A person stands at the rear of an ambulance.
BGSU junior Grant Hayden works as an EMT, is a combat medic in the Ohio Army National Guard and conducts undergraduate research at the University, all to prepare him for his future career in medicine. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

BGSU junior immerses himself in healthcare and research in pursuit of medical school dream

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Grant Hayden works as an EMT and in a BGSU research lab studying environmental toxins

By Laren Kowalczyk ‘07

Grant Hayden thought he knew what he wanted to do when he enrolled at Bowling Green State University in 2020.

Over time, his interests shifted, and a new dream emerged: becoming a doctor and researcher.

Since that pivotal moment, Hayden has been immersed in healthcare and research, preparing for the next step in his journey, which includes applying for acceptance into an MD-Ph.D. program.

“Medicine is probably the most competitive thing you can do in academia,” Hayden said. “So, I'm doing everything I can right now to give myself a fighting chance at medical school.”

Hayden’s initial interest in the medical field began after he enlisted in the Ohio Army National Guard and trained for 16 weeks to become a combat medic. He chose the assignment without realizing then how it would change his future.

“I sort of just picked it, and then I loved it,” Hayden said. “That decision 100% pivoted me toward medicine.”

Following basic training and deployment for Ohio’s COVID-19 mission in 2021, Hayden reenrolled at BGSU in Spring 2022 and changed his major to biology. He said the transition back to the University was seamless with help from the Nontraditional and Military Student Services Center.

BGSU is ranked the No. 1 university in the Midwest for its comprehensive services and support of veterans and active military students. The annual Best for Vets rankings have recognized the University as a top academic choice consecutively since 2013.

Immersed in research

To support his new career aspirations, Hayden began working as an EMT in Sandusky County and as a research assistant for associate biology professor Dr. James Metcalf, delving into the world of environmental toxins.

As a comprehensive public university, BGSU prioritizes providing students with experiential learning opportunities that are beneficial to their future careers, including offering research opportunities to undergraduates.

Metcalf said that in addition to learning the technical aspects of research, students apply concepts learned in class to real-world settings, sharpen critical thinking skills, learn to adapt and bolster communication and presentation skills.

“Investing time into scientific research is crucial to Grant achieving his goal of attending medical school,” Metcalf said. “He’s learning things through the research and doing things in the lab that will provide him with an advantage when he starts medical school training.”

Hayden’s current research project involves isolating melainabacteria, a subset of cyanobacteria found in the human digestive system that may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s really exciting to be a part of this research,” Hayden said. “That’s why I want to pursue an MD and Ph.D. I want to be involved in patient care and be on the cutting edge of medical research.”

A person smiles while sitting in the back of an ambulance.
Grant Hayden said his work as an EMT provides a crucial connection to patient care and will be beneficial to achieving acceptance into an MD-Ph.D. program. (BGSU photo/Craig Bell)

Staying connected to medicine

Hayden said the faculty-to-student ratio at BGSU and support for undergraduate research through the Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (CURS) have been integral to his growth as a researcher.

Metcalf agrees, having witnessed Hayden’s passion and dedication for research intensify since joining the lab.

“Grant is highly engaged, motivated and intelligent,” he said. “He wants to succeed in these experiments, and I’ve seen his interest grow over his time in the lab. This research opportunity will be very useful for Grant’s future educational endeavors and career.”

Outside the BGSU research lab, Hayden’s work as an EMT provides a crucial connection to patient care and the human side of medicine.

“Working as an EMT keeps me anchored in medicine and focused on the big picture of human health,” he said. 

Hayden is on track to graduate from BGSU in Spring 2025 and begin his master’s degree in biology in Fall 2025, further bolstering his credentials for medical school. He said he’s grateful for the many ways the University is preparing him for the next step in his educational journey.

“I’m really happy with my choice to come to BGSU,” he said. “It’s been fantastic, and my experiences here have been significant in my growth as a researcher and future physician.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349

Updated: 04/23/2024 02:34PM