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Landon Allen (left) and Ryan Koch (right). Source: Lock Haven University

Lock Haven -- Considered a "lesser-known gem" in terms of programs at Lock Haven University, the pre-professional program helps medical doctors, optometrists, podiatrists, pharmacists, chiropractors, dentists, and veterinarians get their start.

Four students, including Ryan Koch of the class of 2016; Landon Allen, 2017; Alexa Mills, 2016; and Tiarra Helman, 2018, share their stories about how LHU helped them achieve their professional goals.

Koch and Allen became friends while majoring in biology and chemistry at LHU. They are now both attending Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine in Arizona. Allen began at Midwestern in 2018; Koch spent 18 months working as a dental assistant before joining Allen in 2019.

The two are a support system for one another as they work toward earning their D.M.D. to practice general dentistry. Koch aims to specialize in surgery; Allen on implants. Both alumni say their professors at LHU were pivotal in helping them transition into dental school.

“I’ve spoken with students who have gone to huge universities or Ivy League schools and they haven’t had the opportunities I had at LHU,” Allen said. “Even some of the curriculum I’m currently learning is just relearning what LHU already taught me.”

“The bio and chem departments do a great job preparing you for your entrance exams,” Koch said. “Bottom line, you’re going to save a lot of money going to LHU versus bigger schools and you’re going to get the same education, if not better.”

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Tiarra Helman (left) and Alexa Mills (right). Source: Lock Haven University

Mills came to LHU intending to become a physician assistant, but after immersing herself in science classes and receiving field experience during her freshman and sophomore years, her advisor, Dr. Kathy Allison, informed her that she could remain a health science major and she would only need a few additional prerequisites to prepare her for medical school. Mills is now in her third year at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine in Scranton. She plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine and is considering specializing in critical care. Like Koch and Allen, Mills praised LHU for providing her with an “amazing” education.

“The professors were amazing. Their passion was contagious,” Mills said. “I was able to conduct research and present at state and national conferences. Plus, I was probably the only person coming into med school out of my class of 100 people that had ever taken cadaver lab. I did all of this at Lock Haven.”

Like Mills, Helman came to LHU to become a physician assistant, but with help from her advisor, Dr. Louis Widmann, she took on the additional prerequisites for medical school. She is now in her first year at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). She entered med school envisioning becoming a family doctor, but is now considering specializing in dermatology or rheumatology.

Dr. Ted Nuttall is LHU’s premed advising coordinator. For Helman, Nuttall was instrumental in helping her select courses that would prepare her for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Not only is Nuttall helping students in the classroom, but behind the scenes he is working to create affiliations with medical colleges across the country.

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.

Since 2017, 11 LHU students have been accepted into medical professions schools.

This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.