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Morales (right) is learning how to intubate a patient for ventilation as part of an emergency medicine simulation workshop she completed as part of her training at Albany Medical College.

Biology Program Prepares Students for Success in Health Professions

By Felicia Krieg
Dec. 2015

Students interested in the health professions for medical, dental and veterinary schools, among other graduate programs, find success through the preparation of SUNY Plattsburgh’s biology program.

In the past few years, alumni have been accepted into professional graduate programs at schools ranging from Boston University and Cornell University to the University of Vermont and George Washington University.

SUNY Plattsburgh also has standing partnerships through our 3+4 Program with SUNY Optometry  and 3+4 Pharmacy Program with SUNY Buffalo.

Accelerated Degree Programs

The Pre-Health Professions Advisement Program guides students through the process of applying to graduate schools that specialize in the health sciences.

“Students get to know the professors,” said Dr. Donald F. Slish, professor of biology and chair of the Pre-Health Professions Advisement Program.

For students looking to gather first-hand information about various medical professions, Slish teaches an Introduction to the Health Professions course in which students hear from guest speakers who work in medicine, such as anesthesiologists, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

Those who meet the program requirements can complete their bachelor’s degree in biology at SUNY Plattsburgh in three years instead of four before moving on to professional school.

Accessible Faculty Mentors

Krista Morales ‘10 a third-year M.D. student at Albany Medical College, said the small class sizes and accessibility of faculty members at SUNY Plattsburgh helped her excel in her undergraduate studies as a biology major and prepare her for medical school.

Photo of SUNY Plattsburgh graduate Krista Morales

“Not only did they prepare me academically for success in my classes, but they were always willing to have conversations about potential career, academic and research opportunities,” the Ballston Lake, N.Y., native said of the college’s faculty.

All of the biology faculty helped Morales at one point or another in her path to medical school, she said.

After taking classes with biology faculty Dr. Nancy Elwess and Sandra Latourelle, Morales started doing research in their lab. With Elwess’s guidance, she presented research at conferences and was inducted into several academic honor societies.

“Since my time at SUNY Plattsburgh, I have met hundreds of students from other universities, and they all seem to admire the fact that the (biology) department at SUNY Plattsburgh is small enough to be able to have genuine mentorship and an open-door office environment with faculty,” Morales said.

Strong Hospital Internship

Morales’s first experience in a clinical setting was as a volunteer at University of Vermont Health Network, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, which is less than a mile from campus. The program at the hospital is similar to an internship and can be done for academic credit.

After she graduated, Morales worked for a year in a lab at the New York State Department of Health with Dr. Bruce Herron, also a SUNY Plattsburgh alumnus.

“It was during that year, with more focus and some real professional experience that I realized medicine was the career I wanted to pursue,” she said.

She reconnected with her professors to get some advice about how to best approach medical school applications.

“After a lot of hard work and support, I was accepted into two U.S. medical schools,” Morales said. “This process is one that cannot be done alone; they (professors) truly helped me every step of the way.”

Valuable Campus Resources

Morales recommends students use the resources at the SUNY Plattsburgh Career Development Center and ask faculty to edit the personal statements needed for applications.

Work beyond the classroom is also of utmost importance for a strong application, she said. She believes volunteer work, leadership roles in student organizations and research projects helped her stand out in a sea of applicants.

Morales thinks her career as a physician will be a rewarding one.

“It is a privilege to take care of people and to have a positive impact on their health and lives every day.”

Slish said he is always happy to help students through the process of applying to medical or other graduate health science schools.

“My door is always open,” he said.


Contact Information

To learn more about academic programs at SUNY Plattsburgh, you can browse our directory of academic departments and programs or contact:

Phone: (518) 564-2040
Toll-Free: (888) 673-0012
Fax: (518) 564-2045