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Lewis Associates e-Newsletter

Volume 4 Issue 1
January, 2005

Published by Lewis Associates. Dr. Cynthia Lewis, Phd., Editor
Email imaclewis@lewisassoc.com with your comments. Enjoy!

***For information on how you can help with Tsunami Relief Efforts Click here.

What's inside:
=>Welcome to Success Stories Newsletter!

=>Important News: Launching AMCAS v2.0 for the Class of 2006; Dying For Basic Care; Single Pill Treats AIDS; and More

=>Useful Links: Dental, Pharmacy, Optometry and More

=>Dates and Reminders: Traffic Rules for the 2005 entering medical school class

=>Success Story of the Month: Adam Carewe—Journal of a First-term Medical Student

=>Question of the Month – What do Admissions Officers look for in Letters of Recommendation? .

=>Our Services


Welcome to Lewis Associates!

January is typically "a new beginning"ƒthe New Year, a fresh start, a time for resolutions of changing oneÍs behavior. We are also in the middle of interview season. It is terribly important for applicants to the entering Class of 2005 confirm that all school files are complete. And, as I indicated last month, I predict that the application process will speed up even more next year. So, Class 2006 applicants beware - begin your preparation NOW!

To date, our 27 Class of 2005 applicants are interviewing at 126 schools (that is more than 4 interviews per applicant!) including the Texas schools, Harvard, Vanderbilt, Hawaii, UCLA, UCSF (and MANY more) and have been accepted at many, including Drexel and George Washington Medical Schools, Western University and Kansas City University COM, Boston University and Case Western Dental Schools.....the list goes on!

On February 5, Dr. Lewis will be presenting at this year's annual Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance (SUMMA) Conference. Last year's presentation "How Competitive Are You?: Assessing Your Candidacy" Was quite a success. Later that month, she will be the Keynote Speaker at the CSU-Sacremento Pre-medical Conference.

Our Class of 2005
applicants are being accepted everywhere! In order to be a competitive applicant, one needs to have submitted a quality (as evaluated by your experience and your GPA/MCAT/DAT/GRE etc profile) application in a timely fashion---this requires a well-thought out strategy to carry you through the difficult application process. You should have completed all secondary applications, and submitted your letter packets to complete your files at all your schools by October/November at the latest. Your competition did! This is the most intense time you will experience as a pre-health student. It is a roller coaster ride. Let us know how we can assist you...... sooner is now!

For Class of 2006 applicants, we have TIMEƒ.a precious commodity. Time to plan, to locate and use new opportunities, time to live up to your potential! I am working with my Class of 2006 students now, drafting application personal statements, collecting their letters and drafting experiences. Is this what you are doing?

If you are serious about making your dreams to become a physician, dentist, Physician Assistant, veterinarian, optometrist or pharmacist a reality --- Lewis Associates can help you. We have made the difference for over 700 students over almost 20 years.

What are your chances?

If you want to change your career or reach your new career goal, but do not know how to begin or how to jump over all those hurdles, Lewis Associates will implement strategies to change your life. Read about it in our newsletter and website, then phone or email us directly to get started with your personal Assessment!

You may be like our Lewis Associates Advisees---highly motivated and intelligent, but needing focus, guidance and specific technical expertise. Dr. Lewis solves problems for her Advisees and finds opportunities for them. Dr. Lewis is a trained biologist, having taught and directed her own research programs for many years at two universities. She earned two postdoctoral fellowships (one at NIH) and received the 1990 NACADA Outstanding Institutional Advising Program in the U.S. She teaches Professionalism, Leadership, and Quality, and sets high standards for her Advisees.

Lewis Associates will save you money and heartache on your application process. Contact the experts! For more information email imaclewis@lewisassoc.com or call 805-226-9669.

Eric T. Lee, one of our Class of 2004 applicants who previously applied without success wrote to us:
"ƒI would just like to send along my eternal gratitude. The medical school application process is a daunting one as I am sure you know and I obviously had little success at it until I began working with you. I received 2 acceptances and several wait-list options, which means my medical school dream has actually come true. ƒ Once again, thank you so very much for your time, patience and guidanceƒ"

n e w s & l i n k s

N E W S-HOT TOPICS for premedical students:

Completely NEW Criminal Background Check Process

The AAMC is discussing how to implement criminal background checks for all applicants accepted to allopathic medical school, possibly beginning in 2005, and plans to conduct periodic criminal background checks for enrolled medical students. "This endorsement acknowledges the fact that medical students are already among the most highly scrutinized of all applicants, students and future professionals, and that no major flaws have been identified in the ongoing assessment and supervision of the nationÍs 67,000 medical students. There are 3 major bases for this recommendation about background checks:

1. The safety and well-being of patients
2. The ability of accepted applicants and enrolled medical students to become licensed as physicians and
3. Liability issues affecting medical schools and their affiliated clinical facilities"

Checks on dishonorable military discharge, misdemeanors, felonies, gang connections, terrorism, immigration status, sex offenders, pending court processes, crimes involving weapons, theft, burglary, drugs, sexual activity, DUI, worthless checks, contributing to a delinquency of a minor, abuse, false financial statement, etc.) will be made. (From An Interim Report from the Group on Student Affairs Subcommittee Criminal Background Checks for Medical Students, 11/3/04, AAMC).

Ability to Speak Spanish Important in Some Residencies
Regional linguistic competency may play a part in residency matching in the future.

Launching AMCAS v2.0 for the Class of 2006
In spring 2005 AMCAS v2.0 online student application will offer one-stop shopping for applicants to AMCAS-participating schools. The 2006 admissions cycle promises to be an exciting time. To learn more, visit the AMCAS web site at http://www.aamc.org/audienceamcas.htm. Class 2006 information will be posted in January or February, 2005.

Enhanced Intensive Care System Allows Remote Access to Patients (USA Today) http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techinnovations/2004-12-28-enhanced-icu_x.htm
An expanding number of hospital systems are adopting "enhanced intensive care" technology known as eICU that allows critical care doctors and nurses to monitor dozens of patients at different hospitals simultaneously.

Safety Issue May Change Pill Culture (Washington Post)
Questions about popular medications may cause a consumer backlash against the tendency to take pills for "lifestyle" concerns, which could hurt the beleaguered drug industry.

Dying For Basic Care
(Washington Post)
More than 886,000 deaths could have been prevented from 1991 to 2000 if African Americans had received the same care as whites, according to an analysis in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Single Pill Treats AIDS (Chicago Sun-Times)
Two drug firms announced Monday they will collaborate on the first all-in-one, one-a-day pill to treat HIV -- which would make it much easier for patients to stick with their medication.

University of Miami Renames Medical School
The University of Miami School of Medicine has been renamed the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, in honor of a $100 million gift from the family of the late south Florida businessman and philanthropist. The gift will initially be used to establish four Miller professorships, and to recruit future biomedical scientists and enhance the school's academic mission. For more information go to http://www.med.miami.edu/millerRelease.asp ( Stat, December 13, 2004)

Mentoring Opportunity for Students Interested in Dentistry
T he American Dental AssociationÍs (ADA) announces a new mentoring opportunity for students interested in dentistry as a career. The mentoring activity offers students the chance to talk with a practicing dentist, get a glimpse of the profession from the dentistÍs perspective, and possibly ñjob shadowî at a dental office. Information about the ñpilotî mentoring activity is available on the ADA Ís website at http://www.ada.org/publiceducation/careers/mentoring.asp. The site contains information on the benefits of mentoring, how the program works and follow up/contact information. For information, contact Beverly Skoog, ADA, skoogb@ada.org.

Whistleblower says U.S. bungled AIDS study (MSNBC)
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/6784525/ Federal officials involved in a U.S.-funded research project in Uganda were more interested in promoting an AIDS drug than patient safety, says a government whistleblower. The research was aimed at finding ways to protect babies in Africa from HIV infection.

Weight loss companies seek 2005 knockout of low-carb
http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=reutersEdgeNews&storyID=648134 Proclaiming an end to the low-carb diet craze, U.S. weight loss companies are launching a marketing blitz aimed at winning over consumers resolved to shed flab once and for all in the New Year.

Three Ounces Of Prevention (Washington Post)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A45500-2005Jan3.html The new benefits of the Medicare Modernization Act begin this week.

New York City Public Hospitals Rate Higher Than Others, Mayor Says (New York Times) http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/01/nyregion/01mayor.htmlNew York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has praised the city's public hospitals, asserting that the quality of care they provide is so good that poor city residents receive better medical service than wealthy patients at private hospitals.

L I N K S :
Schools Aimed at Training Country Doctors (CNN) http://www.cnn.com/2004/HEALTH/12/27/rural.docs.glance.ap/index.html
List of some Web sites for medical school programs aimed at training country doctors.

Study: More Women Opt Against Birth Control (Washington Post)
Some analysts called the spike a troubling development that translates into at least 4.6 million sexually active women at risk of conceiving a child they had not planned on.

Dental Listserv
Dentistry portals and Directories linking the global dental resource online.

Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education
Resources, Publications, and information for Future Pharmacists

Primary Care Optometry News
Publication focusing on current issues in Optometry

d a t e s   &   r e m i n d e r s

Traffic Rules for the 2005 entering allopathic medical school class There are 10 listed for Medical School Applicants (and 10 for Medical School Admissions Officers). Some important ones for applicants include:

— Each applicant should respond promptly to a schoolÍs invitation for interview; prompt cancellation of an appointment should also be made.
—Initiate as early as possible the steps necessary to determine financial aie/loan eligibility including early filing of appropriate analysis forms and the encouragement of parents, when necessary, to file required income tax forms.
—In fairness to other applicants, when an applicant has made a decision prior to May 15 not to attend a medical school that has made an offer of acceptance, the applicant should promptly withdraw his/her application from those other schools by written correspondence.
—Immediately upon enrollment in a medical school, withdraw your application from consideration at all other schools where you are still under consideration.

International Service Learning (ISL)
The next ISL teams for pre-health students will be departing most Spring Break Saturdays starting February 26-March 19 to Costa Rica/Nicaragua, Costa Rica/Panama, Guyana/Trinidad, and Mexico. Financial sponsorship program available to assist students with funding. Visit http://ISLonline.org for more information

s u c c e s s s t o r i e s

Adam Carewe
-Journal of a First-Term Medical Student


Dr. Lewis is on the right, Adam is the tall guy!

From basketball jock to MS in Exercise Physiology to physician!

Instead of replying to the multiple emails I received this week from many of you asking about how the first week was going, I decided it would be best for time management to reply to all in one big email.

Let me start by saying, we went over more material during this first week that an undergraduate course would take at least one month to get through. This did not come as a shock because I was forewarned about the volume of information given in med school. However, I am here to learn medicine and that starts with all the basic sciences, and it is not like I have anything else to do but study. Living off financial aid is a wonderful life (My attempt at humor).

I included several pictures I took from our orientation week. The pictures of NYC from the water and group shots of us dressed up were from the dinner cruise around Manhattan. The last one is from the Yankee game.

Several people have emailed asking what classes I am currently taking. So, through mid-November we are taking Anatomy and Histology. Grouped with each of those subjects is embryology and cell biology on a smaller scale. Our first exam in anatomy (written and practical) is one week from Monday. Needless to say I have quite a bit of studying to do. Many have also asked about Anatomy Lab. I will keep this email rated "G", but we do have a cadaver we are working on. We have begun with the thorax (chest) region and just opened the chest today. It was quite amazing to see all the different bodies in lab. Several of the cadavers had noticeable lung cancer and end stage emphysema. There was even a couple that had a collapsed lung.

Anyway, I am having a great time so far. I have met several people from San Diego and even one guy that was good friends with my cousin before high school. Quite the coincidence.

Talk to you all soon.

Obviously I have been busy since I have not sent out an email in a while. Well, we just finished our first round of exams today. What a relief but what a wake up call too. I have basically spent every free moment (which includes all time minus sleeping, eating, and exercising) studying and preparing for the next exam. Everybody told me it would be this way (and some of you are experiencing or have experienced this glorious process first hand), so all I can say is that it is most definitely true.

However, despite the large amount of time studying, I am still finding time to enjoy myself. Intramural basketball started today, IM football starts on Thursday, and last weekend we had a 3-on-3 basketball tourney to raise money for the AHA Heart Walk (That's for my Cardiac Rehab crew), which, by the way, my team took the championship. It was a fun day, but dreadfully hot and humid. I thought my head was going to explode at one point. I posted some photos and a short movie of the day here.

We are all looking forward to the Labor Day weekend. We actually get Monday off. I may end up going with one of my classmates to his home, or I may just hang out here with my roommate and catch up on much needed sleep.

I wish everyone the best and miss you all dearly. Hopefully I can see all of you soon.

Everyone knows someone affected by heart disease or stroke. For those I love, I will be walking in this yearÍs American Heart Walk. I have set a personal goal to raise funds for the American Heart Association and need your help to reach my donation goal. We are raising critical dollars for heart disease and stroke research and education.

You can help me reach my goal by making a donation online. Click on the above link and you will be taken to my personal donation page where you can make a secure online credit card donation. The American Heart Association's online fundraising website has a minimum donation amount of $25.00. If you prefer to donate less, you can do so by sending a check directly to me. Your donation will help fight our nationÍs No. 1 and No. 3 killers„heart disease and stroke. You are making a difference. Thank you for your support. Follow This Link to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support AHA - NEA-Westchester, NY

As you read in the subject heading, I am already halfway done with human anatomy! Can you believe it? It seems like a just started. Well, we just completed our 2nd set of written and practical exams for anatomy on the abdomen and pelvis. LOTS of information in that area of the body. Many nerves, blood vessels, etc...even you non-med folks can probably relate to the complexity in that region. Now we finally get to study the parts of the body I am most interested in...muscles and nerves of the back and extremities. My exercise physiology background is definitely going to help me in this region. Actually, one of the anatomy faculty has a research focus on the biomechanics of the human body, so he is going to do most of the lectures on this region. He is also the most entertaining of the faculty. Picture a short, somewhat round, Italian man with a big belly crackin' jokes throughout lecture. The 2nd years call him "Penguin" because of his overall looks and his habitual flapping of his arms. I'm not kidding about the arms. He actually walks around slightly bouncing both of his arms in unison throughout lecture. Nonetheless we all love Dr Solimene.

Even though we just had these exams yesterday, it does not mean a free weekend coming up. We have our first histology practical next Thursday. Histology is basically anatomy at the microscopic level. Thrilling for the budding pathologist...not so thrilling for the majority of us. As I may have indicated, med students work very hard...but also party pretty hard (when we have the free moment). Last night was one of those. Basically the night after all exams is a great excuse to pretend you live a normal life by going out and visiting the social scene. Most of our class went to the city last night. The rest of us went to White Plains (the closest "big" city to us). Our schedule worked out great this week because we don't have class today...Rosh Hashanah...so going out last night did not have any repercussions.

Overall, I am truly enjoying my time in NY in med school. I have finally settled into a "study groove" and freakishly it is starting to feel a bit NORMAL. Even though it does feel "normal" I do miss all of my family and friends. Luckily, I have a great set of fellow classmates, so we are able to form our own little family away from home.

Until next time...Adam

I have to keep this one short and sweet because I barely have time to breathe these days. Last Friday NYMC has their Fall Convocation and White Coat Ceremony, where (for those of you who do not know) all of us first-year students don our white coat for the first time. Photos from the entire event are here: http://www.nymc.edu/convocation/2004/index.asp

I also attached a few of the pics my big head can be found in. Also, my roommate Gregg is the guy immediately to my right in the pics. Some of you have been asking about my roommate so now you have a face with the name.

Adam is pictured here on the far right!

My mother and brother made the trip out east for the weekend. It was good to see some family in person and we even spent a full day walking and site seeing NYC. It was my first chance to get to the city during the day and see some of the highlights.

Well, we are on the home stretch for anatomy/histology. We will be done in about 4 weeks...then two weeks of exams...including mini boards for both anatomy and histology. We have an exam every week now until the mini boards. Let me tell you...it is tons of fun (sarcasm).

Also, I will be coming home for the holidays for two weeks. I won't be making it home for Thanksgiving, but my roommateÍs parents graciously invited me to their home outside of Baltimore, MD.

Miss you all...and look forward to seeing many of you in December. Adam

It has been a while since I last emailed mainly because our class has been in a 3.5-week whirlwind of studies and exams. We finally had a little time to breath the last few days following our third exam in a row...and most of us made the best of it. On Thursday we had our annual 1st year girls vs. 2nd year girls powder puff football game. I was one of the head coaches and it was a game of defense until the 2nd half when the 1st year "007" girls edged us out by one touchdown. Everyone had a good time and we will definitely be ready for next year when we take on the 2009's.

I want to say I am sorry to all of you who I have not followed up with following an email or voicemail. As you know, I am quite busy and leisure time is a minimum...well excluding time for powder puff, basketball, football, and the occasional night out on the town (which does not happen too often). I am still having a great time out hear despite the workload. And if you can believe it we only have one more week of classes for our first block of courses! That means we will have gone through the entire body, both histologically (that is microscopic anatomy and function for those not in the know) and grossly (That's the cadaver part...but I'll leave out the details). Basically we dissected and learned the entire human body in about 12 weeks. The good news is that we will be done soon...the bad news is that we have a comprehensive mini-board exam in both histology and anatomy. Needless to say, this is the last time you will hear from me for, at least, a few weeks.

Also, last Thursday night we had our annual Halloween Party. We had to have it early since both our class and the 2nd year class have exams the first week of November, so a big bash is the last thing any of us will be thinking about. The costumes were hilarious, the music was loud, and the ethanol was flowing. It was a good night all around. The DJ bailed on us the night before, so I was asked to come to the rescue with my music filled iPod. It worked out great. Everybody was dancing until the party ended.

Anyway, you can tell we are still finding time to have fun. The motto with med students is "Study hard, but play harder...when you can."

On a more medical note, I have already begun my clinical preceptorship. Each 1st year student is paired up with a primary care physician in the area. We meet every few weeks for a few hours in the doctor's office and begin seeing patients. Basically our goal for 1st year is learning to take a medical history. So each time we meet we build upon what we have learned in our primary care course and do a little bit more of taking a medical history. I have only had one meeting so far (another next week) so I only had to do the "Greeting and identifying the chief complaint." My preceptor is in a pediatric office so this was my first experience working with patients younger than the typical cardiac patient. It was a good time.

Until next time, Adam

As you all remember, my last email was about three weeks before our 2-weeks of craziness. Those two weeks included 5 exams in 8 days and over 18 days of 12-14 hours of studying each day. Two of the exams were comprehensive mini-board exams put out by the USMLE (Those are the same guys that create the boards I will take later for my license). They were fun as you can imagine. I know I'm preaching to the choir to those of you who have already gone through this (or are currently taking the plunge with me), but let me tell you, those ~18 days were definitely the most draining 2+ weeks of my life. And the good news is I get to look forward to many more like it!

Actually, all of the upper classmates say that this first block of med school is BY FAR the most difficult. As long as that was the most difficult, then I think I will to be ok. The reason why I have taken a while to write is that we just received our final grades today...and I passed both courses safely. As some of you know, I was quite worried about histology because I did not start off on the right foot in that course. During orientation week our dean talked about how everyone in medical school will hit the proverbial "bump in the road" sometime throughout our time in school. Well, mine came after the first histo exam. The good news was that it was just the first exam and there would be ample time to lift my score in the class, but the bad news was I had dug myself a HUGE hole to climb out of. Well, I guess hard work, perseverance, and (most likely) the looming fear that you may have to retake your first year of medical school were all incentive enough for me to pull my grade up. Now I am a happy camper.

As for current news, the past week and a half we started out 2nd block...well, sort of. We started biochemistry (only one lecture a day), but mainly had a crash course in biostatistics and epidemiology. Our final exam for this course is on Wed of this week, then we are off for 4 days for the Thanksgiving Holiday. These past couple of weeks (post exams) have been quite fun. Lots of social events, a drink or two or three or four, actually watching football games on the weekend and not feeling guilty about it, a drink or two (oops I already said that one), and overall, feeling what is was like to have fun again.

After the break this weekend we will start physiology as well as continue biochem. I'm looking forward to this block, because we get to synthesize all the info we learned in anatomy and histology into a more medical and practical context. I'll be sure to keep you all up-to-date!

Happy Holidays to all. Adam

Email to Dr. Lewis if you wish to communicate about medical schools or other issues or to contact Adam Carewe: imaclewis@lewisassoc.com

q u e s t i o n o f t h e m o n t h

#1 What do Admissions Officers look for in Letters of Recommendation?
From a very competitive allopathic medical program: "Letters are very important in our evaluation. In most cases, they fall just below the applicant's statements in terms of their importance with the GPA and MCAT placing a distant third. The letters of recommendation provide us with vital information about the applicant's intellectual abilities, creativity, industry, motivation, maturity, sophistication, and ability to work with others, things that the rest of the application can only hint at. Without these letters, admissions would be a crapshoot."

In Dr. Lewis' "Request for a Letter of Recommendation Form", She explicitly states how the letter writer should provide his or her background and personal anecdotes about the applicant. And, she has a complete "How to Get Strong Letters of Recommendation" handout providing strategies for applicants since many students attend large schools with large classes, making it difficult to get those important letters.

Letters for MD-PhD Programs: "In reading letters, we look for statements that give us an insight into the applicant's potential to become an independent researcher and physician. Quantitative measures (GPA & MCAT) are of limited use in predicting this (in fact, analysis of our alumni and students have shown a slight negative correlation between high GPA & MCAT and high achievement in the lab while in our program). The applicant's statements about their motivation are important, but only in the negative sense: "I want to do the MD-PhD because it is more prestigious than just a MD program" automatically tags the application for admissions apoptosis. The applicant's description of their research activity is very important, but it may be difficult to discern what their contributions to a particular project were; a letter from the research mentor can clear this up."

#2 If an interviewer asks, "Do you think that 4 years of medical school and 5 years of residency is too much training?"
Dr. Lewis responds: "Having had 9 YRS of post-graduate training, I believe that three years of residency is reasonable. If you sub-specialize, for example in neurosurgery (4 years medical school plus 5 years general surgery residency plus 1-3 years of fellowships), I want my brain surgeon to be really adept in technical skills -- I hope the Residency Directors know exactly what training is needed during those additional years! "

We will feature an important question each month. Please submit one that interests you for Dr. Lewis to answer. Send your questions to imaclewis@lewisassoc.com with newsletter question in the subject line.

lewis associates advising services

Lewis Associates specializes in personal, effective and professional premedical advising and placement for traditional and non-traditional applicants. Often, non-traditional students are older than 21 years of age, career changers, international applicants or second-round applicants for admission to health professions school.

Lewis Associates' services meet the needs of all types of students from pre-applicants to applicants, including hourly advising support for specific needs. Click here.


"It's never too late to be who you might have been."

If this is how YOU feel, then, maybe Lewis Associates is the place for you. Lewis Associates provides Mentoring and Coaching through the rigorous and often circuitous pre-health preparation and application process. Other consultants may support programs like Law and Business or graduate school -- not Lewis Associates. We are the experts in Health Professions based on 23 years of a successful track record.

Call or email today to set your first appointment!

805.226.9669 imaclewis@lewisassoc.com

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