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Online Prerequisites Student Profile: Christine Hovey

Christine Hovey

Christine Hovey at her computer

It took Christine Hovey 57 years to take her first physics lab. And she says it was worth the wait.

Hovey, who spent 30 years in the business world, recently took an online class offered by the MGH Institute’s Prerequisites for the Health Professions division. It was taught by Daniel Irimia, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and associate director at the BioMEMS Resource Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Most physics classes focus on engines, bridges, and machines, so it is very rare to find a physics professor with a strong medical background,” she noted. “Dr. Irimia can relate every principle of physics to biological functions and/or medical instruments and technology.

“It is truly a pleasure to study under someone who is so passionate about transferring knowledge,” she added. “He can break down the most complex topics into more simple and understandable terms. He challenges the students to think through their answers and experiments with various scenarios. And, despite his brilliance, it is very refreshing to have an instructor who encourages critical thinking and welcomes ‘dumb questions’. This is what makes the physics classes at the Institute so special and unique.”

Hovey chose to complete the lab portion of the course using a physical science kit, which was mailed to her so she could work at it in her home. She used the kit’s included tools to conduct the experiments, after which she photographed what she did and reported the results via lab reports.

“When we were designing circuits, I was quite skilled at stripping the insulation from the wires to complete the circuit,” she said, noting that she could complete the assignments at her leisure. “Some of my classmates who grew up with wireless speakers were unfamiliar with wiring techniques. It reminded me of my elementary schools days and the science fairs.”

Hovey, who cares for her elderly parents, currently is pondering pursuing an “encore career” in health care. But she said classes at the Institute would fit even people who aren’t interested in a new career.

“I would recommend it to other early retirees who want to become informed health care consumers and who are seeking an intellectual challenge,” she said. “It is also a great way to embrace new technology and experience an innovative learning tool.”

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