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SCU’s MSMS Program Provides Strong Foundation for Aspiring Medical School Students

Photo by Shastin Medora Photography


Not all students take a straight path through their healthcare careers. For Melissa Scharfe, Master of Science in Medical Science (MSMS) class of 2023, that road has consisted of multiple degrees that culminated in her desire to attend medical school to pursue emergency surgery. Now, after completing her MSMS degree, which mimics the first year of medical school, Melissa is confident in her decision to start medical school next fall.

SCU’s Master of Science in Medical Science

SCU’s post-baccalaureate online or blended MSMS degree empowers students to strengthen their academic profiles for admission into medical, dental, physician assistant, veterinary, and other professional healthcare programs, preparing them to become transformative leaders in healthcare. For professionals such as Melissa, it provides the flexibility to study online and be part of a hybrid program with medical school linkage.

“If you knew me back in undergrad, I always dreamt of a medical degree. Medicine has always been the goal, but life happened,” Melissa says. “Life is not fair, nor is it kind. And with that, I had to distinguish my priorities.”

“Recently, I remembered having a heart-to-heart conversation with someone, and he said that I would get a light in my eyes whenever I spoke of the hospital, and especially emergencies. I then reprioritized my life and decided to make my dreams a reality.”

Preparing Students for Medical School

Melissa holds a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from University California, Riverside and a Master of Public Health from West Coast University. After attending an anatomy conference in Italy that explored the history of healthcare, she came back reinvigorated to see if she was ready to attend medical school.

Melissa Scharfe with SCU President Dr. John Scaringe, DC, EdD

“SCU provided me with the opportunity to challenge myself,” Melissa recalls. “Could someone like me handle the demands of medical school classes? Sitting in the same lectures and taking the same exams as the first-year medical students (M1) was a daunting yet invigorating test to determine if I was cut for this.”

Melissa says that the most impactful courses she took in SCU’s MSMS program “were the ones that pushed me outside my comfort zone, revealing my weaknesses.

Surprisingly, the hard reality of Microbiology became the challenge I needed. Despite the difficulties with Microbiology, it was Dr. Seema Hardias who made a challenging class one that I really wanted to show up for. She had a passion for teaching that I only hope to adopt in my lifetime.” Sadly, Dr. Seema Hardias passed away on October 6, 2023. Melissa’s fond memories for Dr. Hardias’ class are a testament to her dedication as a teacher, and she will be deeply missed as a member of SCU’s community.

The Foundation to Excel

As she approaches graduation, Melissa is thankful for the opportunity the MSMS program gave her. “The MSMS program is designed to provide students like me with a strong foundation in the medical sciences,” she says.

“SCU has given me the platform to build on these foundations and be competitive with students that are fresh out of undergrad. I have interviewed with multiple medical schools that would not have seen me as a strong candidate before the MSMS program.”

Melissa Scharfe with Dr. Ferrahs Adselbaset and Dr. Polka Kumar of Ponce Health Sciences University

As for advice for future students, Melissa has a few pointers: “If pursuing this career is truly your passion, it is achievable. Attend classes consistently, be proactive in asking questions, and don’t hesitate to communicate with your professors and dean.”

“My strong connections with all my professors and Dr. Khorsan played a pivotal role in navigating the program. These relationships not only led to valuable letters of recommendation for future endeavors but also provided a realistic perspective on the challenges posed by the courses.”

The MSMS program is available both online and blended, with starting dates in the fall, spring, and summer terms. Students may opt for one of three program schedules and delivery method combinations, and the entire program can be completed in as little as three terms. To learn more, visit scuhs.edu/masters-degrees/master-of-science-in-medical-science/.

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