Aug 29, 2015
125
25
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Pre-Medical
I have many questions so I'll make this short.
Background: 19 yo black male. Born in Africa, raised in America. Hold a U.S. passport.
  • May 2014: Finish high school
  • June 2014-August 2015: Personal issues. Very low course load.. Take 30 credits at CC.
Semesters (credits): SU14 (3), FA14(12), SPR15(7), SU15(8)

(SU=summer, FA=fall, etc.)

GPA: 3.46 GPA, 30credits
Only listing grades that are not As.

13 credits online classes:
  • sociology
  • microecon
  • macroeconomics
  • general chemistry 1 (B)
17 credits seated classes:
  • western civilization
  • writing inquiry (freshman english class)
  • general psychology
  • pre-calculus: trigonometry (C)
  • general biology (B)
FA15 (7): Right now I'm taking 2 classes: Calc 1 + Freshman English class.

I want to become a doctor.
Here is my plan:
  1. Transfer to 4 year college (SPR16 or FA16)
  2. Major in philosophy
  3. Finish degree in 3 years: (FA16 - SPR19)
  4. Take MCAT in SPR18
  5. Send application in SU18
  6. FA18: acceptance or rejection.
My strengths?:
  • Clinical Experience: I'll be able to spend SU16 AND SU17 shadowing doctors in Central Africa. Depending on the doctor my experience could range from simply watching or learning to suture.
  • Shadowing: My Aunt will finish her fellowship when I'm applying to medical school. She knows many physicians I could shadow.
  • Volunteer: Started Hospice work in summer 2014; when I'm applying I'll have 4 years of experience.
My weaknesses?:
  • Research experience: Will transferring to a 4year hurt my chances of doing research? Summers will be busy (Africa), so my only times to do research are Fall/Spring.
  • Leadership experience: joining college late, i may not have much time to rise to a leadership position in a club.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Less time to build relationships with professors or premed council.
Questions:
  1. Can I email medical school admissions? Visit and ask questions? Would they be annoyed by my questions or would they take it as a sign of interest? Would it be beneficial to talk to admissions every year until I apply?
  2. How important is Undergraduate College in Medical School admission? I'm trying to transfer to UNC or NCSU. UNC (or NCSU) is ideal, but how bad would ECU or UNCW be?
  3. How important is research in admission? Can clinical experience, volunteering, and MCAT/GPA make up for research?
  4. When I transfer to a 4year university, how long should I spend there? Can I spend 4 years or will medical schools view that unfavorably? Does it all depend on my courseload?
  5. Courseload? Once I transfer how many credits/semester is enough? Should I aim for >14hours or would 14 be enough?
Important:

What would you do differently if you were in my situation? Have I made any mistakes or poor assumptions?

Thank you in advance for all your advice! :)A
 

Strudel19

5+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2011
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1. I don't know. It would probably come off as annoying, but an ADCOM would know this better than I.
2. Not that important, but arguably more important for top schools. ECU or UNCW wouldn't be "bad".
3. Important, but the activities you list can make up for it. Transferring to a 4 year place will only help your chances for research.
4. Stay at the 4 year just long enough to graduate. Make sure to take some upper level sciences while you're there.
5. Take the heaviest courseload you can get A's in.

This is what I would do. Things might be different from someone else's experience/perspective so maybe they can chime in.
 

NotASerialKiller

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Jul 7, 2015
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Delusional about your goals? Absolutely not. I can't comment on all the specifics of your plan (most people can't/don't plan out every detail of their application years in advance) but there's absolutely no reason why you can't make it happen.

For research, having some experience is good, but it is not a must. You can ask around an try to do this during the year, there are definitely non-summer opportunities.

You seem to be aware of all the important parts of a good application (GPA, MCAT, volunteering/ECs, clinical experience) so just try your best at any school you want to go. Just remember to prioritize your GPA at first, then add ECs/volunteering/clinical work when you know you can handle it.

Good luck!
 

gyngyn

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1. Get your advice from someone who has your best interest at heart, not randos answering the phone at medical schools.
2. The prestige of your undergrad is unlikely to be the determining factor in your application.
3. MCAT, gpa and relevant experience are most important, though most applicants seem to have some form of research.
4/5. A bachelor's degree is a common requirement.

Are you a permanent US resident?
 

sovereign0

2+ Year Member
Dec 22, 2014
510
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Status
Medical Student
I have many questions so I'll make this short.
Background: 19 yo black male. Born in Africa, raised in America. Hold a U.S. passport.
  • May 2014: Finish high school
  • June 2014-August 2015: Personal issues. Very low course load.. Take 30 credits at CC.
Semesters (credits): SU14 (3), FA14(12), SPR15(7), SU15(8)

(SU=summer, FA=fall, etc.)

GPA: 3.46 GPA, 30credits
Only listing grades that are not As.

13 credits online classes:
  • sociology
  • microecon
  • macroeconomics
  • general chemistry 1 (B)
17 credits seated classes:
  • western civilization
  • writing inquiry (freshman english class)
  • general psychology
  • pre-calculus: trigonometry (C)
  • general biology (B)
FA15 (7): Right now I'm taking 2 classes: Calc 1 + Freshman English class.

I want to become a doctor.
Here is my plan:
  1. Transfer to 4 year college (SPR16 or FA16)
  2. Major in philosophy
  3. Finish degree in 3 years: (FA16 - SPR19)
  4. Take MCAT in SPR18
  5. Send application in SU18
  6. FA18: acceptance or rejection.
My strengths?:
  • Clinical Experience: I'll be able to spend SU16 AND SU17 shadowing doctors in Central Africa. Depending on the doctor my experience could range from simply watching or learning to suture.
  • Shadowing: My Aunt will finish her fellowship when I'm applying to medical school. She knows many physicians I could shadow.
  • Volunteer: Started Hospice work in summer 2014; when I'm applying I'll have 4 years of experience.
My weaknesses?:
  • Research experience: Will transferring to a 4year hurt my chances of doing research? Summers will be busy (Africa), so my only times to do research are Fall/Spring.
  • Leadership experience: joining college late, i may not have much time to rise to a leadership position in a club.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Less time to build relationships with professors or premed council.
Questions:
  1. Can I email medical school admissions? Visit and ask questions? Would they be annoyed by my questions or would they take it as a sign of interest? Would it be beneficial to talk to admissions every year until I apply?
  2. How important is Undergraduate College in Medical School admission? I'm trying to transfer to UNC or NCSU. UNC (or NCSU) is ideal, but how bad would ECU or UNCW be?
  3. How important is research in admission? Can clinical experience, volunteering, and MCAT/GPA make up for research?
  4. When I transfer to a 4year university, how long should I spend there? Can I spend 4 years or will medical schools view that unfavorably? Does it all depend on my courseload?
  5. Courseload? Once I transfer how many credits/semester is enough? Should I aim for >14hours or would 14 be enough?
Important:

What would you do differently if you were in my situation? Have I made any mistakes or poor assumptions?

Thank you in advance for all your advice! :)A
1. I don't think it will help, it could even be annoying. Remember that admissions season is a busy time, and the admissions office is not your pre-med advisor. Your 4-year institution should definitely have a pre-med or pre-health advisor. Use them, but be open to other opinions because their competency may vary widely.

2. You are either Ivy League / HYPSM / Top 10-15-20 or not. That's as far as school name-recognition will get you. HOWEVER, the opportunities that are available at your school are going to be very important. I would shoot for UNC because they are likely to have the strongest academic presence including research opportunities. UNC also has an incredible medical school, and that could potentially open more doors.

3. Research is becoming increasingly prevalent, even at mid- and lower-tier schools. Research is essentially a requirement at top-tier schools because they tend to be research oriented. For other schools, it is an important exposure to have and can only help your application. Can you get in without it? Absolutely. But it always helps to have it. Other extracurriculars and MCAT/GPA are not replacements for research, because each of these factors are independent experiences and metrics. Getting a 528 on your MCAT doesn't mean that all of a sudden you know how to run a PCR or understand the scientific method or publication process. Exposure to research is a helpful thing to have.

4. It shouldn't matter. If you spend an abnormal time in college you may be asked about it, but if you can articulate your reasoning well, it's fine. Courseload is important in the sense that you want to be a full-time student, but other than that it isn't a big deal. You'll want to take a challenging courseload while simultaneously being involved in extracurriculars.

5. The goal here is to graduate in a timely fashion and do well in your selected major. If you can handle 18 credit hours and get As while doing a ton of extracurriculars, then do it. But DO NOT sacrifice your grades/GPA for any reason including extracurriculars, and especially not because you wanted to take a heavier courseload because it would "look good for med school". The minimum would be 12 credits to maintain full-time student status. Outside of that, it is up to your discretion. The priority MUST be your grades though. A lack of extracurriculars in college can be partially compensated through a gap year. Every single grade you get is etched in stone in your transcript, and the remediation for a poor GPA is risky, expensive, and challenging. GPA should be your first priority.

---

The only other thing I wanted to say was about your clinical experience. You addressed this in your post, but I wanted to emphasize something important. Shadowing doctors in central Africa is cool and all, but you really need shadowing in the US (preferably of primary care) to show that you have an understanding of the US medical system. You mentioned your aunt and her fellowship, make sure you follow through with that. Foreign shadowing experience is not very useful when you have minimal domestic shadowing.

Also, shadowing in itself is not necessarily good clinical experience. The single most important EC to have (IMO) is meaningful and engaging clinical experience. Hospice volunteering is great, but what people actually do as volunteers there varies highly. Playing board games and bingo is not good clinical experience. It's wonderful volunteering, and is very meaningful, but you aren't getting patient interaction in a healthcare setting. This is VERY VERY important. Shadowing helps, but you need to have active (not passive, like shadowing) involvement in the healthcare process.

---

As for other advice, you are pretty early into your education so you have a lot of room to develop your stats. Your GPA isn't bad and you've got plenty of time to improve it. I think this should be your main focus - ACE EVERYTHING. With a good GPA, MCAT score, and URM status, the world is your oyster. Get some research/leadership experience, and you'd be competitive for any medical school in the country.
 
OP
writing
Aug 29, 2015
125
25
Status
Pre-Medical
1. I don't know. It would probably come off as annoying, but an ADCOM would know this better than I.
I'm talking about emailing medical adcoms once every 12 months until I apply. Hoping that when I do eventually apply in 2018, I won't just be another name. I could easily see this doing more harm than good though. Are there any adcoms on SDN? Also do you listen to/play jazz? Where is your Pat Martino quote from.

I went GED>CC>4-year>med school. It's doable. And those URM bonus points will really help you out come app time.
I hope so. I'm not sure how much URM matters in admission, but I'm going to work my ass off and aim for atleast an 85th percentile MCAT and 3.6sGPA/3.7cGPA.

For research, having some experience is good, but it is not a must. You can ask around an try to do this during the year, there are definitely non-summer opportunities.
Thank you. GPA/MCAT first, clinical experience/volunteering second. Are research opportunities just for STEM majors? Or can any student at a college apply for them?

1. Get your advice from someone who has your best interest at heart, not randos answering the phone at medical schools.
2. The prestige of your undergrad is unlikely to be the determining factor in your application.
Are you a permanent US resident?
[/QUOTE]

1. Are there any private services or websites with former adcoms I can go to for advising? My CC only covers transfer advising.
2. Ok. I'm in NC so UNC medical is ideal. Do you think they prefer UNC undergrads or does it really depend. Would that be an appropriate question to ask adcoms?
Yes. I think I'm a citizen, but I'm honestly not sure. I hold an american passport and have worked here before.
 

Strudel19

5+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2011
511
189
Status
Pre-Medical
I'm talking about emailing medical adcoms once every 12 months until I apply. Hoping that when I do eventually apply in 2018, I won't just be another name. I could easily see this doing more harm than good though. Are there any adcoms on SDN? Also do you listen to/play jazz? Where is your Pat Martino quote from.
I love jazz - trumpet player! I watched this segment on YouTube called "here and now" of him talking about how he started on the guitar. His experience was so similar to mine. Like him, I couldn't stand the seriousness of music lessons.
 
OP
writing
Aug 29, 2015
125
25
Status
Pre-Medical
As for other advice, you are pretty early into your education so you have a lot of room to develop your stats. Your GPA isn't bad and you've got plenty of time to improve it. I think this should be your main focus - ACE EVERYTHING. With a good GPA, MCAT score, and URM status, the world is your oyster. Get some research/leadership experience, and you'd be competitive for any medical school in the country.
Thank you so much for the advice! From what I've read, GPA/MCAT places a person into the admissions room and clinical experience/research/volunteering determines acceptance or rejection?

Africa is not as litigious as America, so my Aunt told me I'll probably have some hands on experience. I'll be able to tour the clinical and surgical departments of cardiology, obstetrics/gynecology, urology, and ophthalmology. Also the diagnostic departments, tubercolosis center, and hiv/aids center. There's a mixture of african and european doctors and african and european students there. I'll be able to go there two times for 6-8 weeks each, before I apply to medical school.

Would this give me an edge, something that other applicants don't have, or is it not much better than other clinical experience in america? I will also shadow American doctors; outside of my aunt's contacts, there are rural doctors in NC that I can speak to.


I love jazz - trumpet player! I watched this segment on YouTube called "here and now" of him talking about how he started on the guitar. His experience was so similar to mine. Like him, I couldn't stand the seriousness of music lessons.
That's awesome. I've struggled with motivation to practice, but I absolutely jazz. Martino, along with John Scofield, Pat Metheny, and Mike Stern, is one of the more unique jazz guitarists. How do you practice?
 

sinombre

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@writing - nothing about the original post seems delusional to me. I also transferred from a community college to a 4 year university, and majored in philosophy. Just a point about picking a non-science major as a transfer student--it will take you longer, which actually may be a good thing, as it will give you more time to craft a solid application (e.g. you'll have more time to do research and other extracurricular things). I spent 3 years at the university I transferred to which was a perfect amount of time for me (and then I took a couple of gap years before starting medical school).
 

gyngyn

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Africa is not as litigious as America, so my Aunt told me I'll probably have some hands on experience. I'll be able to tour the clinical and surgical departments of cardiology, obstetrics/gynecology, urology, and ophthalmology. Also the diagnostic departments, tubercolosis center, and hiv/aids center. There's a mixture of african and european doctors and african and european students there. I'll be able to go there two times for 6-8 weeks each, before I apply to medical school.

Would this give me an edge, something that other applicants don't have, or is it not much better than other clinical experience in america? I will also shadow American doctors; outside of my aunt's contacts, there are rural doctors in NC that I can speak to.
Participating in activities that you are not licensed to perform is more likely to keep you out of medical school in the US.
 

gonnif

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1. Are there any private services or websites with former adcoms I can go to for advising? My CC only covers transfer advising..
There are private advisers for money who are former adcoms. I think most students dont need that. Here are a few ideas instead

1) NAAHP: National Association of Advisers for the Health Professions has a volunteer adviser program with links below

http://www.naahp.org/StudentResources/FindanAdvisor.aspx

2) AAMC website. I am amazed of the students who never ever look at the AAMC website, which has so much info that is accurate, useful, and closest to the medical schools as possible

https://www.aamc.org/students/
https://www.aamc.org/students/advisors/


3) UG schools guides/weblinks: Most UG schools have lots of info on their sites about applying. I would certainly look at schools that had associated medical schools as part of their Universities. Hopkins and Cornell come to mind.

4) MSAR. Medical School Admissions Requirements. Below is the now free guide that used to be part of MSAR

https://www.aamc.org/students/download/180052/data/guidebook_preview.pdf

5) After all that, paying for an hour or two for admissions consulting for evaluation and direction isnt a bad idea. It could set you on the right course and really wouldn't be much in money (maybe a few hundred). There is no reason for anything more at this point, especially those that try to sell you some sort of package for several thousand dollars.
 
OP
writing
Aug 29, 2015
125
25
Status
Pre-Medical
Participating in activities that you are not licensed to perform is more likely to keep you out of medical school in the US.
So it's a gray area. Thanks again; this is why I'm asking. I wouldn't be breaking any laws (in the country I'm going to) or doing anything that endangers a patient, but I can see how this may not be viewed positively.

Here are a few ideas instead

That's a goldmine of information. Thanks Gonnif! I'll read through AAMC.
 

sovereign0

2+ Year Member
Dec 22, 2014
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Thank you so much for the advice! From what I've read, GPA/MCAT places a person into the admissions room and clinical experience/research/volunteering determines acceptance or rejection?

Africa is not as litigious as America, so my Aunt told me I'll probably have some hands on experience. I'll be able to tour the clinical and surgical departments of cardiology, obstetrics/gynecology, urology, and ophthalmology. Also the diagnostic departments, tubercolosis center, and hiv/aids center. There's a mixture of african and european doctors and african and european students there. I'll be able to go there two times for 6-8 weeks each, before I apply to medical school.

Would this give me an edge, something that other applicants don't have, or is it not much better than other clinical experience in america? I will also shadow American doctors; outside of my aunt's contacts, there are rural doctors in NC that I can speak to.
GPA/MCAT demonstrates that you would succeed in medical school. They are also the only real numerical measures adcoms can use to compare applicants, as everything else is a qualitative measure. A common adage here on SDN is along the lines of "Stats get you to the door, experiences get you through the door." Strong stats without experiences make you a wonderful grad school candidate, but you lack the track record to demonstrate that you know what you are getting into or would make a good physician. Strong experiences without strong stats suggest that you would not survive in medical school or successfully become licensed.

Hands-on experience like this is not necessarily a good thing. While you get to do some pretty cool stuff, you aren't necessarily qualified to do that. It essentially looks like you are doing things for experience that you are not qualified to do, at the detriment of your patients - going against everything physicians are supposed to stand for.

The experience can only give you an edge as far as you can throw it. How you portray what you learned and saw will play a huge role in how the experience reflects on your application. If you can articulate how this experience would make you a better physician than those who have not had such an experience, then you have an "edge" in the sense that you have these values which others do not.

Having experiences others have not had can be unique, but it's a case-by-case thing. I can guarantee that there are few applicants who have delivered a baby or performed a TAVR, but mentioning those experiences won't be doing you any favors.

These experiences are in no way replacements for having clinical experience or shadowing in the US.
 

Goro

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In addition, OP, shadowing or volunteering overseas is merely seen as visiting the relatives in the old country, or "medical tourism".

If you want to see what American doctors do and how they approach medicine, you need to shadow in the US.

Participating in activities that you are not licensed to perform is more likely to keep you out of medical school in the US.
 

Chamomile Tea

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I hope so. I'm not sure how much URM matters in admission, but I'm going to work my ass off and aim for atleast an 85th percentile MCAT and 3.6sGPA/3.7cGPA.
It definitely helps, but won't save an extremely poor student.


Thank you. GPA/MCAT first, clinical experience/volunteering second. Are research opportunities just for STEM majors? Or can any student at a college apply for them?
Not just for STEM, a research lab will take someone who shows an interest. Some may require you to have had a lab course (to make sure you know your way around the lab) but many don't mind teaching you.

2. Ok. I'm in NC so UNC medical is ideal. Do you think they prefer UNC undergrads or does it really depend. Would that be an appropriate question to ask adcoms?
Yes. I think I'm a citizen, but I'm honestly not sure. I hold an american passport and have worked here before.[/QUOTE]

UNC doesn't necessarily prefer it's own undergrads. It has a preference for in-state students because it has to get funding from the state. It just so happens many UNC students happen to be in-state. Many ECU and UNCW students get into UNC just fine so attending them won't hurt your chances. Poor performance overall hurts more than where you go.