diara Spain’s lab. Kate began working in the Spain lab her sophomore year. In April she will present research examining ocean acidification at the 44th Annual West Coast Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Conference at the University of San Diego.

In addition, Kate serves on the student board for both Alpha Epsilon Delta, the National Health Preprofessional Honor Society, and Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honor Society.

These experiences are one of the reasons Kate selected Dominican in the first place.

“I knew that I wanted to attend a small university so that I could get attention from professors,” she says. “I wanted to be able to ask questions in class and have a professor who knows my name to take the time to make sure I understand the answer.”

“I would not have had all these opportunities at a larger school. Dominican has been great.”

Past participants of the Dominican/Kaiser Pre-Med Mentor Program include:

• Jenny Baek '18, attending University of the Pacific Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Victor Chan '17, attending medical school at University of Queensland Ochsner Clinical School
Josef Baylis '16, admitted to Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences
• Matthew Erbst '15, attending medical school in fall 2019
• Serafina Tulioc Johnson '15, attending Ross University School of Medicine
• Elizabeth Rice '15, attending Ross University School of Medicine
McKenna Kimball Coletti ’15, a research assistant at the University of Utah Medical School.
Stephanie Rasmussen '14, attending UC Davis School of Medicine
Connor Haysbert ’14, a student UC Davis School of Medicine.
Ian Lancaster ’14, a student at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Jordan Rode ’14, a student at UC Davis School of Medicine.
Gabriel Navarrette ‘12, who went on to attend medical school at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, Indiana.
• Mark Gutierrez ‘14, a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Matthew Stegman ’13, a student at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine.
Elizabeth Castellanos ’13, a student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine.
Stephanie Huezo ’12, MS ’15, a Doctor of Nursing Practice-Pediatrics Candidate at Columbia University in New York.

 

April 24, 2019