Nassau Born, Texas Based ER Physician Paul Toote Launches National Premed Consulting To Give Med School Applicants A Powerful Competitive Advantage
A top ER physician who works at various hospitals throughout Texas, Dr. Paul Toote launched his new company National Premed Consulting in 2010 in part because of the daunting statistics he encountered as he researched med school admissions. Getting into a good school had become infinitely more competitive since he applied to various institutions in the mid 90s and got his degree as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona California in 2001.
According to Toote, who was born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas, there are nearly 160 med schools in the U.S. with approximately 18,000 spots for new students. With 49,000 applying annually, there’s an automatic 56 percent rejection rate regardless of qualifications, grades, test scores and personal history. “It’s sad,” he says, “because there are so many young people who would make exceptional physicians, who have great scores, all the grades, extreme enthusiasm and a strong, compassionate bedside manner. But they can’t get in because it’s a numbers game. I started National Premed Consulting to give them a competitive advantage. I am dedicated to bringing to prospective med students the inside information they need to become the doctor of their dreams.”
One of the keys to helping facilitate this process is imparting the truth that these institutions are not simply looking for great students—they’re also looking for great people. Run by doctors who have already been through the detailed medical school admissions process, National Premed Consulting knows how to mold its clients into the kind of med school candidate that will stand out from the pack. The firm caters to parents looking to help their children fulfill their futures, students in high school and college who are considering medicine as a career and older clients who are seeking a major career change.
National Premed Consulting can help on many different levels. They can pinpoint an applicant’s strengths and weaknesses through scientific profiling- and use them to effectively customize their med school admission coaching; plan the perfect premed undergraduate curriculum that balances med school application requirements with profile-building classes and outside activities; create a powerful personal statement for the med school application that will appeal to those who make the crucial decisions; and will share admission secrets to which only med school grads and insiders are privy.
Most of all, Dr. Toote and his team help their clients become the unique “star” that medical schools are looking for. “There are other companies out there who help applicants increase their MCAT scores, but they don’t work through the details of the interview process and create a great story for the candidate,” he says. “We help our clients with a narrative that is compelling and makes them shine in the best light possible, in addition to giving them the information I have gained from experience and the inside information I have. It’s all about focusing on the positives to help them become superstar candidates.
“Let’s face it,” Dr. Toote continues, “everyone comes into this game with good grades and scores, so acceptance is really more about what makes you different, what distinguishes you from the competition. It all starts with helping them understand how the process works. Most applicants come to me confused about certain aspects. They want to know, how do they apply to med school? How many schools should they apply to? If they have good grades, then it’s sometimes a matter of boosting their self confidence. And then there are the intangibles. It’s all right to have the heart to be a doctor, but you also need the brains. And once you have the brains, then it’s a matter of the heart.
“Sometimes, it’s the guys and girls with the biggest hearts that attracts the admissions people. Everyone wants a doctor they feel comfortable with. Medical schools want to ascertain that aspect, which is why we help our clients show their strengths in these areas to help create their story.”
Dr. Toote recalls one moment in his career where this “bedside manner” and big heart made a huge difference: “I was doing a rotation at Children’s Hospital in Detroit and was the attending ER resident to a teenager who drowned. We couldn’t save him. It was my job to talk to his mother and tell her the horrible news. I held her hand, kneeled on the ground and looked at her. I told her I was so sorry for her loss, that we did everything we could. Naturally, doctors need to understand how other people hurt and have compassion.
“There are a lot of factors like this that are part of National Premed Consulting’s screening process,” he says. “In choosing the candidates we work with, we first have applicants fill out a survey on our website. There is also an optional psychological evaluation. Just like the actual admissions people are selective, we also only want to work with those we feel will make great med students and doctors someday.”
Dr. Toote says his own compassionate manner was instilled by his parents when he was growing up one of eight children in Nassau. His father worked as a contractor and also in a hospital as an orderly and his mother was a teacher. It was instilled in the children from an early age that the three most important things in life were home, school and church. His family always gave clothing to help the poor and his mother opened their home to students who needed a place to stay.
“It was a values thing with us,” he says. “When you see other people wanting what you have and having a hard time, it causes you to respond. I started helping young people with their medical school app process a few years ago, based on the whole idea to make things easier for people who come after you.”
Dr. Toote certainly knows the struggle well. When he wanted to go to med school, not only didn’t he have financial support but he was only in the U.S. on a Visa (he is now a naturalized citizen). There were always two lines, one for prospective students who had financial aid and the other for those who didn’t. He remembers a meeting with the personnel in the business affairs office at his medical school. The man showed him a huge stack of applications of prospective students who could be accepted and pay—implying that having the funds would make a huge difference. He gave Toote a week to find the funds or his seat was going to be taken. With the help of family members and credit cards, he was able to swing it.
Prior to this, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica and a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology from Andrews University in Michigan. His dissatisfaction with being a medical technologist for several years led him to take the plunge and apply to med school.
Since finishing his residency at Garden City Osteopathic Hospital in Garden City, Michigan in 2005, Dr. Toote has been an independent Emergency Medicine Physician at major medical centers throughout the state of Texas, everywhere from Texarkana, Odessa, Amarillo, Corpus Christi and Plano to Paris, San Antonio and Galveston. He was ABOEM Certified in 2009, and was the recipient of the Highest Achievement Award from the Dale Carnegie Effective Communications and Human Relations Course. During his medical education at
Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona, California, he served as his medical school class president and was selected as the speaker at his class graduation dinner.
In working with his clients, he draws upon his years of professional experience—but he also goes the extra mile to be the connecting thread between applicant and admissions professionals. Working free lance and part time these days, he has time to devote to interviewing admissions officers, sitting down with personnel on these committees to see what they are specifically looking for in their candidates. “I don’t go to them campaigning for specific clients, because that’s against the rules, of course,” Dr. Toote says. “But I find out what characteristics they want to see that would make a student jump out at them. I can then give that key information to my clients and help shape their presentation based on it.”
One of the most remarkable services National Premed Consulting does for its clients is finding them doctors that they can not only meet with, but also spend time interacting with and “shadowing” as they go about their day to day work. Dr. Toote is dedicated to breaking down that barrier as part of an overall commitment to his belief that the skills they are taught by his company are not simply gimmicks designed to get into a good school, but skills they will use for the rest of their lives. “We also teach them about scheduling and ordering their time effectively,” he says, “and the best way to work on their projects a little every day to accomplish their goals efficiently.”
As Dr. Toote and National Premed Consulting work towards their goal of having 100-200 clients by the end of 2011 (their mailing list currently totals 280), he is busy arranging speaking engagements with college groups and other parties interested in the premed preparation process. Because he makes his living as an in demand ER physician, he is also able to give away some free consultations and give phone time to those who need information without worrying about the clock. He is also branching into different media with his e-book called “Acing the Medical School Admission Process” and a podcast devoted to the topic.
He was also interviewed by renowned business development expert, best-selling author and speaker Brian Tracy on “The Brian Tracy Show.” He wrote a chapter in Tracy’s book “Pushing To the Front” called “The Three R’s of Success,” which are: Responsibility, Resilience and Recommitting to goals after losing focus due to hardships and discouragement. Dr. Toote has also been quoted in USA Today.
“We have the potential to create a national company from the ground up that can impact and influence so many lives in a very direct way,” says Dr. Toote. “The potential to do well in this niche market is tremendous, and our success will give us the ability to indirectly affect healthcare in this country. I’m simply doing my small part in finding qualified candidates that can be groomed into gaining access to good medical schools, who will someday become compassionate, caring physicians who can touch thousands of people’s lives. The opportunity to play a role in that is very gratifying to me as both a doctor and a human being who was taught to help people and show compassion from a very early age.”
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This presentation made me look at the medical school admission process in a different manner. I learned new things that I’ve never thought off. Enjoyed the different analogies made during the presentation. S. S.