Richard Stefanic
Princeton, West Virginia
Undergraduate Degree:
Biology, West Virginia University

1. What made you want to get your MD degree at WVU?

My brother and sister were born and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. At a young age I observed a lot of doctors and facilities at West Virginia University, which made me very familiar and comfortable with the environment.

2. What made the program so appealing?

The location; I want to practice in West Virginia and gaining my education through WVU is respected by my community.

3. Why did you decide to do the rural track?

My hometown is rural and I plan to become as educated/experienced as possible to treat my friends and family. I have no ambition to work in a larger city long term, and want to expose myself to rural situations which is offered through this program.

4. What is your favorite part of the program?

I love my externship, so this is my favorite part! This allows us to go out and work with preceptors between the MS1 and MS2 years and gain valuable experience in communities which we can foresee ourselves in practice.

5. What made you want to become a doctor?

I have been exposed to many different aspects of medicine through family illnesses. Through these observations, I asked questions which sparked more of an interest for me. I have always gravitated to first aid or medical oriented things, and the brick just fell in to place.

6. How do you balance your home, school, and social life?

A lot of people have asked me this question. I study until I feel confident in my knowledge, then take a break which includes spending time with my girlfriend, calling home, or just doing an oddball topic to rest my mind from academics. I have tried to find a nice balance between everything, because too much of anything is bad. It was a challenge finding the mix of studying, keeping up with friends/family, and relaxing.

7. What do you think about the schools community service requirement?

I think it is important. A lot of people look down on it because it is more work, but we are here to help the community and this allow us to do that. It is important for us to understand the people we are treating, which are broad in personality. The community service gives us a good insight in how we can help "the people" as we broaden our lives in medicine.

8. The program had a week long orientation before classes started. What did you think of that?

Orientation was beneficial in learning about the school. There are people in my class from California to Mississippi and from New York to Morgantown. This week allowed everyone to come together. Orientation was helpful in dispelling some rumours and telling me what medical school was going to be like. Through this, I learned the staff and faculty would bend over backwards to help my classmates and myself with whatever we needed.

9. What are your goals after graduating?

I have an interest in Emergency Medicine, however I am keeping an open mind. I would like to do something on the "front lines" in my career. I love to help people who are hurt and welcome the idea of practicing in a smaller town (couple of thousand people). I want to form a relationship with my patients and I do not want to be a stranger to them.

10. What is your favorite thing to do outside of school?

I love to target practice, go to the range, and just go outdoors. I like to repel, and I am involved in the Boy Scouts as an adult leader. In a nutshell: I would much rather be outdoors than indoors with the exceptions of sleeping and seeing patients.

11. Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about medical school?

If you really enjoy helping people and want to better someone's life, this is the option for you to explore. The curriculum is not easy, but if one has the ambition to do it, the possibilities are endless. It is super easy to "think" you might want to be a doctor, and then realize that you don't really want to be a doctor after the classes begin... so just make sure this is what you want to do before any commitments are made.

12. You had a nationally recognized poster. How was the experience?

My poster involved a needs assessment study in my hometown on insurance limitations. There are two parts to this study: First is the need of the community. Second is the intervention and education of the community on what Medicare and Medicaid are and the differences with each.

The experience is invaluable! I was able to see how community research takes place in understanding the mindset of the people in my hometown. Insurance can be confusing, including medical students. My hometown is mostly blue collar workers who find deaing with little paperwork troublesome. I need to understand how they think, and what makes them tick, so I can help them to the best of my ability.

13. Since you are preparing for your summer externship how valuable do you think that experience will be.

I also think this experience will be invaluable. Considering we can do research or the clinical externship, I think the clinical side will be more helpful with diagnoses and comprehension. What we learn how is only a bonus because we do not have clinicals until 3rd and 4th year. It will broaden our horizon and will benefit me later in clinical years.

14. You are a member of both HCOP how did those programs help you?

Second to God, this is the single most factor that helped me get accepted to medical school. HCOP started me as a student before I was an undergraduate. The staff helped prepare me for college and then assisted me in preparing for the MCAT. HCOP allows students to gain clinical experience in a huge and diverse way.

I was able to see what medicine is before the curriculum began. This program prepared me and made it FUN to learn!

- Interviewed summer of 2014 (in between MS1 and MS2 years)