3.84/3.84, 37Q, Taking a Gap Year...

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doctorshateher

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Here's my stats:
Science GPA: 3.84
Total GPA: 3.84
Biology major, Chem and Public Health minors
PS:11
Writing: Q
VR: 11
BS: 15
(Is this too unbalanced for top-tier schools?)

Strong interest in family medicine.
I have research experience (no publications :/ ), international health education volunteer experience, shadowing, music and service ECs, Phi Beta Kappa and great letters of recommendation but I go to a very small liberal arts college that has a good reputation in-state (MI), but no one has heard of it outside MI.

I'm planning on taking a year off to do an EMT course and get better clinical experience, as well as to have more time to actually go to interviews (I don't have weekends free this fall).

Here are my potential schools:
Penn, Mayo, UMich, and UChicago or Northwestern (long-shots)
Emory, Boston U, Pittsburgh, Jefferson (realistic goals)
Wayne State, Michigan State, Loyola, (safeties...well, as much as any medical school can be a safety...)

I was wondering if this seemed like a reasonable list of schools and if anyone had any ideas of better/additional uses of my in-between year.

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You need clinical experience not just with US patients, which the EMT will provide, but also with US clinical environments, so some brief volunteering in a hospital, nursing home, clinic, or hospice will help if you don't get an ER job with the EMT. For formal physician shadowing, I'd suggest as a goal 60-80 hours split among three specialties, of which one is primary care.

Some regular, weekly nonmedical volunteerism with a cause you care about will help your application. Teaching and leadership activities also strengthen your application, as would artistic endeavors, sports, and hobbies.

If MCAT subscores are all in the double digits, it is sufficiently balanced.
 
Well, I've TAed for freshman biology lab for 3 years now, so that should cover the teaching, but I definitely will do some hospital/doctor's office shadowing and volunteering next year. Thanks for the advice!

In terms of artistic endeavors/sports, I've been doing marching band through college and will be marching competitive drum corps next summer. Now the debate as to whether or not that is a sport is a debate for another forum somewhere else, but studies have shown that competitive drum corps requires the same physical fitness as running a marathon. My question is this: should I talk about this in my application? My academic advisor suggested that I didn't, because he said it sounded unfocused on medicine, but I thought that admissions committees liked to see people with passions outside of medicine/science, as long as it didn't negatively affect grades, etc.
 
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Well, I've TAed for freshman biology lab for 3 years now, so that should cover the teaching, but I definitely will do some hospital/doctor's office shadowing and volunteering next year. Thanks for the advice!

In terms of artistic endeavors/sports, I've been doing marching band through college and will be marching competitive drum corps next summer. Now the debate as to whether or not that is a sport is a debate for another forum somewhere else, but studies have shown that competitive drum corps requires the same physical fitness as running a marathon. My question is this: should I talk about this in my application? My academic advisor suggested that I didn't, because he said it sounded unfocused on medicine, but I thought that admissions committees liked to see people with passions outside of medicine/science, as long as it didn't negatively affect grades, etc.

You should absolutely talk about all your activities in your application. You essentially get 15 spots on the AMCAS activities list and I suggest that you fill them all up if you have the activities to fill them with. Obviously you should have medical oriented activities but adcoms really do like applicants with a variety of different interests too. Personally, my ECs were one of the strong points in my application (a cappella, guitar, ballroom dancing, basketball, volunteering and tutoring kids).

So are you going to be applying during this cycle (2010-2011)? And how much clinical and research experience do you have right now? You have very good numbers but some of your top choices are the research power houses and like to see a good amount of research. And obviously getting that clinical experience is very important also.
 
I would definitely talk about drum corps! I am for sure putting my experiences in music on my application because I've been involved in it for so long but I'm in pit so the level of physical fitness definitely isn't there :p
 
I have a summer of research at Wayne State doing pharmaceutics, developing nanoparticle formulation protocol for drug delivery of asthma and emphysema drugs. Unfortunately, I just developed the protocol for a very long-term study that probably wont be published for another 2 years.
I also am currently doing research on turtle color change, using histological tail samples do determine the change in melanization and color of turtles in black and white/hot and cold environment. Not exactly medically related, but research nonetheless I guess. This might get published, but again, it's part of a very long term study that will take at least another year to complete.

I was going to apply this cycle, as I am going into my senior year, but I decided to take a year off in order to strengthen my clinicals and because I have no free weekends for interviews in the fall. I also need more time to perfect my PS and want to get my AMCAS in very early next year.
 
I have a summer of research at Wayne State doing pharmaceutics, developing nanoparticle formulation protocol for drug delivery of asthma and emphysema drugs. Unfortunately, I just developed the protocol for a very long-term study that probably wont be published for another 2 years.
I also am currently doing research on turtle color change, using histological tail samples do determine the change in melanization and color of turtles in black and white/hot and cold environment. Not exactly medically related, but research nonetheless I guess. This might get published, but again, it's part of a very long term study that will take at least another year to complete.

I was going to apply this cycle, as I am going into my senior year, but I decided to take a year off in order to strengthen my clinicals and because I have no free weekends for interviews in the fall. I also need more time to perfect my PS and want to get my AMCAS in very early next year.

Ok that's pretty good. I would definitely continue to do the research (hell I did 2 years of evolutionary biology research on reptile speciation patterns in Madagascar and finished a thesis on that) and fill in the clinical experiences that you need (shadowing, clinical volunteering, etc). And since you are not applying this year, you really do get an opportunity (with plenty of time) to strengthen your application and fill in any weak points that you have. You have really good numbers and filling those gaps will really help you go a long way.

I also took a year off and did research at the NIH which you may be interested in possibly doing in that gap year also. It let me get all my senior year grades and activities in while also adding a huge research component to my application. When I was interviewing at many of my schools, there was definitely a large number of people who took time off (TFA, Americorps, peace corps, research, traveling, working in 3rd world countries) so I think that it's a great idea. Definitely think about what you want to do and apply to in your gap year (at least once your senior year starts to get rolling) because you can really add another great element to your application that applicants applying straight from college usually won't have.
 
I've been doing marching band through college and will be marching competitive drum corps next summer.

My question is this: should I talk about this in my application? My academic advisor suggested that I didn't, because he said it sounded unfocused on medicine, but I thought that admissions committees liked to see people with passions outside of medicine/science, as long as it didn't negatively affect grades, etc.
IMPO, marching band is an artistic endeavor. I think there are aspects of your involvement directly transferable to medicine: teamwork, dedication, endurance, and even the altuistic component of giving so much time to practices instead of leisure time activities, supporting your school, and rising above your own self interest to create something great.

I agree with the others. Definitely include your marching band experience.
 
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