Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Here's hoping that you don't mysteriously find yourself trapped in the Insurmountable Stairwell of Sadness (physically located in Phipps Plaza Mall). If you are in the stairwell, keep pushing deeper and deeper into the bowels of the building into you are expelled into the cold night air. Then, dear friend, run as fast as you can toward the MARTA station and get yourself to The Majestic for a soothing Patty Melt.

Regardless of what or how you celebrate, I wish you the happiest of holidays.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A definition? That's the best argument you have?

As usual, Jon Stewart cuts though the crap to the heart of the matter.

"It seems like semantics is cold comfort when it comes to humanity." Indeed.

Well-played, Jon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winning Friends, Influencing People

Or: Shitting the Bed in Which I Sleep (Title pending outcome.)

Yesterday afternoon, I received a call from the director of admissions at PCOM. She mentioned that she received a note to call me regarding my application. I quickly filled her in on my previous conversation with the admissions office. She explained how the admissions committee designs the requirements and the requirement for a recommendation from the institution that granted your bachelor's degree. She continued to describe how she constantly gets questions on this topic from applicants.
"Well, the letter is intended to get feedback from your pre-med advisor or, failing that, the dean of the college in order to prove that you graduated in good academic standing without disciplinary problems."

"Ma'am, I graduated in 1995 with degrees in liberal arts. The deans who are there now have no idea who I am. I fail to see how a letter from someone who doesn't know me or, much less, have any recollection of me will be of any benefit to you guys."

"That's the requirement as designed by the committee."

"I graduated with honors. Shouldn't my transcripts prove that I graduated in 'good academic standing?' "

"We don't have your transcripts."

"But I submitted my transcripts to AACOMAS* and they're included on my primary application."

"We never get the transcripts. All we receive from AACOMAS are a printout of your classes and grades."

"Would you like me to send you my official transcripts from UGA?"

"No. That's not necessary."

"Well, it seems to me that your requirement is biased against older, non-traditional applicants."
Finally, she agreed to accept the letters that I submitted and consider my application complete for the Philly campus. She explained that the GA campus is governed by a separate admissions committee over which she, the director of admissions, has no authority to deem my application complete. She would, however, make a note on my file to let them know her decision regarding my other app with them.

To recap, here's my simple three-step method of problem resolution:
  1. Phone the office and complain
  2. Tell the admissions director that the requirement they drafted sucks and is biased against you
  3. Offer to send an official copy of information that they currently possess
And that, my friends, is how to make yourself known to the admissions committee and to ensure that a director of admissions scrawls the word "ASSHOLE" across your application in thick magic marker. I can't wait to get their rejection letters.

*AACOMAS is the application service of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine. All applicants to osteopathic medical schools must use this service. In addition to essays that detail your motivation for applying to med school and detailed histories of your life, work, volunteer, and academic career, the application service requires that you submit official transcripts from every college or university you attended. Submitted official transcripts are authenticated and validated against information entered on the application. When complete, this "primary"application is submitted to each school to which you apply and is the basis for their decision to invite you to complete a supplemental application.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Three Cheers for Bureacracy!

After submitting all of my required letters to the schools, I've received interviews from 3/5 of them. I've yet to hear from both PCOM campuses (Philly and GA). Thinking it strange that I've heard nothing, I rang them today to follow up regarding why I've receive no contact from them. Here's a recap:
"Hi. I'm trying to follow up on my application status. I've submitted everything and heard nothing from you guys."

"Is your application complete? Have you submitted everything?"

"That's what I'm trying to find out. It should be complete because I submitted everything via Interfolio last month."

"Hold please."

[Holiday music plays while I'm on hold for a few minutes.]

"Okay, I see that we received a letter from [private women's college] and looks like one other one..."

"That would be from the D.O. that I shadowed Dr. [name withheld]."

"Okay, just let me look and I can tell you who it's from."

"It's from the D.O.; it's the only other letter that I've submitted."

"It's from the D.O., you're right."

"So, you guys have had these for a month, can you tell me what's going on with the application?"

"It's incomplete."

"What? Why? You have all of my letters."

"We don't have a letter from the institution where you got your Bachelor degrees."

"I graduated almost fifteen years ago with liberal arts degrees. I submitted a letter from my post-bacc program that I recently completed. They are much more familiar with my sciences work."

"I'm sorry but we require a recommendation letter from the institution that granted your bachelor's degree."

"You want a letter from UGA by someone that I don't know -- and who certainly doesn't know me -- from a department that has nothing to do with science to write a recommendation letter for me? How will that help anything?"

"That's what we require, sir."

"That doesn't really make any sense. Every other school to which I've applied has happily accepted my letters from my post-bacc program."

"I'm sorry, sir, that's our requirement. Can I take your information and have someone get back to you on this?"

"You better believe it."
Evidently, they don't have too many older applicants. I find it ludicrous that they are holding things up because I didn't submit a letter from my undergrad institution. Also, I think it's pretty shitty that I've received no notification that my application wasn't complete.

By the way, after giving them my information, I've not received a call. I can't wait to continually hound them on this.

Friday, December 05, 2008

One down, more to go

A few hours ago, I returned from my interview in Ft. Lauderdale. Happy to be back home and away from the stress that is med school interview day.

After spending the night waking hourly between 2:00am and 5:00, I finally got up. I showered and shaved. If they only knew how much it pains me to be clean-shaven, they'd give me bonus points. Around 8:30am, I made my way over to campus and found a parking spot near the building. A few minutes before 9:00, I opened the door to the admissions office and was surprised to see about forty people nervously sitting there, staring at everyone who walked into the room. Apparently, they were interviewing other professional schools (optometry, dentistry, etc.) on the same day.

After waiting and waiting in what was becoming a sweltering room, we separated into two large groups of about 20 and began the process. Usually, this involves an admissions counselor speaking about the awesomeness of their school, someone from financial aid to scare the shit out of you about the $150,000 worth of debt you'll incur, and someone to toot your horn about how good you should feel that you're even on campus for an interview. Turns out that they receive about 2300 applications, invite 500 to interview, and accept about 230. So, sure, I guess that I could feel good about almost making it. Problem is, I don't really hope to be "runner-up."

We heard about the clinical education program they run, their awesome rural medicine effort, and their international medical missions. I was on the edge of my seat when they mentioned a three-month elective rotation in Argentina in which the lodging was provided by the school. Pretty nifty, I thought.

The Interview
After leaving the initial meeting, we were taken to meet our interviewers. I met with two faculty members who were tasked with interviewing me in order to present an evaluation to the admission committee. Per the schedule, I was supposed to interview with them for nearly an hour. Turns out that after waiting for 40 minutes, we chatted for about 15, and then I was on my way. The conversation was pleasant but I'm still trying to process how I felt about it. I was not asked directly about any of my background or anything about the interesting things I've done. Essentially, I got another "tell us how you got here" approaches. This was followed by a "why osteopathic medicine?," and "do you think you'll be able to manage the study load of medical school?" question. My reactions to all of these inquiries were, simply, to curse a lot, insinuate that the interviewers were racist and sexist, and throw my chair across the room. Personally, I think it's going to work out well for me.

Honestly, though, I felt like they weren't all that well prepared for me or - and here's where the neurotic applicant mindset takes root - that they'd already formed an opinion of me prior to my arrival in the room for the interview. What opinion they held escapes me. If they were biased against me, I think I would've detected a little antagonism. If they were biased in my favor, could they not have offered an innocent high-five or a terrorist fist bump? Anyway, I might be over thinking it a little bit. The point is that I could've phoned in for a fifteen minute interview and saved the several hundred dollars that it took to get my ass down there.

The Jackass
During these things, there is always at least one person who does their best to show off their pedigree. Usually, this is either in the form of bragging about an MCAT score, discussing their awesome research, detailing how many interviews they have, loudly asking overly detailed questions or raising points for the purpose of being noticed. This one guy from "suburban New Jersey" was this jackass. Not only did he have a voice that would make Fran Drescher nauseaous, he never shut his pie hole during the entire lunch session. He made it a point to loudly contradict or question everything that the two female 1st year students said during lunch. Keep in mind that they're joining us, in part to evaluate us, but, most likely, for a free lunch. Still everything they said was challenged or met by a overly-detailed follow-up question. Example:
"This chicken wrap is tasty. I love the tomato tortilla." [Takes bite of sandwich.]
"Actually, it's a sun-dried tomato tortilla. A tomato tortilla has a different hue."
"Umm, okay." [Rolls eyes, continues eating.]
"C'mon, you have to know the difference. You can also tell by the different texture it has."
"Umm, okay." [Fastens rope to ceiling, affixes noose to own neck, steps out of chair.]
The Dean
After lunch and an endless wait for someone to tell us something about what was going on, the Dean of the college stopped in for a conversation. If I were the school, I definitely would've put him on stage early in the day. He was enthusiastic and gregarious; a perfect salve for the rash of obsessive/compulsive, Type A applicants. (For the record, I'm not nearly as OCD or Type A as the majority of these folks. I'm quietly confident not loud and boastful.) To top it off, the guy wears quite the mustache and, I might add, he effing nails it. Personally, I'd like to believe that he enters any room though a cloud of white smoke that immediately follows a magician's explosion. Ideally, he'd be out of breath and muttering about leaving the damsel bound in rope on the railroad tracks in the desert with no hopes of the hero liberating her before the 3:10 passed.

It's so much better in person.

His talk with us was rambling but very engaging. Essentially, it was this: don't give up on your dream of being a doctor. If someone is trying to talk you out of going to medical school, don't listen to them. Also, if someone is trying to talk you into going to medical school, don't do it. It must be your dream to pursue for your own reasons.

Honestly, it was nice to have someone in his position eliminate a lot of the bullshit that gets thrown at you during these things. It was pretty refreshing to witness that degree of candor. He's a friendly, outgoing guy with a fascinating life history.

We were told to expect a decision by the DEC 17th or so. If accepted, we have 30 days to pay a deposit to hold a place in class. The good thing (sic) is that my other interviews (WA and CA) are just on the other side of a 30-day window. :(

While waiting in the airport for my flight, I had a couple of beers with one of the guys from the interview who was from Boston. It's nice to talk about the Sox and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." For the record, I think that Sunny has a disproportionately loyal following in New England.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ready, Set...

I'm in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Tomorrow, I'm interviewing at the local Osteopathic medical school for a spot in their incoming class. So, I'm a bit anxious and excited and hopeful. This South Florida thing is sort of strange. It's pretty flat and strip-mallish. The thing is that I'm not in Lauderdale proper but Davie which is akin to telling people you're in Atlanta but really hanging out in Alpharetta: close but not quite the same.

Anywho, I interview for most of the day tomorrow. Hopefully, all will go well. I've already taped a note to the door tomorrow morning reminding me to wear pants. Yep, that should do it.

More later.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Anyone else heard of or played Auditorium? Check it out; it's strangely relaxing.

Monday, December 01, 2008

School Updates

Well, I have interviews with at least two D.O. schools. Later this week, I'll head to Ft. Lauderdale for my first D.O. interview. In February, I'll head out to the San Francisco area for another one.

In the meantime, I'm waiting to hear from schools in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Yakima, WA. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I need at least one stinking offer of acceptance.