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Lewis Associates e-Newsletter
Volume 6 Issue 12
December 2007

Published by Lewis Associates. Dr. Cynthia Lewis, PhD., Editor
Email imaclewis@lewisassoc.com with your comments. Enjoy!

What's inside:

Welcome to Lewis Associates!

We moved!  We are now in our permanent Templeton, California offices and home.  We have 2 dedicated phone lines 805 226-9669 and 805 226-7656 and a dedicated FAX line 805 226-9227 for your service just like we had in our San Diego offices.  We are still settling in, so be a little patient with us. Meagan is organizing her office. My office, although functional, still has all bookcase materials in boxes.  It will take some months to be completely "moved in". 

Each part of the process has been an adventure.  For example, our phone system had to be pulled from the street 330 feet to the building connection.  This was scheduled for Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Turns out after 7 calls (by cell phone since there were no phone lines on site!) to the phone company and a supervisor, that we could get our DSL and first 3 lines connected that day.

Our dear phone service technician came and first could not locate the line (buried under dirt, which I helped him locate) and then, no rope was left in the conduit to pull the bundled wires…. So, on the cell to contractor's helper, to the electrician, then to the fellow who trenched all the utility lines…got him out on our site with his small shop vac, rope, and with some difficulty, pulled the lines. 

Simultaneously, late afternoon (it gets dark early now!), a leak from the newly-installed reverse osmosis/soft water units developed (first noted by the phone technician).  Water solutions owner came back with his visiting friend (who did a little pro bono plumbing while the owner was troubleshooting the leak) and his brother (also in for Thanksgiving).  All was fixed…but, it was a very busy pre-Thanksgiving. And, we had MUCH to be thankful for!

Establishing our DSL line was an additional adventure.  Getting the phone company to troubleshoot why we could not email out, yet could receive emails…took persistence and Dr. Lewis' husband, an electrical engineer and computer wizard to fix. 

Many other adventures…all interesting and all learning experiences. Likely many more to come…..  But, if I (and you) consider such events as learning opportunities and challenges, not roadblocks, life is good!

Site of Lewis Associates

Advisees applying for the entering Class of 2008 are making fantastic progress.  Nearly 80% of Lewis Associates 2008 Applicants already have interviews!  11 are accepted into medical school, 2 into their top choice school! One applicant has been invited to interview at 18 schools, a remarkable accomplishment!  Our advisees are doing wonderfully.  Congratulations to all!

 If you are interested in personalized advising from “The Best in the Business,” (from Dr. Patrick Linson, Harvard Medical School Alum who is the only Native American Radiation Oncologist on the planet!) call Lewis Associates today to schedule YOUR personal assessment.

 Dr. Lewis invests in you so you may live up to your potential to be the best applicant you can be!

Dr. Lewis' note:  Dr. Linson has just installed the newest, most advanced Radiation Surgery machine in the world in his Vista, California, medical office…a step up from the ones at Stanford and Harvard! Congratulations to Dr. Linson and his colleagues…more in a future newsletter. 

How to Communicate With Us

Permanent Mail Address 1885 Laguna del Campo, Templeton, CA 93465
Phone 805-226-9669 and 805-237 7656 Fax 805 226-9227
Lewis Associates absorbs Long Distance Charges
All appointments/phone conferences are made from our office to you. Meagan, our Administrative Assistant, calls YOU at your appointment time.

Fax 805-226-9227
Fax is now a dedicated line…no more calling to connect!

Overnight/Express Mail Packages
Lewis Associates can now receive expedited mail from all special Ground Services.

Changes in Services
  • Lewis Associates' New Prices effective November 1, 2007
  • After September 1, 2008, Year-Long Packages will be discontinued for new Advisees. If you are considering long-term advising, this is the year to lock in your Advising Agreement with us
  • Applicants will still be able to select from our highly-effective Assessment, Essay, Hourly, and Interview Packages after September 1, 2008. 
  • Current Advisees will continue working with Dr. Lewis until Matriculation.

Where are you in your journey to a health profession?

In high school? (yes, we advise high school students, particularly, those interested in BA-MD programs)

Just starting college?
This is a scary time.  Everything is new…how do I meet all those new expectations?

Moving into your difficult upper division sciences as a junior? Possibly, the "dreaded organic chemistry"…

Re-entering as an "older" non-traditional student? Re-establishing academic discipline…

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.

Are you REALLY ready to apply for the Class of 2009?
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 years prior to application. Why not set yourself up for success, rather than toy with the proposition of failure?

Ariel Chairez, Scholarship Awardee, University of Wisconsin Medical School Class 2004
May, 2004
Dr. Lewis, I would like to thank you for all of your help. I have decided to attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison. I have withdrawn my applications to the other medical schools.  I will be taking anatomy in the summer to lessen my course-load for the first semester. Without your guidance, I would not have been accepted into medical school this year. Though at times I questioned your instructions, the advice you have given me has definitely worked out for the best.

I am extremely happy to have been accepted to one the top medical schools in the country, and on top of that to have received a scholarship of $130,000. For any student who questions the value of your services, I can say that you have saved me $130,000 in tuition! If I can help you in any way in the future, I would be more than happy to do so. I would also like to thank Alice (our admin assistant in San Diego for over 2 years) for always being so exceptionally friendly and helpful.
Thank you, Ariel Chairez

John Fiszer, University Of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine Class of 2005
Dr. Lewis' note: John was an Assistant State's Prosecuting Attorney in Chicago, Illinois, when he contacted me in 2004. Now in his 3rd year of 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."

Thanks from Lily Marouf, entered Sackler University Medical school (Tel Aviv) Fall 2007
"Dear Dr. Lewis, Thank you for all of your help the past year.  It was one of the most challenging years of my life, and I could not have been successful without you. I appreciate all of your support and patience, and look forward to sharing many memories with you when I come back to the States.  Love, Lily"

Track Record
CLASS OF 2007... 97% acceptance to medical, dental and MS/MPH programs, one Class of 2007 applicant accepted into 2008 Class and all applicants accepted into medical and dental Residency programs of their choice.

Be Competitive
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, 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 and challenges.

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 you and implement strategies to change your life.

Getting Started
Read about Dr. Lewis doing 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. Or you may wish to use hourly advising to solve one 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 almost 800 alumni now practicing in medicine 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 imaclewis@lewisassoc.com. Call 805-226-9669 to set up your first appointment.


AAMC meeting in Washington DC 
The best part of this meeting for me was reconnecting with old friends who are in Medical Admissions and advocating for my current applicants.  Some of the hot topics were about teaching professionalism and criminal background checks.  Nothing new on the AMCAS or MCAT fronts.

I was able to meet with Shaun Austin and Lauren Sefton, both attending George Washington University School of Medicine.  I was also able to talk with Dr. Michael Manzano, currently in his internship year after graduating from George Washington University School of Medicine. (see alumni updates!).

Stem cell breakthrough uses skin cells rather than embryos

Quick View - Personality can guide specialty choice

California fines plan for failing to reveal policy cancellation incentive

HHS appeals court order to give claims data to consumer groups

AMA to renew fight for Medicare balance billing
Some physicians say patients understand that they are struggling with practice costs and would accept balance billing.

Cancer found at earlier stages in rural patients

Better screening for all is urged by researchers in a new study that looked at colorectal and lung cancer.

Medicare and Medicaid spending growth unsustainable

Doctors gain insight from theater training

Student loan deferment program restored -- for now

University of California system loses tuition-hike appeal


Medical School Application Fee Assistance Program

Application and Admission Timeline

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

alumni updates

Shaun Austin
George Washington University Medical School, MSY 3

Shaun and I enjoyed dinner near the AAMC meeting in Washington, DC.  He is committed to working with the homeless and has established connections to many non-profit homeless medical providers for his primary care rotation! Way to go, Shaun!! Congratulations on living your dream!  His focus on the homeless will take him to shelter, substance abuse and mobile van medicine.  He loves it!


Shaun Austin
Shaun Austin

Lauren Sefton
George Washington University Medical School, MSY 1

Lauren is negotiating those hard first year classes right now.  It is keeping her busy, but she had time to have coffee with me at the AAMC meeting site. 

She bicycles and walks to school and finds the Practice of Medicine clinics and ISCOPES community medicine, where she interacts with other health careers students, (MPH, nursing, PA, PT, etc.) more exciting than her basic science classes.


Lauren Sefton
Lauren Sefton

left to right: Dr. Patrick Linson, MD; Lorena Del Valle, Class 2009 applicant; Josh Boys, MSY1 Michigan State U; Kevin Hardiman MSY1 Kansas City U Osteo; Dr. Cynthia Lewis; Mr. Dino Guillermo, MS Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine; Dr. Christie Martinez, DDS

Dr. Linson has just installed the newest, most advanced Radiation Surgery machine in the world in his Vista, California, medical office…a step up from the ones at Stanford and Harvard! Congratulations to Dr. Linson and his colleagues…more in a future newsletter.

Mr. Dino Guillermo finishes his clinical rotation at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and is preparing for the California State Board exam. He has a new baby, Noah, 17" long and 5 pounds 11 oz.  He was born July 11, 2007--Congratulations!!

Dr. Christie Martinez has been Dr. Lewis' personal dentist for the last 5 or so years.  She is expecting triplets in middle December. Congratulations!

Dr. Kristin Gallipeau, Dr. Martinez' dental partner, and also an alum of Dr. Lewis, just gave birth to a second baby girl November 27, 2007.
Congratulations!! (not shown).

CUHRE party

Mahassin Abdullah
Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, MSY 2 

I had a lovely dinner with Mahassin at a shopping mall with many American stores during my trip to UAG in October 2007.  She has an interesting perspective since she attended Ross University for a term and withdrew (in good standing because there were things she did not like) and applied and entered UAG. 

Watch for the Success Stories coming for these alumni!

success stories

Miss Deaf California--a doctor in the making! Shazia Siddiqi
Part I

Shazia Siddiqi
Shazia Siddiqi in Grenada

Note by Dr. Lewis 12/2/07
I started working with Shazia August 2000. Long-term commitment to my Advisees can be 7 years long!  Shazia is currently completing her second year at St. Georges University medical school and she will take USMLE part I in 2008.  It has been a long haul: through Glamour magazine's top 10 Women in America, to postbac science classes at UCLA to an MPH degree at Dartmouth…to entry into medical school in 2005.  Shazia is highly motivated, obviously very smart and terribly resilient.

She says (11/07), "I am still in process of gathering documents for Step 1 accommodations, i.e. I need a doctor's verification that I have bi-sensorineural profound hearing loss. I will work on my request for accommodations after my patient exam this weekend. I got tips from other deaf students who have gone through the same process.

Shazia's AMCAS Personal Statement: "Thank you for giving me hope. I want to lose 30 pounds for my daughter," Mr. Bucci, a burly man with his 2-year-old deaf daughter, signed to me. As a Miss Deaf America finalist on July 9, 2004, I related stories of family members who suffered from heart attacks due to neglect and Deaf friends who were frustrated with limited access to quality health care. As Miss Deaf California 2004-2005, I used my platform of "Promoting Health Education in the Deaf Community" to empower people of all ages to take control of their health and increase awareness of disease prevention. I encouraged parents to lead healthy lifestyles so they can pave the way for their children to grow into healthy adults.

I was diagnosed with deafness when I was 3 years old, and saw many otolaryngologists, audiologists, speech therapists, and family practitioners. Watching them work on my ears aroused my curiosity about medicine. As these doctors and therapists fitted me with hearing aids, healed recurring ear infections, and taught me both American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English, I gained a profound respect for the healing profession. As the only Deaf person "mainstreamed" in large public schools, I encountered classmates who mocked my slightly imperfect speech. I was determined to change their attitudes about "disabled" people by showing them how strong I can be. I have never accepted the negative connotations of the word "disability," and instead, used my condition to my advantage. "Seeing" sounds and "visualizing" voices comes naturally to me, so I rely heavily on my eyes and residual hearing when I interact with hearing people. In this way, I developed distinctive powers of perception and the ability to communicate easily with a wide variety of people.

At UC Berkeley as a Regents' Scholar, I taught my hearing peers a great deal about deafness, participated in South Asian cultural shows, and even choreographed and danced to music. Many hearing friends were amazed to learn that I can respond to rhythmic beats, and "feel" music through my hands, feet, and heart. I welcomed their curiosity, and I was able to show them a world they may never have thought about. As an instructor, I taught ASL to 100 students and introduced them to the Deaf culture. As a dorm Health Worker, I provided first aid, counseling, medical referral services, and round-the-clock peer advising for students in my dorm. These activities sharpened my communication and advising skills with respect to physical and emotional illnesses. My research in breast cancer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory helped develop my analytical skills and taught me the value of collaboration. It was rewarding to attend the Minority Medical Education Program at University of Virginia with the support of disadvantaged peers where I shared similar experiences.

In my Senior year at Berkeley, I met two Deaf physicians who inspired me to be a doctor and serve medically underserved communities through my ability to communicate with both hearing and Deaf patients. Drs. Frank Hochman and Judith Pachciarz narrated to me their experiences in medical school and their practices. They showed me their heart auscultation equipment, connected me to a network of Deaf physicians, and allowed me to observe their interactions with hearing and Deaf patients. These doctors gave me a practical idea of what it means to be a Deaf doctor and how to bridge the communication gap between Deaf and hearing people.

Through the MPH program at Dartmouth Medical School, I learned to communicate as a clinician with community members, understand evidence-based medicine, collaborate with experts to set guidelines on procedures, analyze data, and evaluate best health care practices. I observed specialties and compassionate interaction between doctors, nurses, staff, and patients in the Birthing Pavilion at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. At the Minority Health Coalition, I learned how medicine can be accessible to medically underserved communities, especially the refugee community in Manchester, NH. It was satisfying to see my research on providing culturally-competent medicine be put into practice.

I have faced and overcome many challenges in adapting to environments designed for hearing people. At UC Berkeley, the Disabled Students' Program did not provide Real-Time Captioning for science classes. After working together with Deaf alumni and students, I was finally able to access these services in my Senior year, and my grades improved. Supportive academic environments enabled me to achieve a GPA of 3.82 in 30 units of upper-division science classes at UCLA Extension and some high-passes in graduate studies at Dartmouth.

As I explored ways to improve the quality of the health care system at Dartmouth, I realized that bringing comprehensive health care services to the Deaf community and other minority groups is extremely important. My self-confidence increased as I translated for those who needed medical care. During the Miss Deaf America pageant, many people confided in me that they could not wait for me to become their doctor. I will not let them down. I will succeed in medical school with the same determination that enabled me to change negative into positive experiences."

Part II coming in January, 2008!

Email to Dr. Lewis if you wish to communicate about medical schools or other issues or to contact those profiled in Success Stories: imaclewis@lewisassoc.com

question of the month

by Dr. Cynthia Lewis, PhD

What do I do about "low" MCAT scores?
This is a very complex issue that requires a Personal Assessment! Many factors could have contributed to this outcome:

   1. Unrealistic about the quantity and quality of preparation.
   2. Not taking certain components of the exam seriously, e.g. the "essays"
   3. Having significant test anxiety that paralyzes
   4. Having an undiagnosed/diagnosed learning disability, ADHD or other disability
   5. Lack of time management, prioritization, study skills
   6. Test site problems

So, we will tackle the first response this month, and then the others in ensuing months.

We reprint below last month's general information about the MCAT (applicable to DAT, GRE and other tests, too). 

It is important, perhaps crucial, to take a timed "diagnostic" full length MCAT including 2 essays right before you believe you are actually going to "study for the real test".  This diagnostic test will tell you exactly where your weaknesses lie, especially if you take the free Princeton Review or Kaplan tests, which give you feedback about your weak content and question types.

Many students realize that they are right-brained (great verbal and communication skills) or left-brained (super analytical and mathematical computation-logic skills) or are reasonably good at both, or are "poor standardized test takers".  Wherever you lie in this continuum, you are bound to have weaknesses "somewhere".  The question is, after you identify them, how do you prepare and address them? If they are specific science content, it is obvious that you must review the concepts diligently, and do MANY hours of practice passages with questions, first un-timed, then timed.  It is human to err on the side of studying what you "like" most, like general chemistry, or general biology.  But, of course, you must put MOST of your effort into studying the concepts which are most difficult, like maybe genetics, physics, or organic chemistry….fill in the blank for YOUR weak area.

Or, you may find that you do well in the sciences because you just completed the courses, earning A and B+ grades. However, you always were a "slow reader" or never felt you could "write well".  It is easy to convince yourself that VR and the writing sample are "not important".  However, nothing could be further from the truth.   The AAMC regularly publishes studies that indicate that the VR test is a good indicator of how students perform in their clinical years, thus medical schools care about how one does on the VR exam and take low scores to mean that you will NOT do well on the USMLE or COMLEX (Osteopathic) Board exams, thus, why should they accept you?  If your VR scores are border-line, and you have a strong essay score (alphabetic score J-T; O-P being the average), the essay score may mitigate a lower VR score.  You want ALL the help you can get so that folks who evaluate you have clues that you CAN perform well on tests.

First, I advise most applicants to establish a schedule of about 300 hours of MCAT (also works for DAT and GRE) preparation over a 10-12 week period.  I coach my applicants through this entire process. Then, you must understand your own learning process and personality in order to diagnose difficulties.

One of our Advisees, applying this year to medical school took about 1.5 to increase his VR score into the acceptable range.  It required patience, tenacity and hard work.

Here is what happened with a student who earned a score of 4 on the MCAT Verbal Reasoning exam twice, and improved to a 7 with strong double digits in sciences and a Q in the writing sample this summer.  The first 2 times, the applicant took the MCAT, he put in plenty of time and focused on exactly the right material.  English is his first language and he has consistently earned A grades in college-level English classes. 

After the first VR 4 score, I advised being evaluated by a Learning Skills Specialist who taught the student many new learning skills… this took an entire year.  The student additionally took humanities classes requiring him to read original source classic literature and discuss it in class.  He again earned a 4 on the VR exam.  This time, we addressed the anxiety component of the test and he used a hypnotherapist to teach him new relaxation/focus skills that he could use not only for the MCAT, but for all stressful situations encountered in life: work, home, relationships, etc.  The student diligently used those skills during another 6 months preparation for the MCAT and took another year of humanities classes. During the entire time, I coached him how to use his time and effort most productively. This time, the outcome was significantly improved.

This applicant's evaluation the day after his third MCAT exam:  "Now that the MCAT is over, I am relieved. I felt the computer exam was easier to manage than the paper exam due to the shorter time. Because the exam only took me 5.5 hours to complete (as opposed to 9 hours for paper), my stamina and focus were easier to sustain. For physical science and verbal reasoning, I felt that the difficulty was about the same as the full-length mocks.

In VR, I applied the same strategies as the mock. Since I earned an 8 in my last 2 AAMC mocks for VR, I hope that I will earn this score. One thing different from this exam compared to my first two that I took is that I accepted the ambiguity of the VR section without expecting to feel like I needed to understand the passages and questions. I did a lot of educated guesses without feeling like I knew the answers. Apparently, I accepted that the VR is designed to make even the best test takers feel like they didn't do well. The first 2 times I took the MCAT VR, I placed excess pressure on myself to understand the passages and questions well in order to feel that I was doing good; this mindset sabotaged my scores. This time, I didn't worry about needing to feel good about the VR. Although I felt vague about my true performance, I accept that this feeling is expected. I know that I did my best performance last Tuesday and have gained more courage as a person overall, regardless of the outcome.

For WS, I felt that I did fine while keeping the essays simple. This was a shift from my writing assignments from Humanities since for WS, I had to keep the essay simple while restraining myself from being too complex.

For BS, I felt that the test was more difficult that the AAMC practice exams. However, the difficulty was about the same from when I took the MCAT the first 2 times. The question stems were very long with a lot of irrelevant data; I had to focus on only important elements while ignoring the irrelevant data.

Psychologically, I was able to maintain anxiety levels under control. Before the exam, I felt a little anxiety, but meditation and visual imagery kept it in control. This was the usual level of anxiety I would feel before a performance such as a piano recital in front of 500 people. This anxiety actually helped me since I found myself more focused during most of the exam. I was so focused that the distractions within the room didn't grab my attention at all; I was completely zoned into the MCAT mode. I also imagined hearing comforting music in my mind intermittently to prevent fatigue and maintain focus."

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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