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Soaring Higher: Pre-professional program at LHU preparing students for a career in medicine

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The pre-professional program at Lock Haven University is preparing students interested in pursuing a professional medical degree after attending LHU to enter medical school. Whether a student’s interest lies in medical, dental, optometry, chiropractic, podiatry, pharmacy or veterinary medicine, LHU can provide them with the necessary support to get them there.

In 2016, LHU established a premed advising committee to help guide students on their path to medical school. The committee is chaired by biology professor, Dr. Ted Nuttall and also includes Dr. Jennifer Bandura, biology; Dr. Stephen Coval, chemistry; Dr. Michael Cullin, physics; Dr. Louis Widmann, health science; Dr. Heather Erb, English and philosophy; and Kristin Laudenslager, Career and Internship Navigator for the Center for Career and Professional Development.

LHU has affiliations with five medical professions schools, representing a total of 10 pathways to earn a reserved seat in these schools. Once a student qualifies for a program and is interviewed by the graduate school, a seat is saved for that student.

The affiliated schools are Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Temple University College of Podiatric Medicine, Duquesne University School of Pharmacy, Salus University, Pennsylvania College of Optometry and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“If you want to be a doctor of anything, we have an affiliation that can get you there – with saved seats for Lock Haven University students,” Nuttall said.

All premed student applicants are ranked by the premed advisory committee based on letters of recommendation by faculty and professionals, resume, application questionnaire, a personal statement, academic criteria and an interview.

“A Committee Letter of Evaluation, written by the chair and approved by the committee, is the preferred and strongest type of letter of support for a health-profession graduate school applicant,” Nuttall said. “The letter summarizes and documents the personal background, academic strengths, career knowledge and professionalism of an applicant.”

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Since 2017, 11 LHU students have been accepted into medical professions schools. Nate Rainey, a December 2019 graduate from Jersey Shore, is one of those students. Rainey was a biological science major with a track in biomedical sciences. He has been accepted to Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia, and will begin his education there in July.

During his time at LHU, Rainey was very active both on and off campus. He was a member and later the vice president of the Pre-Med Club and a member of the Global Honors Program. He was actively involved with Tutorial Services, tutoring students in several courses, including principles of biology I and II, basic biology, genetics and sociology. He also worked as a lab assistant setting up basic biology, developmental biology and genetics lab. Rainey also served as a peer mentor for freshman biology majors. Off campus, he volunteered as a middle school football coach at Loyalsock Township Middle School and hosted several American Red Cross Leader’s Save Lives blood drives. Over the entirety of his time at The Haven, he was employed by UPMC Susquehanna in the emergency room as a medical scribe, which Rainey said was the first step in developing his immense passion for medicine.

One of the biggest hurdles for a premed student can be passing the medical college admission test (MCAT). The test primarily involves the sciences – biology, chemistry and physics – but it also includes philosophy, sociology, psychology, critical thinking and math.

“I wholeheartedly attribute my success on the MCAT and my acceptance to medical school to the wonderful and passionate educators that I encountered in the classroom,” Rainey said. “In addition, my professors helped me to become a unique and highly qualified medical school applicant by providing me with an abundance of opportunities in research.”

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Some of the research Rainey had the opportunity to participate in included investigating salamander head morphology and studying genes involved in metabolic syndromes through bioinformatics and genomics techniques, respectively.

“Lock Haven University gave me the opportunities of a lifetime. You don’t have to go to an ivy league school and spend your whole life savings to get into medical school. … The options and opportunities (at LHU) are endless,” Rainey said.

“One of the strengths of Lock Haven University is we value laboratory experiences above lecture,” Nuttall said. “Whether you’re in chemistry, biology, physics – you’re going to be in the laboratory with your hands on real equipment. Equipment used in research labs accross the world.”

Rainey said he feels like he had a “second family” during his time at The Haven.

“The community and family-like feel of LHU enabled me to truly excel as a student and bloom as a person,” Rainey said. “In addition, I have always really appreciated all of my professors, particularly in my major (biology), for their constant effort to get to know their students at a personal level and to assist them in reaching their short- and long-term goals. I would not have been nearly as successful as a student without their constant effort to see their students succeed and their passion for their expertise, which almost became contagious in the classroom.”

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From left are Nate Rainey and Dr. Ted Nuttall.

For more information on Lock Haven University, visit, email, or call 570-484-2011. 

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Lock Haven University’s main campus is located on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in the scenic mountains of Pennsylvania. The university offers 49 undergraduate majors and certifications with 47 minors and five graduate programs.

LHU is a member of Pennsylvania’s State System, the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas of study. Nearly 520,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.


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Elizabeth Arnold
213 Durrwachter Alumni Conference Center
(570) 484-2293

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