Originally posted by buckrogers
If you're approaching 30, and definitely if you're past that benchmark, you may find some of the points I've leaned instructive, and you may want to read on. (I'm never going to apply to medical school again. I've been interviewed and waitlisted to the extreme. I'm too old for this anymore. For the curious: my stats are 26 MCAT, (7P 9V 10B) 0 Writing, 3.3 Science, 3.0 Nonscience, 3.7 in 100+ postbaccalaureate credits. Good extracurriculars, health care work and volunteer., etc. And I've been told I interview well too.)
1. If you're already out of school, and will have to return to school to take the premed courses you need to apply to medical school, REALIZE THAT GETTING INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL IS A BIG GAMBLE THAT YOU MAY NEVER WIN! I am in my early forties, and have been applying, off and on, for almost seven years. Do you want to turn out like me? Don't think it can't happen. I would never have thought it would happen to me either 11 years ago when I returned to school as a postbaccalaureate. I'm not trying to discourage anyone about trying to fulfill their dream of becoming a doctor. I JUST WANT YOU TO BE FULLY INFORMED OF WHAT YOU'RE POTENTIALLY GETTING YOURSELF INTO.
2. YOUR PREMED ADVISOR PROBABLY DOES NOT KNOW AS MUCH AS YOU THINK. YOUR PREMED ADVISOR PROBABLY KNOWS MUCH LESS THAN EVEN HE OR SHE THINKS. A better source of info. are credible websites, credible premeds, reference books, and the med. school admission offices themselves.
3. If you have to return to school as an older student, TRY TO GO TO SCHOOL FULL-TIME AND GET THE DAMNED THING OVER WITH, ONE WAY OR ANOTHER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Take out student loans, whatever you have to do, I would say, and try not to work so that you can get good grades. Since, I wasn't lucky enough to have any financial support through school, and was paranoid about taking out student loans and worked a lot, my g.p.a. suffered when I was an undergraduate. Some people are smart enough, or can get by without much sleep I guess, so that they can do it. I could not, at least not in my early twenties. If only someone had explained to me, as a young man, that my g.p.a. would be an albatross around my neck that would eventually sink me! I should have taken out a bunch of student loans and concentrated on school. What you say? And graduate with a huge debt? Yes, didn't I tell you trying to get into medical school is a gamble? Remember, every year you spend doing premed stuff is time essentially wasted in preparation to your goal. You'd be surprised how quickly time goes by if you're only going to school part-time. You're saving money by going to school part-time, yes. But you're also wasting your life away.
4. IF YOU HAVE GOTTEN POOR GRADES IN PREMED COURSES AT SOME POINT IN THE PAST, BUT ESPECIALLY IF IT IS RECENT, TAKE IT AS A SIGN THAT YOU MAY BE CUT OUT FOR SOMETHING ELSE EQUALLY VALUABLE IN LIFE. Sometimes people mature later in life and overcome problems with science courses they had as younger students. But you've got to ask yourself if it's a horrible struggle for you to get good grades, is it really worth it?
5. THE MCAT SUCKS THE BIG ONE AND THERE IS NOT NECESSARILY A CORRELATION BETWEEN HOW MUCH TIME YOU STUDY FOR IT AND THE SCORE YOU GET. I prepared for the MCAT for six months, full-time, (yes, you read that correctly) and I took the Kaplan MCAT course, practically living in their office. This is ridiculous. I only got a 24. The second time I took it, about five years later, being rusty on my premed knowledge and not preparing as much as I had the first time, I got a 26. Of course you need to study for the MCAT if you're going to take it. Just realize the MCAT, as life, is not fair.
6. DO NOT INFLICT THE CHINESE WATER-TORTURE ON YOURSELF. IF YOU DO NOT GET INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL IN ONE OR TWO TRYS. DO SOMETHING ELSE. I would recommend that once you're finished with your premed courses, MCAT, and you've applied to medical schools, that you IMMEDIATELY START PURSUING AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN. DO NOT JUST SIT THERE AND WAIT TO SEE IF YOU GET ACCEPTED INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL. PURSUE ALTERNATIVE PLANS AS THOUGH YOU HAVE BEEN REJECTED FROM MEDICAL SCHOOL AND WILL NEVER GET IN. If you do get accepted, that's great! You can cancel the alternate plans. But it you are rejected, you will not waste time the way I did. Life can be wonderful, but expect life to bite you at the most unexpected times! It does!
7. BE AWARE THAT THE ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONS THAT YOUR HELPFUL PREMED ADVISOR MAY STEER YOU TOWARDS MAY NOT BE YOUR CUP OF TEA. Think hard if you would really be happy in some of these positions. There are many wonderful allied health professions, and I commend those who aspire to pursue them, but are you going to be happy in these second choice fields after all of your hard work trying to get into medical school? Perhaps, but perhaps not. I explored the following professions (These are my biased, subjective, potentially offensive, yet honest opinions. They might save you some research.): Podiatry: Sounds okay, if you go by the pretty, glossy school admission pamphlets, with the happy students in the white coats on the cover, but I've interviewed at a few schools, and I had to practically go on the Witness Protection Program to get away from them. I met their admission requirement of being alive, and for a while, I felt like a hot NFL quarterback being pursued by the talent scouts. Podiatry schools are desperate for students and will take just about anybody. Recent podiatry graduates are having a devil of a time paying back their student loans. Don't do it unless you have connections (dad's an established podiatrist, etc.) Physician Assistant: When my mom was sick, and I was taking her to the doctor all of the time, I felt kind of sad for the P.A.'s whose judgment was often condescendingly overriden by the doctors, right in front of the patients. I know there are exceptions, but the P.A.'s I have encountered seemed to have even less autonomy than the nurses. I can't see myself or many of my classmates being happy as P.A.'s. Dentistry: great, but it can be as hard to get into as is medical school. Foreign medical school: If you can get into a school in the United Kingdom or Australia, it might be hard to come back to the U.S.A., but it's probably worth a try. Grenada is the best of the others, relatively speaking, (don't think about going to any other foreign schools) but the residencies are drying up, through the intentional legislation of the congress in Washington DC, and you may not be able to return to the U.S.A. to get a residency, even if you are able to surmount all of the hardships of going to a foreign school. Naturopathic and Chiropractic School: No, no, no! Unless you are willing to forget scientific method, not to mention logic and rational thinking, don't pursue these fields. What to do then? That's up to you, but I would encourage you, if you don't think you'd be happy in an allied health profession, to THINK OUTSIDE OF THE HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONS BOX WHEN IT COMES TO ALTERNATIVE PLANS. Yes, it looks good on your application, if you reapply to medical school, if you get your M.P.H. and work as an epidemiologist or you become an E.M.T., but do you want to pursue that path the rest of your life if you never get into medical school? What about pursuing more school or a job that coincides more with your interests, just in case you don't get into medical school, rather that just what looks good to a medical school admission committee when you reapply?
8. Finally, the last point I wish to make before I bid you a fond farewell is that WHEN IT COMES TO TRYING TO GET INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL, THERE IS A FINE LINE BETWEEN PERSEVERANCE AND OBSESSION. You will have to decide where you stand on this one. I finally realized, too late, that it had become an obsession with me, and by that time it had ruined a good part of my life. You see, some people's lives are damaged, sometimes beyond repair, by serving a long prison sentence, or chronic alcoholism or drug use, and so on. It is also possible to damage a life with a seemingly noble pursuit ? such as trying to become a doctor. Why do we find this societal phenomenon of people striving so hard to become doctors? We see it in other professions too: aspiring actors, fledging writers, striving musicians, big-talking entrepreneurs with dreams of becoming millionaires. These are just a few examples, and all may be worthy professions. But to be sure, certain vocations speak to our hopes and dreams about what our lives would be like -- could be like, if we could just.... Well, dreams are great, they keep us all going in what can be, at times, a very unfair world, but you've got to keep it in perspective and not let your dream take control of your life if your dream is not working out. I'm sure that many of us have stories of friends or relatives who never made it, for example, as rock stars, or as the next Bill Gates, etc., and whose lives were ruined by such a dream pursued too far, for too long. The key thing, I think, is to let go of dream, after you've done your best, before it wrecks you. I say, change your dream if bashing your head against that brick wall, that keeps you from your dream, never even cracks the wall but gives you a horrible headache! You must make this call, not your premed advisor, your parents, your friends, or your family. But, be true to yourself!
Now it is time for me to go. I will pull my name from this website, never to return. I will never apply to medical school again. I hope that some of you will benefit from my experiences. But for me, I have grown up. I have put away my toys. My dream has ended, and I must get on with life. There will be happy and rewarding times in another career, I am sure. But it will never be the same. You see, to steal a line from General Macarthur, old premeds never die, they just fade away....