Lewis Associates e-Newsletter
Volume 5 Issue 1
Published by Lewis Associates. Dr. Cynthia Lewis, Phd., Editor
with your comments. Enjoy!
Welcome to Success Stories Newsletter!
MCAT refund Policy Changes; Swiss Hospital to Allow Assisted Suicide
Podiatrist's Mentor Network; Pharmacy Links
See what graduates and alumni are doing now
Dates and Reminders:
of the Month: Dr. Glenn Valenzuela, Stanford grad now in Residency
the Month: What's the harm in applying "now", no matter
how competitive I am?
Welcome to Lewis Associates!
January is one of those new "beginnings" months. . . where you
have a sense of "I can accomplish lots of things and reach my goals",
a sense of confidence at "starting again", whether in a new academic
term, or just for the new year with some resolutions that you don't think
will get lost in the shuffle this time.
It is also a new beginning for Lewis Associates. We are phasing out long-term
advising (except for those already contracted) and focusing on Personal Assessments,
essay and interview packages, and hourly problem-solving advising. We will
be moving toward e-billiing and more online services. And, in a couple of
years, some new books should be out from Dr. Lewis about preparing for medical
and other health professions schools. . . keep on the lookout!!
This summer, July 21-23 to be exact, we are having a gala Alumni Reunion in
San Diego for our over 700 alumni. We are trying to locate them now. If you
have some contact information about any alumni, please email it to email@example.com.
Our goal is to locate as many as possible by the end of January, 2006. If
you wish to be invited and you are not an alumnus, but wish to meet some of
our wonderful alumni, please let Zakiya know in our office. We will try to
include as many as we can on a "first come" basis.
Class of 2006 applicants: This is the most intense
time you will experience as a pre-health student. It is that roller coaster
ride I mentioned. Let us know how we can assist you. . . sooner is now!
We are proud that over 80% of our Class of 2006 applicants are now
interviewing, 10 have been accepted to date and 2 applicants interviewed at
Harvard Medical school last month! !
100% of our Class of
2005 applicants were accepted! And, 100% of our Class
of 2004 were accepted.
Class of 2007 applicants: We are preparing for your applications to
be submitted early next summer. We have some 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 you need the time to get the most out of them! We can help you sidestep
the mistakes and jump over roadblocks that everyone seems to face.
In order to be a competitive Class of 2007 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 year-long
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!
We spend 7 hours working to develop an effective strategy of taking you from
where you are to where you want to be.
You may be like our other 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.
Maybe you wish to use our hourly advising to solve a specific problem. 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.
If you are serious about making your dreams to become a physician,
dentist, physician assistant, veterinarian, optometrist, podiatrist, naturopathic
physician, 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.
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
Contact the experts! For more information email
or call 805-226-9669 and ask to set up your first appointment.
n e w s &
l i n k s
N E W S
MCAT refund policy changes
The new AAMC MCAT refund policy requiring notice of 10 business days before
the scheduled exam is significantly different from the former policy deadline
of 60 days after the exam. The purpose of the new policy is to minimize a
current problem, one that would be magnified, and may even result in serious
customer service problems, under computer based testing. Currently, there
is an MCAT examinee no-show rate of approximately 15-16%. This rate is about
twice what would be expected for the MCAT and suggests that about 8% of no-shows
are due to AAMC's extremely lenient refund policy. It appears that the former
policy may actually have discouraged some examinees from making best planning
decisions. Under the full implementation of computer based testing, there
may be as many as 80,000 examinees competing for seats. If about 8% of those
examinees (over 6,000) are no-shows, then those 6,000 plus seats would be
unavailable to examinees who seriously intend and need to sit for the exam.
The new refund policy, which is more in line with industry standards than
the former one, is intended to encourage better planning, reduce the no-show
rate, and make more seats available to individuals who need to sit for the
Swiss Hospital to Allow Assisted Suicide (Associated
A Swiss hospital has agreed to let an assisted-suicide organization help terminally
ill patients take their own lives on its premises.
Changes Are Looming, and Providers Seek Answers (New York Times)
Two weeks before the start of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, pharmacists
and nursing homes are desperately trying to find out who will pay for the
medicines taken by hundreds of thousands of their residents.
vaccine has strong response in young girls (Reuters)
Girls aged 10 to 14 who received GlaxoSmithKline Plc's vaccine to prevent
infection with the virus that causes cervical cancer had immune responses
twice as strong as women 15-25 years old given the vaccine, the company said
on Saturday, describing results of a late-stage trial.
Study: Teen smoking, drinking down (CNN)
Cigarette smoking is at its lowest level in a survey of teenagers and use
of illicit drugs has been declining, but continuing high rates of abuse for
prescription painkillers remain a worry, the government reported Monday.
'Superbugs' infiltrate hospitals, communities (USA Today)
Drug-resistant bacteria are taking hold in hospitals and in the community,
adding urgency to the need for new antibiotics and better infection-control
measures, said scientists meeting here.
L I N K S :
Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)'s Mentor Network www.aacpm.org/contactpod/program.asp
AMSA's Online News Room www.amsa.org/news
The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) www.aphanet.org
The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy www.aacp.org
Both of these organization have student membership categories. As a result
of having student membership in these organizations, they would receive the
newsletters, magazine, and e-mails that these organizations provide to their
student members. In addition their websites have student sections that provide
additional links to other helpful websites and information. The national pharmacy
meetings that are wonderful experiences for students interested in learning
more about the profession of pharmacy and how to get engaged in the profession.
They provide reduced registration fees for student members.
See other useful links on Lewisassoc.com's
a l u m n i u p d a t e s
| Dr. Raquel Franco
October 24, 2005:
I finished residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology this last June and
I'm in private practice in the Pasadena area working out of Huntington
Memorial Hospital. I got married about 6 months ago. My husband is finishing
General Surgery residency at Harbor-UCLA. Ana (Franco, physician older
sister of Raquel) is due any day. She's having a baby-boy! She's also
finishing her fellowship in Hematology-Oncology at Harbor-UCLA this
year and will likely join Kaiser Bellflower.
Keep me posted, Raquel"
| Michael Manzano
Medical Student, Year 3, George Washington University
I met with Michael for a snack one morning when I was
in Washington, DC this November attending the AAMC meetings. He had
just finished an all night rotation in Ob-gyn at the hospital. We talked
about his interests in pediatrics, his first rotation and how he likes
the standardized patient program where first and second year students
are videotaped at GW. He was happy that the USMLE part 1 exam was over
and is already anticipating his internship year in 07/8, then getting
married in 2008. Great planning, Michael!
Dr. Pamela Pettigrew
(and husband Todd Duffield, premedical applicant)
Dr. Pamela Pettigrew and husband Todd Duffield
Pam and Todd were visiting San Diego this month, and we had a nice
lunch together. Pam is in her internship year in Albany and will enter
a residency in Internal Medicine.
d a t e s & r e m i n d e r s
Registration for the next cycle will open in March. The PCAT is administered
by Harcourt Assessment. Visit the PCAT web site for additional information.
June 24, 2006
- Non-Standard Deadline (paper applications & special requests):4/14/2006
- Standard Online Application Deadline: 5/12/2006
- Registration Cancellation Deadline: 6/02/2006
- Late Online Application Deadline: 6/09/2006
October 21, 2006
- Non-Standard Deadline (paper applications & special requests):8/04/2006
- Standard Online Application Deadline: 9/08/2006
- Registration Cancellation Deadline: 9/29/2006
- Late Online Application Deadline: 10/06/2006
January 20, 2007
- Non-Standard Deadline (paper applications & special requests):11/10/2006
- Standard Online Application Deadline: 12/08/2006
- Registration Cancellation Deadline: 12/29/2006
- Late Online Application Deadline: 1/05/2007
PCAT REGISTRATION FEES*
- Online Registration Fee: $105
- Paper Registration Form Fee: $140
- Late Registration Fee-For online registration only: $154
* Please note that fees are subject to change without notice.
Elisabeth J. "Libby" Ross, MA
Director, PharmCAS and Student Affairs
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
s u c c e s s s t o r i e s
by Dr. Cynthia Lewis
Dr. Glenn Valenzuela
Stanford University, Graduating Class of 2003
Dr. Glenn Valenzuela graduated from Stanford University
Medical School in 2003 from a 5-year program where he did research, and is
currently in Anesthesiology residency at Stanford and new Dad of Eneko (see
update and photo after the success story in November 2005 newsletter):
I will treat you to the first part of Glenn's autobiography written for me
in 1999. We will pick up where we leave off in the February 2006 newsletter.
So, stay tuned. . .
"I had been hoping for the past few years for a grand epiphany--a parting
of the skies, so to speak--to the classic question of 'Why do you want to
become a doctor?' There was no dramatic, single event at a hospital or a 'super'
physician whom I wanted to pattern myself after, but rather it has been an
accumulation of positive and negative experiences in various medical settings,
which have affirmed my decision to become a doctor. I could not have imagined,
however, that the process of deciding to become a doctor would lead me from
the familiar lecture halls of SDSU to places such as a rural clinic in Tijuana,
Mexico, to a molecular research lab in Boston, to a medically underserved
clinic in San Diego, or to the finals of a dance contest in deep Spain.
I'd like to state that my upbringing was full of fascinating events which
helped mold me into what I am today, but I'd be lying. In fact, I consider
my upbringing to have been rather dull. My wife, Itziar, had a fabulous childhood,
which was the complete antithesis to mine, but we'll get to that later. Suffice
it to say, having been born in a predominantly Catholic country (the Philippines),
many, many years were spent in mass, and much later, after extensive soul
searching (translation: sowing different varieties of oats), in confessionals.
Specifically, I was born in a leather-making town called Meycauayan on the
outskirts of Manila. My father had just enlisted in the US Navy, one of two
people selected out of 300 applicants. Coming from a large family of 8 where
work was not a choice, he was forced to drop out of high school and help his
father sustain the family financially. In terms of numbers, gaining entrance
into the US Navy was tougher than admission into medical school, with even
greater ramifications for a shot at a decent livelihood. He worked for periods
of time in textile mills, helped his father out with seasonal carpentry jobs,
and laid down cement when the opportunities arose.
My mother had an easier upbringing. Her parents made and sold jewelry and
could afford to provide a more comfortable lifestyle for her and her six siblings.
Although no formal caste system exists in the islands, one could infer that
my parents' families belonged to different tax brackets, thus setting up the
customary interfamilial friction. Therefore, as fervent, economically-disequilibrated
romantics sometimes do, my parents eloped while my mother was pregnant with
me. The ensuing familial uproar from both sides begat the expected flurry
of town gossip which eventually begat the resolution of their differences.
And, we were blessed by the birth of my brother Michael roughly one year later.
When I was about 5 years old, we moved to the naval base in Yokosuka, Japan.
I recall staying in a small, but accommodating housing complex which was a
stone's throw away from the ocean. I was a quiet kid who enjoyed reading profound
classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Encyclopedia
Brown mystery novels. I also developed an interest in, and had a knack
for, drawing. My sister Cheryll was born shortly thereafter and, since my
sailor father was away for months at a time, I helped take care of my siblings.
Perhaps it was around that time that my mom suggested that I become a doctor.
But then again, every Filipina mom wants their kid to become a doctor, so
I did not seriously entertain the notion of pursuing this profession until
roughly two decades later. I don't remember much else, honestly, other then
my favorite pastime: the occasional jaunts off base to window shop among the
cacophony of pachinko clinking and blazing neon lights. And attending mass,
Coming to America
After four years in Japan, it was inevitable that we move again. This time,
my father was stationed (permanently!) in San Diego. We settled briefly in
San Ysidro before moving further north to Serra Mesa. In elementary school,
one of fondest recollections was my fourth grade teacher coming to my house
to tell my parents that I had been promoted to 5th grade, only 2 weeks after
starting 4th grade. The rest of elementary and middle school was practically
a blur, peppered with memories of token "Student of the Month" honors for
essentially just remaining quiet during class, not so much for budding academic
In junior high, I was urged by my English teacher to enter a speech contest--an
idea I loathed since I was a reticent introvert. However, I gave it a shot
and ended up winning fourth place. I received a miniscule trophy, but I treasured
that trophy immensely. It represented a turning point in my life--one of many--in
that I began to believe that I possessed the capability to excel in school.
I reaffirmed that sentiment by making the dean's list for the first time."
More about Glenn in February 2006
Email to Dr. Lewis if you wish to communicate
about medical schools or other issues or to contact those profiled in Success
q u e s t i o n o f t h
e m o n t h
by Dr. Cynthia Lewis, PhD
What do I have to lose by applying NOW, even though I
realize I am not the best applicant that I can be?
When I give my workshops, this is a question that I often answer. Somehow
it is human nature to dream, to want to move forward immediately and to "get
what I want" now.
However, one of the important non-cognitive characteristics of competitive
applicants that was identified years ago by a psychologist is "realistic
self-appraisal". What this means is that you recognize your strengths
AND weaknesses in a realistic manner, and are ready and willing to roll up
your sleeves to address them directly and without damage to ego; to "take
care of business" first, then apply.
The "up" side to applying NOW (no matter how ready you are) is that if there
is some (albeit very small) chance of acceptance "anywhere", you feel as though
you are doing something positive by throwing your hat in the ring. It is like
there is a race being run right now and you must run in it. If you are not
over about 35 years old, then time should NOT be a factor in this decision.
You will be a year older next year no matter if you apply or not, and if you
are NOT doing the activities that WILL improve your competitiveness, then
you will only be a year older, and not in medical or other health professions
school next year.
The "down" side to applying NOW as a less than competitive applicant is that
you will be spending lots of your own capital:
1. Financial cost--the application process is VERY expensive, about $3500
for one application to medical school to include the primary and secondary
applications and travel to interview (NOT including cost of a test preparation
course or testing for a learning disability or other unforeseen costs).
2. Intellectual cost--the application process requires much study (hundreds
of hours), for completing all the prerequisite coursework IN ADVANCE of preparing
for a professional exam (MCAT, DAT, OAT, GRE, etc.), and then taking that
entrance test so seriously that you devote 300+ hours to it exclusively in
a 3 months or so period close to the time of application.
3. Physical cost--it doesn't take much thought to realize that one must be
physically-fit, not ill, and at their absolute best during this 1-2 year preparation
for application and application process. It is physically-demanding to juggle
a job, a family, full-time college work, clinical experiences, research, etc.
. . ALL those things.
4. Psychological cost--This is the cost, concomitant with the emotional repercussions
from it, that almost NO pre-health student takes into consideration. What
is your resiliency? How do you know until faced with a "failure" that affects
your sense of self and ego? What price will the roller coaster ride extract
from your emotional health?
One of my nicest premed students, now a practicing physician in his dream
career, was the president of his premed club in college. John* was a great
leader, getting interesting and productive activities set up for the club
and social events that were meaningful to the members. He also worked as a
nursing assistant 25 hr/wk on top of a full load of classes. Everyone is different.
For this student, this was too much, and affected his grades enough that he
was not competitive. His MCAT scores were "ok", but not competitive that year
(the applicant pool goes through cycles). There is a lot of ego that goes
into the application to medical/health professions school, and it is VERY
important that you recognize this up front. In John's case, he "felt" that
he was ready even though he really knew he was not competitive. So, he applied
broadly, and only to allopathic programs which notoriously screen by GPA and
So, that first year, he did not get in. . . and he did not recognize that
not getting any interviews was a sign that something important must change
to become competitive. So, without doing an assessment with me or on his own
about "WHY" I did not get accepted, John, on his own, submitted another application
the following summer. . . with essentially NO change in GPA or MCAT scores,
and probably not much change in his application essay.
Please realize that the application cycle is an entire YEAR long. Generally,
if you are not interviewed by April, you are out of the running. This varies
with the different health professions a little. But, during the first year
when John's application was submitted, he had NOT done anything new or different.
So, guess what was the outcome from the second application? Absolutely. .
. nothing. Another "no interviews" year, although lots of schools took John's
money in secondary application fees.
So, John, did not come to see me for about 1.5 years, I think. Then, one day,
he came in to my office to talk about how to prepare for medical school again.
We discussed his love of science and how he would fit perfectly in a research
lab of one of his favorite faculty. Thus, John began a new journey. . . one
where he recognized his weaknesses (needed to improve his overall and science
GPAs and MCAT scores), gave himself permission to take the time to accomplish
this (he was smart. . . just not patient with himself before), and took the
initiative to establish this new direction and use advising during the process
(and lots of other resources too).
The outcome: The MS degree took another 2 years, during which John earned
a very strong GPA because he no longer worked long hours, and focused on academic
work, he retook the MCAT after a concerted and heroic effort of study, improving
to double digits, and applied much more broadly, including Osteopathic and
international programs. He WAS successful. . . in the top international program,
entered, took advantage of their European clinical experience, did well in
the USMLE board I, matched into internal medicine residency in New York, and
eventually bought a practice in his hometown in California, in fact, in the
very spot where he had dreamed of practicing, and further, did a sports medicine
fellowship because of his love for sports. So, this process WAS successful.
. . but it cost John 2 extra years of "failed" application, probably more
than $7000, lots of personal anguish. . . and a very bruised ego.
Luckily, John's commitment and motivation to the profession brought him to
my door, and we planned a successful strategy. I even got John's Christmas
card this year featuring his 3 children and a new business card indicating
he has added painting to his repertoire of skills and hobbies!
*Name has been changed.
We will feature an important question each month.
Please submit one that interests you for Dr. Lewis to answer. Send your questions
to firstname.lastname@example.org with newsletter question in the subject line.
lewis associates advising
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
"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
Call or email today to set your first appointment!
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