Joseph Pepe – Osteopathic Medicine

NU 2011 - B.S. Health Science; Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2015

What led to your interest in a career in osteopathic medicine? Who or what inspired you?
I have always enjoyed the medical field.  I worked as a patient transporter in high school, which exposed me to all different aspects of the medical system.  Osteopathic medicine, in particular, has a strong emphasis on training its practitioners to be intuitive primary care physicians.  This philosophy is one of the reasons I feel the profession fits so well with my personal goals and values.  Though not all physicians serve in the primary care field, I believe that all physicians must be great general practitioners, first and foremost, no matter their level of specialization.  My experiences with emergency medicine, in particular, have shown me the importance of personalized care, which can so often be overlooked in such a hectic and fast passed field.

How did you prepare yourself for medical school? The application process?
I mostly concentrated on doing as well as I could in my undergraduate classes and tried to balance that with gaining a good amount of clinical exposure.  As far as the application process goes, I tried to prepare my personal statement and MedAppTrak responses well in advance of when they would be needed.

What undergraduate experiences were most instrumental to your success?
Northeastern provided me with the opportunity to enhance my knowledge and skills through the experiential education that I received on my first co-op. During this time, I was able to obtain a job at Professional Ambulance of Cambridge, which gave me extensive clinical experience working in a busy urban environment.  I found that I enjoyed the work and decided to work on a year-round basis.  During my service there, I obtained over 4,000 hours of direct patient care experience. While working at Professional Ambulance, I decided to take my medical education one step further by participating in an intensive paramedic training program which involved an additional 1,200 hours of classroom education as well as a clinical internship at Boston Medical Center.  The internship offered a broad exposure to different aspects of medicine.  Rotations included time in the emergency room, anesthesia, pediatrics, labor & delivery, psychiatry, and the intensive care unit.  Every rotation gave me a sample of the exciting possibilities each field had to offer.  As I moved through the departments, I imagined myself working as a physician on each of the services.

What obstacles or hurdles did you overcome in your medical school journey?
The MCAT!  I think it is definitely the most feared component of the process. However, I decreased my stress by studying early and testing early.

Did you did matriculate directly from NU to medical school or did you have a gap year? Whether you entered medical school directly from NU or had a gap year (or more), looking back, are you happy with the decision you made? Why or why not?
I matriculated directly.  I am happy I did not take a gap year.  I felt that I was able to get my clinical experience through the coop program and did not see the need to take an additional year off.

Is medical school what you thought it would be?  Would you share your thoughts?
Medical school is more work than anyone will believe unless they have been there.  Even the top students are spending 10-12 hours studying and going to class every day.

What are your career goals right now?  Have they changed since you begin your medical school studies.
My goal when starting school was to become an emergency medicine physician.  I have not changed my goal but will be keeping an open mind when it is time for rotations.  I would eventually like to be in a position to teach and advise those who come after me.

What advice do you have for new applicants considering a career in medicine?
If you can see yourself doing anything besides medicine you should do that instead.  There are much better and more efficient ways to make a living.  I will be 31 years old when I finish my residency.  If you are going to spend 12 hours a day everyday for the next 4 years (and probably the rest of your life) learning medicine, you need to love what you’re doing and have a passion for it. Regarding the application process- the most controllable factor in all of this process is timing.  Applying as early as possible in the cycle is a huge advantage and involves no additional work.

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