Pre-health Advisor Reflections: Joseph Stabile
Name: Joseph Stabile, Ph.D.
Position: Professor of Biology, Health Professions Advisor
Institution: Iona College, New Rochelle, NY – No I do not “own a college” – It’s Iona College!
How long have you been at your current position at this institution?
I have been at Iona for 18 years and this is my third year as the Health Professions Advisor.
How did you find yourself on the path of becoming a pre-health advisor?
Well, initially it was not because of expertise. I was the Chairperson of the Biology department for two terms and I essentially switched positions with the previous health professions advisor. She took my place as chair and I took her place as the new health professions advisor. I really enjoy advising our students a lot more than being the chairperson.
What are common errors that pre-health students make and how do you correct them?
The first error is not coming to meet me during freshman year. I am not scary – drop by and say “Hi!” The worst error is not being fully prepared for standardized exams. It is critical to prepare 120% to give yourself the best chance for success.
How did you find out about the Tour For Diversity?
I first learned about the Tour For Diversity at one of the meetings for health advisors. It was the northeast regional meeting in Atlantic City – luckily I wasn’t in the casino! Dr. Kameron Matthews gave a great seminar. It was clear that the Tour For Diversity does great work. As I was listening to Dr. Matthews’ seminar, I kept thinking Iona College would be a great place to host the tour. After the seminar, I was on line to speak with Dr. Matthews when she shouted “Is anyone from Iona College here?”. It was serendipity!
Can you discuss any memorable events from the day?
The whole day was memorable. Drs. Landry, Matthews and the entire team did a great job giving the students wonderful information. What I liked most was meeting students from so many different schools in our area. We also invited some high school seniors from the Bronx and Westchester. It was great to see how well they fit in with the college students – they were very impressive.
How important is the relationship between pre-health advisor and student?
I think it is very important. Advisors can provide a lot of support. Students interested in the health professions should make it a point to meet the advisor and office staff (if your school has an office) in their first semester. I do receive a lot of information from professional schools and other opportunities that I distribute to my students. I also help them with their applications, personal statements, and interviews.
What advice would you give to other pre-health advisors?
First go to the meetings and meet your colleagues. As a new advisor, I attended the regional and national meetings for health advisors. This was a huge help. The advisors as a group are extremely friendly and helpful. I now have several advisors from other colleges that I consider good friends, and I contact them anytime I have questions. The advisor list serve is also very helpful. Also meet and talk with the admissions people from the professional schools. They are helpful and willing to answer your questions.
Another bit of advice is to set up a Blackboard site or other website where your students can register. The Blackboard site allows me to email all the health professions students simultaneously. This allows me to get the word out about different events on and off campus.
What challenges do you encounter in your role as a pre-health advisor?
At a small liberal arts college, professors can sometimes wear “several hats”. I am a teacher, academic advisor, research mentor and sometimes an administrator. Keeping up to date with all the changes across all the health professions can be challenging under these circumstances.
What role do post-baccalaureate programs play in a pre-health student’s career?
Post-baccalaureate programs do not really play an important role for my students. My students that do attend them do so for academic enhancement. Students that use them need to improve their grades and take additional upper-level science courses.
What are your Top 5 Do’s for pre-health students?
1. Study and do well in your classes and standardized exams.
2. Get to know your professors. This is an advantage of attending a small liberal arts college. Your professors will participate in your committee letter. You want them to write a lot of positive things.
3. Get involved. Participate in clubs, do research with a professor and definitely work on some service projects.
4. Try to have a variety of shadowing and clinical experiences. Start working on this early because it is becoming more and more difficult to get these experiences with the HIPAA rules. This is also important so you are sure this is what you really want to do.
5. Pursue a variety of interests. Choose courses and activities that you are curious about. You may not have this chance again.
What are your Top 5 Don’t(s) for pre-health students?
1. Don’t take the MCATs just to see “how I am going to do”.
2. Don’t have a red flag on your application (e.g. cheating).
3. Don’t have a negative attitude. Treat everyone with decency and respect.
4. Don’t be late. Make sure you follow instructions and be punctual in school and in your shadowing experiences.
5. Don’t be unrealistic. Be honest with yourself and make sure this is what you really want to do.