Melissa Schmidt '09


Major: Physics

Attending: University of Maryland School of Medicine

"A-ha" Moment:

Although Melissa had discovered her passion for physics in high school, it wasn’t until she began shadowing physicians during college that she realized that the medical profession was her true calling. As a Gettysburg student, she shadowed a local physician who exemplified passion for patient care. What's more, this doctor was so committed to offering shadowing opportunities to local students that she built a student lounge at her practice for “shadowers.” This experience was a turning point for Melissa.

While at Gettysburg, Melissa also considered the fields of physics research/biochemistry, chiropractics, and nursing. She ultimately chose medicine in order to have a direct, hands-on affect on patients with the broadest possible scope.

Gettysburg College/Pre-Health Profession Highlights:

  • Volunteer service trip to University of Maryland Medical Center's shock trauma unit
  • International service learning trip to Costa Rica and Panama
  • Pre-Health Professions Club
  • Summer internship in Physics Department, leading to the presenting of research at the Division of Nuclear Physics conferences in Virginia and Dubna, Russia

Penn State Primary Care Scholars Program: mock med school interviews and networking with professors and med school admissions board members

In addition to activities that benefited her pre-health professions exploration, Melissa took advantage of numerous other opportunities at Gettysburg, too. Her activities included:

  • Class of 2009 Leadership
  • Orientation Leader
  • Co-Leader of LEGO Girls Robotics, a program which encouraged 4th and 5th grad girls to pursue the sciences
  • Alpha Delta Pi Sorority
  • Unite for Sight
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Order of Omega (Greek Honors Society)
  • Omicron Delta Kappa (Leadership Honor Society)
  • Sigma Pi Sigma (physics honor society)

Melissa's Top Tip for Applying to Medical School: “Learn to brag!”

Melissa discovered how important it was to be able to evaluate herself and describe what made her special to set herself apart from other applicants. She notes that you need to have confidence in yourself and be ready to tell others - because that's what medical school applications are asking for!

So, be ready to explain:

  • What makes you special?
  • Why would you be a good addition to the health profession?

She also discovered that by building up her experience in the medical field -- and seeking interaction with patients in any way possible - she simultaneously built her self-confidence.

Final Words of Wisdom

Melissa’s advice can be summarized in three words: “Don’t give up.” Her belief is that the road to a health profession is difficult for a reason, as it “weeds out those who don't really want it.” She also encourages pre-health professions students to stay motivated and be involved, as this can help set them apart.

And, she notes, students shouldn't be afraid to try experiences that completely separate from the health professions. This can put career plans in perspective and serve as a reminder as to why a future in the health professions is, in fact, the right choice.