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June 2006

Volume 26 | Number 2

Special Theme: Criminal Background Checks

Criminal Background Checks: Meeting the Expectations of the Public and the Needs of the Professions
Robert Sabalis, Ph.D.

In this article Dr. Sabalis explains the context for the development of “an AAMC administered national, centralized system for completing and reporting on criminal background checks for potentially all AAMC member medical schools.” An 18-member AAMC Criminal Background Check Advisory Committee was formed to advise the GSA Steering Committee and make recommendations about how this system might function. The article contains the substance of these recommendations (2 pages) as well as five other relevant issues discussed during Advisory Committee meetings.

The Criminal Background Check Requirement for Medical School Admission: Keeping Minority Applicants and the Criminal Justice System in Close Perspective
Cynthia E. Boyd, M.D.

Pointing to widely documented disparities in the way minorities are treated within the criminal justice system, Dr. Boyd offers eleven recommendations for health professions advisors and admissions committee members. She offers these recommendations for use as a guideline in order that advisors, student affairs personnel, admissions committee members and other medical school officials can be more cognizant of the existence of discretionary decisions, and how these may have affected the minority applicant with a criminal background.

Boston University School of Medicine: One School's Approach to Criminal Background Checks
Robert Witzburg, M.D.

Boston University School of Medicine appointed a committee to develop policies and procedures to advise Dean Karen Antman on the use of Criminal Background Checks (CBCs) in medical school. The Committee was asked to address the following topics: use of CBCs for accepted applicants; guidelines for evaluation the information obtained from CBCs; management of the information once it has been obtained; and, the process for performing CBCs on enrolled students and on Pathway students. Dr. Witzburg presents a synopsis of the Committee’s report. His article also includes a workflow chart for the “Criminal History Review Committee.” Dr. Witzburg concludes with the hope that the program designed at Boston University will serve to “bring our campus together, rather than divide us.” He suggests every medical school undertake a similar process in order to devise a system, for handling criminal background checks, tailored to the particular history and culture of that institution.

Public Health: A Field Whose Time Has Come — Association of Schools of Public Health Launches Common Application Service
Arthur J. Culbert, Ph.D
Allison J. Foster, M.B.A., C.A.E.
William H. Harvey, Ph.D.
Jeffery T. Johnson, Ph.D.

The authors write about the development of the SOPHAS – the Schools of Public Health Application Service. While presenting the history, they also provide information about the career field and possible degree combinations. Readers can find references to additional resources, such as Public Health, Career Choices that Make a Difference and the website www.whatispublichealth.org. As explained in the article, SOPHAS plans to do more than provide a centralized application for students. For example, the site should serve to help “clarify the complexity of public health both for the applicant and the advisor.” The authors encourage advisors to visit www.sophas.org.

The International Job Market for Public Health Graduates: Supply an Demand
Caitlin Kennedy, M.P.H.
Jane Park
Timothy Baker, M.D., M.P.H.

This article is the result of a study undertaken to estimate general workforce supply and economic demand in the area of Global Health. The authors acknowledge the myriad problems of attempting such a measurement. Based on available data from the Association of Schools of Public Health, private voluntary organizations registered with USAID, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), they conclude: “it appears that the supply of trained personnel in International Health is not exceeding demand.”

A Top Ten List of Premedical Student "Diseases and Syndromes"
Kerry L. Cheesman, Ph.D.

Dr. Cheesman adopts a humorous approach to illuminating common problems encountered when advising premedical students. He offers solutions based on his 20 years of undergraduate advising experience coupled with prior experience teaching and doing research at a medical school. While advisors might disagree about the ranking or related syndromes (functopenia could become a growing concern which might outrank organochemophobia), Dr. Cheesman offers easily digested, practical advice for helping “all of us re-examine our role as health professions advisors.”

Book Review: Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World
Book by Tracy Kidder
Review by Karen deOlivares

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