Author Archives: Noel Ermer

Article: Want to Be a Doctor? Take Your Chances in a Closed Room With Strangers

By Roni Caryn Rabin August 7, 2020

Students applying to graduate schools can take the GRE, the LSAT and other tests at home this year because of the risks of gathering in an exam room for hours during the pandemic. But applicants sitting for the longest and arguably most grueling graduate entrance exam, the Medical College Admission Test, do not have that option.

Even as the nation is overwhelmed by a tide of Covid-19 cases, the Association of American Medical Colleges, which administers the test, is requiring would-be doctors to sit for the $320 exam in small groups at testing centers running back-to-back sessions in order to make up for time lost in the spring, when exams were canceled.

New testing protocols implemented in May require test takers and staff members to wear masks and maintain social distancing, and prescribe rigorous disinfection of test centers. But examinees have complained of sloppy practices, and there have been isolated reports of people saying they tested positive for the coronavirus around the time they took the exam.

The association has acknowledged four such cases, while a student group now counts eight. (The A.A.M.C. also has issued a national “roadmap” for ending the pandemic that calls for more testing and national criteria for stay-at-home orders.)

Now that group, Students for Ethical Admissions, has called on medical schools to follow Stanford’s lead and waive the exam requirement this year, saying students taking the MCAT are putting their health at risk.

“How can the general public trust physicians and other health care workers when the medical community is so willing to endanger its own?” the student group asked last month in a letter to medical schools. The group noted that the number of new daily Covid-19 cases in the United States in July was roughly double what it had been in April, when the exams were canceled.

Fall Internship Opportunity: Covid Act Now

Covid Act Now is a non-profit 501(c)(3) startup working on COVID disease intelligence

Covid Act Now is backed by Stanford and Georgetown University, and was built by a multidisciplinary team including former Googlers and other technologists. Our mission is to create a national shared understanding of COVID so that governments, health officials, local decision makers, and the public can make informed decisions in response to the pandemic.

Because two Middlebury students are going back to school, the Partnerships team is looking for full-time interns to help out this fall. This position is ideal for recent grads and students who aren’t returning in the fall. 

As a Strategy & Operations interns, you will manage relationships and join calls with many state and local governments and epidemiologists, small businesses, and large corporations such as IBM, who ingests our data to advise the Department of Defense, Netflix, and General Mills. Because Covid Act Now is constantly growing and changing, you will be at the forefront of writing our corporate usage license, as well as several large grants, backed by Massachusetts General Hospital. 

Here is the link to a Google doc explaining more about the position. Although it is unpaid, work with Covid Act Now is extremely rewarding.

Article: Isolating the Elderly Is Bad for Their Health

By Betsy Morris

Society hasn’t figured out how to protect the elderly from coronavirus without imposing another very real health threat: isolation. For more than 100 days in some places, residents in nursing homes and retirement communities across the country have been separated from spouses, children, grandchildren and friends of many decades. Residents have been kept apart, eating meals in solitary.

The actions are well-intended. Covid-19 has caused more than 56,000 deaths in about 11,600 long-term care facilities in 44 states, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But there are unintended consequences. As scientists learn more about how the human brain works, they are getting a clearer picture of neurological and physiological changes that occur when people live in isolation. These changes may help explain why living alone with little social interaction is often implicated in higher rates of cardiovascular and other types of disease, worsening dementia and Alzheimer’s, and shortened lives.

Plenty of research shows that social support and social “integration,” which refers to a person’s varied roles and responsibilities, play a big role in determining someone’s health and longevity. “The combination of social isolation and loneliness is very unhealthy for anyone, but for older adults, it’s particularly bad,” said Bert Uchino, University of Utah psychology professor who studies the ways in which social relationships affect health. “Just about every biological system is impacted in one way or another by psychosocial relationships.”

The pandemic has been soul-crushing not just for the isolated elderly, but also for their children and care givers, who often have to follow strict rules they know might be as bad as the disease. “Everybody is trying to protect them. I understand. But this is not the right way,” said Atouria Bodaghi, a registered nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.

New course: INTD 0121 Community-Connected Learning!

Are you civically-minded and want to impact social change in the community? Consider signing up for this class!

INTD 0121 Community Connected Learning

Community-connected learning supports civic knowledge cultivation, skill building, and identity development. In this course students will apply their relevant coursework to place-based contexts by collaborating with community partners independently or in groups to complete a community-connected learning project that will contribute to the public good. Center for Community Engagement (CCE) instructors will meet with students weekly in cohorts to explore the social issues raised in their experiences. Final projects may take a variety of forms, such as a portfolio, media production, or paper. Students who are not already involved with a CCE program should contact the instructor to be matched with a community partner. 3 hrs. lect.

This is a flexible online class, with the choice between an in-person or online discussion section. CCE instructors will meet with students weekly in cohorts to explore the social issues raised in their experiences. Students who are not already involved with a CCE Program should contact Ashley Laux, at, to be matched with a community partner.

2020 Virtual NIH Graduate & Professional School Fair

The NIH is pleased to announce the 2020 Virtual NIH Graduate & Professional School Fair. The event will consist of

(1) live workshops (August 4th, 2020)

(2) prerecorded workshops, panels, and interviews (recordings will be available on the OITE YouTube channel on or after August 4, 2020), and

(3) online exhibitor sessions (August 5th through 7th , 2020).

Students need to register to get the links of each session and for the virtual exhibitor session links and schedule.

This is a great opportunity for students interested in graduate, medical,  MD/PhD programs, as well as Public Health, Clinical Psychology, Genetic Counseling, Data Science/Computational Biology/Bioinformatics, Bioengineering and Academic Postbac Programs.