Pre-Medicine

PCC graduates and students use their training in remarkable ways. Read about how God is using them in their field of study.

PCC’s pre-medicine program gives students a comprehensive, rigorous background to successfully compete in the admission process for medical school. Graduates have been accepted into over 76 medical schools, including Columbia, Penn State, Florida State, and Michigan State.

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Stephen Altomari ’99

Altomari

When Dr. Stephen Altomari (’99) graduated with his pre-med degree from PCC, he couldn’t foresee practicing dentistry on the beaches of Africa or running the largest military dental clinic in Germany—all before starting his own 1,500 patient practice in the United States! All he knew when he received his diploma was that he wanted to serve.

After graduating from PCC, he joined the U.S. Army, participating in the military’s Health Profession Scholarship Program, a branch of the military designed to help fill critical healthcare roles such as dental, veterinary, and general medicine for Soldiers stationed in the United States and overseas.

Altomari

During his four years of active service, Dr. Altomari was deployed to Angola, Africa, with the last active MASH unit. He recounted that this experience taught him that “Professionalism does not have to be compromised because of circumstances. God’s grace allowed me to perform world-class dentistry in a tent on foreign nationals on a beach utilizing a head-mounted flashlight.”

He also served as the officer-in-charge of the Schweinfurt Dental Clinic, the largest military dental clinic in Germany. While there, he was promoted to this position as a Captain, a position usually given to a Lieutenant Colonel. Under his command, the clinic dentally prepared an entire brigade of Soldiers for a year of combat.

“With a lot of teamwork and with God’s help, we were able to deploy our Soldiers at 100% dental readiness,” he said. “God may have put me in a position for which I didn’t feel fully prepared, but I trusted Him, worked hard, and did my best always.”

Altomari

Dr. Altomari credits his early training for his outlook on serving. “I am so glad I chose PCC during my formative years, and I am grateful for God’s leading there,” he said. “The spiritual growth and academic challenges I encountered at PCC still shape my perspective today.” One of Dr. Altomari’s beliefs that he learned in college and practiced in the military is that “position does not supersede personhood.”

“When I looked into the eyes of the newest Army private, I understood that this soul not only needed our Savior but also needed me to treat him with all the skill and carefulness that I would someone of my own family,” he said.

Altomari

Dr. Altomari carried this perspective from his active-duty military service into private practice at Integrity Family Dentistry. “While I was still stationed in Germany, I received a letter from my childhood dentist asking me to join him in his practice,” he said. After working with his childhood dentist for almost seven years, he felt confident enough to start his own practice. Maintaining his high sense of integrity with each client, he watched as the Lord grew his active patients to over 1,500.

“After all I’ve been through with PCC, dental school, the Army, and private practice, I am able to draw upon a multitude of experiences to help guide future decisions,” said Dr. Altomari. “We have the ability to help God’s people through dentistry and have even led people to a saving knowledge of Christ in our office! Without God in my life, I couldn’t imagine doing anything I do on a daily basis.”

Timothy Ruby ’01
  • General Dentist (Ludington, MI)
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery: University of Detroit-Mercy School of Dentistry
  • Certified Invisalign Provider

“I love the dental field because of its variety. My daily responsibilities range from doing routine exams, restoring areas of tooth decay, performing root canal therapy, extracting teeth, restoring broken teeth and replacing missing teeth. Every patient is unique, so their treatment needs to fit their specific needs. One of my favorite aspects of dentistry is the constant need to better myself and improve my dental skills so that my patients can be offered the best treatment.

“The premed program at PCC required a high level of discipline in order to succeed. This discipline prepared me for success in dental school and currently as a dentist. I am thankful for the caring faculty in the premed program whose goal was to enable their students to take the next step as medical professionals.”

Brannon Mangus, MD, MPH ’04
  • Otolaryngology, Head, and Neck resident surgeon, Vanderbilt University
  • Doctor of Medicine: University of Louisville School of Medicine
  • Member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society
  • Awards: Physician Scientist Award (’08) from Alpha Omega Alpha

“The small size of the classes at PCC allowed me to interact with my professors. This enabled me to get answers to questions that arose during my studies or during class. Dr. Carlos Alvarez was truly a mentor to me in college. He motivated me to work harder and study more. He helped navigate me through all the necessary steps to get into medical school. He also modeled how to live the Christian life. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for his mentorship.”

Brian J. Gavitt, MD, MPH ’99

Brian J. Gavitt

  • Resident Physician, Department of Surgery, University of California-Davis Medical Center
  • Master’s degree in Public Health: George Washington University
  • Doctor of Medicine: Michigan State University
  • Awards:
    • Academic scholarship award
    • Dean’s list graduate (Summa cum laude in master’s degree program)
    • Elected to Alpha Omega Alpha (national honor society for medicine)
    • Elected intern of the year

“The academics in PCC’s pre-medicine program were superb. The faculty’s years of accumulated wisdom were priceless during the medical school application process. They offered a wealth of knowledge that prepared us for the medical college admissions test (MCAT).

After graduating from PCC, I attended graduate school at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. I completed my master’s degree in public health (MPH) and subsequently worked in the U.S. Senate as a health and social policy advisor to a U.S. Senator.

A couple of years later, I applied and was accepted to medical school at Michigan State University. I was blessed to match into my first choice of surgical residency programs—at the University of California at Davis. I am currently completing my training in general surgery and plan to subspecialize in trauma and critical care surgery. I will be practicing in the U.S. Air Force once my training is completed.”

Wes Zahler, DO, MBA ’02
  • Lieutenant, Medical Corps (Flight Surgeon), U.S. Navy, Naval Air Station, North Island
  • Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Leadership: Rockhurst University
  • Doctor of Osteopathy: Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

“I’m the aerospace medical officer (flight surgeon) for HSC-3, a helicopter squadron. As a Navy physician, I have the opportunity to take care of the men and women who make it their goal to keep my family and me safe. I enjoy being able to give back to them.”

“The program at PCC was a good framework. My favorite class was microbiology, and that was probably the one that was most useful to me in medical school.”

Brannon Mangus, MD ’04

Brannon Mangus

  • Doctor of Medicine: University of Louisville School of Medicine
  • Specialized study in Otolaryngology
  • Physician/Scientist Award
  • Otolaryngology Residency at Vanderbilt University

One of the main reasons PCC grad Brannon Mangus (’04) became an otolaryngologist (also known as an ear, nose, and throat physician) was people. At the Murfreesboro Medical Clinic in Tennessee where he recently started practicing, he treats roughly twenty patients a day—and it’s still not enough for him. “I hope to see thirty to forty patients a day as I am in the community longer,” he said.

An otolaryngologist treats injuries and conditions of the head and neck. Brannon performs simple surgeries like ear tube insertion and tonsillectomies, and also completes more complex procedures such as removing cancer and rebuilding middle ear bones and eardrums. “[Otolaryngology] gave me an opportunity to treat both kids and adults as well as a wide variety of diseases.”

Brannon didn’t always know he wanted to be an otolaryngologist. But during PCC’s College Days, when he met one of the biology faculty, Brannon remembers thinking “He would be a great mentor [to] guide me through the necessary steps to get into medical school.” Brannon was right. “The faculty not only pushed me to work harder but also guided me into medical school. I would not be where I am today without their help.”

In medical school at the University of Louisville, Brannon discovered a passion for otolaryngology and won the Physician/Scientist Award based on his research on head and neck cancer in the field of endocrinology. After that, he completed a residency in otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

Now, as one of 70 specialists at the Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, Brannon thinks of his practice as more than just a job—it’s a ministry. For inspiration, he follows the example of the Great Physician. “When a lawyer asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, Jesus told him to love God and to love others,” he said. “This is what the field of otolaryngology allows me to do every day: love God and love others.”

Deborah Repaskey, MD ’04

Deborah Repaskey Premed

  • Emergency Physician and Ultrasound Director, Manatee Memorial Hospital
  • Doctor of Medicine: University of Nebraska College of Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine Residency: University of South Florida

"PCC prepared me for medical school by teaching me effective time management and laying the groundwork of scientific knowledge upon which medical school was built. Also, most importantly, PCC provided an environment in which I was able to grow spiritually, strengthen my relationship with God, and establish my own convictions and beliefs. It was very important that I had a solid spiritual foundation at PCC so I could filter the information I was given in medical school and decipher what aligned with the Bible.”

Brett Dempsey, MD ’02
  • Mayo Clinic general surgery resident (4th year)
  • Doctor of Medicine: University of Illinois College of Medicine
  • Awards: Inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha (medical honor society)

“The discipline I learned at PCC helped me to succeed in medical school. Dr. Carlos Alvarez was a tremendous teacher, and he encouraged me to become the first PCC graduate to finish the Pre-med program a year early and go directly into medical school. My wife and I plan to go into full-time medical missions when I am done with my training.”

Rob Blair, O.D. ’99

RobBlair

  • Doctor of Optometry: Southern College of Optometry

“As a self-employed optometrist, I specialize in family practice and ocular disease eye care. My day includes everything from a 3 year old being put into glasses for the first time to a 95 year old with macular degeneration and glaucoma.”

“The PCC classes provided the necessary backbone needed for easy transition into more advanced optometry school classes.”

Andrew Prussia, Ph.D. ’03

Andrew Prussia

  • Post Doctoral Researcher at the Emory Institute for Drug Discovery
  • Author of several publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals
  • Ph.D. in Chemistry, specializing in bioinformatics and computational chemistry: Emory University (Laney graduate School)

“My work is an interdisciplinary field that tries to understand the structural biology behind how proteins work and how their functions can be modulated by drugs. I’m working on projects related to anticancer agents and antivirals for myxoviruses (influenza, measles virus, and respiratory syncytial virus).

The science and math courses at PCC gave me the foundation I needed to take more specialized classes on organic chemistry, pharmacology, and biochemistry. I feel that I was well prepared for the rigors of graduate-level work.

A simple thing like PCC’s teachers always praying before every class is such a foreign concept when you go to a secular university: asking God’s blessing on the class, praying for the students’ understanding, and desiring that what was done would glorify God. I probably took it for granted when I was at PCC, but I certainly don’t now.”

Ben Williams, MD ’00

Ben Williams

  • Captain, United States Air Force
  • St. Louis University family medicine resident (3rd year)
  • Doctor of Medicine: Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine

“I am currently an Active Duty Air Force physician, and my daily responsibilities include a patient enrollment of at least 250 people, caring for them in an in-patient setting and being on call for obstetrics patients who are ready to deliver. After being commissioned into the United States Air Force and graduating from medical school, I performed as a flight surgeon at McConnell AFB in Kansas. Throughout the many years since PCC, God has led my family and me to many places and has allowed us to share His love.

“PCC gave me an excellent education in order to build the foundation for medical knowledge. PCC also helped solidify my faith and relationship with God. The world outside of PCC is so different, and some can have their faith shaken by the ‘wisdom’ of the world. Many times, [medical school] professors would stray from the medical education and try to teach evolution or degrade those who believe in God. I appreciate the foundation that was laid while at PCC. My relationship with God was able to grow during a very important time of my life.”

David Hurst, MD ’98

David Hurst

  • Staff Pediatric Cardiologist, East Tennessee Children's Hospital
  • Formerly Chief of Pediatrics, Martin Army Hospital, Fort Benning (GA)
  • Doctor of Medicine: Tulane University School of Medicine
  • Awards/Honors:
  • Inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha (medical honor society)
  • Bronze Star during deployment with the 101st Airborne Division (’06)
  • Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston and Emory University (September 2011–June 2014)

“PCC has the appropriate rigorous premed program to prepare each graduate for what lies ahead. The basic science curriculum is essential as a basis to get started in anatomy, physiology, and histology as a medical student. My college years were, in many ways, more personally demanding than was medical school. The unique ability to juggle studies, spiritual, and social life with the right priorities in place is of great benefit. You can only be prepared by actual experience in these day-to-day demands of life, and I believe my college experience provided that.”

Nathan Birky ’02

Nathan Birky

While on OB/GYN rotation during clinicals, alumnus Nathan Birky (’02) was drawn to the needs of a six-week-old baby with cerebral palsy in the NICU. Nathan had heard that the baby’s birth parents were unable to care for him, and he wished that he and his wife Kelly could do something. But privacy regulations meant that he could not approach the parents or look into the baby’s medical records. “He needed parents who could care for him with his special needs, and my wife and I needed a child to love and care for,” Nathan said. “We prayed for God to work a miracle as we could do nothing more, and felt a peace in knowing He was in control of it all.”

A few days after he finished his rotation, Nathan received a call from the baby’s birth mother. To this day, Nathan doesn’t know how she obtained his number, but a week later the Birkys welcomed baby Kameron into their home.

Nathan has always had a desire to care for others—a desire that originated within his loving family and was solidified through the strong work ethic they imparted to him. His mom had given up her nursing profession to raise her sons while his father worked as an anesthetist. “I have always enjoyed hearing about and observing my father’s work as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I have always heard my dad, uncle, and other people in anesthesia talk about it being a good profession,” Nathan said.

Choosing a major in the medical field was easy for Nathan when he came to PCC as a freshman. During summer and Christmas breaks, he would go home and inevitably end up at the hospital observing his father at work. He saw firsthand the seriousness of being an anesthetist as well as the reward. “It is incredible to have someone’s life literally in your hands as you push medicines and use a ventilator to control their breathing, heart rate, and other bodily functions,” Nathan said. “People entrust to your care what is considered by many to be their most valuable commodity—the well-being of their own or their loved one’s body.”

In his classes, Nathan studied science with a biblical foundation. “The pre-med program I took at PCC gave me an excellent foundation in the sciences: biology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and physics, all of which are important in anesthesia,” he said.

“We are fearfully and wonderfully made,” Nathan said. “What better way to share about Christ with coworkers and patients, than when dealing with the intricacies of the human body.”

After graduating from PCC with a degree in pre-medicine, Nathan pursued a degree in nursing as well as a master’s in nurse anesthesia. It was during nursing school that he and Kelly adopted Kameron who will turn 8 this summer. The little family—which now includes 5-year-old Micah—lives on the farm where Nathan grew up. Nathan continues his work as an anesthetist, making the most of each opportunity to care for his patients.

David Karimeddini, MD ’02

David Karimeddini

  • Hartford Hospital radiology resident (3rd year)
  • Doctor of Medicine: Temple University School of Medicine

“I felt very at ease in medical school due to the rigorous class work at PCC. The individual attention I received at PCC set the foundation for success in graduate school.”

“My advice for Pre-Med students: The spiritual guidance and training at PCC should not be taken for granted. Take advantage of Bible classes, chapel messages, and prayer groups. One’s spiritual foundation must be strong when attending medical school, throughout the hectic schedule of residency training, and when starting your ultimate career.”

Evangelyn Spencer ’07

Evangelyn Spencer

  • Dental Student (1st year), University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey
  • Master’s in Human Nutrition: Columbia University
  • Certified Dental Assistant/Expanded Functions Dental Assistant: The Technical Institute of Camden County
  • Awards:Most Outstanding Student award (’10) from dental assistant school

“I enjoy the opportunity to interact with people of all different backgrounds and ages. Also, dentistry and nutrition are both excellent ministry opportunities that can be used on the mission field.

“PCC’s premed program gave me a solid base in the basic sciences, enabling me to later expand my horizons as I went on to graduate school at Columbia University, studying clinical nutrition, nutritional epidemiology, and public health. PCC’s program also provided me a good foundation for nearly all the prerequisites for dental school.”

Dan Devine ’06

Daniel Devine

  • Ph.D. Student, University of South Alabama

Premed grad Dan Devine (’06) is earning a Ph.D. in Basic Medical Sciences with emphasis in Cancer Biology from the University of South Alabama. Though he applied to the program in 2006, after praying and talking with mentors, he decided to postpone his studies and become a Christian school science teacher. He said, “I loved teaching and enjoyed it immensely, but the Lord continued to put a desire in my heart to further my education so I could have a greater impact in the world of science. As that desire grew, I began to search for options and applied to only one school, the University of South Alabama, where I was accepted.

“The application process for graduate school was relatively painless, and through it I learned that Christians need to be prepared for dialogue with people who have little to no biblical worldview. We must be like Daniel in Babylon, as he was able to excel in his position because of the wisdom given to him by God.

“The premed program at PCC prepared me for graduate school by giving me a solid foundation in the basic sciences. It also opened my eyes to the fascinating world of cellular and molecular biology when I took Biochemistry and Cell Biology courses. It was while I was taking these courses that God put a passion in my heart and mind to study His Creation throughout the rest of my life.

“Now that I am out of college, I appreciate the high quality of my education at PCC, which is at or above the standard I have seen in graduate school. I also greatly appreciate how Dr. Carlos Alvarez taught us to clearly and critically consider scientific writings, particularly as they relate to things that are unproven or even unprovable. It helped me in my own life to avoid the vast amount of deception that lurks in the world of science. Also, PCC helped me develop the ability to maintain a high academic standard while simultaneously handling multiple other obligations.

“I trust God to lead me each day to where He wants me in the future. My lab is traveling this year to the American Association of Cancer Research Conference in Orlando, FL, and the abstract I submitted was selected for oral presentation. I am excited to be able to share some of my work in a public setting like that! My desire is to continue developing my scientific and professional skills. Specifically, I want to be able to accurately and intellectually bring glory to God by pointing out the wonders of His Creation and defend the validity of the Genesis account.”

Nehemiah Spencer, MD ’00
  • Doctor of Medicine: Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Specialized study in Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus
  • Residency at Nassau University Medical Center
  • Fellowship training at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami School of Medicine

“PCC’s premed program helped me learn the sciences basic to the practice of medicine. Along with a good work ethic, PCC helped provide me with a structured Christian mindset to interface appropriately with the world around me.”

Kyle Hamblen, DPM ’05

James Atkinson Premed

  • Lourdes Hospital podiatric resident (1st year)
  • Doctor of Podiatric Medicine: Dr. William M. Scholl School of Podiatric Medicine

“As a foot and ankle surgeon, my daily responsibilities vary from seeing patients in the office to participating in surgery. My favorite part about working in the medical field is watching patients progress through treatment, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing them healed.

“PCC gave me the knowledge I needed to do well on the MCAT and get into medical school, but more importantly it provided the discipline and structure I would need to succeed in medical school. I also appreciate the godly friendships I developed. My friends from PCC are my closest friends and have helped me get to where I am today.”

Fadeke Oyeniya, MD ’05

FadekeOyeniya

  • Temple University obstetrics and gynecology resident
  • Doctor of Medicine: Meharry Medical College

“PCC’s Pre-med program gave me a solid foundation in the basic sciences, and the structured curriculum allowed for a good grasp of concepts. Most importantly, the courses were very challenging, which allowed me to build great self-disciplined study habits that became very helpful in medical school.”

“I also got to make many lasting friends at PCC, and I have been truly blessed to still be in touch with most of them.”

James Atkinson ’04

James Atkinson Premed

  • Master’s in Biomedical Sciences: Midwestern University
  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine: Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine Midwestern University
  • Pathology Resident at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services

“After graduating from PCC, I worked as a phlebotomist for three years before studying biomedical sciences at Midwestern University. This included a year of research examining blood flow in pregnant rats during exercise. Some of the results and data from this research was presented at The American Physiological Society’s 2010 Experimental Biology meeting, and an abstract of the presented research was published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

“I believe PCC’s premed program prepared me extremely well to handle the challenges of medical school. In comparison, my Master’s degree program and medical school so far have seemed easier than PCC, not harder.

“I would like to let students considering PCC’s premed program know that there are few places where they will receive the quality spiritual and scientific education PCC offers. To be able to learn about biology and the human body as God’s creation is something I took for granted until graduate school and medical school, where seemingly all the faculty are atheistic evolutionists. With only a handful of like-faith Christians in my class, it is easy for me to see the need for more Christians in medicine—especially those who have received a strong foundation from a school like PCC.”

Dave and Emma Hall, MDs ’03

Danvid and Emma Hall

  • Doctors of Medicine: University of Toledo College of Medicine
  • Residencies at Penn State University Hershey Medical Center
  • Awards/Honors:
    • Class President during final year of medical school (Dave)
    • Chief Academic Resident during final year of residency (Emma)
    • Penn State University Humanism Award during residency, given to only one of hundreds of residents per year (Emma)

Dave is completing his urology residency at Penn State University Hershey Medical Center, where he cares for patients, performs/learns various urologic surgeries, and works on research projects and academic journal articles relating to urology.

Emma is working at a private family medical practice, and is working on her Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.

Dave said: “PCC set a solid foundation for us to start our medical journey. From an academic standpoint, the excellence present in PCC’s science department was phenomenal. The transition to medical school was actually quite easy, which was in contrast to many of our medical school friends from various secular universities, who had difficulty adjusting to a rigorous medical school program. The expectations, instruction, and experience during PCC’s premed program laid a foundation that is still enabling us to achieve excellence in our medical careers. In addition, the training in areas of professionalism, manners, and morals has set us apart from our peers throughout medical school, residency, and our continued practice of medicine.

“PCC trains individuals to accept nothing less than their very best. This is a principle my wife and I have maintained throughout our training, and has enabled us to excel in all aspects of life.

“It is quite unique being married to another doctor. Our lives can be hectic, but it’s been a blessing going through this together. One amazing thing God has done has been to match us into the exact locations for all of our training over the years. As for the future, we’ll likely do medical missions in some capacity.”

Learn More

Check out PCC’s pre-medicine program.