Campus News Archives

Local physicians train next generation through UT Martin Pre-Med Scholars Program


Contact 1: Erin Chesnut


MARTIN, Tenn. – In fall 2011, two Martin-area physicians approached faculty members at the University of Tennessee at Martin to find out how they could become more involved with students hoping to go to medical school. The answer became known as the UT Martin Pre-Med Scholars Program, a two-year job shadowing plan for selected pre-medical students.

Fourteen students are participating in the program during the 2016-17 academic year, and they rotate among two area hospitals and nine local physicians in a variety of specialties. Some students have even been able to observe major procedures such as pacemaker placement and childbirth.

Dr. Nikhil Patel, a Martin-based gastroenterologist and one of the program’s founding physicians, believes this hands-on, behind-the-scenes experience is vital to help students get a glimpse into life after medical school.

“It’s not so much about learning the science, it’s about visualizing what your future is going to be and deciding whether you like it or not,” he said. “(The students) get to see us in the office. … We can involve them in medical records and the nursing side, the front desk, hospital rounds and surgeries; so they really get first-hand experience that would be difficult for them to get otherwise.”

Josh Diltz, a senior from Albuquerque, N.M., has completed his time in the program and looks forward to beginning medical school in the coming years. “Being a Pre-Med Scholar … was a great way for me to reaffirm that I want to become a doctor because I got to witness first-hand what doctors do and how they interact with their patients,” he said.

Diltz believes the most important lesson picked up during his time in local clinics is the art of a caring bedside manner. “That’s the biggest key, I think, to being a good doctor,” he said. “You can know as much as you want to, but if you’re not able to relate to the patient one-on-one, then it doesn’t matter.”

Many participating physicians also serve as unofficial mentors and advise students on topics such as preparing for the Medical College Admission Test and medical school interviews. Patel and others have also contributed MCAT study materials for student use.

For more information on UT Martin’s Pre-Med Scholars Program and the application process, contact Kristina Pitz, pre-professional programs coordinator, at 731-881-7478 or by email at



(top) Dr. Elizabeth Lund (right), a physician with the Surgical Associates of Martin, shows Catrina White (center), a second-year Pre-Med Scholar, how to examine a patient.

(bottom) Joshua Diltz, a senior at the University of Tennessee at Martin, has completed the two-year Pre-Med Scholars Program and is preparing to apply to medical schools in the coming year.

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