Bioengineering Graduate Found Pathway to Medical School

May 4, 2023 | Graduate News, News, UToday, Alumni, Engineering, Medicine and Life Sciences
By Diana Van Winkle

Dalton Mitchey has a calling to be a doctor, and as is usually the case with a calling, ignoring it didn’t work.

As a first-generation college student, the planning involved in how to get into and through medical school overwhelmed Mitchey, and he couldn’t envision a path to feasibly achieve his ambitions.

Graduation Cap

CELEBRATING SUCCESS: UToledo recognizes the Class of 2023 with a series of stories featuring students receiving their degrees at spring commencement.

“I decided on engineering, and applied to, and was accepted by a large number of schools,” he said. “I decided on UToledo knowing that they had a very reputable engineering program and would be the least financial burden on my family.”

Mitchey began his studies in mechanical engineering, building off his strengths in science and mathematics.

“It was during my first co-op at PCC Airfoils that I made the realization that, while I may really enjoy my coursework and the problem-solving skills engineering provided, I didn’t belong in the industry. The times I felt most fulfilled in my first manufacturing co-op was when I was with an operator who was having trouble on a job. I enjoyed talking to them, taking their feedback on how the part was doing right before problems started, and then applying my knowledge to work with the operator to have them up and running smoothly again. It was that one-on-one personal problem solving that drove me.”

During this co-op, Covid-19 struck, and it nudged Mitchey to again think that there was something more meaningful he should be doing.

“I had continuously thought about changing paths from mechanical engineering to bioengineering, as it is a great pre-med major, but I didn’t feel like I had the type of support system that would push me to take leaps into the unknown.”

The path to becoming a doctor seemed impossible to Mitchey.

“You need thousands of shadowing hours, hundreds of clinical hours, a 512 on the MCAT, a whole year dedicated to the MCAT, four years of research, four years with a service group, multiple leadership positions, thousands of community service hours, etc.

“I had already completed almost three years of my schooling, with only two years left. Most pre-meds dedicate their entire four-year college careers to achieving these steps.”

But Mitchey found support at UToledo, and a possible pathway to medicine.

In the College of Engineering, Dr. Halim Ayan, an associate professor in mechanical and bioengineering, worked with Mitchey on an undergraduate research co-op in his plasma medicine and bioengineering laboratory.

“I greatly enjoyed having Dalton in my BIOE1000 class,” Ayan said. “He performed extremely well, and it was clear that he was an exceptional student. He later joined my lab and did research, which resulted in him co-authoring a soon-to-be-submitted manuscript. Dalton is very mature and dedicated, and I am pleased to have had him as a student both in class and in the lab. I feel certain he has a very bright future.”

Photo of UToledo student Dalton Mitchey on the bank of a lake.

Dalton Mitchey graduates Saturday with a degree in bioengineering. This summer he will earn his EMT certificate.

Mitchey said it was important to him to have a “quality over quantity approach” and an experience that helped stand out.

“I wanted to be a practitioner of medicine before medical school, so I also looked into the EMS [Emergency Medical Services] program here at the University.”

Mitchey’s bioengineering degree, in conjunction with the emergency medical technician certification he earned in the spring of 2022 and the national paramedic certificate he will earn this summer, are helping him to fulfill his passion for service, see and experience what medicine looks like firsthand and understand the true roles played by the various medical professionals of a patient care team. This dual program gives him the opportunity to be the first to care for a patient, the first to assess the patient and the first to make a treatment decision for a patient.

“In the EMS programs,” he said, “I was presented opportunities to learn patient assessment skills, medical skills, roles of the patient care team, how to turn someone else’s emergency into just another problem to solve.”

Jeff Schneiderman, the EMS program director at UToledo’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences, has played a pivotal role in Mitchey’s support system.

“Dalton has become a very driven student with leadership qualities. Not only is he pursuing his own education, but he has also helped to attract other students to our program through his experiences with us. He has been a huge success story and a perfect example of how gaining EMS education and experience will further assist his clinical abilities but also assist in furthering his education in medicine. I have no doubt the spark that Dalton has with EMS will afford him additional opportunities and respect once he has completed his medical education.”

Mitchey wholeheartedly recommends bioengineering as a pathway to medical school at The University of Toledo.

“We are always told throughout our courses that engineering classes teach a way of thinking in regard to approaching problems and situations to present both novel/thorough ideas and solutions to any field we could ever end up in,” he said. “On top of all of that, UToledo has a BaccToMD program for incoming freshmen that can provide additional preparation specifically for medical school, the possibility of a guaranteed interview for UTMC and many other benefits.

“UToledo has fostered my pathway to medical school by providing me opportunities I never knew anything about coming into college,” he added. “The student-faculty relationships and seemingly limitless opportunities available once you do the digging are two things that make me so glad to have chosen UToledo.”

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