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How honest in apps?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by danjou, Feb 12, 2002.

  1. danjou

    danjou Member
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    Let's see... how do I ask this without looking like a complete a**?

    When the questions comes up about "when did you first become interested in medicine" my honest answer would be
    because I took drugs. Totally true story. I had zero interest in math or science in high school, and was a pretty good student otherwise.
    Immediately after HS I took a couple of years off, went through that rebellious party
    phase and experimented with a few drugs. I became interested in how they worked (we're talking the hallucinogens, here) so I went to the library and looked it up. I became utterly
    fascinated with how the brain worked, started reading every scientific article and magazine I could get my hands on, and have pretty much loved science and medicine ever since then, so much so that when I finally
    went to college I majored in biochem.

    So... how would that one go over with the admission committee? This is totally true, but I'm a bit hesitant to reveal that one -
    for obvious reasons. The drug phase was very temporary, I'm certainly not hooked on anything now, have no desire to do drugs
    ever again, I don't even smoke! I believe I come across as quite the upstanding citizen. My preference is for honesty, and it'll sure as heck
    stand out from the typical story, but I'm worried about the obvious repercussions.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. racergirl

    racergirl Senior Member
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    Hmm...

    Great story! But I understand your reluctance to share it! How about if you talk about your rebellious phase, about how you went to a lot of parties where your..uh...FRIENDS were taking drugs? Then you got interested and went to the library, then on with the rest of the story. I wouldn't drop the story completely, because I think it shows you as a truly intellectually curious person.

    What do you think?
     
  3. KyGrlDr2B

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    I agree that you should include most of the story in your app. Because it is a GREAT story-it will set you apart from the other applicants plus it is heartfelt. Now, whether you want to say it was you or some people you knew using drugs, that is up to you. But I think you should definitely go with it :) .
     
  4. Street Philosopher

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    honesty is overrated. while it's important, it's not the most important thing in the world. you're a good person who wants to do medicine presumably for the right reasons. being honest about your past and having the adcoms react badly isn't worth it in my opinion.

    that is not the most politically correct thing in the world to say, but damn it it's the truth. i'll provide one example in which lying is justified, whether it applies to your case is for your own judgement: a nazi soldier is trying to round up jews to kill them, and asks you where they're hiding. you, fully knowing where they are, and what will happen if they are found, lie to the nazi soldier. justified? i would say so! does it apply to your situation? you be the judge.
     
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  5. Doctora Foxy

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    I think this could be a very cool perosnal statement. IMO, I would say one of your close friends did a lot of drugs, and since you were such a caring friend, you did some research about what could happen to him/her. It;s not a total lie----you can be your own friend <img border="0" alt="[Laughy]" title="" src="graemlins/laughy.gif" />

    On a slightly related note, a girl in my school wrote her PS about her friend getting raped.......I don't know if she was accepted, but I know she had a bunch of interviews...point is that shock value and an interesting experience are things you can benefit from to show what you have learned from the experience. Good luck

    p.s. I would definitely not say this person was you. It would be way too risky.
     
  6. wolferman

    wolferman Member?
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    Doctor Foxy took the words right out of my mouth. Go ahead and use the story (I would), but make sure that you indicate that as a caring friend you did the research which eventually got you interested. I just wonder if any of the adcoms will ask you if it is really YOU during an interview. I'd be prepared for that just in case. As to whether or not to admit it in person, hmmm.... :confused:
     
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  7. KyGrlDr2B

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    I'm assuming the friends you were hanging out with were using drugs. Therefore, it isn't lying...just leaving out the part where you did, too.
     
  8. THE instiGATOR

    THE instiGATOR Cow Tipper
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    You can be 100% honest while crafting a highly successful marketing campaign (for yourself). Please don't think you have to compromise one for the other!
     
  9. souljah1

    souljah1 Attending
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    danjou,

    I feel you on this one. I'm another "nontraditional" applicant. If you told me back in high school that I would be going to medical school I would have lit up my blunt and laughed in your face. The unfolding that has taken place has been amazing and I think that all of my time spent "experimenting" and "finding myself" has been just as crucial in my decision to pursue a career as a physician than my time spent studying since I have reentered college.

    I am honest on my interviews, but I don't tell them the whole story. I say things like "I did horribly in school, not b/c I couldn't handle the coursework, but b/c I didn't see the value of education"&gt;..stuff like that. Or "I spent high school having priorities that largely consisted of where the next party will be on friday night". So far, my interviewers have been very receptive. (most of my interviewers know that I played percussion in a reggae band in nj/nyc for a year or so) It is who I am and when I interview I am definitely not trying to convey myself as the "cookie cutter" successful premed student. When they look at my grades, mcat, experiences....they can't deny that I am unique.

    So are you. You don't need to speak the details of your past, just convey what you have learned from the past. Our "respites" are invaluable. With that, I bid you much success and was glad to see a fellow applicant who has taken the road less traveled.
     
  10. danjou

    danjou Member
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    Wow, didn't realize what an ethical dilemma this would be. Like you, souljah, I am damned happy with my life up to this point, and wouldn't trade all my experiences for the world, as I feel more than comfortable and ready to "sacrifice" everything to go to med school, because really I have nothing to sacrifice - I've already lived my life! I wish I could say that I picked the road less traveled, but it was more like I look up from the road, saw something really interesting, and wandered off into the woods saying "wow, look at that..."

    I did consider the "friend" story - but ah! It would just be too... shallow. Having that actual experience was so detrimental to this door opening up, I know I would have never, ever considered medicine otherwise. Plus I hate lying, I'm so bad at it and I'm afraid by using the friend story they'd be more apt to boot me for lying than for the drugs.

    I guess I'm more curious about the reaction and perspective of the drug culture, because I know how non-traditional my views are. I grew up in a culture (West Coast-ish) where doing drugs was okay, where everyone did it, where it was rare to meet anyone in my age group that didn't. Then I moved and went to college in New England, and found out that it's completely the opposite! Hmmm, maybe I should apply to schools in the west coast...

    So, like, if YOU were on the admissions committee and you heard the story, what would impact you more? That I was so inspired by the experience, or that I have such a low-life soul as to fall into the evils of drugs that I have no business being in med school?
     
  11. DoctorOneDay

    DoctorOneDay Member
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    Cool story! I'd find you a little more interesting after hearing it. Just a suggestion, if you are concerned about the way others will react, show your essay to some conservatives and see what they think
     
  12. johnM

    johnM Senior Member
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    Hey guys, I think that the "My friends all did drugs ..." story is a little lame. I don't think that anyone would believe it, and it just sounds a little cheezy anyway. Personally, I just wouldn't talk about it. There are countless ways to go about answering the question "why do you want to be a doctor?" and I wouldn't use an answer that might push me out of the running. However, I really do like your story, and personally don't see anything wrong with your experiences. Then again, I also grew up SoCal, and went to college in New England. I know what you mean about it being much more accepted in CA, however, I understand that the UC's have surprisingly strict policies against drug use, so I wouldn't count on getting that california-stoner sympathy from them. :)
     
  13. pre-hawkdoc

    pre-hawkdoc Senior Member
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    If you change the story so that you're the caring friend, you're essentially taking away the meat of the story and turning yourself into typical pre-med (looking out for others, etc). Since you haven't done anything with your app yet, why don't you pick out a few schools (maybe ones you don't plan on applying to), wait till after the current admission/rejection season and call them up and ask to speak to the director of admissions (anonymously, of course). tell them what you've told us and ask them if having that story in your app would automatically blackball you or be looked down upon.
    Med schools say all the time that they want diversified students, and if they are getting apps from all backgrounds, they have to realize that some of these people have this kind of thing in their past (drugs, stealing, whatever). It's almost analogous to having bad grades at the start of undergrad--they can see that you've worked hard to improve and usually assume that it means more to you b/c of that, i think.
    Anyhoo, that's my advice. Anyone have a reason not to do this? I know that med schools talk, but if he does this anonymously and eventually uses the story anyway, he should be fine. besides, it's unlikely that the few schools he talks to will talk to all of the schools he applies to, so i think it's safe. Any other thoughts?
     
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  14. BME02

    BME02 Member
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    No offense to most of the people that have posted, but I would be vary cautious about telling the committee that you were involved in the "drug culture". I agree with you all that this is a good story and one to tell friends but not one to tell the people deciding whether nor not to let you be a doctor. I mean, would you go tell you grandfather, father, teachers, and dean about this. Just think about that, and the fact that family members might be understanding, while the admissions committee probably won't be. There are plenty of people out there who want to be doctors and the committees have plenty to reasons to choose them, don't give them a reason not to choose you. I would like to think that you can write can essay about what continues to make you want to practice medicine. I doubt that it is your continued interest in drugs and their mechanisms that keeps you going. But I could be wrong...
     
  15. Diogenes

    Diogenes Succat
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    I'd also advise steering clear of admitting to being involved in a drug culture. Since drug use can end a physician's career, you might be finished before you start if you paint yourself in the wrong light. If you want to use the drug angle/story, which seems like a good one, why not say that you and some friends were arguing about drug use and you looked up some stuff to back up your arguements, and that got you hooked on biology/medicine.
     
  16. danjou

    danjou Member
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    Drugs can end a physician's career because the abuse and addiction to the substance during said career interferes with his/her ability to perform the job, infringes upon his/her judgment, etc, thereby risking the lives of the patients under his/her care. Alcohol can have the same effect, but saying "I had a drink once" does not in and of itself cause the downwards spiral of a career.

    But, alas, this is sort of notion and prejudice I feared. Though I would want to assume that anyone trained in a medical career (like those on admissions committee) would have enough knowledge and experience to know the difference between the potentials of abuse versus a long-past use. It is a flawed syllogism: "some people with guns are murderers, I have a gun, therefore I am a murderer" is not sound logic. "Some people who use drugs (okay, we can say most?) become addicted, I used drugs, therefore I am addicted" is also not sound logic.

    Yet we cannot escape the strong association between the two (drugs and addiction, not drugs and guns). It is the knee-jerk reaction that would be problematic.

    Or is it the issue of illegality of the drugs used? That I broke a law once by using illegal drugs? Is that what would be frowned upon? Should I also never mention that I once went over the speed limit while driving to California?

    Hmmm.....
     
  17. Doctora Foxy

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    just a thought...if you were ever arrested or something like that for drug posession and therefore had to check yes on your application, then I would discuss what you learned from it. If not, I wouldn't confess, I would just be afraid to. But of course you should do what makes you feel comfortable.

    Although you have improved from the past, some applicants were perfect all along. When med schools compare, they may have a stereotype or something about you in their heads. I'm just worried you'll diminish your potential by bringing your past to their attention.
     
  18. Diogenes

    Diogenes Succat
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    It isn't really an issue of what they SHOULD think, or how open-minded they SHOULD be, it is a matter of how they ARE. And in this process, it is generally better to be safe than sorry. There's just no margin for error when the competition is so tight. Then again, being really open and honest can be refreshing, and may score you MAJOR points. But it is a risk.
     
  19. doc3334

    doc3334 Senior Member
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    a
     
    #19 doc3334, Feb 13, 2002
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2008
  20. danjou

    danjou Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Doctor Foxy:
    <strong>just a thought...if you were ever arrested or something like that for drug posession and therefore had to check yes on your application, then I would discuss what you learned from it. If not, I wouldn't confess, I would just be afraid to. But of course you should do what makes you feel comfortable.

    Although you have improved from the past, some applicants were perfect all along. When med schools compare, they may have a stereotype or something about you in their heads. I'm just worried you'll diminish your potential by bringing your past to their attention.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Ha! No, I was never arrested, but I do see your point. I think my post title was misleading, as I didn't intend to put it in my application (I'm not THAT stupid). I was more concerned about what to answer if it came up during the interviews.

    I figure that I'd rather go with my chances and be honest, b/c I find that higher on my priority list than being "perfect." I'm not the perfect pre-med, far from it, and so it's not in my best interest to go to a school filled with 22-y/o, 4.0gpa squeaky-clean "I've wanted to be a doctor since I was 3 months old" classmates (not that there's anything wrong with that!). I can't pretend to be something I'm not, and I'd rather go to a school that'll match my values and accept me for what I can contribute (which is a lot, in my humble opinion!). I'm past the point of "trying to be..."- I struggled with that in college. Now, I just am.

    :p
     

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