December 2003

Volume 23 | Number 5

Collection of Articles

The Winds of Change in Veterinary Medicine Recruitment and Admissions
James W. Lloyd, D.V.M., Ph.D.
John E. Roane, Jr., B.A.

Two recent studies of the veterinary profession gave high marks for medical knowledge and education, but raised concerns about non-technical skill levels, e.g. people skills and business acumen, exhibited by veterinarians. The National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI) was established to examine characteristics exhibited by successful veterinarians and develop a definition for success. In addition to the core competencies, data on the amount of time spent on different activities within the normal course of practice were also collected. Subsequently, two groups within an “applicant pool” were examined: 1) actual applicants and 2) potential applicants with appropriate background, who did not ultimately apply. It was found that the potential applicants scored better on the characteristics for success than the actual applicants. Both groups underestimated the level of autonomy and prestige within the profession. A measure of “attraction to” the professional activities found that accepted applicants actually scored lower than potential applicants. These findings are leading to a change in how applicants are interviewed and to efforts to publicize the autonomy and prestige of the profession.

Fundamentals in Financial Aid: Factors for Consideration by Health Professions Advisors and their Premedical Students
Linda Gilbert
Carol Elam, Ed.D.

Since the financial cost of a medical education is increasing, it is more important than ever for students to develop a familiarity with financial management and the sources of financial aid. This article reviews the sources of financial aid, from the federal to the local level, explains how financial aid packages are developed by each school, and what the application procedures are. Student credit ratings are discussed, along with an estimate of the monthly repayment costs a graduate may be responsible for. The article includes resources that provide the student and advisor with information to make informed decisions. An emphasis is put on the importance of a student being budget-conscious.

Medical Student Debt, Class of 2003
Paula Craw

Cultural Competency: Dentistry and Medicine Learning from One Another
Allan J. Formicola, D.D.S., M.S.
Judith Stavisky, M.P.H., M.Ed.
Robert Lewy, M.D., M.P.H.

Underrepresented Minority Populations in US Dental Schools
H. Barry Waldman, D.D.S., M.P.H., Ph.D.

A review of the change in minority demographics in US dental schools over the past 30 years shows that African-Americans and Hispanics (particularly males) are still underrepresented. The challenge is to find a way to increase these numbers. The article describes a cooperative effort, related to dentistry, between a large health sciences center and a pre-professional advisory office. The program includes 1) seminars aimed at promoting student interest in educational and research activities, and 2) a course which gives the students an opportunity to review and analyze complex social and economic issues in health care delivery. This cooperative effort has resulted in an increase in the numbers of underrepresented minority applicants to health professional schools, including dental schools.

The Need for Physician Investigators
Alan L. Hull, M.D., Ph.D.
Elaine Fl Dannefer, Ph.D.
Jeffery C. Hutzler, M.D.
Andrew J. Fishleder, M.D.
Lindsey C. Henson, M.D., Ph.D.

In recent years the proportion of NIH-sponsored research by physicians has decreased, particularly with regard to clinical research. The success rate for funding is equivalent between PhD’s and MD’s, so there is not a deficiency in the quality of physician research. The repercussions of having fewer clinical researchers are discussed. Several reasons for this decrease in clinical investigations exist, the most important being the increased cost of medical education. MD/PhD programs usually stress bench research.

The article concentrates on a description of a new program developed by the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine (CCLCM) of Case Western Reserve University to confront the problem. The school has developed a five-year program, which allows for considerable clinical research opportunities in an environment provided with faculty guidance. A key feature of this program is significant financial support to ensure that excess debt does not discourage individuals from seeking a research career.

The Biomedical Humanities Program: Merging Humanities and Science in a Premedical Curriculum and Hiram College
Colleen Fried, Ph.D.
Sandra Madar, Ph.D.
Carol Donley, Ph.D.

The Biomedical Humanities program at Hiram College, established in 1999, engages premedical and other qualified students in ethical and informed decision making, improves their ability to interact with persons of different backgrounds and cultures, provides them an active introduction to basic medical research and clinical practice, and coaches them in communicating across barriers, appreciating that scientists and humanists typically learn and work differently. The program offers both a major and a minor in biomedical humanities topics. The major requires the core biology and chemistry curriculum necessary for further studies in medicine as well as courses in genetics and statistics. The remainder of the major is devoted to four core areas: Communications, Relationships and Cultural Sensitivity, Ethics and Medical Humanities, and a nonacademic core area, Experiential Learning. Many of the ethics and medical humanities options are team-taught interdisciplinary courses. The Experiential Learning area requires students to take two special topics seminars, two service seminars, and two internships – one shadowing a professional in his or her area of interest and one engaging in basic biomedical research. The shadowing internship and service seminars focus not only on career exploration, but also on human interactions. Students reflect on the personal interactions they observe during their various experiences, and on their own strengths and weaknesses. Essays, designed to help students learn more about their roles in these settings, push them to deal with the sociopolitical issues involved in their service. The major, a robust and vital component of Hiram’s undergraduate program, has attracted academically gifted students with a diverse array of career goals.

Getting on Base for Health Professions Admissions
Peter Van Houten, Ph.D.

A long time, career pre-professional advisor offers a baseball analogy for how to look for those “non-cognitive” measures of potential success. Sometimes it is not the highest paid team that wins the World Series, or the straight A student who makes the best health care professional. How do we learn to recognize the winning combination of good judgment and “heart” – understood here to refer to the desire to serve others, drive, determination and willingness to work hard to do the best possible job – that can be the characteristics of a winner? The author advocates consistently keeping the mind open to fresh ideas so that we do not miss out on what is important in selecting students, to challenge conventional wisdom, and to look for applicants with “heart”.

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