Pursuing Pediatrics: Tips from MU-COM Alumni - Part 3

by User Not Found | Sep 30, 2021

Katie Loke '23, OMS-III | September 30, 2021


As an aspiring pediatrician, I reached out to numerous MU-COM alumni to learn more about becoming a pediatrician and what it is like to be a pediatrician. After receiving insight from five alumni in different stages of their careers, I wanted to share their thoughts with other students who may be interested in pediatrics, as well. 

What should students do to become good applicants for a pediatrics residency?

Throughout medical school, everyone stresses the importance of becoming a good applicant for whatever specialty you want to go into. For different specialties, this can mean different things. Here the MU-COM alumni have provided their thoughts on what it takes to be a good pediatrics applicant. 

Katelyn Dato-on headshot

Katelyn Dato-on ‘21, DO: "I think that being a well-rounded applicant is most important when applying for pediatrics. Programs are not solely looking at your GPA or test scores but rather that you have had a variety of experiences and a clear dedication to the specialty. Try to seek out leadership opportunities and ways to get involved in the community. All in all, however, everyone you will meet in pediatrics is so nice and personable, so during interviews, let your personality shine through and be yourself! Once you’ve made it to the interview, programs are really just looking for someone they will get along with and will work hard."

Katelyn Campbell headshot

Katelyn Campbell ’20, DO: "Do what you love. Life is short, so it’s important to do what you enjoy, whether that’s clinical research, making art, athletics, or whatever keeps you going."

Tyler King headshot

Tyler King '18, DO: "Pediatrics is thankfully a large specialty that attracts a number of talented applicants. Because there are so many different subspecialties within pediatrics, there are many opportunities into finding your fit whether that be advocacy, clinical practice, education, or research. If you are even remotely interested in working with children, reaching out to your program for mentorship is so important. Having mentors is so helpful in identifying medical interests and offering advice that are crucial to your decision in choosing a specialty and/or residency program."

"Your clinical rotations in medical school are equally important. Enjoy all of your clinical experiences and appreciate the breadth of medicine during this time of your education. Pediatrics is a medical-based specialty and spending time during medical school rotations broadening one’s scope will only help further residency training. Programs are looking for well-rounded applicants."

"I think having an area in pediatrics that you are passionate about is helpful when applying to residency, but is not something that is absolutely necessary as a medical student. Your interests within pediatrics will easily develop and come to fruition during residency training. If you feel passionate about working with children during your medical school education and are able to illustrate this during your residency application process, you will be a strong applicant in pediatrics."

Sarah Olvey headshot
Sarah Olvey '18, DO: "Just as when applying to any residency, you want to make sure you are well-rounded. Strong course grades and board scores are always important, but we want to see that you have interests outside of simply studying all the time. Find something that you are passionate about and get involved, have good experiences in pediatrics to know that it is the right fit for you, and reach out to residents for advice. Taking initiative and showing how much you care about the field can go a long way."
Rachel Gahagen headshot
Rachel Gahagen '17, DO: "I think not always what you know—but who you know. Making connections with the right people can go far. Making good impressions on your rotations is helpful. You will find most people are going to want you to succeed and support you. There’s a fine line between being engaged and being annoying—knowing when to ask questions and when to save them for later will go far. All that said, really just be a normal, thoughtful person and work hard. All staff/fellows/residents were once in your shoes, don’t forget that."

In general, the alumni suggest being a well-rounded applicant through participating in activities outside of academic work (i.e. volunteering, research, hobbies, etc…) that you are genuinely interested in. They suggested that showing your interest in pediatrics by participating in extracurricular that allow you to work with kids is always a plus. While grades and board scores are important, there are many other parts of the residency application that constitute a good applicant. It’s important to let your passions shine through your application and during your interviews. 

Thank you to the alumni for their time!
To the MU-COM alumni, thank you for paving the way for current and future students and for taking the time out of your busy schedules to share your insight about pediatrics. Each one of their responses shows their dedication and compassion for the patients and families they care for. We are so lucky to have you all to look up to.

About the author

Katie Lepak headshot

Katie Loke is a third-year medical student at Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MU-COM). Prior to attending MU-COM, Katie attended and graduated from Marquette University with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science. Katie was the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA) President at MU-COM as a second-year medical student. As the SOMA President, Katie coauthored two resolutions that were passed as National SOMA policy—one on disability education for medical students and one on sex trafficking education for physicians and medical students. Katie also enjoys volunteering for Children’s TherAplay, a pediatric hippotherapy facility, where she helps patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities during their therapy sessions. Additionally, she did research at Riley Hospital for Children through the Pediatric Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. When Katie is not studying or working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, dog, and cat, trying new food, and exploring Indianapolis with friends.

Continue to Pursuing Pediatrics Part 4.

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