Alumnus Doctor Shares Advice

Alumnus Doctor Shares Advice

Julena Allen, junior communication major

A Keene native, Dr. Dennerd Ovando completed his undergraduate study at Southwestern Adventist University. Finding it to be more financially feasible and convenient to stay in Texas to complete his medical education, Ovando went to UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas for medical school. “Since my family and support group all lived in Texas and I grew up there, it worked out well for me to go to UT Southwestern instead of Loma Linda or somewhere further away,” Ovando states. There he discovered his interest in the specialized field of pediatrics and geared his education in that direction. He began his residency at Nickalus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida where he expects to be for the next three years.

Just recently, Ovando came back to Southwestern Adventist University to speak to the aspiring medical students there to hopefully inspired them with encouragement while dishing out the realities of the typical med student life.  In his presentation, Ovando touched on the basics of medical school and residency.

“Medical school is a 4-year program,” Ovando states. “When I was in school, the first 2 years were purely academic and then you’d take the United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE) before you did your clinical and decided what route you wanted to take as a doctor but now things are changing. Most schools are reducing the academic portion to a year and a half so that the students can have more hands-on experience.” After med school comes the residency which takes about another 3-7 years to complete. “Medical school takes a lot of your time, so make sure it’s something you really want to do,” advised Ovando.

Ovando also gave the students some valuable tips, telling them how to increase their chances of getting into medical school, how to better prepare themselves for medical school, and how to maintain balance to still enjoy their undergrad years. Below are some tips that he gave.

What you need to submit to go to medical school:

  • Resume
  • GPA
  • MCAT
  • An Essay (stating what inspired you to go into medicine and why you want to go to medical school).
  • Any extracurricular you’ve done
  • Any research done in scholarly subjects
  • And other things depending on the school you are applying to

A lot of students wonder if they have to major in a science field in order to apply to medical school and the simple answer to that is no. Ovando advises students to major in something that they are passionate in during their undergrad years. While it may be ideal to equip oneself with some scientific knowledge, anyone can apply to medical school and still get in. Medical school reteaches its students the foundations of science and the things they need to learn to continue as a doctor.

“Extracurricular activities are advantageous experiences to have and looks good on your application when applying for medical school,” Ovando states. “However, don’t stress yourself over it. One or two extracurricular activities done well is better than having multiple half done. The best option is to keep the extracurricular to a minimum but stay heavily involved in them.”

In regard to how many times one should take the MCAT, Ovando advised the students to do it once. “Study hard for it and then do well on the first try. It looks way better on your application if you do it that way than taking it multiple times to get the desired grade. Also, while prep courses have their benefit, you don’t necessarily have to take them to pass. They don’t provide you with any new study material that you can’t get anywhere else but are more useful in helping you stay organized in your studying.”

Ovando shared that his education at Southwestern Adventist University helped him learn to cope through the hectic moments of medical life. “The foundation I got here was solid,” Ovando reveals about his time at Southwestern. “The classes were really well taught and also gave me a good spiritual foundation by integrating spiritual aspects into the academia. That helped me to remember to include God in school which pulled me through med school.”


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