I have worked with a number of students that have been admitted to Northwestern’s HPME. Since many of my students are interested in this program I thought it would be interesting to hear from a current HPME student. One of my former students agreed to answer some questions to give you a little insight into life at HPME. Here are the answer to my questions:
1.What are you majoring in?
2.What activities have you been involved with at Northwestern.
I’ve created two startups around predictive analytics. One was in the education space – GuideHack (we stopped development after our grant with my local county chief of Accountability & Assessments fell through). The other, and the one I’ve been working on for the last year, is Standard Health, a predictive analytics software that engages patients in the hopes of improving adherence rates.
Standard Health has two additional side projects now:
-one is a project dealing with steroids and creating a “smart” electronic journal that can create dashboard reports on behavioral trends (from journal entries)
-the other is a project dealing with aiding in the diagnosis process by allowing clinicians to naturally search through unlinked EHRs and return clusters of previous patients with similar attributes
I’m also conducting research in implementation strategies for proven medical procedures in the medical ICU at four Northwestern affiliated hospitals near Chicago. This research is with a physician from the medical ICU who is interested in systematically identifying opinion leaders in the hospital – it is also in collaboration with a systems researcher at the Evanston campus.
I don’t consider this an activity, but since there’s a max 5.5 course per quarter limit, I always try and audit at least 1 (sometimes 2) more courses at Northwestern. They’re usually in either Kellogg, Design & Industrial Engineering classes at Ford, or Entrepreneurship classes.
I’m an RA.
3.Tell us about a typical day at Northwestern.
Usually I wake up much later than in high school (though it’s become a bit of a bad habit). Anyways, most of my classes are in the mornings – except when I have desk duty (RA thing).
My science classes are fairly large – like 150 students or so. I’m known to ask a lot of questions – interestingly, some professors know this before I enroll, so I tend to sit in the front if the class is exciting (Organic Chemistry) or focuses on building intuitive concepts (Engineering classes), or just has some amazing professors (most Economics classes).
Lunch & dinner is usually with HPME and non-HPME students alike. I hang out with a lot of the entrepreneurship and consult-y students more than pre-med students. With certain crowds, dining halls are more of salons than places to eat (e.g. we share insights from classes or life and somehow integrate philosophy, entrepreneurship, and medicine) – but it’s not in the nerdy sense.
Most of classes are in the mornings and labs in the afternoons, with many talks & Kellogg lectures in the evenings. I tend to go to the Comedy Club a lot (on Thursdays and Fridays) and share some of the punchlines I thought about throughout the week.
Almost once or twice a week, I meet with the Marks (e.g. my mentors) – the Dean of Undergrads (Mark Sheldon, who was my Bioethics professor in my freshman year – we’ve since spoken almost every week), an Industrial Engineering professor (Mark Werwath, who’s been sort of like a grandpa – I’ve thrown so many entrepreneurial ideas at him and he’s always given me some advice or next steps – and in some cases, helped me find school funding for things like conferences, etc.), and Mark Witte (an Econ professor who’s interested in helping me go through some of my ideas in healthcare).
About every evening, I also tend to speak with my Standard Health group – a group of undergrad data scientists,
4.What has surprised you the most about your experience at Northwestern and HPME?
How open it is to letting you explore any and all parts of medicine. I’ve bounced around quite a lot in my interests from healthcare policy to management and now to delivery science. And it’s been pretty astonishing how the director of the program is okay with that (though she’s asked many a time to be more systematic in how I approach my exploration).
5.What has been your favorite experience at HPME?
The range of students. The networks that I was able to make were phenomenal – they don’t stop at just the undergrads that you’re able to see. Some of my best friends are currently M2s in the medical school and my very close peer advisers are taking gap years in consulting firms and/or currently in a startup.
6.How much contact do you have with actual profess?
See above #3. One of the things that makes NU so great is its interdisciplinary nature – I can go to a professor in the School of Education & Social Policy and Kellogg class and a professor in the Engineering School – and even though I’m not in any of those schools, they’re all very open to students and research across disciplines.
What’s also awesome is that professors really go above and beyond in doing this. I recently sat in a Kellogg class for all of Fall quarter…but Kellogg’s academic advising office told me I couldn’t go to another class (as undergrads don’t currently have access). The Kellogg professor emailed the office and overruled them…and they let me stay in his other classes for the Winter and Spring quarters!
7.How much contact do you have with other students in HPME?
I always am in contact with HPME peers – they’re some of my closest friends at NU. It’s a great relationship to have with a group of people – the comfort in knowing that they’ll stick around for the next 7 years, especially in a college environment where people are branching to other places (e.g. jobs, graduate schools, etc.)
8.Anything that you think prospective applicants to HPME need to know about?
I think I’ve been fortunate to choose a path that most HPME students don’t choose – but know that there is a strong place for you no matter what your interest within medicine. And trust me – there’s not too many things that HPME students have not done already, so you’ll be bound to find someone – a fellow student or alumni or medical student – that has pursued something in that interest.