Am I Behind?

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10+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2013
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I'm now a second semester sophomore, but when I was a freshman I got into a pretty bad accident and had to take the second semester off. I came back to take a couple prereqs over the summer, while I was getting off crutches. When I returned in the fall, I felt a bit lost on campus so I joined an honors fraternity, which has been really great.

The problem is that I'm worried I'm not doing enough. I volunteer every week in an organization that helps prisoners, I am vice chair of my fraternity committee and plan to run for leadership positions in the coming semesters, and I have a job as a calculus tutor. But I haven't had time yet to get clinical experience or research, two big things I keep hearing are necessary for med schools. I hoped to get an internship at the NIH this summer, but I'm not sure it'll happen because they have massive budget cuts coming. I emailed over 20 scientists and got 2 "maybe, we'll put you on the list to consider" type replies. The rest were no's or non-responsive, although I did hear that I was an impressive candidate so it's not just that I suck.

I have hospice volunteering lined up, applied for an internship at the Venter institute that I'll hear back from at the end of the month (but not likely, since I have no research experience), and am thinking about emailing my orthopedist to ask him if he'll let me shadow for a bit. Everything about my summer is pretty up in the air right now, and it's driving me crazy!

If I don't get research this summer, what should I do? Should I start research when I get back to school? I have a pretty heavy courseload every semester, since I'm trying to graduate on my original spring date. I'm a math major with bio and spanish minors at a top university, with a 3.85 gpa. I was also thinking of taking a CNA training course this summer, and work at a nursing home when I get back to school, but I would really be pressed for time with all my activities if I had to do clinical experience and research at once during the school year with all my other activities (which I love, so I don't want to quit). Any suggestions?

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Don't stress! You have plenty of time. One small piece of info I will relay from a discussion I had with an adcom is to not waste your time with the cna training. It is more valuable to directly shadow a physician. Good luck in the future!

Also, try and have some fun every now and then too! :)
There's no such thing as being behind. There's a whole, significant section of this website (as well as a significant section of the medical student population) of people who didn't go straight from college to medical school. Even if the accident meant you had to take a gap year or two, which it by no means does, you wouldn't be behind any timetable besides an arbitrary one you set for yourself
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You're doing fine. It sounds like you have identified the key elements necessary for admission to medical school and are working to achieve them. I wouldn't stress too much. As one of the other posters mentioned, there are many routes to medical school. I would say I was behind where you are at this point and I still made it the "traditional route". You certainly have ambition!

Survivor DO
Thanks for calming me down, guys. I won't stress if I don't get research this summer, I'll just look for opportunities at school next year, and I'll look for shadowing this summer. I think I might also try out for a school a capella group just for fun. :)
Here is my 2 cents.

I attended University of Michigan for undergrad and went to several lectures by the dean of admissions for the medical school. Here is his main point.

Don't do things just to "check-boxes" on your application. It is much more important you do what you enjoy while also exploring medicine than to do research just for the sake of research. Come interview time if someone asks you about your research and you say "Well, I thought I needed it." That will look way worse than if you don't have research at all. Find some clinical experience, shadow a doctor, and then spend your volunteer hours doing something you really enjoy. If you like the hospice then do that, if you like research then do that. Do NOT however, simply do things for the sake of doing things.

Hope this helps and good luck!