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100k/work. . . or. . . great EC's?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Mdr1985, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. Mdr1985

    Joined:
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    Hey everyone! So here's my situation and dilemma. . .

    For the last 5 years I've worked as a firefighter/paramedic full time. During that time I went back to school and attained my RN, thought I might want to do that part time for extra $$$, and thought I may continue to advanced practice. Along the way I completely realized my want to attend medical school. In going to nursing school and taking extra classes towards what at the time I thought would be a BSN (which is now going to to a major in Biology), I finished my first two years of undergrad at community college. This fall I begin my first semester at VCU. . .

    Through lots of trading time and using annual leave for when I have to be in class, it's a good possibility that I could stay working for the fire department as a paramedic/firefighter for the remainder of my undergrad. I'd be working very PRN as an RN as well. Being at a fairly slow station, I have lots of time to study at the fire station, if it proves to be too much I'll quit, but I think It'll be okay.

    Here's the problem, while I'll have time at work to do studies, this whole plan leaves extremely little time available for EC's-volunteering, research, etc. I feel like I've certainly got plenty of clinical experience, and scheduling shadowing times isn't too hard, so I'm not to worried about those. . . However, finding meaningful volunteer experiences and impressive/stand out research is going to prove very hard considering how much I'll be at work.

    I make 50K a year right now, so it's tough to think about throwing away over 100K (over 2+ years) just to volunteer and do research, especially considering the debt of medical school. . . Plus, while I am getting paid, my current career is one that tends to be seen as helping others, teaching, altruistic, etc., so I wonder if maybe that'll make my lack of other EC's more okay (?).

    I know I want to be a physician, and I'm absolutely willing to do what it takes, but I'm just throwing this situation out there to you all and wondering how big of a deal my potentially limited EC's may be, assuming (hoping) the rest of my app isn't lacking (GPA, MCAT, etc. . . . so far my GPA is 3.9). Honestly I'd love to volunteer more, and would throughly enjoy research (actually, the idea fascinates me), but there just may not be enough hours in the day if I keep working, and I'm having a hard time weighing the risk/benefit of limited EC's vs. 100K. I'm not saying I'd have no volunteer experience at all, but it would be limited for sure, and I'm not sure if I'd be able to fit in any research at all.

    Lastly, and on a bit of a side note. . . Two volunteer experiences I've found that allow me to specifically schedule them (i.e. every Tuesday from 9am-10:30am) are study hall tutoring in an inner city school, and volunteering as an RN at a free clinic. Would you all mind giving me your thoughts on this? How do those sound if they ended up being all I did (lets say, 2-4 hours a week)? I'm not sure if there is something other than tutoring that may be better spent time in terms of an EC, and I'm also very conflicted about the free clinic as an RN because thats more clinical, which I'll already have plenty of. . . It doesn't make much sense to me though to not use all the skills I have to help people. Not that there's anything wrong with volunteering at a soup kitchen, but why would I do that when I could use my learned skills to volunteer at a free clinic? Does that take away from the 'altruism' or something to an adcom since it's not non-clinical?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts, opinions, advice, etc. . . I know I can be wordy in my posts, and you're all wonderful for reading!

    M
     
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  3. mitchlucker

    2+ Year Member

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    Make the money.

    Get a good GPA/MCAT.

    You'll get in.

    Do you genuinely care about doing these ECs or just looking to stand out on an application?

    Even if you do care, I'd still go with making the money. You have bills to pay. School isn't cheap. Med school isn't cheap, either. Are you willing to sacrifice $100,000 over 2 years for some research experience and a few ECs?
     
  4. 911 Turbo

    911 Turbo middle schooler aspiring doctor
    Removed Account on Hold Classifieds Approved 7+ Year Member

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    Idk..I'd make bank for one more year and then do ECs
     
  5. bucks2010

    7+ Year Member

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    your plan sounds awesome, I would definitely keep the firefighter gig.

    generally the "top 20" schools are rather research oriented, so a lack of research experience may set you back if you plan on applying there. very few people here would be able to accurately tell you by how much, though.

    however, I think the firefighter job is awesome, and you should keep it, especially if you like it. doing that plus some RN work is a very unique combination in med school applicants (IMO) and should give you plenty of opportunity to demonstrate the qualities that med schools look for in applicants.

    your volunteering options at the end sound great as well.
     
  6. StudyShy

    StudyShy XOXO
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    I am somehow able to work full time, go to graduate school full time, take my pre-med classes, make dinner for the family, participate in my hobbies, post on SDN :D, and keep up with volunteering. If I can do it, so can you. It's all about time management. :luck:
     
  7. ILikeDrugs

    ILikeDrugs pre-attending
    2+ Year Member

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    You've got the firefighter and RN thing going. IMO, I wouldn't consider you a weak applicant even if you didn't have ECs, especially since you have a 3.9. You're a non-traditional applicant with great, and great looking, full time and part time jobs. Then again, I'm not an adcom. Maybe you could do just one for a couple of hours per week just to have it on your application and to show that you did put in effort to give up some of your free time to help other. I wouldn't worry about research to much. People sometimes stress it to the point that they make it seem that it is a make or break thing that ultimately decides if you get into a school. It helps for research heavy schools; ~70% of people matriculating into a top 20 school have research, but 30% don't. I think people like you would be one of those in the 30%. What are your MCAT scores?
     
  8. rika13

    2+ Year Member

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    May I suggest finding some sort of one week summer camp to volunteer at, preferably one that serves children with X disability or an under served population. Its a great way to rack up a large amount of volunteering hours in a short period of time.
     

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