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    Lewis Associates e-Newsletter

    Volume 4 Issue 8
    August 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: Paper MCAT Will Become a Thing of the Past

    Useful Links: Relaxation Exercises

    Dates and Reminders: Criminal Background Checks for Applicants Accepted to Medical School

    Success Story of the Month: Eva Correa and Adam Carewe

    Question of the Month: Non-Traditional Acceptance

    Our Services


    Welcome to Lewis Associates!

    August is the month when your application should be SUBMITTED or you should already be receiving secondaries. . . and pondering how to respond! As I predicted, based on the "speedy" turnaround with medical/dental/etc. school online applications last year, this year looks like it will be a whirlwind. So get ready to ride the tornado. . . or roller coaster, as I like to call it. . . for the Class of 2006. .

    96.6% of our Class of 2005 applicants have been accepted, and are hearing from some last minutes programs.

    Our 29 Class of 2005 applicants have interviewed at 175 schools. That is more than 6 interviews per applicant! Schools include 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, you need to submit a quality application in a timely fashion as evaluated by your clinical, service and other experiences and your GPA/MCAT/DAT/GRE, etc. profile--this requires a well-thought out strategy to carry you through the difficult application process. You should complete all secondary applications and submit your letter packets to complete your files at all your schools by October at the latest. Your competition did! Don't forget that once your application is submitted. . . even if ALL transcripts are already received at the application service, it may take up to 6 weeks to verify and process it!!!!

    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 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 June, or even later, you do yourself a big disfavor. Who do YOU know who can whip out an essay in a week on top of gathering many 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 alumni now practicing in medicine 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 to set up your first appointment.

    From Liana (Olszewski) Au on July 13, 2005:"I wanted to thank you so much for all the help you gave me as I was applying for medical school. I am in the med school of my dreams and having the time of my life! Your efforts are truly appreciated and I am excited for all of your clients who get to feel the same joy I feel to finally be here living the dream."

    n e w s & l i n k s

    N E W S

    Washington, D.C., July 18, 2005 - The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) announced today that it will convert the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to an entirely computer-based format within the next two years. The AAMC has signed a contract with Thomson Prometric, part of The Thomson Corporation, to deliver the computer-based MCAT to locations in the United States and around the world. The paper version of the test will be administered only through 2006.

    The upgrade to computer-based format will provide examinees and medical schools with more test dates each year, faster score results, a more controlled testing environment, and a shorter test day. As the exam is converted to the new format, the number of questions on the MCAT will be significantly reduced.

    Thomson Prometric currently administers the MCAT in computer format at selected test centers as an alternative for examinees who prefer a computer-based test to the "fill-in-the-bubbles" paper version. This pilot implementation has allowed the AAMC and Thomson Prometric to develop effective systems and processes for the computer-based test and will be continued through 2006. A trial implementation at all testing locations will occur during the August 2006 administration of the MCAT.

    "Our goal is to enhance the testing experience for examinees and the usefulness of the results for the medical schools and other professionals schools that use the MCAT," said Ellen Julian, Ph.D., associate vice president for the AAMC and director of the MCAT. "We have taken the time to do this right and are pleased with the project plan, the timeline, and our partnership with Thomson Prometric."

    The new MCAT will also include technology that can capture an examinee's thumbprint electronically, rather than on paper as is the current practice. This innovative verification technology will shorten pre-test check-in time and will enhance test administrators' ability to verify examinees eligible to take the test.

    The AAMC currently administers more than 60,000 MCAT examinations each year, at more than 600 locations around the world. The MCAT is a standardized, multiple-choice exam designed to assess facility with problem solving, critical thinking and writing skills in addition to knowledge of science concepts and principles that are prerequisite to the study of medicine. Medical college admission committees consider MCAT scores as part of their admission decision process.

    The MCAT should be offered during several windows spread through the year, each consisting of two to seven test days after it becomes entirely computer-based in 2007. Scores will be available about 30 days later.

    L I N K S :

    Worried about the August MCAT?
    Dr. Brian Alman gave a free workshop in late July in San Diego for Dr. Lewis' advisees especially for August 2005 MCAT and other test takers: How to beat anxiety of the MCAT, DAT and other tests. . .

    Through 25 years of helping students faced with difficult tests that could make or break their careers, Dr. Brian Alman has found some simple strategies that allowed students to cope well and successfully pass their tests. He has also learned the consistent behaviors that caused students to test badly. Everyone feels performance stress but how one copes does effect the results. One needs to learn how to block negative thoughts, use breathing exercises, gain better perspectives of situations and learnt how to utilize self-support approaches. These strategies can generally be described as gaining a sense of control over the situation (as compared to the strategies that fail are associated with a sense of losing control). It's the difference between feeling relaxed and confident as opposed to rushing, allowing negative thoughts to interrupt concentration, or finding that stress controls those thoughts.

    Here are some free samples of relaxation/visualization exercises to do for yourself:

    d a t e s   &   r e m i n d e r s

    Criminal Background Checks for Applicants Accepted to Medical School
    On June 14, 2005, the AAMC Council of Deans, Council of Academic Societies, and Council of Teaching Hospitals and Health Systems Administrative Boards considered a recommendation, resulting from a yearlong study by the Group on Student Affairs (GSA), that criminal background checks be completed on all applicants accepted annually to medical school entering classes. This recommendation was based on several factors: patient health and safety, student access to affiliated clinical facilities and eligibility for licensure, limiting school and hospital liability, and ensuring school involvement in decisions about the content and process of these checks. On June 15, 2005, the AAMC Executive Council endorsed this recommendation.

    In addition, the Executive Council requested the initiation of what will likely be a multi-year implementation process. During this process, schools will be encouraged to look to their own traditions, current experience with employee (and, when applicable, student) background checks, local laws and regulations, and requests from affiliated institutions in order to draft locally appropriate policies and procedures for criminal background checks. This school-specific information would then be examined using the initial, comprehensive set of guidelines proposed by the GSA as a resource document by a broader segment of the AAMC community in collaboration with other groups (e.g., the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Hospital Association), in an effort to make recommendations about the content and process of these checks for future consideration by the AAMC governance.

    Dental School criminal checks:
    The AADSAS application does not have a section that asks about felonies or misdemeanors. After much discussion among dental school admissions officers, the AADSAS Task Force and attorneys, they made the decision not to collect information about such legal actions. However, many dental schools do ask about felonies and misdemeanors as a part of their secondary application process.

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

    Eva Correa UCLAS Drew Entering Class of 20055
    Eva and Dr. Lewis

    I met Eva Correa as the wife of one of my Alumni who was in 2002 attending medical school. Eva subsequently separated and divorced, and started her own journey to medical school, which I have supported the last 3 years. Here is part of her story…

    Eva was born and raised in Merced, California. Her father’s parents were corn and cattle farmers with land in Mexico and her mother’s parents were farmers in Mexico without land (very poor). Her father immigrated from Zacatecas in 1974. He was a seasonal migrant farm worker in California with a Green Card and died when she was age 10. He was alcoholic and abusive to her family, but not to Eva. Eva’s mother married at age 19 and had 14 children, 10 are living; Eva is the youngest. Eva’s mother speaks no English, even today. She was born in Texas and moved to Mexico with her family at age 5; she is a US citizen.

    Eva’s siblings include: an Episcopalian priest in Fresno, an abusive alcoholic, two truckers, a brother with some community college who works in a factory, a sister who does Cingular customer service, a dental assistant with 4 children, a brother with some community college who lives in Mexico, and a sister in Fresno.

    Spanish is Eva’s first language; she learned English in kindergarten. The Catholic Church and prayer were important to her mother. Eva had no outside activities growing up. Eva did babysitting fulltime in summers, then from ages 15-17 she worked as a restaurant cashier about 15 hours per week in high school; she has worked since age 11. In summer 1993, after high school graduation, she worked fulltime in the Youth Conservation Corps at Yosemite and again in summer 1996 when she became a crew leader.

    Eva attended public elementary school and English was difficult, but she enjoyed math. Eva’s mother did not speak English, understand the school system, nor was she able to advocate for Eva. In 4th grade, Eva began to enjoy English and started reading, thus she became more confident. When Eva’s father died, she was in 5th grade; her family went to Mexico and she was out of school for a few months. She enjoyed math and science, and did a science project. Eva wrote articles for the school paper for two years, which improved her English skills.

    Eva attended public high school where she focused on social development. She still enjoyed math, but only took the basic classes to graduate: geometry, biology , no chemistry or physics. Eva took 3 years of French, still struggled with English and liked drama. She graduated just passing and did not take the SAT. Eva entered Merced Community College directly from high school without a career direction, working 15 hr/wk (clerical) and 10 hr/wk in youth ministry for the first 2 years. She lived at home, earned a 3.7 GPA at Merced and was in 2 honor societies.

    By her third year, she transferred to UCSD because it was a school she could afford with financial aid which was far from home. But, Eva’s mother developed high blood pressure and hypertension. Her siblings were NOT supportive of Eva leaving home to attend college; they expected her to stay home to care for their mother. Eva’s mother had a heart attack and Eva withdrew from UCSD to care for her. A Latina faculty supported her request to transfer to UC Davis due to this family emergency. An American Chemical Society minority scholarship from UCSD transferred to UC Davis. Eva spent winter through summer of 1997 taking care of her mother and working, and in fall, she moved to an apartment and her brother took over her mother’s care giving.

    Eva struggled academically in her first year at UCD due to working 20+ hr/wk. In fall 1999, Eva was hit by a car while riding a bicycle. She was out of college for almost 3 weeks, but was told that she must complete a full 12 units that term to maintain receipt of her financial aid even though she was on crutches and worked 10 hr/wk. Eva could have taken a medical leave of absence, but did not. She felt discouraged and just wanted to graduate.

    In high school, Eva was in the drama club and directed a play; she went to the state level of competition for monologs and earned the Assistant Director award, and was in a play at Merced College. Eva worked in youth ministry for 2 years in college, then at the Newman Center. She worked fulltime teaching at the Challenger Learning Center, which had flight simulations from winter through summer 1997 and again in summer 1998. She was a math and science tutor for a year and a chemistry lab assistant at Merced College.

    In fall 1997, Eva began to volunteer at the UC Davis School of Medicine free clinic, Clinica Tepati, as a computer programmer, where she worked for 3 years with patients and medical students, doing Spanish translation, health screenings, lab work, and training others on computer programs. Eva became a leader in CHE, Chicano Health Education, where she worked in immunization of migrant camp kids, held health fairs for Latino community, etc.

    Eva began working as a lab tech in the UC Davis veterinary hospital 20 hr/wk in cell biology. In summer 1999, she worked with UC Davis SOM epidemiology and preventive medicine faculty on a project to study migrant farm worker women’s understanding of why they should have Pap smears and continued working at the veterinary hospital, each half time. She presented a poster to a women’s Health conference in 2001 for the migrant farm worker research.

    Eva worked 50 hr/wk at the UC Davis SOM in an internal medicine clinical research program testing the memory of the elderly, funded by the NIH Institute of Alternative Medicine—Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory Study and Cardiovascular health study; she did health screen evaluations, ECG, phlebotomy, memory testing, etc.

    Why medicine?

    Eva considered becoming a teacher or theater director in high school. In summer 1993, she went with a youth group to see the Pope in Denver. There were 250,000 people from around the world and she made friends with people from diverse cultures. Eva spent time with a Monk and some medical missionary Nuns and considered becoming a medical missionary. She felt empowered to have her own sense of a future for the first time.

    Eva took human anatomy in her first year in college for Pre-nursing/PA. A Merced College counselor suggested Eva could actually become a doctor. By her second year in college, Eva gained the confidence to start working toward becoming a doctor. Her chemistry teacher took students to Baja California to repair a medical clinic there and Eva knew that she wanted to help these people. Eva has supported the disadvantaged Hispanic community in a variety of ways for most of her life, including scholarship development at her old community college, health, tutoring, etc. Eva has had supportive Caucasian pediatrician role models who helped Latino children (like her when she was small); they didn’t even speak Spanish.

    Eva is mature, a strong self-advocate and has learned from the “school of hard knocks” how to take care of herself. She is a “bootstrap” student--intelligent, hard-working and now focused on becoming a doctor. She has recently nurtured a love for learning and for science. It has taken many years to build confidence in her academic abilities—primarily because she went through a protracted phase of supporting herself, and not having strong, positive role models. Eva gained confidence in her academic work at the community college and more recently at the UC Irvine First time applicant Post-baccalaureate Program, and is the first in her family to complete college. She has overcome significant social, educational, financial and disadvantages.

    Eva has lots of rich clinical experience, life work experience and activity supporting the Hispanic community, including a research project with a poster presentation. She has had several Mentors. Her work developing and maintaining an Hispanic scholarship also indicates her interest in “giving back” to the Hispanic community.

    Eva and her mother
    Much of Eva’s academic struggle is likely due to long work hours, emotional turmoil, and lack of family support (moral, financial, educational). Once Eva minimized work hours, and was in a supportive academic and personal environment, her academic strength and high level of motivation to her goal of becoming a physician emerged, with a 3.98 PB GPA in difficult courses and competitive MCAT scores.

    Eva was accepted to the University of Utah, TUCOM, KCOM also offered interviews Michigan State and U of Kansas which she was unable to attend due to lack of money, and waitlisted at UC Davis Schools of Medicine this year and will matriculate to the small, elite, community-medicine directed UCLA Drew program--which she fits like a T!
    GO EVA!!!!

    Update: Adam Carewe Class of 2004 (Read the Success Story)

    July, 2005: "I survived Hawaii. I just got back to NY yesterday and start 2nd yr classes on August 15th. Hope everyone is enjoying their summer! I sure am."

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

This query was recently posted on a national advisor listserv:
A non-traditional applicant graduated from a competitive university with a Philosophy major in 1998; Overall GPA ~3.9, Science GPA similar but based on taking only bare minimum courses for applying to med school (no cell/molecular, no biochem, only upper level bio was animal physiology). He did a PhD in Philosophy at a strong graduate program, moved to a different state, is finishing the PhD with hoped for completion date in August 06 (but can't be sure!) He is working as a respiratory therapist 2 days per week to pay the bills while he works on his dissertation 3 days per week. Loves working with patients. Returned to idea of pursuing medicine rather than teaching philosophy at the college level. Took the MCAT April 2005 and scored 12, 13, R 12 (37R). It's going to be tough to get letters from science profs if he doesn't take any new courses and hold off for 07. He can get good letters from his dissertation advisor and his work experience with patients.

Here are answers from 2 real Medical School Admissions Officials (anonymous):
1. Will he need to take any science courses since he had not had any for so long?
#1 response: YES. I would strongly recommend he take at least 2 (more if he can swing it) upper-level science classes per semester for at least the next year. Our committee has a very difficult time in assessing whether a person has the skills necessary (intelligence, study habits, motivation) to fare well in our curriculum if she/he has been away from the academic environment for the past few years. I understand that he is working on his dissertation and that is "academic" but it is also away from the daily grind of classes, taking notes, studying, etc. The 37 MCAT would show that he has the ability, and the motivation to study for at least one exam, but won't do much to convince the committee that he can handle the long haul.
#2 response: Courses in biochem, molecular bio or genetics might make him more competitive but it is not a requirement. His MCATs are strong enough that we would feel reassured that he is well prepared.

2. Should he apply for entry in 06 in spite of not being sure of when he will be able to complete his dissertation?

#1 response: Personally, I think it would be a waste of time and money. Assuming we get over the hump of him not having any science classes for what will be 8 years by the time he comes to medical school, we still won't know when he will be able to join our class. One year deferrals are possible, but 2 years+ for something other than the Peace Corps is pretty rare among medical schools.
#2 response: If accepted and he hasn't finished his PhD, we give deferrals, so it would be OK. However, in my experience, it would be better if he is not far along in the dissertation, to wait until he is almost done.

3. Should he hold off for 07 so that he can take more science courses and also be sure he will finish his dissertation? He's 36 already and doesn't really want to delay another year if he can get by without it.

#1 response: There will be some schools that will likely not accept him because of his age (not overtly, of course), but if he concentrates on finding schools with a large number of non-traditional applicants his age shouldn't be an issue. We actually have two 38-year-olds starting with us this fall. I know HE would rather get moving quicker, and can totally understand that. He can always apply if he wants to and if he gets in somewhere, great. But my guess is that he would have much better luck if he waited a year.
#2 response: See above - I would encourage him to wait, mainly if he still has a lot of work to do for his dissertation. His age is meaningless -- no difference between 36 and 37.

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.


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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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