MD & DO A bit about myself, and my plan of action. Feedback greatly and humbly appreciated.

Sep 18, 2015
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Pre-Medical
Hello everyone. I have been reading a bit through various forums regarding Medical School, so I thought that I would register and learn as much as possible about how I should go about my dream of becoming a Physician. This thread will serve as my introduction and hopefully a place where I can get a bit of feedback.

About me:

I am a 26 year old full time EMT-Basic for a rural northern California 911 Ambulance service. I have no children, but a serious girlfriend. I recently graduated Paramedic school didactic, and am five internship shifts (24 hour rotations) away from receiving my letter of completion, and taking the National Registry Paramedic exam. I have been an EMT-B for a little more than two years, and worked full time (~80 hours per week) during Paramedic school. I received an A- each of the two semesters of the program, but I feel I could have done much better with fewer hours at work. As of now, if I do say so myself, I am excelling in my internship. I have had a heaping handful of critical calls (OD's, Codes, Etc), and am not a squeamish, timid, or emotionally attached person. Quite the contrary, I am FASCINATED by emergency medicine and generally very cool and calm.

My educational background isn't particularly expansive. At this point, I have completed around 60 semester units at my local community college with a cumulative GPA of ~3.7. It would be higher, but I took a few classes when I was younger and less motivated and got two C's (Photography and Cultural Anthropology). The rest of my transcript is full of A's, a few A-'s and a couple B's, not a single D or F. I tend to be a very good student when I put my mind to it. At this point, I have a bit of general ed to finish, and a handful of core courses between me and my AA. I don't have very many science classes as of now, but that will soon be different. Sadly, a good handful of my credits are proprietary and will not transfer. My plan currently is to finish as much coursework at my CC as I can (while closely working with an advisor) and transfer to a University for Pre-Med. I plan to continue working as a Medic (once licensed) part time during undergrad, and volunteer as much as possible in a medical setting yet to be determined. Maybe even just volunteer as a medic somewhere.
I know many physicians, both D.O. and M.D., and am absolutely sure I can secure numerous letters of reference for admission when the time comes. I lived with a friend who is a practicing M.D. and has Multiple Sclerosis (advanced secondarily progressive, functionally quadriplegic) for two years as his in-home care aid, and picked his brain on a daily basis. I personally took him to San Diego and stayed with him while he received angioplasty for CCSVI (chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency), twice. I learned a lot from him and am still very much in contact. He is a very inspiring person and a big reason why I want to be a Physician.

So why do I want to go to Medical School? When I started working on the Ambulance, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was thrown in hard and fast as an Ambulance driver in a busy rural system with a huge call diversity. I was taught the ways of street medicine by seasoned Medics and EMT's as I was putting myself through EMT school, and somewhere in the chaos, in the trash littered and blood soaked patient compartment, I fell in love with medicine. Emergency medicine was the first place where I felt I truly belonged, where I could escape from the monotony of the daily grind and make something of myself. A place where I could learn, work, help the sick and injured, and be somebody that I liked to be. I held many positions before EMS, but none as fulfilling and meaningful. I was not a very productive youth, and whittled away a lot of time on fruitless endeavors (it is worth mentioning that I have zero criminal record, for the record). EMS changed that. While attending Paramedic school, I learned that I absolutely loved challenging medical coursework and strived to learn as much as possible, for my benefit, and that of my patients. I see myself continuing my medical education and maintaining a steady upward trajectory. For many, Paramedicine is a career, and while I enjoy EMS very much, I see myself reaching for the sky and continuing on down the road of medicine.

I want to be a Physician because it is the only career path that I am completely and utterly interested in. I do not see myself doing anything else. My interest is entirely intrinsic. I have no delusions of grandeur or finance, but want to do it PURELY because it is what I want to do. I want to see patients, talk to them, and do my best to improve their lives through communication and investigation, using reason and cognitive athleticism to solve the formula of their pathology and treat their affliction. I do not feel other paths in medicine are a fit for me, as I very much enjoy a degree of autonomy and want to be the chief problem-solver. I researched a possible career as a Physician Assistant due to my age, but I truly feel that if I am going to go to school for two years after undergrad to work under a Physician, I might as well go for four (plus residency) and BE one. It goes without saying that I will be gunning for a career as an Emergency Physician, but I would not snub my nose at any other specialty should it spark my interest, or if I was unable to match to my preferred residency.

I know that the road will be a grueling, challenging, and humbling experience, but that's part of the fun for me. I want to become a lifelong learner in a world of ever changing knowledge. For me, it does not matter what the future letters after my name are, whether they be M.D. or D.O., not one bit. What matters to me is that I get there, become a Physician, and achieve my goal of being a real Doctor. I would be the first in my family.

I appreciate each and every one of you who reads this thread and gives any advice on how to get there, even if it is merely a word of encouragement. Anything helps, from recommended reading, coursework, volunteering ideas, to majors in undergrad (currently somewhat close to an AA in behavioral and social sciences) and general advice. I also would be very interested to hear how Medical School admission boards look upon EMS experience, from your subjective point of view, or objective experiences. Please feel free to fire freely.

Thank you for reading!

"Jack"

MODS: Please feel free to move this thread if this is not the best place for it.
 
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Goro

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Can you ask the questions you'd like answered without us having to read the novella?
 
OP
J
Sep 18, 2015
3
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Status
Pre-Medical
Sorry for the late reply. Things have been busy. I guess I did go on a tangent there and didn't ask any concrete questions. I was mostly looking for general advice.

Here are a few questions I would love answered by those of you who have experience with the application process.

1. For someone like myself who doesn't yet have a bachelors, do you think it would be smarter to knock out a lot at a CC and try to transfer to a U, or just apply to a U as a first year and start fresh? The nearest U to me is 80 miles away (Humboldt State University) and is known for absolutely excellent, but brutally rigorous science programs. They don't have a specifically designated Pre-Med program but offer all of the average prerequisites for most Med schools.
2. What kind of volunteer work would you recommend for someone with medical experience (EMS), and how many hours are generally satisfactory? I have seen people say that they had 100-200 hours of volunteer work and did fine. I feel like I could put it a lot more time than that comfortably.
3. Is it likely that admission boards would view experience as a Paramedic favorably?
4. For non traditional (older) students, have you found that admission boards look favorably upon students with life experience? Is there a difference in this regard between most M.D. or D.O. schools? I am 26 now and would be 30-ish when applying to med school.
5. How many letters of reference from Physicians are helpful for admission? I know six Physicians (both allo and osteo) very well who I have interacted with directly on a professional or personal level and I am 100% confident that I could get a positive letter of reference from each of them.
6. What advice would you give to an aspiring medical student pertaining to the application process that you wished someone gave to you?

I appreciate any info. Sorry for the long initial post. I was feeling particularly motivated and pensive when I wrote that.
 

gyngyn

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Nov 4, 2011
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1. HSU is fine
2. Do what means something to you.
3. Sure.
4. We all appreciate maturity (when it comes along with everything else we are looking for!).
5. Physician letters are fluff to us. DO schools love a DO letter.
6. Don't waste time and $ applying to places that won't look at your application.
 
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OP
J
Sep 18, 2015
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Pre-Medical
Thank you for your reply gyngyn! I definitely am not worried about getting in to prestigious schools, just getting in in general. I doubt I would even apply to somewhere I had less than a good chance of getting in to. If I end up being admitted to a decent school, then I am completely happy. I also am completely fine going D.O., I want the job and don't really care about what letters are embroidered on my white coat.

I will put some footwork in and do my best to learn about the process without being spoon fed. I plan to start classes again full time in the spring. I'll be finishing up everything for Paramedic licensure by mid October. I hope working as a Medic for a few years while I knock out the reqs for MS will help a little at least. I would have gone full on Pre-med when I was younger, but I didn't really know what I wanted to do until somewhat recently. I know now that I want to be a doc more than anything else by a long shot.