LECOM Interview Day

In a previous post I mentioned that I interviewed with LECOM-Erie. I thought I would give you a quick idea about how their interview day goes. It was my first interview and it was about two months ago so the details of time are hazy, but I definitely remember the interview very well.

The day started around 8 AM and I arrived about 20 minutes early. I know it sounds way early, but I was not the first person to arrive. Two other interviewees arrived up to 30 minutes earlier than I did! To start the day about 10 med school hopefuls piled into a conference room. At this time the director of admissions came in and started to get to know us. When he got to me he started speaking in fluent Japanese (luckily, I know Japanese). Always be careful about what you put in your application. You never know what a school might test you on.

Their day ran fairly similar to other schools interview days. After the introductions we were privileged enough to sit through powerpoint presentations about LECOM. Then we got to hear from the financial aid office and other administrators. These activities took up most of our morning.

Right before lunch was the interview. At LECOM they have recently decided to use a different interview method than other schools. I was interviewed by a 2 person panel. One interviewer was a man with a PhD in English and the other was a physiology instructor for LECOM. Neither of the men had ever seen my file. Because of this they had no knowledge of my past academic history, MCAT score, research or clinical experience. They had never even read my personal statement, secondary essays, or letters of recommendation. LECOM feels that if you made it to the interview then those aspects of you application are competitive enough and now your interviewers need to find out what kind of person you truly are. We spent most of our interview talking about my family (my wife and kids), and about my experiences that I have had serving as a religious representative in Japan for my church.

At no time did anyone ask any difficult ethics or recent healthcare hot topic questions. The only LECOM interview questions that really stood out were:

1- Why do you want to be an osteopathic physician?
2- Have you applied to any allopathic schools?
3- Why would you want to come to school at LECOM?
4- Do you have any concerns about attending school in Erie?

As you can see, none of these are particularly difficult. I didn’t have to explain anything in regard to question #2. I only applied to DO programs. Even if you did apply to MD schools, don’t worry, just make sure that you acknowledge the differences between the two methods of medicine and that you are very excited about the benefits provided through studying osteopathic medicine.

The whole interview lasted about a half an hour. It went very quickly and was very low pressure. I found it very refreshing to experience an interview with a closed file. Both men were friendly and never seemed to be interested in intimidating their interviewees at any time.

After the interview we had lunch with a couple of students that were able to talk about the different learning methods at LECOM and answer any questions about living in Erie. Of all the places I interviewed Erie was definitely the most non-rural place to live.

After interviews and lunch we had a few more presentations and ranked our learning style preference, and stated if we were interested in attending the Seton Hill campus. With LECOM-Stone Hill as an option you are essentially interviewing for one of over 300 seats in their school. This should be a big comfort to many people out their knowing that your odds much greater here than at most other schools in this nation.

DOs do research!

Many aspiring physicians shy away from osteopathic schools because they fear that they won’t get the opportunity to do research. This is an unfortunate misconception. There are many people attending osteopathic medical schools that are getting involved in research projects.

Through a quick search I was able to find many different examples of DOs involved in research:
And the list of DOs involved in research can go on forever. Now it may be true that in osteopathic medical schools research may not be the number the top priority; however, teaching the students to understand research and be competent, caring, and qualified physicians is a top priority for all the schools.
If you are planning on attending medical school and love research don’t be afraid to look into osteopathic medical schools. Do your homework and figure out which schools the best opportunities for you.
Finally, remember that no matter what your research experience is like through medical school, if you love research you will have opportunities throughout your career to get involved. Medicine is always in need of good research. If you love research then there is room for you.

What I know after visiting LECOM

Since LECOM was the first school that I interviewed with I was not sure what to expect. LECOM’s interview is different from any other school I visited. I was interviewed by 2 doctors at the same time. One of them had a PhD and the other was a DO. The thing that made LECOM’s interview different was that neither of the interviewers had access to my file. LECOM’s admissions commity has the opinion that if you were good enough to receive an invitation for an interview then your interviewers should just get to know you. I found the interview to be very relaxed and actually enjoyable. The PhD interviewer was very friendly and loved to talk.

On the interview day they talked a lot about what sets LECOM apart from other osteopathic medical schools; most importantly they focused on the 3 learning modes:
Lecture track was very traditional but seemed to be the most time intensive in terms of the schedule they give you.
Problem based learning was very intriguing and it also seemed very time intensive, but in PBL you get to set the majority of your schedule for yourself. PBL is a beast (good and bad) of its own and deserves a post all by itself.
Independent study is a route that you get to set your schedule pretty much by yourself; however, many students reported that independent study was actually less independent than the PBL mode of learning.
Erie, PA, was a very nice place. The peninsula that juts out into the lake was really cool. Many students utilized it as a place to relax. LECOM plays a big role in the Erie community and they have places all over town for students. One of the new places in Erie is the wellness center that should be finished in time for the incoming class of 2013. The fitness center is huge and the plans look very nice. LECOM has also renovated an old restaurant and turned it into a student center. Of all the schools I attended LECOM/Erie was the least rural and seemed to have the most to do.
One other interesting thing I learned at my interview was that LECOM is starting a Seton Hill University branch starting summer 2009. The Seton Hill branch will be strictly PBL like Bradenton, FL.

What I Knew Before Visiting LECOM

My first interview was at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Erie campus. I first learned about LECOM when a representative from LECOM came to present at Utah Valley University. I left the presentation very excited about the school, and was convinced that LECOM was a great school for me to apply to.

LECOM-Erie has 3 learning methods for students: lecture track, problem based learning (PBL), and independent study. The 3 modes of learning excited me because it showed that the school understood that every student is different and may benefit from different teaching styles.
The representative also talked about the role that the MCAT and GPA play in LECOM’s application process. LECOM is recognized by many people as a school that accepts applicants with lower scores. He explained that they made sure that applicants meet a certain academic level and then LECOM is more concerned about the type of person you are than about scores.

Where I am in the Process

The process of applying to medical school can be very long and trying. I am glad to be where I am right now. I know I will start medical school in July/August of 2009; I just need to decide which school to attend.

I interviewed with LECOM, WVSOM, LMU-DCOM, and ATSU-KCOM. I was honestly just hoping that someone would accept me for school this year. I feel very blessed that all four schools have offered me a spot in next year’s class. This is a tough decision because each school had something that set them apart from all the other schools. 
Over the next while I will be leaving posts about what each of my interviews were like, what I thought of the campuses, and more information about my application process.