When Ruby Laskin ’08 entered Earlham, she didn’t think she was med-school material.
Laskin was interested in science, even though she hadn’t excelled in her high school science classes. Her grandfather, a surgeon, had encouraged her to consider a career in medicine, however, and she was intrigued. So the first time she met with her adviser, Professor of Chemistry Corinne Deibel, Ph.D., Laskin broached the topic of the pre-health path.
“Corinne didn’t give me the third degree about my motives or try to talk me out of it,” Laskin recalls. “At first, I was a little reluctant to even bring it up, but her focus was to tell me what I need to do to reach my goal. She basically said, ‘let’s see if we can make this work.’”
Laskin is now a second-year medical student at Temple University, studying for her first licensing exams. Last summer, she helped coordinate a medical outreach trip to Honduras, an activity she links to the global engagement she experienced at Earlham. Laskin also credits Earlham for helping her achieve post-graduate success. Earlham’s excellent teaching and relatively small classes convinced her that she had more ability in the sciences that she had previously believed. She also benefitted from the College’s pre-health career advising program — an offering that is open to alumni as well as current students.
In Laskin’s case, four years at the College included an off-campus program at the Philadelphia Center, where she completed an internship at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (C.H.O.P.). After graduation, she got a job at the same institution, working for two years as a patient coordinator for a department that studies genetic disease.
She worked with patients and families from all over the country, and outside the United States, helping to plan weeklong visits to the hospital, and facilitating communication between families and a range of specialists who consult on these cases.
“It was a remarkable experience to work with those patients and physicians. The disease we were working on is very rare, and C.H.O.P. is a world leader in treating it. So for these families, it was really the first time they were receiving direct patient care. That experience helped me to see first hand that in the medical profession, there is a unique and positive impact you can have on people’s well being that would be hard to find in another profession,” she says.
Once she made the decision to apply to medical school, Earlham’s faculty provided significant support.
“It’s amazing that [Professor of Chemistry and Pre-Health Adviser] Mike Deibel even took my calls,” she says. “I wasn’t a student anymore, but he was extremely helpful when I needed to create a strategy to make myself an attractive candidate. And when I asked other professors for letters of recommendation, they were very willing to help.
“I remember when I got my scores from the first time I took the Medical College Admissions Test, I called Mike at 10 p.m., and he talked to me for an hour. I wasn’t happy with the scores and was trying to decide whether or not I should apply. He helped me come up with a plan to do better the next time. I took the test again the following year, and wound up being a much stronger candidate.”