COLUMBUS, Ohio – Growing up in suburban Cleveland, Ryan Ivancic wanted two things: to play soccer and go to medical school.
He knew how to become a soccer player. He played at St. Ignatius and then for Ohio State is 2013 and 2014. Becoming a doctor, as it turned out, was going to be more complicated.
“I didn’t grow up in a family full of physicians,” said Ivancic. “I didn’t really know what was correct path was, or even if there was a correct path.”
Fast forward to 2020 and Ivancic is a fourth-year medical student at Ohio State College of Medicine preparing to graduate in June and begin a residency. Getting to this point, however, was full of lessons that he wants to pass down today’s student-athletes.
“I remember studying for the MCAT and not really knowing what I was doing,” said Ivancic. “I look back on it now and there are things I wish people had told me about the whole process and how to navigate it. I can be overwhelming.”
To that end, the Eugene D. Smith Leadership Institute led a Buckeyes Futures event last Monday entitle: Athletes in Medicine. It featured current medical students – including Ivancic – who were student-athletes as undergraduates, current student-athletes interested in attending medical school and two physicians at Nationwide Children’s Hospital – Drs. Charles Elmaraghy and Tendy Chiang. Elmaraghy is chief of the Department of Otolaryngology and Chiang is a pediatric otolaryngologist in the Department of Otolaryngology and associate program director of the Pediatric Otolaryngology Fellowship Program.
“What separates this program from all the others is the fact that the individuals taking the time to educate our student-athletes were former Division I athletes themselves,” said Madeline McIntyre, a former student-athlete at Ohio State herself and the Director of the Eugene D. Smith Leadership Institute. “It allows our current student-athletes the opportunity to relate to individuals that achieved their dream of attending medical school under the same circumstances and obstacles.”
“As a student-athlete, you have a very raw and special skill set,” said Chiang. “Your opportunity is to mold that into the strongest medical school application it can be.”
Both Elmaraghy and Chiang stressed the importance of leveraging the leadership opportunities that comes with competing in Division I athletics and also seeking out the research opportunities that can take a medical school application from good to great.
“So many of the things that drew you to playing sports and probably what’s drawn you to medicine,” Elmaraghy told the audience. “You’re building a discipline and commitment that separates you.”
After hearing Elmaraghy and Chiang detail the medical school application process, attendees broke up into small groups for a questions and answer session.
“I really liked how relaxed and approachable the medical students were,” said freshman Elizabeth Paul, a freshmen on the rowing team who would like to be a pediatrician one day. “They were open and willing to answer any questions we had.”
For Jordan Lukens, a member Ohio State’s cheerleading team and zoology major, his passion for medicine comes from two places: his father and the desire to help others.
“My dad’s a radiologist back home and I’ve always been exposed to the lifestyle of being a doctor and what the day to day is like,” said Lukens. “I’ve been involved with a lot of service around campus and I think being a physician is a great way for me to continue that service to my community.”