Zachary Claudio

“All of the physicians I shadowed during high school and undergrad were WVU School of Medicine graduates. They were all fantastic at what they did and I wanted to be like them.”

Charleston, WV
Undergraduate Degree:
Chemistry, West Virginia University

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

All of the physicians I shadowed during high school and  undergrad were WVU School of Medicine graduates. They were all fantastic at  what they did and I wanted to be like them. That being said, I figured it would  be an excellent place to come for medical school since I had already witnessed  what the final product of a WVU School of Medicine grad looks like in the  clinic.  

2. What made  the program so appealing?  

I interacted with Dr. Ferrari when I was an undergraduate  student.  He genuinely cares about each of us and wants us to succeed. The  deans and faculty want nothing more than for everyone to be successful and I  think that in itself gives the students here the confidence to achieve their  goal of performing well in school and ultimately matching into a desired  specialty.

3. What is  your favorite part of the program?

I like the PDCI course and shadowing experiences.  It gives  us a chance to look at different types of specialties early on in our medical  education.  It is good exposure and you normally wouldn’t do it since you  are so busy, but it is built into the curriculum. I also like the Problem Based  Learning course because I love case-based learning and it gives me an  opportunity to apply what I am learning in class to actual clinical scenarios.   

4. What made  you want to become a doctor?

The pediatrician that I had when I was growing up had excellent  bedside manner and was always teaching me things during each visit so I guess  you could say that he sparked my interest in medicine. Once I decided that that  was what I wanted to do I started shadowing different specialties, which solidified  my decision.   

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

This is the most difficult thing to accomplish early on in  medical school primarily due to the tremendous material load that you are given  and expected to know in such a short amount of time.  It requires a lot  discipline, focus and time to get through the material each day, but I always  try and make sure that I set an hour or so aside for myself. During that time I  will either workout, grab a bite to eat with friends or call my parents.  

6. How does  being physically active like playing soccer help?  

It is great because it allows me to get a release and take a  mental break from school.  I played in undergrad here at WVU, so taking  time in medical school to do something that I really enjoy makes me to feel  refreshed when I sit back down to study.

7. What do  you think about the school's community service requirements?

It is a fantastic idea.  Sometimes we get so consumed with  classwork that we forget about everything else outside of school and our  personal life.  The community service requirement helps us keep things in  perspective and creates an opportunity for us to get involved in the community  during our time as a medical student.

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

It is good for two reasons.  One it helps you transition  from “summer mode” to “medical student mode” with the five full-days of  activities and two it is great time to meet your new classmates.  I went  here for undergrad and I knew a couple people coming in so it was a great opportunity  to meet the other members of my class. It also gives you a chance to meet some  of the faculty before school starts. 

9. What are  your goals after graduating?

At this point, I have not totally decided on a specialty so I am  keeping an open mind for my rotations during 3rd year.  That being said, I  am confident that the curriculum will prepare me for whatever specialty I  decide on during that time.

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

I like to do some sort of physical activity since I am sitting  so much while I study. Usually, I go to the gym, play in an adult soccer league  game or play pickup soccer with my classmates.  Whatever it may be, I just  try to take time for myself to relax and get away from studying/sitting.  

11. How will being at the Charleston Campus for your last two years  be different than being at Eastern or Morgantown?  

According to the current MS3s and MS4s at the Charleston Campus  that I have talked to, there are less fellows and residents, which creates more  opportunities for one-on-one experiences with the attending physician compared  to the Morgantown campus.  This will be beneficial to me because I’ve always  felt like I learn better when I am getting my hands involved rather than  standing in the back watching.

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

You should do it! Realize that it is a huge commitment and there  is no “easy button.” However, when you finish your time as a medical student  you will have the privilege to pursue a career that allows you to improve the  health of another human being. That is pretty cool. I would also shadow a  couple different specialties consistently so that you can get a feel for what a  career in medicine would be like. And one more thing, enjoy your time in  undergrad because that is a unique experience in and of itself.

- Interviewed summer of 2015