Kenna Koehler

  • BA Biochemistry (Miami University), 2017
  • The Ohio State University College of Medicine

How did being a Miami chemistry/biochemistry major help you enter medical school?

Being a biochemistry major at Miami prepared me to be successful in medical school and my career as a future physician. The course work gave me a great foundation of knowledge for medicine and the MCAT, and I felt super prepared going into my exam knowing that the professors taught me the material in a way that was memorable and easy to understand. The biochemistry department also emphasizes the importance of research and learning important lab skills, which has given me the confidence to join clinical research projects as a medical student. Moreover, the professors at Miami were incredibly approachable and supportive of my dream to become a physician, and they were always willing to help me learn and achieve my goals. Additionally, having classmates within the biochemistry major that shared similar goals to go into healthcare made my education and college experience much more meaningful. We encouraged each other to pursue unique research, volunteer, and extracurricular activities, and it was great to have classmates to lean on for advice and support.

How does having been a Miami chemistry/biochemistry major help you currently in medical school?

As a graduate of Miami University, I felt completely prepared to take my next steps as a medical student and begin learning how to take care of patients. Biochemistry is a huge part of medicine and the medical board exams, and having a thorough understanding of the field gave me an advantage when I started medical school. Biochemistry was a challenging major that required hard work and dedication, but it prepared me well for the volume of information I needed to learn during my first two years. Being a Miami alumna has also connected me to many professionals in the medical field, and I've found a lot of support and networking opportunities within the graduate community.

Any advice for those who would like to go to medical school or who are considering to choose certain majors?

I would encourage you to pursue a major that you're passionate about and that will prepare you for your future career goals. Choose a major that will challenge you academically and professionally, and one that you feel supported in your dreams. If I could be an undergraduate student over again, I would take advantage of the research, volunteer, and extracurricular opportunities at Miami from the first day of freshman year. There are so many unique extracurricular activities that will make you stand out on an application, and I think that is one of the most helpful things you could do to prepare for medical school applications. Use your undergraduate years to discover what you're passionate about and what unique aspects you can bring to the medical field! Additionally, I encourage students to get to know their professors and make an effort to go to office hours. The faculty at Miami go above and beyond to help students be successful in and out of the classroom. Aside from helping students succeed academically, they are always open to discussing their research; be proactive and get to know them!
For the faculty, you guys are the best teachers I've ever had. Everyone was always approachable and easy to talk to, and it made my experience at Miami truly amazing. There are so many things that I learned in chemistry and biochemistry that are on my board exams that I still remember from Miami, so thank you for that! The biggest piece of advice I can give is to encourage students to participate in class and come to your office hours. That's something that I tried to do as often as I could, and it was one of the most helpful things for my education. Challenge your students to really learn the material and get involved in biochemistry/chemistry as early and as much as they can. For example, one activity that I really enjoyed was the honors project that I completed for organic chemistry in Dr. Konkolewicz's class; it was a paper about an industry that uses chemistry, so I wrote about the makeup industry. Even though it wasn't a super hard project, I actually had so much fun learning about products that I use every day and getting class credit for it. I'm not sure if that is still an option for honors students, but things like that can be a really rewarding and fun way for students to learn the "practical, real life" aspects of chemistry. Additionally, something I struggled with as a freshman was finding a research lab/mentor without feeling like I was bothering someone or emailing them about a project that wasn't available anymore. It might be helpful to gather a list of professors who have open spots in their lab at the beginning of the year and send it out to the students looking for projects in the biochemistry/chemistry department so they can find something that they're interested in.