Junior Peter Kim is the inaugural student enrolled in Patrick Henry College's Pre-Med Advising Program. He hopes his training in the classical liberal arts will bolster his career in medicine, enabling him to approach the practice from a spiritually, historically, and philosophically informed perspective.
LearnPHC sat down with Kim to discuss his experience at Patrick Henry College.
What was your college search process like?
I was pretty certain I wanted to go to medical school all along. But when I was looking for colleges, I didn't search far and wide because I was also certain I wanted to go to Patrick Henry College. I was only strongly considering two or three schools, actually: Patrick Henry College, Pomona College, and Biola University. When Dr. Guliuzza and I talked about the possibility of a Pre-Med program here, the decision became obvious. I would be able to come to Patrick Henry College and get the education that's offered here, and at the same time be able to apply to medical school. So I thought, "How much better can it get?" I felt really blessed and very grateful.
Why are you comfortable choosing a liberal arts school for Pre-Med? Do you see a liberal arts degree with Patrick Henry College as an advantage?
I think of it as an advantage, although that's not a popular belief.
I had the opportunity this past summer to interact with a lot of people who are at the same stage that I'm at but attending different colleges. I did a summer internship program at a children's hospital in Southern California. There I got to interact with a lot of people who are also Pre-Med students, but their majors are biology, biochemistry, and things along those lines. I felt like the odd one out. When you tell people, “My major is liberal arts,” they kind of go, “Oh yeah? What are you going to do with that?”
From my perspective, if you love science, that's great—go ahead and study it. But when I considered what kind of education I wanted to get, I didn't just like the idea of studying straight science for four years. It seemed shallow and uninteresting to me—not that I don't like science. I think science is fantastic and I wouldn't want to do medicine if I wasn't interested in science. What I wanted was to become the doctor who was able to talk about not just the physical aspects of individual and public health care, but also the more important things—spiritual and emotional matters. I want to be able to have a much deeper conversation about life than just the physical aspect.
You will be the first student to graduate from Patrick Henry College's Pre-Med track. Describe your experience within the PHC community?
I do feel pressure because there are going to be other students who are following. But then I just think about the kind of opportunity that it is, and all the good things that led me here.
At other schools, Pre-Med programs are designed to cut out as many kids as possible. Whereas with this school, all of the resources that PHC has are available to me. Everyone's trying to make sure that I do get to medical school. So I feel very blessed and reassured. I remind myself often, I'm sure this is where I'm supposed to be and this is the education that I'm supposed to be receiving. I just feel very, very grateful and blessed for the opportunity.
Describe the practical side of the advising process.
I talk to the Executive Vice President, Mr. Schmidt, if I have questions about the major direction of the whole thing. And then I know Dr. Sillars is head of the Applied Liberal Arts Department, and I did talk with him last semester about my track. And then now Dr. Marissa Estep is here. So in terms of what classes I’ll take in the future and my course planning, I'll go to her. Just today, I was talking to her about next year's classes for organic chemistry and labs. I also have Professor Lee and Dr. McGrath involved to an extent as well.
How would you summarize the program in a few sentences?
I'm getting a liberal arts education but I'm taking science classes and all the prerequisites for med school at the same time. I feel like I'm getting the best of both worlds: I’m getting the liberal arts education that I wanted from Patrick Henry College while also readying myself for a career in medicine.
If you could advise incoming students looking to do what you're doing, what would you tell them?
Use your summers very strategically. I know medical schools love to look at what you're doing in your free time and things like that. This past summer, I had the opportunity to do the summer internship. I also got EMT certified. I think it's best to maximize your in-between time, especially for someone like me who didn't volunteer much in high school.
What was it like interning at the children's hospital?
My internship program was through CHOC, the Children's Hospital of Orange County. It’s one of the leading pediatric hospitals in California, located right in the middle of Orange County. The program itself was more for experience and exposure. I did a lot of shadowing each week—focusing on different specialties. I got to shadow on the general pediatrics floor and in several different specialty clinics. I shadowed on the neurology floor, oncology floor, and things like that. It was a lot of fun and very encouraging in terms of what I want to do with pediatrics. It was encouraging for me because I could imagine myself in that role doing those jobs.
There was also an innovative aspect to it because the internship was under the hospital’s innovation branch. So I also had to submit an abstract to pediatric conferences. Between that and the EMT class, which is basic level medicine, it was very good as an introduction to the world of medicine. In the future, I will probably look to work as an EMT and things like that.
What are your plans for the future?
I'm going to finish my classes here. For next summer, I'm looking into working as an EMT. I'm looking also into teaching English in another country somewhere. I'm also looking into medical missions trips. And also research—I think med schools like to see research a lot. And then I'm also taking a gap year after senior year. So during that gap year, I'll be working as an EMT and see what other opportunities present themselves.
Patrick Henry College exists to glorify God by challenging the status quo in higher education, lifting high both faith and reason within a rigorous academic environment; thereby preserving for posterity the ideals behind the "noble experiment in ordered liberty" that is the foundation of America.