The Health Professions Advising staff is here to help you prepare for a health-related career. We can answer questions related to application requirements, admission procedures, and available opportunities. We look forward to working with you! For general questions, please contact our main line.

José Ramón Fernández-Peña | Director

José Ramón Fernández-Peña

José Ramón Fernández-Peña, MD, MPA – Is the director of Health Professions Advising at Northwestern University where he leads the university's efforts to support students interested in pursuing careers in the health sector.  Previously, Dr. Fernández-Peña was an Associate Professor (now Emeritus) and the Associate Chair in the Department of Health Education at San Francisco State University where his work focused on health workforce diversity and cross-cultural communication in health.  Prior to this, he worked at Mission Neighborhood Health Center in San Francisco as director of Health Education, where he managed the health education programs in the HIV, Adult Medicine, Women’s, and Teen clinics. Before arriving in California, he was an associate director for quality management at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City. He is also the founder and executive director of the Welcome Back Initiative (WBI), a program to assist immigrant health professionals already living in the U.S. through the necessary steps to enter the U.S. health workforce. The WBI currently includes centers in California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. In 2010, the program was recognized by the Maytree Foundation as one of the world’s 15 most successful programs for immigrant integration. In 2011, it received the E Pluribus Unum prize from the Migration Policy Institute. The program has served more than 16,000 people from 168 countries and has assisted thousands in joining the US health workforce. He is a founding member of the steering committee of IMPRINT, a coalition of organizations working to promote and implement best practices in the integration of immigrant professionals. He has advised the White House Domestic Policy Council on the economic integration of foreign-trained professionals and has served as an expert panelist at national and international fora. He received the “Champion of Health Professions Diversity” award from The California Wellness Foundation in 2011. Also, in 2011, he was recognized by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for his work on immigrant integration. He’s an active member in the American Public Health Association (APHA) where has served as the chairperson of its Executive Board. In 2012, he received the Henry J Montes President’s Award APHA's Latino Caucus for his work with the Latino community. Dr. Fernández-Peña earned his medical degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and his masters’ degree in public administration from New York University.

Brian Keiller | Associate Director

Brian Keiller

Brian was a first generation, non-traditional student who earned a MA (Hons) in English from Aberdeen University, Scotland, at the age of 30; and, more recently he earned a MEd in Higher Education from Loyola University Chicago working as an advisor, then director and assistant dean. A native of Scotland, Brian has trained in the Territorial Army as a combat medical technician, studied abroad at the University of Illinois, and has lived and worked in Scotland, England, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, and Australia over a period of years. Don't be surprized if he encourages you to study abroad! Since coming to America, Brian has worked in higher education in numerous roles, almost exclusively in academic advising. Here at Northwestern, Brian has helped develop our homegrown, pre-med shadowing program with partners at the Glenview Outpatients Clinic and is excited to serve Northwestern students exploring a career in the health professions. 

Nancy Tapko | Senior Assistant Director & Health Professions Advisor

Nancy Tapko

Nancy earned a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Before coming to Northwestern, her work experiences involved advising pharmacy students as well as conducting clinical research. She enjoys drawing, exploring different neighborhoods, seeing plays, and trying new restaurants. From living in Chicago for over 20 years, she’s happy to pass along to students all her tips for navigating the CTA and Metra. Her favorite advice for students: keep an open mind about the many different pathways and timelines you can follow to pursue your goals.

Melissa (Mel) Pollay | Assistant Director & Health Professions Advisor

Melissa (Mel) Pollay

Mel earned her bachelor's degree in Anthropology from the University of California, Irvine, in 2008. After graduating, she worked at UC Irvine for two years in housing/visitor services. She then moved halfway across the country with her cat to pursue a master's degree in Higher Education, which she received from Loyola University Chicago in 2012. During graduate school, Mel worked in both student conduct and academic advising, and while doing so realized how much she enjoys helping students succeed in college and work toward pursuing their goals. In case you were wondering, her favorite animal is a hippopotamus. She's not sure why. Most of the things Mel does in her spare time are related to food; she writes a food blog, cooks and bakes regularly, and enjoys exploring the food options in Chicago's many unique neighborhoods.

Tyler Lockman | Health Professions Advisor

Tyler Lockman

Tyler received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State and a master of science degree in Higher Education Administration and Policy from the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern. He spent five years working as a sports writer before returning to his roots in the Chicago area in late 2014. He has been at Northwestern since summer 2015. He previously worked in the Dean’s Office at the Cronkite School. At Northwestern, Tyler advises pre-med and pre-health students and serves as the staff advisor to the Pre-Dental Society.  Tyler is also an LGBTQ Ally Training Facilitator and serves on the Northwestern LGBTQ Ally Training Committee, helping prepare faculty and staff to serve as allies and advocates to the university’s LGBTQ community. Tyler’s favorite things include but are not limited to writing, college football, baseball, and helicopters. He also enjoys roughhousing with his corgi-shepherd mix, Greg Maddux, and visiting new places.

Sara Daudlin | Program Assistant, Recommendation File Coordinator

Sara Daudlin

Sara grew up in Detroit and attended Oakland University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Dance and General Management in 2013. She has spent the last several years performing and working in Chicago. Sara enjoys spending time with friends and exploring Chicago’s art and food scenes. She is excited to be working with Health Professions Advising and to be part of a team that helps students reach their goals.