Through Pitt Commons I chose to reach out to an alum named Ted Gobillot, who is currently an MD/PhD student at the University of Washington. I chose to reach out to Ted because I was hoping to get some advice about choosing and applying to MD/PhD programs. I know that it is a very long and difficult process, so I want to hear about some of the experiences of someone who is going through it. I think that talking to Ted will be extremely useful in rounding out the idea of what I want to pursue as a career. I also noticed that he had experiences in his undergraduate years such as TA’ing that I also want to get involved with. I figured that Ted would be a good person to talk to and get some insight into the things that I can be doing to pursue the career that I want.
Coming into college, I knew that I wanted to get involved with research early on because I had some experience with research in high school and I wanted to continue. After looking into some of the programs that Pitt had to offer for new students, I found the London Field Studies Fellowship through the Office of Undergraduate Research. I thought that this would be a pretty cool opportunity because it would give me a chance to research a topic that wasn’t the natural sciences, which is what I was used to. I wasn’t sure how to start a research project in the humanities, so I reached out to Dr. Frykman, who was the professor for a history class I was taking. We discussed possible topics to explore based on my interests and he helped me shape out the research project. Dr. Frykman mentored me for that project and I have continued to work with him as my research mentor. I think that how I got connected with my research mentor is an easy way for others to be able to find a mentor as well. If you’re taking a class that is interesting, just talk to the professor after class or during office hours. Let them know what kind of research you are interested in doing and ask if they have any suggestions for how to go about it. Even if they are not looking to take someone on as a mentee, they might know someone else in the department who is. The best way to get started is to just identify someone who you think might be helpful and start asking questions.
Going forward, I would like to make connections in the academic setting, both in the fields of history and medicine. Knowing that I want to pursue both fields, I think that it will be extremely useful to have connections. Also, when applying for graduate school programs, they usually ask you to identify a faculty member in the department who would be a good fit as an advisor. Having connections with history faculty members at Pitt and other institutions can better help me find those advisers and programs that will be a good fit for graduate school.
The cover photo for this post is of West Penn Hospital, around the late 19th century. West Penn Hospital is considered to be the first official hospital built in Pittsburgh.