Dr. Quinn Capers IV discusses Implicit Bias and the #DropAndGiveMe20 campaign

One of the focuses of my blog is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and my most central principle is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. While we tend to think of clinical medicine as strictly a ‘healthcare’ profession, its foundations are actually rooted in the ‘Basic Sciences’. In late 2017, I discovered Dr. Quinn Capers IV on Twitter one day by chance and started following him when he was tweeting about medical education at the Ohio State University. The hashtag he used in most of his tweets, #BlackMenInMedicine, further piqued my curiosity.

Last year I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Capers about his path and #BlackMenInMedicine. To see our 2018 interview go to Dr. Quinn Capers, IV discusses his path, #BlackMenInMedicine, and the present landscape of medical education. Dr. Capers recently granted me the opportunity to interview him a second time. In this follow up interview we discuss the concept of ‘Implicit Bias’, why it’s important, and the hashtag, ‘#DropAndGiveMe20’. The images in this interview were graciously shared by Dr. Capers himself. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Anwar Dunbar: Hello, Dr. Capers and happy New Year. I want to thank you for the opportunity to interview you again. As the Dean of Admissions at the Ohio State University’s Medical School, your words are very, very valuable, especially for students aspiring to attend medical school. Before we get into ‘Implicit Bias’, the last time we spoke we spent quite a bit of time on the hashtag #BlackMenInMedicine. I now see you using a second hastag, #DropAndGiveMe20. Where did this hashtag and the whole push-ups piece come from? Did you start that?

Quinn Capers: The #DropAndGiveMe20 campaign is a great story. I’m a big fan of Ohio State University (OSU) Football. For years, while watching the games on television, I’ve had a fun routine of doing 10 push-ups every time they score a touchdown. I picked push-ups because they don’t require equipment or much physical space. They’re a good measure of overall upper body strength and they get your heart rate up. Mostly, I wanted to feel like I was exerting myself while the players were on the field exerting themselves. It’s just fun.

I’ve done it at sports bars and experienced both strange looks and strangers joining in! In November 2017, my wife recorded me doing this after an OSU touchdown and I thought it’d be cool to put it on Twitter to spark excitement among OSU football fans. I got a few responses, but the best one was from an interventional cardiologist at UCLA, Dr. William Suh (he is now a great Twitter friend or a “Tweep”), who said he could top that; and would do 20 for every UCLA Bruin touchdown. So he did 20, then when OSU scored another touchdown, I did 20.

AD: Ohio State Football. Yes, you all beat my Michigan Wolverines yet again (laughing).

QC: Well, we both had Twitter followers who are cardiologists and since heart doctors love promoting exercise, they joined the fun and challenged other cardiologists. I guess you could say that Dr. Suh and I are the “co-founders” if you must, but it has grown so fast and so many are responsible for spreading it that it really is a group effort now. It grew quickly to include other specialties, non-physicians, and even patients. In fact some of the most regular and awesome participants are patients; one a heart transplant survivor. They’re simply incredible.

It grew fast under the hashtag “#DropAndGiveMe20” and it’s now international with participants all over the world posting clips from places like the following: Sydney (Australia), London, and Lagos, Nigeria. We post daily and give each other positive feedback, hold each other accountable, and promote wellness and exercise. One of my main goals is to promote exercise as a way to improve heart health and to show that you don’t have to wait to go to a gym, since it can be hard to work a full day and plan to go to a gym afterwards. I’ll usually post clips of myself doing push-ups during my work day in the cardiac cath lab, in my office between meetings, or even in an auditorium after giving a lecture. Others have posted clips in unusual settings, like at dinner parties.

AD: Nice.

QC: I’ll tell you about two of my favorite clips. There’s a very famous female cardiologist who posted clips of herself doing push-ups at the airport terminal awaiting her flight. A prominent British cardiologist topped that by doing his on a moving walkway at London’s Heathrow Airport (not recommended, by the way)! We have great fun adding humorous wrinkles to it, like adding more and more people in a clip. I suppose I took it to new heights recently when I concluded a live simulcast lecture to a group of medical residents in Cameroon by asking them to do push-ups with me! They complied and we completed what might be the first, simultaneous, international push-up session!

I also take the opportunity to share my love and knowledge of jazz, hip-hop, and R & B/Funk music. My clips are always accompanied by a musical selection from my collection. I always credit and tag the musicians (if they have a Twitter handle), hoping to spark curiosity about certain hidden gems and send my Twitter followers “digging in the crates” to support the music. I was beyond thrilled when two different artists supplying the soundtrack to my push-ups responded to my tweet, the hip hop group “Digable Planets” and saxophone legend Branford Marsalis!

It’s great fun, and a very friendly Twitter community has grown around it. We now arrange to meet up at conventions (cardiology or otherwise) and do a “#DropAndGiveMe20!” Regarding the health benefits, doing push-ups can provide positive reinforcement in a relatively short period of time. Last November I could barely do 25 at one time, now I can max out at 43. Anyone is welcome to join the fun. If you can’t do 20, start with 1 or 2 push-ups! By the way, Dr. Dunbar, you and your readers are welcome to join anytime. Just record yourself, post it on Twitter with the hashtag “#DropAndGiveMe20” and tag your colleagues to get them involved.

AD: Okay, Dr. Capers. I haven’t done push-ups in a while, but now I may have to see if I can crank out 20 (laughing).

I noticed that after starting to follow you, ‘Implicit Bias’ became something you started addressing. How did this come about? What should the general public, and particularly those looking to get into medical school, understand about it?

QC: Implicit bias is a negative or positive attitude towards a person or group that occurs outside of our awareness, intention, or control. Although these biases occur outside of our awareness, they can influence behavior, possibly resulting in well-meaning people treating others differently based on race, gender, age, etc. I came across the concept as a cardiologist interested in racial healthcare disparities. Disparities have many causes, like social determinants of health, housing discrimination, unequal access to the best care, outright racism (explicit bias) of practitioners, structural bias in the healthcare system, etc.

I became intrigued with the notion of implicit or unconscious bias and its potential role in unequal treatment. Several studies have shown that a physician’s unconscious association of negative thoughts or words with a particular race or gender can be associated with therapeutic decisions that are harmful to persons in that group. For instance, one widely quoted paper had physicians take the computer-based implicit association test (IAT) that’s designed to uncover implicit associations or biases (free, available at implicit.harvard.edu) and then review case vignettes of a black or white male suffering from a heart attack.

Doctors were asked if they thought the symptoms of chest discomfort were indicative of a heart problem and if they’d treat the patient with a life-saving drug to terminate the heart attack. Physicians whose IAT showed “implicit white race preference” or an unconscious association of a white person’s face with good words (love, joy, warmth) and a black person’s face with bad words (danger, misery, trouble) were less likely to treat the black patient with the drug despite the black and white patients having identical presentations (1). It is important to note that this is not racism, which is a conscious, explicit bias. But implicit bias can potentially have life-and-death consequences in healthcare. While not all studies of implicit bias show an association with a doctor’s decision-making, enough do to cause alarm.

AD: That’s interesting.

QC: In addition to being a cardiologist I have the great privilege of serving as the Associate Dean for Admissions at the Ohio State University (OSU) College of Medicine, and I’m responsible for overseeing the recruitment, interview, and selection processes for our incoming medical students. When I reviewed a paper that showed that approximately 70% of a large group of physicians taking the IAT have implicit white race preference (2), I immediately pictured our medical school admissions committee and the fact that it is composed largely of physicians, and I had several questions: Do the physicians charged with the awesome responsibility of deciding who will become a doctor have implicit racial biases? If so, to what extent? If so, might it influence their decision-making and put black and Hispanic applicants at a disadvantage?

We set out to answer these questions and had our entire committee take the race IAT in 2012. Aggregate results revealed that a significant portion of the committee (between 50 and 70%) had an implicit white race preference. Next, Dr. Anthony Greenwald, implicit bias expert and one of the inventors of the IAT, led the committee in a discussion of implicit bias and how to reduce it. In the very next cycle we matriculated the most racially diverse class in the history of the college, suggesting that we are able to overcome implicit biases. This was the first paper to document the presence and extent of implicit racial bias in the medical school admissions process (3).

Our results indicated to us that we could have what we thought was a fair, objective process, on the surface, but that unconscious biases could put certain groups of candidates at a disadvantage. Since then we’ve had robust discussions about implicit bias and annual workshops on bias mitigation. I recently completed a training program leading to certification to moderate implicit bias workshops, and I do so twice a month. This goes beyond admissions and is open to the entire medical center. So far we have trained over 1,000 physicians, nurses, staff and students in bias mitigation strategies. It is a real passion and we are trying to make a difference.

AD: Thank you for that in depth explanation. Is there anything new at the Ohio State Medical School?

QC: We’re always tweaking the curriculum to help produce physicians who are ready to advance healthcare. We’re on the cusp of a new expansion with blueprints for a new hospital building and a health professions education building. And finally, we are continuing to leverage the fact that we have one of the most diverse medical student bodies in the country to enhance medical education and community outreach. In other words, we are continuing our forward progress.

Thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you and your readers. Best wishes for a happy, healthy new year!

AD: Thank you, Dr. Capers. I look forward to talking again and trying the push-up challenge.

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you’ve enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:

Dr. Quinn Capers, IV discusses his path, #BlackMenInMedicine, and the present landscape of medical education
The story of how I earned my STEM degree as a minority
How my HBCU led me to my STEM career
Researching your career revisited: Wisdom from a STEM professor at my HBCU
A look at STEM: What is Pharmacology?
A look at STEM: What is Toxicology?

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. I’ve recently started a YouTube channel, so please visit me at Big Discussions76. To receive all the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add my RSS feed to your feedreader. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Ohio State 62, Michigan 39: My short take

Okay I’m going to try to keep this short. As one of the many Michigan football fans still hungover from yesterday’s 62-39 loss in Columbus, the idea to write a short take on yesterday’s annual game literally came to me during the conclusion of a church service here in my hometown of Buffalo, NY. I’m not trying to be funny, but it’s true. In any case here goes.

First, I want to sincerely congratulate Head Coach Urban Meyer and his staff, the Ohio State Football Team, and their fan base. They did a great job preparing for the game and they executed their game plan damn near perfectly. Despite the rankings and all the chatter leading up to the game, I had a feeling they were going to play at a high level and they did. I also want to note that the game seemed to be officiated fairly and there was little controversy surrounding this contest as was the case in 2016.

I watched the game with my usual crew at Buffalo Wild Wings on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Tonawanda, NY – our annual spot for watching the two school’s annual meeting. What stood out to me as the game unfolded, was that our team didn’t seem to be prepared for the contest in terms of intensity or scheme. Offensively, the game started off positively with a nice run by Karan Higdon. The second play was a pass play in which Shae Patterson got sacked which was a bit of a head scratcher for me, as I would’ve gone back to the running game.

In general, the offense did what it had done all year long which was to try to pound the ball with occasional shots down field. Throughout the year despite its talent level, our offense was never a consistent force, but instead methodically picked and chose its spots with varying amounts of success – sometimes due to a lack of execution, and at other times due to questionable play calling. This worked well as long as the defense stood its ground and repeatedly got the ball back which brings me to my next point.

Early on it was clear that Ohio State’s approach to our physical and blitzing defense was to get the ball out of Dwayne Haskins, Jr.’s hands quickly using crossing and wheel routes out of the backfield. In instances where Ohio State spread its receivers out and were able to neutralize Coach Don Brown’s pass rush, Haskins which is not known for his mobility was able to run the ball up the middle and slide when our coverage held. In other instances, Ohio State was able to draw pass interference calls on our defensive backs which were left on ‘islands’ by themselves in ‘Man’ coverage – No. 28 Brandon Watson particularly got targeted and torched by Haskins. Their running game by itself didn’t hurt us so much.

Approaching halftime, our Wolverines were down 21-6, and with the Buckeyes getting the ball back after the half, it seemed as though it was going to be a maize and blue ‘blood bath’. A special teams fumble by the Buckeyes helped put us in position for Chris Evan’s touchdown late in the second quarter. If not for that gaffe, we would’ve been in serious trouble. That said there was a potential touchdown that we missed out on because Zach Gentry couldn’t secure the ball after a Buckeye defender slapped it out of his hands.

On both sides of the ball as the game progressed it seemed that Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff were being outcoached by Urban Meyer and his. Our offense started slow, interestingly didn’t seem to be taking advantage of our three talented receivers: Donavan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins and Tariq Black. I also wondered why our 6’8” tight end Zach Gentry wasn’t getting targeted more. In a game of this magnitude, we needed to challenge the Buckeye defense more downfield especially when they were ripping our defense to shreds and scoring at will. This brings me to my next point.

My comments on many of the postgame YouTube press conference footage mostly involved my surprise that Don Brown seemingly didn’t look at what Indiana and Northwestern had done his defense and planned for Ohio State to do the same thing or more. During the game, I wondered if he would adjust his blitzing style, and go with more defensive backs, like how Bill Belicheck and Bill Parcells did to my Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV where they slowed down the Buffalo Bills’ powerful offense. Instead he seemed to stick with the same game plan which he used all year which brings me to my last point.

It’s very easy for us as fans and commentators to criticize what’s happening on the field and I acknowledge that. I’ve also never coached a sport though it’s something I’d like to try one day. That said, I know enough to know that in athletics, particularly in big games it’s important to be able to adjust your plan of attack if necessary – or to anticipate having to do so. I discussed this in my interview with legendary Niagara Falls high school basketball Coach Pat Monti, who thoroughly scouted his opponents and figured out what he needed to do to give his teams the best chances to win even if meant making games ugly and unwatchable.

As we’re closing in on the end of Jim Harbaugh’s fourth year, this is something I’m wondering about, and something I wondered about during yesterday’s game. As much fanfare as there was when he got hired, how well can he and his staff really coach when going head to head with opponents like Urban Meyer and his staff on the opposite sideline? I asked myself this for the first time as yesterday’s game unfolded. One of my buddies I watched yesterday’s game with came down hard on defensive end Rashan Gary who was the top high school player five years ago and with good reason. That said it’s the coach’s job to motivate the players and put them in position to succeed. While we support him, right now, me and others in the fan base are questioning the ability of our coaching staff to do this on the biggest stages.

What’s going to happen from this point on? I honestly don’t know. I’m going to close by saying that I feel bad for our players, some of whom may have been looking ahead to Indianapolis and beyond – some of whom who have never beaten Ohio State which is something they’ll always have to live with. As we got closer to the Ohio State game, I became weary of talk of the “Revenge Tour” and Karan Higdon’s guarantee of victory as the team, the program and the fan base might suffer a black eye like we have now. Anytime ever I’ve competed, I’ve never been a trash talker and am a firm believer in just letting your play do the talking.

Like Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls teams who couldn’t get over the hump, for the remaining players and staff, perhaps this humiliating loss may be a part of their growth process that will eventually push them over the hump. We’ll have to wait and see. This year the Wolverines will once again be in Ann Arbor during the College Football Playoff. Hopefully Coach Harbaugh and his staff will ready first for their bowl game, and then when the Buckeyes come back to Ann Arbor in 2019. There’s a whole year to think yesterday’s game over.

Thank you for taking the time to right this blog post. If you enjoyed this one, you might also enjoy:

Michigan loses to Ohio State 31-20: Reflections on the 2017 game and the season
John U. Bacon presents his new book Endzone to Michigan’s D.C. Alumni Club: A look back
Michigan defeats Maryland 35-10: Two weeks until the 2017 Ohio State game
Michigan beats Florida 33-17: A recap of the maize and blue’s season opener
The 2016 Michigan-Ohio State game, the Big Ten Officials, and the College Football Playoff

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add my RSS feed to your feedreader. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Dr. Quinn Capers, IV discusses his path, #BlackMenInMedicine, and the present landscape of medical education

One of the focuses of my blog is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and my most central principle is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. While we tend to think of clinical medicine as strictly a ‘Healthcare Profession’, its foundations are actually rooted in the ‘Basic Sciences’.

I discovered Dr. Quinn Capers, IV on Twitter one day by chance and started following him when he was tweeting about medical education at “The Ohio State University”. The ‘hashtag’ he used in most of his tweets ‘#BlackMenInMedicine’ further piqued my curiosity. After seeing more tweets and pictures of himself and his medical students, I reached out to Dr. Capers, the Dean of Admissions of the Ohio University’s Medical School, and he agreed to do the following interview. In our interview which coincided with Black History Month, Dr. Capers discussed his own educational path, the ‘hashtag’ #BlackMenInMedicine, and the current landscape of medical education for prospective students.

Anwar Dunbar: Thank you for the opportunity to interview you Dr. Capers. I stumbled across one of your tweets one day which included the hashtag you often use; ‘#BlackMenInMedicine’. It caught my eye, in addition to the pipeline of black male doctors, you’re training there at Ohio State University. Even though you’re at The Ohio State University and I’m a University of Michigan alumnus, I thought interviewing you would be very beneficial to my audience as I’m a STEM practitioner and an advocate myself. Also even though we typically don’t think of medicine as a science, it very much is. With that, can you talk briefly about yourself? Where are you from? What got you interested in medicine?

Quinn Capers: Thank you for the honor of being interviewed Dr. Dunbar. Speaking of Black History Month, your last name reminds me of my high school in Dayton, Ohio. It’s named after our hometown hero; the first black poet who made a living with poetry, Paul Laurence Dunbar. I actually was born in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to Dayton when I was two or three years old which is where I grew up.

My answer to the question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ was always, ‘a Doctor,’ even as a toddler. I didn’t have any doctors in my family and to be honest, we didn’t see doctors regularly. It was only on an ‘as needed’ basis – i.e. if we were injured or got really sick. I’m not really sure where the thought came from, but I now assume God planted that seed in my heart and mind, as I truly feel I was ‘called’ to this profession.

AD: What is your family’s background?

QC: Though I was born and raised in Ohio, my parents and both sets of grandparents are from Talladega, Alabama. My parents moved to Cleveland, Ohio before I was born, and as stated earlier, we relocated to Dayton before my third birthday. My father is a retired police officer and my mother is a retired postal worker. They divorced when I was very young, and my mother raised my sister and myself. My sister and I were the first in our family to attend college.

AD: Are you the first medical doctor in your family? If not, who inspired you?

QC: Yes I am, but I have a cousin who was studying Pre-Med at the Tuskegee Institute when I was in elementary school. We spent many hours talking about our shared dream of being physicians, and she was always very loving and encouraging. She is now a successful Physician Assistant in New York City.

AD: Describe your educational path.

QC: I attended public schools in Dayton, Ohio on the city’s west side – the ‘black’ side of town. I was always enamored with Black History and read voraciously about black heroes. Because of this, I knew I wanted to attend a Historically Black College/University (HBCU). I wanted to be taught by professors that were making Black History and I wanted to be in the same buildings, on the same campus, walking the same path as so many of the black intellectuals, artists, and revolutionaries that I had read about.

I chose Howard University in Washington, DC for my undergraduate studies – one of the best decisions I made in my life. For medical school I returned to my home state to attend the Ohio State University College of Medicine. Since I had attended predominantly black schools from K-12 and then Howard, medical school was my first time stepping foot into a Predominantly White Educational Institution (PWI). People have asked me if being at a PWI after having been cradled in majority black institutions my whole life led to my feeling out of place, or ‘inferior’, or if it gave me an ‘impostor syndrome’. No, it was actually just the opposite. Because I had seen so much black excellence, I felt invincible. After medical school, my residency and fellowship training in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases and interventional cardiology, took place at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

AD: Were there any particular challenges for you on the road to becoming a medical doctor?

QC: There weren’t any big challenges that stand out other than the need to prioritize studying, not over partying, and delaying gratification. Many of my friends were enjoying being finished with school, buying their first car, first house, and essentially living their lives while I was still in school and/or training. But since the opportunity to work towards an MD was a dream come true for me, none of it seemed like an inordinate challenge.

AD: What is your medical specialty?

QC: I am an ‘Interventional Cardiologist’, which is a heart specialist who specializes in opening blocked arteries and repairing heart abnormalities or defects with ‘catheter-based’ approaches. We repair the heart by accessing the circulation through an artery in the arm or leg, and then threading tubes and high-tech catheters, balloons, stents, and lasers to the heart.

AD: If I recall correctly, former Vice-President Dick Cheney had a series of those procedures. How did you ascend to become the Dean of Admissions at the Ohio State University’s Medical School?

QC: After spending the first eight years of my career in a private cardiology practice, I missed teaching and the academic environment, so I sought a position at my medical school alma mater. In private practice, nearly 100% of a physician’s time is spent taking care of patients. In what we call ‘academic medicine’, doctors work at medical schools and university teaching hospitals and have three responsibilities: caring for patients, teaching medical students and young doctors, and performing research. I thus left private practice to go into academic medicine.

After a short period of time I won several teaching awards from the students. When the Associate Dean of Admissions position opened, a colleague encouraged me to apply for it. My initial response was, ‘No that isn’t a part of my plan,’ which was to impact healthcare and improve people’s lives as the best interventional cardiologist and medical educator I could be. After giving it some thought, I realized that overseeing the admissions process at one of the country’s largest medical schools would allow me to have an even greater impact on healthcare than direct patient care. So, I decided to apply for the position and the rest is history. Now I perform both roles – Interventional Cardiologist and Associate Dean of Admissions, allocating approximately half of my time to each role.

AD: Let’s go back to #BlackMenInMedicine? Where did the hashtag come from?

QC: There are many black male physicians on Twitter. One day in 2017 some of us were having an online discussion about the landmark 2015 Association of American Medical Colleges publication entitled Altering the Course: Black Males in Medicine, which details the current severe shortage of Black males entering the medical profession. According to this publication, there were fewer Black males applying to medical school in 2014 than in the late 1970s and the downward trend continues. This portends a severe lack of Black male physicians in the future.

We discussed strategies to combat this trend and collectively came up with the idea of an online campaign to flood social media with images of Black male physicians at work, at play, and simply living their lives. The primary goal is to be role models for and inspire young men (and anyone) to pursue medicine. Other goals include changing the narrative about Black males – i.e. that not all are ‘dangerous’, but that many are physicians saving lives and serving humanity. We also wanted to speak out about injustice in any form against any group. The name of the campaign is thus ‘#BlackMenInMedicine’.

AD: This is an optional question, but based upon today’s climate, have you gotten any pushback because it acknowledges just men and not women?

QC: Very little that has been openly stated, but we are sensitive to the fact that there are likely some who feel it’s divisive and not promoting unity. We think that it’s possible to promote Black men in medicine while supporting many other groups. Many of us also tweet using other hashtags that preceded #BlackMenInMedicine, such as #WomenInMedicine, #ILookLikeASurgeon (which promotes images of women in surgery), and others. We took this on because the low numbers of Black men in medicine, in academic medicine, in leadership roles, and amongst medical school applicants has reached a crisis. I should also point out that we, the original creators of this campaign, do not feel that use of the hashtag is proprietary. Anyone who wants to promote diversity in medicine, and particularly encourage Black men to pursue medicine, is welcome to use the hashtag. In fact, we encourage it.

AD: Are there particular programs at The Ohio State University for minority medical students?

QC: Yes. At the Ohio State University College of Medicine we believe that diversity drives excellence in healthcare, and we have several strategies to recruit and support diverse students and women. We’re proud to be leaders in educating women and underrepresented minority physicians. The last four entering classes have been predominantly women, and according to 2017-2018 AAMC statistics, OSU ranks sixth of nearly 150 medical schools for the number of enrolled black medical students. We also have a post baccalaureate program called ‘MEDPATH’ that is focused on increasing the number of underrepresented and/or disadvantaged students entering medical school.

AD: When I was an undergraduate at Johnson C. Smith University in the late-1990s, many of us pondered practicing medicine, but few of us understood what it took to get into medical school – something a particular professor reminded us of regularly. Aside from the necessary academic credentials, what are some of the personal qualities aspiring medical students need to be successful?

QC: Today, most medical schools judge applicants using the Association of American Medical College’s ‘holistic review’ framework, which recommends balancing the applicant’s: experiences, personal attributes, and academic metrics (MCAT and GPA) when making a decision about their candidacy. While the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) and GPA are self-explanatory, it’s important that aspiring physicians understand the importance that past experiences and personal attributes will play when your application is being reviewed. You will need to have a track record of compassionate community service, healthcare-related experience (shadowing or volunteering/working in a healthcare setting), leadership, and often research.

Regarding personal attributes, medical schools desire students who are: compassionate, collegial, curious, and who are self-directed learners. While the exact attributes and experiences may vary by school, medical school hopefuls need to ensure that their experience portfolio is full and that their recommenders can speak to the attributes mentioned. Often the difference between the applicant who gets accepted to medical school and the one who doesn’t is not their MCAT score or GPA, but more so a matter of which applicant had the better strategy. Gaining acceptance to medical school is very competitive and applicants should have a well-thought out strategy. Some examples of strategic questions that students should think through include:

• Will I take a “gap year”?
• If I plan to take the MCAT in spring of my junior year, when should I take Physics?
• Which leisure-time activity will demonstrate the attributes that medical schools seek?
• Should I apply before my MCAT scores return?
• If my undergraduate grades are low, should I plan on graduate school? If so, what discipline? MPH or Masters Degree in a biomedical science?

I consider it part of my mission to provide the answers to these questions to students as early in the pipeline as possible. We do this via our OSU College of Medicine website (https://medicine.osu.edu/admissions/md/tips-and-advice/pages/index.aspx), by speaking to students via webinars (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_7B3qUjuJs), and via social media.

AD: Describe the landscape today in terms of getting into medical school versus when you were aspiring to study medicine yourself.

QC: I applied to medical school in 1986. At that time, the weight of academic metrics was definitely more than 1/3 of a candidate’s application. Community service was almost ‘optional’ at that time. Academic achievement is still very important, and always will be when evaluating medical school applicants. However, it is very unlikely that a student will be accepted to medical school today without a record of compassionate community service and healthcare-related experience. Also, many medical school curricula employ both group-based learning and independent learning, so schools look for evidence of collegiality and self-directed learning to provide evidence that a student will be successful.

AD: Okay, Dr. Capers, that’s all I’ve got. Thank you again for this opportunity to interview you, and also for providing the pictures to go along with this interview. I understand that your time is very valuable. Perhaps we can do follow up interviews at some point. Do you have any other parting comments or thoughts?

QC: No. Thank you again for giving me this opportunity, Dr. Dunbar. I’d be delighted to do this again, or even to make it a recurring feature. Good luck to all of your readers!

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed it, check out my 2019 interview with Dr. Capers.  If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. Please visit my  YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right hand column in this post and throughout the site. Lastly follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

The 2016 Michigan-Ohio State game, the Big Ten officials and the College Football Playoff

20161208_215838This post was originally going to strictly be my reaction to the 2016 Michigan-Ohio State game, but I missed the emotional wave in the aftermath of it in terms of the news cycle. I’ve thus decided to craft a piece just touching upon the results of that game and also giving some reaction to the four teams selected for the 2017 College Football Playoff (CFP).  Oh what a ride it’s been.  By the way if you don’t have loyalty to a school or aren’t privy to the world of College Football as one of my buddies who watched the game with us wasn’t, this may all may make little sense to you.  I am admittedly a proud University of Michigan alumnus, so if the tone of this piece sounds biased, it probably is.

I’ll start with the 113th football game between the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State University Buckeyes on Nov. 26, 2016.  First off, the only good news about my Wolverines’ 30-27 loss was that our program is officially back and was in position to win that game unlike the majority of the games in the last 10 years.  The bad news is that we of course lost the game.  It was a great game which went down to the wire.  The hard part for the Michigan faithful was how the game was lost.

20161207_185633As a scientist, I’m a pragmatist first and foremost and I thus like to deal with the facts and try to minimize emotion which – very difficult to do in something like this. Though I was disappointed with the outcome game, most of my Tweets centered around what our team did that contributed to the loss.  The three turnovers involving our quarterback Wilton Speight definitely helped Ohio State and its paltry passing attack remain in striking distance.  That said without Speight in that game playing with a broken collarbone, our offense probably would’ve struggled as it did the previous week in our 20-10 victory over Indiana.

One of those turnovers, a pick 6 was due to a blown blocking assignment by our offensive line. Up 10-7 later in the first half, the second turnover was a miscommunication between Speight and our Center on Ohio State’s goal line which probably would’ve given us another 7 points and a firmer grasp on the game.  The third turnover was clearly a throw Speight thought he could make and was picked off.  This is not all to pile on Wilton because I am a fan of his and I think he’s going to have a great senior season for us assuming he stays healthy.

Now the other issue with our offense which has been there all season, was our inability to get first downs and kill the clock at the end of big games. From my vantage point, our running game this year was efficient, but not explosive, and we weren’t able to move the chains with our ground game in many key situations.  I Tweeted about this after the game too.  This is what led up to the punt debacle in the 2015 Michigan State game, in addition to this year’s 14-13 loss at Iowa.  It also reared its ugly head against the Buckeyes.  Championship teams have to be able to close out their opponents, and I’m hoping this is something Coach Jim Harbaugh will drive home with his future rosters.

As I watched the game at Buffalo Wild Wings in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY I pondered that when both Michigan and Ohio State are competitive, these roller coaster ride-type games tend to happen. In addition to our turnovers, Ohio State’s kicker missed two field goals and the Buckeyes also went for a fake punt of which they didn’t get the first down.  It was odd as Coach Urban Meyer didn’t seem to know that it was going to be called.  At least he acted that way on the sidelines.

Despite our turnovers, our defense came to play and sacked Ohio State’s elusive quarterback J.T. Barrett quite a few times much to my surprise (because of his mobility). For the most part the Buckeyes weren’t hurting us through the air, but with occasional gashes via their ground game.  Early on with the way we were moving the ball, the way our defense was playing, and the way their offense was playing, it looked as though we would take and maintain a firm control of the game.

20161209_123308Enter the Big Ten officiating crew assigned to the game. This is where people who read this are going to diverge in terms of their opinions.  Legendary University of Miami and Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson said it best in ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary The U when reflecting on a Hurricanes’ trip to play Notre Dame in South Bend.  That game ended with a call by the referees ruling a University of Miami wide receiver’s touchdown a fumble though he was clearly down.  Jimmy Johnson stated, “I tried to tell the guys that you can’t leave a game like that in the hands of the officials on the road against Notre Dame.”  Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Michigan did.

That being said, even when on the road should officials be expected to be as impartial and objective as possible? In my mind the answer is yes, but many of calls in that second half suggested otherwise.  The facemask penalty on one of our offensive lineman where we would have made the first down was tough, and I’ve rarely seen that call made on an offensive lineman.  Many of the pass interference calls on Michigan’s defensive backs were very suspicious as well, especially since Ohio State’s players were clearly doing the same thing.  Those calls clearly bailed out Ohio State’s less than proficient passing game that day steadily advancing them up the field and building their momentum.  The penalty on Coach Harbaugh was odd too.  Did he get emotional?  Yes absolutely.  Is it something other Coaches have done before?  Yes absolutely.

Michigan was able to put a lot of pressure on J.T. Barrett that day who in some instances tried to stay in the pocket and find receivers down field. In some instances, he was able to run away, but many wondered after the game if several holding calls were missed by the officials.  And then finally there was J.T. Barrett’s fourth down conversion which was clearly in the hands of the officials in terms of where to properly spot the ball – always a judgement call especially if their isn’t conclusive video evidence to overturn it.

The fan base you were a part of dictated whether you thought J.T Barrett made it or not. By eye, and from the camera angle we were watching on TV, it looked as though his feet crossed the marker but the ball didn’t.  When the play went under review by the officials, a part of me held out hope that Ohio State wouldn’t get that first down, but I suspected that the call would stand which is exactly what happened.  My personal opinion was that those officials weren’t going to reverse that call in that stadium whether it was the right or the wrong call if for no other reason than for fear for their lives.  That first down of course set up Curtis Samuel’s game winning touchdown scamper into the end zone in the second OT period.

Aside from a Buckeye fan named Tom who was watching the game with a group of Ohio State fans and who was a gracious winner, the Buckeye fans were smug and obnoxious, and defended that fourth down call (and all of the officiating) with tremendous conviction and sarcasm. Shortly after the game it leaked out that the officials who worked the game had Ohio State roots and were basically biased.  One official was previously fired by the Big Ten.  The thought that something like this could happen was infuriating, and if it’s true, the Big Ten conference and President Jim Delaney should draft some new rules to ensure that this type of thing never happens again.  The ultimate losers from this type of ineptitude were the student athletes.

20161207_185710Based upon the imbalance and nature of the penalties called, it would’ve made sense that there was a bias inherent in the officiating crew. It was some of those calls which made Coach Harbaugh irate.  He was particularly fired up in the postgame press conference which I would’ve been too if I genuinely felt like my team got cheated, and if an official said that he, “Would’ve penalized the Coach if it were a basketball game.”  Weeks later even after being fined, Coach Harbaugh was steadfast in his position which I applaud him for especially if his kids were legitimately cheated.  If the loss was crushing for us fans, it must’ve been exponentially worse for the players some of whom hadn’t beaten Ohio State their entire time at Michigan.

* * *

20161209_123241The loss left the Wolverines and the fan base in that nebulous space of needing other teams to lose to make it into the playoff – namely Clemson or Washington. It was the same position we were in at the end of the 2006 Michigan-Ohio State game – the 103rd meeting which featured players including: Chad Henne, Michael Hart, Troy Smith and Ted Ginn, Jr.  The teams were ranked numbers one and two in the nation in that game.  After the Buckeyes took an early two touchdown lead by going with a spread offense they hadn’t used all year, we battled back, but the game was ultimately decided by a terrible helmet to helmet personal foul on our then linebacker Shawn Crable who hit Troy Smith as he went out of bounds late in the game giving Ohio State an automatic first down.  That was in Bowl Championship Series (BCS) era and ironically it was Coach Urban Meyer who aggressively lobbied for his Florida Gators get into that National Championship game against Jim Tressel’s Ohio State Buckeyes, who they eventually blew out 41-14 – something that was fun to watch as a Michigan fan.

By the way in recent times Ohio State always seems to get a lucky bounce here and there. In the 2002 season where they went undefeated, several things fell their way.  They didn’t have to play Iowa that year who also went undefeated until they themselves were defeated in the Orange Bowl by Pete Carroll’s USC Trojans.  Michigan had to play both Iowa and Ohio State that year.  In our match up with the Buckeyes in Columbus that year, wide receiver Braylon Edwards’s would be touchdown reception was nullified due to an offensive pass interference call against Chris Gamble.  That play was our best chance to score a touchdown in that game which the Buckeyes went on to win 14-9.  And then there was the National Championship game against Miami in the Fiesta Bowl which turned on a controversial pass interference call in overtime which gave Ohio State new life and helped them towards their victory 31-24 victory.  Does this all sound familiar?

The debating and haggling over who is deserving of postseason play is actually quite amusing to listen to when it’s not your team. For the 2004 BCS Championship game for example, the BCS had to pick two teams for from three potential undefeated schools; USC, Oklahoma, and Auburn.  I specifically remember Auburn’s then Coach Tommy Tuberville agonizing and pleading for his team to be selected, and then lamenting about it afterwards when his Tigers were left out of the Nokia Sugar Bowl.  That’s just one example and it continued to happen year after year from disappointed coaches and fans almost like a ritual.  What’s also funny is it took another 10 for a playoff to be created.  Again it’s funny when it’s someone else’s school but when it’s yours its quite nauseating and can be angering as well.

I thought that our best chance of getting in the playoff was Washington and not Clemson losing their championship game. The winner of the Big Ten Championship game between Wisconsin and Penn State seemed to be inconsequential to the whole thing, especially since Ohio State was said to be a lock.  Penn State had beaten them in conference play and they wouldn’t be the conference champion under any circumstance and still make it into the playoff – something that felt very unsettling.  That said, that week leading up to Selection Sunday the committee actually divulged that the margin of separation between Michigan and Washington was very, very slim giving us all some hope.

20161207_190251It wasn’t meant to be though. Probably after hearing all of the talk about their weak non-conference schedule, Washington came out and played inspired in the Pac-12 Championship game against Colorado.  The Huskies got some luck too as Colorado’s starting quarterback Sefo Liufau hurt his leg when getting sacked in the first quarter and missed the rest of the first half.  He was just getting hot when he was injured too as he gashed the Huskies for a long quarterback scramble.  When he re-entered the game he clearly wasn’t the same player as he threw several costly interceptions.   Washington went on to win 41-10 making it difficult for the committee to not seed them in the playoff.

The next night everyone’s eyes turned the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game between Clemson and Virginia Tech. Led by Deshaun Watson, Clemson controlled the game for the most part but was challenged late by Virginia Tech though they held on to win 42-35 locking up their spot in the playoff along with Alabama and Ohio State.  With both Clemson and Washington winning, the chances of Michigan getting in now looked even more slim.

Adding insult to injury, Penn State rallied as their offense exploded propelling them to a 38-31 victory over Wisconsin. In the aftermath of that game, the commentators on all of the networks, most notably ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit were now speculating that Penn State should get into the playoff over Washington and Michigan, which made me sick to my stomach.  That CFP committee clearly had a more difficult job now.  The camera took a panoramic shot of the committee that night who all seemed to look on with great focus and potentially dread about which teams to leave out.  I’d forgotten that former Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice was on the committee but she was there nonetheless looking on.

20161207_190123That next morning I woke up with no expectations and expecting my Wolverines not to be selected. When the announcement was made starting at noon, the teams were steadily announced on my Twitter feed.  Alabama was seeded number one followed by Clemson at number two.  Ohio State was seeded at number three while Washington was seeded at number four.  The two matchups would thus be Washington vs. Alabama and Ohio State vs. Clemson.  Michigan remained at number five in the CFP rankings and was selected to play number twelve Florida State in the Orange Bowl.

None of the commentators discussed the poor officiating in the Michigan-Ohio State game as though the Buckeyes won it cleanly and without controversy. Maybe that was a media thing to save face for everyone and present the appearance of fair play across the board.  Only Skip Bayless kept championing Michigan’s cause.  Jason Whitlock also spoke up about what happened in Columbus.  Still feeling some residual contempt about what happened after the announcement of the teams, I tweeted about the officiating in Columbus and was confronted by another Tweeter named Ron.  He was probably an Ohio State fan because he rebuffed me and talked about how the officiating in the game was fair and how Michigan should’ve just, “Played through it.”  He also got off a jab at our coach calling Jim Harbaugh, “Cry-baugh.”  I wished him luck with his team and discontinued the back and forth as it wasn’t going to lead anywhere.

* * *

In terms of the playoff itself, ESPN’s Todd McShay said it best when he said, “This is more of an invitational than a true playoff.” By that he meant that in a true playoff, participation is judged simply by record and not voting, and not a weight of evidence approach by a committee – one of the paradoxical hallmarks of big time college football.  For those unfamiliar with the history of Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football, the current playoff (only two years old) was preceded by the afore mentioned BCS where only the top two ranked teams could compete for the championship.  Before that it was strictly polls where the coaches and media voted on the national champion which was absurd.

Eventually an eight team playoff should be created. Everyone is already clamoring for it.  Under that format, the Power 5 Conference champions would theoretically get automatic bids, and three “At Large” teams would be seeded similar to the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments.  Under such a scenario my Wolverines would’ve made it in this year.  However, as ESPN’s Mark May stated, “In an eight-team playoff, the number nine and ten teams would feel left out, so there’s always someone who is going to be left out and unhappy.”  If Michigan were not in the top eight, I think I could live with that though.

Until then we have a four team playoff and this year that consists of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington. A lot of Big Ten fans root for the conference when getting into postseason play.  I’m torn between rooting for Ohio State this year because of the way that they got in and that they didn’t win the Big Ten championship.  I am hoping that they carry that paltry passing game into their matchup with Clemson in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31 and get destroyed, though I predict it may be a shootout.

The last time however the Buckeyes made it into the playoff, they shocked everyone and defeated Alabama to win the 2015 the National Championship. In the Chik-fil-a Peach Bowl, I’m hoping that Alabama crushes Washington (similar Michigan State last year) to corroborate the Huskies’ weak strength of schedule.  That’s all wishful thinking though, and we’ll have to see how it all plays out ultimately.

Mostly though I’m hoping the Wolverines end the season with a victory and make short work of the Florida State Seminoles in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30. If that happens and some of the teams in the playoff lose, we’ll leap over them in the final rankings.  In addition to playing in the Orange Bowl, it would also be a small consolation prize I guess.

20161207_185825In the after math of our loss to that team from Ohio, and the seeding of the playoff, I pondered that this is only year two for the Jim Harbaugh regime in Ann Arbor. While it’s disappointing that with the talent we had this this year that we didn’t make the CFP, it’s also important to keep in mind that neither Nick Saban or Urban Meyer won National Championships in their first two years at Alabama or that school in Ohio.  A solid College Football program takes time to build in terms of recruiting players, developing them, and getting them the game experience.  I predict that will happen for the Michigan Football program.  Fair and objective officiating ensuring a level playing field will help out as well.

While I wasn’t happy about what happened in the Columbus last month, this post was meant to be partially humorous. When watching these games, I have to remind myself that it’s entertainment and the student-athletes are 18 to 22-year-old young adults who are still developing, going classes and trying to figure out life.  I try to remind my friend Alim Gaines about his whenever Michigan loses.

These student-athletes are also unsalaried amateurs which is something we debated at Buffalo Wild Wings during the game with our friend Hestin Brown. Alim’s brother Raheem was there watching the game as was my brother Amahl who was sporting his “Michigan Brother” t-shirt.  Alim was steadfastly rooting for Michigan while Raheem whom I sometimes refer to as “Urban” Gaines was rooting for Ohio State.  Hestin was new to the College Football world but decided to root for Ohio State who he perceived as the underdog.  He also tormented me and Alim as he continually speculated about Jim Harbaugh leaving Michigan to coach his former quarterback at Stanford Andrew Luck – now with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

Most importantly there are more serious events taking place in our world. The Monday after the game, there was actually a small Terrorist attack on Ohio State’s campus which was probably partially overshadowed by the CFP happenings.  My condolences go out to the families who were affected in that incident, and while we get upset that our favorite college teams don’t do this or do that, it’s important for all of us to keep perspective.  Happy Holidays and GO BLUE!!!!

Thank you for taking the time out to read this blog post.  If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment.  To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right hand column in this post and throughout the site.  Lastly follow me on Twitter at @BWArePowerful.  While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.