Admissions Advice

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by jsancweb, Aug 2, 2001.

  1. jsancweb

    jsancweb New Member

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    make this as short as possible, but I believe some of the details are needed in order to efficiently answer the question. I am 21 years old and a 3rd year Chemistry major. I have a 3.9 overall GPA and 4.0 science. Now here's the problem: I pled guilty to a felony when I was 17 years old. I was basically in the wrong place at the wrong time when this occurred. I know everyone says this, but this is the truth. That was my first ever "run in with the law" and my last. I was sentenced to 5 years probation, and I was released after 2 years because I had not violated my probation. I had the conviction expunged from my criminal record, which basically erases it as if it never happened. I must add that the conviction was not a drug offense. I am very concerned over what exactly I should do. I have not told my pre-med advisor of this because I am not totally sure how and if it is the right thing to do. The paramount questions that I really need answered are: Will this prevent me from being accepted? Will this prevent me from obtaining a license? Where can I get further information or who could professionally answer my questions? I plan on taking the MCAT in April of 2002, which will by senior year, but I plan on taking a year off to work and take care of unrelated issues.

    Allow me to add one more piece of information. My parents divorced when I was 5 years old, and my grandparents obtained custody of me. I did, however, frequently visit both of parents, but never built a close relationship with either. My grandfather passed away when I was 13 years old, and at the same time, my grandmother lost her job of 25 years. My grandmother struggled financially until I was 16, and I unfortunately quit high school, obtained my GED and worked to help her with the finances. We have since paid off all of her bills and she is living comfortably now. I had to obtain an Associates degree at a community college, where I earned a 4.0 GPA, before I could be accepted into the university that I am currently attending. None of my medical school prerequisites were taken at the community college. Now I really thought I could explain this in my personal statement, that is why I am pursing it. But the more I think about it, the more I believe that I need to face reality, and find another career. If anyone can offer any advice please do so, and I greatly appreciate it. If there is a counselor or anyone out there that needs more information, and willing to help, e-mail me at [email protected] and I will get back to you. Thanks everyone.
     
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  3. ghettobird

    ghettobird Member
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    I'd say apply, and don't mention anything about the felony (as though it never happened). If it was o.k. in the eyes of the law to "expunge" it from your record, than it should not be the business of med. school adcoms.
    You obviously have a really good record of acheivement that shouldn't be spoiled by one mistake from several years ago. Peace.
     
  4. C U in MD school

    C U in MD school Senior Member
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    u dont need to tell the med schools about this. since it's off your record you have nothing to worry about. even if its on your record, they have no way of checking anyway. so, dont report it, no matter what.
    it sounds like you had a hard life. if you do put it in, i would put it in my personal statmetn and make it as positive as possible. ur gonna be ok, apply!
     
  5. jsancweb

    jsancweb New Member

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    The only problem with not mentioning it would arise on the licensing application where it asks if you have ever been charged with a criminal offense, and if you have anything adjuncted or expunged from your record. I've always heard that honesty always works, but in this case I'm having a hard time accepting it.
     
  6. BeckyG

    BeckyG Senior Member
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    Hi jsancweb,

    I think the best thing to do would be to talk with a criminal atty re: whether you have a "public criminal record" (although you said it's been expunged, so you probably don't) that you need to report while applying to med school. Most juvenile actions are sealed; however, there are times when they become unsealed when the person becomes 21. That's why talking to the atty might be good. Otherwise, you can hire a private investigator to look up your records and see what comes up. This will let you know what anyone can find on you (i.e., what is public record).

    The other thing you might want to do (once you find out whether you have a public criminal record) is call a few medical licensing boards anonymously and tell them your situation. See what they say. If you do not have a criminal record (public, that is), then you'll have nothing to disclose to a licensing board, etc. It all depends on what is public record. If the licensing board cannot answer your questions, ask for recommendations of attorneys who typically handles "defending" physicians in front of licensing boards. Perhaphs a medical malpractice atty would know this kind of information, as they would probably help the physician (if found guilty of malpractice) to get his/her license back. If not, it might be an employment attorney who specializes in health care/physicians, but I am not sure.

    If it were me, I'd do these things on my own, without talking to my pre-med advisor. All they'll do is tell you the same things (I think) and it may leave them with a "bad impression" of you (depending on what kind of people they are).

    Also, I would not talk about this stuff in the personal statement, unless you have to disclose the plea agreement (felony conviction as a minor). Personal statements are best when they discuss YOU as a person, your hopes and dreams of being a physician, your past experiences, etc. Having to explain away something negative detracts from a statement and can leave the wrong impression on Adcoms. I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck,

    Becky
     
  7. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator
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    You were probably prosecuted as a juvenile, since you were convicted when you were only 17. The practice of expunging a record of a conviction a certain amount of time after a juvenile was convicted is common practice in the juvie court system. The juvie system is very different than the adult system in that the juvie system is more focused on rehabilitation. Their practice of purging their records is done so that these youths can move on with their lives and get the same opportunities as others. I would recommend not saying anything about it to the admissions committees, because it was taken off your record for a reason. This unfortunate situation should not be a factor to keep you out of med school.

    Good luck.
     
  8. jsancweb

    jsancweb New Member

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    Actually I was tried as an adult. I look back now and regret that I did not take it to trial. But my attorney advised me that he had a "good deal" and that if I went to trial, I would be at high risk for incarceration. At that time, I just didn't want to go to prison, so I accepted. Additionally, the application for the medical license clearly asks if you have been charged with an offense, and if you have ever had anything expunged from your record.
     
  9. kspillman

    kspillman Member
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    My advice seems different from the rest. Apply and tell the truth. You don't have to tell every gory detail. I know someone personally who was convicted on drug charges, kicked out of the University which he attended, was deemed not allowed to practice in Florida (the place where the incident happened) and will be starting med school in Virginia at the end of this month. He was honest. He didn't get accepted at every school he applied, but he got in. He also had great grades and a great MCAT score. I think if you explain yourself just as you did here, that would be best. Let them know what you've learned and how you've grown from it. Don't just say that though, show them from your life. Don't let them know you even thought about pursuing other careers. This is what you want to do, DO IT!
     
  10. Bruin4Life

    Bruin4Life Senior Member
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    I know that Jefferson School of Medicine specifically mentions on thier brochure that in most cases those charged with a felony will not be considered for admission. Talk to an attorney, and, is there a professor or advisor you can share your dilemma with? I feel many would not include it or mention it because there's no trace of it.
     
  11. gower

    gower 1K Member
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    There is flexibilty in how medical schools will consider an applicant with a felony record. Some will outright not be interested, other will consider circumstances. Frankly, I think it best to be upfront about it. If you are caught in a lie, and you can never anticipate how it might come about, then you are done for. You will be looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life, because the lying itself is cause for loss of license or being thrown out a medical school or residency.

    I have personal knowledge of a student who spent hard time for armed robbery with a drug involvement. When he was released, the judge who sentenced him wrote a glowing letter praising his rehabilitation. He went to college as a chem major, did very well in grades and the MCAT, had a strong recommendation from the premedical committee and was accepted by a medical school which accepted another ex-con the year before. He did his residency at a prestigious oncology hospital/research institute. He is a licensed physician in practice for many years.

    But, of course, such exceptions are uncommon.

    By the way, medical schools state that even if the conviction was expunged, it must be reported as do penalized college infractions even if expunged from the record. How will anyone know if the record is expunged? You can never predict what ugly thing from the past may surface, often from the most unlikely and incredible circumstance.

    Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.
     
  12. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator
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    In that case, my earler advice is kind of moot. I would recommend being upfront about it. I agree with gower that what you try to hide now has the potential to greatly hurt you in your future career (more than if you were upfront to start with). Many med schools can be very understanding about this, and will take into account your situation and your age rather than just the fact that a felony was committed. You will, however, face obstacles, and it would probably be good to discuss your situation with a lawyer before you start applying.

    Don't give up before you try -- as you've heard from the others, there have been others who have gone into medicine who have been in this kind of situation before. Good luck!
     
  13. jsancweb

    jsancweb New Member

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    I really appreciate the advice that everyone has given. All I can do is apply and see what happens. I have a feeling that if I do not do so, that I will regret that for the rest of my life even more than I regret being caught up in the conviction in the first place. Should I talk with my advisor about this situation? Or just speak with an attorney myself, and do as he advises? Would it be wise to explain this in my personal statement? I know some of you have advised against this, but where would I explain it otherwise? I know that on the AMCAS application, they give you about 1/4 page to explain if you answered "yes" to any of the questions, one of them being "have you ever been convicted of a felony?"
     

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