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Keepsake 2011 速

a guide for minority science students




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keepsake 2011 | 2

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contents medicine

future doctors start here................. 5 allopathic vs. osteopathic.................6 what doctors earn............................. 7

what you need to do to prepare....... 7

premed timeline............................... 8-9

the mcat...............................................8

new physician profile: roberto silva, md...............................14

application process overview......... 16 postbaccalaureate programs..........18

recommendation letters.................. 19

interviews..........................................20 med student profile: anthony quinn..................................21

finding the funds............................. 22 scholarships & loan repayment programs........................................... 24 financial aid resources.................... 28 med student resources..................... 28


future dentists start here................31 what dentists earn........................... 32 the path to dentistry.........................33

dental school timeline..................... 34 the application process.................... 35 the dat................................................ 36

help paying for school..................... 37 dentistry resources.......................... 37 new dentist profile: gwen werner, dmd........................... 38

special feature

dr. john ruffin on the fourth annual health disparities conference.........................................40

On the Cover: Model: Darius Riley, Eastside College Preparatory School, Palo Alto, CA Photographer: Julie Caskey 3 | keepsake 2011

Founded in 1789, the same year the U.S. Constitution took effect, Georgetown is the nation’s oldest Catholic university. The vision of Georgetown founder John Carroll, S.J., still guides the university in its commitment to Catholic, Jesuit education, with respect for diversity and open dialogue in the pursuit of truth.

cura personalis G

Guided by the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis, care of the whole person, Georgetown University School of Medicine will educate a diverse student body, in an integrated way, to become knowledgeable, ethical, skillful, and compassionate physicians and biomedical sceintists who are dedicated to the care of others and health needs of our society. The University was founded on the principle that serious and sustained discourse among people of different faiths, cultures, and beliefs promotes intellectual, ethical and spiritual understanding. Consistent with this principle, the School of Medicine expects faculty, staff and students to respect and embrace cultural, ethnic, racial, and all dimensions of diversity in a learning environment that understands and includes the varied health care needs and growing diversity of the populations we serve.




Future Doctors Start Here.

What’s “hot?” What’s in? These days, fashion and technology move faster than the time it took you to turn to this page. But there’s one human need that remains the same, now more than ever: Doctors. Doctors hold high respect within our communities, and for good reason. We go to them for understanding and healing, for guidance, and trust. A doctor may take off her lab coat at 6 p.m., but

her responsibilities continue 24/7. And in return? The community gives her respect and esteem in endless supply. (A good salary helps very nicely, too.)

Like most efforts that deliver great reward, getting into medical school and then navigating

the rapidly changing world of medicine is hard work—very hard work. But you can do it, if you’re ready for the challenge.

What do you need to be a doctor? Integrity, curiosity, and modesty. Compassion. Dedication.

Determination. Sacrifice, and stamina. And last but not least: Faith in yourself, along with a strong commitment to the health and well-being of people (and never forget that they are people, just like you).

a world of opportunity

The medical field offers more professional opportunities than practically

any other. When you’re a doctor, you work in a constantly changing envi-

ronment where no two days are ever alike. And the satisfaction you can get

from helping people—in rural clinics, in urban hospitals, in schools—is unmatched.

Primary care physicians are generally the main contacts for people who

need health care, and they are trained to work with a broad range of health

problems. Specialists, on the other hand, work with a particular part of the

body: oncologists study and treat cancer, dermatologists study and treat the

skin, and general internists treat the internal organs.

Doctors can also be found outside traditional patient care, doing research at

pharmaceutical companies, working on Capitol Hill for health reform, teach-

ing the next generation of doctors at universities. And doctors work behind the

scenes, at many levels within the government. Can you imagine stitching up a

few high-ranking politicians after an informal basketball game?

5 | keepsake 2011

university of nebraska

allopathic vs. osteopathic

There are two types of physicians: the MD, who practices allopathic (also called conventional) medicine; and the DO, who practices osteopathic

medicine. Both types of physicians complete medical school programs,

and both are licensed to practice medicine and prescribe medications in all 50 states.

Approximately one in five medical students in the United States is

studying to become an osteopathic physician. Osteopathic students receive the same comprehensive training as allopathic students. The main

difference between them is that osteopathic students receive additional training in muscular and skeletal manipulation, osteopathic philosophy and principles, and alternative forms of treatment such as holistic treatment and massage therapy. Other similarities: ÆÆBoth DOs and MDs complete four years of medical school. ÆÆBoth can choose to practice in a specialty areas of medicine, such as surgery or obstetrics, after completing a residency program that requires an additional two to six years. ÆÆBoth must pass state licensing examinations. ÆÆBoth practice in fully accredited and licensed health care facilities. Why become an osteopath? Osteopathic physicians tend to focus on

preventive health care, with a greater focus on the musculoskeletal system

and how an injury or illness in one

Approximately one in five medical students in the United States is studying to become an osteopathic physician.

area can affect another. It has been said that osteopaths focus on treating a patient, not a disease.

An osteopathic physician’s train-

ing focuses on looking at the “whole person,” including home and en-

vironmental factors that might be contributing to the person’s health.

More than half of all osteopathic

physicians practice in primary care areas such as pediatrics, family practice,

obstetrics and gynecology, and internal medicine. And, although osteopathic physicians represent only five percent of all U.S. physicians, they handle approximately 10 percent of all primary care visits.

You’ll Make A Difference

Ethnic diversity is one of our country’s many strengths, and it’s the medical profession’s job to catch up. Whites make up almost 61 percent of the nation’s 77,722 medical students, while Asians comprise 22 percent. Only 7 percent are African American, and about 8 percent are Hispanic. But the U.S. needs doctors of all ethnicities, and from all backgrounds, to improve our understanding of “minority” patients and their specific health issues and needs.

how you can help health care and your patients: improved access

teopathic Medicine, overall osteopathic student enrollment in the U.S. has in-

Studies show that minority physicians are more likely to treat minority patients and indigent patients and to practice in underserved communities.

also grown, from three percent in 1969 to just over 50 percent in 2010. The num-

increased patient satisfaction

According to a 2010 study by the American Association of Colleges of Os-

creased more than nine times over the last 40 years. Female enrollment has ber of applicants to osteopathic medical schools also set a new record in the 2009–10 application cycle—13,147, up from 6,324 in 2003.

northeastern ohio universities colleges of medicine

Studies also indicate that when minority patients can select a health care professional, they are more likely to choose someone of their own racial and ethnic background. Relationships between patients and physicians of the same race or ethnic background also are characterized by higher levels of trust, respect, and the increased likelihood that patients will recommend their physician to others.

ensuring culturally competent care

The nation needs a culturally competent health care workforce—that is, one with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors required to provide the best care to a diverse population. Exposure to racial and ethnic diversity in medical school contributes importantly to the cultural competence of all of tomorrow’s doctors, and diversity in the physician workforce ensures that the health care system is representative of the nation’s population and responsive to its health care needs.

what you need to do to prepare

Medical school admissions are very competitive. There are 133 medical

schools in the U.S., and only about one-half of those who apply are accepted.

What’s the difference between you and your competitors? If you’re an ex-

tremely good student, you’ll have a much better chance of being accepted if you have high GPA and MCAT scores. Put all your effort into the elements

you can control (how much you study) instead of the ones you can’t (having a parent on the admissions committee).

Even better, your uniqueness matters. Today, demographics and increas-

ing attention to diversity have a significant impact on who is being accept-

ed to medical school. No school wants every one of its students to be white

male biology majors with the exact same MCAT scores. Rather, they want to create a mix of students who will

create a strong class as a whole. This means women and men, sci-

ence and nonscience majors, and

people of all ethnicities.

If you don’t make it into a par-

ticular school, don’t take it personally. Just think of it this way: Each

school is picking a team, and your

“position” this year may already be

what doctors earn

Are you going into medicine for the money? Then stop


Medical school takes four years to

Today, demographics and increasing attention to diversity have a significant impact on who is being accepted to medical school.

complete. After a student’s second

reading right now and start working on a cool iPhone app.

year in medical school, he or she takes the United States Medical Licensing

tor. Physician and surgeon salaries are among the highest

and skills in providing effective patient care.

$185,000 a year, while physicians in a medical specialty

first two years of medical school. You must pass “Step 1” in order to graduate

such as type of practice, whether or not you’re self-em-

taking classes and on rotations in hospitals, where you get hands-on medical

Jokes aside, you can earn a very good salary as a doc-

of any occupation. Primary care physicians make about

Examination® (USMLE), a three-part exam that assesses a physician’s abilities The first test, USMLE Step 1, covers all basic-sciences material taught in the

earn about $340,000. Salaries vary according to factors

to years three and four. The third and fourth years of medical school are spent

ployed (if you have your own practice), geographic region,

experience and observe other doctors.

skill, personality, and professional reputation.

Job opportunities are expected to be very good in the

next 10 years, as a large percentage of physicians and surgeons are expected to retire. Job prospects are also very good for doctors working in specialties that affect our rapidly changing and aging population, such as breast cancer and heart disease.

At this point, students must pass Step 2, which assesses your medical knowl-

edge, patient skills, and understanding of clinical science. Step 2 has two parts: clinical knowledge, a multiple-choice exam that tests your clinical knowledge; and clinical skills, which uses real-life patients to test your ability to work with patients and colleagues.

After four years in medical school, you graduate with a doctor of

medicine degree (MD). However, you still cannot practice medi-

cine! Your next step is to spend three to eight years in a residency program, depending on which medical specialty you

want to pursue. For example, family physicians spend three years in residency, while urologists and cardiovascular surgeons spend five.

During your residency, you must pass Step 3 in order

to complete the full USMLE examination. Step 3 is a

final assessment of your ability to deliver effective medical care in an independent setting.

After you’ve passed Step 3, you may then de-

cide to become highly specialized in a particular field (such as gastroenterology, which is

a subspecialty of pediatrics and of internal medicine). To do this, you’ll need to complete

more training.

7 | keepsake 2011

premed timeline freshman year

ÆÆ Schedule meeting with the prehealth advisor. ÆÆ Join a premed club to hear useful talks, meet others with common interests.

ÆÆ Begin working on prerequisite courses, especially biology. ÆÆ Research majors.

ÆÆ Develop good study habits!

ÆÆ Get some clinical experience by volunteering or shadowing a health professional. ÆÆ Talk to advisor about research.

ÆÆ Find healthy ways to relax and relieve stress.

the mcat®

sophomore year

ÆÆ Continue taking premed requisite courses: chemistry, physics, math and English. ÆÆ Select a major.

ÆÆ Meet with prehealth advisor.

ÆÆ Remain active in premed club.

ÆÆ Cultivate relationships with professors.

ÆÆ Pursue research through volunteering in a lab or for academic credit.

ÆÆ Get more clinical experience—volunteer, paid and/or shadow.

ÆÆ Maintain strong GPA or consult with major or prehealth advisor for resources and strategies to improve GPA.

ÆÆ Look for summer volunteer/work/research opportunities; see your career counselor for internship options. Also try the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program It’s a free (including housing and meals) six-week summer medical and dental school preparatory program that offers eligible students intensive and personalized medical and dental school preparation. ÆÆ Maintain fun, enjoyable extracurricular activities.

well—very well—in school. Not only will you get a good

The Medical College Admission Test, known as the MCAT, is the entrance exam required by almost all medical schools in the United States and Canada.

Designed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the

MCAT tests a student’s knowledge of subjects within the biological and

physical sciences, and also assesses writing and critical thinking skills. The MCAT is administered multiple times throughout the year (from late January through early September), and is about five and a half hours long. You must preregister online. The registration fee is $235, but can be reduced to $85 through the AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program (FAP) if you qualify. Complete information is available at

Ideally, you should plan to take the MCAT within the same year that you

GPA, you’ll also pave your own road to good MCAT scores.

The MCAT contains four sections: verbal reasoning,

physical sciences, biological sciences, and writing sample. Verbal reasoning presents a series of passages that cover

the social and natural sciences and the humanities, and tests your reasoning skills based on that text. Physical

sciences and biological sciences contain questions on biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics.

Writing sample assesses your ability to develop a wellwritten, well-organized essay.

Preparation is key to scoring well on the MCAT, and there

will apply to medical school. So, if you’re planning to apply to medical school

are two ways to prepare: pay to take a test preparation

Different medical schools have different application deadlines, so be sure

completed two or three years of undergraduate study and

which you’re applying.

you begin either method, be sure to review all class notes,

in 2012 (for entrance in 2013), you should also take the MCAT during 2012.

course, or study on your own. Most likely, you’ve already

to choose an MCAT test date that meets the requirements of the school(s) to

have taken the required course work in the sciences. Before

Medical schools consider

the MCAT and your GPA as two

Test preparation companies such as Kaplan and The

major factors in determining

Princeton Review can be very helpful if you can fit them into

doors, so knowledge and prep-

and classroom-based learning, as well as private tutoring.

of the questions on the MCAT

MCAT review books, which have study material and

acceptance. Good scores open

aration are essential. Many

your budget. Both offer a wide variety of options in online

If you want to study on your own, check out their

can be answered from the

full-length practice versions of MCAT exams. You can

required premed courses: bi-

krackers is another popular publisher.) Kaplan also of-

information covered in the ology, general chemistry, or-

ganic chemistry, and physics.

Invest your time now. Sac-

university of nebraska

outlines, and textbooks that you have from those courses.

rifice nights out with your

friends so that you can do

find these books online at a wide range of prices. (Exam-

fers videos and study materials that you can download

to a mobile device or smartphone. Last but not least, the AAMC has its own practice MCAT exams, books, and guides—plus lots of free information and resources— available on its website.

junior year

senior year

ÆÆ Finish science prereqs before studying for MCAT.

ÆÆ Make sure you have fulfilled requirements for your major, core, and for medical school.


ÆÆ Consider taking some of the following: biochemistry, physiology, genetics, molecular biology, English lit. ÆÆ Continue pursuing research opportunities.

ÆÆ Become a leader in a club or volunteer organization. ÆÆ Get letters of recommendation from professors you have a relationship with.

(Interview/Acceptance!) ÆÆ Have fun.

ÆÆ Become a leader in a club or volunteer organization. ÆÆ Get more clinical experience. ÆÆ Do research.

ÆÆ Take spring or early summer MCAT if applying this year, any date if applying next year. Register early!

ÆÆ Consider taking some of the following courses: math and English prerequisites, bioethics, biochemistry, Spanish, etc.

ÆÆ Start work on AMCAS personal essay (and don’t underestimate its importance).

ÆÆ Find scholarships.

ÆÆ MCAT prep course or study on your own?

ÆÆ Research medical schools in AAMC’s Medical School Admission Requirements ( ÆÆ Submit AMCAS in summer.

ÆÆ Look for summer volunteer/work/internship/research opportunities.

ÆÆ Attend your prehealth club meetings, read, and discuss health care issues.

ÆÆ Turn in secondary applications and have recommendation letters sent from your file.

ÆÆ Check out information on financing medical school on

ÆÆ Do a video practice interview; recruit a friend to record with a handheld or even flip phone camera. ÆÆ Interview at medical schools.

ÆÆ Along with applying, make sure you are developing “Plan B” in case you are not accepted this time.

how to prepare for the mcat

While there is no one way to prepare for the MCAT, your study plan should begin at least three months before your chosen exam date. Here’s an outline you might want to revise to fit your situation:

ÆÆGet a copy of The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam (available through bookstores and at ÆÆRead and understand the MCAT Essentials (download the free PDF at mcat/preparing/). ÆÆRead “Preparing for the MCAT Exam” at www.aamc. org/students/applying/mcat/. ÆÆMake a note of any material that is unfamiliar to you or that you haven’t studied recently. Æ ÆReview science topics with relevant course materials such as textbooks, course outlines, and notes. ÆÆTake the MCAT practice tests, which are books of practice tests published by companies such as Kaplan, and Simon and Schuster. You can use the diagnostic reports in the online tests to identify topics and skills that need additional review. ÆÆIf your test pace is slow, take advantage of any services your college offers to help improve reading speed and comprehension. ÆÆDo you have a study partner? Each of you can use your strengths to help the other address areas of weakness. ÆÆAvoid last-minute “cramming.” ÆÆMake sure to get enough sleep, food, and exercise, especially in the days before the test.

northeastern ohio universities colleges of medicine AAMC Fee Assistance Program

The AAMC Fee Assistance Program (FAP) helps individuals who would be unable to take the MCAT—or apply to medical schools that use the AMCAS application—without financial assistance. Note that FAP does not offer retroactive fee assistance, so be sure you get the decision on your FAP application before you pay the MCAT registration fee. Go to for information on eligibility, deadlines, and instructions on how to apply online. NOTE: FAP eligibility decisions are based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s poverty guidelines. For the 2010 calendar year, applicants whose total family income is 300 percent or less of the poverty level for their family size are eligible for fee assistance.

9 | keepsake 2011

Student Programs at Harvard Medical School Boston, Massachusetts

VISITING RESEARCH INTERNSHIP PROGRAM (VRIP) Sponsored by the Harvard Catalyst Program for Faculty Development and Diversity, VRIP is an 8-week mentored summer research program open to 1st and 2nd year U.S. medical students, particularly underrepresented minority and/or disadvantaged individuals from accredited U.S. medical schools. VRIP is designed to enrich medical students’ interest in research and health-related careers, particularly clinical/translational research careers. VRIP offers students housing as well as a stipend and transportation reimbursement for travel to and from Boston. Applicants must be U.S. Citizens or U.S. Noncitizen Nationals or Permanent Residents of U.S.

SUMMER CLINICAL AND TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH PROGRAM (SCTRP) Sponsored by the Harvard Catalyst Program for Faculty Development and Diversity, SCTRP is a 10-week mentored summer research program designed to enrich students’ understanding of and interest in pursuing clinical and/or translational research, as well as to increase underrepresented minority and disadvantaged college student exposure to clinical/ translational research. College sophomores, juniors and seniors are eligible to apply, particularly those attending Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) and Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) NIHfunded institutions, historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and/or Tribal Colleges with baccalaureate degree programs, and/or alumni of the Harvard Medical School Minority Faculty Development Program and/or the Biomedical Science Careers Program. SCTRP offers students housing as well as a stipend and transportation reimbursement for travel to and from Boston. Applicants must be U.S. Citizens or U.S. Noncitizen Nationals or Permanent Residents of U.S. For more information please contact: Program Director: Vera Yanovsky, Program Coordinator Joan Y. Reede, MD, MPH, MBA Phone: 617-432-1892 Dean for Diversity and Community Partnership E-mail: Associate Professor of Medicine Web Site: Harvard Medical School


Physician Assistant Studies Physical Therapy Occupational Therapy Biomedical Sciences

Cardiovascular Science/ Perfusion Podiatric Medicine

Nurse Anesthesia Clinical Psychology Health Science




Apply to our Summ The first step toward be

Greg Hill, D.O. (‘86) Orthopedic Surgery/Hand & Upper Extremities Summa Western Reserve Physicians, Inc. Cuyahoga Falls, OH

Our nation’s population is becoming increasingly diverse. Join us in our commitment to training culturally competent physicians. For the past ten years, more than 24% of our gr aduates have been minorities. Last year, 26% of the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine’s entering class was comprised of minority students from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

www. ouc

OU-COM’s preprofessional programs are designed to assist economically and educationally disadvantaged students with preparation for and access to medical school. Call us.

OU-COM Office of Admissions (800) 345-1560 Centers for Osteopathic Research and Education (740) 593-2189

er Scholars Program Michelle Moreno, D.O. (‘o8)

coming a great physician Summer Scholars Program

Preparation to become a stronger candidate for medical school “Participating in Summer Scholars gave me a fir sthand view of what it would tak e to succeed in medical school; I learned to adapt to a faster pace of learning and how to manage my time efficiently. Summer Scholars pushed me to my limits and proved that I did have what it would take to succeed in medical school.” Michelle Moreno, D.O, (‘o8), Family Medicine Resident Affinity Medical Center, Massillon, OH

Tyree Winters, D.O. (‘07)

Postbaccalaureate and Prematriculation Programs

Preparation for the first year of medical school, which is typically the toughest

“ The programs offered by OU-COM, such as the Postbaccalaureate and Prematriculation programs, helped me to develop lasting mentor/ mentee relationships with many osteopathic physicians and medical students. These relationships encouraged and supported me as I continued toward my goal of becoming an osteopathic physician. ”

Pre- and Postdoctoral Training


Robert Polite, D.O. (‘99)

Tyree Winters, D.O, (‘o7), Pediatrics Care + Pediatrics at Crossgates, Brandon, MS

Outstanding training from the Centers for Osteopathic Resear ch and Education (CORE), a consor tium of more than 25 urban and community teaching hospitals “ The CORE system provided great support as I enter ed my clinical rotations. The academics were excellent and I was given appr opriate responsibility as I progressed in my medical education. The CORE hospitals offered me a broad range of hands-on experience at all levels of my training. The CORE system and OU-COM pr ovided everything I needed to succeed as a medical student at every step along my path.”


Robert Polite, D.O. (’99), Family Medicine/Addiction Medicine Polite Care, Columbus, OH

w w w. o u c o m . o h i o u . e d u

fresh insights  from a new doctor roberto silva, md

Med School University Of New Mexico Family Medicine Residency University Of Colorado, Denver Where Is He Now? Private Practice, Alamosa, Co Were you one of those kids who always dreamed of being a doctor?

In high school, I was already interested in science—biology, physics,

and anthropology mostly—but I certainly didn’t expect anything to come of it. It might help people to know that I was not a very “involved” high school student; I just kind of got by. I got average grades and didn’t exactly have big plans as I was leaving high school.

When I decided to go to college—my older brothers and sisters had

gone to college, but we’re still all in the first generation to do so—I

kind of thought, “Well, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to go all the way here; I’m going to pick the most challenging thing.”

What caused that shift from being a “whatever” high school student to being committed?

I can pretty much pinpoint it to one experience. I had just graduated from high school and I went to the University of New Mexico campus

to go apply for a job to do painting for them around the school. But, as luck would have it, I went to the wrong place: I went to the admissions office rather than the employment office.

I ended up talking to someone in the financial aid office who asked me if

I was going to go to college, and whether I had taken the ACT test. When I told her what I scored, she said, “Didn’t you know that that score makes you eligible for a scholarship?” So I went there to apply for a job to paint dorms, and I left with a full scholarship to college.

That was when I said, “Now I’m going to make the most of this.” A

side note: I still got the job painting dorms, and did that for a while in undergrad.

When did being a doctor start to appeal to you?

It wasn’t until later in college actually. Initially, I thought I would be a high school science teacher. I didn’t jump right into the life

sciences, but along the way, I found my way to some premed club

meetings and was intrigued by the challenge of getting into medi-

cal school. Plus, of course, the career itself seemed exciting, too. Before that, I really had no idea what a doctor did.

keepsake 2011 | 14

Dr. Roberto Silva

Did you encounter any resistance to your dream?

up in family medicine. I thought I’d be specialist of one

or jealous. They would say things like, “Oh, you’ll get in, because you’re His-

me, but after doing training in pathology (another area

cause I wanted to get in because of my good grades and my ac-

interacting with patients—not just their cells or their

was another driving force behind my need to excel: I pushed to

toward the end of medical school, so I started to think

I definitely experienced some comments from other students who were upset

kind or another or a researcher; I still had that scientist in

panic and they need more Hispanic doctors.” It used to make me so upset be-

I was interested in), I discovered that I actually enjoyed

complishments, not because of a quota or something. So, that

lab tests or their autopsy. Also, my wife and I had a baby

get even better grades so that no one could tell me I only got in

“Maybe I don’t want to be a surgeon that is on call every

because I was Hispanic.

other night forever.”

Who were your mentors or your support system?

What are you practicing now?

a good homecooked meal or ask my older siblings for advice.

tor [chuckles] that gets to do just about everything. I deliv-

no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know what classes to take.

blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes (bread-and-

would say, “You should work in a lab.” I’d go start knocking on

that I probably wouldn’t get to do if I was working in the

their lab. I got lucky along the way and ran into some very nice

teaching here. The residents come out here and see what

the best advice I got was above all, to get good grades. You can

I’m in a small family medicine practice in rural Colorado.

My family, mostly. It was great to be able to go home and get

It’s a lot of fun, because I can still be an old-fashioned doc-

As far as academic mentoring, when I look back, I realize I had

er a lot of babies and deal with chronic illnesses like high

I’d hear, “You should volunteer at an E.R.,” so I’d go do it. People

butter type of work). I get to do a lot of procedures here

doors of professors and asking if I could wash their dishes in

city that had lots of specialists. I also do a good amount of

academic folks who pointed me in the right direction. Probably

it’s like to be a rural doctor.

do volunteer work, work in the E.R. and work in the whatever,

What drew you to the small-town setting?

but if you want medical schools to look at your application, you have to have good grades.

What was the most challenging thing about applying to med school?

Being the first person in my family going anywhere near the

I knew that I would be able to carve out my own practice

and really do whatever I wanted to do here. Also, I grew up

in a small town, so I’m used to the pace. It’s nice to drive two minutes to work instead of 40.

time to figure all those things out. Also, I worked one or two jobs

Now that you’ve been in practice for a few years, what do you love about being a doctor?

cal school as well), so it was hard to do everything at once.

It’s hard work. But I get to come to work every day and

What kind of work did you do?

still been doing the painting at the school and probably

direction of a medical career, I was just clueless about the process. “What’s the MCAT? What’s an interview?” It took a lot of

while going to school full-time (I worked all four years of medi-

I love that I’ve been able to pick my own career. It’s busy.

take care of people and do fun procedures. I could have

I did jobs on campus and I also worked on an organ and tissue

would be thinking, “Darn it, I should have tried to go to

planes and help the team recover tissues for transplants. I worked for a while

it. I’ve been able to carve out my own niche with a career

donor recovery team. I’d fly around New Mexico in little air-

at the medical examiner’s office at the university and did autopsy work at

med school or something.” But instead, I’m saying, “I did I love.”

some of the local hospitals.

What was it like to be in medical school?

It was certainly very difficult, but once I was in, it was a big load off my back.

Plus, medical school was so much more fun than college was. I was where I

wanted to be, and I was learning the things I wanted to learn. I wasn’t having

to take a course that was required because it was a prerequisite. I was learning about medicine, which is what I wanted to do.

Did you go to medical school with National Health Service Corps (NHSC) or any kind of loan repayment program?

No, I just took out a bunch of loans. Now that I’m out of residency however, I’ve been involved with a loan repayment program.

Did you know going into medical school that you’d be a primary care doctor?

Absolutely, not! In fact, I would have said you’re crazy if at any time in the

Tips from Dr. Silva

ÆÆStudy hard, keep good grades: Good grades alone will not get you into med school, but a low GPA can keep you out. ÆÆFind mentors early: teachers, med students, physicians. ÆÆExperience the real world: don’t get too much med school tunnel vision; don’t just take biochem classes for four years. Take history courses, take odd jobs, enjoy your family. ÆÆDo not give up! I had the “I don’t belong here” feeling many times. Med school is NOT just for geniuses, wealthy students, and doctors’ kids!

first two years of med school you would have said to me that I would end

15 | keepsake 2011

application process overview

Choosing among all the schools and programs that

you’re considering can be daunting, so compare require-

Starting Early >

ments and offerings, and narrow down your list as best

rolling basis. This means that schools fill seats in their classes based on who

ÆÆDo you prefer large lecture classes or small-group discussions? Most schools offer some of both, as well as the opportunity for independent study. Ask your premedical advisor about what your potential schools offer.

Unlike college and university admissions, medical school spots are filled on a completes their applications first. For example, if you complete your primary application in June, submit your secondary application in September, and interview in October, you could get in by December.

However, if you finish your primary application in late July, send your sec-

ondary in November, and interview in February, there could only be 20 seats left by the time you apply. Instead of competing for one of 145 seats, you’re now competing for one of 20. Don’t let this happen to you! Start early.

Where to Apply >

When considering a medical school, ask yourself: If this was the only school

you got into, would you still go? If your answer is “yes,” then apply. If it’s “Probably not,” you may want to reconsider that choice.

Choose five or six schools that

you’d really like to attend. They

Medical Schools with a High Percentage of Underrepresented Minorities

should also be schools that you have

a reasonable chance of getting into.

Next, add three “safety” schools that you wouldn’t mind going to. Finally, add three “dream” schools (because you just never know).

Howard University

National ranking and “Top Ten”

Louisiana State University

lists are fine. But what’s most important is to pinpoint exactly what you

Meharry Medical College

Morehouse School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles

value about your education. Minority medical students often face obstacles that are unique to their cul-

ture—being responsible for a family

University of Illinois

at a young age, significant financial concerns—that upper- and middle-

University of South Florida

University of Texas, Galveston University of Texas, Houston

class white students may encounter much less.

Because of this, you might consid-

er applying to a medical school that has a high minority enrollment and

has programs and resources in place to recruit minority students. For example, African-American students may find that historically black colleges or universities can provide not only an excellent education, but also a deep range of cultural understanding.

If you can’t find diversity information on a particular school you’re inter-

ested in (and it should be available, from the AAMC as well as from the school

itself), don’t be afraid to ask. “How important is racial

diversity to your school?” “What kind of sup-

port services do you have for minority

students?” You may want to speak to currently enrolled students

with similar ethnic backgrounds, to get a first-

hand account of what

the school is like.

keepsake 2011 | 16

as you can. You can also ask yourself specific questions:

ÆÆDo you want early experience in clinical work? Traditionally, medical school offers classroom work in the first two years, followed by clinical work in the third and fourth years. Some schools, however, involve students in clinical work as early as the first year. ÆÆIs the school’s grading scale important to you? You might want to consider how much of your potential school’s coursework is pass-fail and how much is based on the standard letter-grading system.

Before You Apply: Tips on Filling Out Your Application

ÆÆRequest a copy of the official transcript from each school you attended after high school, and confirm that your grades are correct. Professors have made mistakes before! ÆÆUse your transcript(s) to help you fill out your AMCAS or AACOMAS application. You’ll be asked to enter information about each and every course that you enrolled in after high school. ÆÆWrite class names exactly as they appear on your transcript. The AMCAS will check your transcripts against what you’ve written. If they can’t figure out a class, costly delays will occur. Make the process easy for them. ÆÆPrepare your information in advance. You will be asked to supply detailed academic, work, and personal information such as coursework details, work hours per week, and academic dates of attendance. Plan to create a full “sample” version of your application to help you fill out the final online application more easily.

the amcas and aacomas primary applications

Most medical schools in the U.S. belong to the Association

of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). And fortunately,

all of these AAMC schools accept one centralized application, which you’ll register for and complete online through

the American Medical College Applications Service® (AMCAS®). Once your application is complete, AMCAS, which is sponsored by the AAMC, sends your information to all the schools you request.

For entrance to osteopathic medical schools, the pro-

cess is the same. The Association of American Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOMAS®) also has an online

application service. (Osteopathic schools in Texas are an exception; see below for more information.)

Using the AMCAS or AACOMAS online application,

you can apply to as many AMCAS or AACOMAS medical schools as you wish. The AMCAS application cost is based

on how many schools you apply to. Fee waivers are available through both services.

AMCAS and AACOMAS follow set deadlines, so pro-

crastinators beware! Both applications generally contain the same sections: personal information, work/activities

history, letters of evaluation, personal essays, coursework history, and test scores.

When filling out the work/activities section, be sure

to spotlight those activities and honors that are most

important to you, and the ones that you hope will distinguish your application. List them in descending order of

priority. You may also want to highlight health-related activities, public service work, and science or medically related work experience.

secondary application

After each medical school has reviewed your information, they then decide whether or not to invite you to sub-

mit a secondary application. This application includes submitting a statement of authenticity (your signed

confirmation that all of your information is true and correct), another application fee, and letters of recom-

mendation, including letters from your instructors. Once they’ve reviewed your secondary application, they’ll then decide whether to offer you an interview.

Non-AMCAS Schools and Texas Medical Schools

Monique Cola (standing, right), assistant professor of neurology, works with medical students at Tulane School of Medicine in her Neuroanatomy Laboratory class.

For non-AMCAS schools, you will need to contact each one and apply individually. You can use the application that the school provides, or use a nonAMCAS application service. If you are applying to a medical school in Texas, you’ll need to use their application service: the Texas Medical and Dental Schools Application Service (TMDSAS). Application fees, fee waivers, and deadlines vary from school to school.

17 | keepsake 2011

postbaccalaureate programs

university of pennsylvania

Some schools have a formal postbaccalaureate premedical program for students who are

trying to enter medical school after earning their baccalaureate degree. Postbaccalaure-

ate premed programs generally cater to a specific population; many are targeted toward helping underrepresented students of any background to enter the field of medicine.

Postbaccalaureate premed programs offer undergraduate premed course work as well

as upper-division courses in biology. They also provide extensive guidance on applying to medical school and preparing for the MCAT. Finally, postbaccalaureate premed programs allow students with similar nontraditional backgrounds and goals to support each other. Although postbaccalaure-

ate premed programs are generally very expensive, financial aid is available to soften the blow.

Just as with medical school, postbaccalaureate premed programs often

have more applicants than spaces. GPA is the most important element in choosing who gets admitted to a program.

Postbaccalaureate Premed Programs Offered Throughout the U.S.: American University > Postbaccalaureate Premedical Certificate Program > Washington, DC premed/cert-gpmd.cfm California State University > Postbaccalaureate Certificate Program for Prehealth Professionals > Los Angeles, CA biol/certprehealth.php Charles Drew University > Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Pre-medicine > Los Angeles, CA graduate/pre-medicine Creighton University > Premedical Postbaccalaureate > Omaha, NE hsmaca/index.php Dominican University > Postbaccalaureate Premedical Studies Program > River Forest, IL Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine > Biomedical Science PostBaccalaureate Program > Blacksburg, VA Hunter College of CUNY > Postbaccalaureate Pre-health Certificate Program > New York, NY information-for-postbaccalaureates Indiana University–Purdue University > Purdue School of Science Premedical Program > Indianapolis, IN

keepsake 2011 | 18

OSU Center for Health Sciences > Bridge Program > Tulsa, OK student/bridge/index.cfm Roswell Park Cancer Institute > Student Summer Programs > Buffalo, NY summer-programs San Francisco State University > Health Professions @SFSU > San Francisco, CA San Francisco State University > Dental Postbaccalaureate Programs > San Francisco, CA dentalindex.html Southern Illinois University School of Medicine > Medical/Dental Education Preparatory Program (MEDPREP) > Carbondale, IL UC Berkeley Extension > Postbaccalaureate Health Professions Program > Berkeley, CA UC Davis School of Medicine > Postbaccalaureate Program > Davis, CA postbacc/index.html UC Irvine School of Medicine > Postbaccalaureate Program > Irvine, CA admissions/postbac.html UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine > Academic Preparation Programs > Los Angeles, CA academic_preparation_program.cfm

UCSF School of Medicine > Outreach and Postbaccalaureate Programs > San Francisco, CA UC San Diego School of Medicine > Postbaccalaureate Program > San Diego, CA University of Massachusetts Boston > The Premedical Program > Boston, MA UNT Health Science Center > Master of Science Degree in Medical Sciences > Fort Worth, TX gsbs/medicalsciences.cfm Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center > Premedical Graduate Certificate Program > Richmond, VA premed_cert/index.html Washington University in St. Louis > Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program > St. Louis, MO programs/special-programs/postbaccalaureate-Premedical-program West Chester University > Premedical Program > West Chester, PA William Paterson University > Postbaccalaureate Premedical Preprofessional Program > Wayne, NJ biology/postbacc/ Worcester State College > Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program > Worcester, MA documents/cert/certpremedicalpredental.aspx

To look at graduating med student Jimmy Moss, you’d never know he was once homeless. “He’s everything we look for in a med student,” says Dr. Terry Allen at John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville, Ga., where Moss spent most of his third and fourth years in medical school. “He’s super bright. He’s someone who really wants to learn and goes out of his way to do it. I see him 10 years from now the head of a department somewhere.” But Moss’ path to medical school was a rocky one. His father was in and out of jail. His mother battled diabetes and was unable to work. At one point, he and his siblings found themselves in a homeless shelter, and at age 13, Moss got a job at a tire factory and became the family breadwinner. School turned out to be his salvation: he excelled in the classroom. And though he had never seen a black physician, he made his way to college, where majored in biology and set his sights on med school. His determination and hard work paid off. Moss recently began a three-year residency in internal medicine at the esteemed Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

recommendation letters: find a good connection

Recommendation letters are key to your application. They show admissions committees that other

people respect your abilities and your work. They also promote the skills that don’t show up on the

MCAT or your transcript, such as your desire to help people, or your ability to persevere. Applicants may submit three to eight letters, although five or six is the norm.

Remember: letters of recommendation should reflect you as a person. Don’t ask a random or-

ganic chemistry teacher whom you barely know, and who is being asked by 50 other students in

the same boat. The better you know someone, the more

The better you know someone, the more enthusiastic and personal the recommendation will be. Let the admissions committee hear from people who know the “real” you.

enthusiastic and personal the

recommendation will be. Ide-

ally, you should have a good relationship with a professor,

physician, or another well-respected person who can truly

speak to your abilities. For ex-

ample: are you working with a mentor in a lab? Can that men-

tor vouch for your work ethic and scientific rigor?

If research isn’t your thing,

then find recommenders in the field where you have the most

passion. This can be a hospital

where you’ve worked directly with nurses or doctors; at a mental health

clinic where you’ve volunteered as a counselor; or in a totally nonmedical related arena such as sports, theater, or the arts. Let the admissions committee hear from people who know the “real” you.

Be sure to show your scientific skills in at least one or two of your letters.

Other than that, make sure the other sides of you (writing ability, commu-

Each summer, the University of Maryland School of Medicine sponsors a Mini-Med School for Kids at the Boys and Girls Club in West Baltimore. Camper Matthew Blackwell (right), who is interested in going to medical school, found a mentor in third-year medical student Yusuf Ali.

nication skills) are well represented in your letters.

19 | keepsake 2011

university of massachusetts

interviews: make a good impression

Now it’s time for the interview. Once you’ve sent out your secondary applications, each medical school will decide whether to ask you in for an interview. Your interview, recommendation letters, essays, and test scores will create a complete picture of you as an admissions candidate.

Interviews are generally one on one, with two interviews per school. An inter-

viewer may be a faculty member, a current medical student, or a voting member of the admissions committee. You may or may not be told who will interview you, and the interviewer may or may not know whom he or she is interviewing. The interview format varies for each school. Do your research. Know what to expect.

Men: Wear a suit and tie. At the very least, wear khaki slacks and a sport coat. A tie

is a must: Dress like you mean business, or your interviewers won’t take you seriously.

Women: Stick to conservative business attire. You want to present yourself as a ma-

ture woman, not a sexy teenager.

Both: Be professional. Talk about yourself in a thoughtful, informative way—but

be a good listener, too. Don’t talk over your interviewer. Your goal is to have a good, two-way conversation about your interests and what you have to offer.

Finally: Avoid coming into your interview with loose papers and a school catalog

slipping out of your nervous, sweaty hands. Bring a folder to hold personal information that you can refer to (a copy of your recommendation let-

ters, test scores, etc.), plus materials that you’ll receive during your interview. You can find stylish, professional folders at any good office supplies store.

The interview format varies for each school. Do your research. Know what to expect.

keepsake 2011 | 20

university of nebraska

Nasibo Kadir, MD’10, stands with Hassan Bashir, who hooded her last May. Dr. Kadir is originally from Nairobi, Kenya and is serving her residency at the University of Arizona in internal medicine.

right here, right now

the word from a current med student anthony quinn

Talk about your involvement with the school prior to your enrollment.

University of Nevada School of Medicine, Class of 2012

I was involved in a number of the outreach programs that the school

Anthony Quinn is a native of Dallas and earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2007. He participated in the Nevadans into Medicine program prior to enrolling at the School of Medicine in the fall of 2008.

offers students considered underrepresented in medicine. I received an opportunity to participate in the Nevadans Into Medicine program

at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, designed for under-

What made you decide upon a career in medicine?

graduate juniors and seniors to get

I first became interested in health care when I took a high

school anatomy and physiology course and became fascinated by the way the separate body systems work together.

After my sophomore year, I joined the Scholar Laureate

Program and traveled to South Africa with other preprofessional students. There, I learned about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in that country, traditional healing methods,

dissimilarities between public and private hospitals, the structure of South African medical schools, and the role of Doctors Without Borders.

prepared for the medical school admissions process.

This residential program includes




shadowing experiences and interactive sessions with experts in financial planning, the admissions

dean, and admissions committee members. While physician shadowing at the University Medi-

cal Center Hospital in Las Vegas, I

observed the processes of patient examination in the intensive care

Why did you choose the University of Nevada School of Medicine?

unit, rounding with attending phy-

I chose Nevada because of its mission to provide care to the

underserved is a commendable effort to eliminate health

sicians, performing resuscitation in the emergency room, operating on severe injuries, and communicating with patients’ relatives.

the rest of nation and the world. The consistently remark-

What is your particular area of clinical or research interest and what steered you toward it?

a faculty group that is encouraging and highly successful.

musculoskeletal deformities and pathologies secondary to a variety of etiolo-

inequalities and a representation of humanitarianism for

able match rates are evidence that this program possesses The emphasis on humanistic care, the presence of a

nurturing learning environment, and the innovative

research that exist here make of





of Medicine a top choice



undergraduate pursuing career




I am interested in the field of pediatric orthopaedics which covers treating

gies from infancy to adolescence. My initial interest in orthopaedic surgery

stems from my premedical shadowing experiences in spine, trauma and pediatric orthopaedics.

Best experience thus far afforded to you by the school?

My best experience has been the opportunity to interact with the diverse

group of people in my class. I am most pleased by the experience of advancing through part of my journey in medicine with a great group of people who share my strong passion for helping others in need.

Please finish this sentence: Professionally, in 10 years, I see myself...

‌appreciating great professional and personal satisfaction by making lifetime

improvements in the quality of function for young patients as a pediatric spine subspecialist.

21 | keepsake 2011

university of massachusetts

SMDEP Program Sites Case Western Reserve University, Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine > Cleveland, OH Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons and College of Dental Medicine > New York, NY David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UCLA School of Dentistry > Los Angeles, CA Duke University School of Medicine > Durham, NC Howard University: Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Dentistry, and Medicine > Washington, DC University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School and Dental School > Newark, NJ University of Louisville, Schools of Medicine and Dentistry > Louisville, KY University of Nebraska Medical Center, Colleges of Medicine and Dentistry > Omaha, NE University of Texas Dental Branch and Medical School at Houston > Houston, TX University of Virginia School of Medicine > Charlottesville, VA University of Washington, Schools of Medicine and Dentistry > Seattle, WA Yale School of Medicine > New Haven, CT

keepsake 2011 | 22

a summer school that’s worth it

Looking for a good way to prepare for medical school? Try SMDEP. The Sum-

mer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) is a free (full tuition, housing, and meals) six-week summer academic enrichment program that

offers freshmen and sophomore college students intensive, personalized preparation for medical and dental school. Its goal is to help students from a wide range of economic, cultural, racial and ethnically diverse backgrounds through the application process.

SMDEP takes place at 12 program sites across the nation. Each site provides

scholars with academic enrichment in math, the basic sciences, clinical experi-

ences, career development activities, learning and study skills seminars, and a financial planning workshop. Program sites vary on how they deliver each of these required components and when the programs begin. For more information on SMDEP, go to

finding the funds

Any discussion of med school has to include money. Medical schools cost money, quite a lot of it. Annual tuition and fees at state medical schools in

2008-2009 averaged $23,581 for state residents and $43,587 for nonresidents. At private schools, tuition and fees averaged $41,225 for residents and $42,519 for

nonresident students. These figures do not include housing or living expenses. But tuition and fees aren’t the only financial obligations you’ll have in medi-

cal school. While fees usually cover such items as books, supplies, and sometimes room and board, you’ll need to factor in other items such as equipment, transportation, and curriculum-related travel. Find out exactly what the fees

for your prospective schools will cover. Personal expenses like clothing, rent or

mortgage, public transportation, child-care expenses, credit card payments, relocation costs, and internship/residency applications, and interviews are generally not covered within a financial aid package.

Once you’ve calculated your expected costs, move on to determining how

much funding a school may provide in scholarship and grant aid. Remem-

ber: the real issue is not how much it costs, it’s how much you will actually have to pay.

training and perseverance

No doubt about it: medical school is a huge investment. In the notso-distant past, medical students worried less about the debt they assumed while in school because they reasoned that after a few lean

years of residency training, they would earn a sizable enough income to repay their loans. Today, longer training periods mean that

students go without income for greater lengths of time; the terms

on repayment during residency are stricter; and managed care has driven down physician salaries while the cost of medical school has increased. So, yes, debts are higher—but there’s still help.

A wide array of loans, scholarships, and grants are available to

those who are determined to get a medical education. Some of these may minimize your debt. Some are need-based; some are not. Some options are targeted to individuals who plan to pursue careers in

primary care or who agree to practice in underserved areas for a predetermined amount of time.

However, you will need to plan your budget carefully so that

you don’t end up with more debt than necessary. About 87 percent of medical students graduate with some educational debt, according to the LCME Part I-B Medical School Questionnaire (LCME-1B). Many receive substantial financial assistance in the form of loans guaranteed by the New medical student Korsica Lassiter receives her white coat from Dr. Randall Renegar, assistant dean for student affairs, at the Aug. 13, 2010, white coat ceremony at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.

federal government.

Most medical students borrow at least a

portion of the money they need to finance their education. In 2008, the median debt was $155,000. That’s significant debt. However, a medical education is an investment that keeps returning dividends throughout your life.


School scholarships are awarded to only a few: those who have the best overall credentials. So if

you work hard, this could be an option for you. Most medical schools have scholarships that they award from endowed funds donated by an individual or organization. These awards are distributed according to the donor’s applicant-eligibility criteria.

For an exhaustive list of scholarships, see the AAMC site:

A few scholarship opportunities we’re particularly fond of... herbert w. nickens medical student scholarships

Though you can’t qualify immediately, this AAMC scholarship is well worth waiting for. It recognizes outstanding academic achievement of medical students entering their third year who have shown leadership in efforts to eliminate inequities in medical education and health care, and have demonstrated leadership efforts in addressing educational, societal, and health care needs of minorities in the United States. Each recipient receives a $5,000 scholarship in November of the year the scholarships are awarded. For more information:

national medical fellowships (nmf)

NMF’s mission is to diversify the health care workforce, and to do that, they award millions of dollars to minority students through need-based scholarships, grants, and fellowships to medical students. More than 65 percent of NMF scholars have annual family incomes of $35,000 or below. For more information:

university of washington

service scholarships/ loan repayment programs

Want another option? You can pay for your medical education with your time, instead of money.

The Military >

The Armed Forces provides financial assistance to medical students in return for active duty in the Air Force, Army, or Navy. The Armed Forces pay full tuition and

fees, books, and supplies, and a monthly stipend for 12

months. For each year of the award, students must serve


With the passage of the Healthcare Reform Law (Patient Protection and Af-

fordable Care Act), one of the most popular service scholarship programs—

National Health Service Corps—received a huge boost. The law permanently authorized the program and provided over $1.5 billion of enhanced funding for it, enough to help an estimated 15,000-17,000 clinicians.

How does it work? Pretty easy, in fact: successful applicants receive up to $170,000 in loan repayment for completing a five-year service commitment. Don’t want to commit that much time? There’s

also a two-year service commitment option that pays back $60,000 of your loan. Once

out of school, awardees practice in NHSC-approved sites located across the country in Health

Professional Shortage Areas (HP-

SAs). Many types of health care

facilities are NHSC-approved sites.

About half of Corps members serve

in federally supported health centers.

Other approved sites are rural and

Indian Health Service clinics, public

health department clinics, hospital-af-

filiated primary care practices, managed

care networks, prisons, and U.S. Immigra-

tion and Customs Enforcement sites.

For more information:

tulane university

keepsake 2011 | 24

one year in the Armed Forces. Applicants are selected based on academic performance, leadership potential,

faculty recommendations and a strong commitment to practice as a medical officer.

Applicants must meet the following criteria: ÆÆUnited States citizen ÆÆenrolled or accepted for enrollment in an accredited medical school in the U.S., Puerto Rico, or any U.S. territory ÆÆphysically and morally qualified ÆÆsign an agreement that they will complete the program, accept commission in the appropriate service, and accept an internship in a military institution The military pays for medical schooling which encom-

passes tuition, books, and other fees. Medical students in the HPSP also receive a small remuneration each month

for living expenses. In return, students must serve a year-for-year match in terms of active and reserve duty. Students can typically attend the medical school of their

choice. It is important to note however that they must be accepted by the medical school prior to applying for HPSP. The military does not help students get admitted.

Accepted students in HPSP are commissioned as an in-

active reservist during their studies in school. However,

they are required to participate in forty-five days of active duty each year as part of their participation. Upon gradu-

ation, students will apply for medical residency through a military match program and are elevated in rank to officer status. Typically this residency is served in one of the

military hospitals, although in some special instances, it can be served in a civilian hospital.

Upon residency completion, the next step is four years

of active duty. Upon completion of the four years, doctors can either continue as career military or serve in the civilian sector. If the civilian route is chosen, the doctors serve four additional years as a reservist.

For additional information, contact your local Armed

Services Office.


You do the research. NIH will repay your student loans.

That is the idea behind the National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Programs (LRPs).

NIH wants to encourage outstanding health profes-

Student debt statistics Æ$156,456 Æ – According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the average educational debt of indebted graduates of the class of 2009. Æ79 Æ percent of graduates have debt of at least $100,000. Æ58 Æ precent of graduates have debt of at least $150,000. Æ87 Æ percent of graduating medical students carry outstanding loans. Source: AAMC 2009 Graduation Questionnaire

sionals to pursue careers in biomedical, behavioral, social, and clinical research. If you commit at least two years to conducting qualified research funded by a domestic

nonprofit organization or U.S. federal, state, or local gov-

ernment entity, NIH may repay up to $35,000 of your qualified student loan debt per year, including most undergraduate, graduate, and medical school loans. Loan re-

payment benefits are in addition to the

institutional salary you receive for your research.

For more info:

Monique Cola (standing, left), assistant professor of neurology, works with medical students at Tulane School of Medicine in her Neuroanatomy Laboratory class.

keepsake 2011 | 25

A second-year medical student at the UW School of Medicine performs a physical exam on an inpatient with the guidance of her instructor, Dr. Mark Whipple.


VISITING ELECTIVES PROGRAM FOR STUDENTS UNDERREPRESENTED IN MEDICINE (VEPSUM) VEPSUM offers four-week electives at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MSSM) and its affiliates in the Graduate Medical Education Consortium to qualified 3rd-year and 4th-year medical students who are from groups underrepresented in medicine1 and who attend U.S. accredited medical schools. In collaboration with the MSSM Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs, VEPSUM is designed to increase diversity in the house staff and subsequently the faculty of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and its affiliated institutions.  Electives are available between July and February. Students must have completed their required core clerkships before starting the program.  Tuition is not charged.  Housing and travel expenses are subsidized for one month.  Students are provided the potential to network with residency program directors, residents, minority faculty, and students, and have access to the Office of Graduate Medical Education, Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs, medical school library, seminars, and workshops. To learn more about VEPSUM and the application process, please visit: We look forward to receiving your application and to having you visit with us! For more information please contact: Adam Aponte, MD, MS at Monique Sylvester, MA at


The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) defines groups underrepresented in medicine “those racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population."


university of massachusetts

louisiana state university, shreveport


Given their earning potential, medical students are considered “safe bets”

for private student loans. In fact, more than 85 percent of all medical students borrow money to pay for their education, with debts averag-

Minority Funding Programs and Information

such as Citibank and Sallie Mae, set the interest rate.

If you’re a member of an underrepresented minority group, be sure to check out AspiringDocs. org. This AAMC website is targeted toward increasing diversity in medicine and is chock full of information and inspiration, including real-life audio clips of people who have done it. www.

Here’s a brief list of loan providers:

National Medical Fellowships (NMF) —see above.

ing $120,300 after four years of medical school for medical students who

graduated in 2005. Loans give you the opportunity to invest in becoming a physician.

Borrowing limits vary by lender, but most offer up to “full-expense less aid,”

and “full-expense” can sometimes defined rather liberally. Individual lenders,

ÆÆAccess Group, ÆÆCiti Student Loans, CitiAssist Health Professions and Residency Loans, ÆÆGraduate Leverage, ÆÆNellie Mae,

Indian Health Service—Scholarships for Native American and native Alaskan students are also available. Check out the Indian Health Service Loan Repayment program:

ÆÆSallie Mae, ÆÆTERI, 27 | keepsake 2011

Ceazon Edwards, a second-year IUSM medical student, assists young students as they dissect a sheep brain. The students were participants in IU’s Brain Link (5th & 6th graders) and Middle School Academy of Science and Health Sciences (MASH: 7th & 8th graders) summer science and math camps held at the medical school campus.

indiana university

case western

financial aid resources

ÆÆAmerican Educational Guidance Center, Free Scholarship Searches searches.htm ÆÆCatching the Dream, Native American Scholarship Fund First- and second-year med students at Case Western—Kadir Carruthers, Ernest Powell, James Barton, Denrick Cooper, and Keisha Mitchell— ride the rapids on a rafting trip in Ohio Pyle, PA, as part of an outing organized School of Medicine’s Wilderness Medicine Interest Group.

ÆÆCollege Board ÆÆCollegeNET Mach25 Scholarship Search ÆÆCollegeView Financial Aid ÆÆ, “Paying” paying.asp?sponsor=2859 ÆÆ Financial Aid Guide

Medical Student Resources

ÆÆ Scholarship Guide

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine

ÆÆFinAid! The SmartStudentTM Guide to Financial Aid

American Medical Association, AMA Resources for Medical Students

ÆÆFreSch! Free Scholarship Search

American Medical Student Association

ÆÆHispanic Scholarship Fund

Association of American Medical Colleges,

ÆÆMinority College Scholarships ÆÆSallie Mae® ÆÆSallie Mae® College Answer® ÆÆ ÆÆU.S. News & World Report, “Paying For College” keepsake 2011 | 28

Association of American Medical Colleges, Considering a Medical Career The Education Resources Institute Penn Medicine, The Office for Diversity: “The Journey to Medical School” Student Osteopathic Medical Association Summer Medical and Dental Education Program

UCLA INTERCAMPUS MEDICAL GENETICS RESIDENCY PROGRAM For individuals who have completed training in a primary residency specialty and are interested in Medical Genetics, the UCLA Intercampus Medical Genetics Training Program would like to invite you to apply to our Medical Genetics Residency.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

The UCLA Intercampus Medical Genetics Training Program utilizes the clinical and research resources of the affiliated campuses and teaching hospitals: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, UCLA Center for Health Sciences, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Understanding the role genetics plays in both health and disease provides a path to integrating scientific discoveries into diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of many diseases, both rare and common, as well as overall improvement in the health of society. Residents of the program will receive a well-rounded, academically oriented training experience in all aspects of medical genetics. This includes clinical presentation and diagnosis; laboratory diagnostic methods, interpretation and pitfalls; result reporting; and patient management and counseling.

UCLA Medical Center

The goal of our program is to train Clinical Geneticists who will provide comprehensive diagnostic, management, treatment, risk assessment, and genetic counseling services for patients and their families who either have, or are at risk for, genetic disorders or disorders with a genetic component. Our faculty are physicians and scientists who are nationally and internationally recognized experts in their fields. To that end, we can proudly say many of our trainees have become leaders in their fields, also.

Harbor-UCLA Medical Center

The Intercampus Medical Genetics Training program is one of the leading medical genetics programs in the U.S. We are proud of our diverse group of residents and faculty and invite you to join our program. Medical Genetics Residency applications are accepted through ERAS Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/Harbor/UCLA Program ACGME Program ID: 1300521010 Children’s Hospital of Orange County

And the Fellowship Match in the NRMP. For more information please contact:

The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) and are committed to preparing individuals from diverse backgrounds for careers in the health professions. is a comprehensive source for information about health careers including healthrelated education and training programs, financial aid resources, and contemporary topics in health care.

Opportunities for Minority Students in U.S. Dental Schools expands on these resources for individuals interested in dentistry and includes profiles of dental professionals, information on the necessary preparation for dental school, and additional resources of interest to minority students. For more information on the American AMERICAN DENTAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION

KEEPSAKE AD 2010.indd 1

Dental Education Association and to order

Opportunities for Minority Students in U.S. Dental Schools, visit 11/19/10 2:14 PM

Future Dentists Start Here.

Open up and say, “Ah!” because you’ll find that being a dentist is one of the most rewarding careers you can have. Unlike doctors or nurses, most dentists work for themselves or with a small group, which means you get to call the shots. And you’ll also get to pick up the tab when you go out with friends: dentistry is one of the highestsalaried careers, ranking in the top five percent of family income levels.

why dentistry?

People are living longer, and dental care is a cradle-to-grave need. From cleanings and checkups for toddlers all the way through life to dentures and veneers for the elderly, dentists are in demand for every age.

Dentistry is an ever-changing and rapidly growing field of study and

practice. New treatments, tools, and methods of care continue to expand the field, creating increasingly more services available for a dentist’s use.

More efficient pain management practices allow dentists to break the ap-

prehension barrier keeping patients out of their offices. New technology in

cosmetic dentistry appeals to a whole new group of patients, opening the door to an entirely different clientele.

Becoming a dentist often means you own your own business and you are

your own boss. This ensures flexibility and allows you more creativity and control in choosing how to run your business. Business owners enjoy great

tax incentives along with the opportunity to build a lasting stream of in-

come for the years ahead. Once your business is built, scheduling time off

becomes a great deal easier, as many dentists take an afternoon or a whole day or two off per week.

But, becoming a dentist is more than a business. With more and more people being conscious

about their smile and looks, your client list will be full, as long as you give them a good job. It’s a

decision to dedicate your life to helping others and to building your future in the process. Hard work and a caring philosophy will serve you well in every phase of your life.

31 | keepsake 2011

how you’ll practice

Though your only exposure to dentistry may have been in a community

clinic or private practice, dentists actually practice in a wide variety of settings. No matter what your work style, there’s a practice that’s right for you.

Private Practice >

The most common way to be a dentist is also the most hands-on way. You

can work in solo private practice or in partnerships with other dentists. The majority of private practice dentists own their own practices.

Academic Dentistry >

An academic dentistry career combines teaching, research, community service, and patient care. The university is an intellectually stimulating

and exciting environment, and there is a huge need for URM dentists in

the academic setting. For more information, go to the American Dental Education Association’s (ADEA) website,

Public Health Dentistry >

As opposed to a solo or group private practice, dentists in public health work in a community clinic or other community setting. You’ll work to

promote dental health, develop health policy, and prevent disease, as

What dentists do

ÆÆDiagnose, prevent, and treat teeth and tissue diseases, injuries, and malformations. ÆÆFill cavities, remove decay, and perform corrective surgery on gums and supporting bones to treat gum disease.

well as have opportunities to do research and teaching. Through the

U.S. Public Health Service, you can have the chance to work in unique settings, such as Indian reservations, Coast Guard bases, Federal prisons.

Research >

If you’re more interested in investigation than hands-on dentistry, a research career might be just the right thing for you. You can be on the cutting edge of

ÆÆExtract teeth, make models, and take measurements for dentures to replace missing teeth.

scientific discoveries that will improve patient care. Researchers often work

ÆÆGive instructions on dental care, such as diet, brushing, flossing, and the use of fluoride.

limit yourself to clinical research (that is, research within the scope of your

ÆÆExamine x-rays, place protective sealants on children’s teeth, and repair fractured teeth.

ing beyond the dental degree.

ÆÆAdminister anesthetics and write prescriptions for antibiotics and other medications. ÆÆHire and oversee a staff of dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental laboratory technicians, and receptionists.

at universities, while others work for federal agencies like National Institute

of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), Unless you

practice), a career in research requires an advanced degree or additional train-

International Health Care >

Love to travel? A career in international health could be your ticket. You could work with populations around the globe for such agencies as the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

what dentists earn

Hospital Dentistry >

If you’re energized by working in a hospital set-

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the

ting, you might want to consider hospital

ner who owned all or part of his or her practice in 2008

and other health care professionals to

a specialist.

and disabilities. Hospital dentists

ing the late 1970s/early 1980s, with peak enrollment of

in medicine and collaborative

first-year predoctoral enrollment has risen an average

more training in a hospital-

dentists will continue to grow, most particularly in un-


average net income for an independent private practitio-

dentistry. You’ll work alongside physicians

was $207,210 for a general practitioner and $342,270 for

treat patients with medical conditions

Dental school enrollment was at its highest level dur-

usually have a strong interest

22,842 in the 1980-81 academic year. In the last ten years,

care and have spent a year or

of 1.5% annually, so it’s estimated that the need for new

based setting after dental

derserved areas.

keepsake 2011 | 32

why dentistry needs you

the path to dentistry

came, and those communities need you! That’s because

worth the effort! You’ll need to be prepared to immerse yourself in the basic

URMs often practice in the communities from which they minority and disadvantaged people often don’t have the resources to see the dentist, and they often can’t find a dentist in their neighborhood.

And the need is only going to grow: statistics indicate

Getting into dental school can be challenging, but it’s a challenge that’s sciences in undergrad, but if you plan your schedule in advance, you should

have time to take classes in other things that might be of interest, such as politics, history, literature.

Dental school typically takes four years to complete. Schools award either a

that 58 percent of the population will be comprised of un-

degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).

dental specialists

such as an orthodontist or periodontist (see above).

derrepresented groups by the year 2050.

Additional postgraduate training is required to practice as a dental specialist,

If you yearn to do more than checkups and fillings,

you might want think about becoming a dental specialist. Yes, you’ll be in school longer, but that investment will pay huge rewards, both monetarily and intellectually.

ÆÆPeriodontists diagnose, prevent, and treat gum disease. They can also place dental implants as well as perform cosmetic periodontal treatments. ÆÆPediatric dentists specialize in dental care for children from toddlerhood through adolescence. ÆÆEndodontists perform a variety of procedures including root canal therapy, endodontic retreatment, surgery, treating cracked teeth, and treating dental trauma. Root canal therapy is one of the most common procedures. ÆÆOrthodontists treat malocclusions (improper bites), which may be a result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both. The most common treatment is the use of braces and retainers, but some orthodontists actually work on reconstructing the entire face rather than focusing exclusively on teeth. ÆÆProsthodontists help their patients regain function and appearance after suffering with missing or deficient teeth. They do cosmetic restoration and tooth replacement.

university of washington

dental school timeline freshman and sophomore years

junior and senior years

plan your coursework

ÆÆ Plan to take the DAT either in late spring or very early summer between your junior and senior year in college or the year you plan on submitting your application.

ÆÆ The prerequisite courses covered on the DAT should be completed by the end of the spring semester of your junior year of college. ÆÆ At a minimum, these courses are 8 semester hours of general biology, 8 semester hours of inorganic chemistry, and 8 semester hours of organic chemistry. ÆÆ Be aware that the DAT covers general biology topics.

ÆÆ Note that physics is not covered on the DAT; many predental students take the required physics courses in their senior year, after they have taken the DAT.

make contact with your college professors

While you are in college, take the time to establish personal contacts with your professors. Remember, you are going to ask some of these instructors to write letters of recommendation for you. It is difficult for a professor who has never met you to write you an outstanding letter. Letter-writing aside, having out-of-class contact with your professors enriches your college education.

make good use of your summers

ÆÆ Take part in an academic enrichment program such as the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program It’s a free (including housing and meals) six-week summer medical and dental school preparatory program that offers eligible students intensive and personalized medical and dental school preparation. ÆÆ You can also try to work in a dental office to see what the day-to-day life of a dentist is all about. ÆÆ Keep researching schools, their diversity and their admissions requirements.

take the dat early

ÆÆ The DAT is given on computer in local testing centers across the U.S. almost every day of the year. ÆÆ You can apply to take the DAT at

ÆÆ Important: you must wait a minimum of 90 days to retake the DAT. If you wait too long to take the DAT, you may not be able to retake it in time to include it in your application.

apply to aadsas

ÆÆ File an application with the American Association of Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS) in the summer a year before you plan to enroll in dental school. ÆÆ The earlier you apply to AADSAS, the earlier your application can be reviewed by the Admissions Committee. ÆÆ Applying early allows you plenty of time for the unexpected. Things like delays or lost mail, letters of recommendation that are slow in arriving, and the normal processing time at AADSAS are no big deal when you apply early; they can become a huge problem when you apply close to the deadline.

send in all parts of your dental school application

ÆÆ Applications become available May 15, and AADSAS starts processing on June 1. An early application significantly enhances your chances of being admitted to dental school. Don’t procrastinate and let that application deadline sneak up on you! ÆÆ Submit your AADSAS application. Note: fee reductions are offered to individuals who can demonstrate extreme financial need.

prepare for your interview

If you are selected for an interview, it will help relieve your anxiety if you come prepared. Participate in mock interviews offered by your predental organization or career center. ÆÆ Get a good interviewing outfit. Professional business attire is the norm. ÆÆ Know where the school is located and how long it takes to get there.

accepted—enjoy your summer!

ÆÆ Congratulations! All your hard work paid off and you got into dental school. Use the summer before your fall enrollment to travel, relax, or work to earn a bit of money before starting your first year. Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy your new status!

keepsake 2011 | 34

the application process

As noted in our timeline, though dental schools have different prerequisite requirements, required courses generally include: ÆÆ8 hours biology with lab ÆÆ8 hours physics ÆÆ8 hours English ÆÆ8 hours general chemistry with lab ÆÆ8 hours organic chemistry with lab

what schools look for

Tips for a Successful Application ÆÆApply early!

ÆÆRead all instructions carefully before completing the ADEA AADSAS application. ÆÆPrint a copy of your ADEA AADSAS application. ÆÆMonitor your application online. Check messages from ADEA AADSAS by email or online.

Dental schools consider lots of factors when looking at applicants, but you have

ÆÆRemember that ADEA AADSAS considers your application complete and begins processing your application after receiving:

be the key influencers. That said, your background, experience, letters of rec-

• your submitted ADEA AADSAS application

to assume that your GPA and Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores are going to ommendation, and interview also weigh in, so make sure you’re as well-rounded an applicant as you can be.

how to apply

Plan on starting the application process at least a year before you’ll be admitted. There are three main steps in the application process:

ÆÆTake the DAT (also a year before you want to start school).

• official transcripts from every college and university you have attended (even if coursework is posted to another, more recently attended college), and • application payment. Source: ADEA AADSAS

ÆÆSubmit a centralized application form to ADEA’s Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS). ÆÆSubmit all of your school-specific materials.

university of washington

the dat

The Dental Admission Test, or DAT, is a computerized test given by the ADA that is required by all dental schools.

The test is composed of four areas: natural science survey,

perceptual ability, reading comprehension, and quantitative reasoning. DAT tests are held year round, and take about five hours. The current cost of the test is $320.

The test is designed to measure general academic abil-

ity, comprehension of scientific information, and percep-

tual ability. While all dental schools require applicants to take the DAT, test results are only one factor considered in evaluating the admission potential of an examinee. For more info:

associated american dental schools application service (aadsas)

Most dental schools use the Associated American Dental Schools Application Service (AADSAS), which provides

one standard form so you don’t have to complete multiple applications, and gives dental schools the same information on all applicants.

The fee for the 2011 ADEA AADSAS application is $227

for the first dental school and $72 for each additional

school. ADEA AADSAS offers a Fee Assistance Program

(FAP) for applicants who demonstrate extreme financial need. Details of this program can be obtained at www.

the interview process

The dental school interview gives you a chance to evalu-

ate the school—and them you. Treat it like you were applying for a job (a job you really really want!). Dress con-

servatively and be prepared by practicing with a friend first—a video camera is really helpful. They’ll be asking you questions that reveal your self-confidence, ability to

meet challenges, capacity to work independently, and

motivation for seeking a dental career. Make sure you ask

university of washington

questions about the program and learn if it’s right for you.

help paying for school

Let’s face it—dental school is expensive. And while your education is an investment in your future success, the financial choices you make as a student will impact your career later. Besides traditional loans, you will want to apply forschol-

arships that can help you reduce your debt. It’s well worth the time it takes to find them.

The Underrepresented Minority Dental Student Scholarship program

was created by the ADA for underrepresented students in dental schools:

The Scholarship for Disadvantaged

Did you know? ÆOver Æ 77% of graduates have a debt over $100,000 Source: Annual ADEA Survey of Dental School Seniors: 2009 Graduating Class

Dentistry Resources

Associated American Dental Schools Application Service American Dental Association National Dental Association

Students (SDS) program provides

Student National Dental Association

needy students from underprivileged

American Dental Education Association

professions program. The Loans for

American Student Dental Association

gram offers long-term, low-interest

American Academy of Periodontology

the Health Professions Student Loan

Hispanic Dental Association

Society of American Indian Dentists Association

scholarships for full-time, financially backgrounds enrolled in a health

Disadvantaged Students (LDS) pro-

rate loans to similar students, as does (HPSL) program. Go to http://bhpr.

The American Fund for Dental Health offers scholarships of $2500 for first-year

minority students. Write to them at 211 E. Chicago Ave. #820, Chicago, IL 60611. The Hispanic Dental Association Foundation has four different scholar-

ship funds to encourage the entry of Hispanics into oral health careers. Go to and click on ‘scholarships.’

The National Health Service Corps offers loan repayment for dental school:

Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science Black Dental Edge

37 | keepsake 2011

fresh insights from a new dentist gwen werner, dmd

dental school.

I started researching and it was recommended to me

Dentist, Indian Health Service Tribal Health Clinic, Salt River Indian Reservation, Outside of Phoenix, Arizona

that I get in touch with Dr. George Blue Spruce, the U.S.’s

first American Indian dentist. It took me a while to find him, but once we connected, that’s when I felt like I re-

ally was on the path to becoming a dentist. I went back to undergrad to do all of the hard sciences classes I needed

Did you always know you wanted to be a dentist?

Oh, not at all; I had no science background, not even in high school. I went to

college and studied architecture. But then life happened: I got married, had a child, and quit college.

After about two years of staying home with my daughter, I realized I wanted

to do something career-wise, but didn’t know what that was. Around the same time, I decided to go to the dentist for a checkup. I had grown up receiving all of my health care from the Indian Health Service (IHS) in Tuba City, Arizona, so I went to an IHS facility here in Phoenix, too. I was shocked when I got there.

They would only see me if I had a toothache; if I didn’t have a toothache, the waiting list for an exam was two years! They said they were overwhelmed; they didn’t have the number of dentists they needed.

I ended up going to a private dentist and it was the best experience ever. The

dentist sat down with me and told me everything about my teeth; no one ever told me the amount of detail she told me about my mouth. I walked out of there saying, I think I can do this. I think I want to be a dentist.

as prerequisites.

How was it going back to school— and in a brand new field at that?

I’ve never been under so much pressure in my life. So many people were helping me and encouraging me and wanting me to succeed, I didn’t want to let them down.

And because GPA is a major factor in acceptance to dental school, I knew I had to get straight As for my lack of not being focused the first time I had gone to college.

It was hard for me, but it was even harder for my fam-

ily. My daughter was two-years-old when I started on this whole journey, so I had to be super organized to make it

work. I planned out every single hour of every day, from when I woke up to when I went to sleep. I always had a

babysitter backup plan—often two plans. We lived that way through two-and-a-half years of undergrad and four years of dental school.

That must have been one awesome dentist!

She was, definitely. But the other thing was I realized I wanted to give IHS patients the same type of experience I had just had at a private dentist; I wanted

to raise the standard of public dental care. The problem was, I had absolutely no idea what to do to get there; I didn’t even know there was such a thing as

How was the dental school application process for you?

I didn’t know how to apply for dental school; I thought you had to wait until all of your prerequisites were finished, so

I got started very late in the process. In my third

or fourth year of dental school when I started

mentoring students, I would tell them I felt like I crawled up a rocky mountain without any

shoes, slipping and scraping myself up all the way. When I got there, I looked down and saw there was a tram there all the time that could have taken me to the top.

How did you feel when you got accepted?

Excited, of course, and I also thought, finally,

the hard part is over. But dental school is really, really hard, especially the first year. My

low point came when a classmate sitting next

to me said, “I bet you didn’t even have to apply; I bet they just let you in,” because I was

American Indian. I said, “are you kidding me?” He had no idea how hard I worked. There were keepsake 2011 | 38

Gwen Werner, DMD

many times I called Dr. Blue Spruce in the middle of the night crying saying I didn’t think I could do this anymore. He would always tell me

it was worth it. And it was. Everybody has their own issues, but we all got through.

Once you actually started doing some clinical practice, how did you feel about your decision to pursue a career as a dentist?

When I got into the simulation lab and started learning how to hold instruments and so forth, I remember thinking: this is what I came to dental school for! I loved it. I learned I’m really good with my hands, so dental school for me just got easier and easier as it went along.

Also, because I’m sociable, when we started seeing patients, I loved

all of them. I loved that I was helping them and that I was keeping them out of pain.

Dr. Werner (right) with her mentor, the first American Indian dentist, Dr. George Blue Spruce

How did you pay for dental school?

Since I knew I wanted to work for IHS, I got an IHS scholarship and agreed to work for an IHS facility in exchange for loan forgiveness.

What’s your day like now in the tribal health clinic?

I get to work at 7 am and I see my first patient at 7:15. I see all ages: 18 months to 78 years

old. I do dentures, partials, crowns, bridges, root canals, fillings. I do everything you can do and probably more than people are used to getting in a public health setting.

I like being in a community practice because I don’t have to worry about any of the

business aspects of my practice. I show up to work and see patients and take care of them—the dental stuff. I don’t have to worry about insurance or anything like that. I

don’t have to talk my patients into accepting a treatment plan. The bureaucracy can be a problem, and because I’m a government employee, there are things I can and cannot

do. So it’s got it’s pluses and minuses, just like any job, but for where I am right now, it’s a great fit.

What do you love most about being a dentist?

Dentistry is a very special profession. No one else can do what a dentist does. You’re dealing with people’s lives. I love taking people out of pain, and I love feeling like I’m contributing to their overall health beyond just their dental health. And I really like the work of being a dentist; I feel like every patient is different and that makes it really interesting.

What tips do you have for someone reading this who also has dreams of becoming a dentist?

Dr. Werner at work in her clinic.

I’d say three things:

1) I would recommend shadowing a dentist before you start, or become a dental assistant so

you can become familiar with the inner workings of the clinic, what the procedures are, and what the job entails. I was a dental assistant for about six months right before I went back to undergrad to make sure it was what I wanted to do.

2) The better you develop your study skills in under-

grad, the better you’ll be prepared. There’s so much infor-

mation in dental school; it’s not that it’s difficult per se,

but there’s just so much of it. Being prepared to deal with that will be really helpful to you.

3) In the bigger picture, I’d also say: don’t listen to any-

body who tries to discourage you. If you want to do some-

thing, do it. Of course you have to prepare and plan, but you

shouldn’t let anybody ever tell you you can’t do something. You’re the only one who gets to make that decision.

39 | keepsake 2011

Why is this med student smiling? MYTH: Orthopaedics demands Herculean upper body strength. FACT: You can beat all O.R. obstacles with a strong mind, finesse and skill.

Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt University SOM

The truth is, you don’t need incredible brute strength. Technology, equipment and methods have been developed to handle the professional needs. So, if you’re driven to help restore patients to a higher quality of life, there’s nothing to hold you back. Our unique mentoring programs connect you with experienced orthopaedic surgeons who can personally guide you forward. We invite you to go online for all the information and resources to get started. You’ll discover it’s easier than you realized.

Choose a career in Orthopaedics— our powerful mentoring programs offer personalized guidance and support to help you succeed.

For more information, visit or email

J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society A MultiCultural Organization

The AAOS extends sincere appreciation to Zimmer for its charitable contribution.

Because she just found out she can join our community of minority med students and premeds. So can you:

KeepsakeÂŽ 2011 a guide for minority science students

The Keepsake is published by Spectrum Unlimited. Subscription rates: $20 per year. Back issues: $20. Copyright

2011 Spectrum Unlimited. No part of this publication may

be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the magazine managers or owners. The appearance of advertisements in the publication does not constitute endorsement of the product or company.

publisher Bill Bowers

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Naturopathic Medical Schools Embrace Diversity - Globally and Locally The AANMC proudly recognizes the alumni of its member schools for honoring their commitment to multicultural diversity, among doctor and patient alike, through their medical practice.

Tabatha Parker, ND

DeJarra Kamil Sims, ND



“I have learned so much from the community that I live with. I could never give back in my services what they’ve given to me. So I just hope that I can continue to develop these relationships and help give to my brothers and sisters who are in developing countries — to be able to help and work with them in any way so that they can better their lives.”

“This is the kind of doctor I always wanted to be! In conventional medical school, you absorb an enormous amount of pharmaceutical knowledge about which drugs treat which diseases. In ND school, once we got into clinics and practice, we spent a lot more time with our patients. We developed relationships with them. We looked at every aspect of their lifestyles: nutrition, exercise, relationships, etc.”

Dr. Parker became interested in naturopathic medicine when she was younger, after using natural remedies rather than surgery to successfully heal a herniated a disc. After graduating from ND school, she felt it was her duty and her mission to serve others. Dr. Parker then co-founded Natural Doctors International, whose mission is to serve people in underserved communities worldwide. The clinic she works in provides free medical services to the community living on the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua. Dr. Parker and her peers remain committed to promoting global access to natural medicine; they are developing standards for global naturopathic medicine and disaster relief; and they are educating the WHO and other international agencies on the role of naturopathic medicine as a natural bridge between conventional medicine and indigenous healers.

As the oldest of seven siblings, Dr. Sims was a natural caregiver. Her grandparents often used herbs for healing, her mother was an RN, and her father a CRNA. He had always encouraged her to pursue a career in naturopathy, but it took a later re-introduction to bring about Dr. Sims’ choice to transfer from DO school into ND school. Making health care available to people who need it remains of primary importance to Dr. Sims. And so in addition to seeing patients in her private practice clinic, she also makes home visits. Also important to Dr. Sims as a med student was the stronger sense of multicultural awareness she reports having felt after having transferred into ND school.


Are you considering a career in naturopathic medicine? Find out more about naturopathic medical school: the diverse ways of practicing naturopathic medicine.  Discover Whether through private or integrated practice, research, travel or education – our AANMC school alumni follow varied career paths and lead extraordinarily influential lives  information from the ND schools. Becoming a licensed  Request naturopathic physician begins with a strong education. Start by

choosing the school that’s right for you 

our PDF brochure offering a concise overview  Download of what it takes to become an ND


If you are serious about a career in Medicine or Dentistry Let SMDEP give you a competitive advantage

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Join the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) for a FREE sixweek summer academic enrichment program at one of 12 sites across the country. To be eligible for SMDEP, an applicant must: • be a U.S. citizen or hold a permanent resident visa; • be currently enrolled as a freshman or sophomore in college; and • have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0, with 2.75 in the sciences. Applications available: November 1 Application deadline: March 1 For more information, visit our Web site at or call the National Program Office at 1.866.58.SMDEP (587-6337) The Participating SMDEP Institutions include: Case Western Reserve University Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine

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SMDEP is a national program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Dental Education Association.

Keepsake 2011  

A guide for minority science students who want to pursue their dreams of a career in medicine or dentistry.

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