KOKOMO, Ind. — Growing up on a family farm, Ben Hufford first considered veterinary medicine, but he was drawn to caring for people, rather than animals. As a high school senior, he became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and that training convinced him he wanted to be a doctor.
“I saw what doctors were doing and I knew that’s what I wanted to be,” he said. “It fascinated me, and I saw the direct positive impact they had on so many people.”
A unique program targeted at future doctors helped him gain admission to the Indiana University School of Medicine.
Hufford, from Rossville, participated in IU Kokomo’s STEP program, which provided job shadowing experiences, medical school tours, preparation for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and review of the admissions process.
The program, offered to five students per year, is a partnership with the North Central Indiana Health Education Center and Community Howard Regional Health.
Christian Chauret, dean of the School of Sciences, said Hufford was part of the first group of STEP students.
“This program provided him with additional tools to be successful in his preparation and application to medical school,” he said, noting that it is very difficult to be admitted to medical school. Those admitted must have excellent grades and admissions test scores, and have additional experiences, such as working or volunteering in health care.
“Only approximately 10 percent of the applicants are accepted,” Chauret said. “Ben is an outstanding student. The quality of his classroom work is excellent, and he shows great maturity. I have no doubt he will be successful in medical school and in his career.”
Hufford, 22, chose IU Kokomo because he thought it would prepare him for admission to the IU School of Medicine.
“I like the small classes, and you can talk to your professors,” he said. “They care about you, and help you achieve your goals.”
In addition to the STEP program, Hufford was a research assistant with Hisako Masuda, assistant professor of biochemistry, as she tests bacteria that could break down a form of nylon found in plastics in landfills. He was asked about that research experience during his medical school interview.
“Research experience is helpful,” he said. “If I could give any advice, I would tell freshmen and sophomores to start early, so they can continue with a project if they are interested.”
Hufford is considering being an anesthesiologist, but doesn’t want to limit his options. He wants to practice medicine in the Kokomo or Lafayette areas after medical school.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.