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Path to Med School

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by CechYourself, May 8, 2012.

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  1. CechYourself

    CechYourself

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    Hi Guys,

    I was referred by a friend to this forum, and it would be great to get some insight, practical advice, and constructive support from anyone.

    I am a postbac currently. I graduated from a top 10 university with a BA in chemistry, minor in Psych, and a horrible overall and science GPA (~2.7). Credit it to depression, lack of drive, or whatever, I'm stuck with it now.

    I currently have an internship at an NIH branch centering on drugs. I think it will bear a few letters of recommendation that will be great.

    So, I was planning on taking the postbacc to improve my grades and take more biology courses, and then apply for the 2014 cycle. So to ask of you guys:

    1) I know I need clinical medicine experience. A couple options I'm thinking about:
    a. calling my GP, and asking to shadow/volunteer
    b. volunteering for a homeless clinic
    c. volunteering in an ER
    Are there any more options that are viable and valuable? What are med schools looking for here? Which is more valuable: the place, the experience, or the letter of rec?

    2) Do I have any shot in getting in? My MCAT is 33S, and I'm sure when I take it again I will get better. I took it in 2009, so I think I'll wind up having to take it again anyway (is it 4/5 years? I can't remember)

    I'm really looking for concrete answers here. A "Yes, go for it, but beware you won't get into 90% of your schools." is better than "Well it depends."

    Thanks!
  2. theseeker4

    theseeker4 MS 3

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    Are you looking at DO schools, or MD only? If MD only, you will probably need more than a single year of courses to get your GPA up to where you have a good chance at success. You may also need more than a year to be competitive for DO schools, depending on your ability to re-take, current credit hours, etc. You have no realistic shot at getting in until you have your GPA above 3.0. (I am assuming you are not a URM).

    It does depend, because there is too little information to give you any concrete answers. If you told us your credit hours, science and overall, and whether/how many failing grades you have, that could help. For DO schools, it is a LOT easier to repair a bad GPA that is due to a handful of F's than to repair a record of all C+'s / B-'s. Again, if you are not willing to consider DO schools, you have a MUCH longer road ahead, since MD schools won't replace grades upon retake.

    For volunteering/shadowing, do all three. You want physician shadowing, you want clinical volunteering, and you want non-clinical volunteering (though that isn't as vital as the first two).

    Your MCAT might be good for next cycle at some schools, but since you probably won't be ready to apply next cycle you should plan to re-take. Typically, your scores are good for 3 years, with some schools recognizing scores older and a few (I believe) recognizing scores only 2 years old.

    Good luck, and if you have other feedback you need feel free to ask. :luck:
  3. CechYourself

    CechYourself

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    theseeker4.
    First of all thank you. Great response...it's the type of response I was looking for...i.e. straight answers, realistic advice, and some good questions.

    So I'll answer as much I can...

    >>>Are you looking at DO schools, or MD only? If MD only, you will probably need more than a single year of courses to get your GPA up to where you have a good chance at success. You may also need more than a year to be competitive for DO schools, depending on your ability to re-take, current credit hours, etc. You have no realistic shot at getting in until you have your GPA above 3.0. (I am assuming you are not a URM).

    Both, but ideally MD. DO would not be my first choice.

    When you say my GPA...I'm already graduated, wouldn't the GPA be separate? And not technically be a GPA repair?

    I am white. I am 24 years old, male.

    >>>>>It does depend, because there is too little information to give you any concrete answers. If you told us your credit hours, science and overall, and whether/how many failing grades you have, that could help. For DO schools, it is a LOT easier to repair a bad GPA that is due to a handful of F's than to repair a record of all C+'s / B-'s. Again, if you are not willing to consider DO schools, you have a MUCH longer road ahead, since MD schools won't replace grades upon retake.

    credit hours at undergrad: 37.5, i think? Science GPA was 2.64? Overall was 2.7. One failing grade in a lab. Three D's, two in half credit labs.

    Want any more info? Just ask man!

    >>>>>For volunteering/shadowing, do all three. You want physician shadowing, you want clinical volunteering, and you want non-clinical volunteering (though that isn't as vital as the first two).

    What would the hours be for that? Doable if I had summer courses in the morning?

    >>>>>Your MCAT might be good for next cycle at some schools, but since you probably won't be ready to apply next cycle you should plan to re-take. Typically, your scores are good for 3 years, with some schools recognizing scores older and a few (I believe) recognizing scores only 2 years old.


    Yah...I'm definitely going to have to retake even though the mcat people saud scores were good for five years. (nLOL...NOT laughing out loud)
  4. Jamie561

    Jamie561

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    You're gonna need more than a postbac with that GPA. Realistically you will need postbac classes until you get it above 3.0, and then apply for an SMP.

    Chances at MD acceptance are profoundly low.

    Sent from my HTC Sensation Z710e using Tapatalk
  5. CechYourself

    CechYourself

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    Yeah, I don't know about that.

    First of all, the postbac GPA is separate than the uGPA. They don't combine so it's not like I can get my GPA above 3.0.

    I wouldn't mind applying for an SMP, but this would just need more planning (which I'd definitely do), but I want to make sure any advice is credible before I plan to do something.

    You saying that my chance at MD acceptance is profoundly low runs really counter to what other people have been telling, which isn't all roses, but I'm content that I'm on the right path for now.
  6. theseeker4

    theseeker4 MS 3

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    That isn't true. The overall undergraduate GPA is all combined together, and AMCAS breaks it down by Fresh/Soph/Jun/Sen/Post Bac. So the first number they see will be your total GPA, including every undergraduate class you ever took. Any future post-bac classes you take will be included in this number, so you will be working to repair your overall GPA. They will be able to see your numbers for each year of undergrad, and all the post-bachelor classes you took, independently, but every grade at the undergraduate level is combined in your overall cGPA, BCMP GPA and AO GPA (all non-BCMP).

    An SMP is your best bet at MD school, though you will need to bump your GPA above a 3.0 I believe to be considered for those programs, and get a good MCAT score. ETA: your current MCAT is probably sufficient, but will likely be expired for SMP's by the time your GPA is above 3.0.
  7. sweet d

    sweet d

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    You might want to gather all your transcripts and plug your grades into this spreadsheet. It'll help you figure out what you need to do in terms of units and grades for GPA repair.

    (I didn't make this, and have no idea who did, but I believe it's accurate)

    Attached Files:

  8. CechYourself

    CechYourself

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    Interesting. I have heard varying reports on the GPA. People have told me different things. I guess combining it or not combining doesn't really matter anyway (or does it? for my situation)

    Game plan: look at GPA calculator to calculate what I would need to get that GPA above 3.0. Use that data to tell me which courses I should be taking to get it there in my postbac. Then look to a SMP BEFORE med school? theseeker4 thoughts?
  9. CechYourself

    CechYourself

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    Man of the minute! Thanks.
  10. theseeker4

    theseeker4 MS 3

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    That sounds good to me. Take mostly (or all) science classes, to boost your sGPA as high as possible while bringing your cGPA up as well. I believe there is a dedicated forum to SMP's, and there is definitely a dedicated forum for post-bacs, so you can find some good information there perusing the older threads.

    For the post bac being combined or not, there is probably some confusion about post bac vs. graduate work. Graduate courses taken for a graduate program are NOT combined with your undergraduate courses to get a single GPA. They are completely separate on your application. Post bac classes, since they are undergraduate level, ARE combined.

    An SMP, or Special Masters Program, is a 1-year program offered by med schools that basically allow you to "audition" for med school, to prove you can excel despite a poor undergraduate performance. You will be taking med-school classes and if you get a high GPA (high 3's or so) you will have demonstrated your academic ability, and some/many/most med schools will consider your application while looking at your SMP performance instead of your undergraduate performance. Different programs have different reputations among the various med schools, so I would investigate this thoroughly to be sure to get into a good program. Some, I believe, even provide a promise of admission to the med school where the program is at if you perform at a certain level (though the promise might be completely non-binding, I am not an expert about this at all). The down side to SMP's is they are quite expensive, and if you do poorly in your program, you are basically nuking your chance at ever being admitted to an MD school. It is a gamble, but can make you competitive much more quickly than by simply taking undergraduate courses.
  11. plauto

    plauto

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    I agree with the SMP. 2.7 is way too low to recover just with a postbac. Keep in mind that, while 3.0 is the minimum required, de facto you need at least a 3.4 or more to have a shot.
    As mentioned above, DO is more likely for you because they do grade substitution. Good luck embarking on this great journey.
  12. CechYourself

    CechYourself

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    So how long would it be prudent to do the postbac before the SMP? Should I just take a look and do the GPA calculator and then see?

    I'm going to an advising session soon, and I'll be sure to ask these questions!
  13. Jamie561

    Jamie561

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    The idea is to get a gpa high enough to get into a good smp program. You will need to do well in both the postbac, and more importantly the smp in order to get into an MD school. The reason I said your chances are profoundly low is that most people with your gpa are not able to make this drastic change in academic performance

    Sent from my HTC Sensation Z710e using Tapatalk
  14. hopeful22213

    hopeful22213

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    Over the last 3 years, white students with your gpa and an mcat between 33-35 have been accepted to at least one school 29% of the time. Because you are on the low end of that range, assume in your case it would be even lower. Furthermore, many of those accepted students may have had some other compelling reason to accepted: overcoming profound adversity/poverty, coming from a state that takes exclusively in state students and has lower admissions standards, some other remarkable achievement, etc.

    If you are set on pursuing MD only, you need to brace for the possibility that it will be a lengthy and expensive process. Even with a gpa of ~3.0, students with your mcat are still accepted at a rate between 30-40%. For D.O., it could be somewhat faster as grade replacement repairs GPA's much quicker.

    But all of that said, it's been done before. Search the forums for the underdog threads or low gpa success stories to see examples of how people in your situation managed to do it.
    Either way, best of luck.

    Admission stats source:
    https://www.aamc.org/download/157958/data/table25-mcatgpa-grid-white-0911.pdf
  15. Prncssbuttercup

    Prncssbuttercup Established Member -- OMSIII

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    Okay okay okay...

    Here's the thing... I pulled my GPA up from a 2.78 to a 3.2. it took me 80cr of 3.9 GPA work to do it. That's a lot... at least 5-6 semesters of FT school (15cr) The MD schools I applied to didn't accept me, but NOT because of my GPA. They didn't accept me because of my MCAT (26, 7ps killed me). OP, you need to work first on GPA repair, get your GPA up as high as you can, and THEN retake the MCAT. I would at least apply one cycle to low-tier and your in-state schools (unless you're in CA) and see where you get. If you're not against DO, apply there too. I would NOT do an SMP unless you are outright rejected from one cycle of applications with considerable PB work. You're going to need to get the GPA above a 3.0 just for an SMP anyway, so why not push for getting in just on your PB work??? It DOES happen, and I am proof of it... I went DO because I want Dr, I don't care about the letters after my name, just before it... Either way, it can be done without an SMP, and again, I would not take that step unless you are unsuccessful...
  16. CechYourself

    CechYourself

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    What is FT school? And congrats man, that is great work. Tell me more about it...what was it like?

    SMPs in my area look like they need 3.0s anyway. At least the Georgetown one does. Perhaps a DO school would be better just because it's more practical money-wise since they do GPA repair.

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