The third Friday in March is just a normal day for most people. But for fourth-year medical students like Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program graduate Daniel Shapiro, it is Match Day—the day you find out where your residency training will be. He applied for and was successfully matched in pediatrics with the Boston Combined Residency Program which brings together the training programs of Boston Medical Center and Boston Children's Hospital, named the No. 1 pediatric hospital in the United States for 2015–16 by U.S. News & World Report.
Shapiro did not take his Match Day application lightly, just as he didn't casually make his decision to apply to UC San Francisco (UCSF) four years ago.
When Shapiro was in the Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program, he had his sights set on popular East Coast universities: Brown, Yale, Johns Hopkins and Harvard. But, ultimately, he decided to stay in the Bay Area for medical school. Shapiro says that his UC Berkeley Extension courses played an influential role in his career path decision.
"After a lot of deliberating, I decided to go to UCSF for medical school," says Shapiro. "Having the opportunity to live in San Francisco, explore the Bay Area and meet with friends—while taking courses at Berkeley to prepare for the MCAT—was important in my decision to attend UCSF."
"Extension's night courses gave me the opportunity to explore other interests during the day—interests that influenced my choice of medical specialty," Shapiro explains. "In particular, I had a chance to work with other pediatricians while I performed health services research in the Division of General Pediatrics at UCSF and also with colleagues at the Child Development Center. Working in pediatrics is something I started while studying at Extension and something I continued to do while in medical school."
Friendships can be difficult to maintain when you finally make it to medical school. Years later, Shapiro is still surprised by how powerful the camaraderie is in the Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program. "I made friends at UC Berkeley Extension that I still keep in touch with! In particular, I am very close with another graduate of the program who is finishing medical school in New York."
As the son of two physicians, Daniel Shapiro never seems to stray too far away from the medical world. In addition to plying his trade at the University of California, San Francisco, doing statistics for epidemiological studies (Shapiro's undergraduate degree is in economics) and volunteering at a pediatric clinic, he's on the fast track to entering medical school thanks to UC Berkeley Extension's Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program.
"One of the harder things about taking classes as a post-bacc is that you're playing catch-up with everyone else who took these courses as part of their undergraduate curriculum," Shapiro says. Nevertheless, Shapiro is learning what he needs to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) alongside his classmates. "The program was thorough enough to get what I wanted out of it, but it's not an undergrad type of schedule," he adds. "I looked at a few other schools around here, and Extension stood out as being the best for that purpose."
Shapiro's last class is a prerequisite for some of the medical schools to which he's been accepted, including Brown University, Yale University, Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University. To potential students who relate to Shapiro's story, he offers this advice: "Be clear about what your goals are, what you're interested in and what you want to be doing in two years. I definitely recommend this to someone in my position who has the same goals I did."