Today I had the opportunity to meet a…

Today I had the opportunity to meet a really cool guy. His name is Dr. Kenneth Davis, Jr. He’s an African American trauma/critical care surgeon; and the only black surgeon attending in the UC system. He also happens to sit on the University of Cincinnati Admissions board. I tried to write down most of the conversation that we had, so here it goes:

Davis: So how did you do this past’.freshman year right?

DoctaJay: I did pretty well. I got a 4.0, Dean’s List, etc., but I’ve heard from a lot of people that freshman year is the easiest, so I’m worried that my first year was just a fluke and I might crash and burn my second year when it really gets hard.

Davis: Well, not necessarily. A lot of people say that freshman year is one of the hardest simply because of the transition from high school work to college work. No one is breathing down your back making sure that all your work is turned in. In college, it’s up to you remember to do your work, and you can decide whether you want to go to class or not. It’s just a different environment that a lot of high school kids have trouble adjusting to; but you seem to have done fine.

DoctaJay: Was it hard coming up as a black guy trying to do surgery? What hardships did you face, and was there a lot of racial opposition to you succeeding?

Davis: [laugh], well, actually in my day things were quite different. The year I applied to medical school, was the year that they basically started implementing affirmative action. I can unequivocally say that I would not have gotten into medical school without affirmative action. I had a 2.35 GPA coming out of college; but because they had just started implementing affirmative action, they were being very lenient. If I tried to apply now with that GPA I would be laughed at. Affirmative action just isn’t as strong anymore. As for the racial problems I had to face; I attended St. Louis University SOM. The year I started med school was the 1st year that the University of Washington graduated its first black doctor. So you can imagine the racial climate at the time. Honestly, I worked my but off in medical school, and they saw that, and respected me.

DoctaJay: I don’t know, I have a really hard time thinking that affirmative action will help me get into medical school. When I apply, I want to get in because of what I’ve done, and what I’ve earned. But so many majority races these days are complaining because they think that they are being reverse discriminated against by affirmative action.

Davis: That’s a load of crap. They weren’t complaining back in the day when minorities did have the stats to get into medical school and just weren’t being accepted. They didn’t complain then, its only now that they are complaining because they are being slightly affected. The kids these days don’t even know how scaled down affirmative action is these days. If they didn’t get in, its not because of affirmative action, but because they just didn’t have the profile the school wanted. And it really isn’t all about stats, I mean look at me. I entered medical school with a 2.35 GPA out of undergrad. Now I’m a tenured surgeon, and a professor of surgery at UC.

DoctaJay: Would the historically black medical schools like Howard, Morehouse, and Meharry give me an medical education comparable to the majority medical schools. Will I be able to get into the residency I want if I go to schools like these?

Davis: Well, that’s an interesting question. You see, there are just certain ways that black people do things. They usually aren’t always the right or most efficient way, but that’s the way they do them. It can be very frustrating because they act the same way even on the medical school level. At one of these historically black schools one thing you might suffer from is the inadequate funding as compared to UC or Hopkins. Also, the research opportunities might be less. The main thing about these schools is that if you want something, you usually have to work hard to get it, because it isn’t readily available at your school. At schools like UC and Hopkins, we usually have brand new facilities and all these things to make you as comfortable as possible. I honestly feel that you can get an equal education, but you must do a lot of searching for opportunities yourself. For instance, there is a 4th year from Meharry doing his AI here this month. They don’t have residents at Meharry for him to shadow, that is sad. But he’s making due, by going where he needs to go to get what he wants.

DoctaJay: As an admissions committee member, what do you look for in an applicant; especially a minority applicant?

Davis: Well in all applicants we look at test scores and academic performance. We look to see that you are knowledgeable about medicine and what’s happening in it. I want to know whether you know what tort reform is, or what your views are about the uninsured, or about how you plan to deal with HMOs. We want to know that you know what you are getting into as a doctor. We also want to know that you read and know about current events. If I ask you about something big that happened in the news, healthwise or not, you should know about it. When I hold an interview, I just like to talk to the person and have a nice conversation. Sometimes it could be completely unrelated to medicine; I just wanted to hold a conversation with you to make sure that you are literate and can communicate well. In dealing with minorities, even though it is not said, we are a tad bit more flexible in their admissions. Please don’t for a second think that we are trying to find reasons not to accept you. We are many times looking hard for reasons to keep you, as a minority. The reason why there aren’t many black people in medicine is not because they aren’t getting accepted, but because most of them are locked up, and most of them are going into other professions like business. There aren’t many black people in medicine because their aren’t many black people to accept into medicine. My advice to you DoctaJay is to work as hard as you can. If your GPA is nice, and you score well on your MCAT, as a minority, there is absolutely no school that won’t accept you. In respect to the MCAT, at Cincinnati, and at most schools we pay a lot of attention to your biological sciences score; we usually want to see a 10 or above. For the other sections we can deal with an 8 or above.

Basically that was the end of the conversation. We talked a little more about recommendations, and then I left. I hope this helped any premed minorities out there, or anyone who plans to apply to UC and might get an interview with Dr. Davis.

One Response to Today I had the opportunity to meet a…

  1. Jason J says:

    It did. thanks again

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