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    Lewis Associates e-Newsletter

    Volume 5 Issue 3
    March 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: Newborn deaths still high among US minorities; A.M.A. to Develop Measure of Quality of Medical Care; Health care difficulties in the Big Easy

    Useful Links: 9 tips for Stress Management; AustraLearn; Logan College of Chiropractic Student Connection Newsletter

    Alumni Updates: See what graduates and alumni are doing now

    Dates and Reminders: Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) Regional Conference; UCSF Admissions Workshop

    Success Story of the Month: Yuliya Schoenling, Accepted to Midwestern University Physician Assistant Program for the Entering Class of 2006

    Question of the Month: Will a 7 on the MCAT Verbal Reasoning section keep me out of medical school?

    Our Services


    Welcome to Lewis Associates!

    By March, everyone who is attending a winter or spring term is now taking midterms, sometimes your second exams.

    What's New?
    As you may have read, Lewis Associates is phasing out long-term advising except for those already contracted and a few new folks, and focusing on Personal Assessments, essay and interview packages, and hourly problem-solving advising.

    We are moving toward e-billing and more online services. In fact, we will establish an online Blog and teleconferencing in the near future! We had our maiden voyage into tele-conferencing yesterday.

    And, in a couple of years, some new books and CD's should be out from Dr. Lewis about preparing for medical and other health professions schools. . . keep on the lookout!!

    Coming this summer
    In July 21-23, 2006, we are hosting 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 March, 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.

    Track Record
    We are proud that over 90% of our Class of 2006 applicants are interviewing, 22 have been accepted to date, with 2 applicants who interviewed at Harvard Medical School this year!

    100% of our Class of 2005 applicants were accepted!
    100% of our Class of 2004 applicants 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 as evaluated by your clinical, service and other experiences and your GPA/MCAT/DAT/GRE, etc. profile--in a timely fashion. 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.

    Getting Started
    Read about it in our newsletter and website, then phone or email us directly to get started with your Personal Assessment! We spend on average 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

    Verbal Reasoning on the MCAT exam seems to be every premed student's worst nightmare (unless you are a humanities major!). If English is your second language, you are at even a greater disadvantage. So, here is a book that can help you and is not that expensive ($12.95 at Amazon): 501 Critical Reading Questions by Learning Express (see also LearnATest.com). Even though mention is made about the SAT in this book, it is excellent practice for VR on the MCAT, reading comprehension on the DAT and the verbal section of the GRE exam. Obviously, use of this and other resources takes time and effort. Give yourself enough time to use it effectively. Master the 7 strategies for success. . . practice them! One of our April 06 MCAT takers has found this book to be very helpful in skills building. Go for it!

    A.M.A. to Develop Measure of Quality of Medical Care (New York Times)
    The American Medical Association has signed a pact with Congress promising to develop more than 100 standard measures of performance

    Newborn deaths still high among US minorities (Yahoo! News)

    Health care difficulties in the Big Easy (CNN)

    Medical Editors Fired in Plan B Dispute (Washington Post)

    Clinical Trial Data Can Trouble Former Participants (HealthDay)
    For years, the conventional wisdom among those in the research community has been that patients involved in any clinical trial must be told of all the findings once the study ends and the data becomes available.

    L I N K S :

    9 tips for Stress Management
    (aka Test anxiety for the MCAT, DAT, GRE)

    AustraLearn (http://www.australearn.org/) is an official representative for 28 universities in Australia and New Zealand. They provide comprehensive application and enrolment services for students as well as assist with all their pre-departure needs (student visa, housing, travel arrangements, etc) and provide 24 hour in-country support services and emergency response (one of the only organizations to do so). AustraLearn is a non-profit organization that offers the largest choice of study options in Australia and New Zealand for Canadian and US students. They have sent over 11,000 students from the US and Canada to Australia and NZ over 16 years and are the education specialists for these countries.

    Websites for US students: http://www.australearn.org/ and for Canadian students: http://www.australearncanada.org/.

    Logan College of Chiropractic Student Connection Newsletter
    Contains some very informative articles about the chiropractic profession and the Logan College community.

    Find these and other useful links on
    Lewisassoc.com's Links Page.

    a l u m n i   u p d a t e s

    Darcy Thompson

    MSY1, University of Southern California Medical School

    Photo of Darcy at her White Coat Ceremony

    Darcy Thompson

    January 12, 2006
    "Hello Dr. Lewis,
    No, I have not dropped off the face of the planet, but some days it feels like it!! All is going well here at USC. I survived the first semester of my first year and actually did pretty well. I had a great x-mas break and am getting back into the swing of things. Right now we are studying Hematology. It's all really interesting and a lot of fun. We have recently learned to draw blood, and we have started learning the physical exam.
    I'm still commuting back to Carlsbad every weekend to spend time with my husband. He returned home from his 6-month deployment in Nov. It has been great to have him back around. It forces me to get my school work done during the week, so I can focus my attention on home during the weekends. It's a different lifestyle than most of my classmates, but well worth it!

    I hope all is going well for you and your family. I hope you had a great break and can't wait to hear an update on your Central Cal property!! Have you started building yet?
    Happy New Year!

    Sincerely, Darcy Thompson

    PS. I've included a picture from my White Coat Ceremony. My parents came from Illinois. It was a special day! I guess it's better late than never!"

    Dr. Liliana Reynoso

    3rd year Resident in Ob-Gyn at Kaiser, Los Angeles

    Liliana Reynoso

    February 5, 2006
    "Dear Dr Lewis,
    I know that you have many past SDSU students and it must be hard keeping track of all of your alumni, but I sure hope you remember me. I graduated from SDSU in 1995 and started medical school at Stanford in 1997 (with Eunice and Joel) and graduated in 2002. I took a year off after medical school to stay home with my then newborn son (he was born 5 days before med school graduation). I then started my residency training in Ob-Gyn (2003) at Kaiser Los Angeles, where I am currently a third year resident. The only person I keep in regular contact with is Raquel Franco. I know that Joel is finishing his residency in Anesthesia this year and that Eunice is now on staff at Stanford. Wow, I am so proud to be part of such a strong history of success stories! Hope to hear from you soon.
    Liliana Reynoso, M.D."

    Erika Vargas
    Class 2006, Accepted to UC Irvine School of Medicine, Prime LC Program

    Erika Vargas

    "January 3, 2006
    Hi Dr. Lewis,
    I'm not sure if you're back from vacation yet but I wanted to let you know that I received "THE CALL" from UC Irvine right before Christmas that I had been accepted to both the School of Medicine and the PRIME-LC program!!!! The best Christmas present ever. So you can imagine how excited I am and I want to thank you for everything because I know that without you this could not have been possible. . . so thank you thank you thank you!!!

    And I wish you a very, very Happy New Year!!



    d a t e s   &   r e m i n d e r s

    22nd Annual Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) Regional Conference hosted by the LMSA chapter at Stanford University School of Medicine. The theme of this year's conference is "Creating Leadership: Striving to Improve Latino Healthcare", and it will be held on the Stanford University campus from April 7-8, 2006. For more information visit http://lmsa.stanford.edu/conference/

    UCSF Admissions Workshop
    Saturday, March 18, 2006
    9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
    To register, refer to web site at: http://medschool.ucsfedu/msaw
    $8 per person
    (415) 514-1390

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

    Yuliya Schoenling
    Accepted to Midwestern University Physician Assistant Program for the Entering Class of 2006

    We are interrupting our serialized story of Dr. Glenn Valenzuela's path to medical school with a story of someone Dr. Lewis helped move off the waitlist for Physician Assistant School last month and be accepted by doing a Personal Assessment and some problem solving with personal advocacy in February.

    "Hi Dr. Lewis.
    You can use my story so anyone can know that if they set their goal and constantly work on achieving it no matter what others may say or even try to discourage them it's possible! Good professional advisement is a great help in an applicant's successful road to medical school.
    Yuliya Schoenling"

    Yuliya was born in Sebastopol, Ukraine, USSR. Her father is a computer engineer and mother is an accountant; both live in the Ukraine, but will immigrate to the US. Her first language is Russian, and she knows Ukrainian and some German. She is in her late 20's, and married with a son.

    She entered primary school in the Ukraine at age 7 and attended for 4 years. School seemed easy and she especially enjoyed math and literature. In secondary school, ages 10-14, she found English interesting and took some German language. In HS, she competed in state and national levels for English skill, in oral, written translations and grammar, earning 6th place in the Ukraine and 2nd in her state one year. She competed in argument statements, and in controversial questions, graduated in 1994, earning an A in the state diploma exam.

    Yuliya applied to the Sevastopol State Technical University, and was accepted into a 5-year program: Diploma for Economist, taking 9 courses each term. It was during this time that Yuliya helped her mother for 2.5 months during her first year of college while her mother was in the hospital: 7A-2P at school, then in the hospital from 2P-10P, then home to study. There were no private rooms, with 6-10 patients/room so she helped the other patients too. Her mother developed kidney failure, and had dialysis. She liked helping patients.

    In her second year, she helped again for 3 weeks when her mother returned to the hospital. The hospital asked her to train as a medical assistant. She learned to take medical histories, be a scribe for doctors, do phlebotomy, IVs, injections, assist in biopsy. She worked the 3-11 PM shifts after a full day in college. (Dr. Lewis' Note: DO NOT attempt this - few people can do this and earn good grades!).

    Yuliya's training included finance, supply info, personnel, inter-personal skill development so she could recruit pharmaceuticals to her hospital. In her last year, she did 2 theses on statistical analysis of the financial responsibility of her hospital, and graduated in 1999 with an almost perfect GPA. She originally wanted to become a physician, but there was no medical school in her region to attend.

    Yuliya continued to work fulltime at the hospital, now as a health care administrator/manager. She did financial analyses and built a pharmaceutical supply line. She married an American business executive and immigrated to Arizona in 2001, and got a Green Card in 2003. She did sales fulltime for a year and was promoted to manager before returning to college, taking English and accounting classes. Unfortunately, her marriage did not last and she remarried and had a baby in 2004.

    Why Physician Assistant?

    In HS, Yuliya considered entering medicine or business due to encouragement from her parents. There was only a business school in her state, so to attend college, she needed to live at home and attend this school. She thought that she could train to become a hospital administrator and use both of her interests.

    After having a difficult pregnancy, she became interested in becoming a physician again. She decided that to balance having a family and a career, the PA profession fit her perfectly.

    From 2002-5, Yuliya took pre-PA courses part time. PA Programs told her that she needed direct patient care in the US, so she became a Nursing Assistant in a local Hospital in oncology fulltime.

    Class of 2006 application
    Yuliya applied in June 2005 to enter the 2 local PA programs: AZCOM Midwestern and Kirksville Arizona School of Health Sciences; CASPA processed 7/05.

    GRE: used Kaplan prep a total of 160 hrs over 10 weeks (which is about half of what Dr. Lewis advises to study); 6-7 mock exams; actual exam 8/05.

    She had 2 letters of recommendation (not confidential) from a chemistry faculty and a nursing assistant faculty.

    CASPA Essay: nice early story, but also needed to discuss how Ukrainian system differs from American and why Hospital Administrator career choice first. Also needed to tell more about Ukrainian volunteer experience and job, and current job. . . be more detailed.

    She was granted interviews for both programs:
    ASHS Kirksville September 2005 interview, open file.
    She interviewed with the Dean and faculty panel. She felt the panel interview did not go well. They asked:
    1. What does community mean to you?
    2. If you disagree with your doctor's medication, what do you do? She answered, "Get a second opinion."
    3. Diabetic patient question, having frequent urination and pain.
    4. What do you like about the PA profession?
    5. What will you be doing in 10 years? Oncology, pediatrics?
    6. What do you not like about the PA profession?
    Outcome: placed on the waitlist to be reviewed in February.

    Midwestern AZCOM 12/06, closed file, 2 clinical faculty on a panel:
    Yuliya spoke to the Dean who that said International students may struggle with the heavy load and either do well or fail, thus they take few. Yuliya wrote a letter in December to him, and the Associate Director called her. The Associate Director said the new Dean limits the selection of only 4 applicants for matriculation from each group of 20 interviewees. They rank their waitlist, but do not give out the ranking. They accept about 32 outright and take another 52 off the waitlist for a total of 84.
    Outcome: placed on the waitlist to be reviewed in February.


    Yuliya's science and overall GPAs are excellent.

    Her direct patient care experience in the Ukraine coupled with current nursing assistant experience in a US hospital and nursing home and her years of health care administration and management work in the Ukraine indicate depth and breadth of experience.

    She is bicultural and sensitive to other cultures, speaking 3 languages.

    The 2 letters of recommendation are supportive.


    Yuliya's biggest weaknesses includes not having a PA preceptor, not understanding the PA profession as much as she could from shadowing a PA for a few weeks or months, not having a PA letter of recommendation.

    Her GRE verbal score is low, coupled with a moderate analytical score. This may be a problem for the schools thinking how you can handle a heavy science load; how many units were taken at once in the US?
    Her essay could be improved.

    Her interviews may not have reflected that she understand the PA profession well and is committed to it.


    Being waitlisted in both PA programs she applied to means she is acceptable to those programs, but other people ranked higher.

    General weaknesses that could be addressed include:

    She only had 2 letters of recommendation
    She had NO PA Mentor or PA letter.
    Her GRE verbal score was low.

    I spoke with the Associate Director of the PA program at Midwestern University who told me there was nothing "glaringly" bad in her application, but that her interview had some problems. They wanted to know that Yuliya understands the PA profession well and can address ethical dilemmas. I advocated for Yuliya.

    The following Friday, the Admissions Committee of PA faculty, met to review the waitlist. There are points given for every part of the application: the interview counts 23%, health care experience, grades, GRE, degree, all count. There is a class of 86 and only 43 had deposits holding positions at that point. Sending additional documentation, fall 05 transcripts, and Yuliya's letter to them was very helpful.
    Outcome: Yuliya was ACCEPTED 2/9/06 into her first choice PA program!

    Stay tuned for more from Dr. Valenzuela in April, 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

Will a 7 on the MCAT Verbal Reasoning section keep me out of medical school?

This is a complex, yet simple question to answer at the same time.

Remember that Allopathic and Osteopathic medical programs evaluate their applicants differently. Allopathic programs generally screen applicants by GPA/MCAT profiles before considering non-numerical information, and Osteopathic schools screen with the non-cognitive variables first more often. In any case, no matter if a student has a high GPA and strong PS and BS scores, even with a median MCAT essay score of O or P, not many allopathic programs will ask an applicant with a 7 in VR for interview. They generally ask for a secondary, but do not interview. Exceptions occur in the case of minority and severely disadvantaged students in home state schools, on occasion. But, there are NO absolutes in medical school admissions.

Actually, the reason for the lower VR score is important to understand. For ESL students, weak English skills are likely the culprit. For recent immigrants with lower VR and higher science scores who are just learning English, they can usually make it through the first year of medical school with some struggle. If someone has been schooled in English his or her entire life and still does poorly on the VR, the prognosis is poor for doing well in medical school.

Sometimes, a particularly well-placed letter of recommendation by someone in a medical school who knows the applicant well can advocate for them, and sometimes a well-written story in the personal statement, disadvantages essay or secondary essays that include the educational background of the applicant will put this VR "flaw" into greater perspective.

Conversely, Osteopathic medical schools seem to understand that the AAMC's own statistics indicate that earning a 24 on the MCAT exam translates into passing the medical licensing Board exams. Osteopathic medical schools tend to evaluate the qualities that the applicant brings to the process, then look at the GPA plus MCAT scores. Thus, most Osteopathic school will give a secondary, and if the rest of the GPA/MCAT profile is reasonable, grant an interview to see the applicant. Then, it is up to the applicant to make their case in the interview. . . as it always is!

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.

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