Bad advice from advisors and what to do now

gilbenl

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Apr 18, 2012
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    I've been avoiding dealing with this issue in public for quite some time, but I've run out of options. So, here's my situation:

    I'm a third time applicant. My first two attempts were with a miserable BCMP=3.0, GPA=3.4 and MCAT=25. I have since done a special masters program and retook my mcat: GPA=3.6 MCAT=29. I also have great recommendations, 5+publications, 6 years of research experience, grant writing experience, etc etc etc. I'm also taking a job in research at one of the schools I am applying to.

    I have since met with admissions directors at schools I am interested in and they have responded positively. Unfortunately, there's a lingering question: During my freshman year, I got popped with 2 on-campus alcohol violations. At the beginning of my junior year, I was caught smoking a joint. No police, just $30 fines. I've never had any ethical violations...hell, I've never gotten a speeding ticket. When I first applied, I asked the advisor if I should mention these and he said no, so I didn't. Next application, same deal.

    Now I find myself with a real chance for the first time, and I am worried about whether I should mention them. I now have a new advisor and she said she didn't know. She met with the dean of students who said the following: "We very, very rarely have schools ask for these records. In fact, I can't remember the last time one did."

    Long story short, my concern is that if I mention these issue that first, three violations don't strike me as major, and second that schools that I have previously applied to will raise an alarm when they discover that I haven't mentioned these issues in the past. I would take the risk except that the school where I have my best chance, there are students who know me and know the details of the incidents. That being said, I don't know if current students are asked about details of applicants past.
     

    MMADoc

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      Are these "incidents" official institutional actions or infractions against you? Are they recorded as such in your file at your university? If so, did you report them on your primary AMCAS application?
       

      gilbenl

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      Apr 18, 2012
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        Are these “incidents” official institutional actions or infractions against you? Yes

        Are they recorded as such in your file at your university? Yes, but cannot be released without additional consent, or so I am told.

        If so, did you report them on your primary AMCAS application? No
         
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        tough situation. This late in the game you risk getting your acceptance revoked (which I think would happen. - Alcohol=not bad, joint=problem). It clearly says you must report these things, so there is no excuse.
         

        tenndoc

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          Are these “incidents” official institutional actions or infractions against you? Yes

          Are they recorded as such in your file at your university? Yes, but cannot be released without additional consent, or so I am told.

          If so, did you report them on your primary AMCAS application? No
          i believe that means that the committee will see that you have things on your record and they will dig in further
           

          MMADoc

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            That's a tough cookie. You're in a non-disclosure situation which medical schools tend to take fairly seriously from my understanding. Is there any indication of these incidents on your final transcripts? The real pickle is that the lack of reporting may come back to haunt you down the road if you do get accepted this year (and not disclose the incidents) and affect your status as a medical student. I would suggest asking your current advisor or the dean of students what they suggest you do given the situation. As for current students knowing of your past and telling an adcom at the school...who knows? It's for sure a risk but hard to gage how large of a one.
             

            gilbenl

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            Apr 18, 2012
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              The problem all along has been conflicting advice from advisors. I spoke with the director of my SMP and he said that the infractions are not a problem so long as I "own them" and move on. As for the schools I've already applied to, he said that the odds of them going back and cross-referencing past apps are slim to nil.

              I've arranged a meeting with the dean of students to A) See the record itself and B) Ask if I can get the two alcohol violations combined.

              Keep in mind though, I haven't been accepted/pending acceptance anywhere. So, I'm not worried about non-disclosure on past apps, except on the off chance that a school decides to cross-reference.
               

              cincincyreds

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                I've been avoiding dealing with this issue in public for quite some time, but I've run out of options. So, here's my situation:

                I'm a third time applicant. My first two attempts were with a miserable BCMP=3.0, GPA=3.4 and MCAT=25. I have since done a special masters program and retook my mcat: GPA=3.6 MCAT=29. I also have great recommendations, 5+publications, 6 years of research experience, grant writing experience, etc etc etc. I'm also taking a job in research at one of the schools I am applying to.

                I have since met with admissions directors at schools I am interested in and they have responded positively. Unfortunately, there's a lingering question: During my freshman year, I got popped with 2 on-campus alcohol violations. At the beginning of my junior year, I was caught smoking a joint. No police, just $30 fines. I've never had any ethical violations...hell, I've never gotten a speeding ticket. When I first applied, I asked the advisor if I should mention these and he said no, so I didn't. Next application, same deal.

                Now I find myself with a real chance for the first time, and I am worried about whether I should mention them. I now have a new advisor and she said she didn't know. She met with the dean of students who said the following: "We very, very rarely have schools ask for these records. In fact, I can't remember the last time one did."

                Long story short, my concern is that if I mention these issue that first, three violations don't strike me as major, and second that schools that I have previously applied to will raise an alarm when they discover that I haven't mentioned these issues in the past. I would take the risk except that the school where I have my best chance, there are students who know me and know the details of the incidents. That being said, I don't know if current students are asked about details of applicants past.

                I was on the admissions board when I was in medical school. If I found out about your joint, I would just throw your application in the garbage. As far as the alcohol, I would still throw your application in the garbage. So my advice would be to hide this stuff.

                Now, you never really got a 30 on the MCAT, so I would make sure to apply to DO schools. I doubt with your record you could get into an MD school, but you may as well try anyway.
                 

                gilbenl

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                  I was on the admissions board when I was in medical school. If I found out about your joint, I would just throw your application in the garbage. As far as the alcohol, I would still throw your application in the garbage. So my advice would be to hide this stuff.

                  Now, you never really got a 30 on the MCAT, so I would make sure to apply to DO schools. I doubt with your record you could get into an MD school, but you may as well try anyway.

                  Laughable. I'd love to know the school where you sat on an admissions board...

                  Essentially, what you're claiming is that medical school applicants should either have records beyond reproach, or be darn good liars?

                  Anyway, the other points have been very helpful.
                   

                  orangedog

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                    Other comments aside, I had a friend with a misdemeanor on his record for a stupid frat-related incident. He put it on his application, was open and honest about what happened, and is starting residency this year. I think the best thing he did was proactively bring it up during interviews. He didn't shy away from it. It showed maturity and it showed he took responsibility for his actions.

                    It's a tough call in your situation. It sounds like your application is much stronger than it was in the past, but not beyond reproach. Your numbers are borderline, but your extracurriculars and LORs sound superb, and you are definitely a non-traditional student now. You don't want your application to go unread because of a couple of indiscretions at age 18. The reality is some people like the previous poster would throw you in the trash, and others wouldn't. It's just luck of the draw unfortunately. That being said, if for some reason they find out you didn't disclose then you are definitely out, and re-applying will not help at that school. However, what are the odds that ALL schools are going to check? Slim to none. Some schools (all?) do a background check now, but if there was no law enforcement action then it should not show up.

                    Given your previous application history (and from what I have been told schools DO look at old apps), I think you may just have to keep it off and roll the dice. It sounds like you were given some short-sighted guidance in the beginning, and you'll just have to stick with it.

                    Regardless of what you do, your job is to get your boss (or someone there) at the new job to be your champion to the ad com. That will be your best bet. Also, immerse yourself in the campus, go to medical grand rounds, shadow, etc. If your boss is an MD shadow them as well. You're basically on a permanent interview while you are there, and don't forget that.

                    Good luck!

                    I've been avoiding dealing with this issue in public for quite some time, but I've run out of options. So, here's my situation:

                    I'm a third time applicant. My first two attempts were with a miserable BCMP=3.0, GPA=3.4 and MCAT=25. I have since done a special masters program and retook my mcat: GPA=3.6 MCAT=29. I also have great recommendations, 5+publications, 6 years of research experience, grant writing experience, etc etc etc. I'm also taking a job in research at one of the schools I am applying to.

                    I have since met with admissions directors at schools I am interested in and they have responded positively. Unfortunately, there's a lingering question: During my freshman year, I got popped with 2 on-campus alcohol violations. At the beginning of my junior year, I was caught smoking a joint. No police, just $30 fines. I've never had any ethical violations...hell, I've never gotten a speeding ticket. When I first applied, I asked the advisor if I should mention these and he said no, so I didn't. Next application, same deal.

                    Now I find myself with a real chance for the first time, and I am worried about whether I should mention them. I now have a new advisor and she said she didn't know. She met with the dean of students who said the following: "We very, very rarely have schools ask for these records. In fact, I can't remember the last time one did."

                    Long story short, my concern is that if I mention these issue that first, three violations don't strike me as major, and second that schools that I have previously applied to will raise an alarm when they discover that I haven't mentioned these issues in the past. I would take the risk except that the school where I have my best chance, there are students who know me and know the details of the incidents. That being said, I don't know if current students are asked about details of applicants past.
                     

                    orangedog

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                      Laughable. I'd love to know the school where you sat on an admissions board...

                      Essentially, what you're claiming is that medical school applicants should either have records beyond reproach, or be darn good liars?

                      Anyway, the other points have been very helpful.

                      I don't think you are looking at it from the ad com perspective. It's not that you must have an application that is perfect, it's just that right now schools don't need to take any risks. There are over 40,000 applications for less than 20,000 slots (or something around there). Why gamble when there is an excess of students without any blemishes? On an individual level it stinks, but on the big picture level why should the schools take a risk? There is just no rational incentive for them to take a risk.
                       

                      MMADoc

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                        I don't think you are looking at it from the ad com perspective. It's not that you must have an application that is perfect, it's just that right now schools don't need to take any risks. There are over 40,000 applications for less than 20,000 slots (or something around there). Why gamble when there is an excess of students without any blemishes? On an individual level it stinks, but on the big picture level why should the schools take a risk? There is just no rational incentive for them to take a risk.


                        Even though I fully understand, it is realities like this that leave a sour taste in my mouth concerning the medical school application process.

                        As for the OP's situation, with your MCAT/Grades combo, your kind of on the lower end for MD acceptances in the first place and it's your great ECs that are giving you a fighting chance. Overcoming institutional actions or a criminal record is tough however not reporting them in the first place if the medical school finds out is the kiss of death. Is there any official record (or even an email) of the previous adivisor's advice to not report the incidents? Can you clean your record or possibly get it sealed? Otherwise, the "I didn't know"excuse tends not to fly.
                         
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                        tenndoc

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                          It's always better to be honest and open. I was able to get my record wiped but still disclosed it (kinda forced to as I wasn't positive it would be clean when I did my background check). It came up only one time in six interviews
                           

                          Aerus

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                            I would just take responsibility for it. You never know. If they throw it in the trash, so be it. But you don't want to risk them finding out that you didn't tell them.
                             

                            1TB4RKSB4CK

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                              3rd time re-applicant is going to hurt you. Applying both times with the same stats is not a good look. Doesn't show that you made any effort to change. The 3rd time coming, it looks like you managed to get a GPA boost and SMP under your belt. Before you apply, since the numbers can't change as much anymore, focus on the essentials such as PS, applying early, 2ndarys if given, and interviews.
                               

                              kexy

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                                Take my advice with a grain of salt since I'm just a pre-med student.

                                First of all, these incidents must be pretty far in the past if you're already a third time applicant. I'm not sure if the joint thing makes them incredibly serious or something, but I think that if people can get in with a criminal record and an old DUI, some 5+ year old college institutional actions aren't going to stop you. However, these IA's combined with your very borderline stats are probably going to stop you.

                                You should definitely contact your undergrad and ask if you can do something to get these records expunged. I know at my school, for example, if you are caught drinking in campus housing, you can organize an alcohol awareness event to get it cleared from your record. Or, after a certain amount of time, your record may be wiped clean.

                                Also, you may want to consider retaking the MCAT. And if I were you, I would also strongly consider applying DO as well. I would also apply to a good number of MD schools that you are NOT a reapplicant at. If you do decide to disclose your infractions (which I think you should), then at least some schools won't have any old apps to cross-reference against and get suspicious.

                                Good luck.
                                 

                                music2doc

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                                  Are these “incidents” official institutional actions or infractions against you? Yes

                                  Are they recorded as such in your file at your university? Yes, but cannot be released without additional consent, or so I am told.

                                  If so, did you report them on your primary AMCAS application? No

                                  Then you must report them. Not doing so will get any acceptance you do come by rescinded. There is simply no excuse.

                                  The problem all along has been conflicting advice from advisors. I spoke with the director of my SMP and he said that the infractions are not a problem so long as I "own them" and move on. As for the schools I've already applied to, he said that the odds of them going back and cross-referencing past apps are slim to nil.

                                  I've arranged a meeting with the dean of students to A) See the record itself and B) Ask if I can get the two alcohol violations combined.

                                  Keep in mind though, I haven't been accepted/pending acceptance anywhere. So, I'm not worried about non-disclosure on past apps, except on the off chance that a school decides to cross-reference.

                                  Dude, seriously? Quit rationalizing and own your own mistakes. It's not your advisor's responsibility to know all of the rules. They usually have other things to do as well and the responsibility for these things ultimately lies squarely on you.

                                  Laughable. I'd love to know the school where you sat on an admissions board...

                                  Essentially, what you're claiming is that medical school applicants should either have records beyond reproach, or be darn good liars?

                                  Anyway, the other points have been very helpful.

                                  Yes, applicants should have records beyond reproach. What makes you think that is so hard to find? I would estimate that most applicants (probably 90+%) have no criminal activity on their record (whether via school or court records) beyond minor traffic infractions and probably less than 50% have any sort of misconduct on their record at all. You, on the other hand, have three offenses over a period of only two years and the final offense was quite recent (sounds like it was definitely within the past 4-5 years).

                                  You need to find some way of demonstrating you've grown. Own your mistakes and move on.

                                  I don't think you are looking at it from the ad com perspective. It's not that you must have an application that is perfect, it's just that right now schools don't need to take any risks. There are over 40,000 applications for less than 20,000 slots (or something around there). Why gamble when there is an excess of students without any blemishes? On an individual level it stinks, but on the big picture level why should the schools take a risk? There is just no rational incentive for them to take a risk.

                                  Exactly. OP, you're a risk -- academically, psychosocially, legally, etc. Why would anyone consider you over the average applicant with a 3.5/28 and no legal blemishes? For that matter, why take you over a 3.67/32 (the average acceptee) with no legal blemishes?
                                   

                                  yellowfish

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                                    Exactly. OP, you're a risk -- academically, psychosocially, legally, etc. Why would anyone consider you over the average applicant with a 3.5/28 and no legal blemishes? For that matter, why take you over a 3.67/32 (the average acceptee) with no legal blemishes?

                                    Diversity! Every medical school needs people with past institutional actions. It strengthens the student body.
                                     

                                    Dr. Ducky

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                                      3rd time re-applicant is going to hurt you. Applying both times with the same stats is not a good look. Doesn't show that you made any effort to change. The 3rd time coming, it looks like you managed to get a GPA boost and SMP under your belt. Before you apply, since the numbers can't change as much anymore, focus on the essentials such as PS, applying early, 2ndarys if given, and interviews.

                                      No thoughts concerning the institutional action taken against OP? Let's be honest, you only read the first paragraph and posted, right? :p

                                      OP, there's really nothing that can be said this far along. It should have been disclosed earlier, but it is what it is. I do agree with previous posts that you are a risk, and if the incidents ever come to light, it would almost certainly be a deal breaker. All I can hope is that you've truly matured if you happen to slip through he cracks.
                                       
                                      Last edited:

                                      gilbenl

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                                        Thanks for all the great insight folks.

                                        Here's some thoughts I'd like to share:

                                        First, while I certainly wouldn't want an alcoholic/druggie/unethical physician, this business about med applicants needing to be "perfect" (no transgressions/infractions/etc) is a major problem. Of the people we will one day treat, most won't be "perfect," and the last thing anyone wants is some snooty doc looking down on their patients. I'm a student and just look at some of the comments I've received from so-called "perfect" folks. It's going to be interesting when they have their first OD or prostitute show up in their office...

                                        Sorry, I couldn't let that go. It's a discussion for another day, but food for thought. Also, "perfect" is an umbrella term...nobody is perfect.

                                        Second, here's what all this comes down to:
                                        I will not be applying to schools that I have in the past this cycle (sorry, should have mentioned that). Also, I am not applying to Harvard or GW or Baylor etc. Where I am applying, a 29/3.5 is average or better, and I've been told by admins that I am competitive, namely because of my research/EC/Recs and the actual breakdown of my MCAT. Finally, I have a distinct advantage in that my GPA has increased by an avg of .2 pts every semester since soph year. Point is, I have worked very hard to get where I am today, both in the classroom and in who I am as a person. Quite frankly, I know I didn't make nearly as many bad decisions as most folks, I just really stink at not getting caught.

                                        From all y'alls advice, here's what I plan to do:
                                        I've set up a meeting with the dean who can adjust my record. At minimum, I'm going to try to get the alcohol violations combined...best case, get the record sealed. Regardless of the outcome, I'm going to disclose whatever remains in the "public" record. I've put a lot of thought into it and came to the conclusion that I'd rather not get in at all than run the risk of getting in, having those issues come up some how and then getting thrown out. Especially considering I stink at not getting caught.

                                        Sorry for the painfully long post (little too much caffeine), but I sincerely appreciate everyones advice and I will follow up soon.
                                         

                                        music2doc

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                                          Thanks for all the great insight folks.

                                          Here's some thoughts I'd like to share:

                                          First, while I certainly wouldn't want an alcoholic/druggie/unethical physician, this business about med applicants needing to be "perfect" (no transgressions/infractions/etc) is a major problem. Of the people we will one day treat, most won't be "perfect," and the last thing anyone wants is some snooty doc looking down on their patients. I'm a student and just look at some of the comments I've received from so-called "perfect" folks. It's going to be interesting when they have their first OD or prostitute show up in their office...
                                          Believe it or not, many would say the opposite is actually true [in many cases]. People who are treated by someone with the same chronic/lifestyle problems often do not do well because the person treating them is seen as no better (i.e., you didn't "walk your talk." It is certainly not necessary to have been involved in drugs, sex trade/prostitution, sexual offenses, etc. to treat or counsel such a person. (As a matter of fact, within the psychological/psychiatric community, doing so is actually considered highly dubious due to the potential for unethical actions and/or relationships!)
                                          Sorry, I couldn't let that go. It's a discussion for another day, but food for thought. Also, "perfect" is an umbrella term...nobody is perfect.
                                          I agree no one is perfect and, perhaps, your past can be overlooked with some time and effort to make amends. At the same time, the actions you have described and your intentions going forward seem to indicate someone much more focused on "getting in" than on actually growing as a person.
                                          Second, here's what all this comes down to:
                                          I will not be applying to schools that I have in the past this cycle (sorry, should have mentioned that). Also, I am not applying to Harvard or GW or Baylor etc. Where I am applying, a 29/3.5 is average or better, and I've been told by admins that I am competitive, namely because of my research/EC/Recs and the actual breakdown of my MCAT. Finally, I have a distinct advantage in that my GPA has increased by an avg of .2 pts every semester since soph year. Point is, I have worked very hard to get where I am today, both in the classroom and in who I am as a person. Quite frankly, I know I didn't make nearly as many bad decisions as most folks, I just really stink at not getting caught.
                                          What makes you think "most folks" do the things you did? Sounds like you should have hung with a different crowd. ;)

                                          What do you think it is that most of us (who will have MDs after our names in 4 or less years -- i.e., have been accepted or are current medical students) have done wrong that is so much worse than what you have done? No, nobody is perfect, but you seem to be doing a lot of rationalizing here and I get the sneaking suspicion you have a very twisted perspective on other people's decisions.
                                          From all y'alls advice, here's what I plan to do:
                                          I've set up a meeting with the dean who can adjust my record. At minimum, I'm going to try to get the alcohol violations combined...best case, get the record sealed. Regardless of the outcome, I'm going to disclose whatever remains in the "public" record. I've put a lot of thought into it and came to the conclusion that I'd rather not get in at all than run the risk of getting in, having those issues come up some how and then getting thrown out. Especially considering I stink at not getting caught.
                                          You have to report regardless of whether or not the records are sealed, combined, etc. It's what the school would have reported at the time of the infraction that AMCAS requires. Now, is lying once they're sealed likely to get caught? Probably not. However, at what point do you choose to have some integrity?

                                          Are you really willing to completely let your integrity go just to get into medical school?

                                          Is it always about getting caught to you or do you have something of value to protect?

                                          Sorry for the painfully long post (little too much caffeine), but I sincerely appreciate everyones advice and I will follow up soon.

                                          I wish you the best of luck, but I really hope you grow a bit before applying to medical school. You seem to still be stuck in a child's perspective on right and wrong. Please take responsibility for who you are and for your own decisions. You aren't simply "bad at getting caught" or "suffer from poor advising" or "no worse than most other people".... You're rationalizing. We all do it, but seriously, knock it off! :laugh:
                                           

                                          gilbenl

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                                          Apr 18, 2012
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                                            Believe it or not, many would say the opposite is actually true [in many cases]. People who are treated by someone with the same chronic/lifestyle problems often do not do well because the person treating them is seen as no better (i.e., you didn't "walk your talk." It is certainly not necessary to have been involved in drugs, sex trade/prostitution, sexual offenses, etc. to treat or counsel such a person. (As a matter of fact, within the psychological/psychiatric community, doing so is actually considered highly dubious due to the potential for unethical actions and/or relationships!)

                                            I agree no one is perfect and, perhaps, your past can be overlooked with some time and effort to make amends. At the same time, the actions you have described and your intentions going forward seem to indicate someone much more focused on "getting in" than on actually growing as a person.

                                            What makes you think "most folks" do the things you did? Sounds like you should have hung with a different crowd. ;)

                                            What do you think it is that most of us (who will have MDs after our names in 4 or less years -- i.e., have been accepted or are current medical students) have done wrong that is so much worse than what you have done? No, nobody is perfect, but you seem to be doing a lot of rationalizing here and I get the sneaking suspicion you have a very twisted perspective on other people's decisions.


                                            I wish you the best of luck, but I really hope you grow a bit before applying to medical school. You seem to still be stuck in a child's perspective on right and wrong. Please take responsibility for who you are and for your own decisions. You aren't simply "bad at getting caught" or "suffer from poor advising" or "no worse than most other people".... You're rationalizing. We all do it, but seriously, knock it off! :laugh:

                                            Troll.
                                             

                                            music2doc

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                                              Dr. Ducky

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                                                I actually considered writing a post very similar to music2doc, but didn't feel like putting in the effort and, honestly, just hoped this thread would go ahead and be forgotten (seeing as how OP had some closure).

                                                I do hear quite a bit of rationalizing from OP. We all make mistakes, and no applicant is perfect. However, OP made intentional decisions that were obviously against the rules and concerning the illegal use of substances.

                                                No, patients do not want a snooty doc, but they do want one that carries himself/herself in a professional manner outside of the office as well as in it. This is what gains the patient's trust and respect. I remember my mother telling me about her childhood doctor that would give her advice concerning lifestyle choices and then be seen lighting up a cigarette. She was a child and didn't respect him. I imagine adults would be even more critical....
                                                 
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