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Advice appreciated

Discussion in 'Re-Applicants [ MD / DO ]' started by hal9000, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. hal9000

    10+ Year Member

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    So this is a question regarding whether the following is smart or not. I applied extremely late this year (primary submitted on 9/18), with decent stats 3.7 cGPA (in applied Math/CS), 3.6sGPA, 30M(11,9,10). My clinical experience is sub-par (but not non-existent), I have a whole bunch of leadership things, and as far as research goes I have pubs. I know it's too early to give-up (and I haven't... I still have hope).

    However, if by chance I wait till May, and then find myself without acceptances, reapplication next year might not really be that much stronger beyond the fact that I apply early (since I have about a month to do something).

    In order to better plan for this contingency, I read the FAQ at the top of this sub-forum, and decided I need to start beefing up my app right away. I began hospital volunteering last month, where I push patients around in a wheelchair and also help discharge them. I am now looking into a "Patient Care Technician" job, for the upcoming year. I figure this would help me kill two birds with one stone, in that I get valuable clinical experience AND have a job. Has anyone done this? Are there other things someone can please recommend I do? Thanks.
     
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  3. Mace1370

    Physician 10+ Year Member

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    I took a year off from undergrad before I applied and I also needed things to do (then I didn't get in first year and needed even MORE things to do =P).

    One of the cooler experiences I had was working as a coroner technician. Requirements for the position will vary widely depending on your location, but the usual deal is:

    1) Start off as an intern for several weeks/months coming in once or twice a week to make sure you can handle the... atmosphere. As an intern you will be taught how to do the job of a technician, which is basically assisting forensic pathologists perform autopsies. This job has a TON of responsibility considering it doesn't even require a college degree. I got to remove organs, take tissue samples, perform y-cuts, etc.

    2) If you do take the job you make more than minimum wage (always a plus!).

    3) If you don't take the job and stick around as an intern you only have to come in once or twice a week, which gives you plenty of time for a paying job.
     
  4. dragonfly99

    10+ Year Member

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    hal,
    I think your plan is OK. You might get in this year. Your GPA is definitely good enough. The MCAT score is OK, although the writing sample score is low. It seems this is the most commonly ignored part of the MCAT (by the adcoms) so maybe that won't hurt you...I really don't know.

    Without much clinical experience some of the schools may reject you on that basis, so I agree with your plan to get more. If you are still an undergrad, you should definitely do some hospital volunteer work. I personally found it a drag b/c I didn't feel they let me do anything (too much fear of lawsuits in our society). Still, it does get you around the hospital and you get to see what it is like. It would be helpful if you could shadow some docs, etc. If you are still an undergrad, try to see if your university can help you set that up. Does your school have a premed or prehealth professions advisor or advising office? They might be able to give you a lot of good advice.

    One thing that might be interesting and helpful is to take some sort of ethics course. It's just an idea. The reason I bring it up is that I took medical ethics as an undergrad and it was a great course. Of course, partly this was due to the awesome professor, but it also gave me good things to talk about during my med school interviews. As a math major you might run in to some primary care type docs interviewing you, some of whom might stereotype you as a math/science type only. So you can show them that you are well-rounded by staying up to date on current medically related issues in the newspaper, Time magazine, etc. too.

    I think you are likely to know (or have a good idea) long before May whether or not you are getting in. In my experience there are not very many schools that interviewed much after March, and usually most people found out they got in some time between October-March/April. You might get very lucky and get off a wait list after April, but it doesn't happen that much (although it's been several years since I applied).

    You could consider retaking the MCAT next summer if it looks like you aren't going to get in this year...only if you think you can up your score. Everything counts in the admissions process. Alternately, you could just reapply, do it early and apply to lots of schools. Just be persistent - I think you can get in somewhere.
     
  5. Mace1370

    Physician 10+ Year Member

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    I would think it would be crazy to retake the MCAT with a 30. A 30 is all you need, and historically people score plus or MINUS 2 points when the retake. If you took the test a second time and scored below a 30 that could really, really tank your application.
     
  6. dragonfly99

    10+ Year Member

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    It depends.
    If historically you are only a pretty good test taker, then might be crazy to retake.
    If you are a great test taker it might not be. I retook and went from 31-41 with a significant improvement on the essay part too.
    I'm just trying to think of any and all ways he can improve his application...
     
  7. gman33

    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    I couldn't disagree with this more.
    If you really prepare for a few months on the MCAT, you should be able to boost your score a few points. It seems really dumb, but if you can get that score to around 33; you will turn an average app into a really good one. Try to get your clinical experience to at least 200-300 hours (4 hrs a week for a year).

    Besides that stuff, make sure you have good LORs and PS. If you have a premed advisor, see if they can give you feedback on the LORs. You can't see them, but it's probably okay if they tell you there are ones that you shouldn't be sending.

    Have you had any interviews?
     
  8. polofanPKP

    polofanPKP Fear the Vest
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    Hey Hal, I'm a second year that sits on the admission committee for my med school and there was one thing that I have noticed that nobody seems to make crystal clear to applicants.

    Apply as early as is humanly possible!!!!

    I know its been said, and it doesn't have to be early application if you are interested in more than one school but get your stuff in quickly. Most med students will tell you this and now I'll tell you why. (Some adcoms do things a little different but this seems to be the norm) ---> Schools will rank you on a numerical scale, you need to obtain a certain score to receive an acceptance, if you are below that score you get waitlisted (we'll get to this), if you are farther below you will get flat out rejected. Where later applicants get the shaft is that around nov/dec a lot of schools begin to raise the numerical score necessary for admission (for example: 7.5/10 is raised to 8.5/10). This means that a strong applicant (like you appar to be) will be placed on the waitlist instead of admitted as you would have been had you applied earlier. Now some good news, if you are waitlisted and you interviewed/applied late that means that you have a higher average score than those who were interviewed before you in the fall and you stand a better chance of getting in off of the waitlist.

    In closing, your scores are good, work on your clinicals as much as you can and if the unfortunate happens then make sure that your application is ready to go before applications even open then get it in and complete the minute you can.

    Again, this is the same advice that a lot of people give as well as the reason, if you're serious about med school, GET APPS IN QUICKLY.

    PM me if you have any more questions.
     
  9. dragonfly99

    10+ Year Member

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    <Besides that stuff, make sure you have good LORs and PS. If you have a premed advisor, see if they can give you feedback on the LORs. You can't see them, but it's probably okay if they tell you there are ones that you shouldn't be sending.>

    That is true. A lot of times the premed committee or health professions advisor can do this. Also, it helps to get more than 3 total LOR's if you can. That way you can ask the health professions advisor person(s) to help you pick the best 3, and/or you can mix and match the letters to fit different institutions. For example, you might use a PhD research professor letter for a research-oriented school, and change that out with a family practice doc's letter for a more primary care oriented school. Of course, it's not always very easy to get extra/lots of LOR's when you are just an undergrad and don't know that many doctors.
     
  10. polofanPKP

    polofanPKP Fear the Vest
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    When you get LORs make sure that you give them a copy of your CV or your personal statement or something. Believe me, if the adcom can tell a letter is a form letter (or the writer only talks about how X did in my class, he is smart, he would be a good doc) it is almost immediately ignored. Make an effort to find someone who will also talk about you as a person, those are the ones that matter.
     
  11. hal9000

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    Thanks for all the information guys. This is much appreciated.

    Firstly, I do not think I will be retaking the MCAT. I am fine with any US school, and I also don't think I want to study for the exam again anyways.

    If I am applying next year, I will definitely be applying as early as possible. I will not be making the same mistake twice. :)

    As far as LOR's, I did not get them "checked" by any pre-med committee, or actually utilize my pre-medical committee in any such way. I have added that in my list of things to improve for next year.

    Mace, the Forensic Pathology internship is a great suggestion, I'm really looking into this. Does anyone have other "out of the ordinary" ideas like this that would also improve my clinical experience within the next 6 months? I am looking to get started with something in the next few weeks.

    My current status: No Interviews. I wasn't complete till long ago for most schools, so I'm just hoping for some miracles.
     
  12. sarahl86

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    So if I'm a second-time applicant and I have a 31R, solid GPA, and good clinical experience, what should I do if I'm not accepted this year? I've only got one interview at my state school (which I'm very thankful for) which I know is because I took the August MCAT this year and wasn't marked complete at most schools until pretty late.

    I'm debating whether or not to re-take the MCAT but it would be my third time at doing so and I've already improved my score 6 points from my originial. I'm considering graduate school or getting a more research-oriented job...the one I have now is clinically relevant and in the area I'd like to practice in but I have no research experience.

    Suggestions??
     
  13. stayclassy

    stayclassy nice shoes, wanna palpate
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    hey hal, im in the same boat as you - i applied late and that's what is holding me back. Just work on improving holes in your application in the next semester and you'll be fine
     
  14. trojanMD

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    Hey buddy, hang tight. I think you will get a few snags, you just have some more waiting to do. I got my apps in late September (some even early October) and have incredibly identical stats (3.7 GPA, 3.6sc, 30 MCAT). I even retook my MCAT on 8/15 after taking it previously in this summer, just like you. I applied to many of the same schools you applied to and have gotten 2 interviews so far at GWU and Tulane. Keep the faith man!:luck:
     
  15. dragonfly99

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    hal,
    you should definitely make use of the premed advising system at your school. Just like anything/anyone else, you have to take their advice with a grain of salt, but usually they are helpful. Besides, you paid tuition to go to your school and it's one of the services they offer you. A lot of times those faculty and/or administrators are familiar with which medical schools have taken students from your school, or what things particular med schools look for in an applicant.
     

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