Charlotte is this week’s Postbac in the Spotlight. Charlotte grew up in France, attended high school in the US, and spent several years traveling the world and working in South America before moving to Bennington. With a love for people and a passion for the sciences, Charlotte has decided that a career as a physician is the right path for her. Here are details on Charlotte’s journey to Bennington, her experience so far in the postbac program, and some wisdom for others considering a similar trajectory.
What experiences led you to wanting to become a medical doctor?
“I have always found medicine interesting and as a child thought I might want to be a doctor (as well as an Olympic gymnast and a Nobel Peace Prize winner). I took lots of science courses in high school, and had my first medical experiences on medical missions abroad and volunteering at a free clinic. I initially planned on following the premed track in college and spent time working at a hospital in Germany and teaching wilderness first aid; I then became very interested in international affairs and ended up focusing on political science. I spent the years after graduation exploring the world and different careers, which led to me circling back to medicine. It’s such a unique combination of science and humanism.”
Where did you go to college and what did you do after graduating?
“I attended Princeton and majored in politics with a focus on comparative politics, and a minor in Near Eastern studies. After college, I taught French and Spanish at boarding schools in Massachusetts and California for three years. I went traveling for a year in South America, and eventually settled in Peru and worked there for a year and a half.”
Why did you choose the Bennington postbac program?
“After researching several programs, I chose Bennington for its small class size as well as its focus on learning science for its own sake, not just as a hoop to jump through to get into medical school. I appreciate that scientific curiosity is genuinely encouraged at Bennington.”
What have been the highlights of your postbac year thus far?
“The summer session was a great transition period. I was nervous about being back in school after such a long break, and was grateful that the professors who taught us this summer offered lots of support and extra help.
“I have also been working as a pharmacy tech at a pharmacy in Bennington. I’ve learned a lot about the role of the pharmacy in delivering health care, about insurance in the US, and about the Bennington community and the health issues that broadly affect the area.
“I’ve also really enjoyed my time shadowing at the local hospital in the emergency and OB-GYN departments. The doctors there are very enthusiastic about having students shadow, encourage me to ask questions, and will even print out journal articles for me to take home and read. I’ve learned a lot from them.”
What did you do over the Field Work Term?
“During FWT, I stayed in Bennington and continued working at the pharmacy, and also worked at the Hawthorn Recovery Center, which provides medication-assisted treatment for patients seeking recovery from opioid addiction. Working at Hawthorn was an eye-opening experience for me, so much so that I’ll be continuing to work there during this spring term. It is one thing to read about the phenomenon of opioid addiction in the US in the news, and another entirely to confront the issue directly. I really admire the staff at Hawthorn, and working there has been a formative experience for me in terms of practicing non-judgment and compassion in a medical setting.”
What advice can you offer to others considering a postbac program?
“I’d say to try to make the most of this year as a valuable experience in its own right, and not just a slog to get through the prereqs to apply to med school. Being involved in the community has made my year much richer, and I’d certainly encourage others starting a postbac to find a few activities of interest outside the classroom.”
Tagged: , Bennington College , Bennington , Princeton , VT , CT , New England , Vermont , science , Healthcare , future MD , future doctor