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Zic to pass baton on leadership of VUSM Admissions

May. 22, 2014, 8:49 AM

Over the past eight years as Vanderbilt University School of Medicine’s associate dean for Admissions, John Zic, M.D., estimates he’s made about 2,000 phone calls to let prospective medical students know they’ve been admitted. Personally delivering the good news has been one of his favorite aspects of the time-consuming job.

John Zic, M.D.

Many thought it was a prank call — one student actually hung up on him — and many have been emotional.

“Some have screamed. Some don’t know what to say. Most are stunned I’ve called them personally. I’ve caught some while they were driving. I’ve reminded them to keep two hands on the wheel,” Zic said, smiling.

Effective this week, Zic, associate professor of Medicine, is stepping down from the post to spend more time with his clinical and research work in Dermatology — his research focuses on cutaneous lymphoma.

Under Zic’s leadership the number of applications grew from 4,373 in 2006 to 6,656 in 2014, and the mean Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) score increased from 11.3 in 2006 to 11.8 in 2013. Of the 2,000 students he called, he hosted more than 1,100 of them during eight Second Look Weekends, where prospective students visit VUSM for a closer look.

“It has been a privilege to serve the School of Medicine,” Zic said.

He will pass along his duties to co-chairs of the VUSM Admissions Committee: David Bader, Ph.D., Gladys Parkinson Stahlman Professor of Cardiovascular Research, and Alice Coogan, M.D., associate Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. “The admissions process is in good hands with David and Alice,” Zic said.

Zic will continue to mentor medical students as a Portfolio Coach, and to serve as the councilor of the VUSM chapter of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

A VUSM graduate and one of the school’s first Canby Robinson Scholars, Zic has served on the Admissions Committee since 2000.

David Bader, Ph.D.

“Dr. Zic has played an instrumental role in the school’s all-important, all-consuming admissions process. I want to express my sincere appreciation for his many contributions during this tenure, especially for his leadership during the past eight years as associate dean,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “John has left his stamp on past and future generations of physician leaders at Vanderbilt.”

During his tenure as associate dean Zic introduced competency-based behavioral interviewing into the applicant evaluation process and helped develop and implement an Experience Timeline, a color-coded timeline showing extracurricular activities for prospective students which has improved the efficiency and work flow of reviewers and ensured a more holistic review of each applicant.

Alice Coogan, M.D.

“I’m also proud of the success we’ve had increasing diversity of the medical school class; from about 14 percent of the 2006/2007 entering classes to about 25 percent of the 2012/2013 entering classes,” Zic said. “It was a team effort with administration, our admissions team and the Office of Diversity Affairs.”

Bonnie Miller, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs and senior associate dean for Health Sciences Education, said that Zic has made the applications process more effective and efficient and was instrumental in reducing the total number of applicants who were brought in for personal interviews.

“We had been interviewing more than 900 applicants,” Miller said. “Even before we decreased the class size to 88 in 2014 we decided that we didn’t need to interview so many applicants. We needed to have a rich applicant pool, but we wanted to do that with a much smaller number to interview. We now interview around 400-420. John has been instrumental in that process.

“How do you select the cream of the cream of the cream? It’s hard, especially when you have 6,600 excellent applicants. We know we can’t get every single wonderful person here, but we’d prefer not to miss too many. John has made sure that we haven’t,” Miller said.

Coogan said that Zic’s contributions to the admissions process are immense.

“His innovative use of technology has revolutionized the way that we are able to look at applications. In addition to enhancing the review process, John’s enthusiasm for Vanderbilt Medical School and his ability to connect with pre-medical students has helped raise Vanderbilt’s profile nationally and allowed us to recruit some of the very best and brightest students. We are extremely grateful for all of his efforts.”

Bader agrees.

“We thank John for his mentorship. As chairs, we are excited about the future,” he said. “With the ongoing input, insight and energy of our student, staff, and faculty colleagues, we look to advance our University’s goal of identifying and training outstanding future leaders in medicine.”

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