Q&A with Ellen Dugan, MD

Posted in Faculty

Ellen Dugan
Ellen Dugan, MD

March 23, 2022

What is your title at Georgetown and what do you do?

I am the senior associate dean of admissions and financial aid at Georgetown University School of Medicine and associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine. I am involved in all aspects of admissions and financial aid, oversee my team, and am involved in multiple aspects of the school outside of Admissions and Financial Aid, including mentoring and advising our medical students.

Tell me about calling the accepted medical students: When did you first do it? Is that a Georgetown tradition?

The calls began with Dr. Mitchell, our dean emeritus. It was his idea to call all accepted applicants as a way to make it more personal. Dr. Mitchell did the calls for years. When he stepped down, I took over the calls for him. My first class to call was the Class of 2025. This is my second year calling accepted applicants and I must say one of my favorite parts of what I do.

What was going through your head before you made your first calls? Did you have a script of what you wanted to say?

I don’t have a script, as everyone reacts differently. Some go to voicemail and I leave a message. One positive of this is that they will forever have a recording of their acceptance!

How did people react?

Some are very polite and calm and some range from pure joyful screams to sobbing and weeping. I make sure they know this is a real call, as many think it’s a joke call! I’ve had people call back asking if the call was “for real,” even people I had spoken to directly.

What were some of the best reactions? What was the most surprising reaction?

Some of my favorite reactions:

Lots of times, the person thinks I or they have hung up and the screaming erupts. I had called one accepted applicant who, at the time, I didn’t know was in his car with friends and I was on speaker. I congratulated him on his acceptance to Georgetown and the whole car erupted in screaming. He was so happy that he could hardly speak and it was really loud. That was so much fun.

One young man I called said, “Hold on,” turned to his mother in the background and said, “Mom, I got into Georgetown!” and she began screaming. 

 Some consistent comments: 

– ”NO WAY,” to which I reply, “WAY.”

– “Are you crazy?” Then he said, “Oh, I’m so sorry I called you crazy!” — he was so excited.

– “OMG, I’m shaking. You have made my year, my life!”

– “You will definitely see me in August!”

What is it like to meet someone in person after making that call?

It is wonderful to meet someone in person after making the call. It is always nice to put a face to a voice and to see the true enthusiasm they share.

Any other reflections or words of advice you would like to share?

It is such an honor to be able to do these calls. We understand people have choices and have many things that factor into their decisions of where they choose to go to school. This is such a personal decision, and hopefully a call from the dean adds to that.