What adcoms think

Hi all!
Been a little while since posting (just finished first semester of my post bac and all went well!). Anyway, there is a discussion on SDN about whether to include a chronic disease in the personal statement (specifically type I diabetes). I planned to include it as it is an integral part of who I am and why I want to be a doc. I’m also living proof of good control without complications (although I have friends in good control WITH complications). There was a great amount of negativity among the posters on SDN regarding including it (the adcoms will think DM’s can’t handle med school or that we are all sickly individuals) yet I feel that such tight control of my health has made me almost “healthier” than the average person. What are your thoughts on this? I always had the attitude of "here I am…take me or leave me " but now I’m wondering if it will be a hindrance to my application.

If it’s a big part of who you are, a big part of your story and motivation, then I think you need to include it. Be aware that if you include it in your application, it’s fair game for interviewers to ask you about it, though. But on the whole, I think that if it’s a big part of what made you who you are, you don’t really want to go to a medical school that doesn’t want any diabetics in school there.


Read the thread To Mention or Not to Mention pertaining to ADHD and learning disabilities. I am in your camp philosophically speaking about disclosing and the reasons why. Practically speaking I don’t know how I am going to address this issue when it is my turn. Not the same issue but in a similiar vein.

On a different note, my cat crashed health wise this weekend. I took him to an emergency clinic. They kept him over the weekend, pumped him full of fluids and ran tests. Turns out my little guy is a diabetic. I gave him his first insulin injection today. After a childhood accident with a needle in my eye, I’ve always had a “thing” about needles. Not a phobia, but a “thing.” Ironic isn’t it, I want to be a surgeon and I don’t like needles. Anyway it was easy, the vet showed me how to do it. She gave the insulin injection and then I followed her instructions and gave him an injection with saline. So I have to get past this needle issue sooner rather than later. It’s amazing what one can do when you love someone. So maybe I can use this experience later on. I wonder though how a human patient will feel when I scruff them and give them an injection in the neck. But I digress.

I empathize with your situation. It is an example of the intanglibles that define the human condition and what will make you a compassionate physician. It shows what can be accommplished (controlling your diabetes and getting things done and under stress) despite difficulties.

Good Luck in your endeavors. One question though, when your diabetes is under control…is your nose cold?

Disclosing that you have IDDM is your choice. I would say that if it is a major part of who you are, why you are taking this journey, etc. work this into your personal statement.It is not for others to judge. FYI I know two residents with IDDM who are doing just great, even with the chaotic life of a resident.

I would not disclose because you just do not KNOW how adcoms will react to a chronic disease. Meaning, if you have some arse reading your PS and putting you on the interview pile versus the do not interview pile, he/she may feel that accepting someone with a chronic illness may be “somewhat” of a liability…versus someone w/o a chronic disease. Although we darn well know that this is illegal it can still happen. But, if this is one of the major reasons for you entering medicine and you just have to talk about it then go for it and see what happens.

You say that it is a big part of your life, your journey, and your decision to be a doctor. How could you write your personal statement and not include it?
In Barron’s Essays That Will Get YOU Into Medical School there are examples of such essays - how an early medical experience shaped a person’s life and decisions. I didn’t pay a LOT of attention to them because they didn’t pertain to my own experience, but I do recall seeing them. You might want to check them out.
In general I think caution is called for, but when your story is so significantly diminished by omitting this important feature, well, that’s a risk too.
BTW I had two classmates with IDDM, both did fine through medical school. I do not know if they discussed their experiences in their PS.
Good luck!

Thank you for the advice everyone. I sat eating my lunch today trying to come up with a way to write my PS without including it and frankly it would be impossible.
So will take my chances with including it when the time comes and hope for the best. And, if I don’t get in the first time and reapply and THEN get in…we will know it may have been a factor.

I would disscuss it in my personal statement as inspirational and how it has not held me back from anything I want to do.
Diabetes can be something that you can show you have overcome and you are in control of. But as Mary said be careful