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First Lecture 2008


"The First Lecture" was a convocation address to George Mason University prehealth students on August 2008.

"The First Lecture" was a convocation address to George Mason University prehealth students on August 2008.

Published in Health & Medicine , Education
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  • 1. Really Achieving Your Career Dreams Emil Chuck, Ph.D. Health Professions Advisor Term Assistant Professor of Biology
  • 2. All the thank yous Introducing and thanking those who helped P University Life < Sodexho catering P College of Science < Science Showcase (Hank, Dwayne, Scott) P Student organizations P Kaplan Test Prep & Admissions P Student Academic Affairs & Advising
  • 3. With great homage and apology Randy Pausch (died July 25, 2008)
  • 4. George Mason University A Habit of Excellence P Think P Learn P Succeed
  • 5. What is a premed? Austin (Inside Higher Education) P “The term premed designates a provisional career aspiration far more often than it does a firm commitment.” – Austin (July 31, 2008) P “Nationally only 1 student in 12 who enter undergraduate life as a premed will go to medical school.” – Blystone comment
  • 6. Fear of failure “The elephant in the room”
  • 7. Attaining the right goal Perfect is the enemy of good (but not better).
  • 8. Attaining the right goal Really Achieving Your Career Dreams
  • 9. Think beyond the white coat Really Achieving Your Career Dreams
  • 10. Think beyond the white coat Did you know...? P Anesthesiologist Assistant < Five Master’s programs in US (100 total students) < Premed requirements + calculus + MCAT – CWRU average MCAT 25, science GPA 3.4 < The average starting salary for a newly graduated anesthesiologist assistant is approximately $115,000 for a 40‐hour work week plus benefits and consideration of on‐call activity. (CWRU)
  • 11. Think beyond the white coat Really Achieving Your Career Dreams P We need lab scientists and engineers! < Lab safety, librarians, technicians P We need innovative scientific businesses! < Technology transfer, pharma, biotech P We need health communicators! P We need politicians who are innovation‐ friendly and scientifically conscientious. P We absolutely need math/science teachers!
  • 12. The brick walls The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop other people. ... Sometimes the brick walls are made of flesh. (Pausch)
  • 13. Think beyond the lecture “Large lecture courses... often fail to keep the attention of some students.”
  • 14. Caveat emptor GMU students at He is a horrible professor, If you are interested in bio do not take his class. He will make you hate pre-med and bio and everything. AVOID CHUCK. ... As a professor, he lacks in being able to explain things to students. It seems as if he does not have a passion for teaching. I enjoyed Biology before I took this class, but was extremely discouraged after taking it. Dropped class and will take it with another professor next semester. He's one of those Professors who are extremely brilliant but cannot for the life of them teach a class. Unless you are brilliant as well or are only taking his class. I studied like crazy but his exams contain information that isn't even in the textbooks and when you ask for help, all he says is that you should get a study group.
  • 15. Let the buyer beware! GMU students at No wonder there is a shortage of Doctors in America. Dr. Chuck is unnecessarily discouraging as a Pre Medical advisor. He will be the first to tell you that you should not even try even when he doesn't know you that well at all. He's the exact opposite of what he should be as an advisor. Just ignore his discouraging comments and press on!
  • 16. Am I a “recovering jerk”? “... Higher education too often feels like it is all about customer service.”  # No. of Ratings: 24 Is this a “pragmatic, # Average Easiness: 1.4 statistically valid way” # Average Helpfulness: 1.8 to evaluate my teaching or my # Average Clarity: 2.0 advising? # Hotness Total: 0 # Overall Quality: 1.9 GMU students at 
  • 17. The premed pipeline Welcome Week surveys (excluding postbacs) 8 3 9 100 93 35 46 80 Alumni 52 105 Senior 31 60 Junior Sophomore 52 40 Freshman 46 18 20 48 29 10 0 2006 2007 2008
  • 18. It is our job to be demanding. Students should be aware of cutting‐edge discovery. P HHMI Bulletin < P American Scientist < Sigma Xi, P Science P Nature P Cell “A professor’s job is to teach students how to see their minds growing...”
  • 19. Erich Jarvis Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center
  • 20. How many students attended? George Mason University lecture, September 19, 2007
  • 21. The whiners build your walls. Brick walls built by GMU premed students. P Test scores from GMU students. P Number of graduates who get offers. P Lack of interest in recruiting GMU students to graduate or professional programs. P “You should take upper‐level coursework at a DC institution with a George in the name but not Mason.”
  • 22. I want climate change. Or else, surrender your dreams to the whiners. P Get involved... < On‐campus club activities, recruiting sessions, lectures. < Off‐campus lectures, conferences, programs P Calendar on website. P Newsfeed announcements on website. P Listserv announcements in email.
  • 23. Honor code Cheating hurts Mason prehealth applicants. P Cheating lets the whiners win. < Honest students see cheating students do better. < Honest students see cheating students get minimal punishment. < Some professors won’t write letters if you didn’t get an A. P National test scores do not match expectations for the GPA’s. < Test scores become more significant to evaluate Mason applicants. P Course evaluations do not reward adherence to honor code. < “The way you proctor the exams distracted me.” P Little interest in filling vacancies on Honor Committee.
  • 24. Learn to study smarter Becoming a “real man/woman of genius” P Studying more is not studying better. < 30% of 236 intro cell biology students (e.g., BIOL 213) do not use efficient learning strategies – Morse and Jutra CBE Life Sciences Education 2008; 7(2): 243. < Roughly 30‐40% of BIOL 213 students have to repeat the class.
  • 25. Study smarter not harder Morse and Jutra CBE Life Sciences Education (2008) P Non‐strategic studying < Read and reread < Regular revision < Do exercises < Cram < Memorize
  • 26. Study smarter not harder Morse and Jutra CBE Life Sciences Education (2008) P Strategic studying < Make summaries < Take notes in class < Make schemas < Listen attentively in class Barbeau, Montini, Roy (1997). Tracer les chemins de la connaissance – la motivation scolaire. Association Quebecoise de pedagogie collegiale.
  • 27. Why students fail Freeman et al., CBE Life Science Education (2007): UWash P Struggle with wording of written exams P First exposure to test questions that address higher levels of thinking (application, analysis) instead of recall P Underestimating the time commitment required to succeed in the course P Students learn better if they are active, but most prefer being passive.
  • 28. Study smarter not harder Morse and Jutra CBE Life Sciences Education (2008) P Academic skills workshops & certificate P Form functional study groups < Build confidence in learning material. < Anticipate how concepts will be tested. < Explore beyond the lecture. – < Go online!  Second Life!!! P Research for the answer! P THEN ask a TA or a professor.
  • 29. How to ask for help Making the best of mentors P GO: Office hours are for the “whiners.” < Email first and arrange an appointment... < Show up promptly if you can. P Challenge: Define the problem. P Approach: Describe your actions. P Request: Make the ask (is there another approach). P Think about the answer. < Then thank: Give a sincere thank you.
  • 30. Exchanging emails with me
  • 31. The number one goal of professors Help students judge themselves. P Questions < Did they recognize true abilities? < Did they have a sense of their own flaws? < Were they realistic about how others viewed them? P The only way any of us can improve is if we develop a real ability to assess ourselves.
  • 32. How to succeed Core competencies for health professionals P A diverse academic and rigorous scientific foundation P Enjoyment of lifelong learning P Interpersonal and multicultural understanding P Practical, time, and financial management P Personal ethics and emotional stability P Perception and observational skills P Manual, tactile skills P Written communications skills P Oral communications skills P Understanding of the profession and health care
  • 33. Would you make a great doctor? Educators best serve students by helping them be more self‐reflective.
  • 34. Communications Skills You can be smart, but if you can’t communicate...
  • 35. Communications Skills The future of the MCAT... be afraid, be very afraid. The preliminary test material is centered on three broad objectives: extracting, processing, and responding to information. Some specific assessment objectives include: P Extracting most pertinent information in multi‐message situations; P Recognizing others' emotions/feelings; P Inferring information that has not been directly expressed (i.e., drawing inferences based on unstated information); P Interpreting non‐verbal cues (i.e. those cues possible in an auditory setting including intonation, tone, volume, etc); P Responding non‐defensively to verbal attack; P Modifying behavior according to evaluative feedback; and P Clarifying unclear communication.
  • 36. “The Dreams Will Come to You” “The Lost Art of Thank‐You Notes” I would like to formally thank you for serving as my premedical advisor at George Mason University. When I began my post-baccalaureate coursework at George Mason, I had many uncertainties about the application process for medical school. Through meeting individually with you, attending many of your information sessions, and going through your pre-application process, I learned a great deal about my strengths and weaknesses as an applicant and developed a clear plan and timeline for applying to medical school. I have greatly appreciated your accessibility to your advisees, particularly your quick response time on email, open door policy, and presence at all of the information sessions. You were always available to give me feedback at every step of the process. From my initial meeting with you to mock interviewing before my first interview, you continually provided me with feedback that strengthened my application and demystified the process. Thank you again for everything that you have done for me and the George Mason community. I feel so fortunate that I was able to receive premedical advising at George Mason and that I had the support of such a knowledgeable and dedicated advisor. I attribute a large part of my successful admission to medical school to your guidance and insights over the past two years, and I can’t thank you enough.
  • 37. “The Dreams Will Come to You” Enabling the dreams of others P Cornell/Travelers Summer Fellowship < Ephrem Teklemariam P AMGEN Scholars Program (UWashington) < Erica Porter P Undergraduate‐Faculty Apprenticeship Pgm. < For those with at least junior standing (60 ch).
  • 38. Prehealth orientation It helps to know where you’re going.
  • 39. Your roadmap and guide If you don’t have copies, we’re making more. P The Red Sheet < Science‐Minded Advice for the Undergraduate Health Professional (AWIS Fall 2008) P The Green Sheet < The 12 step program for fall semester P The Blue Sheet < Top 10 things that guarantee an acceptance; the competencies P The Beige Sheet < Data and more data P The Orange and Gold Sheets < GWU and VCU Early Admissions Information
  • 40. Your roadmap and guide Health Professions Advising Office P Read through the website. < Bookmark.  Refer often. < About 90% of my advice is here. P Join the PREHEALTH‐L listserv. < Access the archives. P Confirm that you are registered at... < Until December: < Now: – These slides are posted at!
  • 41. Applicant Timeline 24 months to go... P By January 1 < (Start) solicited letters of recommendation < MSAC Interviews begin around January 20. P By February 1 < Composite Request, Checklist, Pre‐application due P By April 1 < MSAC Committee Interviews to be completed P By May 1 < Personal statement draft P By June 1 < Submit primary applications for MD, DO, DMD < Take entrance exams (early) < All letters are due except spring coursework professors (August 1).
  • 42. Get engaged to Mason! “It’s how you live your [University] life.” P Foster student success. P Live and act with integrity. P Embrace our differences. P Catch the Mason spirit. P Show you care. P Dream big. P Celebrate achievements. P Pursue lifelong learning. P Lead by example.
  • 43. George Mason University A Habit of Excellence P Think P Learn P Succeed
  • 44. Raffle Rules How this works, how you win... P Numeric code on your wristbands. P Must be a GMU student (ug, pb, gr). P You can only win one prize. < If you want to chance winning the “big prize,” we’ll draw until someone accepts the prize. P You must be here to win. P Kaplan course < MCAT, DAT, GRE, LSAT, OAT, PCAT, GMAT