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Pre-health advising program at Virginia Tech expands services; moves offices


BLACKSBURG, Va., April 23, 2010 – Pre-health advising at Virginia Tech is expanding its services to students and moving to a new location.

Formerly housed in the office of University Honors in Hillcrest Hall, and for many years referred to as the pre-med and pre-dental program, pre-health advising not only has a new name, but also new leadership. The Department of Career Services, a department within the Division of Student Affairs, located in the Smith Career Center, is now home to pre-health advising.

"The number of really talented students attracted to Virginia Tech in a wide variety of fields, especially the sciences, really pushed us to do more to help them succeed with their career goals in the health professions,” said Mark McNamee, senior vice president and provost of Virginia Tech. “Appointing a full-time director, Judith Wubah, and a more visible and accessible location in the Smith Career Center should help us achieve even better outcomes for our students.”

Donna Cassell Ratcliffe, director of career services says, “Whether students are interested in veterinary medicine, ophthalmology, or pharmacology, the expanded offerings of the pre-health advising office will provide services to students to help them explore a vast array of health professions. Pre-health advising will also support students with the rigors of the application process for professional school, including letters of recommendation for medical school admission, and opportunities for practical, hands-on experiences.”

Tom Sitz, associate professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Science, and current director of pre-medical studies, emphasizes the importance of getting an early start. “As early as freshmen orientation, I encourage students who have any of thoughts of going into the any of the medical professions to make contact with the pre-health advising office,” he said. Sitz, who will still be actively involved in the pre-health advising program even after his retirement in July, also added, “The bottom line is, our goal is to work with students in order to maximum their potential for getting into medical school or other health profession school. Virginia Tech also has a very good reputation with Virginia’s five medical institutions. Each year, admissions directors of Virginia’s medical schools are invited to campus for a Pre-med Extravaganza. The idea is to get interested students thinking about their options and specific career paths in the medical field.” Sitz notes that he’s excited about the changes happening within the pre-health advising program, and is certain the expansion of services and Wubah’s expertise will be a great benefit for students who wish to seek a career in health care.

Susan S. Sumner, associate dean and director for academic programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences says, “The opportunity for more collaboration between academic programs and the Division of Student Affairs is exciting. The pre-health advising program will not be hindered by association with just one academic college. Instead, it will strengthened by the collaboration. In addition, the facilities offered through student affairs will take the former pre-med and pre-dental program to a new level. Where the former program built a strong cadre of faculty members to be a part of the advising, the new program will be able to utilize and benefit from historical knowledge. Dr. Wubah’s experience at peer institutions will bring innovation and continue to expand the program.”

Jill C. Sible, associate dean for curriculum, instruction, and advising for the College of Science agrees with Sitz, and says that it’s important to note that Virginia Tech has a longstanding relationship with Virginia’s medical colleges. “Pre-health advising will continue to nurture those relationships while developing new ties with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine [and Research Institute] and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Wubah appreciates the growth of new career paths in the broadly defined area of health sciences and will develop a pool of advising expertise in this area,” Sible said.

This article was written by Mary Ann Cole.