CMU Med School Early Assurance Program Admits First Albion Grads

Three biology majors and Institute for Healthcare Professions members will begin at Central in fall 2019

July 19, 2018

By Chuck Carlson

Phoebe Dodge, ’18, feels a sense of responsibility.

Phoebe Dodge

“My personality is I always try to do my best,” says the Grosse Pointe Woods native who graduated in May with a degree in biology. “I’m a perfectionist and my own worst critic. We are the face of Albion and the least we can do is our best.”

Dodge is referring to herself and two of her classmates, Garrett Mason and Megan Reilly, who are the first Albion College grads to earn admission into Central Michigan University’s College of Medicine through a cooperative program with Albion.

“We are the headliners for this new program,” Dodge says. “We take this seriously and we want to show that they didn’t make a mistake in choosing us.”

The Albion-CMU arrangement provides Albion pre-medical students early assurance of admission to CMU’s medical school through Central’s Early Assurance Program. Normally, the process of earning admission to medical school can take more than a year, and comes with no guarantees. With this agreement, the process is cut to mere months and comes with automatic acceptance for up to three Albion College students.

Indeed, seven students in Albion’s Institute for Healthcare Professions applied for the three early assurance spots available at CMU. Each went through a rigorous interview process and also had to show strong grades, excel on the Medical College Admission Test and demonstrate community service.

They began the process in December and were notified in early July of their status. Reilly, Dodge and Mason will begin at CMU in fall 2019.

“This is exactly what we were looking for in the program,” says Brad Rabquer, associate professor of biology and director of the Institute for Healthcare Professions. “It’s a great opportunity for our students and Central is getting three quality students. It’s a big win for Central and it’s a big win for Albion.” He adds that the other four Albion applicants, two of whom were juniors, remain engaged in the overall medical-school application process.

Megan Reilly

For Reilly, a Brighton native who earned her degree in biology, acceptance to medical school is another step toward her goal.

“I came to Albion as a pre-med but I wasn’t absolutely dead set on pre-med,” she says. “I thought maybe I’d do something else. But I started taking pre-med classes and I really loved it and became more and more set on going to medical school. When I heard about the early assurance at Central, I figured I’d go for it. Why not? When I learned I was accepted I freaked out, obviously. I really thought it was a good fit for me and I thought I had a good chance. But I thought everybody had a good chance. So I was ecstatic, and then relieved.”

All three students have already been involved in medicine for several years.

Reilly has worked at the University of Michigan hospital as a scribe, where she accompanies a doctor into a patient’s room and records the medical details so the doctor can talk to patients. She was recently promoted to chief scribe and plans to continue in the job until next summer when she’ll take some time off to travel with her parents before starting medical school.

As far as specialties, she’s keeping her options open.

“The first surgeries I saw were orthopedic and I absolutely loved it,” she says. “Now I’m looking at cardiology and I love that, too.”

Dodge, who transferred to Albion as a sophomore after a year at the University of Michigan, has been working for three years as an intern at the St. John’s Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease clinic in Grosse Pointe Woods.

“I’ve gotten to know the doctors and a lot of other employees and it has really opened my eyes,” says Dodge, who is also keeping an open mind about a specialty though she admits she is looking at pediatrics. “I was on pins and needles waiting to hear if I’d been accepted. It really tested my patience and I was stunned when I saw I’d been accepted. It was a special moment.”

Garrett Mason

Mason, a native of Traverse City, earned his degree cum laude in biology with a minor in art and has also prepared for the opportunity by serving as an emergency room volunteer at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City for the past year.

“In my sophomore year I started to buckle down and I knew then I wanted to do something based in science and I was leaning toward health care,” says Mason, who is also an accomplished artist and has been commissioned to do paintings for two years.

As with his two classmates, Mason plans to keep his specialty options open, although he is leaning toward becoming a primary-care doctor in a rural community. “I’m just more comfortable in that setting,” he says.

Rabquer sees this cooperative agreement benefiting both Central, which graduated its first medical school class in 2017, and Albion.

“Central has a relatively new medical school and its curriculum is based on small-group learning,” Rabquer says. “It’s peer-to-peer learning and hands-on, and that matches our students very well. It feels very much like the environment here and I think the success of our first year will encourage more and more students to apply.”

Which has Mason and Reilly, like Dodge, also feeling a similar sense of responsibility.

“For students at Albion eyeballing this, you want to be a role model,” Mason says. “Many schools don’t have this opportunity. It’s a privilege for sure but it does carry that weight.”

“We’re the first ones and I want to make a good impression so my fellow students can have the same opportunity,” Reilly says. “I am so grateful for this and I want others to have it, too.”

Read more about the Institute for Healthcare Professions in the Spring-Summer 2018 edition of Io Triumphe! magazine