Lewis Associates
Lewis Associates
Subscribe to Newsletter Order Brochure
Go To Book Recommendations

Pay your bill online with PayPal

Subscribe to our Monthly e-Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust
Search Newsletter Archives

    Lewis Associates e-Newsletter

    Volume 5 Issue 4
    May 2005

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

    What's inside:
    Welcome to Success Stories Newsletter!

    Important News: AMA Asks NCAA to Ban Booze From the Airwaves; Stem Cell Research Guidelines Issued; and More

    Useful Links: ExploreHealthCareers.org; Lewis Associates Links Page

    Dates and Reminders: 2006 AMCAS and AACOMAS services are now open!

    Success Story of the Month: T.J. Dhillon, MD

    Question of the Month – What do you think about my providing schools with both a committee letter and individual letters from professors/managers?

    Our Services


    Welcome to Lewis Associates!

    May is the month when the AMCAS, AACOMAS, AADSAS, CASPA and VMCAS open their electronic applications online. Then, the Class of 2006 gears up to input all their grade, essay and other data during May and into June. Class of 2006 has been working hard to collect all the appropriate letters of recommendation, working diligently on our application essays (you may have more than 1!) , and developing a draft of post secondary experiences --all this balanced with working (for pay), doing research, clinical experiences and perhaps full time class work.

    Hey--that is a ____ of a lot to do!! You're right. So, having a specific personal strategy makes all the difference so one does not collapse due to the sheer enormity of it all. I predict that the Class of 2006 application process will be faster than the accelerated Class of 2005 Process. So, Class 2006 applicants beware -your preparation should be well underway already!

    Most Class of 2005 applicants have been accepted, are petitioning at waitlist schools or hearing from some last minute programs. The fun begins when decisions about which school to select occurs on the AAMC traffic rules deadline of May 15th.

    To date, our 30 Class of 2005 applicants have interviewed at 171 schools (that nearly 6 interviews per applicant!) including the Texas schools, Harvard, Vanderbilt, Hawaii, UCLA, UCSF (and MANY more). This year's applicants have been accepted to many schools, including Drexel and George Washington Medical Schools; Western University and NOVA Southeastern Osteopathic Medical Schools; UCLA, Mayo and Baylor's MSTP program; Boston University and Case Western Dental Schools; USC and Penn State/Jefferson BA-MD program; and several MPH, Postbaccalaureate, and MS programs. This year a Naturopathic applicant was accepted into her first choice program--National University of Naturopathic Medicine!... and the list goes on!

    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 are now running out of time....a very precious commodity: Time to plan, to locate and use new opportunities, time to live up to your potential! Many times, I locate clinical or service experiences for my Advisees…but they need the time to DO them!

    For those who choose to wait to begin these tasks in May or June, or even later, you do yourself a big disservice. Who do YOU know who can whip out an essay in a week on top of gathering 5 or more letters of recommendation (remember that the writers may not be at your beck and call, nor even be in the US when you get around to asking them) and developing your experiences, while deciding if you need to take the MCAT or DAT in the summer---these tasks hold your future in the balance!

    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 during the last 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), received the 1990 NACADA Outstanding Institutional Advising Program in the U.S. and directed her own Health Careers Opportunity Program grant for 6 years, bringing $1 million to her university.

    Dr. Lewis 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 and ask Zakiya to set up your first appointment.

    Eric T. Lee, one of our Class of 2004 applicants who previously applied without success wrote to us:
    "ÄI would just like to send along my eternal gratitude. The medical school application process is daunting, 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 this year, which means my medical school dream has actually come true. Ä Once again, thank you so very much for your time, patience and guidanceÄ"

    n e w s & l i n k s

    N E W S-HOT TOPICS for premedical students:
    (Note: Many online publications require registration.)

    2006 AACOMAS and CASPA services are now open!

    AMCAS 2006 opened Tuesday, May 3 at 9 am Eastern.
    Throughout the month of May, applicants may become familiar with the application and begin filling it out. They can also begin sending transcripts to AMCAS. In May, applicants may NOT submit their applications - submission will be open on or about June 1.

    Read the AMCAS tips and lifecycle --see our links.

    Read and use the AMCAS application worksheet--pay special attention to the TRANSCIPT REQUESTS!!
    Links to the application and important resources are located at http://www.aamc.org/students/amcas/amcas2006.htm
    NOTE: Due to a system change, re-applicants from 2005 will have to complete the new AMCAS 2006 in its entirety - no data will roll over from 2005. However, you should use the login UN you created for 2005, if possible.

    MCAT Changes (AAMC)
    The 2006 administrations of the MCAT will be just like this year, one weekend in April and one in August. The vast majority will be paper tests in the traditional locations. In April, there will continue to be computer-based testing (CBT) overseas, and as an option in approximately 10 U.S. cities. Those spaces are few, however, and fill quickly. In August, MCAT will be conducting a major beta/pilot test of all systems in all test sites, so approximately 3000 examinees will have the opportunity to participate. Both CBT and paper administrations will be the same length as the current test.

    Beginning in 2007, AAMC hopes to eliminate paper tests, and move entirely to a CBT(computer based testing) platform with a shortened test and quicker score reporting. After that, there will be more testing opportunities - probably one in mid-Winter, and several over the Spring-Summer period. MCAT anticipates 20 days of testing per year.

    The 2007 date is not fixed in stone. If, in their best judgment, it seems at all risky, they will postpone. Plan B is to continue paper testing. The final announcement will be at the AAMC's Annual Meeting in November, 2006 which Dr. Lewis will attend. They are working on the assumption, for now, that the MCAT will be entirely CBT in early 2007.

    A Society That Throws the Sick Away
    (Los Angeles Times)
    Most countries are proud to have a healthcare system. It's an organized way of helping the sick and infirm - a mark of genuine civilization. Not so here, alas, where the health system is rapidly becoming a health hazard.

    House Passes Bill Tightening Parental Rule for Abortions (New York Times)
    The House passed a bill on Wednesday making it a federal crime for any adult to transport an under-age girl across state lines to have an abortion without the consent of her parents.

    AMA Asks NCAA to Ban Booze From the Airwaves (CNN)

    The American Medical Association has asked the National Collegiate Athletics Association to ban beer and other alcohol ads from TV and radio broadcasts of college sporting events, in an effort to "combat under-age drinking."

    Obesity In Middle Age Raises Risk Of Dementia Later On (Medical News Today)
    Obesity in middle age increases the risk of dementia in later life, finds a study published online by the BMJ today.

    L I N K S :

    http://www.ExploreHealthCareers.org, a new health careers website of the Association of Academic Health Centers (AHC), has received a bronze medal in the World Wide Web Health Awards program, which recognizes the Internet's best health-related websites for consumers and professionals. A panel of international Internet and health information experts judged the website among the best in accuracy, success in reaching the targeted audience, and overall quality.

    Recommended Reading:
    Two new books I am starting to read:

    Mother-Daughter Wisdom: Creating a Legacy of Physical and Emotional Health by Christine Northrup, M.D. (psychiatrist)
    No matter what your relationship with your mother, sisters, aunts, daughters, etc., this book provides excellent perspective to understand and improve the relationship. As the dust jacket says, "The mother-daughter relationship sets the stage for our state of health and well-being for our entire lives. Because our mothers are our first and most powerful female role models, our most deeply ingrained beliefs about ourselves as women come from them."

    Keep It Off: Your Key to Weight Loss for Life)
    by Brian Alman, Ph.D.
    DO NOT be fooled! This is a book about empowering oneself by using self-hypnotic skills to reduce stress!! I attended one of Dr. Alman's lectures last Friday night and his techniques had me so relaxed that I almost fell asleep....and had a difficult time physically getting up out of my chair at the end. His techniques are very simple, yet very powerful. Next month, I will explain the first 3 that I learned --and I want you to start using them too! (for MCAT, DAT, classes, just stressful encounters, etc.) www.keep-it-off.com

    d a t e s   &   r e m i n d e r s

    2006 AMCAS, CASPA, and AACOMAS services are now open!
    Visit the AMCAS power point presentation about how to use the 2006 AMCAS on our website!

    The AAMC's Medical School Admission Requirements will be available in late May.

    National Society for Non-Traditional Premeds & Medical Students
    The National Society for Non-Traditional Premeds & Medical Students is hosting their 5th annual conference on June 9 - 12, 2005 at the Crystal City Sheraton Hotel in Arlington, VA.

    Reminder For MD-PhD applicants
    2 NEW essays:

      1. What are your reasons to pursue the combined Md-PhD? 3000 characters
      2. Describe your significant research experiences, including your supervisor's name and affiliation, and the nature of the problem you studied with your contribution to the project. --10,000 characters

    s u c c e s s s t o r i e s
    by Dr. Cynthia Lewis

    WOW…April has been another Alumni month:

    Steve Pitelli Class of 1990 is practicing psychiatry in Wellington, New Zealand. Raquel Franco is completing her Ob-gyn residency in Los Angeles and looking for a job soon. One of her trainees is another of my Alumni, Jesus Morales who also attended UCLA medical school. And Raquel's older sister Ana is in her last year of a hematology/oncology Fellowship in Los Angeles. Kahmien LaRusch did an internship in Colorado, then research in Hawaii (as he says, 'to support my surfing and hiking habits') and is now finishing a psychiatry residency in Las Vegas. There are so many Success Stories to tell…we will try to get to as many of them as possible in the next few months.

    TJ Dhillon, MD
    Continued from our April 2005 newsletter

    On February 3, 2005 TJ wrote,
    "I have been BUSY! I completed my residency this past June and I am now the owner of my own solo OB/Gyn practice, which I have taken over from a physician who has just retired. The practice is in Madera, about 15 miles north of Fresno. I am the first female OB/Gyn in this town of over 50,000 people, and the practice is very busy....I could not have asked for a better opportunity, and was fortunate to find this one. I am so happy in my career and feel I have really found my place -- where I can make a difference for others. It is often that I thank my family and remember all that you did to help me get here.
    Best wishes always, TJ Dhillon"

    Now, The rest of TJ's story:
    T.J.’s parents graduated from high school--just. At age 7, T.J.’s maternal grandmother (1/2 Cherokee Indian) died in a car accident and her Creek Indian maternal grandfather left the children with relatives. Unfortunately, T.J.’s mother and her siblings lived with these relatives in poverty including times of homelessness. T.J.’s mother worked in a factory and taught herself how to use computers. T.J. says, “She knew more than my brother, who studied computer engineering. My mother was the only one of her family who did well. Her younger brothers and younger sister have had continuous problems with alcohol, other drugs and the law. In my opinion, the cycle of poverty is the basis for these problems, and it has been very difficult to see my aunts, uncles and cousins live without things such as a telephone or shampoo. They have received very poor and infrequent health care and no dental care. I have always wanted to find a way to help my relatives who are in this situation, as well as other Native Americans. I feel strongly that I will be able to contribute as a primary care physician.”

    T.J.’s father, one of 12 children, immigrated from India to the U.S. at age 21. He worked up to 80-hour weeks without vacations in skilled laborer jobs to support his family. She says, “My father’s native language is Punjabi and that is what he speaks with his relatives. Although his English skills are sufficient for his work, his reading and writing skills are poor, and he has difficulty with listening in English. He cannot go to the doctor or handle any business over the phone without my mother or one of his children because people talk too fast and he misses much of the information. Because I have seen my father struggle with a language barrier, I am concerned with having effective communication skills. I try to observe people carefully to make sure they are understanding me. My work as a tutor with Disabled Student Services has also given me practice with communication skills. I have tutored people with learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorder, and I have learned to be more perceptive and patient.” T.J. believes that her parents’ expectations of their children provided a balance so that all 3 siblings graduated from college (2 in engineering). They are the only individuals in any of her family to even attend college.

    T.J. worked until she suffered a knee injury playing soccer, which required 3 surgeries within one year. Her medical coverage required her to travel about 800 miles one way for treatment and physical therapy. I remember T.J. coming to my office on crutches that year, and I encouraged her to apply to my HCOP program. She said, “This was about the time I seriously considered medicine. I applied to HCOP and began to regain confidence in myself. I felt great support from HCOP, and I do not think I would be applying to medical school if it were not for this program. I surprised myself by earning 4.0 GPA’s all 3 semesters I have been in the program. I mentored 5 students during the HCOP summer program, and I enriched organic chemistry II. I enjoy teaching, and I hope to be able to teach in the future.”

    T.J. is not one to stand still (even with knee problems). She graduated with 3 minors, tutored anatomy, physiology, organic chemistry and microbiology in our Alpha Epsilon Delta Premedical Honor Society, attended the MMEP summer program at the University of Washington, and was a Mentor in the American Indian Recruitment Program. The Mentors act as role models for students entering college, encourage healthy life style choices and do academic tutoring. T.J. was secretary for the Native American Student Alliance.

    T.J. is truly tricultural. Here is her explanation: “I have always known that my brother, sister and I were unique, but I never considered our mixed ethnic background to be much of an issue until recently. I feel uncomfortable when asked to choose between Native American and East Indian as the culture I most identify with. My father clearly is East Indian (it says so on both of the birth certificates he has from India!). However, I have been unsuccessful in trying to find any documentation concerning my Native American background. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a Creek Indian, and he came to California from Oklahoma. He married my grandmother, who was half White and half Cherokee. One reason we have not been able to trace my grandfather’s background is the Creek registry was closed in 1906, and it is believed he was born in 1901. The other problem is that he did not use his real name in California. It is believed that he had another family in Oklahoma and may have been running from the law. All of our attempts to find his true name or documentation concerning him have failed. He left 4 children who are at least one-half Native American, and myself, my siblings and our cousins who are more than one-quarter Native American.

    T.J. once wrote, "I hope that my worth in medicine is evaluated less on what happened in the past and more on what I can do in the future for the Native American community. All I can do is be honest and learn as much as I can about Native American history and current issues. I have learned a lot in my American Indian Studies minor. This information is a basis for me in learning from Native Americans of other tribes and nations. I have been well-received by the people I have interacted with because I treat everyone with respect. I am looking forward to providing effective health care, especially for Native Americans.”

    T.J. has had 4 strong clinical experiences, which have shaped her image of medicine and focused her attention on primary care with Native Americans. Initially she volunteered in a local convalescent hospital. She says, “Most of the time I assisted the physical therapist and her aide. I observed the PT’s work, including doing evaluations, getting patients out of bed after surgery and fitting a prosthesis for an amputee. I helped the PT aid take our patients for walks, with and without walkers, using a gait belt. I observed the work of an orthotist. He let me help put a cast on the arm of a stroke patient and I assisted occupational and speech therapists. I also observed an assistant who specializes in wound care. During these experiences, I talked to many patients and got to know them. I saw patients who were spirited and vibrant, who were in chronic pain, who suffered from severe dementia, and who were ready to die. I was impressed with the way health care workers worked together to care for them. Weekly meetings were held with the RN, physical therapist, speech therapist, occupational therapist and social worker to discuss the progress of the patients.”

    T.J. worked in the SDSU PE Fitness Clinic for the Physically Disabled. She says, “This was one of my most memorable experiences. The clinic provides exercise programs one-to-one for people with physical disabilities as Cerebral Palsy, spinal cord injuries, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy and CVA’s and program operates using volunteers and donated equipment. I worked 4 days a week with 2 clients. One of my clients had Muscular Dystrophy. She was easy to work with. I got my first direct experience as I put her through manual resistive exercises. My other client was a 75 year old woman with multiple CVA’s. She has hemiplegia and is in a wheelchair. It was more challenging to work with her because she required transferring, and I had recently had knee surgery, but she was great. We did work to mobilize and stretch the muscles of her lower extremities, and we did passive exercises on her affected side. She and I became good friends. She had such a great attitude--and always wanted to get moving! She is a strong and spirited woman who has inspired me. I still visit her as often as I can, and she is always happy to see me.”

    In spring 1994, T.J. observed a family practitioner and did the equivalent of medical assisting. “I had one experience where I witnessed a problem because of a language barrier. A Mexican lady who spoke very limited English was being seen. The Medical Assistant had problems understanding the patient’s complaints, and I did some translating. (I took 4 years of Spanish in junior high and high school, passed the Advanced Placement exam, and took one semester in college, but I have not practiced it much.) I left the room and returned as the Medical Assistant prepared to draw some blood from a finger. She explained to the lady, very quickly, what she was going to do, but I could see that the lady did not understand. The Medical Assistant proceeded to poke the lady’s finger. The lady jumped back and the needle flew across the room. The lady was very shocked and seemed scared. This did not have to happen, and I can imagine even worse situations caused by language barriers. After seeing this, I have reviewed my Spanish skills and practice often with my roommate who is from Mexico. With practice, I can become fluent and can hopefully help to prevent this happening again.”

    In summer 1994, T. J. observed a family practitioner in a Seattle walk-in clinic sponsored by the Indian Health Board. Here, she met a powerful Mentor: “Dr. Lavallie and I seemed to have many things in common, like an athletic training background. She went to physical therapy school before medical school and did a sports medicine fellowship. She talked to me about her interest in sports medicine, and how she prefers working in primary care. I identified with many of the reasons she gave for her decision. I was impressed with the way Dr. Lavallie treated her patients; she was receptive and caring. She takes extra time to make sure patients understand her, and she writes down all directions for medications for her patients. We talked about some of the things Dr. Lavallie sees at the Indian Health Board that are different from what she sees in the general population, for instance a higher rate of diabetes.” At the MMEP in Seattle, T.J. also visited a Tribal Health Clinic ER, viewed an autopsy and made friends with other Native Americans.

    T.J. was one of my top Class of 1996 Premedical applicants. She was academically outstanding, overcame significant financial, social and cultural disadvantages, sought interesting experiences, and has a caring heart. T.J. stands as an equal with my 2 Native American students who attended Harvard Medical School. I attended T.J.'s medical school graduation from UC San Diego back in 2000, met her parents and siblings, and talked about her future. The future is now hers…as you have heard! T.J.---we are all very proud!!

    Email to Dr. Lewis if you wish to communicate about medical schools or other issues or to contact those profiled in Success Stories: imaclewis@lewisassoc.com

    q u e s t i o n o f t h e m o n t h
    by Dr. Cynthia Lewis, PhD

    Dear Dr. Lewis,
    I seem to be experiencing a a conundrum ...I have emailed a few medical school admissions departments about whether they would be interested in more than the minimum number of letters of recommendations considering my status as a non-traditional applicant. I want to make sure that the letters provide a complete picture of technical ability, why I would make an excellent physician, and character strengths. I told each school that I was 8 years out of undergraduate work and that I would be coming to medical school with an MS degree. All have said they want at least 3 letters from people who I have worked or studied under in addition to a pre-professional committee letter...what do you think about my providing schools with both a committee letter and individual letters from professors/managers?"

    Actually, there are many variations on questions about how to structure your letter of evaluation packet. Remember, the purpose of letters of evaluation is to illustrate ALL of your qualities and experiences that you bring to the application " table" from an objective viewpoint.

    Minimally, you need 2 science faculty who actually taught you science (teaching means you were in their classroom and earned a grade in their class), a non-science (humanities) faculty who taught you, a research supervisor if you did research, a job supervisor if you have had a job for 6 months or more, some clinician who can discuss your interaction with patients in a clinical setting, and people who may be able to discuss your leadership and/or community service.

    If you do NOT know these people, guess what you need to be doing the next 2-3 years? You need these experiences and to get to know these folks well. The best letters are written by people who know you well. It is YOUR responsibility to get to know them well. This may be impossible in a large 800 student introductory chemistry class, but quite doable in a class of 40 in upper division biochemistry or developmental biology. You will have to develop your interpersonal skills to the level of getting to know those faculty and others who will be important in your life. Go to office hours, ask faculty about THEIR interests, ask questions in class, start study groups and discuss your problems and questions with faculty, etc.!!

    There is MUCH more to this process, but this will get you started. And, to answer the applicant above, YES, I advise this student's MS thesis advisor, perhaps another faculty who taught him/her in the MS program, a current job supervisor and then perhaps one or more undergraduate letters (from a committee or individual, as available).

    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

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

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to any friends, classmates, or colleagues you feel would find its contents beneficial.

Go to Movie Page Go to Newsletter Archive