March 2008

Volume 28 | Number 1

Collection of Articles

Preventive Medicine: An Opportunity to Combine Public Health and Medicine
F. Douglas Scutchfield, M.D.

Dr Scutchfield describes a preventive medicine specialty for physicians interested in a career in public health. The three general areas covered by this medical specialty are general preventive medicine, aerospace medicine and occupational medicine. The residency for this specialty is 3 years long, combining traditional clinical medicine with public health and preventive medicine experiences. Typically the resident in this specialty earns an MPH or equivalent. Given the recent number of public and global health concerns, preventive medicine is an important specialty for physicians to consider.

His premise is that an early meeting with an advisee needs to be an extended one. In general, he recommends the following goals as important to accomplish in that first meeting. Establishing a relationship and discovering the advisee’s knowledge base as well as aspirations are key elements to successful advisor/advisee work. As advisors, we need to help students reflect upon and assess their skills, interests, and experiences. We also must guide them in clarifying their needs; not dictating steps, but rather helping them discover their own needs and plan their own paths to fulfilling those needs. Done well, the advisor/advisee relationship models a positive doctor/patient relationship, is itself instructive to the student.

Dr. Savett takes the reader through a detailed interview, complete with follow up questions, and points out teachable moments along the way. He also offers a sample interview form that may be especially useful to new advisors. The author’s insights and suggestions will be useful for new and experienced advisors getting to know new advisees.

Making the MCAT Writing Sample Less Complex
Jerry Passon, M.A.
Gina Paul, Ph.D.

Authors Passon and Paul present an outline of the component of the MEDPREP course taught at the Southern Illinois U. School of Medicine dedicated to helping students improve their MCAT Writing Sample score. Although students commonly perceive the Writing Sample to be of less importance than other MCAT sections, the authors believe that the ability to write reflects the way in which one thinks, and is, therefore, an important skill to learn. They approach writing skill building through a series of three workshops. The first workshop focuses on the way in which the essays are graded and are taught to use the concepts of Clarity, Depth, and Complexity of Ideas in approaching their responses to the essay prompts. The second workshop provides in-depth examination of sample essays based on the concepts learned in the first workshop. The final workshop involves students examining and critiquing each others’ essays. Using this approach the MEDPREP students were able to raise their Writing Sample scores significantly.

Genetic Counseling as a Career Option: The Role of Health Profession Advisors
Amanda G. Noyes, M.S.
Robert E. Cannon, Ph.D.
Nancy Callanan, M.S., C.G.C.
Pamela J. Reitnauer, M.D., Ph.D.

This study was designed to determine if health profession advisors could help resolve an ongoing recruitment problem in genetic counseling. As with many other health professions, the diversity in genetic counseling does not resemble that of the general population. According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ 2006 Professional Status Survey, the majority of practicing genetic counselors are Caucasian females. A 2005 study by Oh and Lewis discovered that previous awareness of genetic counseling is correlated with consideration of the profession and that the students who were already aware of genetic counseling were more likely to be Caucasian females. Minority and male students were equally likely to consider the field if they had previous awareness.3 A survey of students enrolled in genetic counseling training programs in the 2003-2004 school year by Lega et al. revealed that only 2.5% of the 235 students first learned of genetic counseling through a career counselor.2 Health professions advisors are in the ideal position on college campuses to create and increase awareness about genetic counseling. We surveyed advisors to examine their knowledge of genetic counseling, their previous experiences with the field and how they prefer to receive new information about health professions. In addition, we solicited advising responses to hypothetical scenarios. The findings indicate that although health professions advisors do advise male and ethnic minority students, there are deficiencies in the advisors’ knowledge about the profession. None of the advisors demographics, including gender, ethnicity, years of experience or number of genetic counseling training programs in their region correlated with knowledge regarding genetic counseling. Advisors demonstrated a preference for suggesting genetic counseling to female students with higher GPAs over male students. Web-based sources were the most frequently chosen preference for receiving new information about health professions.

Healthcare Management: A Different Kind of Health Profession
Lydia M. Reed, M.B.A., C.A.E.

Healthcare management is a good career choice for persons who are interested in the business side of medicine and for those who have a passion for healthcare, but prefer not to function in a clinical setting. The career opportunities in this field are abundant and offer excellent earning potential, flexibility, and a means of making a difference in the community. The typical curriculum involves management theory, study of the healthcare industry, and the integration of theory with practical problem solving. Although there are numerous degrees granted in this field, the three most common are the MPH, the MBA, and the MHA. The author offers considerable detail about what to look for in a program, and provides an extensive list of web resources.

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