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Revealing a dissability in the secondary

Mets86

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    I was curious whether or not people viewed it as a bad idea to reveal a disability in the secondary application. I have tourette syndrome and decided to not mention this in my primary application, due to the various stereotypes (which are mostly false) surrounding my disorder. When discussing a hardship I overcame, I want to talk about this order and what I have learned from it. I have a good GPA and solid MCAT scores, so I would not be compensating for holes in my application.
     

    Depakote

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      Mets86 said:
      I was curious whether or not people viewed it as a bad idea to reveal a disability in the secondary application. I have tourette syndrome and decided to not mention this in my primary application, due to the various stereotypes (which are mostly false) surrounding my disorder. When discussing a hardship I overcame, I want to talk about this order and what I have learned from it. I have a good GPA and solid MCAT scores, so I would not be compensating for holes in my application.

      It's your call, but I would not openly give them a reason to find a weakness in your application when they aren't looking for one. If they're comparing two identical candidates and they see one as being as having fewer health problems, there might be some bias, intentional or otherwise. Overall, it just doesn't seem like a great idea to advertise potential reasons for them to discriminate against you.
       

      LizzyM

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        You'd like to think that adcoms would be open-minded & not discriminate based on a disability but the clinicians tend to have a "spectrum bias" (being med school faculty they usually see the severe cases that get referred from community docs but very few of the mild cases -- this is true of any condition). The non-clinical members of the adcom (basic scientists, social scientists and faculty in the medical humanities) know about these things based on what they see in the media and what they hear from the clinicians (who, as I've said, have a bias).
         
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        LizzyM

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          Unless you have a 13 in the verbal, it might be best to skip over it. Does a used car dealer tell you that the layout of the dashboard on this latest model is not efficient but is okay once you learn to adapt to it? Play up your gifts, keep quiet about the negatives.
           

          braluk

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            i feel that unless it will really make your personal statement a 1-2-3 punch, mentioning any type of disability might make things worst. I mean I definitely came across multiple personal statements that really told a tale about the hardhsips the students had in coming to terms with disabilities and regardless of which, their devotion to medicine has never wavered. Ive also come across plenty that used their disability as an emotional hijack, a sob story that made it seem like you were trying to take hostage, their emotions. I guess its all how you frame it, but as LizzyM said (and I'd listen since shes an adcom member), any disability might be a hard one to mention. After all, theyd ask questions ilke, well how will this affect their ability to practice medicine? etc. etc.
             

            braluk

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              Also, I think it might be worthwhile to mention if it really affected your grades. For example, if your first two years of UG were weak, and it was in part because of not knowing about your disability only to find out in your junior year, it might be helpful in explaining poor grades. Aside from that, i Doubt that it would be helpful.
               

              defrunner

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                I mentioned mine briefly in my PS (profoundly hearing-impaired) and might expand on it in the secondaries. Not sure yet though, because it's already obvious in the PS and from my LORs (at least two recommenders that I know mentioned it). Up to you, but then again, I've shown that I've overcome it. So, I guess the others are right in that you shouldn't mention it unless you can prove that you've overcome it and that it won't be a problem in med school. I'm not sure exactly what Tourette's involves, other than the obvious stereotypes, so I can't really offer any better advice than that. Sorry, and good luck.
                 

                littletxdoc

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                  Unless you have a 13 in the verbal, it might be best to skip over it. Does a used car dealer tell you that the layout of the dashboard on this latest model is not efficient but is okay once you learn to adapt to it? Play up your gifts, keep quiet about the negatives.

                  To LizzyM:

                  I have a ADHD, Dyslexia, and Dysgraphia. In spite of that I have a 37R (11 on verbal) and a cGPA of 3.94.

                  In the TMDSAS (Texas App) there was a question as follows:

                  "Please describe any personal characteristics and/or important or challenging experiences you have had that will contribute to the diversity of or provide educational benefits to the student body.

                  I am a white female, not that diverse, so I chose to take a unique and positive angle on having dyslexia by writing about it in response to this question.

                  So here is what I wrote:
                  "The most challenging aspect of my academic experience has been overcoming dyslexia. Successfully learning to cope with dyslexia and developing new compensatory strategies for succeeding with each step in my life has taught me not only how to overcome this challenge, but also to know when and how to ask for assistance. Having been accepted to an early college program, I learned at the age of sixteen not only how to face the challenges of university course work, but how to succeed and graduate with honors. While medical school will be a newer and greater challenge than I have ever faced, I believe that I will continue to evolve new strategies that will involve the assistance of my classmates. In addition, I believe that having learned how to develop such strategies for overcoming challenges will allow me, in turn, to assist my classmates when they encounter academic challenges of their own. While my classmates may be able to read more quickly, I believe that my own skills in critical thinking and complex issue comprehension will allow me to help them. Through my experience with learning to overcome dyslexia, I have learned to ask for assistance and can help those who recognize their own need for assistance when faced with the challenges of medical school. Though many may view dyslexia as a weakness or a flaw, I believe that learning to succeed in spite of this challenge has made me a stronger, more flexible student ready to face the rigors of medical school and ready to share my own knowledge, skills, and experiences with my classmates."

                  Please let me know what you think. As there is no question like this on the AMCAS app I am leaving it off for now, but am wondering if I should discuss it in secondaries to schools who did not receive this essay, i.e. non-TX schools.

                  Thank you for your help.
                   

                  LizzyM

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                    Littletxdoc, some secondaries will have a question that can be answered with your essay. For other schools, leave it off. Frankly, I'd leave out any mention of a learning disability as it is the very rare adcom member that would see this as an asset.
                     

                    ButImLETired

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                      Littletxdoc, some secondaries will have a question that can be answered with your essay. For other schools, leave it off. Frankly, I'd leave out any mention of a learning disability as it is the very rare adcom member that would see this as an asset.


                      Hi,

                      my question is rather specific to my case. I am blind in one eye, which makes absolutely no difference in my day to day life, but it both a) makes me have no depth perception, which made orgo pretty much impossible for me to handle, and physics was no picnic either (which brought down my GPAs considerably), and b) was one of the main reasons why I decided to be a doctor (I spent most of my childhood in and out of doctors' offices) so not to mention it in my PS would sort of not make sense to me. How do you think a disability like that (not technically a "learning" disability) will be seen by the adcoms? I believe my recommender is also mentioning it in his letter, since he knows how much I struggled with it in his science classes.
                      Thanks so much!
                       

                      LizzyM

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                        Hi,

                        my question is rather specific to my case. I am blind in one eye, which makes absolutely no difference in my day to day life, but it both a) makes me have no depth perception, which made orgo pretty much impossible for me to handle, and physics was no picnic either (which brought down my GPAs considerably), and b) was one of the main reasons why I decided to be a doctor (I spent most of my childhood in and out of doctors' offices) so not to mention it in my PS would sort of not make sense to me. How do you think a disability like that (not technically a "learning" disability) will be seen by the adcoms? I believe my recommender is also mentioning it in his letter, since he knows how much I struggled with it in his science classes.
                        Thanks so much!

                        Well, first, you need to consider whether you would meet the school's technical requirements. (There's been a recent thread on the topic started by someone with quadrapeligia.)

                        Second, will your grades in o-chem and physics close the door to medical school. (I don't understand how lack of depth perception makes it difficult to learn these concepts. :confused:)

                        Third, having a career in medicine requires more than having had a career as a patient. Yes, you know how it feels to be a patient and you know what patients want & don't want (or you think that your experiences are generalizable to all patients) but there also needs to be the desire to serve others, to take care of people who aren't you and who aren't your loved ones. How would you feel about getting out of a warm bed at 2 a.m. to take care of someone who is likely to be dead before morning no matter what you do? Or to stay up all night caring for someone who made all the wrong choices in life, has previously ignored your advice, and who is now counting on you to pull him from the brink?

                        Think on this.
                         

                        ButImLETired

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                          Well, first, you need to consider whether you would meet the school's technical requirements. (There's been a recent thread on the topic started by someone with quadrapeligia.)

                          Second, will your grades in o-chem and physics close the door to medical school. (I don't understand how lack of depth perception makes it difficult to learn these concepts. :confused:)

                          Third, having a career in medicine requires more than having had a career as a patient. Yes, you know how it feels to be a patient and you know what patients want & don't want (or you think that your experiences are generalizable to all patients) but there also needs to be the desire to serve others, to take care of people who aren't you and who aren't your loved ones. How would you feel about getting out of a warm bed at 2 a.m. to take care of someone who is likely to be dead before morning no matter what you do? Or to stay up all night caring for someone who made all the wrong choices in life, has previously ignored your advice, and who is now counting on you to pull him from the brink?

                          Think on this.

                          Hi,
                          thanks so much for answering. While the eye thing was definitely the reason why I began to consider medicine, it is by no means the only reason why I am doing it. There were a lot of events in my life that led me toward medicine and are much more legitimate reasons for my wanting to go into it...I'm just not mentioning them here because they don't seem relevant for this particular thread.
                          My grades weren't bad enough to close the door to med school, or at least my professors don't think so. What's funny is I didn't think my eye problem would be relevant AT ALL- until I started struggling in classes I had always figured I'd do well in, and asked a professor for help, and he suggested the lack of depth perception might be the reason for my troubles. Organic chemistry, in particular, requires you to be able to visualize molecules three-dimensionally (and it goes way beyond the one exam on chirality and molecular structure). It's really hard to imagine how two molecules will interact if you literally can't see them in 3D in your head. When studying at home, I'd use molecular models and they often helped, but during the exam, it was simply not feasible for me to start swapping atoms on those things within the time allotted to me. Unfortunately, it is not a "disability" that professors usually deal with, so none of them had any idea how to help me, and they just told me they'd mention it in LOR's if it came to that. Physics was similar, although not quite as problematic because most of the linear kinematics and stuff were totally fine- I just wouldn't do well in the magnetism questions, and the rotational equilibria- but I'd make up for it in the other exams.

                          I'd also like to point out that while I do talk about my eye issues in my PS, it is not in reference to whatever struggles I may have had in my science classes, it's just to explain why the medicine thing even occurred to me at a young age- since no one in my family is a doctor.
                           
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                          patiencebites

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                            Getting such stellar scores in spite of a problem that SPECIFICALLY makes it more difficult is hardcore. It also shows that you have dedication, you work hard, you have confidence in yourself, and you can overcome whatever life throws at you.

                            Coincidentally, these qualities may come in handy in medicine...

                            I say include it, and if the bastards don't appreciate it, some other set of bastards will!
                             
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                              I can see how the eye problems would interfere with your understanding of organic chemistry, so I totally sympathize. Chirality in particular must've been very difficult to comprehend without a good sense of 3-dimensionality.
                               

                              ButImLETired

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                                Thanks guys!!! I really really don't want to sound like Tiny Tim...I realize that my disability is EXTREMELY minor, I'm just trying to figure out how to present myself to med schools appropriately. Thanks so much for the support though.
                                 

                                HanginInThere

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                                  Organic chemistry, in particular, requires you to be able to visualize molecules three-dimensionally (and it goes way beyond the one exam on chirality and molecular structure). It's really hard to imagine how two molecules will interact if you literally can't see them in 3D in your head.

                                  Interesting. I'm also blind in one eye, and I never had a problem with ochem, physics, or visualizing molecules in my head. I started losing vision when I was about 10, so maybe the spatial perception I'd already learned just stuck with me, but I wouldn't think monocular vision would interfere with your 3-D visualizations.

                                  When you look at a molecular model, turn it around, touch it, etc., you're able to understand its 3-D shape? So then if you take that model, study it, and then close your eyes, aren't you able to picture the model and imagine what happens when you rotate it?

                                  Anyway, I don't mean to question your difficulty with spatial perception - it's definitely one of those things that's easy for some people and impossible for others - but I wonder whether it's less tied to your vision problem than you think.

                                  Anyway, I did mention my disease in my personal statement, but it was a concious choice with the awareness that I was taking a risk. I did it because I thought the risk was low, the reward (a much better PS) seemed worth it, and I thought my overall app was strong enough that I could afford to take the risk. The end result is that I was accepted at the school I wanted to go to, but I'll never know whether having that in my PS was a positive or a negative to each of the adcoms who dealt with it. And as to whether you should include your eye issues in your own application, I couldn't offer an opinion - but it could be worthwhile to try writing it both ways and see how they compare.

                                  Oh, and if it's going to be out there anyway in your LORs (you might want to check with the writer to verify that), it might make sense for you to write about it yourself so you have some control on how it gets presented.
                                   

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                                    Hey hangininthere,

                                    yeah, I spoke to a doctor a few weeks ago about the issues I'd had with orgo and stuff, and he told me that it's mostly a matter of having been born with monocular vision...I mean, it's kind of an odd concept, but I say that I can't see 3D without knowing what 3D actually is. I think once you've experienced it at all, neurologically those pathways are present, which makes visualizing it if not easy then at least possible. I have nothing to visualize, literally. When I hold the molecular models, I am aware that they are three-dimensional, but I have to manipulate them with my hands and flip them around a lot to be able to see their structures...just like you would if you were to take a picture of a side, then have to turn it over and take a picture of the other side, etc...I don't know if that makes sense.
                                    Unfortunately, while I could literally MEMORIZE certain structures (I tried to do that with stuff like the boat vs. chair structures of cyclohexane- took me hours), as soon as someone moved something around (say a new molecule attacked from somewhere) I was pretty much done. As I said, it's not one of things that people think about a whole lot, cause it's really SUCH a minor disability otherwise. I also can't drive, by the way, but that's probably a good thing :)

                                    Edit: By the way, sorry for taking over this thread, I realize my questions have become a bit central. To Mets86: I've been working in psychiatry for a long time, and even here there are a lot of misunderstandings about Tourette's and its treatments. I agree with BlackPower that you should talk about it if they ask, otherwise I'd leave it alone. I definitely understand how your experience with it has shaped your wanting to be a doctor- and I admire you greatly for how you have dealt with it, especially with "good GPA and solid MCAT scores" but unfortunately AdComs aren't always known for how deeply they think about the pros and cons of each applicant-- you risk being screened out. However, if you mention it once they've already decided to interview you or they ask specifically for what you've been through, it can be an asset because by then they're impressed at your stats, and they'll be even more impressed at what you've experienced. Hope my 2 cents help.
                                     
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                                    BlackPower2012

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                                      I was curious whether or not people viewed it as a bad idea to reveal a disability in the secondary application. I have tourette syndrome and decided to not mention this in my primary application, due to the various stereotypes (which are mostly false) surrounding my disorder. When discussing a hardship I overcame, I want to talk about this order and what I have learned from it. I have a good GPA and solid MCAT scores, so I would not be compensating for holes in my application.

                                      Personally, I think you should leave it out. Med schools have so many applications and some schools may embrace that and see that as a positive and a test to your character, but others may say, "Okay, como se dice, rejection? So, its your call, I think you should leave it out and wehn you get to the interview, you will definetly be asked "what obstacles have you overcome, or what do you do when you are stressed? Thats when you can say, well, I have tourettes and this is how I learned to deal with it. And these are the general symptoms, and these are the misunderstandings about it. From there, you actually dictate the conversation.

                                      Hope this helps
                                      Take Care
                                       

                                      HanginInThere

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                                        Well, first, you need to consider whether you would meet the school's technical requirements. (There's been a recent thread on the topic started by someone with quadrapeligia.)

                                        When I applied, I read the technical standards closely for the schools I applied to. None of them suggested to me that mono vision would be a problem. Here's the relevant text from the school I'll be attending in a few months: "Students must be able to observer demonstrations and conduct experiments in the basic sciences...", "...observe patients accurately at a reasonable distance and close at hand...", etc., etc., "and using instruments competently, such as the otoscope, ophthalmoscope, microscope, and stethescope."

                                        The only part that could be questionable is the instruments issue, since some of the more specialized instruments may depend on stereoscopic vision. But the standards also talk about "reasonable accomodations consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act." I think I'm okay. On the other hand, I specifically didn't call the admissions office and ask about this before applying because I didn't want to introduce any questions that weren't already there.

                                        The vision question did come up in one of my interviews, and afterwards I spent a few months worrying because I didn't feel like I framed my answer as cleanly as I could have, but apparently if it was a concern it wasn't enough to keep me out.

                                        I also discussed this all with my ophthalmologist, at length, before getting started. She assured me that my vision wouldn't be an issue in med school and wouldn't keep me from becoming a doctor. It does mean I won't be able to go into surgery, but that's okay - there are plenty of interesting non-surgical pathways open.
                                         

                                        HanginInThere

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                                          So, its your call, I think you should leave it out and wehn you get to the interview, you will definetly be asked "what obstacles have you overcome, or what do you do when you are stressed? Thats when you can say, well, I have tourettes and this is how I learned to deal with it. And these are the general symptoms, and these are the misunderstandings about it. From there, you actually dictate the conversation.

                                          That advice makes sense to me. At the interview stage, you have the advantage of being right there in front of them so they actually get to see what you're like to interact with instead of forming an image based on stereotypes.
                                           

                                          Lacheln

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                                            Hey hangininthere,

                                            yeah, I spoke to a doctor a few weeks ago about the issues I'd had with orgo and stuff, and he told me that it's mostly a matter of having been born with monocular vision...I mean, it's kind of an odd concept, but I say that I can't see 3D without knowing what 3D actually is. I think once you've experienced it at all, neurologically those pathways are present, which makes visualizing it if not easy then at least possible. I have nothing to visualize, literally.

                                            It's very true that losing a perceptual ability after you've already had it is very different from never having had it in the first place. I don't know specifically for binocular vision, but I do know that, for example, people who are born without sight, say due to cataracts, who then have it corrected as an adult do not magically "see" in the same sense people with normal vision do, which supports the idea that your neural pathways are fundamentally different.

                                            A book you might find interesting that discusses this sort of thing (and also happens to talk about a surgeon with Tourette's) is Oliver Sacks' An Anthropologist on Mars.
                                             

                                            ButImLETired

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                                              It's very true that losing a perceptual ability after you've already had it is very different from never having had it in the first place. I don't know specifically for binocular vision, but I do know that, for example, people who are born without sight, say due to cataracts, who then have it corrected as an adult do not magically "see" in the same sense people with normal vision do, which supports the idea that your neural pathways are fundamentally different.

                                              A book you might find interesting that discusses this sort of thing (and also happens to talk about a surgeon with Tourette's) is Oliver Sacks' An Anthropologist on Mars.

                                              Yeah, I was actually a neuroscience major in college and had a great time with some of the vision questions on my exams (I remember one question was something like: If you were blind in your left eye, you would be unable to do....and then there were 5 options. I just did them all right then and there in the classroom and then picked the right answer :)). As for Oliver Sacks, I LOVE him. He's such a rockstar. I'm currently reading "musicophilia" which is his most recent book I think, and since I'm really interested in music perception and cognition it's been really great. Anyways, thanks so much for your suggestion!
                                               

                                              HanginInThere

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                                                yeah, I spoke to a doctor a few weeks ago about the issues I'd had with orgo and stuff, and he told me that it's mostly a matter of having been born with monocular vision...I mean, it's kind of an odd concept, but I say that I can't see 3D without knowing what 3D actually is. I think once you've experienced it at all, neurologically those pathways are present, which makes visualizing it if not easy then at least possible. I have nothing to visualize, literally. When I hold the molecular models, I am aware that they are three-dimensional, but I have to manipulate them with my hands and flip them around a lot to be able to see their structures...just like you would if you were to take a picture of a side, then have to turn it over and take a picture of the other side, etc...I don't know if that makes sense.

                                                Yep, it makes sense. Very interesting - brains sure are funny things. Guess I was lucky to have good sight early on.

                                                I also can't drive, by the way, but that's probably a good thing :)

                                                I can drive fine, but I can't hit a tennis ball for the life of me!
                                                 

                                                ButImLETired

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                                                  Yep, it makes sense. Very interesting - brains sure are funny things. Guess I was lucky to have good sight early on.



                                                  I can drive fine, but I can't hit a tennis ball for the life of me!

                                                  Hahahaha oh man I am the worst tennis player that ever existed. We should play someday! It might be entertaining.
                                                   

                                                  Lacheln

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                                                    Hahahaha oh man I am the worst tennis player that ever existed. We should play someday! It might be entertaining.

                                                    I can't hit a tennis ball for the life of me!

                                                    My mom is blind in one eye thanks to running with scissors when she was 12. Yes, running with scissors. I hate to say it, but playing tennis with her is HILARIOUS. :laugh: Sorry, I know I shouldn't laugh....
                                                     
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