Dismiss Notice

Interview Feedback: Visit Interview Feedback to view and submit interview information.

Interviewing Masterclass: Free masterclass on interviewing from SDN and Medical College of Georgia

Advice and is it too late?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by MissedMyCalling, Dec 6, 2008.

  1. MissedMyCalling

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2008
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just found this forum and would appreciate any feedback. I've been struggling with my direction in life for some time now. I graduated from college in the late 90's with a 3.5 GPA and degree in cell and molecular biology. I took the MCAT and got a 33 and applied to med/phd dual programs but did not take it seriously (I went skiing for a year after school) and interviewed without success at two programs. I ended up at a high caliber graduate medical research university in a PhD program. I got straight A's there but left after 2 years to start a company that I ran for three years before selling. I then went to a top-notch MBA program at age 28. After business school I went into investing and now work at a top private equity firm. My current job has little do to with science or medicine and not a day goes by that I don't regret not going to medical school and becoming a physician as I had always envisioned.

    Now that I am approaching my mid-30's and reflecting back on my path I find myself hoping it is not too late.

    So, here are my questions:

    1. I assume all the pre-reqs I have taken in getting my BS are still valid?
    2. It seems the MCAT score was only valid for 3 years so I will need to retake it - any advice for someone in my position as far as prep?
    3. Do I have a chance at all?
    4. Any other advice?

    Many thanks.
     
  2. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Messages:
    7,509
    Likes Received:
    2,599
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    A small number of schools expire prereqs. Your best bet would be to take some fresh upper div undergrad science (micro, physio, immuno, genetics, biochem) to make it clear your brain didn't turn to mush.
    Some people swear by prep courses like Kaplan; others think they're a waste of time. Personally I'd set a goal of 35+, and plan on prepping 6 months on a rigorous part time schedule. And personally I'd do Kaplan, maybe the online version so you can control your schedule. Plan on doing a lot of sucking it up, because this part won't be fun.
    Hell yes. With a lower GPA I'd be less enthusiastic for you. Don't worry too much about bailing on your PhD program, just believe in your own reasons. We were all young once, even adcoms.
    1. Start working on collecting letters of recommendation NOW. Taking some more undergrad courses will help with this, but old profs are fine for a couple letters.
    2. Start working on your personal statement NOW. What's your story? Why do YOU believe you'd be a good doctor? Why do YOU believe you should be picked over other applicants? You have to believe in the product or you can't sell it.
    3. You can still apply MD/PhD, but you will want to revisit your reasons for wanting to.
    4. Get your butt in a hospital or clinic and start clocking volunteer hours. Push stretchers, roll bandages, escort families - we all have to do it.
    5. Maybe think about using a consultant, such as Judy Colwell.
    6. Get Iserson's Guide to Getting into Medical School and actually read it.
    7. Don't believe what you see on SDN until you see it from two sources who are usually rational.

    Best of luck to you.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  3. PB2464

    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    Messages:
    121
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I graduated with a degree in Biology about 8 years ago and always planned on going to medical school. Well, I got a little side-tracked and even applied to b-school about a year ago at the age of 29. It was during my b-school interview that I had an epiphany and realized that becoming a physician is what I always wanted. I ended up withdrawing all my b-school apps. I'm SO glad I made that decision.
    Anyway, I decided to refresh all of my prereqs (to refresh my knowledge and raise a couple grades) and I will be taking the MCAT and applying this May.
    I think you have an excellent chance.
     
  4. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
    Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Account 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2004
    Messages:
    18,895
    Likes Received:
    4,111
    Status:
    Fellow [Any Field], Attending Physician
    You are clearly a very intelligent person who can accomplish a lot when you put your mind to it. It is impressive that you started a company and were successful enough that you could sell it a few years later. Your previous GPA and MCAT were both reasonably competitive for most med schools (although yes, you will definitely need to retake the MCAT). I think the major concern a lot of adcoms would have about you is that you have a past of jumping around from venture to venture, never spending more than a couple of years in one place. This is not a reservation that is necessarily insurmountable; you will just have to give some thought to how you can convince an adcom that you don't plan to bail on med school a year or two after you get there. Med school admissions works the opposite of grad school admissions: it is very hard to get into med school, and then almost everyone completes the degree as well as a residency afterward. Are you ready to commit to 7+ years of training? Also, since you have been so phenomenally successful as a businessman, adcoms would want to know why you want to give that up to go to med school so badly. They would want to see evidence that you have researched your decision to change careers thoroughly.

    Have you done any shadowing or gotten other recent clinical experience? That is the best place for you to start in terms of building up a record of clinical exposure and a convincing case for why you are now ready for med school. You might also consider registering for one or two upper level science courses next semester, like DrMidlife suggested. It's probably not necessary for you to repeat the pre-reqs if you've already done them all, but a few schools may require this, so check with each school where you plan to apply. Even if no courses are required of you, it's still a good idea to take some additional science coursework; things have changed a lot in biology since we were in college! Consider courses like genetics, molecular biology, microbiology, immunology, neurobiology, biochemistry, or physiology. Psychology or anatomy might be good choices too if you've never taken them. For the MCAT, scroll up to the MCAT forum and subforum on SDN, and you will find loads of prep advice. You have obviously had experience in finding a prep method that works well for you, but the MCAT has also changed quite a bit since you last took it. You will want to learn about the format of the new test and make sure you are well prepared.

    If you haven't already, check out the sticky at the top of this forum. There are links to a variety of threads that you may find useful, including a thread for businesspeople who now want to go to med school. The best general advice I can give you is that what you want to do has already been done successfully by many others. So learn what you can from their mistakes and successes, and don't assume that you need to reinvent the wheel. Best of luck. :)
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  5. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
    Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2001
    Messages:
    9,050
    Likes Received:
    140
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    First of all, check with the schools that you anticipate applying to so that you can see if you need to re-take any coursework.Most schools don't care but some do and you need to know that up front. Since you have been away from academia for a while, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to take a course or two that could get you up to speed. Even as an attending physician, I would not want to jump back into a medical school curriculum having been away from that level of coursework for years.

    In terms of chances, everyone has a chance. Are you a "shoo-in"? In a word, no you are not. You have some explaining to do and you have to convince a school that you are not on another one of your "whims" and that you have a bit of maturity. Age and maturity are not the same thing so you want to have something in your LORs that would indicate that you are not on another tangent.

    The dropout and non-finishes would be worrisome to me if I were reviewing your application and thus make sure that you have something recent that indicates your dedication to this pathway that is convincing. With the economy bad, many folks who were previously in "business" are looking at health care as a "sure thing". Make sure that you have an answer for why you are switching gears.

    Get your prep in order in terms of the schools that you anticipate applying to and see what you actually need to do. An e-mail or two would be your starting point. After you know what you need to do in terms of getting your self ready for application, get the work done.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  6. Terpskins99

    Terpskins99 Fear... The Stig
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Messages:
    3,435
    Likes Received:
    7
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    1. Yes, they are. And I personally don't recommend re-taking any classes (what would be the point?). Despite what some people are suggesting, things have NOT changed significantly with regard to curriculum of general biology/general chemistry/organic chemistry/biochemistry in the past 10-15 years.
    Instead, I highly recommend looking into a post-bacc medical program such as Boston University's Graduate Medical Sciences or Georgetown's Special Masters. There is a whole thread discussing these programs. You're a perfect candidate for them. :thumbup:

    2. Take a review course. Kaplan and Princeton Review are two of the most popular ones out there.

    3. Of course.

    4. Keep the faith! Almost every medical school class in the country has a few non-traditional students, so you're hardly alone. Good luck!
     
  7. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call"
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2003
    Messages:
    1,639
    Likes Received:
    11
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I agree with everyone above, in general, but...

    You would have a hard time convincing me that you are a good fit for medicine in the long term. You will certainly get in somewhere, but what you should be asking is, after I get in, then what? The mechanics of getting in to med school are much less important than the question of where you are going.

    You clearly have a lot of talents, ability to succeed, and sound like you want to do everything. Medicine is a lot more boring than it sounds. Med school is a four-year grind of minimal responsibility and minimal ability to do anything exciting. Residency is a long haul. By the time you get to be in charge of the exciting trauma, surgery, or whatever turns you on, you have gone through at least 7 years of lots of boring crap. Simply put, I don't think it's going to meet your needs for adrenaline and short-term rewards.

    If you are a successful business person, the logistical challenges and inefficiency of the medical system are going to drive you bananas. I could see you ending up in a high-income, private practice model in something like plastics, but I don't get the "missed my calling" feel from your post. You went skiing for a year, which doesn't exactly convey burning desire to help others. Words like "top", "top-notch", and "high caliber" don't convey to me that you are aching to work with the poor and underserved, for example; if you were, you'd already be involved in health care or volunteer service on some level. Take those talents and put them to use in the field that you say you want to work in.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  8. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Messages:
    7,509
    Likes Received:
    2,599
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    I completely disagree with this suggestion. SMPs (special masters programs, or medical masters) are designed for folks who need to improve their credentials for application to med school. These programs are expensive, grueling, and risky. If you do poorly in such a program, you are out maybe $50k with nothing to show for it. With a 3.5 GPA, and a 33 MCAT in the bag, what credentials need improving here?

    There's an entire forum for SMPs and postbacs, not just a thread.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  9. Scottish Chap

    Physician PhD Moderator Emeritus 15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2003
    Messages:
    1,630
    Likes Received:
    56
    You've received some great advice here from other nontrads, so I'll try not to repeat anything.

    Basically, your huge past success tells me what you probably already know; you're definitely able to secure a strong MCAT score and you'll be presentable to the Admissions Committee at several medical schools.

    However, based on what you've posted and, based on your past track record, I really don't get the sense that a medical career is something other than an item on a 'to do' list. Think really hard before you commit to this. My own medical school now receives 100% more applications than they did when I applied four years ago and, inevitably, many people who are amazing on paper get axed at the interview if there is a hint of anything lukewarm in any part of the application.

    As others have pointed out, this is a LONG haul, and medical school is merely the beginning of years of hazing, fatigue, and low pay before you make it out. The journey should always be as important at the goal, but this is one journey that will take more out of you than you realize right now, and many people end up regretting their decision. If I could do it all over again, I absolutely would, but it's a lot different from what I expected, and it's very expensive.

    Again, as others have pointed out, securing *meaningful* voluntary or paid work with physicians should be the next step before you even think about taking the MCAT and applying. If the interest is still there, go for it. Ultimately, you'll make your own decision, and you'll have to live with it. Good luck!
     
  10. gman33

    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2007
    Messages:
    2,188
    Likes Received:
    493
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    It's never too late; just be prepared for a lot of work.
    Get all your transcripts and figure out your exact overall and BPCM gpa.

    The grad coursework won't mean that much, but you will have to explain dropping out of the PhD program.

    3.5 is a little on the low side these days. I'm guessing your science gpa was about the same, but if it's much lower, you may need to take some more classes.

    Post some exact numbers when you get your transcripts and you can get some more directed advice about applying.
     
  11. aunt ethel

    2+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 31, 2007
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    2
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I also graduated in the "late 90's" and none of the schools I applied to had a problem with my old classes, but definitely double-check once you've decided where to apply. Also, I did retake a few classes to refresh my brain, and contrary to another post here, I found some of the biology to be pretty different (they were just starting to sequence the human genome when I was in college...now there's all sorts of genetic information and technologies available)

    You definitely have a chance. Talk to some advisors, and talk to the admissions office at a school (or two) that you like and might want to attend. The admissions offices that I've spoken with were all very helpful and open.

    And this is my favorite advice:

    :)
     
  12. Terpskins99

    Terpskins99 Fear... The Stig
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Messages:
    3,435
    Likes Received:
    7
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    Umm, hate to break it to you but SMP programs are also designed to help those folks that have been separated from college by a few years (in addition to those that want to improve upon undergraduate or MCAT performances). The SMP programs are grueling only in the sense that they emulate what a year in medical school will be like. If you are afraid of that, then you might want to second guess attending medical school in the first place.

    Regardless of what happens, you WILL have something to walk away from it... a master's degree.

    In any case, of course I think the OP should apply to medical school now if he feels he's ready. But frankly, he's a borderline candidate for a number of allopathic programs. And some schools may be a little concerned about how many years removed he is from undergrad... hence the usefulness of an SMP!
     
  13. dragonfly99

    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2008
    Messages:
    5,092
    Likes Received:
    47
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    agree with Qofquimica
    njb
    and meowmix.

    My main concern is not you getting in vs. not. I think you can get in...it might take you a year or two, but you can get in somewhere. My concern is that you are an obviously savvy businessperson who is smart and entrepreneurial. You need to make sure that medicine is what you want and that it won't make you miserable. There is not a lot of coloring outside the lines in medicine, at least while you are a trainee. And you WILL have to be a trainee for 7 years minimum. I would worry that you'll get fed up with med school and/or residency and quit at some point, not because you can't do it but because you won't like people ordering you around all day, taking a bunch of tests (some of which are kind of meaningless, learningwise) and doing "scut work"/busy work because someone above you in the hierarchy tells you to.

    Medicine just is not a field that is kind to people who like to color outside the lines. I'm wondering if you couldn't do more for our medical system by working in medical administration or a medical device company, etc. I'm not downing you in any way and I do think you can get in med school if you want, but I'm not sure you'll like being a doctor. The truth is a lot of it becomes mundane and repetitive...the hard part in clinical medicine is more dealing with the inevitable uncertainty and gray areas and the explaining that to patients and their families. Well, I guess that is for internal medicine, which is what I do, but I think it applies to a lot of other fields too. There isn't really as much creativity as you would think (unless you go the bench research route...). Success depends more on being able to do an adequate/good job repetitively...EVERY TIME...and then dealing with paperwork other people like hospital staff and patients and their families.

    I don't think you're necessarily going to listen to me, though. Really nobody can tell you to do this vs. not. Only you can make that decision. I think you need to have some real conversations with practicing docs before you decide you definitely want to do this. I think you'll need to be doing some medical volunteer work to get in the door as well...stats/numbers alone won't get you in.

    I don't think you need to do an SMP at all. Taking a couple of upper level biology courses should cover it. I wouldn't waste the money on an SMP.
     
  14. NPEMTIV

    NPEMTIV Accidentally Accepted
    Moderator Emeritus SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Messages:
    708
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Fellow [Any Field]
    Ditto :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup: Good advice.
     

Share This Page