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Advice and Support for a Struggling Undergrad?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by missdoomngloom, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. missdoomngloom


    Nov 29, 2017
    Hello all,
    I am currently a 4th year undergrad going for a BSCS and taking EMT classes on the side. My GPA isn't great (2.9 ish) and I have a decent amount of withdraws on my record. I've switched majors twice and therefore have another 2 years or so before earning the bachelors. I've been wrestling PTSD, MDD and ADD during my school career, and would have done much better this semester if not for a boyfriend who was completely unsupportive and jobless.
    Medicine is more than a passion for me, it's an obsession. I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. As such, I need some advice and help building a plan.
    My current plan is to attempt to finish the computer science degree, and as I have room for an EMT-B and EMT-I in my coursework I'll complete those. After earning my BSCS my plan is to take the 1 year paramedic course. From there the path is uncertain. Should I work for a few years and try after that? Should I go for a masters degree (probably an MPH)? Will any of that actually help?
    I just need to know that it's possible for a struggling student to pick themselves up and get to an MD.
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  3. missdoomngloom


    Nov 29, 2017
    Ah, it also stands to mention that I have been working 42-46 hours per week in a local ER in addition to school, so I have no lack of willingness to put work in. The issue I ended up running into was lack of time, so the plan is to take a reduced course load during the CSBS while I work.
  4. cjohns89

    cjohns89 I'm an EMT, which means I've basically peaked

    May 24, 2016
    Cockeysville, MD
    Anything is possible, and in this journey, you're going to get a lot of negativity; take it in stride and hold its lessons close.

    The AAMC has statistics stating the relationships of both MCATs and GPAs, together and separate, in terms of successful applicants. Ergo, ~10% of people with a GPA of 2.0 get in, period. That said, something like that made up fact, are made of averages and stats, which can fluctuate based on an individual. Look at my past replies to see what successful applicants have. You should raise the GPA though (which you will). You need to do well on the MCAT.

    Your mental health is important, and should be held in check. I'm not discrediting you, just what I see in the situation. You may have a good grasp on this, but just realize that mental health can be hurt going forward, especially the path to and practicing medicine. Also, in may not be my place, but an unsupportive significant other in this journey probably will hurt your chances. It's one thing to be distracted and not give attention to your other, but to flat out be unsupportive, I read that as being a hostile actor. Meaning, I read that as, "I took my test today!", with a harsh, cold response of, "woo." I have no idea about your relationship though; I may have it all wrong; something to think about.

    In my experience, EMT is fantastic if you learn from it. Never do anything to just check boxes off for applications. Regarding the paramedicine, I don't see the benefit unless it's something you want to do for a change of career for a little bit. Being an EMT, you can learn as much as a paramedic if you pick up things around you. For example, you can ask the medic why they did something and the reasoning behind it; that's a wonderful thing. I should also mention that in paramedicine, you should be wary of burnt-out scrooges. Like in all jobs, especially medicine, there are both great people, and venomous people; EMS has this philosophy down.

    Speaking to the MPH, it may be a lot of money, sanity, and time for a trivial amount of help. I default to the older, wiser beings on here.

    Have experiences and things that teach you about you as a person, as well as teach you about health, medicine, rigors of medicine, etc. Again, no check boxes.

    Your original question: Yes! You can do this. Put in work, and never let up until you're where you want to be.
    BerkReviewTeach likes this.
  5. futuremdforme

    futuremdforme 2+ Year Member

    May 12, 2013
    No comments on the path, but with serious mental health concerns, you have got to get that under control moving forward as there's no room for error anymore. That means dealing with the unsupportive, unemployed boyfriend. If you are ambitious enough to go to medical school, why would you spend your time with someone like that?
    cjohns89 likes this.
  6. missdoomngloom


    Nov 29, 2017
    The mental health thing is, always has been (at least for the past 8 years) and more than likely always will be an entity I have to struggle against. That being said I'm doing much better than I have in the past. Boyfriend issue has been taken care of, I told him I need to focus on school and don't have time for a relationship.
    I'm really not doing anything for check boxes, EMS sounds like a natural progression of the job I already like (ER scribe, so already dealing with grumpy old burnt out people, but love the atmosphere, people and work) and might just look good as a bonus. Same for an MPH, as I want to do pathology it may be helpful and a good way to spend my time if (possibly when) I don't get accepted to Med school first go. If I do get accepted to med school in the first couple tries I'm considering doing an MD/MPH program anyway.
    The plan either way is to keep applying until I get in, which I've been told by the doctors I work with is a good attitude to hold.
    With this additional information, thoughts? As far as I can tell I just need to keep going and get stellar grades from now on, which should be manageable. The days I feel like I'm not going to make it are just plaguing my mind lately.
    cjohns89 likes this.
  7. coppernickel


    Jul 13, 2016
    Chiming in because I think your plan has a few flaws I can see, because my whole family is traditionally CS majors/developers etc. and because I was an EMT for a year. I do agree that you have to find a way to live and do things well in spite of adversity though. Keep up the good work, keep working on these issues!

    So, the CS major is definitely a GPA killing major. I would expect adcoms to appreciate that, but that's if you get through the screen. So, you'd be wise to consider taking undergrad science classes either at your local cc or a postbac to boost your undergrad GPA. But aside from that, I think working 42-46 hours a week is not conducive to pulling off the all As you should probably aim to do right now (within reason! don't get too obsessive about this though!). You don't want your GPA to go down any lower. It has been very costly to bring mine up, and I think you'll save yourself some money in the future if you focused solely on your current grades. It's just the concept of opportunity cost. EMT classroom stuff is great, it's up to you to do it, but it will take time away from studying for your major-related classes. The class and the exams take time, because usually those classes are accelerated. So it'll eat up all your weekends or all your weekday evenings. I'd recommend doing it after you finish college while you're working fulltime.

    Last thing, I don't think I've heard of a EMT-I or paramedic program that just lets you proceed forward without EMT-B experience. Pretty sure that doesn't exist. For medic, some places require at least of one year 911 experience, others require more, others just won't let you register if they don't know of your skills. I recommend working as an EMT or doing ride alongs, whatever, and then see where it goes. I now work in the ER as a ER tech, been doing that for 2 years now, and honestly I just like being in the hospital and off the street. Too many weird things happen in the street, and I don't like those variables, but that is me. You may find that you love it, and you'll develop communication skills, teamwork etc. there. Or there's something out there that's a better environment for your personal development. Keep in mind that the end game is to be a doctor. Find what works for you. Realize that being a paramedic is its own career for so many awesome people, and it's not technically to be a stepping stone to MD/DO, so it will not cater to your vision or expectations.
  8. missdoomngloom


    Nov 29, 2017
    Paramedicine seemed more like a good option to do some work for a few years before med school. Given advice above I may stick with and EMT-I though. I'm taking a sort of recovery semester this spring to replace some poor grades and planning to do the EMT-B then, before course load moves to the 300-400 level computer science classes.
    It's really not my intention to use EMS as a stepping stone, but as a brief (couple year) career between undergrad and medical school to make some money doing something I love.
    CS is indeed a tough field, but I'm quite good at it. Barring this semester I've never had below an A in a CS class.
    I'm considering taking out loans for fall next year and doing just school, but I got my federal financial aid withdrawn this year due to the amount of hours I've accrued without a degree in hand. I'm in the process of petitioning now.
    Thank you all for your advice, it's quite helpful so far.
  9. BeautyandtheMD


    Jan 12, 2018

    Hi Missdoomngloom! I'm a 2nd year medical student and I absolutely sympathize with you and your situation. I've had many (and I do mean MANY) trials and roadblocks, but I have continued to press on. I am writing about my failures and how I overcame them on my blog beautyandthemd (which is the name of my site and IG page). I started this blog for people such as yourself who feel defeated and feel like medicine might not be for them. Looking back over my life, my story is pretty incredible and I would love for you to read it and potentially be inspired by it. Please don't hesitate to leave me a message on my blog. I'd love to help you get to your goal!
  10. Phil McCracken

    Phil McCracken Banned Banned Account on Hold

    Jan 11, 2018
    My honest advice to people in your situation is that when you want to go to medical school and actually succeed down that path, you need to start streamlining your life so that most of it is consumed by "medicine." In your case, stop with the EMT and paramedic stuff and focus on those pre-req's and the MCAT. If you want to be a paramedic go through that program but if you want to be a doctor, focus on the requirements for that alone. In medical school you need to be mentally and academically ready to tackle it.

    Do what you need to do to get there.

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