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3.0cGPA, No Science/Math GPA, No MCAT scores yet, Pre-Med Needing Advice

Discussion in 'What Are My Chances?' started by Scalpels, 11.14.11.

  1. Scalpels

    Scalpels Watch your fingers...

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    Hello, SDN'ers! Long time lurker, first time poster... I would love some of you all's outstanding advice!

    I received a B/A in Criminology in '06 from my state university. Unfortunately, my GPA was on the low side, 3.0; however, I only have one science and one math from that tenure, both were Bs.

    Now that I'm older, wiser, and more mature (I think?), I've decided to stop shying away from a field I've always secretly wanted to do. So, here in a month, I will have completed my first semester of Pre-Med with 13 hours of As and 3 hours of a B. (Gen-Chem kicked my butt. When I was in high school, I still remember using the Bohr model for electrons!)

    I'm still committed to keep going, though, and I'm not going to sweat that B. I really love biology and will have made near 100 average in it.

    I know I'm a bit expedited because I already have a B/A, so I have less hours to do in order to complete Pre-Med requirements, so I've already started physician shadowing and I have about 50 hours of ER shadowing completed.

    My question is, what do I need to do, do more of, or stay persistent in? I've been reading books about getting into Medical school, but I must admit I'm a little fuzzy on some things still. I know I need to get extra-curricular activities in (like what!), more(?) physician shadowing, etc. I know I'm at a disadvantage because I'm non-traditional and I have a low B/A GPA, but I am really committed to a M.D. school acceptance.

    Any advice (Cat, I know you're out there!) would be very appreciated. And feel free to have me clarify anything you may be wondering. Thanks!
  2. sector9

    sector9 Administrator Administrator SDN Senior Moderator

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    Here are some usual premed ECs: clinical volunteering, nonclinical volunteering, research, teaching/tutoring, leadership, shadowing, employment

    The first three are the big 3 for admissions. Last year, there were "82.5 percent reporting community service experience in medical and clinical settings, 68.4 percent in nonclinical community service, and 73 percent reporting experience in research" among applicants
    https://www.aamc.org/newsroom/newsreleases/2011/264074/111024.html

    Just to clarify, shadowing doesn't count as a clinical volunteering activity. Most applicants only do about 50 hours total of shadowing, so you're already there. I would suggest diversifying your shadowing a little bit and adding a primary care physician.

    You definitely need to get started ASAP on something clinical besides shadowing. It can be clinical volunteering, clinical employment, or clinical research.

    Do you have additional ECs that you haven't listed above?

    What's your projected BCPM GPA and cGPA for when you're done with your premed prereqs?
  3. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    We don't really know when you'll be ready to apply, but a possible scenario for EC development might be:

    Start some nonmedical community service, planning on an average of an hour per week until you apply. If you already have some, keep it going or resume it.

    About 1.5 years before application start gaining clinical experience where you interact with patients. Unless it's a job, about 150 hours is average. Doing this is a short timeframe is not desirable, so don't overload; 3-4 hours per week is fine over the academic year.

    As mentioned, you're in good shape with shadowing. Maybe add 8 hours with an office-based primary care doc eventually and even another specialty as well if you have a chance, since you have plenty of time.

    Decide if you will get in some research. Even a semester's worth helps. About a year is the average. If you can get in a poster/presentation or publication, that would be terrific.

    Teaching and leadership also strengthen an application. Maybe you already have some.

    Hobbies, sports, and artistic involvement are also usually listed.
  4. Scalpels

    Scalpels Watch your fingers...

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    Thanks for the advice, Sector and Cat!

    During my original B/A, I was the Public Relations Chairman for the American Cancer Society chapter at my university for 2 years. Does this count?

    So there is clinical and non-clinical... I take it clinical means any health related volunteering that involves patients and non-clinical is health related that does not? (I'm a total newb, I know. Sorry! haha)

    This past summer, I went ahead and got CNA certified, but I'm having trouble finding a job at a hospital with that. (Most require 2 years worth of experience or prefer EMTs.) Even a lot of nursing homes and assisted living centers in my area are requiring previous experience...

    If I were to find a job in that, would that count towards clinical exposure?

    And I'm not sure about what my projected cGPA will be, but BCPM should be above a 3.6 if I make solid As with the off-hand oops of a B. I need to snag a GPA calculator to work out the cGPA (I'll get on that!).

    My adviser suggested that I could begin applying in summer of 2013, if I take summer intercession courses between now and then, which I plan on doing.

    Awesome. For this coming spring, I'm trying to get permission to shadow an Oncologist. Would that meet the requirement you're suggesting?

    I'll definitely get on that! I'm not sure if there are many health related researchers at my school - does just standard biology research work?

    In what way? I like photography, videoing, and playing around on Photoshop, but these are more personal hobbies. I'm not an expert in any of them, they're just things I enjoy doing on my off-hours. Does that count or do I need to develop them further in order for them to apply?

    Once again, thank you so much, you two!
  5. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    1) Sounds like leadership or community service, depending on the description you write.

    2) Nonclinical can be filing in the back room of a hospital or working in the gift shop, neither of which is much of a service to humanity. Others of more significance might be: Meals on Wheels, homeless or women's shelter, soup kitchen, food pantry, crisis hotline, after school tutoring of kids or ESL for adults, Big Brother/Big Sister, Special Olympics or coaching athletic programs for the physically disabled, helping with a scout troop or other youth group, providing enrichment classes in a poor school (eg, science demonstrations or health topics), Habitat for Humanity, or Humane Society.

    3) Yes.

    4) AMCAS GPA calculator: http://medschool.ucsf.edu/postbac/pdf/AMCAS%20GPA_Calculator%20Version%204%20Final.xls

    5) This is not a primary care doc, but it would be another specialist.

    6) Biology, Psychology, Chem, Biochem, Agriculture, Economics, and more are all departments that can be a source of research opportunities.

    7) Those are great hobbies. If you share any of them publically (photography contest?), it could be an Artistic Endeavor.
  6. sector9

    sector9 Administrator Administrator SDN Senior Moderator

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    1. Definitely an interesting EC to list but not clinical
    2. Clinical volunteering typically has two requirements per SDN's other regular adcom contributor LizzyM
    a. Close enough to smell patients
    b. Someone is there who can write prescriptions
    Non-clinical volunteering is anything else, both within healthcare and outside
    3. Primary care is family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, geriatrics, OB/GYN, psychiatry
  7. Danlee07

    Danlee07

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    Just a quick note about publications... if you start now and take research seriously in a field you're interested in, then you can definitely have a chance for something published in an impact peer-reviewed journal. If not now, then you start with chemistry/bacterial work to get a chance at any publication.
  8. Scalpels

    Scalpels Watch your fingers...

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    Sorry for the delay in responding, but I thought it fitting to finish out my fall semester to verify how I felt about everything. Fall went great!

    Made all A's in my sciences and B's in college alg and trig (was a little rusty - haven't had math in about 8 or so years). Sadly, was making an A in both of those, but learned a hard lesson about how to study for math finals. Making near 100 average in Calc I at the moment, thankfully.

    So, using the calculator you provided, and keeping with my trend of making A's with a B here-n-there:
    cGPA: 3.2
    BCPM: 3.75

    Also, I've gotten into volunteering at a great free clinic working in the triage, taking vitals. I do that about 3 hours a week (on Saturday morning), per your all's suggestions. That should land me about 150 hours in a year just from there, though of course, I will diversify.

    Along with that, I'm working the PR chair position again for my town's Relay For Life and that is going on swimmingly so far. I've been putting in a lot of hours with that, I can tell you... lol

    Even though I'm solid on physician shadowing for non-primary care, I went ahead and shadowed on a duodenal-switch surgery this past Christmas. Was awesome - plus got to see one of those DaVinci machines at work!

    This fall, I plan on really engaging myself with MCAT prep and I'm looking at taking the exam in a little over a year from now.

    Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time finding any professors that want to seriously take me on for research. I've had one that's let me observe some protein staining, but he still doesn't seem that interested in having me around due to me not having taken enough science classes yet. I'm going to be finishing cell biology this semester and will be caught up with the junior class of my fellow pre-med students, but I'm worried that by the time the professors feel I've taken enough biology/chemistry courses, it'll be time for me to apply at med schools.

    So, how am I looking so far? Thanks again, everyone, for the advice!
  9. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing Herd Protection SDN Advisor

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    Since sector9 hasn't been by to respond, I'll throw in some comments:

    That's good news about your grades from fall term. Keep up the good work. Stay on top of any further math you take.

    The clinical experience gig and leadership/community service sound perfect. The extra shadowing is providing nice diversity. DaVinci machines are awesome; I got to try one at a conference once.

    As far as the research goes: try branching out. You might consider the Psychology Department, or Agricultural Sciences if your school has it. Your research need not be medically, or even science-related, so long as it is hypothesis driven and uses the scientific method. Start now to find a spot for the summer. I would look online at your school's Research page and see what projects have been published lately, as maybe something will appeal to you. Email the PIs with a transcript, photo, and CV attached, and ask if you they might have an opening in their lab (for research credit) and could you meet, if so. At my university the response rate is about 1 per 7 inqueries sent out.

    In regards to OU's consideration of BCPM GPA:
    I look forward to hearing if you are able to get more information. Thanks.
  10. Scalpels

    Scalpels Watch your fingers...

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    Thanks, Cat! I will definitely try those ideas for research. I hadn't thought about branching out from the science department.

    The psychology department might be an interesting one...

    Aren't they, though! The surgeon let me take a peak (while the machine was disengaged, of course) through the view finder: it's amazing that it's in 3D like that!

    Yep, I will definitely do that and get back to ya!
  11. Goro

    Goro

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    With a cGPA of 3, you're going to need to do more academically than mere;y take the bare requirements to convince an AdCom that you can handle medical school.

    STRONGLY recommend an SMP, or significant post-bac (say,15 hrs each semester) with lots of biology classes.

  12. Scalpels

    Scalpels Watch your fingers...

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    :(
  13. Scalpels

    Scalpels Watch your fingers...

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    Is that not what I'm doing now? :confused:
  14. alexrgross

    alexrgross

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    What the Goro person is saying, here we have a case of a lower end GPA (you!) which will not get you rejected, though it will raise questions about academic promise. The same hesitation that research professors have is the medical schools, and if you are just finishing by the time you apply it means you will get less interviews compared to doing another solid post-bacc year or SMP.

    I am kind of like you with the GPA thing, look at my MDapps especially the grade trend picture I have up. Then think about what yours looks like.
  15. Scalpels

    Scalpels Watch your fingers...

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    That's sort of like what I'm doing. It's going to take me quite a while to do the post-bacc stuff because the pre-med requirements alone are all gated by prereqs, which I had none of. My first degree required no BCPM classes (well, one math class, but I didn't even take a math class that would count as a prereq for pre-med stuff).

    It'll take me about 4 semesters full-time status just to knock out a lot of pre-med requirements based on that fact, and that's only by taking intercession courses in between them. I'm currently a semester and a half into it.

    What I was saying about the research stuff with the bio/chem department is by the time I am able to take upper-division bio and chem courses, I'll be nearing pretty close to being finished with an extensive post-bacc regimen (I'm taking as many hours as I can in a semester).

    So, am I doing that wrong? Sorry if I wasn't clear in the posts subsequent to the initial op.
  16. Goro

    Goro

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    My interpretation of your post is that you're taking just the bare minimum of BCPM requirements. Is that correct? Or do you intend to take further coursework, like anatomy, physiology, cell biology etc???

  17. alexrgross

    alexrgross

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    I can not say for sure simply because I do not have a copy of your application...I am filling-in-the blanks in activites and MCAT and GPA when I type stuff to you.

    From the schools that have seen my primary (that did not include a large portion of my ECs, done after submission) and talked to me about rejection they say this - we know you have academic promise and your activites are slightly below average (a very general way to say this, see Oakland and U of Cinncinnati in my MDapps for details).

    If you are lacking in reserach, or in non-clinical ECs, or clinical ECs on your primary (or are slightly below the average) schools will see that, and probably interview the next app with more on it. With your GPA as projected, and your MCAT > 32, your ECs/PS will be the critical points - and studying takes time (at least it does for me) so getting those ECs and PS (and your primary WRITTEN and MCAT done)....well, I got one interview at least....
  18. Scalpels

    Scalpels Watch your fingers...

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    Oh yeah, of course. I'll probably end up with enough credits for a whole 'nother degree.

    Taking cell right now, as a matter of fact. But it's also a prereq course before I can even take micro, genetics, anatomy, or physiology. That's what I was trying to convey...

    I'll be taking those courses, besides the BCPM, just so I'm not that guy who, on the first day of medical school, is like "What's up, ya'll! So, what's a polypeptide?" or some such.
  19. Goro

    Goro

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    It sounds like you're on the right track, then.

    Oh yeah, of course. I'll probably end up with enough credits for a whole 'nother degree.


    That actually was said to a colleague of mine once!!!

    I'll be taking those courses, besides the BCPM, just so I'm not that guy who, on the first day of medical school, is like "What's up, ya'll! So, what's a polypeptide?"
  20. Scalpels

    Scalpels Watch your fingers...

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    Doh!

    I'm sure your colleague made an epic facepalm over that...

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