Most pre-medical students aim to begin their competitive medical school applications with enriching research experience, mentorship and professional recommendations. The Ralph R. Jones, MD, FACS Pre-Medical Fellowship looks to provide Boise State University students with all three.
Erin Colburn, the pre-professional health advising coordinator with the College of Health Sciences, said the fellowship helps students collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers to learn how to critically think and gain an understanding of the importance of being a physician-scientist.
Colburn has worked with many students who took part in the fellowship and went on to successful medical school careers — many of whom credit their strengths to the advising and opportunities they had with Boise State University.
“The fellowship allows them the ability to access all resources including workshops, conferences, and publications that will not just benefit their undergraduate career but their medical careers,” Colburn said.
Three Health Studies students, who each took part in the fellowship, shared their paths to medical school. Learn more about their experiences below.
Cameron Skaggs ‘20
Cameron Skaggs wanted to be a physician for as long as he can remember. Skaggs spent a portion of his childhood in and out of medical care because of an inner-ear tumor. The physicians he interacted with at a young age, Skaggs said, made him want to grow up to be just like them.
“I knew that I wanted to be a physician to help kids and people like myself,” Skaggs said. “So, I’ve done everything I could to set myself up for that goal.”
The 2020 health studies graduate participated in the Ralph Jones Fellowship during summer 2019 and gained nearly 400 hours of research experience.
Skaggs said the fellowship provided him with a stepping stone to conduct research without having to worry about taking on another job. Skaggs worked with a mentor to research pharmaceutical targets for liver fibrosis.
Skaggs credits his undergraduate success partly to the one-on-one guidance and opportunity the Health Studies program offers.
“I always had the assurance that there was a true team behind me to help me get where I wanted to go,” Skaggs said.
Skaggs was accepted to the University of Washington School of Medicine and is about to complete his first year. As part of his medical program, Skaggs mentors undergraduate Boise State University pre-medical students. He hopes to motivate them to gain new experiences and not just look good on paper.
“Being a well-rounded human being and future physician is so much better than stats on a resume,” Skaggs said. “Find experiences that make you express your want to be a great physician.”
Madison Sullivan ‘20
Madison Sullivan, a 2020 Boise State University graduate, is now preparing to begin her first year at the University of Utah’s School of Medicine this fall. The experiences and opportunities she had in her undergraduate studies, Sullivan said, prepared her for this next academic chapter.
Also a Ralph Jones Fellow, Sullivan applied to the program on a whim and thought it might help her stand out when applying to medical school.
“It gave me a whole new appreciation for all of the work that research scientists do behind the scenes,” Sullivan said. “I was also able to meet new mentors, and friends with similar aspirations as me, which I found extremely helpful when it came time to apply to medical school.”
Sullivan worked in research studying the effects of cold atmospheric-pressure plasma on bacteria growth in chronic wounds. Sullivan helped execute experiments, collect and analyze data and present research at various conferences, all as an undergraduate student.
During the year between graduating and applying to medical school, Sullivan began working in a hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. While she witnessed first-hand major health care challenges during a historic health crisis, Sullivan said she admired the support physicians offered one another and their patients.
“I think these experiences and the pandemic only strengthened my desire to attend medical school and become a physician,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan’s time at Boise State University helped her feel prepared to take the next step in her medical career because of her mentors and advisors.
“They can provide invaluable advice, and help you stand out as a student when it comes time to apply,” Sullivan said.
Colton Brodock ‘21
Colton Brodock had always excelled in school — so much so that he knew he wanted to go into a field that required many years of schooling. But when a friend got a severe concussion playing football, it solidified Brodock’s passion to become a physician.
A 2021 Boise State graduate, Brodock had already spent time working in the research setting before applying to the Ralph Jones Fellowship. Brodock enjoyed spending much of his academic career in the lab because of the relationships he fostered with leading researchers in the medical field.
“The fellowship experience was so wonderful because I got to work with mentors who understood who I wanted to be as a pre-medical student and eventually a health professional,” Brodock said.
Brodock worked in research involving antibiotic drug development as part of his fellowship and continued working in that space for nearly three years.
After attempting to graduate, study for medical school entrance exams and apply to medical school all in four years, Brodock said he found himself heading toward immense stress. In an effort to step back while still gaining experience, Brodock took an additional year to study, apply and begin working with a local hospital.
Brodock will begin his medical schooling at the University of Washington School of Medicine in July.
“Engaging in all those experiences and with so many different people — whether or not they taught me something specifically about medical school — they taught me about being a good person who strives to help people,” Brodock said.
Learn more about the Public Health and Population Science Health Studies degree here.