Post-bacc Program Can Influence, Solidify Career Path Changes
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Post-bacc Program Can Influence, Solidify Career Path Changes

After graduating from Penn State in 2016 with a degree in Biology, Allison Dorgan, PBHS ‘21, ‘25OD, considered attending medical school. But a really good opportunity working as a microbiologist presented itself, so Dorgan took the job in her hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Student studying on her computerAfter two-and-a-half years of that, Dorgan learned a lot, but found herself unfulfilled. It wasn’t truly a career that she wanted to pursue.

So she applied, and was accepted, to Salus University’s Post-baccalaureate program in Health Sciences. And her career path totally changed. Now she’s on track to become an optometrist and being in the Post-bacc program was what influenced her career change.

“After the first semester of the Post-bacc program was when I first started talking to more optometry faculty and seeing what it would take to get into the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO),” said Dorgan. “The Post-bacc program completely influenced me. Optometry wasn’t something I ever thought of doing. It was truly the exposure to the clinic and the faculty that did it.”

Darryl Horn, PhD, FAAO, director of the Post-bacc program, said the program allows students to see more in-depth into what a profession offers.

“I have had students who thought that an optometrist only prescribed glasses or contact lenses and then through the Post-bacc program they discover that there are optometry specialties, including pediatrics, low vision, glaucoma, neurology and emergency, just to name a few,” said Dr. Horn.

That’s exactly what the program is supposed to do. It is designed for students who have already completed an undergraduate degree or are working toward a secondary degree from an accredited institution. It offers students a chance to take required prerequisite courses, boost their grade point average, strengthen their scientific background and help them become better prepared for admission to a professional, graduate or medical school.

The path Corey Ryan, PBHS ‘21, ‘25OD, took and how the Post-bacc program helped him, was a little different.

Corey Ryan headshotRyan graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 2011 with a degree in Natural Science. His goal was to be a health provider, but he got into weightlifting and found that he knew enough about the body to be an effective personal trainer.

But after several years working as a personal trainer, the business side of the profession had worn him out, so he decided he wanted to pursue other career options. Even though he had been out of school for a decade, he entered the Salus Post-bacc program with the intent of eventually becoming a dentist.

“I went into the Post-bacc program to prove that I could handle school again,” said Ryan. “I enjoyed my time in the clinic and just how they did things in optometry, how the profession worked.”

His desire to become some type of health provider turned toward optometry as a way to help people.

“The problem with personal training for me, is that I could help people with a lot of things but so could YouTube. You are kind of an unneeded person, depending on who you talk to. And that’s why I wanted to be a doctor, because I wanted to see people and see them leave having made a difference for them,” said Ryan. “During my time in Post-bacc being in the clinic, I saw that was something that happened regularly.”

Students in classroom settingIn addition, Ryan said the Post-bacc program provided him the time and opportunity to focus and help him figure out what he wanted to do with his career.

“I knew I could do it, it was just a matter of figuring out how to do it,” he said. “And that’s what the Post-bacc program did for me, it allowed me the time to figure it out. Without that, I wouldn’t have done as well as Salus as I am doing now, because I got that confidence of being able to handle the next level.”

Both Dorgan and Ryan said graduate school has been challenging, but that the Post-bacc program helped prepare them to meet those challenges.

“It prepared us for the caliber of the academics that we would need to meet,” said Dorgan. “I felt like I had a leg up on the other students because I knew how things were taught at Salus.”

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