Polished vs Unpolished Applicants

Choosing physicians more likely to serve the underserved...

Also: How to Polish Applications

Top Post in the Batch:

In working with students on their personal statements, I feel I'm doing
more than helping them polish up an essay. Advisors are also teachers:
My goal is not just to help students write strong essays, essays that give
the readers a glimpse into who the writers really are, but also to help
the students get to know themselves better, and to become clearer on their
own motivation for becoming doctors.

Many times, after I have probed with a student into why she said this or
that in her essay, she'll say, "Wait! That's not what I meant at all!
THIS is what I mean to say ..." At its very best, the personal statement
is an instrument of personal growth, and helping students with these
statements is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

Camille Ibbotson
Pre-Health and Pre-Law Advisor
Loyola University Chicago

Top reference:

Manual for advisors or students   http://www.naahp.org/pubs.html

Choosing physicians more likely to serve the underserved...

I just coordinated a session of UNMC Faculty in the area of rural medical education today. We talked historically mostly, but we have been blessed with a string of faculty, deans and chancellors who have focused on admissions to meet the needs of the state. The meeting was general in purpose, but we did come up with one recommendation of interest.

The faculty who had been on the admissions committee noted spontaneously that one of the biggest obstacles to some of the rural background students was their lack of polish. Their personal statements stuck out as one of the biggest problems. A former admissions committee member who came from small town Nebraska and whose father was a small town doctor flatly stated that he would do anything to help these students with their essays anytime.

At the close of the meeting, we decided to work with the preadmissions-type people who contact high school and college students to work on a plan to improve access to information and reviewers who can help.

This does not address the concept of paying for advice, but notes that certain groups of students would do better and others would do worse. Of course those with the best access to reviewers and the most funds would likely access reviewers more often. Those with the least funds are also a bit more likely to choose the underserved.

Overall the impact of any change would be greatest if directed toward those who sit on the border between acceptance into medical school and not. Also from our rural seminar was the feeling that the primary care, service oriented types tended to sit the border more often. This is also a reasonable expectation from the literature. We do know that past declines in medical school class sizes in a major national and our local study did decrease the numbers choosing family medicine when the smaller class graduated. Declines in class size theoretically lower this pool of primary care service oriented student.

I suspect that minority students have many of the same problems regarding polish and medical school applications. I, myself, lack the personal experience of being on admissions committees long enough. The grammar of some Appalahian students that I reviewed after they were admitted revealed the need for improvement. Their performance as physicians was outstanding.

Perhaps someone else knows how electronic applications would change this dimension as well. We discussed access to computers before, but not specifically how small colleges, minorities, and underserved students would deal with the need to have a polished application.

Robert Bowman

rcbowman@atsu.edu

 

 Dear Colleagues,

Regarding assistance in essay writing:

1. http://www.accepted.com/ 
3. http://www.ivyessays.com/
4. http://www.rpi.edu/dept/llc/writecenter/web/text/apply.html
5. http://www.socialworker.com/admissio.htm

 
The last two specialize in helping students write effective personal
statements.

Marcel
Gregoire

Merrimack College
North
Andover, MA 01845
 

Folks:

If students will actually be writing resumes and personal statements themselves, or you want to guide them to a source to help them in a step-by-step manner, I recommend the following book, well tested and by a professional who advises medical students on this process at the Univ of Texas, San Antonio:

James Tysinger, Ph.D.: Resumes and Personal Statements for Health Professionals, 2nd edition, Galen Press, Ltd.. ( www.galenpress.com  )

Ken Iserson, M.D.

-----Original Message-----
From: Health Professions Advising Forum [mailto:HLTHPROF@LIST.MSU.EDU]On Behalf Of Lori Haxton
Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2002 11:04 AM
To: HLTHPROF@LIST.MSU.EDU
Subject: Re: Essay writing assistance

I commend the premed, pre health, predent advisors who year after year ADVISE and GUIDE students through the personal statement comment section and the entire application process for FREE! I find these "for profit" essay services deplorable! I would much rather read an honest, somewhat rougher essay, than one that sounds like it was written by a literary genius. Besides, it is easy to compare the MCAT writing score, composition grades and the personal statement for consistency. When the personal statement is out of sync...it sends up a flag! My advise to applicants: Use and trust your advisor, do the best that YOU can do (isn't that the most ethical thing to do?) and save your money for the application process and medical school ! And Thank you advisors for doing the work you do for students, we benefit with being able to educate great future physicians!
Lori Haxton
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and
Director of Admissions
Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine

>>> woodhill@SCISUN.SCI.CCNY.CUNY.EDU  02/07/02 08:25AM >>>
Thank you Marcel! In looking at the ivyessays.com site I saw that students
who have excellent essays can sell them! How do they judge if an essay is
any good? According to them, 75% of the essays are accepted if the student
has been accepted into a graduate program using said essay! This is the
same mentality of KAPLAN when they hire instructors based on high MCAT
scores rather than on an ability to teach!

Unfortunately this type of service will widen the gap between the
technological haves and have nots. And it certainly does little to add to
my own sense of accomplishment. Why am I sitting here overworked and
underpaid, editing essays as part of my job when then are ninnies out there
making the big bucks assisting those fortunate enough to have money to
burn? I could be home making brownies with my kids! Yeah, I'm feeling
rather sorry for myself today.

Do the medical schools have any thoughts about these services? Lolita

 

"my guess is that the next step in the admissions arms race will be to offer
applicants professional coaching on interviewing effectively."

Well you guessed correctly. I routinely send students to take advantage of
the interview workshops offered by our career center, followed by "mock
interviews" critiqued by their staff. I hope that they are simply honing the
skills of those that could use a little help. So far they haven't turned out
any "Brad Pitts or Denzel Washington's" (pardon my bias).

Medical School Admissions Committees have a tough job, and as Dan keeps
reiterating, the premedical committee letter is there to help separate the
sheep from the goats (that's my mother not you Dan).

Well have a great weekend, now that we all feel so much better about our
jobs. Any good cookie recipes?

Deborah Paris, Director
Premedical Advising Programs
University of Miami, CAS
Ashe 205, P.O. Box 248004
Coral Gables, FL 33124

305-284-5176
305-284-4686 Fax
 

Attitudes toward coaching students for interviews,
helping them with personal statements, etc. depend in
part on the composition of the student body. Some of
us have many students who never interviewed for
anything much more exalted than a job in a
supermarket, if they even had to interview. Many of
us are at colleges where personal statements or
admissions interviews are not required. Many of our
students have little clue to the social skills that
will be demanded of them as physicians because they
come from non-professional families. Many do not
understand why they should have medically-related
experience except that they heard it looks good on the
application. And join clubs.

We are advisors. I take that to mean much more than
handing students a list of courses to take, a
timetable for application, telling them to get
recommendations and hey, good luck kid. You don't just
dump people into high school, college, professional
schools and say sink or swim, you're on your own.

I helped my students with everything including
curriculum advice each semester and what to do when
they were running into academic or personal problems.
They often made the wrong choices about all of these
things. They listened to premed scuttlebutt without
realizing that what is sauce for the goose is not
necessarily sauce for the gander. I proofread
personal statements and suggested where to apply.
Each student is an individual and the same solutions
are not always the same for each.

I own up that I was able to do all these things
because I was faculty, with a reduction in teaching
hours for the advisor job, I had a full-time secretary
who came early and never left early, I lived walking
distance to work, and I had the support of the
Administration. I worked a five day week because I
chose to.

Some of you will understand me and agree, others will
strongly disagree. What is "ethical" behavior in
advising is open to some discussion, although I
recognize there will be limits we can all agree on.
We can expect no unaminity on a job that is
situational, has no universal job description nor any
formal training. The closest we come to that occurs
at NAAHP and regional meetings where we learn from
each other.

Dan Marien

 

In working with students on their personal statements, I feel I'm doing
more than helping them polish up an essay. Advisors are also teachers:
My goal is not just to help students write strong essays, essays that give
the readers a glimpse into who the writers really are, but also to help
the students get to know themselves better, and to become clearer on their
own motivation for becoming doctors.

Many times, after I have probed with a student into why she said this or
that in her essay, she'll say, "Wait! That's not what I meant at all!
THIS is what I mean to say ..." At its very best, the personal statement
is an instrument of personal growth, and helping students with these
statements is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

Camille Ibbotson
Pre-Health and Pre-Law Advisor
Loyola University Chicago

 

This is a window posting to two different list serves who are embracing a
similar concept at the same time - the concept of facilitating personal
growth through essays (Health Professions List Serve) or through medical
training (Family Medicine educators list serve).

This has happened in previous history, and given the nature of people who
advise and teach and serve, it will likely happen again. I have great
confidence in both groups of individuals, their ideals, and their works. I
think that medicine is in dire need of the best minds in both areas.
Clearly Medicine does not know the potential for disaster that looms on the
horizon.

My best efforts are as a facilitator. For those on the Family Medicine
teacher list serve, I would urge you to seek out those who serve as health
professions advisors. I believe working with them will result in medical
schools choosing the kind of students that will make better doctors and
ease many of the current challenges in Family Medicine. For those on the
Health Professions list serve I would urge you to take on yet another task,
the task of responding to those in Family Medicine and admissions
committees who would contact you and involve you more in assessing the
growth potential of candidates for admission to medical school. The
potential for both groups working together is illustrated by a few stellar
efforts, such as those of Rabinowitz where the 1% of graduating medical
students in the Physician Shortage Area Program have resulted in 21% of the
rural family doctors in the state of Pennsylvania. The application is not
limited to improving the numbers of rural physicians, or even to increasing
the numbers of physicians choosing underserved practices. The importance is
to choose and train physicians who serve and grow. They will be the ones
that will care and will keep caring. They will continue to practice
competently and efficiently for the benefit of their patients and our
nation, regardless of their specialty.

The following posting synthesized many of the comments on Family-L about
Competence and Polarity:

From Andre Lijoi < alijoi@WELLSPAN.ORG >

Patients want clinically competent physicians who listen to them and care
about them. I also believe what our patients fear most about a doctor is
that we won't believe them, and how easy it is for us to underestimate how
frightening their illnesses, traumas, surgeries, etc can be to them.

One of my mantras which nauseates the residents sometimes is, "They don't
care how much you know until the know how much you care." We must be
deliberate in teaching our residents how to communicate this at each visit.

They must be able to do it without exhausting themselves emotionally and
must be efficient at it. On the other hand, this type of communication
can't just be an act. There has to be a genuine interest in our patients
welfare expressed. I call this part of GROWING UP IN MEDICINE. It's a
process that takes us from the very idealistic through disillusionment and
often cynicism and eventually to a balanced view of what we can and can't
expect of ourselves, our patients and the system in which we work. It
brings us to the conclusion that it doesn't have to "cost" too much to care
and that is a very valuable gift we give our patients. It also helps us
recognize what a gift the patients give us in their confidence and trust in
us when they ask us to help them.

Of course the patients want us to be knowledgeable and competent as well.
This is more easily taught. However, I wonder if our system of drumming
competence into our learners sometimes drums out the compassion. I also
believe that the current entrepreneurial climate which permeates our
profession goes a long way to drum compassion and empathy out of us, not to
mention the allegiance out of our patients. By "Lijoi, Andre" alijoi@WELLSPAN.ORG


In a similar eloquent way, Camille Ibbotson has also synthesized the health
professions list serve comments about assisting students with personal
statements and essays. Again the major topic is facilitating personal
growth:

In working with students on their personal statements, I feel I'm doing
more than helping them polish up an essay. Advisors are also teachers: My
goal is not just to help students write strong essays, essays that give the
readers a glimpse into who the writers really are, but also to help the
students get to know themselves better, and to become clearer on their own
motivation for becoming doctors.

Many times, after I have probed with a student into why she said this or
that in her essay, she'll say, "Wait! That's not what I meant at all! THIS
is what I mean to say ..." At its very best, the personal statement is AN
INSTRUMENT OF PERSONAL GROWTH, and helping students with these statements is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

Camille Ibbotson
Pre-Health and Pre-Law Advisor
Loyola University Chicago

Note: Bold and Caps are my changes in each posting. I would hope that we
do better in medicine to choose people who have the capacity to GROW UP IN
MEDICINE. After students begin the process, it is my hope that we would do
our best in our individual careers and in Family Medicine as a discipline
to facilitate rather than to retard this process in each student and
resident. I think all of us in both areas would agree that facilitating
personal growth is one of the most rewarding aspects of our careers,
whether it be with students, or patients, or colleagues, or perhaps with
the process of medical education.

Robert Bowman
rcbowman@atsu.edu

Via Dale Dewar in Canada:
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth
concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both." Louis
Brandeis, US Supreme Court Justice, 1923

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