An inside look at the impact of COVID with Darrell Nabers [Show summary]
Darrell Nabers, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Recruitment at Loyola University of Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine, shares how the school is adapting its program and admissions policies to life in the time of COVID-19.
Changes to Loyola Stritch’s program and admissions practices as a result of the COVID pandemic [Show notes]
Our guest today is Darrell Nabers, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Recruitment at Loyola University of Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine. Darrell earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Whittier College and Golden State University, respectively. He then held various admissions positions from 2000 to 2005 before joining the University of Chicago’s admissions staff where he served in different roles until 2015. He joined Loyola Chicago Stritch in 2015 as Director of Admissions and became Assistant Dean for Admissions and Recruitment in February 2019. Darrell was a guest on the podcast last year for Episode 325. Our latest interview focuses on the changes to Loyola Stritch’s program, and specifically its admissions practices as a result of the COVID pandemic.
How is the Loyola Stritch medical school program different today due to COVID-19 than it was a year ago? [2:19]
It’s very different. One example would be the fact that I am speaking to you from my home and not from my office. We as a staff have been working from home since March 20th. There have been discussions about when we’ll return to the building. They have not yielded a decision, and because we’re part of a larger institution with an undergraduate campus and the graduate campuses, that has to be a unified decision. As a health sciences division, we have been able to advocate for our third and fourth year students to get back into their courses, which has happened.
So we have third years who are doing mostly didactic-structured content for the first couple of months before they begin their rotations. The fourth years had to take a pause on their clerkship training when the COVID crisis hit, and this allowed them to make up the clerkships before we had third years overlapping with them. That’s a difficult thing to do, to have two classifications overlap and then the third shift. Once the fourth years make up the clerkship rotations in the next few weeks, then the third years will move into theirs, but they’re currently participating in clinical simulations and exercises and mostly virtual content, but we’ll be back in the clerkships soon. And then of course, the fourth years move into their sub-I’s and electives.
For the first and second years, we are virtual. So there’s an asynchronous curriculum which allows students to log in and conduct their coursework. There are also live lectures that are provided through a virtual platform. The goal is to bring both groups back at some point this year. We have preliminarily determined the early part of October for the first years to be back on, to actually be on campus for the first time. It’s just going to require attention to the different health mandates by the state. Our main campus made a plan early to bring undergraduates back to campus, and then this last week we were told that they’re not going to have students on campus for the foreseeable future. So again, I think a lot of things are in flux.
When it comes to the decision to reopen the school, talking about changes, obviously we’ll be wearing hospital-grade masks, we’d be wearing PPE, and the building will be tied to a hospital, so when we’re within the medical school, we’ll be wearing masks. There’ll be compulsory daily screenings, temperature checks, a questionnaire, and an application that all of us will have on our phones to check in. And obviously, if there are symptoms, if anyone’s symptomatic, then there’s self-isolation protocols that we have for students. And then for staff, obviously we have protocols for staff and faculty. For the students who are on service, we’re told that they’re not participating in the care of any confirmed COVID patients. Students won’t be assigned to those services.
What about the ER? [6:14]
I’m told that the students will not participate in the care of any confirmed COVID-19 patients. How they get from triage point of care, it’s unconfirmed; I think that that’s a layer protocol. The goal is to keep them safe. And that goes for the VA hospital rotation as well, which I think is a little bit more challenging to manage. And then for the students on the sub-I’s, when they do end up going back into the sub internships, we’re told that the patients may be on service, but the students will not be expected to enter the patient rooms or interact with the patients unless they’re doing so through a virtually assigned, designated iPad. So in those cases where they are, for example, on ER, if that was a confirmed case, our students would be interacting with them virtually. Again, I don’t know how that works. I know I’ve been told how that works in several cases pre-COVID, but it’s different now.
Is there any concern that students are going to have a harder time getting residencies because their clinical exposure has been curtailed? Or is it that everybody’s in the same boat in terms of residency and matching, so it’s not going to have any impact? [7:21]
That’s a great question. My knowledge is a little bit less involved than those who work directly with the fourth years. But my understanding is, again, there are certain risks that you take as a fourth year that we’re allowing students to take. For example, away rotations, given the mandate from the state and the self-imposed quarantine that the students must do to do a rotation, for a clinic or a hospital that’s out of state, they have to adhere to those particular mandates. For us, it’s a two-week quarantine when they come back. That influences a great deal about how many of these patients that they would be able to do. If I’m doing the two-week quarantine when I get to the site, and then I have to do a two-week quarantine when I come back here, then that’s the full month.
So we can have maybe one or two, or three possibly, sub-I’s than I would get in fourth year. That will impact those efforts. But again, as you mentioned, everyone is in the same boat. The expectation, in my opinion, is that a lot of those sub-Is that would normally happen are going to be through our affiliated clinics and our hospitals. The expectation, in my opinion, is that we end up matching a larger number of our own students. And I think that might be the case for other programs. It’s hard to know how that will affect every student in the batch.
Applicants have expressed a lot of concern about their inability to take or retake the MCAT in the spring and the necessity of taking it later in the cycle. Are they going to be considered late if they submit their primary application in August, or their test score after their secondary? [9:19]
This is not a new situation or a new consideration. This has always been a question. I think the biggest consideration of differences is obviously the administration of the MCAT and the limitations placed on the administration. There were sites and administrations that were canceled. Obviously, that’s the big influence this time around. We’ve always tried to advocate for students to try to get their MCATs done well before the cycle opens. Clearly that starts in February and through July. And obviously, there were canceled administrations all through that time period, but we’ve always asserted that students should feel comfortable in applying before they submit their MCAT scores because we can hold their application until the score is received. That’s the benefit of having AMCAS control our process, and AMCAS controls the MCAT. So with those two processes linked together, it should be a normal consideration for any student to submit and then receive their score and then have the score be affixed to their application, and then we process it.
We can’t process applications prior to receiving the MCAT. I know there have been petitions from a number of different student organizations that have asked our medical school and other medical schools to mitigate, or to make the MCAT test optional for the cycle because of those considerations. I took that to our committee. I took the petition from the Students for Ethical Admissions, and they were linked to a committee on our campus and our medical student union who were advocating for that.
There are several complications, but the most significant is when we convert our processes and our system, we only have about a month from the time that we start the process of developing our system for the upcoming cycle and then retaining our class and building that out. There is something that is called the overlap, right? It’s a two- or three-month period where you’re weighing two cycles, and it’s a pretty big decision to take something as important of an evaluative tool as the MCAT out of the process. And as I mentioned earlier, there’s training involved with everything that we do within a process.
So we changed our consideration for our review rubric. We changed our supplemental questions. We knew that when COVID struck, we would have to change our interview process, and we would have to change our training for our community members. With only four staff members in our admissions office, which I think has to be one of the smallest admissions offices in the country for medical school, we just didn’t have the bandwidth to try to create a different sort of consideration algorithmically.
[REGISTER: Med School Interviews During COVID-19 Q&A]
When it comes to academic achievement, we have four basic principles within the scope of academic achievement, one of them being the MCAT. If we took that out, and we do everything in correlation with previous cycles, there would just be very little assurance of some of the things that we have done to make certain that the academic achievement and the mission fit are all there. Mission fit is demonstrated in a lot of different ways that are not part of the academic achievement model.
But again, given the consideration of whether or not we could do both… Because that’s really what you’re saying with that optional environment: that you’re going to do both. Asking us to waive the MCAT and to consider that some candidates had completed the MCAT, and then those who have not because of whatever consideration, then you’re in a situation where you’re in one cycle and you’re comparing candidates with the MCAT to those who don’t have the MCAT. And from our perspective, we just didn’t have enough time to make any kind of consideration of how we could do that.
Then, someone in our committee brought up a really interesting point. They said, well, the MCAT often helps people, right? For example, a candidate who has struggled at science coursework at a pretty good school, let’s say that they get a 3.0 science GPA. And let’s say that they go to a postbac program or they do a graduate program, and they trend up, and they’ve taken the MCAT again. Or let’s say that they haven’t right? That they haven’t taken the MCAT again. Then we’re assessing a trend, but there’s no validity when it comes to the MCAT.
But on the converse of that, if we don’t have a good sense for where the academic trend is, we have an MCAT. Often the MCAT tells us a lot about where the trend can go. So to take that out from someone that might be currently progressing, but without the validity … There were some imperative questions about how we would evaluate candidates that we simply don’t have the time to try to figure it out. Now, if we had a curve and could get to the point where we’re saying, “We don’t want the MCAT. We don’t need the MCAT,” that would take a much longer consideration and more evidence, and they’ll be searched to make sure that that is a valid assumption.
You mentioned that the MCAT is one of four elements that you’re looking at. What are the other three elements? [16:13]
When it comes to academic achievement, you’re looking at the science GPA. The science GPA is a consideration of all courses that are coded as biology, chemistry, physics, or math. That is what AMCAS considers to be the science GPA. Everything that we consider is what they’ve systemized as the consideration for that. So when we get a report from a test on any candidate, they have told us in very specific detail what courses they’ve taken and what courses they encoded as science, and they’ve provided a science GPA for us. The other part of that is the overall GPA. The third would be the MCAT. And then the fourth is what we call academic achievement or academic rigor, and it’s really based on the proportion of science courses to all other courses. I can tell you that some students might feel like that’s unfair, but there tends to be a longer, more longitudinal sort of consideration for science acumen, when you consider a candidate has taken more credits of science than any other credits.
Now, there are students who are double majors, who are majors in English and humanities and history. Some might say that those students might be disadvantaged by that. But in my opinion, I would say not necessarily because it’s one out of four considerations. So if the candidate is not a science major, but they’ve taken enough prerequisites (and our prerequisite threshold is 30 credits, so you have at least 30 credits in biology, chemistry, physics, or math), if we’re looking at 30 credits compared to 130 credits, and those GPAs line up, then we can say that is the same, right? Those two are equal, but we have to also consider the fact that the 130 credits have been spent more in this realm of science than the 30 credits. That’s an important thing for us to also consider, and that’s why that metric was established.
Another concern we hear a lot about is applicants having to take science classes pass/fail last spring. Obviously, a lot of people are taking virtual classes and online courses because they have to, not because they’re choosing to. Is there any penalty for this in the admissions process? [18:36]
That was another consideration that I took to our committee because in the original language of our prerequisites, we do state that we do not accept online course credit. We’ve rescinded that for the COVID situation. As a matter of fact, what we indicated is that prerequisite courses completed online are acceptable. We’ll consider pass/fail courses this year, as we’ve always done. There are certain things that we have always tried to understand about the variety of different undergraduate institutions. There are students that do pass/fail coursework, and that’s been pretty consistent. When we do get grades, we like to see grades in the A to C range. And of course, that has an influence on the science GPA, right? Because if you only have a C in a course, then that will be calculated into your BCPM.
Ultimately, we understand that pass/fail has an influence on the calculation of the BCPM, and that’s something that every candidate needs to be aware of. You have to consider how to take the courses that are going to demonstrate your success in science. But if you have to take pass/fail courses in this case, it may be the only option. Then we also have to understand that you’re still making progress. Again, that’s something that we have as verifiable evidence within the application.
As far as online courses are concerned, the consideration and concern for online coursework in the past has been attributed to concern about online universities. The whole notion of an online university and the application of science and the application of research to an online university always had a different impression on our committee members than what was done live. What we’re really talking about with our current situation is not converting brick and mortar institutions to completely online universities. We’re talking about a typical brick and mortar course through live instruction that is being converted to a virtual platform. Very different candidates think of them as the same. We don’t. And again, we can be very specific with the language here. We don’t want to confuse folks. So we basically said, you can complete your courses online in this particular cycle, and we will accept a credit, specifically for any candidate coursework starting in Spring of 2020. And again, there is a distinction in how courses are coded through online universities as opposed to brick and mortar universities.
I would always ask the candidate, especially if the candidate asked me that question specifically, to ask their own institution. Ask their own registrar, how has the course been coded? Is it being coded any differently than it would normally be coded? Because that’s what AMCAS is using to determine how to verify the course. AMCAS will take the information coded a certain way, and we’ll verify the coursework, and that’s what we get. You’re not making any decision to change or alter any of that information. How AMCAS looks at an online course or an online credit is an important question to ask, but for this cycle, we won’t have a problem.
Applicants sometimes drive themselves crazy speculating whether this is a good time to apply or a bad time to apply, and one thing they buzz about is application volume. Is Loyola Stritch’s application volume up or down for this cycle year over year? [22:48]
We opened our cycle. We got our first files, I believe, the second week of July. As of earlier this week, in a report, we had 7,500 applications. Normally at this point, we have between 9,000 and 10,000. So I can say that in comparison to the last three cycles, we are down at this point. But I’m not concerned because I think that there are obvious reasons for that. I think that one is the MCAT, whether or not candidates have taken it, and whether or not they feel comfortable submitting their application prior to taking the MCAT. That might account for, let’s say, 1,000 candidates.
I think the other 1,000 might be MCAT verification. Typically, it takes them anywhere between four to six weeks to verify an application. And if candidates submit them on time, which a lot try to do, they can probably get through the bulk of those. They started processing in June. So by the time we open our system, we’re getting a majority of those who have applied early, once the cycle starts. I suspect that there are fewer students that have done that. And I suspect that AMCAS is having difficulty getting those verifications done in a month because they had issues with duplicate transcripts. I don’t know if this has any bearing on their process, but I know that their offices were involved in some of the protests. Their offices were damaged in some of the protests because they’re in DC, so I know that there are some issues through AMCAS that might have created fewer applications coming out of the cycle immediately. But I feel like we’ll make it up, and I’m not too concerned.
What would you say to applicants who planned to work or volunteer in the spring, and their job or volunteer opportunity was canceled, and they’re now concerned that they don’t have enough clinical exposure or community service? [25:19]
I can definitely see that as a concern, especially if you’ve planned to do something and said, okay, I’m going to designate this time for this experience, and then you’re not able to do it. I can definitely understand how that would be a concern for a candidate. Usually, I try to help candidates understand that a lot of what we’re doing is investigating a longitudinal consideration for medicine. So anything that you could have done or may have done within the last two to three months (probably more) may not have that big of an impact on how we see you as a candidate longitudinally over the course of your entire undergraduate career. That includes graduate school. That includes life experience. That certainly shows a greater proportion of your actual motivation than the last two to three months when, really, everyone has been dealing with this crisis. Students who have had that desire, that motivation, and that interest longer may stand out. So, again, if you find yourself in a situation where you have other considerations, other priorities, and you’re saving your inroads into medicine for the spring, you really have to consider what else you can do to supplement that which cannot be done.
A perfect example is service. I know of a lot of students who tell me that service is something that they plan to do on a gap year because they’re too busy as undergrads. They might say, “I can’t do that anymore.” I don’t necessarily feel like that’s true. I feel like there are things that you can do to serve others that may not look the same as what has been templated out by other candidates in previous years, but there’s a great deal of consideration for the creativity that students put into a situation like this. It demonstrates their adaptability and demonstrates their flexibility, or it demonstrates their perseverance and great creativity. I’ve seen candidates who may not have been able to go on those international trips (we had to cancel our ISI this year, which is our international student experience), but decided that they were going to work locally, that they were going to work with a food pantry. There’s no shortage of need there. I’ve got a food pantry at the church on my corner that runs every week.
There’s an incredible amount of need out there, and it’s local. It’s not glamorously international. Certainly there are risks, right? We’re not saying that you need to put yourself into a situation that’s uncomfortable and risky, but isn’t that what medicine is? I hear that every day from our faculty and our staff. Our students have been working a phone bank following up with patients who come into the free clinics. Contact tracing requires a lot of personnel. It requires that you have a phone or a computer with a phone, and it’s a valuable experience. You’re actually engaging with patients in a safe way, and you’re actually helping the care team.
There are ways that this can happen. Students just have to be a little bit more resourceful. But again, no one is going to suggest that anyone who is not doing this right now is not prepared for medicine. As I said, this is a much bigger, broader consideration than any one month or three months are going to demonstrate. If you haven’t done those things in the three years prior to your application, instead of waiting for right now to tell us that you couldn’t do them and then submitting your application, give yourself more time to find that which is the true motivation for wanting to do this work. This is a perfect opportunity to determine that this is what you want to do. If you find the right opportunity to help solidify that for you, and that hasn’t happened yet, now’s a great time to make that happen.
The experiences that should guide that decision should include consideration of your personal wellness and health. I know that a lot of people right now are stressed. Anxiety is pervasive everywhere. Depression is pervasive everywhere. We had a conversation with a young man recently who was considering a reapplication and was obviously depressed and had that diagnosis in front of him. I told him, you have to really think about your own personal health right now in order to be ready to deal with the health of other people. You can’t force that; you can’t make that happen before you’re ready. This is going to be a real lightning rod moment for some, and it’s going to be a moment of pause for others, but this is a long journey.
I actually had advisors reaching out to me this cycle asking me to talk to first years. Rarely do you see first years at an event because they usually try to put the third and fourth years in front of you. But I can see that advisors are starting to really take that to heart and trying to help students understand that there is a much broader starting point than the year of the application for you to get your motivation and your plan in order. And this isn’t to say that if you haven’t started at that point, that you can’t succeed, but you do have to give yourself time. It’s not like any other graduate program, like any other consideration. You’re considering a professional, lifelong journey. That’s going to take a considerable amount of time, effort, and sacrifice, personal sacrifice, to accomplish. You just have to know that you’re ready to do that.
At a time when people are suffering and struggling and there’s uncertainty, you know what? You don’t have to make that decision right now. Just take a pause, deal with what’s happening in the world right now, and build up that momentum to make the decision to go back in. So if there’s any hesitation from any candidate, I typically try to talk them out of it because I don’t know how that uncertainty is going to be conveyed in the application itself or the interview. When you’re pressed to come up with questions and with answers to questions that are getting at the core of your own motivation, sometimes that’s hard to do if you’re distracted or you’re thinking about other things.
Let’s go back to the application process at Loyola Stritch. There have been changes to your secondaries. What are those changes? Do you have any plans to extend the deadline on your secondaries, or have you already extended it? [34:13]
No. The secondaries have always been due in December; this year it’s December 11th. We only make changes every two or three years. We actually changed more of them this time. One of the things that we really wanted to be certain of, because of our holistic process, is to make sure that we are addressing the values of our institution within the scope of our questions. Some of these questions in the past, they’re appropriate questions, but they kind of run their course. We know that it’s no mistake that the students prep in advance for some of these questions. They scoop them up off the internet, so they’ve already got them completed by the time we open the system. But I feel like these questions are more directed towards how we assess our candidates.
It’s no mistake that we’re asking about leadership. It’s no mistake that we’re asking about service with those on the margins of society. We’re being more direct with our questions, as opposed to being more general, to get at that point. They may not look that different. But the other thing is that they’re not necessarily stated as questions. They’re stated as discussions, right? The questions are fairly answerable with limited context, but if you are asked to explain something of a greater significance and how it pertains to you, we feel like the outcome will be a more meaningful response. So not only did we actually change the questions, but we actually made them less question-oriented and more prompt-oriented.
For example, there’s one question about leadership, right? “What is your preferred leadership style? Give us an example of that.” In a sense, there’s a question there, but you have to really address it from the perspective of understanding something about yourself, which will in essence provide a more meaningful response, right? That’s a little bit different than, “Tell us about your experience with leadership.” Because you can then refer to someone else and they can focus on, well, this person’s leadership is what I like. Then the assumption, I guess, is made that that is who they are. That is their style. We’re asking a more direct question in that sense to get a more meaningful response that is more individualized, more focused on the candidate and not focused on others. Because that tends to happen a lot, especially in the supplemental or setting process.
What do you have planned for interviews this year? [37:47]
We are going to be doing virtual interviews, and we’re going to really try to simulate the day, the way that we have done it in the past. We’ll start later because we’ll have candidates from different coasts. They’ll come into a meeting that is going to be oriented kind of the same way, where we have an orientation leader that talks them through the process, gives them a little bit more information about the program. We’ll have them in the chat or the Zoom platform. They will be going to break out rooms for their interviews. They’ll come back to a larger meeting room when they’ve completed the interviews. There’ll be student panels. That, of course, will be virtual. We will have recorded content for them that they can access during the day. We’ll have forms that they complete, and they’ll be provided through the system.
We’ve got to convert all that to the appropriate formatting. It’ll be different. One of the benefits of our process is that the interview day itself is such a great experience for most students: being with our students, being in classes with them being hosted the night before, maybe visiting some of the sites in Chicago, coming to campus with some of our students, being greeted by them in the morning. Our interview orientations are always pretty fun and allow students to feel more comfortable. And then we typically have a class for them, so we’ll try to have access to our virtual class environment for them to check in on a class. Obviously, it won’t be the same as being there. The tour will be recorded and guided, narrated, but it won’t be the same as being on campus.
I think that most schools are doing this, or some sort of a hybrid version of this. With hope, we’ll maintain that line of communication. That is really, I think, another stalwart of our processes, that we continue to allow candidates to reach out to us throughout the cycle and update their files with our academic progress. We keep them in touch with our students. Our students are very active in our process, not only as ambassadors but as people that are involved in their decision-making. All that will still remain. Hopefully it’ll work. Hopefully we’ll have more candidates interviewed. There are things that tend to happen during the interview cycle; expensive travel and inclement weather can restrict students from traveling. We fully expect that we’ll have more candidates that we can interview, which is a benefit to us and a much stronger pool at the end of the day. That’s one of the things we were anticipating: a much more diverse and larger interview pool as a result of going virtual.
What advice do you have for applicants interested in applying for the 2021-22 application cycle? [41:18]
That’s a great question. There’s a lot to know in your first year. A student asked if there was any literature that I could provide. And I was like, well, the literature that I have is more based on the candidate model, if you’re applying in the upcoming cycle. I just don’t feel like they’re ready for that yet.
So what is the silver lining here, if you’re a student? The opportunity is there for you to gather more information, gather more knowledge. If courses are going to be synchronous or they’re going to be virtual, then I would fully expect students could maximize their credits. They can maximize the number of courses they’re taking. If they ever wanted to take a really challenging course that they were a little bit shy or hesitant to take before, now’s a great time, right? Especially if it’s pass/fail, or especially if it’s asynchronous. There might be a lot of opportunities here to have a much more strong and balanced academic application.
What I also know to be true is, as with the interview, where we anticipate having more candidates to interview, we do virtual Stritch visits, which of course were live in the past. We started doing these three or four years ago. We typically run them every month, and we have a maximum of 20 candidates, 20 students per Stritch interview and per Stritch visit. We get your mix of your typical pre-meds undergrads. We’ve had some high school students, and we’ve had their parents. But we can only have 20 people for that visit. We’ve done three Stritch visits so far since July, and we have already exceeded the total number of visitors we had all of last year. That’s a benefit. We’ve maximized our effort to get the information out to potential candidates in the future. But it’s also much better now that we can accommodate more people and have more participants on the call. That is an opportunity that’s going to be out there for all premeds.
Most schools are already talking about how they’re creating virtual visits or virtual fairs. I mean, I’m not as thrilled about the virtual fairs, but schools that do virtual visits, I think that’s a very important and impactful opportunity to get an understanding of what the school is about and to see if that aligns with your personal mission. If it is something that resonates, then you can do additional followup research over the next couple of years. There might even be a summer program. Again, our program is something that we typically do live, but we did it virtually a couple of months ago, and it worked very well. You’re typically talking about maximizing a cohort based on resources and physical states. If it’s virtual, you don’t have those same restrictions, and you can allow more people to be involved.
There’ll be a lot more opportunities for those who are tapped into the network of resources that exist, that are keeping an eye on the MSR are actively involved with determining where they might want to apply. My son is going through this as he is looking for his undergraduate home next year. He’ll be a senior rising into a senior class this year. He’s already done, just over the summer, four different virtual visits with schools that he would’ve thought were reach schools. All of a sudden, he’s communicating with administrators on these campuses. Now he’s talking about Ivy League schools. The silver lining is there for the students, but like we were saying, you’ve got to find them. They’re not just going to jump at you and say, “Here I am.” Again, do what you can to be safe and be practical. Remember that everyone is in the same boat. That doesn’t diminish your own interests, your own motivation. Just make sure that you can exercise those things as much as you can. And you can’t do what you can’t do.
What would you have liked me to ask you that I haven’t asked? [46:32]
One thing I would say is, what do medical schools do in situations like this? How do they work together? Because like you’re saying, every medical school’s aware that candidates have these anxieties. So a good question might be, how do medical schools respond in congress, or how do they affiliate a response for any of these types of situations?
I’ll speak for Illinois because as Loyola, we have seven medical schools. Actually, eight medical schools in the state and then another osteopathic school. So eight allopathic and osteopathic, and we meet every quarter. We talk about all these different considerations that are going on. It’s very collegial. Medical schools are, if nothing, collegial; we work in many ways to support each other because we know that if our school may not be a good fit for someone, one of these other schools may be. And certainly, if the candidate is looking for a medical school home in Illinois, it certainly behooves them to consider all of us to some degree. Now, there are going to be some schools that are maybe a little bit more of a stretch or a reach than others, but we got together. We thought about canceling it this year, but we’re actually going to do an adviser town hall on Friday, September 25th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. central. This is where each of us will represent a medical school. We would normally do this live on a campus, one of our campuses, and we’d invite advisors from the state or the region to attend. But because it’s virtual, we’re opening it up to a larger audience. There will be advisers from all around the country who can check in and visit with us. At each of the programs, we’ll talk a little bit about what’s going on this year. We want to try to address a lot of the concerns and issues related to the crisis, but then to, of course, inform about our programs and allow questions.
I know that New York does this pretty well. And there are other states that I would say work in much the same way, to try to unify efforts and to help clarify things. I think this year that’s really important because of the different impacts that state legislatures or governors have related to this COVID issue. Every state is a little bit different, so it’s an important consideration to identify those opportunities and to check into those as well, especially if you’re thinking about a local or regional search through a certain state.
That conference is going to be on September 25th, 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. central time. I’ll be disseminating the link through the NHHP’s website, because most advisors are tapped into that as a resource. If you’re interested in attending, you can email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our group is called IMSAC, and we do have a LinkedIn account: IMSAC Medical School Admissions Consortium.
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