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Being overweight hurtful during interviews?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by jamilla_w, Aug 10, 2006.

  1. jamilla_w

    jamilla_w Guest

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    Does being overweight hurt your chances especially if you are a marginal candidate? Do they ever ask you about your own health and diet & exercise?
     
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  3. Richspiders07

    Richspiders07 User - peruser
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    I just want to prep this with an "With all due respect.." As horrible as it may sound, someone with similar statistics, ECs, and LORs who is in shape would likely have a slight edge. With so many health problems in the US being related to diet/exercise (diabetes, hypertension, obesity to name a few) it would be important to explain your view in health and diet/exercise. I've been asked in an interview what I would do about the current obesity epidemic/my view of the situation, and I'm an in shape person! So that seems like a hot topic regardless of your own lifestyle.

    However, If I were your patient (hypothetically), it would be hard for me to take advice to get in shape and take care of myself if my physician didn't follow his own orders (ie. you dont want to sound hypocritical). In essence, my advice were to perhaps casually bring it up yourself and relate it to your desire to enter the field. Have you struggled with diet and maintaining a healthy weight and so you want to assist others with similar concerns? etc
     
  4. TM2006

    TM2006 Member
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    If any school ever considers your weight as a criteria for admission, I would imagine that they would get sued for discrimination. I think self-confidence is more important than anything else, even if they ask questions about health/diet/exercise (which I'm sure they do).
     
  5. zachdhudson

    zachdhudson Junior Member
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    It's not even close to politically correct, but I would assume that it would at least affect the interviewers view towards you. Then the question is how much does the interview affect your chances.
     
  6. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    This must be why all professional atheletics coaches are in such great physical shape, yes?

    OP- Adcoms are pro's at looking for the best candidate. Will your physical appearance make or break you in how they hold you against another identical applicant? Probably, at least on a subconscious level. But you will rarely find two identical applicants in one pool.

    Aside from GPAs/MCATs/ECs, you also have the impression that you make during the interview, your sense of humor, your drive, and our goals. How you look is a part of the impression you give, but it's rarely the dealbreaker. Focus on making a great impression.

    Given the choice between being an overweight person who gives the impression of humility, drive and compassion or a more healthy person with arrogance issues, the former will win.
     
  7. OSUdoc08

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    Not if they don't write it down. When deciding to admit people, you don't always know the rationale.

    Personally, I would not admit someone who can't take care of themselves, because I wouldn't be assured that could take care of others.....
     
  8. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    True. Same with if your Jewish.
     
  9. Dr.TobiasFünke

    Physician 7+ Year Member

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    Most schools don't request pictures and unless you are fat enough for him to make a mental or physical note... he probably won’t remember you being overweight just what he wrote about what you said.

    The subconscious is another story. I learned in my one intro psych class that attractive people tend to do better professionally. That my affect the interviews overall impression of you.
     
  10. DropkickMurphy

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    Only if you're so large that the ADCOM members find themselves pulled into an orbit around you as you walk down the hallway.
     
  11. kypdurron5

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    I believe "weight" falls under criteria they're not "allowed" to consider, just like race, sex, creed, age, sexual orientation, etc. That said, it's not like being overweight is ever an advantage, so the options are either 1) non-issue or 2) disadvantage. I guess it just depends on whether or not your interviewers have any sort of personal bias. It's wouldn't hurt to do a "pre-interview diet" though >). If you can't significantly change your weight after trying...then forget about it! In other words, if you can't change something about you or your application then stop worrying about it >). You may want to point out the exercising/healthy eating you do though...just because you're overweight doesn't necessarily mean you don't try to live a healthy lifestyle.
     
  12. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Nor does thin automatically imply healthy. You want a nice slender physique? Bulimia, cigarettes and cocaine do wonders to keep you trim.
     
  13. DropkickMurphy

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    Just because it's not technically legal doesn't mean they can't or won't do it. Besides you'd have to prove that's why they didn't choose you and that would be next to impossible unless you happened to be the rarest of all med school candidates- 4.0/4.0 GPA's and 44 MCAT who just happens to have a weight that approximates the displacement of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier.
     
  14. ClockworkDoc

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    I've seen a fat doctor and med student before...its possible
     
  15. Richspiders07

    Richspiders07 User - peruser
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    I have too... but I've also seen my grandmother's oncologist outside the hospital smoking... :mad:
     
  16. Dr.McNinja

    Dr.McNinja Nobel War Prize Winner
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    They aren't legally allowed to question you about your family, sexual orientation, kids or plans for kids, or any number of other things for residency.
    And you know what, 100% of women who apply to surgery are asked about children. It is just the way it is.
    I wouldn't recommend going on a crash diet or anything, but there are maybe 2 seriously overweight people in my class. And if you look around, it is the trend. ADCOMs like to select towards that. Hell, the class below mine somehow had 6 gorgeous blonde girls. Must have been something they were looking for that year.
    Of note, they also told our class during orientation to stop smoking. Something about it being wrong to tell your patient to do something if you aren't willing to do it yourself.
     
  17. DropkickMurphy

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    Hell, both of the pulmonologists I work with smoke....when asked their answers are:
    Pulmonologist #1: "I figure if I'm going to be a hypocrite and tell them something they won't listen to, then I shouldn't listen to my own advice and be a total hypocrite."
    Pulmonologist #2: "It's a well informed decision at least. I can't claim I didn't know it's dangerous. Right?"

    :laugh:

    You'd be hard pressed to find a respiratory therapist who doesn't smoke. I'm the ONLY one out of the 40 or so RT's between the two hospitals I part time at who doesn't smoke. I take "Coke breaks". :laugh:
     
  18. Sol Rosenberg

    Sol Rosenberg Long Live the New Flesh!
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    Just to clarify, weight is not a "protected class" like race, color, religion, creed, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, and, in some states, sexual orientation. Therefore, it is perfectly legal for anyone to discriminate based upon weight.
     
  19. DropkickMurphy

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    Thank God.....lest someone we not be able to judge people for their own failings in life. :laugh:
     
  20. emgirl

    emgirl Senior Member
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    weight truly should not be a factor taken into consideration but i agree with the psych people, there's always the subconscious and appearances are always judged by others and in turn, effect how they view you. ive seen soooooo many guy TAs drooling over some dumb hot girl that flirts with them just to get a better grade. Its stupid but its just the way the world works. i think alot of very good looking people get alot of breaks in life they may not deserve, but theres also alot of normal looking people that work hard and get where they need to go. plus, people identify with others they have in common so if you get interviewed by someone thats overweight or average looking, they may be biased against thin, hot looking people and be more comfortable around *you*. in the end who really knows, just give it your all.
     
  21. mustangsally65

    mustangsally65 Sally 2.0
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    I would say that appearance makes a big difference. I remember being on an interview and being taken on a tour and given lunch and sitting around before my afternoon interviews. I didn't bring any makeup to do any touch-ups because I thought my interviews would be in the morning. I have oily skin and after a few hours I felt like I looked terrible. My face was shiny and I weighed about 30 pounds more than I do now.

    I felt like I was being evaluated on the total package: if you don't take care of yourself it can show. But before I get flamed for that, I used to be very judgemental of overweight people myself until I found out the reason why I was overweight and couldn't lose any weight. Once I got on appropriate medication I was able to take off the extra pounds, and I'm very forgiving of strangers I see in public now because I wonder if they have the same disorder.

    It's easy to judge someone on a split-second impression, but I think good interviewers/humans will realize that there are factors that are beyond our control and that contribute to how we look. It also matters how you carry yourself: I used to be very self conscious about my acne when all the other girls had perfect skin, but now I don't even notice it and I feel more confident in myself (my acne is caused by PCOS). That can make a big difference.
     
  22. Esteban

    Esteban Senior Member
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    Well, I think our society is quite shallow in many respects. Do overweight people get discriminated against? I think they do, but it is quite subtle. When I was fat, I don't think people were as nice to me as they are now that I am of average weight! (I don't think I am imagining this). It is something that a former fat person would totally understand. In fact, when I was at the doctor, a CNA who, like me, had lost lots of weight was telling about the social stigma of her obesity.

    I think that those people on admissions committees are human, and they judge on the basis of physical appearance. Of course there will never be any tangible evidence to support this claim...
     
  23. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
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    Hi there,
    With all due respect, weight (over or under) is not a consideration in medical school admissions. If a person has been invited for an interview, the admissions committee is looking at how the interviewee interacts on a personal level as opposed to physical conditioning. I have had some very buff people in my office that were obnoxious and condescending. I did not recommend admitting them and they were not admitted.

    Patients don't care about the weight of the physician that is offering them advice. What they DO care about is someone who is able to communicate with them and fully understand and take care of their healh concerns. This is not a function of weight.

    In no committee meeting that I have attended, has a discussion of weight been a factor pro or con in medical school admission.

    njbmd :)
     
  24. Philo

    Philo Philos
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    You should rethink this view because it is illogical. This is actually a common logical fallacy called argumentum ad hominem tu quoque. Basically, there is no logical connection between what a person does in his own life and what he epouses in an argument. If an overweight applicant wants to become a doctor and claims that he/she wants to heal people; you may not discredit her claim by stating that she is a hypocrit.
     
  25. OSUdoc08

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    This is an opinion. I'd never trust a physician who cannot take care of themselves. You cannot conclude that others would not feel the same way.
     
  26. MasterMD

    MasterMD it's a smile on the rocks
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    you can overcome PCOS weight gain with the proper diet and exercise.. i did and so have dozens of other women i have met through support groups. (the acne, hirsuitism, etc is another story) of course i run 5 miles a day and weight train for 30 min three times a week. but although i am extremely judgemental of myself and my weight (not overweight at all but im somehow convinced that i am) i am not of other people, even though i may think they CAN overcome it. since i constantly battle my weight, i don't judge other people, rather i feel bad that they must go through the same struggles i do.. (i also glare at those really really skinny girls in class with the big bag of chips and the 20oz coke they bring to class everyday) i do believe there is a solution for everyone, whether it is diet and exercise or medical help with your weight, but it is a serious health concern and should be dealt with properly.. it shows you take care of your health. when i see an overweight doctor, i usually can also tell if they are in shape.. you can be both--work out, have a resting heart rate of 50, but have a little extra on you. if they seem totally out of shape, i am bound not to take them seriously.

    it really depends on how overweight you are... there is a point where it is obvious it is not really in your control, there is a middle ground where you know if you cut back on the caramel frapps you could lose a pound in a week, and there is the still within a healthy weight range... really depends on all that... and yes, i think it will influence their opinion of you (i'm not trying to be mean, this is just what i honestly think) good luck with your apps! :luck:
     
  27. Doctor~Detroit

    Doctor~Detroit this poll sux!!!
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    maybe being overweight is relevant if you're giving preventive medical advice, but since when is preventive medicine a major component of american medicine? it seems to me that appearing hypocritical is a non-issue when prescribing meds.

    even when providing preventive medical advice, it seems like you could avoid hypocracy [sic] by doing so in a matter-of-fact manner rather than exhortative. "our best available evidence shows that obesity is associated with an x% chance of y disease" instead of "you better lose some weight or you soon may be facing disease y." do patients really want a guilt trip from their doctors anyway? more importantly, are they actually less likely to consider guilt-invoking advice? tell them what the evidence suggests and let them make health decision just as you have.
     
  28. OSUdoc08

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    Preventive medicine is increasing in popularity exponentially.......
     
  29. MD-To Be

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    Sure, it is discrimination and wrong but you can't sue someone unless you can prove it. What a person might think about an applicant regarding their weight can affect the person's admission without ever being openly discussed.
     
  30. DR U-GENetIC

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    actually they can ask you anything that they want.....labor laws dont apply here......they arent offering you a job....you are going to them asking them for a spot in school..........so they are free from any discrimination laws......etc....but even if they are not they can ask you then deny it i mean its an adcoms members word against a wanna0be med student who needs to lie because they cant get into any other med school...i mean cmon.... :sleep:
     
  31. MiesVanDerMom

    MiesVanDerMom D.o. or Die
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    You're paid during residency so I would think the laws do apply. I know they're required to give you maternity leave, for instance. And anyway, it's not like schools are allowed to discriminate. :thumbdown: :sleep:
     
  32. EMH

    EMH ARNG - MC
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    Have you seen Bill Parcells lately?
     
  33. ParvatiP

    ParvatiP Senior Member
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    This topic has been discussed multiple times, so you might want to search old threads to find other opinions...but I think the consensus is that being overweight will not hurt you during the interview (as long as you're self-confident,etc). However, that being said, you should try to get to a healthy weight for your own sake, regardless of med school. For residency and as a physician, the demands of your job will require you to be in decent shape.

    A separate, but related question: being overweight carries a social stigma, what about being underweight? I'd assume it's not really an issue, especially since it's harder to recognize when you're wearing a suit. I'm not worried about it, but I just wondered.
     
  34. 45408

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    my class has 200 people in it, and I saw one student that appears significantly obese, and a handful of moderately overweight students, but the vast majority are pretty trim. Of course, you'd need to see the applicant pool to know if that's representative of who applied, but it's just what I noticed.
     
  35. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    Can't a private school discriminate if they felt like it? I'm sure the AAMC would bring it to a halt, but I don't think federal rules apply to private schools or any private institution (see Augusta National).

    Besides, the adcom could state that interviewers should consider an applicant's overall "professional appearance" in their review, which leaves a lot of wiggle room.

    Btw - your residency isn't a job. You're paid a living stipend during your graduate medical education.
     
  36. MollyMalone

    MollyMalone I'm a Score Quadruplet
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    I seem to recall residents being classed as employees as a result of a lawsuit but I admit I'm fuzzy on the details and could well be wrong.
     
  37. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    That does sound familiar, but residencies are accredited by an educational accreditation institution, and your monetary compensation is viewed as a stipend more than a salary.
     
  38. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    What's he weighing it at now?
     
  39. Sekiray

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    being over weight hurts...
    looking good is part of the game for interviews
    people unconsciously like good looking (pleasant looking) people
     
  40. Wear a sharp, well-tailored suit that gives you a waist and makes the rest look like delicious curves (I'm assuming your a woman here :) ). Be confident about your weight, and everything else that you do, and that will read to the Adcoms that you have and do consider your weight as a factor of your own self-image, and that it does not bother you. They do not know (and maybe you do not either) that there could be some biological basis for your weight.

    I have known two obese women in my life that discovered their weight issues (since childhood) were a direct result of reactions to the hormones used in the production of beef. As soon as they cut out non-organic meats from their lives, they shed the weight within a year. My point is one that we all know so well... that the reasons for obesity are not just confined to lack of a good diet and exercise.

    You did ask that specifically in your post though (diet/exercise), so maybe you should start looking into food allergies and try going on 30-45 minute walks on a daily basis. These would be a good start in prepping for interviews, and the rest of a healthy life.

    However, I do take a doctor's physical health & weight into consideration when receiving advice from them. (I am an athlete, after all, and I know what it takes to be in top-performance shape.) With all of the resources at their fingertips, I would think that they could determine any biological basis to their obesity, and/or, knowing what they know, would do what is necessary to be living in a healthier body.
     
  41. Shodddy18

    Shodddy18 Senior Member
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    I still got in.
     
  42. akademiks1989

    akademiks1989 Senior Member
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    Is your obesity attributed to personal dietary habits or a medical reason? If attributed to a medical reason, you could talk about something like that in your Personal Statement if it has affected your desire to be a physician.

    If diet is to blame, consider this:
    -Would you trust a dentist with yellow and crooked teeth?
    -Would you trust a lawn mower if his lawn wasn't mowed nicely?
    -Would you trust an Arabic person running an Italian restaurant (a.k.a. my mom, lol)
    -Would you trust an obese dietician or trainer?
    -Would you trust a dermatologist with acne?
    And finally -Would you trust an obese doctor?

    Whatever profession you choose, you need to look the part, to be successful. If I were you, obesity is a big problem (as you know), and you may want to consider diet and exercise (if that fails, then Gastric Bypass Surgery), not only for public image, but for personal health.

    No matter what you do, be confident in your interviews!!! Good luck!!
     
  43. Sekiray

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    I agree, but it also is a matter of superficiality. No matter how much people deny it. Better looking >>>>> less better looking ppl with similar qualifications. I wonder why my import model friend got into a lot of schools with pretty regular stats ;)
     
  44. akademiks1989

    akademiks1989 Senior Member
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    I agree...through much of my time at Univ. of Mich. for classes or volunteering or researching or whatever, I've noticed many of the medical students are young, attractive, diverse ethnically, confident and very much in shape.

    Honestly, med schools are trying to advertise their schools by showing they are elite, someone with the use of super and smart med students! I saw one young obese doctor there and he did not look confident at all, another reason to slim down!
     
  45. dopaminesurge

    dopaminesurge My friends calls me Steve
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    But guys, she never said MORBIDLY OBESE. I would hope being somewhat overweight isn't a conscious strike against anyone. It's really nowhere near as unhealthy as people tend to believe. Obviously, what sometimes passes for overweight is healthier than current beauty ideals...
     
  46. Law2Doc

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    Actually if you are referring to past threads, the consensus usually is that looks will, unfortunately, matter, and that interviewers may have preconceived notions about you based on your physique. You probably will still do okay in the process if you are dynamic and otherwise have the credentials, but I think suggesting it "will not hurt you" at all goes too far. Do what you can to drop a few lbs. If not for the interview, then for your health, social life, & self esteem.
     
  47. OSUdoc08

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    She has to have a BMI of at least 35-40, or she wouldn't have had the nerve to post this thread.......

    Like:

    "I'm 5 pounds overweight.....will everyone hate me?"
     
  48. Haemulon

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    Your wrong. Federal dollars = federal guidelines. Most private schools are even tied in some way or another to federal dollars. Schools can get in trouble for discrimination just like any one else. And it may not be the students word against the school's, all that would need to happen is a thorough investigation into their applicant vs. acceptance demographics. And no school wants that (who knows what else that might reveal).
     
  49. kaikai128

    kaikai128 Yes SIR. ;-)
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    Regardless of legality, the interview is going to be scewed by what the interviewer percieves...it is objective. I doubt that in a court of law anyone is going to be able to prove that the interviewer didn't "like" them because of their weight.

    That being said, I think that being a little overweight won't really hurt you. I think that being obese will hurt you. One of the cornerstones of medicine is taking care of yourself and your body, and preventing disease. Most patients do not want to listen to an obese doctor telling them to lose weight. Heck, I put an overweight 2 month (almost 3x birth weight @ 17lbs) old on a special "diet" yesterday.

    Unless there is an underlying medical condition that can easily explain the weight--I think it will hurt you at least a little. If there is a condition explaining, bring it up in interviews.

    If I were you...here is what I would do. I would begin to carefully monitor everything that I eat (make healthy eating decisions), and I would begin to workout every day (working up to a minimum of one hour of cardio). This way you will begin to lose weight (maybe you already have). You then can control the interview, bring up the issue yourself, and explain that you are actively DOING something about it. I think being proactive will show maturity and dedication to your health and well being.
     
  50. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    OP- I think being overweight will hurt you a lot more on SDN than it will in the medical school application process.
     
  51. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
    Rocket Scientist Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    I don't think it's going to be the decisive factor...

    as for the other agruments.

    If you're significantly obese, perhaps you shouldn't go into cardiology, but that isn't the only specialty out there. There are plenty of fields where you can do plenty of good and not be spared a second glance for being overweight.
     

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