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Manpreet Sira ’17

Getting a leg up on the competition

siraManpreet Sira '17 will enter medical school with a flying start thanks to a preparatory program meant to bolster the number of doctors from minority groups and rural areas.

Sira—whose family originally is from India and now lives in London, Ky.—is attending the University of Louisville’s Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDP) during Transylvania’s summer break.

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the six-week program teaches how math and science are integrated into medical studies and careers and provides academic credit, housing, and a stipend. SMDP is free, but admission is competitive; it’s offered at 11 campuses nationwide.

“SMDP will be a good start-up to get into medical school,” Sira said. “I feel like it does give me an edge.”

In addition to the academic studies, participants shadow doctors and medical school students; this helps give them an idea of what sort of medicine they may want to practice. If Sira follows in the footsteps of her physician mother (who worked in Manchester, Ky., pop. 1,300), she’ll choose to practice in a rural area. This comes with benefits such as really getting to know your patients and coworkers.

Last summer she participated in the Professional Education Preparation Program, also through U of L, and she recently shadowed at her mom’s hospital.

Another asset heading into medical school will be the liberal arts education she’s receiving at Transylvania. “I actually can talk to my professors and I can go to them after classes and ask questions,” she said. “And that has been incredibly helpful in my science classes.”

Because all students at Transylvania work toward a bachelor of arts degree, she’s pushed to take classes such as introduction to fiction, Hinduism, painting and ceramics. “It’s necessary to have a well-rounded education, and medical schools definitely value that,” she said.

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