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COVID-19 Vaccine Trial Helps Student Solidify Her Decision to Pursue Research and Medicine

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Gina Demilt’s passion for research led her to a behind-the-scenes position for a COVID-19 vaccine trial at the UVM Medical Center.

The UVM Medical Center and Vaccine Testing Center at the UVM Larner College of Medicine are taking part in a Phase 3 trial for a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca.

Demilt, who started the 10-week medical assistant position at UVM Medical Center in October, is nearing completion of the UVM Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program.  She learned about the vaccine trial position from an internal job posting and jumped at the chance to apply.

uvm post bacc premed
<em>Gina Demilt <em>

“I’m learning about all kinds of medicines and working with infectious disease experts, physicians, and physician assistants,” Demilt says.

The Phase 3 trial requires at least 250 local volunteers from Vermont, Northern New York, and New Hampshire. Participants are randomly assigned to receive either two injections of the investigational vaccine or a placebo.

“I’ve met so many different types of people that I would not have met anywhere else,” she says. “The most rewarding part is how excited the volunteers are to be doing this work.”

From Athletics Major to Physician Assistant Student

Demilt, who is from Princeton, New Jersey, attended Endicott College in Massachusetts, where she majored in athletic training. She worked as an athletic trainer and physical therapist in Wilmington, Delaware, before she was furloughed earlier this year. At the same time, she was considering changing her career path and going to physician assistant (PA) school.

“I knew my GPA wasn’t great, and I didn’t have the classes I needed for med school. My friend recommended a post-bac program, and I realized that was my fastest route,” Demilt says, who later decided to enroll in the UVM post bacc premed program.

“UVM has a PA track, and it was the best option for going to PA school.”

What the UVM Post Bacc Premed Program Offers

The 12 to 24-month UVM Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program is designed to help individuals achieve their goal of admission into medical school or other health professional programs. The UVM post bacc premed program helps students pursue medical, dental, veterinary, pharmacy, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, physical therapy, and other health professions.

Unique features of the UVM program include:

  • Various tracks for healthcare specializations
  • Access to UVM Medical Center, a Level 1 Trauma Center
  • Integration with the UVM Larner College of Medicine
  • Outside the classroom learning opportunities for students, including informal discussions hosted by physicians and other health professionals
  • Linkage agreements (affiliations) with various medical schools
  • Personalized academic support and a strong advising component

In the spring, Demilt will start applying to PA schools. In the meantime, she’ll continue her job on the UVM vaccine trial, as well as spend weekends working as a patient rehab technician at Central Vermont Medical Center.

For Demilt, working as a medical assistant at UVM solidified her decision to go to PA school.

“This job is everything I could have asked for. I’m learning so many different things like data entry and how to take vitals,” she says “I am wearing so many hats, which is great because it’s just showing me all the things that can happen in research.”


Learn more about UVM’s Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program