Professional Healthcare Programs

Henry Nguyen

Photo by Henry Nguyen

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Michael Ellison

Every semester for the past six years, Dr. Michael Ellison has been coming to Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) to lecture on the process of getting into professional health programs. Ellison came to NEIU on Nov. 15, to present a lecture sponsored by the Future Health Professionals club.
Ellison currently serves as Associate Dean of Admission of the School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. Prior to this position, he was a Dean of Admission for the pharmacy school at Chicago State University. This is a part of how he came to be associated with NEIU.
At the start, he outlined his lecture on the board. ‘Holistic Review – Experiences, Attributes, and Metrics’ were the main themes presented in the outline, along with his contact information. These aspects were the foundation for the discussion on entering health professions. The presentation was interactive; the Q & A portion was not restricted just toward the end. The format was very much an open discussion, and as the students grew more comfortable, they increasingly engaged Ellison on his materials.
In response to the interview portion of the entrance process, he said “I am shy, but I can’t be shy to do my job.” He revealed his vulnerability in order to encourage and challenge the students.  Throughout the lecture, he displayed a great sense of empathy and sympathy toward the difficulties that NEIU students might face, and stayed positive in his message.
Ellison said that NEIU is a commuter school and students face difficulties in inter-major community creation and getting involved with peer-groups, compared to other campuses. He highlighted the more unusual opportunities for leadership and involvement that NEIU had, such as student organizations and fundraisers. When describing the application process for graduate health programs, Ellison highlighted the disparity in what an application reviewer observes when they compare a NEIU student with an A average to a Princeton student with a C average. “Apply to a school where you can be successful,” he cautioned.
Ellison was an effective communicator and managed the discussion well. Dr. Ellison had a good sense of humor; he often took the ugly truth and poked fun at it. He was playful, animated and yet, serious. He utilized humor when discussing student’s retention in their undergrad study as relevant to a student’s success later on. These positive characteristics helped highlight his practical advice.
NEIU junior and Humanities student Desmond Richard came to the lecture to seek out information pertaining to medical school, as did many other students as well.  The lecture helped him by showing  how to apply to medical school and it gave him insight into his career outlook. David Nissim-Sabat (FHP club representative) described the lecture’s benefits to the students by saying “Dr. Ellison tells it like it is. He may scare some students once they realize the demand of this highly competitive process, but he will also motivate them to work that much harder.”

In his closing statement, Dr. Ellison said he liked coming to NEIU because of the energetic students that recharged his excitement and passion for teaching. He credited his success to various people ranging from mentors to administrative individuals. Ellison wanted to inspire others and establish the importance of preparing for a health care profession at NEIU.