Mechanical engineering and engineering mechanics undergraduate students will soon be able to follow a prescribed track of traditional MechSE courses and newly recommended courses to qualify for medical school.
“The idea behind the pre-medicine track is to allow our students to have an opportunity to stay within the established curriculum, but also have a tailored program to help them go into medicine if they want to go to medical school,” said Professor Elizabeth Hsiao-Wecksler, MechSE’s associate head for undergraduate programs.
MechSE associate professor Amy Wagoner Johnson will lead the department’s pre-med track by serving as the inaugural Pre-med Advisor.
“Amy’s research spans from mechanical science to medical science,” said Department Head Tony Jacobi. “She has advised doctoral students in Bioengineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and MechSE, and she has advised MD/PhD students. Amy is ideally placed to advise our undergraduates interested in pursuing our new MechSE Pre-med track.”
This new track is largely driven by the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine (CICOM). Called the world’s first engineering-based college of medicine, CICOM plans to leverage advanced technology to train physician-innovators who will deliver better, more compassionate and accessible care to patients worldwide. Engaging creative minds through a problem-based, active learning approach with day-one clinical immersion is one way it hopes to set a new bar for medical education.
While MechSE’s pre-med track will be designed so students can qualify for practically any medical school, the first priority has been examining the CICOM requirements.
“We’ve held conversations with the College of Medicine’s admissions office and pre-med advisors in the university’s Career Center. They said that not only do students need to do well in courses, but they also need to have a lot of experiences and soft skills related to the healthcare profession,” Hsiao-Wecksler said. “MechSE’s undergraduate curriculum already emphasizes teamwork and strong communication skills. To ensure that our students have experiences that will make them competitive in medical schools, we need to provide additional healthcare-centered opportunities, such as medicine-focused senior design and undergraduate research projects.”
MechSE’s undergraduate programs office will provide special advising for students interested in pre-med, as MD careers are vastly different than most engineering careers and often demand interpersonal skill sets not always necessary for engineers.