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ICU doctor looks back on her time as a York College Pre-Med student

A glimpse under a tree on the main York College campus

The first time Dr. Jessica Boehmler experienced working with a dead body wasn’t in medical school — it was in her Pre-Med studies at York College of Pennsylvania.

And for that, she was very thankful.

“The advanced anatomy class I took at York Hospital really helped me prepare for medical school,” she says. “The instructor really worked with us on our anatomy findings. It was much less of an overwhelming experience before experiencing the cadaver lab in medical school.”

Jessica is a 2003 graduate of York College’s Pre-Medical Studies program and is now an ICU/Pulmonology physician at Lehigh Valley Hospital, a teaching hospital in Allentown.

Fitting her needs

When she decided to become a doctor, she had a lot of choices for pre-med programs. She wanted the big university education but didn’t want the large classrooms, expansive campuses and big crowds of big university life.

She didn’t want to be lost in the shuffle of a big, overwhelming college experience.

The Allentown resident also wanted to be close enough to home to visit but far enough away to feel that independence of living on a college campus.

York College fit her needs.

It was small enough and she loved the feel of the campus.  She’s been happy with her decision.

In fact, she says anyone who is considering a career in medicine should understand that, while it is very competitive, students don’t have to go to a big-name university to be successful.

“You can be successful anywhere as long as you put the time in,” she says.

Preparing for medical school

Her experience working with a human cadaver stands out as one of the big ways her Pre-Med studies at York College set her up for success in medical school and her career.

“They encouraged us to do a lot to prepare for medical school,” she says. “It was a really nice experience.”

After York College, she attended Drexel University for medical school followed by a three-year residency at Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond. She then completed her med-school education with a fellowship that lasted three years.

Today, Jessica’s a mother of a 1-year-old boy and lives in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. She spends most of her time taking care of critically ill patients in the ICU and working with outpatient lung disease patients. She spends a lot of time teaching residents, as well.

Over her four years at York College, Jessica says she was one of about five Pre-Med students, so she and her fellow students were close and remain friends today.

She loved that the school offered an excellent Pre-Med education in a smaller, quainter environment.

The faculty at York College are all from major universities and understand the process, she says.

“There’s not a lot you can do to prepare for medical school,” she says, laughing at the thought of all that stress. “Do the work to get into medical school and get good grades, certainly, but also take time to enjoy being in college before the real challenges begin.”