“To me, the Bryn Mawr Postbac experience reinforces the message ‘You didn’t miss out on being a doctor. You can do this, and we will show you how,’” said Aidan Tait, who completed Bryn Mawr’s Postbaccalaureate Premedical program in 2009.
For Tait, she hadn’t taken a chemistry course since high school, and the rigor of the Bryn Mawr program still stands out as something that set her up to succeed in medical school. She credits the program with teaching her how to handle multiple demands on her time and balance stress and workload with life.
Now a 2015 graduate of a dual medical and master’s degree program at the University of California at San Francisco, Tait is a pediatrics and anesthesiology resident at Stanford University. Her path now is vastly different from just a few years ago.
A lifelong athlete from Oklahoma, Tait entered Harvard University as an undergraduate convinced she’d be a sports journalist and work for ESPN. It took one internship the following summer to make her reconsider and instead pursue her interests in politics, history and foreign languages.
“I declared my major in Latin American studies, and from there, I studied abroad in Costa Rica, Argentina and Brazil,” she said. “I taught English and worked on projects focusing on economic development, policy and social issues.”
It was the trip to Brazil before her senior year that Tait calls a “game changer” for her. While working for a nonprofit that prepares low-income youth for employment opportunities, Tait was confronted with the harsh realities of the children’s circumstances.
“Here we were in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, trying to teach children teamwork and perseverance, but we knew what they were facing at home – horrible accounts of substance abuse, physical and sexual abuse and serious illnesses within their families,” she said. “I had this profound realization that we can’t be successful with economic development unless we start with a healthy community. I was 22 years old and knew I needed to be a doctor, but I knew nothing beyond that.”
Tait returned to school and started searching for postbac programs. She found Bryn Mawr and was immediately set on attending – it had the best reputation, an excellent track record of medical school acceptance and an extremely personal and intense advising program.
Within her first month in the program, Tait met with a program adviser who encouraged her to look at UCSF because of a unique partnership the university had with UC Berkeley that would allow Tait to merge her interests in medicine and social sciences/public health through the dual medical and master’s program she ultimately ended up attending.
“The beauty of medicine and public health is that you can help an individual in such a direct and meaningful way but at the same time have the analytical capacity to understand the needs of a population,” Tait said.
Tait ultimately hopes to return to Brazil to work in a hospital setting, providing anesthesia care for children in low resource settings and helping to teach and train other medical care providers.