This section will spotlight a student who has come through the Health Professions Advising office at CSUF on their journey to professional school, and wishes to share his or her experiences and advice with current and future students.
Jason Derhovanesian - Future Physician
My name is Jason Derhovanesian and I will be attending medical school at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. The road to medical school has been a long, but rewarding journey. My time at CSUF began in 2006 as an undergraduate with an undecided major. After changing majors a few times, I decided during my sophomore year that kinesiology was the best fit for me. My emphasis was in clinical exercise science, which allowed me to combine my interest in the basic sciences with my recreational passions of weightlifting and fitness. Majoring in kinesiology, I feel, gave me an advantage in the sense that I was able to see science from a different perspective. Taking courses like advanced biomechanics, exercise physiology, and sports medicine enhanced my understanding of the body from a big picture viewpoint. These courses made the basic sciences like chemistry and biology more tangible when it came time to complete my prerequisites for medical school. Prior to pursuing medical school however, I did consider other options such as physical therapy school. In fact, I worked in a physical therapy clinic for two years during my kinesiology courses and even applied to a doctorate program at USC. After being accepted to physical therapy school, I did some extensive soul searching and decided that my true passion was my original interest in medicine. I turned down my acceptance to physical therapy school and came back to CSUF as a post-baccalaureate student in the health professions program.
Many of the prerequisites for medical school overlapped with the prerequisites I had completed for physical therapy school. Therefore, I joined the post-baccalaureate program as an “academic finisher” as opposed to a “career changer” and was only required to take a few courses including organic chemistry, biochemistry, and genetics. The health professions program was fast paced and challenging, but I appreciated these qualities because it was a stepping stone that bridged the gap between the relatively slow pace of undergraduate studies to the extremely fast pace of medical school. After completing the post-baccalaureate program, I took a few months to study for and take the MCAT before applying to medical school.
I have several pieces of advice for future students that I can genuinely say helped me achieve my goal of being accepted to medical school. My first recommendation is to be well rounded. Although I finished my bachelors graduating Magna Cum Laude and applied to medical school with a 3.94 science GPA, I also made sure there were no holes in my application. From the beginning of my college experience through the end of my post-baccalaureate program, I was highly involved both on and off campus. I was a member of the Kinesiology Honor Society as well as the Golden Key Club Honor Society. I was also a board member of an on-campus club, the Student Science Alliance. I worked in a physical therapy clinic for two years as well as volunteered in the emergency room of a local hospital for three years. In addition to my volunteer experiences, I shadowed two physicians for several months each. Furthermore, I was involved with research and worked as a research assistant at CSUF and UCI. Outside of academia and the scientific community, I was also a member of several non-profit organizations and charity groups including the Orange County Armenian Professionals Society. Lastly, I had a job throughout all of college working at a local sports nutrition store. All of these activities made my application stand out. Many people applying to medical school have high GPAs, but only select students are well rounded and can achieve those grades while maintaining other commitments outside of the classroom. My next piece of advice is to apply broadly and to apply early. I had my applications completed and ready to go before the submission period opened, allowing me to submit my applications on the first day possible. I also applied to roughly thirty programs, which provided me with fourteen interview invitations. I truly feel that taking advantage of the rolling admissions process and submitting your application early will enhance your chances of ultimately landing an acceptance. My final piece of advice is to always remain positive and remember that delayed gratification is the name of the game. There will be times when the studying gets overwhelming and applying to medical school seems far away, but these are the times when being resilient and optimistic will pay off.
All in all, my experience at CSUF has been amazing. I am blessed to have worked with so many great professors, counselors, and fellow students. I feel prepared to take on the challenges of medical school and I am confident that I have the skills necessary to succeed in the next phase of this exciting journey.