May I be honest?

I’ve mentioned to a few that I’m considering, no, committing to being a doctor. Most are curious as to why considering my own recent hospitalization that they don’t know much about. They figure it was “something mental.” This is true. My motivation for being a doctor stems from my own hospitalization in a mental hospital in New Jersey. There I said it. I made the connection. I’m schizoaffective and I have an understanding of the condition better than I could explain to a doctor (it’s deep). I want to use my pharmaceutically preserved wits to help others with conditions like my own. This also explains the sub-par performance in the grad program I was in along with my abrupt abscondence. May I be honest to ADCOMS and expect admittance? I’m not terribly sure. But I intend to work my butt off in a post-bac so that shouldn’t matter. Thanks for reading.

  • thundabolt Said:
I'm schizoaffective...May I be honest to ADCOMS and expect admittance?

Do you minimize your background or do you take the skeletons and dance with them?

The brutally honest answer is no. Unless something is public, not covered by privacy and patient rights, it should not be mentioned. To do so is to likely be rejected from the medical schools.

But you do not need to answer this question now. You need to work on your post-bacc and let it percolate thru as you work towards your goal

It is a shame, but a reality, that mental illness is not considered equally with other medical conditions. It is difficult to decide how much to disclose, especially if it is the reason you went into medicine, as you will undoubtedly be asked this question either on the written application or during the interview. I agree with gonnif that this is something that you have time to consider as you work through your pre-med coursework. During that time you can speak with medical professionals as well as different medical schools regarding their opinions.

Most medical schools have some criteria listed under “technical standards” which may address this issue. For example, my former med school states the following: “must have abilities and skills in five areas including Observation; Communication; Motor; Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities; and Behavioral and Social Attributes”. At my school, mental illness is not specifically outlined, and I know of a number of people who were treated for Major Depressive Disorder throughout medical school. I am sure there were other mental illnesses represented amongst my classmates, but I was not aware of them.

One of the things that people diagnosed with a mental illness intending to become a doctor need to realize is that often times (most? all?) you need to report any mental illness to the licensing boards when you are applying for a license to practice medicine. What the states do with this information I imagine is different, but is something that should be considered in the grand scheme of things.

Best wishes as you move ahead!

I must agree with gonnif about this. And this policy of being discreet also applies to physical issues as well. I had a recent discussion with an admissions committee member about my dismal chances to medical school. He asked me why I was applying so late in life (47), when I clearly had the inclinations early on. I mentioned to him that I was born with several birth defects, and was in and out of hospitals for numerous surgeries from birth through elementary school. And that for years, whenever I would get near a health clinic, I would get anxious, sweaty, disoriented, and bad memories of being stuck with needles, prodded, IV-lines, strange masked faces, etc. Despite years of working in health care, it took a long, gradual time for me to finally come to terms with it and be comfortable in a clinic and hospital setting. He told me to never say that in an application letter or in the interview. It would freak out the AdComms and my application would be shelved or rejected. “Only say positive things about yourself and your desire for medicine. Any hint of weakness is a wedge for us to reject you.”

I also think it is important to be careful, but you may want to discuss this with your post-bacc advisor, or any mentors you picks up along the way. Our post-bacc program works with the students to develop a life story for their applications, so weeding out or weaving in personal stuff that would work or wouldn;t work is part of how they help you get your application letter ready.

I have a very close friend who was my boyfriend (many years ago) when he was diagnosed as schizoaffective. He is a teacher, and doesn’t really talk about it professionally because he doesn’t want any parents or colleagues to prejudge him. In part because he also had ADHD as a child, he is very good with kids who are hyperactive, and is really great at working with kids with developmental disabilities. He has demonstrated over the years that he is trustworthy, and his experience is demonstrated in his abilities, I think. But he doesn’t talk about his illness. In part because of him, I don’t judge people with schizoaffective disorder, but I think a lot of people do. Even medical professionals who should know better. I think the important thing for you is to get in, and that since your gut is telling you to think twice about talking about it, you might want to leave it out. But it sounds like you have time to think about it, right? Good luck! And good for you for turning what sounds like a frightening situation around into a wonderful goal.