westernU interview day

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Oct 22, 2008
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I was just wondering if anyone has interviewed at WesternU yet for the Podiatric Medicine program and if they have any feedback. I searched but couldn't find anyone talking about the interview day, so any information would definitely help.



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Mar 2, 2006
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I have interviewed at Western and have been out several other times.

You will not be as impressed with your interview day compared to California, Scholl, or Des Moines in terms of facilities and organization. It was decently put together and you will have an opportunity to have your questions answered, however.

The interview is sort of embarrassing - I was asked questions you get asked at your first job interview out of college - "tell me about a time..." etc. and they want to ascertain your motivation and experience that drives you to enter the field - the important part! Dr. Harkless and Dr. Christman (Director of Curriculum and Instructional Technology professor - a 20+ year veteran of Temple's program and a very nice guy) interviewed me at one time for about 20 minutes and everything went fine.

The program is still recruiting faculty and Harkless has a lot of work to do but they have assured me that they are not numbers based - while they want 50 (they won't get it), they will only be accepting well-qualified, mature, and focused applicants. There are plenty of DPM's in SoCal to recruit for clinical and other positions. Western's other first-year programs have done very well, and Harkless single-handedly has enough connections in the region that he will be able to set up great clinical rotations - they have three years to do it! They've already begun talks with the med centers the DO's are part of, as well as other prominent facilities in the area. There *will* be plenty of driving involved, though, a potential downside, but not a dealbreaker.

I only have two concerns - (and I will be attending) one is whether a residency director will be willing to admit Western students over proven CA, Scholl, DMU, and Temple students who have a track record at the best residencies on the West Coast. I am going to let my academic and extracurricular track record speak for myself in those regards, while acknowledging that it is certainly a risk to start out at a new program. The second is in regards to Harkless himself - he comes across as extremely nervous and needs to learn to have a conversation with people in a more professional manner. I have no doubts as to his academic, scholarly, and clinical abilities, but there are times where I wonder if he will be able to be an extremely effective administrator, if only because of the way he comes off - you can't get a word in edgewise. He's just too excitable for someone in his position. He also needs to learn to get to the point when answering questions .

I had lunch with a vet student who was very down-to-earth and answered all my questions honestly. Western really helps their first year programs succeed, and the feedback from current DO students (with whom you will take the majority of your didactic coursework but pay just a bit over half the price!) is very good. Of course, every school has issues, but the Western administration is quick to respond if and when one arises.

They are actually doing something interesting curriculum-wise, and integrating biomechanics and other coursework a bit at a time, rather than all at once, as part of their PMP&P (Podiatric Medicine Principles and Practice) courses. I think it's a good idea, and Dr. Christman, having seen the non-existent innovation in Temple's curriculum, is daring but confident in Western's attempt to have something unique.

Facilities are fine - nothing amazing, nothing bad, either (CA's were pretty abysmal). Western will offer all of the amenities of an established top program in the sim lab, which nursing students currently use, standardized patient practice, full H&P's, good student ratio for anatomy, etc. They are building two new facilities - a 180,000 sq. ft. Health Education Center, which will house classrooms, research labs, faculty offices, and a bunch of small-group meeting rooms (presumably for PBL), and optometry labs. They 68,500 sq. ft. Patient Care Center will have three large examination rooms, and other rooms that will house the podiatry clinic. Judging from their new vet facility, these should be state-of-the-art and allow plenty of access to the same (or more) pathology and patient load that other schools' clinics offer.

They cover gym fees and they're only $29 a YEAR, which is nice (for Bally's, methinks). They also have counseling available if and when a student ever needs it, and they are committed (and I believe them) in having their students maintain an active balance of work inside, and outside of, school.

As of right now, there is no merit-based scholarship money available.

That's what I know at this point!
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Feb 2, 2007
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...will be able to set up great clinical rotations - they have three years to do it!...
Be careful taking this for granted.^ Pod clinic rotations aren't that hard to get (esp in LA), but quality pod and medicine rotations at hospitals may be.

At Barry, our clinical dean does a fantastic job, and our pod program has a lot of great med rotations in the Miami hospitals. However, we've been there for over 20yrs now, we have relatively small class sizes, and our medicine rotations are still evolving. There is constant work to be done in terms of getting students more involved and hands-on at the hospitals. Insurance, hospital politics/management, and the local MD/DO/PA/etc training programs all play a role in this.

You see that a lot of the current pod schools can't even provide enough med/pod clinical rotations in their area, and they have high student-to-patient ratios in pod clinic and/or have to send their students out on cores despite being in/near decent sized cities. That's not necessarily a bad thing as long as those students still get a good residency, but you have to realize that getting good clinical rotations/attendings is definitely not a piece of cake (this goes for residency programs also).