Program prepares students for health-related careers

Hanover College has created a new program that will prepare students for allied health careers that may include medicine, dentistry, physical therapy or veterinary medicine, as well as other fields.

Based on the model of the College’s successful Business Scholars Program, the new Healthcare and Biomedical Sciences Program (HBSP) will provide career discernment and enhanced preparation for students who self-identify interest in a pre-health course of study.

“Everyone knows there are a number of students who change paths, either by their own volition or by the academic process,” said program director and Hanover Assistant Professor of Biology Luke Starnes. “What we serve to do is facilitate two capacities: (for) those students who have the desire and capability to go to medical school, we want to make sure they know what classes they have to take and when they have to take them; what they have to do and how to be competitive. For those students who decide medicine isn’t for them, they need to realize that there’s lots of other things they can do in allied health.”

Starnes has partnered with members of Hanover’s faculty and staff who serve as experts in various fields in areas such as internships, test preparation and interviewing, among others. For students who decide they no longer wish to pursue traditional medicine, the program offers extensive, personalized advising to help them make a new career choice.

In addition to a speaker series where students can hear directly from varied health professionals, one of HBSP’s biggest advantages is the opportunity for an externship at King’s Daughters’ Hospital in Madison, Ind. Immersed for a full semester, the externship offers participants the opportunity to gain first-hand exposure to numerous medical specialties through extensive job-shadowing, along with an invaluable opportunity to develop personal connections with practicing physicians in the area.

“If the students want to do more and their schedules allow it, we don’t limit them to four hours per week,” he added.

Directing the externship with Starnes is Hanover class of 2002 alumnus and orthopedic surgeon Travis Clegg, M.D. Entry is competitive with only four students admitted per semester. In order to be eligible, students must have at least one year of biology, a semester of organic chemistry, a 3.3 GPA, two faculty references and a 1,000 word essay on how the externship will clarify their goals and career objectives.

At the hospital, student will do a minimum of two, two-hour rotations per week in areas such as anesthesiology, internal medicine, surgical and emergency room, among others. The externship also counts as one unit of academic credit through a directed study.

Currently, Starnes said he has 58 students involved in HBSP, many of whom learned about the program through LEAP sessions and word of mouth, but has hopes the program will continue to grow.

“The major advantage is the personalized attention (students) get,” said Starnes. “If you can start to notice that there isn’t an interest or a disconnect in interest in medical school, we can help the student find something else.”

Funding for the program has come from a gift made by Dr. Brenda Igo Townes ’67, along with support from a nearly $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to help graduates find meaningful employment in Indiana.

For more information about the Health and Biomedical Sciences Program, visit