How to Work with Pre-Health Advisors and Committees

Have you ever noticed that many schools note that they want a letter of recommendation from a “pre-health advisor or committee if available to the student”?  In this article, I’d like to give you the basics of what a pre-health advisor is from my perspective and why they can be your ally in the application process.

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Good Things Come to Those Who Are Waitlisted

 
You have all certainly heard the expression “good things come to those who wait.”  Since our first days of pre-school, the virtue of patience has been constantly reinforced as a valuable trait.  For years we have stood in lines and waited for our turns.
In the fast paced life of a physician, in which potential decisions must sometimes be made in a matter of seconds, patience is sometimes an undervalued trait. In the realm of medicine, “waiting” almost seems to be a dirty word for both patients and physicians alike.

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Life as a Re-Applicant

 
Just over a year ago, I stood, heart racing and hands trembling, in front of my mailbox.  Any other Thursday I would have nonchalantly checked my mail as I came home from work, but today was an entirely different story.
A friend had texted me earlier in the day to let me know that decision letters had been delivered by our state school.  I had only been offered two interviews, and the letter which innocently lay in my mailbox represented my highest hope for attending medical school that year.  I paced for a full two minutes in front of my mailbox before I built up the courage to open it.  I probably would have paced longer, but someone came down my hallway, and I felt a bit foolish dancing around in front of the mailboxes.
Four attempts at inserting my key in the lock later, I was holding a too-thin, white, letter-sized envelope in my severely shaking hands.  Suddenly, I desperately needed to know the contents of that letter, and I ripped open the envelope with fervor akin to a starving man diving into a steak dinner.  I never made it past the first line.  The phrase

We regret to inform you…

jumped out of the page.
Panic gripped me, and it seemed that I could barely breathe, but no tears clouded my vision as I stared mindlessly at those dream-shattering words.  I stumbled down the hall to my apartment, where I collapsed in my desk chair.
In an attempt to think of something, anything, else, I opened the browser on my laptop and checked my e-mail.  I immediately noticed that I had received an e-mail from the one other school I had interviewed at, my last chance for the year.  I quickly opened the e-mail, only to discover that I had been waitlisted.
Utterly shocked, I crossed the room and lay down on my bed with one thought on my mind.  What in the world am I going to do now?

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Student Hosts

 
So you’ve scheduled an interview at your dream school and bought your plane ticket, but where will you stay the night before the interview?
Interviewees have several options available to them when choosing lodging.  Oftentimes, the obvious choice is a hotel room located close to the school, but this option can be expensive.  Staying with a student host can be a great alternative.
If you have browsed the Student Doctor Network Forums, you are probably aware that student hosting exists, but you might not understand exactly how it works or why it’s a good option.

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How to Survive Interview Travels

 
You’ve been waiting for what seems like an eternity. You practically snatch the mail from the mail carrier as it is being delivered and frantically search through the stacks of coupons and bills to find some good news; just as you are ready to steel yourself for yet another disappointment, your heart stops.
There it is.
The school’s emblem sits silently above the return address on the envelope, meeting your stare. Hands shaking, you fumble with the envelope and eventually manage to tear it open. Unfolding the letter it contained, you discover that someone out there thinks you are interesting enough to offer you an interview.
After you finish dancing with your neighbors who were minding their own business until that point and get done laminating the letter, you catch your breath and wonder, “How do I proceed now?”
It is possible that you have never been on a plane before, nor traveled out of state. Now you are expected to travel to a city you have never been to, alone, and make a favorable impression upon an admissions committee member-oh, right, and then there’s the issue of paying for the trip as well.
Luckily, on the Student Doctor Network Forums, many students have already been through what you are about to go through and can offer you some valuable advice. If, however, you don’t feel like perusing pages of threads to get the answer to a quick question, this article might be just what you need.

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20 Questions: Michael Hyde, O.D. [Optometry]

Michael Hyde graduated from the University of Houston in 2002.  He currently practices on Mondays at the MS Eye CARE Clinic at the University of Houston and in Huntsville, Texas.
His areas of interest are glaucoma and neuro-ophthalmic disease and binocular vision disorders. He also enjoys complex, specialty contact lens fittings.
He recently took time from his schedule to answer a few questions for SDN.
Describe a typical day at work.
On Mondays I see a variety of cases as I work with Rosa Tang, MD (a well respected neuro-ophthalmologist) out of the University of Houston. It keeps my interest in learning and gives me good detective skills to use. The rest of the week I deal with primary eye care issues at my own practice. I enjoy the the hectic pace and the management of a business. It has been both rewarding and frustrating, and it constantly pushes me to learn and adapt and grow.

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Just Sign on the Dotted Line

 Updated September 19, 2021. The article was updated to correct minor grammatical errors and for … Read more

20 Questions: Ken Elder, O.D. [Optometry]


Born and raised in Niagara Falls, Dr. Elder graduated from the State University of New York College of Optometry after serving an internship with the Indian Health Service on the Navajo reservation in Arizona.
Upon graduating, Dr. Elder completed his residency in Primary Care at SUNY. After his residency Dr. Elder served as clinic director for TLC Laser Eye Centers in Las Vegas, Nevada before moving back east to Connecticut.
Today, he is a partner in a two-doctor private practice in central Connecticut. Dr. Elder enjoys golf, photographing historical sites, and cheering on his beloved Buffalo Sabres during the NHL hockey season.

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Tell Me About Yourself: Trick Question (Interview Advice Column)

tell me about yourself

Updated June 24, 2021. The article was updated to correct minor grammatical errors. “It is … Read more

Staying The Course: A Guide To Messing Up

medical school acceptance with low stats

Updated August 12, 2021. The article was updated to correct minor grammatical errors. As I … Read more

An Interdisciplinary Approach To The Health Care Team

healthcare team

Updated August 19, 2021. The article was updated to correct minor grammatical errors and to … Read more

Before You Write Your Personal Statement, Read This

write your personal statement

A supplement to our Essay Workshop 101 Series. Essays & personal statements are an anxiety-inducing … Read more