Advice needed on potential paths

Clinical Shadowing Summer '22 Programs
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Medic McNinja

New Member
2+ Year Member
May 23, 2016
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Hello, everyone. I'm not sure what the optimal path to med school is from where I'm at. There are a few particularities that make it a little unclear how to apply the typical low GPA guidance to my situation.

General Information:
25 y/o white male, questionable state of residence (military, haven't lived in my "home" state for more than a year, potentially still a CA resident).
Married/No Kids/2 dogs the wife is very attached to
B.A. Biology (UC Santa Cruz 2013) 3.2 cGPA/3.1 sGPA with no real trend. One 4.0 quarter with a heavy course load, a few C's... mostly a lot of B's

I would like to have a decent shot at DO schools, but grade replacement may be difficult/impossible due to my weird quarter system credits and class descriptions. My prereqs are kind of a mess, but admissible depending on the school. GPA aside, I will have to take at least a few classes for LoRs, but I have a good LoR promised from a DO that I have worked with quite a bit. I've always tested well, so I suspect that if I put in enough work I should get at least a passable MCAT score. I have good clinical exposure, but I'm not sure how the rest of my ECs come off. My GPA suffered in school because I was bored, fairly uninterested, and immature (example: the C I got in physics freshman year the prof told me he only passed me because I set the curve on the final, and he didn't feel right failing me since I clearly demonstrated mastery of the course...I just didn't apply myself AT ALL and I took that as a weird point of pride). I have grown up quite a bit in the last few years, and have not had issues applying myself to the (significantly more boring/tedious) military medical courses I have taken since.

Prereqs (somewhat complete, depending on the school):
Intro bio year didn't have lab, but have Human Anatomy and Animal Physiology upper divs with lab (7 quarter hours each)
2 quarters with lab of general and organic chem, but that's 14 quarter/9.3 semester hours, plus an advanced organic structure class and an upper div inorganic class with lab
Year of physics with lab
"English" is one class under "Writing" and a freshman writing class that doesn't sound like English, plus AP credit
AP Psych, no sociology classes
Other classes:
Cell Bio, Genetics, Evolution, Ecology, year+ of biochem, year of phys chem
Classes with C's:
second quarter physics (Fluids and Optics)
multivariable calc
cell bio (upper div)
ecology (upper div)
third quarter phys chem (Statistical Mechanics)
organic structure (grad level)

3 years involvement/2 years martial art club president.

volunteered to assist a handful of search and rescue efforts locally

worked 3 years during college as a research assistant in the small satellites division at the Naval Postgraduate School, basically working as the tech running an attitude control testbed for up to a 3U cubesat consisting of an air bearing and GPS simulator in a triaxial Helmholtz coil setup. One of the master's students said he was including me/ some of my formulas in a pub, but I've never seen it. I worked 20hr/wk during school, 40 during summer.

I'm currently a "special operations" medic in the Army, which has given me a lot of clinical exposure. I'm supposed to function as an independent provider on deployment, so the training stresses autonomy much more than for a regular medic. Scope of practice is kind of like a flight/critical care medic plus sick call responsibilities.
-During training, shadowed 2 EM physicians for 7 12hr shifts, total, and the night critical care anesthesiologist for 2 8hr shifts in addition to the ~120 hours floating around the hospital and ~50 hours shadowing a PA during sick call, and scrubbed into two surgeries. This is when I really fell in love with medicine.
-6 months of sick call with our Doc, a FP DO-- We have a good relationship with him, so depending on staffing and pt volume we either take our own pt back, do the Hx/PE and present the pt to him or I do the Hx/PE in the same room while he charts, and steps in when I miss something.
-Deployment to West Africa, which involved some medical engagements in villages, some veterinary engagements, see host nation soldiers at their infirmary, seeing patients at an NGO clinic, and ~50 hours as the only other person scrubbed in with a Chinese surgeon in an OR that looked like it came straight out of the 50's.
-~40 hours teaching TCCC formally in the US, plus ~150 hours teaching first responder stuff and weapons handling in West Africa.
Plus whatever the next 2 years brings me (I get out of the Army August 2018)

Potential Paths to Medical School:
1) Apply for a second bachelor's program and use the GI bill to fund grade recovery for (1? 2? 3?) year(s). I was originally planning to go back and do a chemical engineering degree, but recently discovered engineering classes don't count for sGPA. (Note: I am aware engineering is generally a poor choice for GPA, but I have a fair amount of engineering exposure and enjoy that method of thinking. I'm also very interested in alternate energy sources. I could also switch over if my GPA wasn't up to par)
2) Take whatever night classes I can to boost GPA and get LoRs, and try for an SMP
3)Work as a paramedic after I get out and continue to take as many classes as I can
4) Take whatever night classes I can to boost GPA and get LoRs, and try to apply broadly with what I have
5) Reenlist, continue to work on my resume for a few more years, then pursue (1), (2) or (4)

I know that's a huge post, so thanks for bearing with me, and thank you in advance for any advice.


Full Member
5+ Year Member
Apr 25, 2014
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Option 3ish & 4. Also look at working as a scribe potentially. Get whatever retakes might work (sometimes you can get away with semester replacing quarter classes) and replace F/D/C's. Hopefully get your gpa above 3.25. Take biochem and do well on the MCAT.

Best of Luck
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