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Lewis Associates e-Newsletter
5 Issue 6
Published by Lewis Associates. Dr. Cynthia Lewis, Phd., Editor
| Michael Nevarez Entering Class of
2006, Harvard Medical School
(Coming in July 2006 -- Michael's Success Story)
May 19, 2006
| Marina Stavchanskiy, Entering Class
of (May) 2006 Ross University Medical School
First Year Medical Student
May 24, 2006
| Joseph Allen, MD, Return to Paradise!!
(St. Georges University Medical School)
Family Practice and Sports Medicine (see September 2002 for his Success Story)
d a t e s & r e m i n d e r s
Start of another application cycle for colleges of veterinary medicine.
Below are key updates to prepare you for VMCAS 2007.
The VMCAS website is ready for the approaching application cycle http://www.aavmc.org/vmcas/vmcas.htm. Check out several resources that should help you, including the General School Information Chart, Prerequisite Comparison Chart, and School Descriptor Pages.
VMCAS Application Systems Launch
In just 3 years, the usage of this secure easy-to-use system by evaluators has doubled.
The 2006 Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR) publication became available in May.
John E. Roane, Jr. Chief Operating Officer
Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges
1-877-862-2740 Student & Advisor Hotline
When to submit your AMCAS application:
From AMCAS: Note that we do not send any application data to medical schools until test scores from the April administration of the MCAT have been received in the AMCAS database; last year, we began making applications available to medical schools during the first week of July. For the 2007 entering class, we anticipate that we will begin making applications available to medical schools during the final week of June.
Although it can take up to six weeks for the application to be processed, many applications are processed more quickly. The date of submission on its own (without considering transcript receipt) can be misleading when attempting to predict the date by which a medical school will receive a complete application. If an applicant's transcripts have been received in advance of the submitted application, the application will enter the queue to be processed once the application is submitted.
From a Med School: Early is good, correct is better, and early & correct is best. I would encourage applicants to shoot for submission around mid-July. That will usually give us sufficient time to get letters of recommendation and initiate the evaluation process. However, the trick is to get the secondaries in on time. I must praise AMCAS for including the MD-PhD essays on the common application last application year. Before last year, we could count on ~30% of applications to our MD-PhD program being initiated within two weeks of our application deadline (November 30). Because AMCAS 2006 eliminated the need for an extensive supplementary MD-PhD application for our program, we saw the percentage of applications received in the final two weeks decline to 17%.
The earlier submission of applications last year made life easier for my staff during the holiday season and I was able to take a couple of vacation days around Christmas for the first time in a decade. More importantly, the earlier receipt of applications meant that our admissions committee was able to devote more time to reviewing applications with appropriate diligence, rather than hastily pushing through the bolus that came at the deadline.
THUS: Early as possible does not mean submit on the first day it is possible. Do not sacrifice the quality of the application for speed. It is much better that the application is completed free of errors, done well, than to submit it so early that there are lots of careless errors. Attention to detail is important. The verification processing time determines when the schools receive the processed AMCAS application. Even though someone submits right on the day it is the earliest possible, the processing time is determined by when transcripts are submitted to AMCAS. It will then take anywhere from 4-6 weeks, sometimes it has stretched out to 8 weeks for the application to be verified. Once the application is verified, it still takes a couple of weeks for the schools to actually see any given application.
Early as possible-- anytime between when April MCAT scores become available (2nd to 3rd week of June)
to the middle of July are the most ideal times.
s u c c e s s s t o r i e s
by Dr. Cynthia Lewis
Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine Entering Class of 2006
When Dr. Lewis kept saying, “Ashley, this is your year,” I was not as sure as she seemed to be. Sure, I had done just about everything I could have done to prepare and strengthen my application for matriculating at medical school in 2006. I just didn't know if it would be enough.
I am a non-traditional student and will be turning 31 during my orientation week this August. Ah, but I'm jumping ahead too soon. . . I should first mention what brought me to Dr. Lewis in the first place. It's a long and complicated story, but I'll try to hit the highlights.
When I was in high school, I became very ill physically and was unable to eat more than one meal per day (which was only a bit of white rice with cheese melted over it—the only thing my stomach would tolerate). I dropped a bunch of weight, doctors were stumped, and everything seemed to lead to a dead end. Because it was a small school and I had great teachers, I was able to do much of my work at home. I managed to graduate with honors and earn 9 AP credits and left for college, thinking I'd get by just as I had in high school.
College was a different story. At U of Maryland, which for those who don't know is a very large university, I was just a social security number. Nobody would be there to send my homework in; nobody would let me make up exams. I started out well enough with a mid-3.0 range my first semester, but my health degraded to a point where I was missing more classes than I was attending. By the time I reached my sophomore year, I was on a downward trend and too proud and stubborn to ask for help or leave. Finally, after dropping nearly every course in my 4th semester, I decided I needed to leave. Part of what finally brought me to this conclusion was financial need. I had been trying to work 20 hrs/wk while maintaining a full course load and it was obvious I could not continue that way for long.
When I returned home to my parents' house, I began looking for a full time job with health benefits. It's amazing how things worked out, and I've always thought there must be a higher power watching over me. Things were just too coincidental and convenient to be random. Two things enabled me to finally get well. First, I did land a full time job in medical research, which had decent health benefits that allowed me to see physicians. But, remember, I had been seeing physician after physician for 5 years with no luck and no answers.
My sister had converted to Islam (we were raised by a Unitarian and an ex-Catholic who wanted us both to make our own choices about religion) and was learning from the imam of a local mosque. I also earned some extra money babysitting the imam's two children when my sister went with them to mosque, so they knew about the events in my life and my needing to leave school. There is a circle of Muslim physicians in that mosque, and my sister and a female member of the mosque who previously had similar symptoms as I did (but she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer) urged me to see a particular physician in that circle. Seeing him was the beginning of the rest of my life, or so it felt.
I ended up being fortunate enough to not have cancer, but I do have an incurable condition that required surgery and still requires constant maintenance and monitoring to keep it in check. It might sound horrible, and at the height of my illness, it had been horrible enough for me to sometimes feel I must be slowly dying. These days, and since early in 2002, I have not had any major symptoms and am pain-free, eating whatever I want, and just happy to be well. So my health issues had a happy ending.
I continued to work in research and took a job in a neuroscience lab at a major medical school in 1998, where I will be working until matriculation at my new medical school this August. Part of my story for choosing medicine is seeing it from the side as the patient first, seeing doctors of all calibers, and seeing specialists in nearly every field. I thought, "I can do that!" I could make someone well the way they did for me. I would listen to my patients the way that my earlier doctors didn't, and the way my favorite doctors do now.
Working at Johns Hopkins Medical School opened my eyes to a part of medicine I wasn't even aware of--academic medicine. I had no idea I could do research and patient care, and even have the benefits of teaching medical students and residents. The prospect of shaping future doctors and also making a difference in the lives of patients with some of the most extreme and complex illnesses, and patients from underserved populations who wouldn't normally be able to afford the best (much less anything, sadly), just made my heart race and my eyes widen. Finally, for me, there was somewhere I thought I'd fit in well and enjoy doing for the rest of my life.
I had completed my bachelor's part-time while working at my full-time job in research and had mostly completed my master's degree in the same fashion when I decided to apply for medical school in 02/03. I had no idea what I was doing. The only information I got about applications was anecdotal from some of the undergraduate pre-meds who worked in my lab, from some of my faculty friends, and from various internet sites. Basically, I was flying blind. I applied to 7 schools in DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. I got no interviews (yes, that is a big fat zero!). I had applied early and returned secondaries quickly, so I was assuming my undergrad GPA and average MCAT (as in “National Average of those taking the exam,” not average for matriculants!) were the main sticking points.
I happened across Dr. Lewis' website after a disappointing application season. I cautiously contacted her and researched her extensively, because I am always a bit wary of people who make money on pre-professional students. It wasn't that I was unwilling to pay for advice, but just that I needed to be certain she was the real deal and would give me worthwhile, constructive criticism and help me formulate a plan of action. I got her to do an Assessment for me, and I learned so much just in those few hours that I was certain she would make all the difference in the world.
We formulated a plan, and I got to see that it wasn't just my GPA and MCAT that was keeping me down. I had to:
1) complete more post-bac work, retaking some courses and taking all new ones
2) shadow physicians for at least 4-6 hrs/wk for several months
3) study, study, study for the MCAT and kick its butt
4) apply to more schools; apply to the right schools
I had a lot to do, and took some time doing it. In the meantime, I was still working and learning a great deal from my research. Working at a med school and having a really great PI made it easier for me to find physicians to shadow and the time away from the lab to do so. I finished my master's degree and completed most of the post-bac work Dr. Lewis and I had discussed.
It was two years later when I contacted Dr. Lewis again and planned on applying that year (2005) for the 2006 entering class. Together, we worked on essays. I had to answer to her for MCAT studying, which was useful to me since working 60+ hrs/wk makes me find excuses not to do studying or schoolwork! She helped me pick schools, and convinced me that Osteopathic schools were worth my time (I come from a state where DO's are not popular and I didn't really know much about them). We made a go of it as a team and it worked. I got my first acceptance in early October! It was finally happening!!! Best of all, I was able to choose which medical school to attend, which school fit me best and vice versa. I included both Allopathic and Osteopathic schools and was accepted to both.
I guess my take home message to all advisees and potential advisees is this:
A) Dr. Lewis is the real thing. She's awesome; she tells it like it is (even when you don't want to hear it; and she will be your strongest ally in the quest for an acceptance at any professional school.
B) No matter what you've been through and how bad of a candidate (on paper) you think you are, there is a path you can follow. It may take a few years, and it will take a lot of determination and courage, but you will get there.
Email to Dr. Lewis if you wish to communicate about medical schools or other issues or to contact those profiled in Success Stories: email@example.com
q u e s t i o n o f t h e m o n t h
by Dr. Cynthia Lewis, PhD
How do I get a fee waiver for application to health professions school?
AMCAS: http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/fap/start.htm Based on an informal survey of AMCAS schools, most of them waive their supplemental application fees for applicants who have been granted fee assistance by the AAMC. It is always a good idea, however, for applicants to contact each medical school to learn more about their policies.
AACOMAS: http://www.aacom.org/home-applicants/fee-waiver.html The waiver covers the application fee for 3 medical schools. Applications for additional colleges are at the standard price. Information indicating that a waiver has been granted is forwarded to the individual colleges for their determination of fee waivers for supplemental application fees.
AADSAS offers a Fee Reduction Program enabling qualified applicants to be refunded a portion of their AADSAS application fees.
CASPA granted 102 fee waivers for the 05-06 application cycle.
PharmCAS does not provide a fee waiver program.
VMCAS does not provide a program for fee waivers.
AACPMAS www.e-aacpmas.org does not have a fee waiver program, but there are no supplementary applications or fees to the colleges of podiatric medicine.
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 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.
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