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Why a Pre-Med Student Considered Growth Years in Consulting


Ngoc Ngo ‘20
Ngoc Ngo ‘20

When I arrived at Hamilton as a naive seventeen-year-old, I was only sure about a few things. Reflecting on my experiences up to that point, I was certain of three interests -- medicine, philanthropy, and travel. I had no idea who I was going to be, who my friends on campus would be, and what my favorite meal at the Pub would turn out to be.

After a few years on the Hill, I discovered more about myself than I ever thought I would, including my unconditional salivary response to the TBC sandwich at the Pub. Hamilton not only helped me strengthen my interests, but also allowed me to bridge these interests in a career that I didn't know existed. 

With an interest in medicine, I knew that majoring in anything could be possible as long as I followed the pre-medical track. I doubled up in my science classes from the first semester on campus and completed my math requirement as well. I intentionally completed as many pre-requisite classes as early as possible so that I could make space in my schedule to take advantage of the open curriculum and study abroad.

When it was time to declare my major as a second-semester sophomore, the biochemistry and molecular biology major aligned with the courses I had taken most closely. I was on track to graduate with the major and pre-medical requirements, while still planning to study abroad for a whole year. Given the flexibility of the Hamilton curriculum and tremendously helpful advisors and mentors on campus, I was able to pursue a STEM degree while also preparing for a career in business through internships and study abroad.

During the fall of my junior year, I participated in the New York City program centered around economics. Participants were required to complete a fall internship and given the limited healthcare courses offered on campus, I planned to use this time to begin my exploration between the intersection of healthcare and business. While interning with the chief product officer and head of innovation at Mount Sinai’s health system to fulfill my internship requirement, I was engaging in thoughtful discussion with classmates outside of STEM, spending time as a volunteer with palliative care patients, and was embracing life in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.

The next stop was London, England. I took courses within the biomedical sciences (BSc) and global health programs at the University of College London. Completing courses in both of these programs allowed me to connect with students in the BSc program as well as third-year medical students that chose to complete a year in global health. I not only got to experience courses outside of the traditional course list at my liberal arts college, but also had the opportunity to learn about the British education system and grow lasting friendships abroad.

While I enjoyed pipetting in the lab and writing lab reports to follow those labs, my junior year helped me realize that conducting market research and having conversations with patients firsthand was much more exhilarating. I thought it would be crucial to find internships closer to these interests while bridging what I was learning about economics and the social sector. I stumbled upon consulting through my brother, who worked in finance at the time. I looked into healthcare consulting specifically but gravitated towards Deloitte Consulting, which markets one of their conjoined industries as life sciences and health care. The thought of working not only with hospital systems and health insurance companies, but also with startups and pharmaceutical companies was compelling to me. Another great perk about consulting was the travel aspect. I knew that working in this field would allow me to travel every week and still be able to enjoy my Fridays and weekends at home. I liked the thought of travel being a pivotal part of my work and being able to separate work and play felt right. 

I had the pleasure of interning with Deloitte Consulting the summer after returning from England. 

My internship project encompassed helping a large hospital system in the Bay Area achieve cost savings, improved compliance, and increased process efficiencies. Working in healthcare consulting incorporated a wide variety of systems and processes that I found to be critical to hospital management. I was intrigued daily, and I was curious to learn and quick to problem-solve. My background in STEM complemented these processes quite nicely, allowing me to apply the scientific model in new ways.

My initial internship experience in consulting played favorably to my interests, allowing me to touch upon medicine through healthcare projects and pursuits, philanthropy through IMPACT days and other volunteering events, and travel, going to and from client sites every week (despite the unknown effects of the global pandemic). I accepted my full-time offer to return post-graduation during the fall of my senior year and continue to make connections between healthcare and business today. Whether it be through helping external healthcare organizations prepare for and adapt to change or advocating for internal decisions regarding the underlying factors of health (e.g., sustainability, empowered communities, equity, etc.), the versatile work within consulting nurtured my initial interests and married them with new ones within strategy and operations. 

Uniting my studies both on campus and abroad with my internship experiences and this full-time job, I aspire to become a practicing physician and hope to keep my business interests alive through an M.D./M.B.A. joint degree. With my more recent background in consulting, I no longer rely heavily on just heuristics and procedural approaches, but am enabled to solve problems in innovative ways that I believe will be an important skill to maintain as a practicing physician. Equipped with a medical school education and skills to manage patient care and save lives, I believe that the continued business experience will further my goals of creating innovative healthcare solutions for all patients. Although I am unsure of what my future will look like ten years from today, I believe that an M.B.A. will allow me to pursue leadership in clinical practice, keeping the doors to hospital administration and opening a clinic in a developing country, wide open.

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