Nov 2, 2010
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I have a long and sort of meandering academic history...

I got an BS in Biochemistry from a state university in 2006. I graduated with a pretty decent (3.6+) GPA, although I started out at a community college and took more than 4 years to complete the degree. It was my intention at the time to go to grad school, but I didn't enjoy my undergraduate research experiences (3 semesters in a Drosophila lab) at all, and took some time out to reconsider. I worked as a self-employed math and science tutor for a couple of years, and also put in some time substitute teaching in the public high schools, including a couple of longer-term jobs.

I have always been attracted to medicine (for the usual helping-people reasons, won't elaborate since this is already a novel:p), and I decided to do a second degree BSN program and go the RN->ARNP route. However, halfway through my nursing studies I had to take a leave of absence for personal reasons. I'm now looking at returning next spring to finish the program, but in the interim I've begun to feel I made a mistake. I love basic science, and I'm not sure I'll really be satisfied as a mid-level practitioner.

My prereqs were all completed in my first degree, and with solid grades.I have some kind of standardized-test-taking superpower, so I think I can start serious studying early next year and reasonably expect to own the MCAT in April. Since I've been tutoring and teaching all this time the material is still pretty fresh.

Questions:
1. Is it realistic to look forward to applying next year? I will be concentrating on state schools as a FL resident.

2. What are the potential weaknesses in my application, and how best can I address them? I know that shadowing and non-clinical volunteering are priorities right now (and just plain good ideas even apart from the application process).

3. LORs: I know that I have one science professor from back in my biochem days who would certainly remember me and should be able to write a good LOR. Would it be a good idea to take another upper-level bio or chem course just for the LOR? Would a reference from my teaching work be better? Will a nursing instructor be a reasonable choice to write a non-science LOR?

4. Will working as a patient care tech in a hospital help me out a lot? My thought is that between applying, volunteering, and acing my remaining nursing requirements, I'll be pretty busy. Tutoring is more flexible and pays much better per hour than tech work. Should I consider applying for tech jobs anyway?

Thanks so much for your patience and advice!
 

badb100d

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Hi Molyb! It's awesome that you've got your pre-reqs completed with your BS in biochem already. My advice (and others may disagree) would be to finish your nursing coursework as planned and spend a year working as a nurse. Then apply to med school the following year, so 2012 for 2013 entering class. I know we are all eager and in a rush, but in the long run the extra year won't matter except that it will give you a chance to put your best app forward. In my opinion working as a nurse will serve two main purposes for you 1) you'll get amazing clinical experience and 2) it will allow you to truly flesh out your narrative with regard to why you are making the switch. I tend to think adcoms will find it much more believable when you've already had experience with nursing, otherwise you may come off as simply indecisive. Also, it kind of reduces the need for shadowing since you'll have so much exposure already.

Quick question, is your program a combined bachelor's/master's or is it just a BSN and you were planning on master's later on? Either way, if medicine is what you really want I would not go past the BSN at this point.

As for LOR's you should see if your undergrad institution has a pre-med committee, they might be willing to write a letter for you. Then you won't have to worry as much about getting specific LOR's. Some schools want two science faculty LOR's so you should inquire with the schools you are interested in. If that's going to be an issue you may need to do another science course. As for non-science LOR's any of the ones you mentioned would be fine. I would be cautious about asking a nursing instructor though, sadly not all are too keen on nurses wanting to switch to medicine. Be sure they support you on this first.

If you do the year of work as a nurse I would not bother with the patient care tech position, besides it looks like you've got your plate full with other things. Good luck! :luck:
 
OP
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Nov 2, 2010
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Other Health Professions Student
Thanks for your reply, Badb1ood! It's just an accelerated second-degree BSN program, and I had intended to work as a nurse before/during going back for my master's.

I can see the advantages of waiting another year to apply from a personal point of view also; I'd be able to sock away more savings, take time to get married, etc. But I guess I feel like the clock is ticking... if I wait another year I'll be 30 when I matriculate, which isn't old, but sure feels that way from here.;)

If people think my chances are not good without a year of experience under my belt, I'll certainly wait, but if I could get in... well, why not? I would've posted on WAMC, but without an MCAT I feel like it's kind of a waste of people's time.

I guess for now I'll prepare as if I were applying next year (still take the MCAT in spring, shadow, etc). I don't know what I'll decide, but it won't hurt anything either way.

Thanks again!
 

badb100d

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Lol, don't worry, I know where you are coming from, I'm practically in the same boat as you, just a little further along. I honestly don't know if your chances will be better with the nursing experience under your belt, it's just a hunch based on my own experiences and other things I've read on SDN. I think your plan to take the MCAT and get started with extracurriculars is good. Perhaps what you could do is see where your MCAT is, if it's good then apply to a smaller number of schools next year and you can add more if you are getting lots of love from them. If worse comes to worse and you need to reapply then you will only be a reapplicant at a small group of schools. Maybe you can even do nursing during your glide year, though it would be hard to interview. Whatever you choose, best of luck to you.
 

agilitydogRN

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I would agree, finish up and work as a nurse for a year. Kill your MCATS, and you should do fine at Florida schools. I also have a BS in Biochem, and went back for a nursing degree. I have been working as a nurse for a while (2+ years), but have gotten quite a bit of attention from florida schools (Im a FL resident as well). I have had nothing but positive responses about my having spent time as a nurse, and I can tell you that it makes for great clinical experience. If you can, get a job in a fairly high acuity unit (CVICU, CCU, ICU) as you will get lots of great clinical experience there, and you get to know the doctors really well (think LORs). Good luck with your journey!!
 

StudyShy

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I would agree. Kill that MCAT and flesh out your story. Working as a nurse will be excellent experience. Try to get into an acute care area if possible.
 

CougarMD

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I agree with all of the above posters! It seems like the main thing that adcoms are concerned about is that you are either a degree jumper or a degree collector. If you complete what you are doing, spend a year working, and THEN apply, it shows that you really do know what you are doing in making the switch. If you prematurely apply they will be concerned that you will get halfway through medical school and have the same regrets.

In both interviews and your PS, this will be the main topic of conversation, and the idea that you will be better able to "flesh out" your narrative is perfect.

Like a lot of people on this board, I am a career changer, and I was actually surprised that I didn't get too much flack for it during interviews. But that was because I have 6 (almost 7) years between my other advanced degree and my application, and a ton of experience in between. The more evidence you can give them that you are carefully weighing your career options and show experiences to back this up, the stronger your application will be.

It sounds like you will do great as long as you do ok on the MCAT! Good luck!!