Lewis Associates e-Newsletter
Volume 6 Issue 8
Published by Lewis Associates. Dr. Cynthia Lewis, PhD., Editor
with your comments. Enjoy!
to Success Stories Newsletter!
How to Communicate
Class of 2008
News: MCAT sites and problems
Links: Ranking of states for healthcare quality…find
Updates, Photos, and More: June Yoshii, Janelle Pieros,
Olga Rosito, and Dr. Kathy Niknejad
Story of the Month: Lauren Sefton,
George Washington University, Entering Class of 2007
of the Month: Should I retake the MCAT?
Welcome to Lewis Associates!
We are settled into our temporary office while our permanent office
is built on the Central Coast of California. The construction crew
is working beyond expectations. We are ahead of schedule.
This time of the year is exceedingly busy, with all of the application
cycle "stuff to do" and tests to take (MCAT, DAT, GRE, PCAT,
etc.). Contact us to find out how we can support YOUR application or
help you plan for a future application to be successful.
|July 28, 2007 - Construction crew completed insulation, is
installing dry wall and now is staining and painting interior
||Preparing dry wall to bend into place for barrel
NEW Mailing Address
1885 Laguna del Campo, Templeton, CA 93465
Lewis Associates now absorbs Long Distance Charges
All appointments/phone conferences will be made from our office to
you. Meagan, our new Administrative Assistant, will call YOU at your
appointment time, and transfer you to Dr. Lewis.
Faxing documents to Dr. Lewis, Lewis Associates 805-226-9227
When faxing documents during office hours 8am to 3pm, (PST), you must
first call the office 805-227-9669 so the fax can be switched on.
During non-office hours, the fax is automatically connected.
*8am-3pm PST CALL BEFORE FAXING
*3pm-8am PST FAX AUTOMATICALLY CONNECTED
Overnight/Express Mail Packages
At this time Lewis Associates is only able to receive expedited mail
from the United States Post Office, no special Ground Services like
When sending an expedited package, please use usps.com. Click on mailing
tools, then mailing products & services. The standard overnight
pricing begins at $14.40. Please remember to give this information
to your Letter of Recommendation writers!
Where are you in your journey to a health profession?
In high school? (yes, we advise high school applicants,
particularly, those interested in BA-MD programs)
Just starting college? This is a scary time.
Moving into your difficult upper division sciences as a junior?
Re-entering as an "older" non-traditional
We help prepare those of you submitting applications for medical
and dental residency programs too!
Whatever niche you fit, we advise students just like you.
Class of 2008: If
you haven't yet started getting your letters of recommendation/evaluation
or writing your application personal statement, then you are way...BEHIND!
Are you REALLY ready to apply this year?
How do you know?
Use our Personal Assessment--and you will be given your personal strategy
and path to your future!
Many whom I advise may not yet be ready and need to develop some aspect
of their background to become competitive. Best to apply when you
are ready, be competitive, and do it ONLY ONCE!
Let's work together to make that one time application successful…earlier
is better so we can develop your strategy and address all those difficult
problems…months or even years prior to application.
Why not set yourself up for success, rather than toy with the proposition
Thanks from an Ex-Prosecuting Attorney, now medical student
Background: John was an Assistant State’s Attorney
(prosecutor) in Chicago, Illinois, when he contacted me in
2004. Now in medical school, he says: "I am really enjoying
med school, and I am thankful to Dr. Lewis for her help. Her methodical,
disciplined approach to the med school application process, as well
as her insight into the transition to med school were right on target."
John Fiszer, University Of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine
FREE teleconferencing and videoconferencing.
You need to register for free AOL Instant Messaging, and will get free
audio and/or video contact with us!
CLASS OF 2007...now up to 94% acceptance to medical,
dental and MS/MPH programs plus 2/2 applicants accepted into residency
programs of their choice.
92% of our Class of 2006 applicants were accepted! (and 2 more were
100% of our Class of
2005 applicants were accepted!
100% of our Class of 2004
applicants were accepted!
In order to be a competitive Class of 2008, 2009,
or 2010 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. If you use advising with Dr. Lewis, you will
find that we begin
preparation early in the year BEFORE submission of your application!
EARLY is always better, removes much pressure, and allows
time to solve unforeseen problems.
What are your chances?
If you want to change your career or reach your present career goal,
but do not know how to begin, or how to jump over all those hurdles,
Lewis Associates will advise and implement strategies to change your
Read about your Personal Assessment on our website,
then phone or email us
to get started! We spend on average 7 hours developing 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 one specific
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 almost 800
alumni now practicing in medicine during the last 22 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
preparation and application process.
Contact the health career experts! For
more information email email@example.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 news: September 2007 scores
2007 MCAT update
The test was administered on 12 dates between
January and July. It will be administered 11 more times in August and
September. Statistics about the first half year:
- Students took the MCAT
38,700 times between January and July.
- Including check-in, the length of the testing day
for the average student was six hours, almost three hours shorter than
it was under paper delivery.
- Just as they did in the past, students with disabilities
received suitable testing accommodations.
- Fewer than 90 of the first 38,700 testings were
interrupted by technical problems that were preventable (e.g., registration
errors, server failures). Additionally, 35 students were unable to
test due to inclement weather. All of these students were rescheduled
and tested or have reservations to test.
- Students submitted fewer complaints about excessive
noise, heat and other bothersome testing conditions than in the past.
With 200 complaints filed thus far, test center complaints are down
by 80% compared to this time last year. AAMC staff has responded to
all of the students' complaints, making determinations about the probable
impact of these circumstances on students' scores, retesting students
when needed, and refunding testing fees. (This process is described
more fully below.)
- The time needed to report students' scores was
cut in half from 60 to 30 days.
- So far, students have registered to take upwards
of 34,000 tests in August and September. Some of these students are
testing for the first time in 2007; others are attempting to improve
their scores in a second or third administration of the test.
- As we get close to the final testing dates in 2007
some students are unable to register for their first-choice testing
locations and dates and are registering for second and third choice
testing sites and dates. While the September dates are almost full,
there are still many testing appointments open in early August across
There are 2 ways that students can register
complaints about conditions of their test administration:
(1) Students who feel that testing conditions may have disadvantaged
them on the test day are invited to file a test center complaint (called
Center Problem Reports or 'CPRs') before they leave the center. The
test center administrators will submit the CPRs to Prometric and AAMC.
These reports are used for general monitoring of test center conditions
and as background for further investigation. Please file these reports
as they are vital to correcting procedural, room, equipment and any
(2) If you decide after you leave
the testing center but before you receive your scores, that your testing
conditions were problematic, you should write to AAMC about your complaints.
Instructions for students who want to file complaints to the AAMC
are provided in the MCAT Essentials document and on the MCAT
AAMC and Prometric staffs review complaints. Students are rescheduled/retested
when the conditions are deemed likely to have effected test scores.
AAMC also prepares letters for the medical schools to which students
apply that describe the testing conditions and their likely impact
on student performance.
All MCAT Prometric test sites are NOT created
equal (and other MCAT problems)
malfunctions, unusable dry erase markers (bring your own!), small computer
screens that make the user scroll between the passage, questions and
answers!, 7 hour delays to start the exam (think about taking extra
food, water, and a pillow?).
One of my Advisees found that there was no word search function and
that the strike out function required a different side of the mouse
than she was used to at an Atlanta test site.
Most sites are fine, but there are some horror stories out there from
the first year of computer-based MCATs! Here is one of them:
At the only testing center in our area, the individuals running last
week's MCAT did not show up until 8:00 AM, even though the test takers
were told to show up at 7:30 AM. Thus, there were not only
the usual noises associated with verifying identity and with testing
people at different times, but the Prometric personnel kept opening
and shutting the door, loudly calling the names of people who had
not shown up for the exam, and finally starting individuals on tests
other than the MCAT. In
the afternoon session, they turned away an individual who had registered
for the afternoon session and had an AAMC printout from 2:45 on the
previous day showing his 1:30 testing time. They told him that they
had sent him an e-mail the day before telling him that they had changed
his time to 8:00 AM, and then gave his seat to someone taking a Praxis
the student told his Advisor,
the Advisor called the local testing center. The person to whom
she spoke was curt, unprofessional, and dismissive of the student's
September 2007 MCAT scores
All Osteopathic and most allopathic medical schools will be accepting
the September MCAT scores, however, there are a very few schools
which will not. They will be posted on the MCAT
website soon. I
am aware of the U of Oklahoma and Virginia Commonwealth not accepting
Criminal background checks (Source: Jayme
August 2005, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recommended
that all US medical schools procure a national background check on
applicants upon their initial, conditional acceptance to medical school.
The rationale for performing criminal background checks on accepted
medical school applicants is based on a number of issues, including
in part the need to enhance the safety and well-being of patients and,
in so doing, to bolster the public's continuing trust in the medical
profession, and to ascertain the ability of accepted applicants to
eventually become licensed physicians, many other schools are conducting
criminal background checks outside of this pilot process; I re-iterate
this only because students who experience multiple, different processes
may be confused.
When will the check be conducted?
A background check will be triggered at one of two points in the admissions
1) Acceptance: at the point of acceptance, each applicant to a participating
school will be checked once the applicant's consent has been obtained,
and the school that has accepted the applicant will receive the report
as soon as it becomes available.
2) School request: Schools will have the option to have a subset of
their applicants checked beginning in May. This additional process
was developed in order to ensure that, as the date of matriculation
approaches, medical schools do not need to wait for a check to be conducted
in the event that the applicant is accepted. Medical schools will not
receive a report for these applicants until (or if) an acceptance is
For this reason, receipt of an email requesting consent for a CBC
to be conducted should not be construed by an applicant as an indication
that he or she has been accepted to a medical school.
Applicants will not be charged an additional fee for a CBC unless the
applicant pre-orders a report (see below).
Applicants who submit an AMCAS application to a participating medical
school are provided with instructions, at the point of submission,
regarding how to pre-order a background report from our selected
vendor, Certiphi Screening, Inc.
Applicants who pre-order a report will be charged an agreed-upon rate
that will vary, applicant to applicant, based on information such as
previous addresses to be searched.
You can find more about this at http://www.aamc.org/students/amcas/faq/background.htm.
L I N K S :
Moore's new movie Sicko highlighted the World Health Organization's
ranking of the best health care systems in the world.
Health system performance scorecard for the US…locate
ranks #39! Maybe Lewis Associates should move!
Hawaii and Iowa
ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, whereas Mississippi and Oklahoma
tied for last.
Cuban medical school--FREE
8 Americans have graduated from Cuba. Very interesting interviews
about their preparation, awareness of various differences in populations,
desire to serve, and no debt.
Study on personality traits of incoming medical students
Results of a 9 year multi-site study reveals distinct personality
differences between male and female medical students. As increasing
numbers of women are entering medical school, these findings may have
implications for curriculum, teaching and assessment.
America's Health Rankings
Find these and other useful links on Lewisassoc.com's
a l u m n i u p d a t e s
Alumni in China and Costa Rica
Yoshii, Enterning Class of 2007
June Yoshii is accepted to several medical
schools, and is also waitlisted at 2 more. Down to the wire!
She took time off to visit China this summer. Her note:
"Hi Dr Lewis,
I had a so much fun in China. It was great. The best part
of my vacation was when I got home and checked my email I was
#28 in the waitlist for Iowa. Then When I called last Thursday I
was #21. It gives me hope that before August 1 I might get an acceptance.
I attached few pictures of China. During my vacation I promised
myself to be completely disconnected with my life here and it was wonderful.
I sent you a picture of a river near Guilin. The
place is like a paradise. Apparently this is the scenery of most
of the paintings that come from China.We took a 4 hour boat ride
on the river and it was a breath-taking experience."
June Yoshii at the Great Wall
Janelle Pieros, Class of 2007 Entering
A. T. Still University at Mesa, Arizona (Their first class!)
July 15th from Janelle Pieros in Costa Rica:
"Hello family and friends, Pura Vida is what all
the ticos (Costa Rican people) say, meaning awesome or sweet
for us So Cal people. The ticos have a very optimistic view of
life and they are so friendly. I'm
having a wonderful time and have seen the Lord do some amazing
work here. I'm so blessed to be here! Already a week has
passed since we were first in San Jose. There, I worked with
the medical team in a village called Quitirissi. Two general
physicians from Costa Rica, 4 nurses and a nurse practitioner,
along with translators, a married couple and myself helped treat
the people in that village. Our clinic was an empty classroom
we used at a school. Most patients, young and old, had minor
illnesses like stomach pain due to gastritis, the cold, headaches
and skin allergies. We gave out the proper meds, vitamins and
recommended proper nutrition and hygiene. The school was in such
a remote place in the hills that many patients walked 30 minutes
to get there. In the 5 days that we were there, we probably saw
over 100 patients."
And, upon her return on July 25:
"Dear Dr. Lewis, thank you for your continued support over
the last 2 years. I know I couldn't have done it without your
help and God's blessings. Thank you for supporting my Costa
Rica trip. It was an experience of a lifetime! I will definitely
keep in touch as I start my new adventure at A. T. Still University--Mesa,
Arizona. Blessings to you always."
From Olga Rosito, in a doctoral
program in clinical psychology, working at the Palo Alto VA Hospital,
July 20, 2007:
I just started this week in my internship at
the VA - everything is going great, I am keeping in touch with
Jenny and Matilde (Mentors in clinical research) and now we
can have lunches together at the VA. I have one more year of
classes (next year), then a year for optional clinical/research
training, fifth year is dissertation and defense and I will be
done. Then I will need to get into a postdoc to accrue enough
clinical hours for a licensing exam. I am hoping to stay at VA
throughout this process although it may become extremely competitive
for a geropsych position."
It is interesting how my alumni are
now networking and mentoring each other...my older ones mentoring
newbies!Case in point from Dr. Kathy Niknejad on July
13, 2007, one of 5 of my alumni accepted to Harvard
Medical School in 1991:
"Hi. I just met Steven Williams
who is a urology resident here at Harvard and
we both found out we went to SDSU. he told me about your new
position and I wanted to write and say hello. I ended up finishing
HMS and doing residency here Brigham and Women's Hospital for
urology and surgery, and I am on staff here, too. Hope you
are well. How are your daughters?"
July 18, 2007:
"I am doing
really well. I got married to another doctor I met during internship.
His name is Chris Gilligan and he is wonderful. We have 3 little
boys, Jacob, Benjamin and Noah. Urology has been great. I chose
it because I loved surgery and the surgeries in urology are very
satisfying. There is a lot of variety, as well. There is a huge
need for women as there are a lot of female patients. I see 50:50
men to women ratio. I do and see everything. Its very nice when
woman look for a urologist who is woman and find me through the
internet or other searches. It makes me feel more useful. I work
75% so I spend a lot of time with my children and took 4-10 months
off after each baby. I have been very lucky to fit in family with
It was so nice to find out Stephen was one of your students.
I will think about other alumni and email you. Thank you for
Watch for the Success Stories coming for these alumni!
s u c c e s s
s t o r i e s
by Lauren Sefton
Lauren Sefton , George
Washington University, Entering Class of 2007
Sefton at the Great Wall
July 24, 2007
My decision to go to medical school seems less shocking in retrospect. I
came from an affluent family. Both of my parents were college
educated—my father practices law and my mother worked for years
as a mental health counselor. I graduated from the University
of California Santa Cruz with highest honors. I did research. I
volunteered. I found time for extracurricular activities. Still,
the sixteen-year-old version of me is in shock—that I decided
to apply to medical school and that I was accepted.
At sixteen, I dropped out of high school and ran away from my family’s
home in Jacksonville, Florida. My parents were embroiled in divorce
proceedings. My mother’s struggle with bipolar disorder
had destabilized our family’s daily existence; my younger sister’s
grades were failing and my older brother left college. We had
neither the time nor the energy to help one another, so responsibility
and compassion were the last things on our minds. Viewed from
my friends’ couches, the ideal future where I painted and wrote
insightful poetry gave way to a listless recognition that life had
it in for me.
Around this time, my parents made their last great combined decision
on the course of my life. They sent me to boarding school. They
did not ask if I wanted to go. They did not give me time to pack. They
simply put me on a plane to Northern California with their blessing. It
seemed that life definitely had it in for me.
Two years away from one’s family does odd things to a “troubled” teenager. Two
years of uninterrupted schoolwork, volunteer trips, and hikes through
the mountains around Redding, California had me rethinking goals and
values. This is not when I decided to become a doctor, but I
did vow to do more than write insightful poems. When I graduated,
I had reoriented myself in relation to the world, and realized that
life was not in fact out to get me. While many people have painful
adolescences, most don’t have the opportunity to move to the
mountains and reinvent themselves. I began college in gratitude,
with fierce determination to learn and to look outside my own problems
In my third year of college, I met Dr. Lewis. By this time,
I was most of the way through a double major in Art and Neuroscience. I
was engrossed in school and research and volunteering at free medical
sessions for low-income workers. I was leaning toward medicine because
it seemed so inclusive—scientific learning, social activism,
and individual care combined in one profession.
Dr. Lewis went though my history and future plans in our first phone
conversation. As we wrapped up, she asked if there was anything
else I wanted her to know. I remember stumbling through a vague
but heartfelt explanation of my motivation. “I just wanted
you to know that I want to do something important with my life. I
want to make a difference. I want to help others and, I guess,
just, do something good.” She understood. “O.
said, with perfect comprehension and, perhaps more importantly, with
The years I spent applying to medical school are the years in which
I really decided to become a doctor. I moved to Washington D.C. for
a post-baccalaureate fellowship at the National Institutes of Health,
and Dr. Lewis urged me to work with physicians there. So I experienced
medicine firsthand, and my general motivation became powerful and specific.
I shadowed a neurosurgeon at the University of Maryland and met patients
whose resilience broadened my academic perspective. My mother’s
battle with her own mind became heroic to me, a motivator in my life
rather than a hindrance. I retroactively clarified my struggles
as a teen. In an urban free clinic, I saw doctors whose energy
kept them going late into the night. By treating individuals, they
were improving the quality of life for an entire neighborhood.
I had the courage to meet strangers and engage in their lives, and
I gained insight by writing essays about these experiences and talking
them over with Dr. Lewis. To her, this process actually seemed
normal and exciting rather than overwhelming or intimidating. I
finally saw my potential as a physician in a focused way. The
difficulties I overcame early in life, my academic interests, and my
desire to “just, do something good,” integrated naturally
into clinical volunteer work. In interviews, I had access to
stories from my own life. I wanted to talk to more patients,
get to know more doctors, and learn all I could about the diseases
they were treating.
When people ask me why I want to be a doctor, I now think of a woman
with aphasia who greeted me with lucid joy, a doctor from El Salvador
who said he has “no regrets,” even at 2am with a patient
screaming at him, and my mother who is alive because of medical research
and dedicated physicians. I think of the time I spent applying
to medical school and how I changed a little with every essay, and
of that original, stuttering conversation with Dr. Lewis. In
the end, addressing weaknesses in my application led to some of my
most valuable experiences. I hope that other applicants can pause
on occasion to enjoy the discovery and self-reflection inherent in
this difficult, sometimes annoying, potentially rewarding process.
I start medical school at George Washington University next month
and am looking forward to another round of inevitable growth and change.
Email to Dr. Lewis if you wish to
communicate about medical schools or other issues or to contact those
profiled in Success Stories: firstname.lastname@example.org
q u e s t i o n o f
t h e m o n t h
by Dr. Cynthia Lewis, PhD
Question from an Advisor: I just spoke with a student who
has a PS:11, VR:10, BS:7. The writing sample was an 'R'. My impression
is that the 7 in the biological sciences section is going to be a gigantic
obstacle for him; he is pretty adamant about not re-taking the MCAT.
He wants to apply and take his chances, what do you think his chances will be?
This is really "How to evaluate MCAT scores?"
and "Whether or not to retake the exam?" 2 questions
If we assume high science and overall GPA, reasonable understanding
of the profession based on a reading of the application essay and experiences
section, this applicant has chances at some places, but not at others.
Osteopathic medical schools will treat him/her seriously if the experiential
components of the application are strong: clinical understanding, service,
Many allopathic schools will not treat the applicant seriously based
on their sense that at least a 9 must be earned in BS to handle their
difficult curriculum. If the 7 were in the PS section, this may also
If the low score were in VR, many applicants (generally those where
English is a second language or the student is disadvantaged educationally,
socially or financially and did not read much growing up) who are accepted
to medical school with a 7 VR complete school successfully (there are
stats on this). There are some schools that will consider this applicant
seriously based on disadvantaged status.
A low science score is problematic (either PS or BS). For allopathic
schools the lowest score for many would be an 8...but of course the
key to evaluating such scores is based on the specific student and
the specific school. Only averages are published!
Should the applicant retake the MCAT?
The applicant must evaluate: WHY the low score? For example: did not
complete all the courses which the MCAT covers prior to MCAT study,
or did not study many hours or effectively...or?
Does he/she believe they could improve given more time and more effective
study? If yes, then retake it; if not (I did my best!), then don't!
- There are those few medical schools that will absolutely
reject an application without reviewing secondary applications and
letters of recommendation if any section other MCAT is lower than
- If a
low verbal score is seen, and that applicant is not rejected based
on the score, then a review of the transcript is performed. Members
of the admissions committee look for English Composition courses
completed and review the grades. They also look for Literature, History,
Philosophy, Theology/Religion, Sociology, Classical Studies, etc.,
coursework. High grades in these areas indicate one's verbal reasoning
and writing skills.
- If a low
score is in Physical Sciences, then a review of all Physical Sciences
coursework is done. This is also true if the score for Biological
Sciences is low. However, this is only true if the applicant has
been rejected solely on the MCAT score.
- Some schools may even take into consideration
the applicant's background (personal statement, demographic information,
There really is no way to predict outcomes, as each school reviews
applications differently and each school reviews the applications
on an individual basis.
High MCAT scores with one of the sections having a score of 7 or less
poses unique problems. My experience is that if the sciences were low,
the chances are
not good. Many complete secondary applications, but are not interviewed.
Those interviewed applicants in this profile may be placed on hold,
and then waitlisted.
If, in the end, the applicant does not want to re-take the MCAT,
it is a calculated risk. S/he should accept the fact that there is
a probability of about 50% that a re-application will be necessary.
We will feature an important question
each month. Please submit one that interests you for Dr. Lewis to
answer. Send your questions to email@example.com
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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