SMU expands, makes changes to pre-health program
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013 15:02
The first class of SMU students didn’t graduate from the Cox School of Business or the Lyle School of Engineering—they matriculated from the SMU medical school.
Obtained from the struggling Southwestern University Medical College in 1911, SMU’s first school, and only established medical school, was suspended before the construction of famed Dallas Hall in 1915.
Although it took a century, the health and medicine curriculum is making a comeback. The curriculum, formerly regarded as pre-med, was officially named pre-health in June of 2012 to accommodate the expanding program and the student demand for a more inclusive title.
“Changing the name to pre-health kind of helped let everyone know that regardless of what health profession you want to go in, you can come and talk to somebody in this office,” Caleb Marsh, Director of the Office of Pre-Health Advising, said.
Pre-dental, pre-optometry and pre-physical therapy are among the many programs offered through pre-health.
“The pre-health office has an extensive amount of knowledge regarding each health care field, and the requirements to pursue such a career,” senior mechanical engineering major and pre-health student Martin Marak said.
Extending advising services to more freshmen has been one of Marsh’s primary goals since joining SMU last June.
“I think the pre-health office does a great job of providing support to students. I only wish I had found out about it sooner,” Marak said. Marak received an advisor for his engineering major freshman year, but not for his biomedical specialization.
Marsh, who has an extensive background in academic advising and counseling, wants to change the belief that the advising services are only available to juniors and seniors.
By encouraging freshmen to start early, he can get to know them while strategizing their health profession futures.
“They may be relieved when they come here, they may be upset when they come here, but they always come back and say thank you for giving honest answers. I want them to feel that this is a safe place from an early point in a college career to come and talk to me,” Marsh said.
One of the biggest misconceptions of pre-health is that students have to be biology majors. Unlike some undergraduate programs, pre-health does not require any specific major and welcomes students from all schools.
Anyone interested in pre-health can “like” the official SMU Pre-Health Advising Facebook page for information about the program, and for upcoming events like the Health Professions Fair in April.
As to whether these improvements will bring back the SMU medical school, Marsh said, “I don’t think that’s necessary, but I do see this office growing.”