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Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by Bokken, Apr 20, 2012.

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  1. Bokken

    Bokken

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    SDN Members don't see this ad. (About Ads)
    Hello SDN!

    Could you please give me some career advice?

    I graduated a year ago as a biochemistry major with a 3.95+ GPA (science/nonscience/BCPM). I've been working as a research associate at a biotech firm since then. During my senior year of college, I volunteered at a nearby hospital and I enjoyed working with patients. For the past year, I've also been volunteering at a hospice on the side as I'm working full time. I think by now I have around 300 hours of volunteering with patient interaction.

    I enjoy working with patients more than in a lab so now I think I want to pursue medicine. I've shadowed primary care physicians and an EM physician for around 60 hours now. Would medicine be considered a feasible career for me even if I wasn't a premed in college? I remember my old classmates scored in the mid-30s on the MCATs and I'm confident I can do the same. Am I ready to take the MCATs and apply this summer or is there something else I should do before I apply?

    Thank you!
  2. 235788

    235788 God Complex

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    You were premed as a biochem major. Premed just means you took the basic sciences (bio/chem/physics/ochem)

    You should study for the MCAT, to make sure. I can't imagine anything worst that getting an ultra low score. I got a 19 on the practice tests before I started studying. You're a little late, but you could maybe pump out a mcat in June while also writing a personal statement and accumulating LORS.
  3. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    It couldn't hurt to plan to apply in June 2013 to start medical school in 2014.

    We presume that you have taken a year of chem, a year of biology, a year of organic chem and a year of physics. Depending on the schools you might be interested in, there may be other pre-requisites such as English, statistics, or psychology. Buy the MSAR (Medical School Admission Requirements) and peruse it for more information (best $25 you'll ever spend in this process).

    Take some MCAT practice tests under test conditions (pretty strict) and see how you do. Study and take another one. Repeat until you have the best score you can achieve. It is the one really important variable you still have control over (compared with undergrad gpa which is water under the bridge now). Don't rush it and do poorly.

    You have some good clinical experience and you should keep it up over the next year while continuing at your usual job and stashing away some cash for the interview season which can run you as much as $5K depending on how many applications you submit and how many interviews you attend and how far away they are.

    The application season opens in June and will require some serious investment of time to write the activity descriptions and the personal statement. Many supplemental applications will have an essay (or four) so you will have a significant amount of writing to do over the 4-8 weeks after you submit the AMCAS application (medical school equivalent of the Common App). Also consider that while the deadlines for applications are in October/November, the schools start offering interviews in Aug-Oct and applying late means you are competing with a larger pool for a smaller number of interview slots. Applying early is important. Late August is late; late October is ridiculous.

    Do it once, do it right. It is a grueling process and if you rush and are standing around this time next year with no offers (maybe a bunch of waitlists) you will be kicking yourself for rushing through the process only to have to do it all over again with the added burden of being a reapplicant which makes people wonder what is wrong with you that you weren't snapped up on the first round.
  4. Bokken

    Bokken

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    WOW! Thank you for this excellent advice LizzyM! I was thinking the same thing about putting my best foot forward first.

    I'm comfortable in my job so I'm in no rush to get accepted. If it's too late for me to be ready for this cycle, I will wait a year.

    Here's my gameplan then:
    -keep my job.
    -continue volunteering at the hospice.
    -do some volunteering in my community.
    -study for the MCATs, then take them (can I take the MCATs a few months before the application cycle begins?).
    -work on my personal statement and get LORs.

    Am I missing anything? Do I need more extracurriculars to make myself a competitive applicant?

    I appreciate your help!
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  5. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    Someone may have better advice than I have regarding the MCAT but I'd say prepare over the next 4 months (there is a forum devoted to the MCAT with a study schedule and many tips) and take it in Aug/Sep which is plenty of time to plan for a retake in January if something goes very wrong (e.g. you are passing a kidney stone during the exam -- no joke, it has happened).

    Provided you did a few fun/interesting things in college (intramural sports, band, fun clubs (doesn't have to be chem club, could be a political club or a faith based group or a anime interst group-- whatever), leadership in a frat, alternative spring break, a summer job of any kind, lab research while in college) you should be ok in that regard along with the shadowing and volunteering.
  6. Knocked Up

    Knocked Up Sexy and I know it

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    That's fine, that all you need. If I were you I would do the following. Warning, this is assuming you want an upper middle to upper tier school.

    1) Quit my job, move back home, tell my parents that I have to study for the MCAT for 5 months, and say goodbye to the world. Don't waist your time with research, volunteering, et al. if your main goal is medical school. Adcomms don't care, they want numbers, and high numbers at that.

    2) Study for the MCAT for 5 months straight. Don't study the sciences, per se, for 5 months straight, but read. Read constantly, and read whatever you can get your hands on. This is a reading comprehension/ critical thinking test, not a science test.

    3) Apply whenever you have a 35+ on hand. Don't even bother applying until you do. It won't matter one bit if it is in June or the day before the deadline. HIGH MCATS ALWAYS GET TO THE TOP OF THE PILE. Remember that.

    4) Don't worry one bit about any ECs. Get the MCAT score. A 37 tells adcoms a number of things such as:

    a) you are meant to be a leader in the medical field
    b) you will be the next prodigy in medical research, aka: you already have the skills to get published in Nature, Science, Cell, etc.
    c) you have great clinical skills and desire
    d) you will increase the MCAT section of their US news rankings, in effect making them feel more prestigious and helping increase public funding which goes back in their pockets, yay!
    e) oh, and you are perfect in every way imaginable and have the ability to preform any ECs you want, you just choose not to because you have better things to do with your life. But man, look at that tremendous MCAT school ... oh man, that is sooo awesome.

    5) Did I mention to focus all your attention on the MCAT and forget everything else. Well, if I didn't, make sure you righteously do so. Don't worry about PS, if your MCAT isn't up their par, adcoms don't read them anyway :laugh:. Secondaries, eh, they're are just there so medical schools can justify charging you EVEN MORE money. Again, compared to the MCAT they are inconsequential.

    Good luck and prosper.
  7. Bokken

    Bokken

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    Thank you for your reply.

    Isn't a 37 like 99th percentile? I don't know if I can get a 35+... My classmates from college scored around that though and I performed as well as them in our courses but I'm not sure.

    I don't think I'm going to quit my job because I think I could spend months studying in the evenings. I'll probably use my vacation weeks when I'm about to take the exam to finalize everything.

    Don't people peak on their scores when they're studying? Shouldn't I take the exam anyway if I plateau at like a 32?
  8. 235788

    235788 God Complex

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    or a 30+ mcat.


    but this also depends on what state you live in. If you live in cali or a state without a med school.... may god have mercy on your soul.
  9. Bokken

    Bokken

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    I live in Massachusetts which is pretty bad. UMass Med is very difficult to get into. I went to a top 25 university though.
  10. Knocked Up

    Knocked Up Sexy and I know it

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    Yes, of course. I was being mildly sarcastic with the number (though not entirely sarcastic for some schools). The point I'm trying to make is that if you are an ORM, don't expect your GPA to impel your application at schools who clarify themselves as "prestigious". You will have to carry your load with the MCAT. Note the disclaimer I made.

    If you are ok with your state school, shoot for low 30s and you will (generally) be perfectly fine. Again, all I'm saying that the importance of the MCAT cannot be understated, and so I highly advise you to study diligently. You are only a number in this process, amongst a whole bunch of other numbers...and you want to be the highest number possible.
  11. Bokken

    Bokken

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    So let's assume I get a good (34+) MCAT score. If I have the numbers, will my extracurriculars be sufficient for me to be admitted?

    I really don't want to quit my job in case I don't get in.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  12. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist

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    1) This isn't bad advice. You don't want too many distractions or commitments when you're studying for the MCATs.

    2) At this point in time, OP's reading ability is pretty static. Reading a lot in a 5 month period might help a little bit, but there isn't any need to obsess over reading. If he can't do well on the reading comprehension now, there's little chance he can vastly improve. We can only hope that OP has enough reading skills already.

    3) A 30+ score is competitive for normal ones. If he lives in a "bad" state or aims for a high one, he should aim for a 33-34. A 37 is unnecessarily high, especially with his GPA. He can aim for a 37, but realistically, a 37 isn't something to "expect" or not apply.

    4) Getting a high MCAT is always good. But again, he doesn't NEED a 37 to apply, even for mid-top tiers. His GPA definitely makes him a competitive applicant for quite a few med schools.

    5) This isn't a bad idea.



    @OP: Your extracurricular activities are fine. If you can, continue on them, but limit yourself when prepping for the MCATs. Also, if you're not in school right now and plan to take a gap year, maybe try finding some research opportunities when you're done prepping for the MCAT?

    Best of luck to you!
  13. Morsetlis

    Morsetlis SGU MS-4

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    Good advice were given. I'd only add that you consider medicine from a physician's point of view too, since hospital volunteering usually doesn't give you that perspective. I know you have shadowing experience, but also try talking to your physicians about what it means to be a doctor. And then talk to current med students about how they feel about the curriculum and medicine in general.
  14. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    If you are employed (as the OP is) it is silly to quit a job and study full time for the MCAT. Adcoms see right through that and will be less impressed with a 37 from someone who was unemployed than a 32 from someone who came to medicine "later" and prepped for the MCAT while holding down a research job.

    A top MCAT score will get you noticed but as the pool of available interview slots dwindles, it does become harder to garner an invitation to interview. It is never a bad idea to apply early.

    UMass will not consider anyone who does not meet strict residency requirements (OP, did you attend HS in Massachusetts?) so in that regard it might be easier for a Mass resident than some of the state schools that consider OOS applicants. The East Coast is loaded with schools so you have many choices from New England south to Virginia.
  15. Arbor Vitae

    Arbor Vitae The North remembers

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