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    Lewis Associates e-Newsletter

    Volume 5 Issue 1
    January 2006

    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: MCAT refund Policy Changes; Swiss Hospital to Allow Assisted Suicide

    Useful Links: Podiatrist's Mentor Network; Pharmacy Links

    Alumni Updates: See what graduates and alumni are doing now

    Dates and Reminders: PCAT Deadlines

    Success Story of the Month: Dr. Glenn Valenzuela, Stanford grad now in Residency

    Question of the Month: What's the harm in applying "now", no matter how competitive I am?

    Our Services


    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 imaclewis@lewisassoc.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 application process.

    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 process.

    Contact the experts! For more information email imaclewis@lewisassoc.com 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 exam.

    Swiss Hospital to Allow Assisted Suicide (Associated Press)
    A Swiss hospital has agreed to let an assisted-suicide organization help terminally ill patients take their own lives on its premises.

    Drug 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.

    Cancer 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

    AMSA's Online News Room

    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 Links Page.

    a l u m n i   u p d a t e s

    Dr. Raquel Franco

    Dr. Raquel Franco

    October 24, 2005:
    "Dr. Lewis,
    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

    2006-07 PCAT
    Registration for the next cycle will open in March. The PCAT is administered by Harcourt Assessment. Visit the PCAT web site for additional information.
    Harcourt Assessment

    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

    - 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.

    Early History
    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, of course.

    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 prowess.

    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 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

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 MCAT scores.

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 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.

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