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From Wakeboarding to White Coat

Mike Denver 1Four years ago, Michael Dever was an internationally ranked wakeboarder. Now, he’s a third-year medical student at American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC), completing his clinical rotations at the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center in New York.

It’s not the kind of career path that flows neatly from point A to point B. But it’s easier to connect the dots than you might think.  

Dever grew up in Utah, but spent his summers in Michigan visiting his cousins who lived on a lake. It was there that he learned to wakeboard and grew to love the sport. Dever’s uncle, a physician, looked after him while he stayed with the family, and helped inspire Dever to go pre-med when he started at Westminster College in Pennsylvania.

At Westminster, Dever majored in biology while competing at the national level in wakeboarding. Although Dever made dean’s list in junior and senior year, his initial MCAT scores were lower than he’d hoped. So in order to increase his chances of medical school admission, he became an EMT and applied to AUC while studying to retake the test.

“I Realized That MERP Was My Only Opportunity”

Mike Denver ProfileHaving redoubled his studying efforts, Dever was anxious to start medical school as he waited to hear back on his application. So it came as a letdown when, instead of the immediate acceptance he’d hoped for, he was accepted on the condition that he successfully complete the 15-week Medical Education Readiness Program (MERP).

But that, Dever says, is when he changed his whole mindset.

“I realized that MERP was my only opportunity for what I wanted to do,” says Dever. “I needed to pass these classes if I wanted to go to med school. So I buckled down and studied.”

During MERP, Dever learned new strategies for studying, while getting a head start on some of the science material that would be critically important in medical school. His efforts paid off in dividends.

“After I did really well on my first exam at AUC, I realized just how much MERP had helped me,” says Dever. “I’ve been proud of it ever since.”

The concepts and strategies he’d absorbed at MERP proved beneficial throughout his time on island—so much so, that Dever compares it with having to study for one less class than those who didn’t attend MERP.

“MERP gave me so much information that would help me over the next four semesters. Whether it was anatomy, physiology, etc., there was always something that I recognized from MERP and helped me get more comfortable with the new material,” says Dever. “But that only happens if you put the time into MERP. I don’t have a secret sauce. I just studied hard.”

Looking Ahead

Today, Dever is going through the remainder of his core rotations in New York, after a stint in the U.K. for his surgery, pediatrics and ob-gyn rotations. Then, he’ll go closer to home in Michigan for his electives. (He’s had to cut down drastically on wakeboarding since starting medical school, but says becoming a physician is worth it.)

His advice for MERP students? Focus and put forth your best effort in MERP, because it will pay off.

“The harder you work in MERP, the easier medical school will be for you,” Dever says. “You’ll get out of it what you put into it. I recommend it to anyone.”