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College sophomores Nebiyu Osman and Ainesh Ravi had just enough free time during finals last semester to think of the next million-dollar idea: a social-networking website dedicated to both pre-med information and interaction.

“That’s a great idea,” Ravi said to Osman back in the spring. “Let’s do it.”

The pair spent the summer constructing the Pre-Med Authority, a social-media network tailored to pre-med students, featuring informational resources and interactive features. The website is currently down, but will re-launch mid-November at Penn and North Carolina State, Vanderbilt, Penn State and Pittsburgh universities.

Osman and Ravi want the Pre-Med Authority to provide a better resource for pre-med students. “There are so many not-so-good pre-med websites out there that are simply informative” and not interactive, Ravi said. “We realized it would be so much better if we centralized all the information, and from then on we started thinking of different ideas and running with them.”

The site will compile basic information about course requirements, GPA statistics, MCAT scores, internships and medical schools. Users will be able to plan their schedules, exchange notes and share thoughts about medical student life in private forums. “A lot of this information you can find in other places,” Osman said. “But [on the Pre-Med Authority] it is nicely condensed, just what you need to know, really straightforward, and well put-out.”

In addition, the Pre-Med Authority will feature non-standard resources, including video interviews with doctors in a variety of specialties, “almost like a virtual doctor-shadowing experience,” Osman said. “People tend to have a generic idea of doctor … but you really want to understand what these different careers are.”

Osman and Ravi also plan to include periodic blog posts from students at all levels of the medical track. “All the bloggers will have a detailed profile which will include what classes they took, what they majored in, what their extracurriculars are and what types of things they did over the summer,” Osman said.

“We want to get people that are in medical school to see what they have done,” Ravi explained. “Kind of like a recipe for success.”

“It seems like it is going to be very interactive,” said College senior and pre-med student Joseph Myrie, expressing excitement about the blogs and interviews. “A lot of websites have the information you need, but the big difference is that it’s interactive.”

Osman hopes that the interactive features will promote a sense of student alliance. “The environment for pre-meds can be somewhat hostile,” Osman said. “A site like this can take some of the edge off and make it not necessarily about beating your classmates, but about collaboration.”

Peter Stokes, senior associate director of Pre-Health Advising at Penn’s Career Services, expressed some anxiety about the website. “You can’t really learn what it is like being a doctor through your computer screen,” Stokes said. “My biggest concern is that people would see that as a substitute for seeing a pre-health adviser.”

Substituting for advisers, however, isn’t what Pre-Med Authority aims to do, Ravi said, urging that they want to work with Career Services, not against them. “We want to connect pre-med advisers to students.”

Still, Osman and Ravi believe that their website will be highly relevant to pre-med students. “Looking back at the year, I definitely think having a resource like this would have made my life easier,” Osman said.

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