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Sorry if this is a rant, I'm feeling more than a little dejected right now and could really use some encouragement. I'm nontrad, first-gen from a family with an unsteady income and my college career was complicated. I decided to become a doctor when I was 18 years old. I just turned 36 and realized I have been trying to get into medical school for almost 20 years, more than half my life. This cycle is my fourth, and so far, I have nothing to show for it, not even a single lousy II.

I have tried everything, from shadowing to research to SMP to a DIY postbac to applying to DO schools. Now I'm staring down the prospect of applying a fifth time, and wondering - is it worth it? But if not, what else would I do? I'm not sure I even have any marketable skills. My only professional qualification is a Master's from an SMP. For the past 10 years I have just been bouncing between jobs like tech and scribe and clinical research assistant where all my coworkers are kids fresh out of college. I've made so many sacrifices to be able to do this, I am hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, I'm not married and not pursuing a serious relationship, I make enough in my job to get by, but certainly not enough to pay down this debt, let alone support a family or retire. I feel like the only way I can ever get out of this hole is by becoming a doctor. It is devastating that none of this effort seems to have paid off. But still, I can't imagine myself doing anything else with my life other than being a doctor. Help???

EDIT: Link to stats
 
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What do you think is the reason that you've had three unsuccessful cycles if you're okay sharing? E.g. stats? School lists? ECs? Number of schools applied to?
 
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Rachapkis

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Is there someone in your kitchen cabinet whom you trust to seriously evaluate your application to determine whether you have a realistic chance at gaining admission? Your perseverance is admirable, but given how many times you have tried, medical school may not be in the cards. If you ultimately determine to choose another route, there are related paths--like becoming a physician's assistant--that you could investigate. My heart goes out to you. Good luck.
 
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DoctorWhere

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I have also felt disheartened at working and reapplying over years before getting my first acceptance this cycle.

Don't let your previous time and effort dictate that you must become a doctor. You're falling into the "sunken costs" argument. Evaluate whether you still want to be a doctor ( and if so, why). If the reasons are either because you've worked to become a doctor for so long or to pay off loans, becoming a doctor won't make you happy.

When you decide whether you want to continue towards the goal of being a physician, then you can focus all your energy on that decision (whether you decide for or against).
 
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Deltasidearm

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You cannot get reasonable, actionable advice without posting details about your applications. You can PM me if you want me to go over your application or you can post a confidential thread that trusted experts (like adcoms) can reply to. I am a successful reapplicant and there are plenty of examples of us. It's all about what you do with your failure, not that you failed in the first place.

That said, you should have pursued another sustainable career long ago to address your financial difficulties and you should still do so now. This does not mean not applying and giving up. It means creating stability and a sufficient income using your education and skills while you are applying and working on your applications. Personally, if I were evaluating your application I would not want to see bouncing back and forth between entry level work as a post-graduate adult years out from their degree (which would be concerning to me, frankly). I would expect to see sustained and demonstrable success at an appropriate occupational level.
 
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Catalystik

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Sorry if this is a rant, I'm feeling more than a little dejected right now and could really use some encouragement. I'm nontrad, first-gen from a family with an unsteady income and my college career was complicated. I decided to become a doctor when I was 18 years old. I just turned 36 and realized I have been trying to get into medical school for almost 20 years, more than half my life. This cycle is my fourth, and so far, I have nothing to show for it, not even a single lousy II.

I have tried everything, from shadowing to research to SMP to a DIY postbac to applying to DO schools. Now I'm staring down the prospect of applying a fifth time, and wondering - is it worth it? But if not, what else would I do? I'm not sure I even have any marketable skills. My only professional qualification is a Master's from an SMP. For the past 10 years I have just been bouncing between jobs like tech and scribe and clinical research assistant where all my coworkers are kids fresh out of college. I've made so many sacrifices to be able to do this, I am hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, I'm not married and not pursuing a serious relationship, I make enough in my job to get by, but certainly not enough to pay down this debt, let alone support a family or retire. I feel like the only way I can ever get out of this hole is by becoming a doctor. It is devastating that none of this effort seems to have paid off. But still, I can't imagine myself doing anything else with my life other than being a doctor. Help???
For the best results, consider posting a detailed thread using this template: *~*~*~*IMPORTANT: How to Format Your WAMC Thread for Optimal Results and More!!*~*~*~* in the What Are My Chances Forum here: What Are My Chances? WAMC Medical
 
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Which schools did you apply to ? Where is your state of residence ? What are your sGPA and cGPA ? What are your MCAT scores ? Any physician shadowing hours or clinical volunteering or employment with patient contact ?
 
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What do you think is the reason that you've had three unsuccessful cycles if you're okay sharing? E.g. stats? School lists? ECs? Number of schools applied to?
To be quite frank, I think I was just too dumb early on. No one in my family or close circles had even been to college before me, let alone medical school/any healthcare profession, so the gap in cultural capital between me and most of my classmates when it came to navigating higher education was huge. College was a mess -- I started at a small liberal arts school, which I loved, but had to drop out for financial and family reasons halfway through my second year. I took night classes at the community college for two years while working retail, and then transferred to my large state school where I finally graduated in 2009, at 25. I felt a little lost at State School - it was tens of thousands of undergrads with a strong weeder premed culture, the premed office didn't even return your emails if they thought you weren't worth the time. I actually technically applied my senior year, but it was so embarrassingly bad I don't even count it (3.1, 24 MCAT, literally 0 ECs or clinical hours, I treated the application deadlines like college deadlines meaning I submitted in November and December, applied to 8 schools including Harvard as a "reach" - HA!) -- I didn't even know I had no chance because I didn't know any of the other premeds as a transfer, older and living at home, and the premed office just outright refused to even meet with me.

I tried applying again to a broader and more realistic list after spending a year and a half volunteering part-time at a nursing home, but I only had a few hours a week as I had to work at Target to make ends meet, and even then I could barely afford to give up those hours from work. When that cycle failed I emailed adcoms at every school asking what I did wrong, and ONE got back to me, telling me to apply when I had some research experience. Looking back, I suspect she didn't even look again at my application, as there were MANY more reasons I didn't get in than lack of research -- so I became a lab tech, which I hated, just genotyping mice all day, and that job only lasted a year because funding was tight which meant they couldn't keep me. I applied in 2013, nothing again.

I was so desperate I started cold-emailing random medical students. One kind soul out of dozens was kind enough to get back to me, and opened my eyes to the world of SMPs, MSAR -- and SDN. It wasn't until then in about 2014 that I got wise, started reading SDN, found someone willing to mentor me. But by then I had already gone through two cycles (three if you count my senior year folly), and I get the feeling a lot of med schools have trouble looking past that :/
 
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To be quite frank, I think I was just too dumb early on. No one in my family or close circles had even been to college before me, let alone medical school/any healthcare profession, so the gap in cultural capital between me and most of my classmates when it came to navigating higher education was huge. College was a mess -- I started at a small liberal arts school, which I loved, but had to drop out for financial and family reasons halfway through my second year. I took night classes at the community college for two years while working retail, and then transferred to my large state school where I finally graduated in 2009, at 25. I felt a little lost at State School - it was tens of thousands of undergrads with a strong weeder premed culture, the premed office didn't even return your emails if they thought you weren't worth the time. I actually technically applied my senior year, but it was so embarrassingly bad I don't even count it (3.1, 24 MCAT, literally 0 ECs or clinical hours, I treated the application deadlines like college deadlines meaning I submitted in November and December, applied to 8 schools including Harvard as a "reach" - HA!) -- I didn't even know I had no chance because I didn't know any of the other premeds as a transfer, older and living at home, and the premed office just outright refused to even meet with me.

I tried applying again to a broader and more realistic list after spending a year and a half volunteering part-time at a nursing home, but I only had a few hours a week as I had to work at Target to make ends meet, and even then I could barely afford to give up those hours from work. When that cycle failed I emailed adcoms at every school asking what I did wrong, and ONE got back to me, telling me to apply when I had some research experience. Looking back, I suspect she didn't even look again at my application, as there were MANY more reasons I didn't get in than lack of research -- so I became a lab tech, which I hated, just genotyping mice all day, and that job only lasted a year because funding was tight which meant they couldn't keep me. I applied in 2013, nothing again.

I was so desperate I started cold-emailing random medical students. One kind soul out of dozens was kind enough to get back to me, and opened my eyes to the world of SMPs, MSAR -- and SDN. It wasn't until then in about 2014 that I got wise, started reading SDN, found someone willing to mentor me. But by then I had already gone through two cycles (three if you count my senior year folly), and I get the feeling a lot of med schools have trouble looking past that :/
Gotcha. So it seems like quite a significant gap has happened since your last cycle and this one. Do you feel like you've fixed the gaps in your app that you can identify? It seems like stats are a big roadblock. Did the SMP go well enough to offset that 3.1 GPA and did you do well on the MCAT? The best advice can probably be given if you are willing to share more details (see Catalystik's post above about how to format a thread with enough information in it to provide meaningful help). The seven years since your third and current cycle has probably changed a whole lot about your app. If your GPA and MCAT have both improved, it is possible that the most fruitful use of time may be in reviewing your essays, work/activities, and school list. That list should probably be predominantly DO with MD schools that reward reinvention.
 
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oopsaloo

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What have you done to improve your GPA and MCAT since your last application cycle? What are your most recent stats?

I think it’s time to look at other career options as med schools will probably heavily scrutinize your background, unless you have made drastic changes or have a very compelling story (eg joined the military, Peace Corps, etc).

Would you consider nursing, podiatry, pharm, PA, biotech company/research or other healthcare related fields, assuming you want to remain in healthcare? There are plenty of other rewarding careers in medicine.
 
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Actually the first mentor I had was my family doctor whose advice I followed religiously, who was the sweetest person to ever walk this earth, a retired GP who ran a pro bono clinic (recently passed, may he RIP). Unfortunately he had not troubled to update his knowledge of the application process since he went through it in the SIXTIES--he told me I was sure to get in applying my senior year as I had a GPA "above a 3.0" :censored:
 
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Sorry if this is a rant, I'm feeling more than a little dejected right now and could really use some encouragement. I'm nontrad, first-gen from a family with an unsteady income and my college career was complicated. I decided to become a doctor when I was 18 years old. I just turned 36 and realized I have been trying to get into medical school for almost 20 years, more than half my life. This cycle is my fourth, and so far, I have nothing to show for it, not even a single lousy II.

I have tried everything, from shadowing to research to SMP to a DIY postbac to applying to DO schools. Now I'm staring down the prospect of applying a fifth time, and wondering - is it worth it? But if not, what else would I do? I'm not sure I even have any marketable skills. My only professional qualification is a Master's from an SMP. For the past 10 years I have just been bouncing between jobs like tech and scribe and clinical research assistant where all my coworkers are kids fresh out of college. I've made so many sacrifices to be able to do this, I am hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, I'm not married and not pursuing a serious relationship, I make enough in my job to get by, but certainly not enough to pay down this debt, let alone support a family or retire. I feel like the only way I can ever get out of this hole is by becoming a doctor. It is devastating that none of this effort seems to have paid off. But still, I can't imagine myself doing anything else with my life other than being a doctor. Help???

I get what you mean and I can sense for you, it's really med school or bust. If you look at my post history, I'm going from a dental degree to a medical degree (hopefully), and so I can understand the position you're in.

But let me tell you something, there's life outside of medicine.

When I was in dental school for example (graduating in a few months), my 2 years of pre-clinical years were with medical students and I got to learn some cool stuff. Of course, I won't be using majority of that in my practice, but if medical school doesn't work out, I still get to interact with patients and help people - which is ultimately what I believe the end goal of medicine/health care to be.

Things like severe dental caries, multiple tooth fractures or missing teeth etc. - these things severely impacts a person's mental health and well being, and it's fulfilling when you help people like this.

The point I'm trying to get to is this: why do you want to go to medical school? If you want to make a positive impact on the world, there are many options out there. (For example, dentistry being one). If it's the thrill of medical education you want, you can also scratch the surface with other health professions. I didn't realize I wanted more medical knowledge before actually learning the surface level stuff at dental school, and from what I can see, you haven't really even touched the surface level stuff yet. So don't put all your eggs in one basket, try to diversify, explore and see what other professions have to offer.

Also, remember the sunk cost fallacy - a part of you may be wanting to hold on because you spent the last 20 years for this dream. But this is exactly what the fallacy is. You have to sometimes learn to cut your losses, or explore other options.
 
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Actually the first mentor I had was my family doctor whose advice I followed religiously, who was the sweetest person to ever walk this earth, a retired GP who ran a pro bono clinic (recently passed, may he RIP). Unfortunately he had not troubled to update his knowledge of the application process since he went through it in the SIXTIES--he told me I was sure to get in applying my senior year as I had a GPA "above a 3.0" :censored:
Yea, unfortunately it seems like most physician mentors are not the best. They mean well but the process has changed so rapidly year-to-year that the simply fact that they are 8+ years out from their own app cycle means they really won't know much unless they remained active in admissions
 
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Goro

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Actually the first mentor I had was my family doctor whose advice I followed religiously, who was the sweetest person to ever walk this earth, a retired GP who ran a pro bono clinic (recently passed, may he RIP). Unfortunately he had not troubled to update his knowledge of the application process since he went through it in the SIXTIES--he told me I was sure to get in applying my senior year as I had a GPA "above a 3.0" :censored:
You still haven't answered the questions asked of you, and so we can't help you.
 
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For the best results, consider posting a detailed thread using this template: *~*~*~*IMPORTANT: How to Format Your WAMC Thread for Optimal Results and More!!*~*~*~* in the What Are My Chances Forum here: What Are My Chances? WAMC Medical
Thanks. So some of you have asked for stats, sorry it has taken me a while, it is a long story that always takes me a minute to compile.

Here is my overall timeline: "events" in <>
2003-2004: Liberal arts college [GPA: 3.25]
Late 2004: <Mom got sick, family lost income, had to move back home and work>
2005-2007: Worked retail, started taking community college classes [GPA: 3.71]
2007-2009: Transferred to state college full time [GPA: 2.65]
2009: <MCAT #1, 24>
2009: <senior year throwaway application>
2010-2012: Worked retail, did clinical volunteering, taking care of my mom
2011: <applied #1>
2012-2013: Got a research tech job
2013: <MCAT #2, 29>
2013: <laid off from tech job due to funding shortfall>
2013: <applied #2>
2013-2015: Worked in retail, did a little clinical volunteering and shadowing, but mostly applying to a bunch of positions in order to get a better job than Target in the short-term so I could prepare to apply again from a better financial position
2014: <found a mentor by cold-emailing almost a hundred medical students, TURNING POINT!>
2015-2017: Got a research associate job for clinical research
2016: <MCAT #3, 512>
2017-2018: SMP [GPA 3.4]
2018: <applied #3 to 30 schools, mostly state and DO schools>
2018-present: Another clinical research associate job, same institution, different dept
2018-present: DIY postbac (retook some classes I didn't do so hot on in SMP + college) [GPA: 3.66]
2019: <MCAT #4, 509>
2020: <applied #4 to 53 schools, state MD + DO>

So in summary:
cGPA: 3.31
sGPA: 3.09, but 3.5 counting SMP + DIY postbac only!

MCAT
#1 [2009]: 24
#2 [2013]: 29
#3 [2016]: 512: 127/129/126/130
#4 [2019]: 509: 127/127/126/129

Clinical experience
4000 volunteer hours over about 10 years
2000 hours as a clinical scribe [various part-time gigs, 2011-2014]
10000 hours in clinical research roles (research assistant, coordinator, etc.; worked full-time from 2015-2017, 2018-present)

Research experience
2000 hours of research experience as a tech, no publications (worked full-time from 2014-2015)

Shadowing
kind of blends in with my clinical experience as often I asked to shadow the doctors at my job if I finish my work early and they are more than happy, but I would estimate about 1000 hours. I tried to get as broad of a taste as I can, so I shadowed IM docs, surgeons, ER docs, primary care... you name it.

Non-clinical volunteering / ECs
About 5000 hours working side jobs, mostly retail, to make ends meet. Mostly have not had to since 2014.

To be honest, between studying, volunteering, working, sometimes having to pick up a second job to make ends meet and taking care of sick family I haven't had much time or energy to do nonclinical extracurriculars. I like to read and to cook. I did jazz band at my first college, but unfortunately I had to stop when I left and couldn't afford to have an instrument for a long time. Thought about getting back into it once I got a stable job, but unlike in college, everyone in the hospital/medical center group is professional-caliber :eek:

Relevant honors or awards
Dean's List at my CC
Distinguished Employee at my clinical research job
Otherwise N/A

What I don't understand is, why has it been so hard for me? I look on this site and it seems some people just sail through, undergrad to 1 gap year to med school. Yes I had trouble in college because of the culture shock, but that was more than 10 years ago, and yeah I applied foolishly the first few times (same reasons), but my applications since 2018 have been serious. What gives?
 
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The point I'm trying to get to is this: why do you want to go to medical school? If you want to make a positive impact on the world, there are many options out there. (For example, dentistry being one). If it's the thrill of medical education you want, you can also scratch the surface with other health professions. I didn't realize I wanted more medical knowledge before actually learning the surface level stuff at dental school, and from what I can see, you haven't really even touched the surface level stuff yet. So don't put all your eggs in one basket, try to diversify, explore and see what other professions have to offer.

Also, remember the sunk cost fallacy - a part of you may be wanting to hold on because you spent the last 20 years for this dream. But this is exactly what the fallacy is. You have to sometimes learn to cut your losses, or explore other options.
Oh yeah, that's a totally fair question and one that I've asked myself a lot. And I think the answer is: because I love it, and I can't see myself doing anything else. I'm going to have to disagree with you that I haven't touched the the surface level stuff--I've been working in a clinical setting full-time, or volunteering, or shadowing for the better part of ten years or 15000 hours, and when not, I have been taking classes akin to med school preclinical classes, and though I am not yet a doctor, every day it feels like such a privilege to be able to go in.

I love the knowledge, reasoning about pathophysiology and how the body works, and using that to figure out why something is going wrong and how we can fix it. I love how connected everything is; how for heart disorders, you have to think about the kidney, for foot disorders you have to think about the brain, and vice versa. I love working with patients every day, real people who have joys and apprehensions and whose lives we can make a huge difference in with the aforesaid knowledge. I love the knowledge, the authoritativeness, and the compassion that my family doctor modeled for me years ago, and which the doctors I work demonstrate every single g-d day. And I've been lucky enough to have some of those aspects in my work up to now, which I really appreciate and look forward to continuing in my future career. But there's something missing--it's a closed exam room door, a grateful smile as the curtain is drawn, maybe a kind "thanks, I've got it from here." I want to be in that room or behind the curtain, where it's just you and the patient--I want to be the one who's "got it from here". I don't think that feeling would fundamentally go away if I were, say, a PA or a nurse or a pharmacist.

I might be a little older and a little more experienced, but this isn't a sunk cost fallacy at all - I feel as idealistic and excited about the prospect today having seen all that I have, as I did as a naive freshman!
 
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TragicalDrFaust

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Your GPA is sinking you, even only counting the SMP and post bacc. From what I’ve gathered here, schools want to see excellent performance in masters programs- 3.7+ GPA. Many schools automatically screen out candidates with cumulative GPA < 3.2. However it seems you’ve exhausted the typical routes for GPA repair.
 
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Thanks. So some of you have asked for stats, sorry it has taken me a while, it is a long story that always takes me a minute to compile.

Here is my overall timeline: "events" in <>
2003-2004: Liberal arts college [GPA: 3.25]
Late 2004: <Mom got sick, family lost income, had to move back home and work>
2005-2007: Worked retail, started taking community college classes [GPA: 3.71]
2007-2009: Transferred to state college full time [GPA: 2.65]
2009: <MCAT #1, 24>
2009: <senior year throwaway application>
2010-2012: Worked retail, did clinical volunteering, taking care of my mom
2011: <applied #1>
2012-2013: Got a research tech job
2013: <MCAT #2, 29>
2013: <laid off from tech job due to funding shortfall>
2013: <applied #2>
2013-2015: Worked in retail, did a little clinical volunteering and shadowing, but mostly applying to a bunch of positions in order to get a better job than Target in the short-term so I could prepare to apply again from a better financial position
2014: <found a mentor by cold-emailing almost a hundred medical students, TURNING POINT!>
2015-2017: Got a research associate job for clinical research
2016: <MCAT #3, 512>
2017-2018: SMP [GPA 3.4]
2018: <applied #3 to 30 schools, mostly state and DO schools>
2018-present: Another clinical research associate job, same institution, different dept
2018-present: DIY postbac (retook some classes I didn't do so hot on in SMP + college) [GPA: 3.66]
2019: <MCAT #4, 509>
2020: <applied #4 to 53 schools, state MD + DO>

So in summary:
cGPA: 3.31
sGPA: 3.09, but 3.5 counting SMP + DIY postbac only!

MCAT
#1 [2009]: 24
#2 [2013]: 29
#3 [2016]: 512: 127/129/126/130
#4 [2019]: 509: 127/127/126/129

Clinical experience
4000 volunteer hours over about 10 years
2000 hours as a clinical scribe [various part-time gigs, 2011-2014]
10000 hours in clinical research roles (research assistant, coordinator, etc.; worked full-time from 2015-2017, 2018-present)

Research experience
2000 hours of research experience as a tech, no publications (worked full-time from 2014-2015)

Shadowing
kind of blends in with my clinical experience as often I asked to shadow the doctors at my job if I finish my work early and they are more than happy, but I would estimate about 1000 hours. I tried to get as broad of a taste as I can, so I shadowed IM docs, surgeons, ER docs, primary care... you name it.

Non-clinical volunteering / ECs
About 5000 hours working side jobs, mostly retail, to make ends meet. Mostly have not had to since 2014.

To be honest, between studying, volunteering, working, sometimes having to pick up a second job to make ends meet and taking care of sick family I haven't had much time or energy to do nonclinical extracurriculars. I like to read and to cook. I did jazz band at my first college, but unfortunately I had to stop when I left and couldn't afford to have an instrument for a long time. Thought about getting back into it once I got a stable job, but unlike in college, everyone in the hospital/medical center group is professional-caliber :eek:

Relevant honors or awards
Dean's List at my CC
Distinguished Employee at my clinical research job
Otherwise N/A

What I don't understand is, why has it been so hard for me? I look on this site and it seems some people just sail through, undergrad to 1 gap year to med school. Yes I had trouble in college because of the culture shock, but that was more than 10 years ago, and yeah I applied foolishly the first few times (same reasons), but my applications since 2018 have been serious. What gives?

There are two glaring issues that I see that are holding you back. The first, as @TragicalDrFaust said, is that the SMP is supposed to indicate you can handle medical school-level coursework. The GPA there is very low and concerning. The post-bacc GPA frankly only serves to solidify this issue. Your MCAT falling from take 3 and take 4 is another problem. So - for me, the first big thing is stats for sure.

The second is that I may have missed it, but I don't see any non-clinical volunteering despite having had nearly 20 years to get it. There isn't too much in this app that stands out as being distinctly...you. Non-clinical volunteering is a good place to show that. It's also quite an important category to display altruism in. There's the standard clinical stuff that many have, the standard research at a tech level, and not much here that says "here is something I really like doing outside of medicine that is meaningful to me."

You've definitely overcome some serious adversity that is commendable but these are the two big things I personally see. Essays, how your Work/Activity section actually looks in practice, your precise school list, etc. can all either add or detract from these issues.
 
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Your SMP GPA may be what's sinking you. Schools usually expect you to ace those programs, and a subpar SMP performance + your undergrad could be what's lethal for your app.

Unfortunately, nothing can be done about your SMP at this point. Maybe apply very broadly to include the newest DO schools, and if that doesn't pan out, it's most likely time to move on.
 
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What I don't understand is, why has it been so hard for me? I look on this site and it seems some people just sail through, undergrad to 1 gap year to med school. Yes I had trouble in college because of the culture shock, but that was more than 10 years ago, and yeah I applied foolishly the first few times (same reasons), but my applications since 2018 have been serious. What gives?

Lack of non-clinical volunteering, circuitous and checkered academic history, and probably a terrible school list. Your personal statement may also be problematic.

On the plus side, your MCAT performance is reassuring, and you've covered every other possible aspect of your application to death. The path forward is clear:

1. Find a non-clinical volunteering gig and start racking up hours.
2. Post your school list for feedback. Alternatively, @Goro can probably post his roster of usual suspects. Most of them are private schools without in-state bias.
3. DM me and I'll look at your PS.
 
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Goro

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It's hard to advise someone with such a patch, staccato history. Was your SMP given at a medical school? If so, did you not get an interview there? If not, did you get feedback as to why?

Forget about the clinical research, which most of the time is not clinical exposure...when was the last time you volunteered with patients, or had paid clinical exposure (like phlebotomy, or MA/CNA etc)?

Rewrite all essays and have multiple eyeballs vet them. Suggest the following schools:

Your state MD schools
MUCOM
PCOM (both)
both Westerns
ACOM
WCU
DMU
KYCOM
WVSOM
CUSOM
all LECOMs
NYITCOM
All VCOMs except LA
KCOM
KCU
SOMA
UNECOM if you’re from the NE, OSUCOM if you’re from the Plains states and PacNW if you’re from that region.
 
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The second is that I may have missed it, but I don't see any non-clinical volunteering despite having had nearly 20 years to get it. There isn't too much in this app that stands out as being distinctly...you. Non-clinical volunteering is a good place to show that. It's also quite an important category to display altruism in. There's the standard clinical stuff that many have, the standard research at a tech level, and not much here that says "here is something I really like doing outside of medicine that is meaningful to me."
Yes, I definitely agree with you that that is a shortcoming on my application. Do you have any recommendations for things I could do? I do have a few hundred hours tutoring middle and high school students for a nonprofit that I've only recently started doing. I think the problem is that for most of that time, I didn't really have any free time or financial freedom to pursue other things: if I wasn't studying, I had to work or take care of family. I often thought when I was working at Target about all the more fulfilling things I could be doing -- but alas :/ I'm sure that's relatable to those of you who have spent extensive time in retail or customer service
 
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The second is that I may have missed it, but I don't see any non-clinical volunteering despite having had nearly 20 years to get it. There isn't too much in this app that stands out as being distinctly...you. Non-clinical volunteering is a good place to show that. It's also quite an important category to display altruism in. There's the standard clinical stuff that many have, the standard research at a tech level, and not much here that says "here is something I really like doing outside of medicine that is meaningful to me."
Something else I've noticed as I've gotten older is that it's gotten harder to meet new people or get into new things (Something you young fellers have to look forward to! ;) ). I don't mean physically (yet...), but "interest groups" aren't really a thing for people my age, and while there are community groups and groups through my work for people into e.g. music, dancing, there's a certain expectation of skill to get involved. Nobody is looking for a 36 year old beginner piano player... I almost feel as if my time in college to do these things was wasted
 
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Yes, I definitely agree with you that that is a shortcoming on my application. Do you have any recommendations for things I could do? I do have a few hundred hours tutoring middle and high school students for a nonprofit that I've only recently started doing. I think the problem is that for most of that time, I didn't really have any free time or financial freedom to pursue other things: if I wasn't studying, I had to work or take care of family. I often thought when I was working at Target about all the more fulfilling things I could be doing -- but alas :/ I'm sure that's relatable to those of you who have spent extensive time in retail or customer service
I think this is a great way to get nonclinical service!
 
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LizzyM

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Something else I've noticed as I've gotten older is that it's gotten harder to meet new people or get into new things (Something you young fellers have to look forward to! ;) ). I don't mean physically (yet...), but "interest groups" aren't really a thing for people my age, and while there are community groups and groups through my work for people into e.g. music, dancing, there's a certain expectation of skill to get involved. Nobody is looking for a 36 year old beginner piano player... I almost feel as if my time in college to do these things was wasted

Volunteer work takes people of all ages. I just saw a group in my city begging for volunteers for a drive-by food program for the poor. While COVID has made it more difficult to meet people, there are opportunities that don't require a huge amount of skill. Teaching a skill to kids (cooking!) or being involved with neighborhood beautification or voter registration drives, etc don't require any special skills, just the desire to get involved and devote a few hours per month.

You have been chasing a dream that may not come to fruition for a bunch of reasons that have been pointed out to you. This may be the end of the road for MD and DO but you might want to consider other health professions including, as someone may have mentioned, podiatry. Very much needed particularly with the aging of our population and the increasing proportion of adults with diabetes.
 
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If it is 'the' end all be all, and it sounds like it might be, have you considered the Caribbean or other international schools like it? Yes, they may be diploma mills to a certain degree, but your willpower sounds incredible and there are success stories. Just be very careful if you are already in financial uncertainty.

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I suggest that you apply broadly to DO schools next June and submit all your secondaries by July. Include all these schools:
ACOM
ARCOM
NYIT-AR
WCU-COM
UIWSOM
MU-COM
KCU-COM
ATSU (both schools)
UP-KYCOM
WVSOM
LECOM (all schools)
PCOM (all schools)
TUNCOM
VCOM (all 4 schools)
ICOM
BCOM
LMU-DCOM
LUCOM
Noorda-COM (new school)
You should receive several interviews from this list.
 
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If it is 'the' end all be all, and it sounds like it might be, have you considered the Caribbean or other international schools like it? Yes, they may be diploma mills to a certain degree, but your willpower sounds incredible and there are success stories. Just be very careful if you are already in financial uncertainty.

David D, MD - USMLE and MCAT Tutor
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Thanks -- I really don't know much about them, though I have met a few doctors who trained abroad. It sounds like you have some experience guiding people who have struggled, is it something you'd recommend?
 

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Do not go off shore! There are success stories but as a proportion of all matriculants, they are rare. You might do well but your SMP and 3 or your 4 MCAT scores do not point in that direction. While you are already deeply in debt, you could be in an even more precarious position after some time off shore and, perhaps ,have nothing to show for it. This would include either not graduating or graduating but not matching and being unlicensed to practice.
 
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It's hard to advise someone with such a patch, staccato history. Was your SMP given at a medical school? If so, did you not get an interview there? If not, did you get feedback as to why?

Forget about the clinical research, which most of the time is not clinical exposure...when was the last time you volunteered with patients, or had paid clinical exposure (like phlebotomy, or MA/CNA etc)?

Rewrite all essays and have multiple eyeballs vet them. Suggest the following schools:

Your state MD schools
MUCOM
PCOM (both)
both Westerns
ACOM
WCU
DMU
KYCOM
WVSOM
CUSOM
all LECOMs
NYITCOM
All VCOMs except LA
KCOM
KCU
SOMA
UNECOM if you’re from the NE, OSUCOM if you’re from the Plains states and PacNW if you’re from that region.
Thanks for the list. I am not a phleb or CNA but I do volunteer with patients regularly, at a nursing home and at a free clinic that some attendings at my job are involved in, previously 5-10 hours a week though nonclinical staff are capped now due to COVID. I still go whenever they have space for me.

Yes, my SMP was at a medical school. When I was in the program my advisor in the program seemed pretty positive about my chances, even when I was concerned I wasn't doing well enough and asked about maybe withdrawing he urged me to continue. He suggested transferring into their 2-year program as an option if I was concerned, which would have been too expensive and too much time. I did not get an interview and no formal feedback as to why. I tried contacting my former advisor afterwards and he said he was not privy to the process but like you he mentioned the school might have been concerned about the fact that I went to three different undergrad institutions with academic ups and downs.

Unfortunately I can't do anything about my "patchy and staccato" history, I didn't choose to be born into a low-income family :/
 
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I feel for you. I'm a non-trad as well with a bad academic history early on (check my posts from back in 2011 LOL). I think a few people on here even essentially told me to give up after my undergrad years. I just got in this year.

To answer your direct question, I personally would "give up" after 40. I know people sometimes get in past that, but after looking through age ranges for a few schools, it seems rare. I had a "deadline" of 30, and if I couldn't get in by then, I would just focus on my non-trad career.

1. Have you considered nursing, PA, podiatry, or perfusion school?

2. Have you considered health IT as a career? With your background, I definitely think you could get a job as an Epic Analyst at a hospital. They make good money, like 100k+ after about 5 years (depending on your region of course). I'm not saying forever, but at least while you still get your application together. It is a low stress job and you will have the energy to volunteer afterwards. Seriously, I was more stressed at my scribe job.

3. I think a new DO school is your best shot. A lot of them are popping up. Focus on those.

4. Have you considered UQ-Ochsner? Yes, you'd have to live in AUS for 2 years, and it is expensive, and it is "off-shore". But AUS is a developed country, you have a lot of debt anyway, and IMO it is the best off-shore school. I personally know a few people who got residencies. What if you don't match and have a ton of debt? Sounds like you already have a ton of debt, and you won't be able to pay it off anyway. I really don't know what people do in those situations. I have two friends who have hundreds of thousands of med school debt, no residency, and will probably never pay it off. I don't know WTF they are gonna do, but they seem to be living [lower] middle class lives, so it doesn't sound like it will send you into homelessness.

Caribbean is so, so, so risky. Now that Step 1 is P/F, it is even more risky.
 
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DoctorWhere

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I feel for you. I'm a non-trad as well with a bad academic history early on (check my posts from back in 2011 LOL). I think a few people on here even essentially told me to give up after my undergrad years. I just got in this year.

To answer your direct question, I personally would "give up" after 40. I know people sometimes get in past that, but after looking through age ranges for a few schools, it seems rare. I had a "deadline" of 30, and if I couldn't get in by then, I would just focus on my non-trad career.

1. Have you considered nursing, PA, podiatry, or perfusion school?

2. Have you considered health IT as a career? With your background, I definitely think you could get a job as an Epic Analyst at a hospital. They make good money, like 100k+ after about 5 years (depending on your region of course). I'm not saying forever, but at least while you still get your application together. It is a low stress job and you will have the energy to volunteer afterwards. Seriously, I was more stressed at my scribe job.

3. I think a new DO school is your best shot. A lot of them are popping up. Focus on those.

4. Have you considered UQ-Ochsner? Yes, you'd have to live in AUS for 2 years, and it is expensive, and it is "off-shore". But AUS is a developed country, you have a lot of debt anyway, and IMO it is the best off-shore school. I personally know a few people who got residencies. What if you don't match and have a ton of debt? Sounds like you already have a ton of debt, and you won't be able to pay it off anyway. I really don't know what people do in those situations. I have two friends who have hundreds of thousands of med school debt, no residency, and will probably never pay it off. I don't know WTF they are gonna do, but they seem to be living [lower] middle class lives, so it doesn't sound like it will send you into homelessness.

Caribbean is so, so, so risky. Now that Step 1 is P/F, it is even more risky.
I don't agree that an Epic Analyst job is low stress. Most people do their few years and go into consulting to escape.
 

bngli

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I don't agree that an Epic Analyst job is low stress. Most people do their few years and go into consulting to escape.

From what I have seen, most people go into consulting for the money and then come back to a FTE job.
 
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I don't agree that an Epic Analyst job is low stress. Most people do their few years and go into consulting to escape.
thanks - I don't think health IT is for me though... I'm OK but not amazingly good with computers, and it's important to me to be working with patients and guiding their care, which I don't think I could behind a desk helping docs debug EPIC
 
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Have you considered nursing or an allied health field? You can still do a lot of good in the world and alleviate suffering as a nurse, PA, NP, physical therapist, etc. Frankly your stats are really, really low for MD or even DO. In your shoes, I'd give it one more try with applying to the bottom of the barrel programs in the US, then consider a BS => RN or similar program. You could be done and making $30/hr+ in 2 years of coursework. After a couple years, you could move into a research nurse position or specialize in a medical subfield for more money and responsibility.

There are a lot of honorable and good professions to be found outside of being a doctor. Don't waste your entire life on something that probably isn't going to happen.
 
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Thanks -- I really don't know much about them, though I have met a few doctors who trained abroad. It sounds like you have some experience guiding people who have struggled, is it something you'd recommend?
Reccomend is a strong word. I say Carribean is a school of last resort. As others have said, it's very high risk, even though success stories do exist.

My old undergrad advisor used to say "When you can't live life not having gone to med school, then head to the Carribean".

Do your research. It's probably more efficient to do NP/PA/RN. But it's an option if you must get that MD and don't get into a DO school.

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Bloobury

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I seriously feel for you. I grew up poor and also had a family situation that caused a lot of instability throughout my young adult years. I did really well in high school but (for a number of reasons) really messed up my freshman year and had a sub 3.0 GPA that first year. It took a lot to recover from that - both in terms of GPA and my own confidence/mindset about what career options might be open to me. I'm fortunate that I found a career that was both attainable and fulfilling and gave me the opportunity to develop my skills and refine my interests while allowing me some financial stability (and that, in a roundabout way, lead me to apply to medical school this year).

I worry that you've fallen into the single-mindedness trap that's so common in premeds, only with the unfortunate outcome that you've not been able to pull it together for whatever variety of reasons both within and outside your control. That single-minded focus has possibly kept you from enjoying your life and pursuing your interests in ways that are both gratifying and enable you to find some degree of success.

It's worrisome that your tenacity hasn't produced the desired outcome and that you've kept trying without taking sufficient pause to figure things out and get sustainable. That could be a remnant of the poverty mindset where it's really hard to step back and see the bigger picture, as it sounds from your early application experiences where you just figured you could bootstrap your way through and ended up being heinously underprepared (I've been there). Med schools are looking for students who are adaptable and not afraid to ask for help, and unfortunately (at least in my experience), people who come from poverty are usually the worst at asking for help.

Ok sorry for writing a novel. As for advice, here are two angles to consider:

1) Financially, medical school isn't going to help you all that much, since you'll be taking on 200k more debt, and then you'll *really* be enslaved to the profession. That's one heck of a gamble to take, so I'd math out how much debt you'd have by the end of your training and how long it would take to pay off to see if makes any sense at all for you. In the meantime, work on getting your debt paid down. I paid off my 50K in undergrad loans over the last decade on a meager public health salary. It can be done.

2) From a values perspective, why do you want this? This is a tough one. I don't ascribe to the "medicine should be the only thing that will make you happy/fulfilled" perspective that you sometimes hear from folks. The road to burnout is paved with those folks' naive ambitions. If you're not already following your passions, it's possible that is coming through in your application. It probably looks to an ADCOM like you're just floating around willy-nilly trying to check boxes. Find something you love, and REALLY get into it. That's how you'll know you're on the right path. Therapy and a lot of introspection is the only thing that can help with this.

As far as your stats, you're not *terribly* far off the bottom 10th percentile on some MD programs and you're within range for DO, I think. It should be possible if you want to keep trying. Seriously though, and I can't stress this enough - DO WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD! Life is too short and brutal to waste time doing anything else.

I'm rooting for you, whatever you decide!
 
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Very surprised no one in this thread has mentioned podiatry as a possible Plan B.
 
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I think someone did, higher up. My email suggests this to me on the daily. :lol:😭:dead:
Ah yes...my mistake! Long day at work.
I have nothing against podiatry (it's my backup truthfully), but all my spam comes from New York...the one school I would avoid.
 
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DokterMom

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I seriously feel for you. I grew up poor and also had a family situation that caused a lot of instability throughout my young adult years. I did really well in high school but (for a number of reasons) really messed up my freshman year and had a sub 3.0 GPA that first year. It took a lot to recover from that - both in terms of GPA and my own confidence/mindset about what career options might be open to me. I'm fortunate that I found a career that was both attainable and fulfilling and gave me the opportunity to develop my skills and refine my interests while allowing me some financial stability (and that, in a roundabout way, lead me to apply to medical school this year).

I worry that you've fallen into the single-mindedness trap that's so common in premeds, only with the unfortunate outcome that you've not been able to pull it together for whatever variety of reasons both within and outside your control. That single-minded focus has possibly kept you from enjoying your life and pursuing your interests in ways that are both gratifying and enable you to find some degree of success.

It's worrisome that your tenacity hasn't produced the desired outcome and that you've kept trying without taking sufficient pause to figure things out and get sustainable. That could be a remnant of the poverty mindset where it's really hard to step back and see the bigger picture, as it sounds from your early application experiences where you just figured you could bootstrap your way through and ended up being heinously underprepared (I've been there). Med schools are looking for students who are adaptable and not afraid to ask for help, and unfortunately (at least in my experience), people who come from poverty are usually the worst at asking for help.

Ok sorry for writing a novel. As for advice, here are two angles to consider:

1) Financially, medical school isn't going to help you all that much, since you'll be taking on 200k more debt, and then you'll *really* be enslaved to the profession. That's one heck of a gamble to take, so I'd math out how much debt you'd have by the end of your training and how long it would take to pay off to see if makes any sense at all for you. In the meantime, work on getting your debt paid down. I paid off my 50K in undergrad loans over the last decade on a meager public health salary. It can be done.

2) From a values perspective, why do you want this? This is a tough one. I don't ascribe to the "medicine should be the only thing that will make you happy/fulfilled" perspective that you sometimes hear from folks. The road to burnout is paved with those folks' naive ambitions. If you're not already following your passions, it's possible that is coming through in your application. It probably looks to an ADCOM like you're just floating around willy-nilly trying to check boxes. Find something you love, and REALLY get into it. That's how you'll know you're on the right path. Therapy and a lot of introspection is the only thing that can help with this.

As far as your stats, you're not *terribly* far off the bottom 10th percentile on some MD programs and you're within range for DO, I think. It should be possible if you want to keep trying. Seriously though, and I can't stress this enough - DO WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD! Life is too short and brutal to waste time doing anything else.

I'm rooting for you, whatever you decide!

Very insightful post @Bloobury. Well done --
 
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Unfortunately I can't do anything about my "patchy and staccato" history, I didn't choose to be born into a low-income family :/
Found your problem. External locus of control homie. I'd love to see you succeed but the likely reason is in your writing, narrative, attitude, mindset, and personality. Read the book "Extreme Ownership." Reframe your narrative and communication styles. I personally don't think its the end of the road for you in terms of DO. But I think you must change all of the above and have some hard conversations with yourself. That is, if you want to be a doctor.
 
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Lemonlime98

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First of all, *hugs*. That's such a tough situation, and I'm sorry that you're going through this stress.
Financially, I'm not sure if med school is a good idea. 200k+ debt to add to the debt you already have. Not to mention you will not be making much as a resident. If you end up choosing to go into primary care, it will be difficult to pay off your loans. A lot of competitive specialties are difficult to go into from a DO school.
In the first sentence, you state that you are looking for encouragement. While I really do want to encourage you, as your dedication to medicine is admirable, encouraging others on a path that has a low likelihood for success is not a morally correct thing to do. You have been dealt a ****ty hand for sure. But after the subpar grades in the SMP and post-bac, you no longer have a good shot at med schools. Sometimes life is unfair, but it is what it is, and adcoms are not going to bend over backwords to emphasize with you. Because there are applicants who have similar circumstances as you and got that 4.0 on the post-bac, and there are limited spots.
I hope that this cycle will turn around for you, and if not, please consider career path without such an atrociously high barrier to entry.
 
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At this point i would go PA. Good money (you’re already 100s of thousands in debt and that will only worsen with med school), good work-life balance, ability to change specialties.
 
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That sounds like a solid plan in theory but I’m not sure it’s feasible either. The OP has to put the SMP and mcat attempts on CASPA, assuming he/she doesn’t try to cover it up, which makes it pretty obvious that pa school is only a backup plan. I don’t know that much about pa admissions but I do know that they despise people who use them as the fallback option and it’s actually quite competitive. That and the op will be faced with the same why medicine and probably why he/she took so long since most of the people who go into pa school want to get out quick. If the op answers they tried to get into med school for 20 years, the app will die then and there. That is if he/she got an interview. They also tend to value clinical hours compared to clinical research and while the OP supposedly has 2000 hours from scribing, the 10000+ hours from clinical research to me seems like a massive counterbalance. Yet another sign that the op’s heart isn’t into being a pa. Honestly at this point I’d go nursing because there’s less overlap. They won’t ask about the mcat and they’d probably be impressed by an smp. Therefore the op actually has a fighting chance.

Thanks for the input!
 
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Hey, thanks, I'll try to answer these as honestly as I can.
1. What are your core values and how are they reflected in your activities and volunteering?
I would say my core values are about an even split between helping people and making a difference in their lives directly, face to face; and intellectual stimulation, specifically reading papers, reasoning and talking about pathophysiology, and generally using science to think through mechanisms to accomplish the former. I think both are reflected in my employment history in clinical research where I recruit patients, take surveys, answer questions (that are within the scope of my role) and analyze data to guide future practice. A big influence was also my time taking care of my mom before she passed--learning about her disease from the internet and her HCPs and trying to get her enrolled in trials, as well as her unwavering confidence in me and my ability to become a doctor when I didn't even have confidence in myself early on was a big motivator for me to continue in medicine.

That direct contact is really important to me, which is why I have done scribing and volunteering in nursing homes and clinics the equivalent of nearly three years at full time -- while working my real full time jobs, sometimes multiple jobs! Something that maybe didn't come across that well is that I loved every single premed class as well, even the ones that kicked my butt! The reason I continue to take classes (under the pretense of doing a "DIY postbac") is I love thinking about that stuff and being pushed to read papers and constantly learn more.

2. Do you consider yourself teachable? As in are you able to learn from your mistakes? How is this reflected in your application?
Yes! I would say that whenever I have failed, I seriously examined what I was missing and made at least one (usually multiple) major change in my life in response to feedback from the previous cycle. For example, after my first "serious" application failed, I emailed every school for feedback and completely switched jobs to pursue a lab tech position, something I never done before and which was very hard for me, in addition to racking up a boatload of volunteer hours which were also lacking. When the next application failed, I took some time to strategize, sought out mentors, and identified an intermediate step (clinical research) that would put me on more solid financial footing and also help me do part of what I aspired to in the short time, though it took a ton of work and a few years for me to find a job in that area. And after that, I got a much better MCAT score, did a postbac where I got my highest GPA ever, not counting community college. And so on.

3. If you were an adcom and you saw someone with your exact stats and activities, would you want to give the applicant an accept?
Yes! If I were an adcom I would think that my profile, though nontrad, shows genuine commitment to becoming a doctor that might be hard to gauge in someone who had an easy path just coming out of college. I would be looking for proof that an applicant won't give up the first time she faces adversity--most people would have given up long before they got to where I am, and I think the fact that I haven't given up yet shows that I won't give up in medical school and won't give up when I'm in residency. I would also think that despite a rocky start in college, my recent record and especially my MCATs show that I'm capable of the work. You said "Can you go beyond simply saying this person has a lot of clinical hours, checked most of the boxes, is profoundly resilient, and has decent stats" - what's wrong with that?

4. Let's say you did, how exactly would you summarize to the dean or committee members why you feel this applicant is worth a spot? Can you go beyond simply saying this person has a lot of clinical hours, checked most of the boxes, is profoundly resilient, and has decent stats? I'd argue no because as far as I can tell, the only reason why I think you're interested in medicine is because you want the financial security. Why else would you pivot to medicine without any form of volunteering after you were laid off from your tech job?
I'm sorry but with all due respect, I think this question reflects you have not read my post carefully. Working towards being a doctor has been my passion since I was 18 (actually even in high school, but let's start with my adult life). I did not "pivot" to medicine after being laid off from my tech job, I got my tech job on the EXPLICIT ADVICE of an adcom after an unsuccessful cycle, and by then I already had maybe 1200 clinical volunteering hours and 200 shadowing hours. As I have written, it is about far more than financial security for me, it is about the joy of helping people with their medical problems, of my love of science and using my knowledge of science to improve people's quality of life, of being part of a clinical team and eventually taking on a leadership role. If anything, I have sacrificed financial security in order to pursue this dream--if I wanted financial security, I have had several managers at the non-medical jobs I worked offer to put me on the manager track, saying I am a "natural leader", as all the associates and customers loved me because I'd always give my 100%. I always politely turned them down, as I couldn't see myself happy doing anything else -- doesn't matter if I'm rich or if I'm paying off my loans until the day I die.
 
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