Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Pre-med advising: The doctor’s in

A new pre-medical/pre-health adviser will begin work at Northwestern’s Academic Advising Center today, bringing the number of full-time pre-medical/pre-health advisers to two.

Francisco Castelan will join Nancy Tapko as a full-time pre-medical/pre-health adviser. Tapko replaced John Lyons in February 2005. Lyons was at the time the only pre-medical/pre-health adviser at NU for eight years.

Castelan worked at the University of Wyoming and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned his Ph.D. Tapko, his colleague at the center, also has advising experience: She worked with pharmacy students at University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Pharmacy.

“I was so happy to get a full-time second adviser; we couldn’t do what we needed to do with just one person,” said Susan Fox, director of the University Academic Advising Center.

The hire comes after the Office of the Provost approved a budget request for an additional adviser at the urging of the center and Associated Student Government last spring. Lyons retired in October 2004, leaving those on the pre-med/pre-health track – estimated then at 1,200 undergraduates, according to ASG – without any pre-professional advising resources.

“The additional adviser will really help us serve students,” Fox said. “Lyons became so inundated – students had to wait two to three weeks for an appointment.”

ASG played an integral role in convincing the Office of the Provost that an additional pre-med/pre-health adviser was needed, Fox said. Weinberg senior Jodi Anderson, chairwoman of ASG’s Academic Advising Subcommittee, said the group was contacted by a pre-dental student group about the need for better pre-med/pre-health advising last fall and began to draft bills.

“When Lyons left, there was a huge gap in the network,” Anderson said. “We passed a unanimous bill through the (ASG) Senate calling upon the NU administration to require a second adviser.”

The bill, presented to the Board of Trustees last October, lobbied for $10,000 to fund additional faculty pre-med/pre-health advisers.

Fox added she wants to ensure pre-med/pre-health undergraduates receive enough hands-on experience so they can get into the medical programs that are a good fit for them. The center also should provide students with first-hand information from top medical school administrators, she said.

“We want to make sure our students are getting an educated understanding of what the field is all about,” Fox said.

Weinberg junior Jeff Redinger said he would have sought additional resources from the pre-medical advising center, but never knew they existed.

“I guess I figured pre-med advising wasn’t accessible; they haven’t really gotten it out there,” said Redinger, who is on the pre-med track. “Now that I know there are these resources, I will go talk to one of the advisers.”

But Redinger said he remains skeptical of the impact an extra full-time adviser will have.

“We have such a concentration of pre-meds here, and I’m afraid that two or three advisers will be too little to give much individual direction,” he said.

Even though Fox said she has not heard of plans to hire a third full-time adviser, Greg Cera will be available for freshmen pre-meds starting this year. Cera is a general academic adviser for Weinberg .

“It would be great to have people guiding freshmen and sophomores because a lot of students figure out by the end of sophomore year that they don’t want to do pre-med,” Redinger said.

In addition to guiding the many freshmen who come in hoping to follow a pre-medical track, the advising center should start working to recruit under-represented minority pre-med students, Fox said.

“We don’t have as high a number (of minority pre-meds) as peer institutions, and I think we can do better,” she added.

Last fall’s ASG bill called for hiring new advisers and establishing a Health Professions Board with students assigned to a specific faculty adviser on the board. Though this has not yet happened, the hiring of Castelan is a step in the right direction, Anderson said.

“It’s amazing that we have another resource coming in – we’ve had really positive reactions coming from both faculty and students,” she said.

Reach Amanda Palleschi at

[email protected].

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Pre-med advising: The doctor’s in