Name: Thomas Cassimatis
Undergraduate university and year of graduation: University of Missouri-Columbia, 2018
Major: Biological Sciences
Medical school and expected year of graduation: The Ohio State College of Medicine, 2024
What led to your interest in medicine?
I have been singularly interested in science since childhood, although my career ideas and goals from elementary school to now have changed quite a bit. When I got to college, I became involved in volunteer service, which I found rewarding and worthwhile. I started to realize that medicine was the best combination of scientific knowledge and service, and that it was a good fit for me and what I wanted from my life and career.
What experiences did you have that confirmed medicine was the right career for you?
I remember my first time shadowing a pediatrician was when I had a feeling of excitement and that I was in the right place. Since then, every clinical encounter I have with a patient reaffirms that I am on the right path for me.
Who or what inspired you?
The doctors I have had throughout my life have inspired me, but most of all was my pediatrician. He was not only a great doctor in the clinic but also worked in the community to pass a local law requiring bike helmets for children. I aspire to work equally within a clinic and my community to make life better for the people around me.
What challenges or obstacles have you faced in pursuit of a medical career?
During my freshman and sophomore years of college I was planning on going straight from undergrad to medical school without any gap between. By the time I started junior year I realized I was going to need to take a gap year to add to my resume and application in order to feel fully confident that I would be accepted to a school. I ended up doing a two-year research program before starting medical school and I could not be happier that I did. We always imagine that our careers will happen as planned but there will always be something that alters your path, often making it better.
How did you prepare for the medical school application process?
I think the best way to prepare for the medical school application process is to get advice from a lot of sources and make sure to get it early. I talked to friends, professors, advisors, doctors, and principal investigators from multiple institutions to get a balanced and thorough idea of what I needed to do to succeed.
What advice do you have for applicants considering a career in medicine?
I think the majority of pre-med students I knew freshman year of college ended up doing something else by graduation. Some of these people changed plans because it was more difficult than they thought, but I think most went elsewhere because they realized it wasn’t for them. Many students are initially attracted to medicine because it is highly competitive and carries a certain amount of prestige, but that isn’t anything to base a career on. Ask yourself, “Am I doing this because it is what I am interested in and it is where I will find purpose, or is it because other people want me to/I feel I have to in order to succeed?” I think that’s a question every freshman pre-med should honestly answer for themselves throughout their first year.