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Lewis Associates e-Newsletter

Volume 3 Issue 8
August, 2004

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

=> Welcome to Success Stories Newsletter!

=> Important News: MCAT 2003 Stats; MCAT Sued

=> Useful Links: VMCAS; Public Health

=>Dates and Reminders: AACOMAS Unit conversion; AMCAS Grade conversion; Memon Scholarship

=>Success Story of the Month: Nicolas Cahanding ---Headed to Tibet this month -- Entering Class 2002

=> Question of the Month – 5 Medical School Admissions Mistakes - Assumption that I have enough funds to complete the process, but run out in the middle of secondary applications

=> Our Services

=> Contact



Welcome to Lewis Associates!

August is the month when applications should have been submitted, all letters are now in place and Class of 2005 applicants are submitting secondary/supplemental upon request of schools, and a time of waiting for the application services and schools to respond to the initial application. It is time that Class of 2005 applicants who are serious about their applications press that "SUBMIT" button. A VERY busy time!

See this month's Success Story about Nicolas Cahanding. I attended Nick's wedding in summer 2002. He wrote the following to me in June 2004 after completing his second year at the Midwestern University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Chicago:

"Dr. Lewis, I'll be starting AMSA's End of Life Education Fellowship Program here in Chicago next week. It's 6-weeks long and only 12-folks are selected to the program, which I'm very glad to have this opportunity. More info on the program can be found at www.amsa.org under the 'programs' section I believe. Also, I'll be leaving for Tibet July 31st out of SFO. I had the amazing fortune to land a last minute spot on a medical-dental expedition team. I'll be returning home on August 24th. I'm going to Tibet independently of any type of military involvement of course. I really don't know why!? I've always wanted to go to Tibet ... and when I think way back when, I still don't know why exactly. I just want to go. Maybe it's because I've always been interested in world religions...and I've always been interested in Buddhist perspectives. http://www.himalayanhealth.com/lingshed/lingshed.htm is the link for my particular expedition; it's an overview. As for now, I've been digesting a number of Buddhist books. One I highly recommend is The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. This book found me in my town's public library ... Love, Nick"

Keeping in contact with our alumni is one of the most fulfilling things that I do! While attending the National Association for the Health Professions biennial meeting in Washington DC last month, I had breakfast with Todd Cook, now finished with his first year at George Washington University School of Medicine (see Success Story June 2003).

For Class of 2005 applicants, you are now very behind if you have not established a well-thought out strategy to carry you through the difficult application process coming up. 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!

Class of 2006 we have TIME ... a precious commodity. Time to plan, to locate and use new opportunities, time to live up to your potential!

If you are serious about making your dreams to become a physician, dentist, PA, 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 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!

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. She 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 us for more information imaclewis@lewisassoc.com 805-226-9669.

Eric T. Lee, one of our Class of 2004 applicants who had previously applied without success wrote to us on July 20: " ... I 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. I will let you know my final decision as soon as I make it since I am expecting my scholarship package from Michigan State tomorrow. I also will come to thank you in person before I leave. Once again, thank you so very much for your time, patience and guidance ..."



n e w s   &   l i n k s

N E W S :
MCAT 2003 stats

There have been increases in MCAT scores and GPA in both applicants and in Matriculants
---------- Matriculant ------- Applicant
MCAT------ 9.96 --------------- 8.96
GPA ------- 3.63 --------------- 3.47

"This is not much of a gap and obviously reflects thousands and not individuals, but the decision-making is more and more difficult, especially with scores. According to Mark Albanese and web sites at Alabama, St Louis, and other studies, and MCAT's of 8 on average, 25 total, and a GPA of 3.0 are sufficient to predict passage of USMLE 1 without excluding students unnecessarily." Robert Bowman, MD

MCAT sued over denial of accommodated testing
Copyright 2004 by The Chronicle of Higher Education Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Students With Learning Disabilities Sue Over Medical-School Admission Test

Four medical-school applicants with learning disabilities sued the Association of American Medical Colleges on Monday, saying it discriminated against them by not allowing them extra time and other accommodations on the Medical College Admission Test. The lawsuit, filed in state court in California, is seeking class-action status. "This case will have national implications," said Sid Wolinsky, director of litigation for Disability Rights Advocates, a nonprofit legal center that is one of the groups representing the plaintiffs.

Mr. Wolinsky said the lawsuit had been filed in the plaintiffs' home state, not in federal court, because of procedural advantages in California that allow class-action suits to be filed more quickly. "We want the court to address this before the next MCAT is offered next month," Mr. Wolinsky said. "These individuals were absolutely sand-bagged by the denial of accommodations," he added. "They had had accommodations throughout their careers, when they took the SAT and in college."

Officials at the medical-colleges association, which administers the MCAT, said they were reviewing the complaint and were not ready to comment on it. In a written statement, however, they did say that the association "is committed to providing appropriate accommodations on the MCAT to disabled medical-school applicants."

Each of the plaintiffs provided the medical-colleges group with documents and clinical diagnoses of their learning disabilities, which include dyslexia and attention-deficit disorder, but all received form letters stating that the medical association did not consider their conditions disabilities, according to the lawsuit.

One of the plaintiffs, Andres Turner, said he had called the person who signed his denial letter. "Basically, he told me that because I was a capable student, I did not have a disability," said Mr. Turner. "He seemed to imply that I had paid the professionals who examined me to provide the documentation of a disability. It was humiliating, frustrating,
and unfair."

Joining the lawsuit are the National Disabled Students Union and the International Dyslexia Association. Three years ago a federal judge ruled that a dyslexic law-school graduate who had failed the New York State bar examination six times in 10 years was entitled, under the Americans With Disabilities Act, to extra time and other accommodations on the test (The Chronicle, September 7, 2001). But also in 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling that a medical student with a reading and writing impairment was not entitled under that law to extra time on a medical-licensing test (The Chronicle, June 8, 2001).

(You will need to be a member to view Chronicle Articles)

L I N K S :

The Veterinary Medical College Application Service) (VMCAS)
went live in early June 2004 and the web application features several upgrades.

AAVMC/VMCAS is moving to a new suite in their existing building!
The new suite number and zip:
AAVMC 1101 Vermont Avenue, NW Suite 301 Washington, D.C. 20005-3536
All fax numbers, phone numbers and extensions will remain the same.

AAVMC's phone and computer systems will be down from Friday, August 6 - until 9:00 am on Tuesday, August 10th, 2004.
Emergency contact information and a reminder via email will be provided prior to the shut down date. They anticipate being fully settled by Monday, August 16, 2004.
To provide a means of contacting VMCAS during this service interruption, a secondary account for email inquires has been set up. vmcas@hotmail.com

Public Health
This is the website for the American Association for Public Health

See also degree programs and related careers planner:

d a t e s   &   r e m i n d e r s:

AACOMAS unit conversion:
The AACOMAS instructions give a table for doing the standard 2/3 semester hours for 1 quarter hour. The rule is that with one decimal place you get to round so that 2.66 semester hours (4 quarter hours) comes out 2.7 (1.33 is 1.3).

AMCAS has received more calls than "usual" from applicants because applicants are entering grade or credit conversions into the AMCAS application rather than entering the grades and credits as they appear on their official transcripts. The Grade Conversion Guide should be used only for personal calculation of AMCAS GPA and NOT for entry into the AMCAS form. So, the word is: enter your coursework exactly as it appears on your transcripts! AMCAS will do the conversions.

The Memon Foundation has recently established a scholarship for premed students. The essay topic is: Sometimes writing down our own goals reaffirms our beliefs. Tell the next generation of premeders what pushed or is pushing you to go through premed experience. What inspired you through the struggle? Why should s/he go through with premed and not quit like some of his or her peers will? (600-3000 Word Limit)

First Prize is $800. Second Prize is $300. Third Prize is $200. If you have free time and are interested in writing for the scholarship go to .



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

Nicolas Cahanding ---Headed to Tibet this month -- Entering Class 2002

Nick came to me as a newly-changed chemistry major. He entered my student leadership organization at San Diego Statue University, CUHRE, because study mates in analytical chemistry were in CUHRE and he saw a wonderful opportunity for leadership and mutual academic and personal support. He was born in Santa Ana, California and his military family moved to Washington State, Alaska, Japan, Missouri and to San Diego where his longest stay was 6 years. He has visited Korea, Guam, Hawaii, the Philippines, Spain, France, Mexico and Canada -- quite the traveler.

Nick's earliest memories are the Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island in Washington and planes frequently passing overhead. Then, the family moved (a military ritual every 2 to 3 years) to Adak Island in the Aleutian Islands of the Bering Straits, Alaska. He says, "My most fond memories of Adak were fishing in a river near Finger Lake, playing in the snow, and going to school. The fishing was amazing in Adak. When the salmon returned from the ocean, the rivers were so full you could simply reach down and grab one with your bare hands --this attracted grizzly bears, too. I fished for as much salmon and trout as my parents would allow. The most interesting things I learned through fishing were about reproduction and death. The native Eskimo population on Adak fueled my interest in the arts and animals. I remember the dancing, wooden carvings, and beadwork of the native peoples. I was fascinated by the colors and shapes used. The native dress in ceremonial dances was filled with color and life. I enjoyed watching how these dances brought the people together in celebrations throughout the years. I fell in love with a little-revered animal, the otter, the native peoples' mascot. It was everywhere --stuffed animals, pictures, posters, welcome signs, etc."

Nick's family moved to Oceanside near Camp Pendleton, lived off-base and Nick attended public school, then they moved again to Okinawa, Japan. Nick says, "It was neat to look out of the tiny 9th floor apartment and see ships from all over the world --flags of Russia, Sweden, and Norway on the side of enormous vessels. But, I missed my friends in Oceanside and didn't look forward to making new ones. My Fourth through Sixth grade years were filled with adventure, skateboarding all over Okinawa, eating raw sea animals, learning Japanese, getting into fights, and learning about girls. Like Adak, Japan provided me an environment to learn about another culture. I enjoyed eating meals cross-legged on tatami mat floors with chopsticks. 'Department of Defense Dependent schools', the military children's form of public school, had mandatory 'culture class' where we learned about our host-country's language and customs. This was my favorite class; which whisked me into the spirit world of good and bad shishi dogs and good food, like mochi and inada sushi. I practiced my Japanese and ate Japanese food whenever possible, except for raw squid for which I never developed a taste".

Then Nick's family moved to Missouri which was conservative and where he first met racism. He says, "I was walking toward the bus when this very large kid jumped in front and punched me in the chest. I was sent flying to the floor. Then, he stands over me and asks, 'What are you?' I peeled myself off of the floor and proceeded to walk toward the buses in disbelief. This was the beginning of what I thought to be hell. Days following, I received the nickname of "Chink-boy" by a group of less-tolerant types. Months continued with belittling and physical attacks. Sure, I was a smaller kid, but I usually kept to myself. At one point, I started walking home to avoid the feeling of terror and witnessing the harassment of others on the bus ride home. But, even walking home, some kids wanted to beat me up. They came running out of their homes where I was forced to fight back in the street. I didn't understand why these people were so hateful toward others at our school, like the few African-Americans, Asian Americans, and Mexican-Americans".

Nick made friends after awhile and got involved in soccer and tennis, focusing on sports more than academics. After discriminatory behavior by the coach and his peers, Nick was selected MVP for JV soccer. He says, "I think my action to leave and later return to the team provided them an opportunity to recognize their biases and learn about other people. This experience encouraged me to be more sensitive to the gender, ethnicity, and political backgrounds of others. Everyone holds biases. I believe one must recognize and challenge his or her personal biases, especially in a career or environment where sound interpersonal relations are paramount. And, quite simply, celebration of diversity is fun".

He returned to Okinawa for his sophomore through senior years of high school and reconnected with some old friends, but lived off-base for almost a year. He did enjoy biology and chemistry, taking honors chemistry and English, but sports were still his primary focus. Nick says, "I loved playing soccer and tennis. I wasn't thinking of entering a career or envisioning a future. I wanted to taste fierce competition, to test the will of an opponent. I made the varsity tennis team and served as Captain for two years. I was more of a tennis instructor and coach than a player; serving in the capacity of a coach was more to my liking. I enjoyed teaching, coaching, and mentoring. I also made the varsity soccer team where I could play teams from all over the Pacific. My team played teams from South Korea, mainland Japan, and even Guam. I learned that, although cultural and language barriers and personal biases may exist, our purpose and actions -- in this case, playing soccer and tennis -- may be clearly understood through our shared actions. We all knew the rules of the game, but could not communicate a single word; yet we all had a great time and respected one another. I learned that we were not so different from our neighbors and speculated that the all societies work toward a similar goal. This realization stimulated my interest in Religious Studies."

As a high school senior, Nick seriously considered entering the Army for a career and began reading Eastern philosophy and tradition such as Dogen and Lao Tsu. He says, "Okinawa served as my perfect environment for personal and more spiritual growth. Okinawa was filled with mysticism. There was the Suicide Cliffs, where thousands of Okinawans took their own lives during World War II. There was a culture filled with religious traditions such as Shinto, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity. Being a tropical island, the reefs were a marine biologist's dream. I proceeded to learn and questioned everything from the human condition to the physical and life sciences. I wanted to see things though the perspective of other people around the world. Ultimately, I wanted to experience the basic similarities between world societies. Okinawa was an environment where I felt simplicity, patience, compassion, and thanksgiving".

Nick entered San Diego State University directly from high school in Japan. He took about 2 years to decide what major and career he wanted. And, since he took an ROTC scholarship, he had significant military obligations between classes, leadership development and summer training. The military provided as Nick says, "Adventure, physical and intellectual challenges, leadership development, and membership. Through this, I realized that I wanted a life dedicated to service. I learned that selfless service requires endurance through inconsistent hours, thoughtful responses to difficult moral and ethical dilemmas, and personal sacrifice --- in the case of the military, sometimes the ultimate personal sacrifice. I believe that I could only honor the care the Armed Services had provided me by providing care for its members -- this is part of my motivation to pursue a career in military medicine. So, my membership in Army ROTC was the focus of my first years in college".

Nick lived in the dorms, played intramural sports, and continued reading philosophy and religion; he worked 20 hours a week those two years. In winter of his sophomore year, Nick attended the Army Airborne School in Fort Benning, Georgia. He says, "At the time, I was 19, studying psychology, and wanting nothing more than to join the infantry. I decided that leading infantry soldiers was what I wanted to do. This 3-week course was fun. The physical and mental stress was challenging. After returning home, I realized the need for a different challenge. I, then, decided to study chemistry (my favorite course in high school) and medicine from my grandmother's herbalist practices and my mother's Registered Nurse influence". In fall 1996, when Nick's grandfather died, he says, "I found myself at a crossroads struggling to find a sense of purpose and direction. I was left emotionally numb and paralyzed. In the fall of 1997, I was a member of the Army ROTC Ranger Challenge team. The demands of the team were exhausting with strenuous workouts, instruction, and practice. I was less experienced with anticipating workload and recognizing my own capacity. These were definite learning experiences which have motivated me to help others students in personal crisis".

In fall 1998, Nick joined CUHRE, a place Nick grew in academic strength, in leadership, in time management, etc. It was as though there were 2 Nicks -- before and after CUHRE. He says, "CUHRE is a collection of people from diverse backgrounds, ages, and fields of study, but a place of collective purpose and mutual concern. Here, I found a civilian forum for leadership and action, a place where I wanted to learn from and contribute to the development of my peers. I knew that CUHRE could help make medical school a reality for me. CUHRE provided me the support and means for academic success and provided me practice in operational management skills, creativity, and aspects of organizational leadership".

Just within CUHRE, Nick was the newsletter Editor, Public Relations officer, College of Sciences Student Council Representative, Peer Advisor, Class of 2002 Liaison and spring Fiesta Coordinator. He also took significant leadership positions in Golden Key, Mortarboard and was Science Council President.

Nick was a very appealing candidate with a good deal of charisma. I was impressed by the contribution that his military participation made to his confidence and capacity to bear up under stressful situations without losing centeredness. Nick is analytical, intensely-disciplined, and he takes life seriously, although he has a great sense of humor.

But, as Nick says, 'My most memorable moments of my education will be of 'Casa de Amparo.' I worked in childcare for the crisis center for abused and neglected children. It is there where I found inspiration and motivation for medicine. I mainly worked with toddlers and school-aged children. The requirements are often emotionally, mentally, and spiritually challenging, yet fully enriching. There exists a struggle to dig deep into one's own mind and heart to find new, creative ways to communicate and empathize with very different children. We are coaches, mentors, disciplinarians, and confidantes. These children have provided me a look into the human condition. They are the living testament of survivorship, courage, and determination. They struggle for normalcy and strength in a life where frequently such words as court, divorce, hate, abuse, rape, and hit fill their vocabulary. Throughout my education, my work with these children has given me the passion to serve as a physician. I have balanced participation in four years of Army ROTC, 3 years of CUHRE, work, and academics. They have served as the perfect vehicle for my personal and professional development. I am prepared to take on anything". Nick walks the walk.

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



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

5 Medical School Admissions Mistakes

This is excerpted from a chat last year. We will address one question each month for the next 5 months during the application season.

What are 5 medical school admissions mistakes to avoid?

1. Assumption that "deadlines" are the appropriate time for submitting applications ... WRONG!
2. Assumption that "all is well" if you have not heard anything from AMCAS, other application services or a school
3. Assumption that the verbal reasoning part of the MCAT doesn't have anything to do with science, so it isn't important
4. Assumption that I have enough funds to complete the process, but run out in the middle of secondary applications
5. Assumption that people who said they would write letters on your behalf intend to send them in the next "few weeks"

4. Assumption that I have enough funds to complete the process, but run out in the middle of secondary applications

Well, we assume that you have taken 3+ years to prepare yourself academically and professionally (with sufficient meaningful clinical, community service, etc. experiences) for the arduous journey of medical school application. Sometimes this journey has had starts and stops along the way. In any case, if you do not have the estimated $3000+ funds to complete the process set aside, then you may have to abandon it in the middle. Not a good thought. So, it is imperative that you save carefully for your financial costs that will appear with test preparation, the primary application, the secondary applications and travel for interviews. Remember that cost of mailing, internet access, long distance phone calls, etc., all add up. Save your pennies NOW!

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


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

Copyright 2009, Lewis Associates. All rights reserved. Please do not repost on any website without direct permission from Lewis Associates.

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