USciences Grad Offered Four Medical School Interviews; Gets Accepted to All Four

By Colby Gallagher

Published on July 17, 2019

Since childhood, Shagun Dhanju BMS’18 knew she wanted to go to medical school. Now, her dream is a reality as Dhanju begins her first semester at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) in the fall.

Though it wasn’t an easy road, she credits the opportunities available while at USciences and her willingness to try different fields for aiding her in accomplishing this milestone.

“I did a lot of volunteering. They gave me opportunities to shadow a lot of physicians and other professors and a lot of research professors as well,” Dhanju said. “I got to do research in two different fields, I did biology and social sciences which was interesting because it was hard fitting it into my schedule.”

During her undergraduate years, Dhanju was not only involved in the Pre-Med Society and Neurology Club, but created the Women in Science Club and served as president. She also played on the women’s tennis team.Shagun Dhanju BMS'18 on the women's tennis team

Those experiences helped her secure interviews at four medical schools. During an interview at Geisinger Medical School, Dhanju learned the interviewer knew USciences president Paul Katz MD.

“I’ve been very fortunate to spend most of my career in medical education at five different medical schools. Having helped launch two new medical schools, including most recently serving as founding dean of CMSRU, I have gotten a really good feel for what medical schools are looking for in applicants,” said Dr. Katz. “Several other members of our leadership team also have considerable medical school experience, which is also great for our students.”

After learning of the connection, Dhanju said she contacted Dr. Katz and was surprised to be invited for a meeting.

“The advice that he gave me was very realistic, it wasn’t just something that I would find online if I did a Google search,” she said. “It was more so he talked about his own experiences in the medical field, what he’s seen, and how he thinks that I should proceed.”Shagun Dhanju BMS'18

Dhanju learned that advice paid off when she was accepted to all four of the schools she interviewed with, ultimately choosing Cooper.

“I’m very proud of her and of the education our students receive. The advice I gave Shagun and many of our other students is based on my experience and may play a part in helping to navigate through what is a complex and challenging system,” said Dr. Katz. “Knowing how things work is an important asset our students receive as part of our Pre-Health Professions Program.”

With CMSRU’s proximity to Philadelphia, she can also continue helping her sister, Kunjal Dhanju BMS’22, and others who also want to go to medical school.

“The biggest advice I would give is to just take a step back and go into every situation open-minded and just take it one step at a time,” said Dhanju. “Put yourself out there. Since day one of university, I’ve been talking to different professors and understanding what they’ve been doing, their experiences, and that’s just given me an idea of what I want to do and what experiences I want to have.”

She’d like to get into pediatrics, but Dhanju listened to her own advice and plans to take it one day at a time with an open mind.

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