New Master of Medical Science Program Prepares Students for Graduate and Professional Goals
The new Master of Science in Medical Science (MSMS) program in the Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation, is designed to help prepare students and elevate their credentials for professional health schools or doctorates in research science. Here, students Luke Bubela, Damaris Flores, and Lesly Gil discuss their experiences, the faith-based aspect of the program, and how it creates community despite being 100% online.
After graduating in the Spring of 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Luke Bubela worked as an EMT and prepared to apply for medical school. Although he had done well in his upper-level science courses, Luke wanted a more competitive GPA and began looking for a master’s program to “prepare for medical school and also show them and myself that this is something I’m qualified to do.”
When searching for a program, Luke was naturally drawn to Baylor both as an alumnus of Mary-Hardin Baylor and also because his younger brother will be attending Baylor in Fall 2023. He discovered that the MSMS program was accepting applications and “went for it.”
Luke says that the program has expanded his knowledge of concepts that he needs for medical school, such as high-level biochemistry, along with exposing him to new areas of study. “A lot of people will just look at the Physics, the Organic Chemistry, the things that you will need for the MCAT and your tough classes,” he says, but courses like Medical Ethics and Evidence-Based Practice in Research are helping to prepare him for his career beyond medical school. “You have to think about what type of physician you want to be, how to live your life fully as a health care professional, and how you can do that in the best way possible.”
Luke describes the faith-based aspect of the program as “subtle but present throughout,” saying, “It’s nothing that is exclusionary. It’s more so providing a solid framework for understanding what medicine means within the context of the Christian lifestyle and the Christian doctor.” He notes that anyone from the program can benefit from the faith-based element, “both those who are able to more closely understand their own faith journey, and those who can have a better understanding of those around them who are living in the faith.”
Damaris Flores, a Baylor alumna in the class of 2021, always wanted to pursue a master’s degree, “especially something tailored toward allowing students to matriculate into a professional health program.” Wanting to make use of her "gap year" before medical school, she searched for a one-year master’s program that she could complete either online or locally from her hometown of Mission, Texas. Baylor’s MSMS program “checked all the boxes.”
Damaris saw the Christian faith present in the program from the time she applied. She says, “As soon as I was accepted, Dr. Jacob Brewer [Program Director] and Ms. Theresa Hagan [Office Manager], asked to meet with me on Zoom, and they asked at the end of the session, ‘Is there any way we can pray for you and uplift or encourage you?’ So, I got my first taste of that the first time I met them.” She also notes that every course has opportunities to submit prayer requests, praises, or expressions of thanksgiving.
Damaris highlights time management as a major way the program is preparing her for medical school, since she works at a defense firm in addition to being a full-time student. The program challenges her to balance professional and academic goals, and overall, she says that “With time management, putting faith into practice, and the new level of rigor in the classes, I’m learning a lot.”
On the sense of community in the program, Damaris says that students introduce themselves at the beginning of every course, and she has found several people across Texas who reached out to each other because they had something in common. “It might be that we both graduated from Baylor, or we both majored in Biology,” she says, noting that she currently has a group of five close friends in the program. “Enrolling in a completely virtual program has exceeded my expectations. The cohort and the professors have established a caring community—just as I remember campus and academic life back at Baylor.”
Lesly Gil was interested in going to medical school throughout her undergraduate career, studying on the Pre-Medical track at Texas A&M University. She was drawn to Baylor’s MSMS program because its online courses would allow her to continue her work as a research assistant at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Because of her research work, the program’s Statistics course specifically appealed to her. “With Statistics, I realized how important it is to understand what you’re reading and its significance. Sometimes, you just take researchers’ words and you don’t question. Taking that statistics class made me think: Are those values really saying what they’re trying to say?”
Currently, she is taking Biochemistry, Anatomy, and Pathophysiology. Lesly says she knows that all of these courses will be helpful for her future in medical school, and that Biochemistry is already connecting with her research, allowing her to see the theory behind her work. “We’re learning about different techniques, and they’re actually techniques that I use in the lab,” she notes. “They’re an everyday thing for me.”
Since she hasn’t attended a Christian school before, having professors discuss their faith was a new experience for Lesly. “It caused me to get closer to my faith and look further into my beliefs,” she says, “and it’s just nice to have professors tell you that they’re praying for you, making sure that everything’s going all right, and asking if there’s anything they can do for you.”
After medical school, Lesly is interested in going into the field of fertility, which is also the focus of her current research. Her courses are helping prepare her for those goals by giving her a deeper knowledge of topics from her undergraduate career and developing her understanding of ethics. “Before taking that class [Medical Ethics], I thought nothing was going to change my mind about where I stood on certain things. Now, I’m more open-minded. I see where the other opinions and beliefs are coming from.”
Ultimately, the first cohort of students in the Master of Science in Medical Science program have been able to utilize the flexibility of an online program to pursue their respective interests and goals while still enjoying being part of Baylor’s Christian community.
“We are extremely proud of Luke, Damaris, Lesly, and all of the students in our initial cohort,” Program Director Jacob Brewer shared. “The Baylor MSMS is a rigorous, time-intensive program, and our students have made a commitment by choosing to enroll. We are excited to see what comes next for these students as they begin their final term!”
Learn more about the Master of Science in Medical Science at Baylor University at robbins.baylor.edu/msms.