Maris on myths, misconceptions and more

By Susan Andrews
October 5, 2011

One stop pre-professional health students will want to make is located on the second floor of Bradley Hall. Sit down and talk to Dr. Mindy Maris, director of Bradley’s new Pre-Professional Health Advisory Center, and you will learn the nuts and bolts of preparing for the MCAT, applying to medical school, and much more about a host of health-related careers.

“There are many myths and misconceptions about the MCAT and the process of applying to medical school,” Maris said.

“I plan to work with students one-on-one from their first semester on campus,” Maris said. Reflecting back on her own journey, she said, “I ultimately am where I want to be in my career and the place I want to be, but I did not get here without a little pain and struggle along the way.”

She explained that pre-med students believe they need to be “super extraordinary students, major in a science-related area, be an officer of three or more clubs, play varsity sports or have X number of clinical experiences.”  Not so said Maris who takes her role seriously in navigating the application process and preparing students to be successful in health professional schools.

A common belief exists among many that a science major is a prerequisite to a medical career. Maris said that students can major in most anything as long as long as they take the prerequisites in chemistry, biology and physics and end up doing very well in health-related professions.

“Bradley students are open-minded to areas of specialty in medicine,” Maris said. “I also see at Bradley a commitment to family practice and the underserved among our students.”

Students may also choose a health-related profession without interacting with humans and by choosing a rewarding career with a research focus. “Academia and industry provide opportunities for dedicated Ph.D.s who persevere in their research toward a goal of discovering cures or enhancing the quality of life of those afflicted with our most complex and serious diseases,” she said.

According to Maris, the blend of a medical degree and a degree in a non-related area opens up pathways to a number of interesting career choices. Today many students pursue various combinations of degrees that include an M.D./Ph.D., M.D./M.PH. or an M.D./J.D.

“The Pre-Professional Health Advisory Center will help students become more aware of the steps needed to achieve acceptance into a professional health program,” said Jameil Abou-Hanna, a pre-med senior at Bradley. “Dr. Maris has been extremely competent and willing to assist me in my journey to applying to medical school. Through useful tools such as personal essay revisions, mock interviews and having a wealth of information about different programs, Dr. Maris will bring continued success to Bradley students attempting to pursue their health career ambitions.”

Maris is impressed with the intelligence and thoughtfulness of Bradley students. Jameil expressed to her that he worries about maintaining a strong commitment to humanity and to serving others beyond medical school and his early career.

The health field offers rewarding opportunities that extend beyond that of a medical doctor. “There are many career paths outside of pre-med that are less known that our students can pursue, including physician assistant, veterinarian, dentist, physical therapist and optometrist.”

Maris said that Peoria, the largest medical area in Central Illinois, provides the same level of resources that she found working on both coasts. “Peoria offers Bradley students a wealth of opportunities and venues to acquire meaningful clinical and non-clinical experiences that will prepare them for continued success in graduate and professional programs.”

The Pre-Professional Health Advisory Center will host a luncheon event on October 18 for students to learn more about training opportunities with the Navy Medical Officer programs. Lt. Sonny McGowan will discuss the program and answer questions. The event begins at 11:30 in Bradley Hall room 239. Lunch will be provided. RSVP to