datsa

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Well, I haven't posted here in a while, I've been too busy with school.
But I need some advice, I'm in a dire situation.

I have been doing an informal post-bacc to raise my science GPA, but it has NOT worked out. No matter how hard I study or how long, I keep missing A's, and end up with B's and a few C's. In fact, my science grade average has dropped since I started the post-bacc.

I am currently taking four science classes -- 3 with labs -- , and getting 3'B and 1 C in the four. In two of the classes, I have missed more points than I can miss to get an A, so I am headed toward a B in those classes, no matter how well I do in the remainder of the course. [update:] In one of the other classes, I have a chance at an A, but in the other I am headed toward a C, so the point is mute. Even the instructor for the class in which I am getting a C is skeptical that I can get a B. Maybe, but given my rotten luck, probably not. (I've been very "unlucky" in terms of situations where I have been on the border between A and B grades or between B and C grades -- every time I have been in this situation, where I needed to pull off a miracle to get a better grade, I have failed . . . every single time . . . *sigh*).

My current science GPA is about 3.1, and I was trying to get it higher. Before starting my post-bacc, my science GPA was 3.5.
* Sigh * My post-bacc school doesn't give out plus or minus grades, so if you miss an A, you get a B. That really lowers one's GPA, since most of the time I miss an A by just a few points. In O'Chem I missed an A by 10 points out of 1000. On the other hand, my non-science GPA is 3.7 from a U of California school.

In looking over my performance in all my classes in which I missed getting an A, I can see several bad patterns, which I must avoid at all costs in order to get A's in the future.
1) I need to sleep much more; I only sleep 3-4 hours per night, and that doesn't help bring things from short-term memory into long-term memory. And memory is the major problem that I am having, I can't seem to recall things on tests; my papers, on the other hand, are excellent, but I've always been a much better writer than a test-taker (which is why I was an anthro major in undergrad). The reason I sleep only 3-4 hours per night is that I have an incredible amount of homework and paper-writing and test-quiz preparation. I don't procrastinate, I just don't have sufficient time to get all the work and studying I need to get done within the alloted time, and my biochemistry lab is the main reason for this; it takes up half of my off-campus time.
2) I need to take fewer classes per semester. 4 science classes is waayy too much.
3) I also need to review more often, and make practice tests, but doing so requires time, which I don't have because of that [email protected]#$% biochemistry lab class.
4) I've discovered that I remember best when I take practice tests.

I'd like to bring my science GPA up to 3.7, but that would require more classes than are left in my time in my post-bacc. It would also require much more time.

So, next semester I am taking only three or two classes, but at that rate, it will take 10 years worth of classes to raise my GPA to be competitive since I have so many units already. And, at that rate, I'll be in my mid-50's before I apply to med school.

I have until Friday to withdraw from a class, but only for "serious and compelling reasons." Poor grades and lack of time are NOT considered serious and compelling reasons; job and family commitments are serious and compelling reasons, but I quit my job, and I have few family obligations (I do take care of my elderly parents, but they are low maintenance).

[Update:} I was able to withdraw from one of the four classes, but the class that is causing me the most grief, biochemistry lab, I cannot withdraw from. The instructor will not sign the withdraw form since I am "passing" with a C. So my GPA will drop even lower. But then if I do withdraw I will get a W; I haven't gotten a W grade in 25 years.

Question: Would it look bad to get a W or two W's? Which is worse, B grades (which would lower my GPA) or a W?

I have made appointments with all my professors today to go over my grades, but I think that their advice will not be able to save me from another disastrous semester.

Any ideas or advice?
 
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ILikeFood

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Stick with it and do the best you can. B's aren't horrible enough grades to prolong your postbacc.

But realize that US MD schools are now only possible if you do well in an SMP. With a 3.1 science you're realistically looking at DO and Carribean schools.

Why are you only sleeping 3-4 hours w/o a job?
 

datsa

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Stick with it and do the best you can. B's aren't horrible enough grades to prolong your postbacc.

But realize that US MD schools are now only possible if you do well in an SMP. With a 3.1 science you're realistically looking at DO and Carribean schools.

Yes, because I am older, I was told that DO was a better option; I am still going to apply to MD schools as well. I wonder: are MD schools out of the question even if one does well on the MCAT.

About SMPs: Should I apply to med schools and then if I don't get in, then apply to SMP or should I apply directly to an SMP?

Why are you only sleeping 3-4 hours w/o a job?

Well, I really still have a job, but since I'm self-employed I have cut way back on my hours, to where I only work a few hours a month. I still need to pay bills.

My biochemistry lab class is taking up all my free time. I spend 50% of my study and preparation time on that one class alone. Although it is a Tuesday-Thursday class, the instructor makes us come in Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays as well to do the required work. It is the major reason that I am getting B's this semester; unfortunately, this class did not impact my other classes until last month, when all the projects and lab reports started coming due.

I suppose the other reason is that I am very picky about how I write lab reports, quizzes, and papers; it takes me a long time to compose things, but I usually get high marks. In my virology class, for example, the instructor has been giving me extra points on my quizzes, because he has been so impressed with my writing. I suppose that is because I was an social science major in undergrad, and all I did was write papers. So perhaps this explains my ineptitude in the sciences, I am good at expository exams (essay exams using words), but lousy at exams that require symbolic manipulation (math, chemistry, physics).

Also, I have terrible "timing" -- no matter how much in advance -- even weeks ahead of time -- I prepare for tests, I invariably run out of time and stay up late the night before a test.
 
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ILikeFood

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I wonder: are MD schools out of the question even if one does well on the MCAT.
Depends on what state you live in. If you live in Mississippi, no. If you live in California, yes.

About SMPs: Should I apply to med schools and then if I don't get in, then apply to SMP or should I apply directly to an SMP?
The bolded. If given the chance to save 50k, do it.

Also, I have terrible "timing" -- no matter how much in advance -- even weeks ahead of time -- I prepare for tests, I invariably run out of time and stay up late the night before a test.
Sleep more, do a better job keeping up with the work, and study to the very end.
 

gman33

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I don't see much of a case for leaving your current school.
It seems like you should just take fewer credits. People can be in such a rush to finish, that they wind up digging a bigger hole to climb out of.
Try taking 1-2 classes a semester and get A's. If you can handle that comfortably, try 3 classes.

If you are looking at DO schools, your science GPA won't kill you, but you need to improve from here on out. For MD schools, you probably need a SMP, unless you only have a few science classes (which doesn't sound like it's the case).
 

datsa

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Stick with it and do the best you can. B's aren't horrible enough grades to prolong your postbacc.

But realize that US MD schools are now only possible if you do well in an SMP. With a 3.1 science you're realistically looking at DO and Carribean schools.

Why are you only sleeping 3-4 hours w/o a job?

Depends on what state you live in. If you live in Mississippi, no. If you live in California, yes.

The bolded. If given the chance to save 50k, do it.

Unfortunately, I live in California, but I wasn't really expecting to stay here for med school. I don't intend to practice here anyway; I am not interested in private practice. My ultimate goal is to do public health work abroad, either in subSaharan Africa or Latin America, preferrably with either an NGO or with the World Health Organization or its Latin American affialiate, the Pan-American Health Organization. I'd also like to teach med students international health issues at the university level.

Sleep more, do a better job keeping up with the work, and study to the very end.
Yes, the major reason that I am not sleeping is because I have not been able to keep up with the work, and I always study to the end.
I don't watch TV (I don't even own a TV), don't go to movies, don't listen to music, and barely work any more. Instead, I just study, every place and all the time.
 
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Nanon

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I don't watch TV (I don't even own a TV), don't go to movies, don't listen to music, and barely work any more. Instead, I just study, every place and all the time.

You know... this might actually be part of the problem. Four science classes is too much, not sleeping is making you stupid, but not using your brain for other stuff is the final nail in the coffin. Your brain is built to attenuate on several different kinds of things a day. If you don't, it will tune out despite your best efforts. You can get away with this kind of behavior for about 2 to 3 weeks max, and then your mind will start to drift and your study time will be completely unproductive. And you'll become insane after a while. Never attractive. :laugh:

Please, for the love of all that is holy, get up from your computer and take a long walk with your ipod. I bet you $1.50 that you'll break that glass "A" ceiling...

S.
 

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Unfortunately, I live in California, but I wasn't really expecting to stay here for med school. I don't intend to practice here anyway; I am not interested in private practice. My ultimate goal is to public health work abroad, either in subSaharan Africa or Latin America, preferrably with either an NGO or with the World Health Organization or its Latin American affialiate, the Pan-American Health Organization. I'd also like to teach med students international health issues at the university level.

I don't have specific details, but be aware that many foreign countries do not recognize DOs. I've heard of DOs running into trouble when trying to practice in Africa, for example. Definitely do your homework if working abroad is your dream!
 
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njbmd

Well, I haven't posted here in a while, I've been too busy with school.
But I need some advice, I'm in a dire situation.

I have been doing an informal post-bacc to raise my science GPA, but it has NOT worked out. No matter how hard I study or how long, I keep missing A's, and end up with B's. In fact, my science grade average has dropped since I started the post-bacc.

I am currently taking four science classes, and getting B's in all four. In two of the classes, I have missed more points than I can miss to get an A, so I am headed toward a B in those classes, no matter how well I do in the remainder of the course. In the other two classes, I am not sure, but I may be able to pull off a better grade. However, given my luck, probably not. (I've been very "unlucky" -- every time I have been in this situation, where I needed to pull off a miracle to get a better grade, I have failed . . . every single time . . . *sigh*).

In looking over my performance in all my classes in which I missed getting an A, I can see several patterns, which I must avoid at all costs in order to get A's.
1) I need to sleep much more; I only sleep 3-4 hours per night, and that doesn't help bring things from short-term memory into long-term memory. And memory is the major problem that I am having, I can't seem to recall things on tests; my papers, on the other hand, are excellent, but I've always been a much better writer than a test-taker (which is why I was an anthro major in undergrad). The reason I sleep only 3-4 hours per night is that I have an incredible amount of homework and paper-writing and test-quiz preparation. I don't procrastinate, I just don't have sufficient time to get all the work and studying I need to get done within the alloted time, and my biochemistry lab is the main reason for this; it takes up half of my off-campus time.
2) I need to take fewer classes per semester. 4 science classes is waayy too much.3) I also need to review more often, and make practice tests, but doing so requires time, which I don't have because of that [email protected]#$% biochemistry lab class.
4) I've discovered that I remember best when I take practice tests.

I'd like to bring my science GPA up to 3.7, but that would require more classes than are left in my time in my post-bacc. It would also require much more time.

You have essentially answered your own question. You need to drop these courses, take no more than two classes per semester unless you are doing A-level work.

It's going to be doubtful that you will get your uGPA up to 3.7 by allopathic standards but DO is very doable if you retake classes that you previously did poorly in. If you drop back (two Ws at this point are not as problematic as the Bs), you can get more sleep, concentrate more on your work and do better work.

Try to stop telling yourself that you "do best with practice tests". You are not going to have much an opportunity to take practice tests in medical school so find a way to master this material by many different methods. You can't afford to have "one best" method of learning. Tell yourself that you WILL adapt to do what you need.

Undergraduate GPA "damage-control" is a long and costly process. Take your time and do high quality work. You won't see much progress unless you do this.
 

datsa

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It's going to be doubtful that you will get your uGPA up to 3.7 by allopathic standards .

Yes, I know; perhaps, I should just keep taking science courses. Most of my science grades are B's, 2 C's from last semester, with a smattering of A's.
I will try to improve my science GPA over the next few years, and then apply.

Try to stop telling yourself that you "do best with practice tests". You are not going to have much an opportunity to take practice tests in medical school so find a way to master this material by many different methods. You can't afford to have "one best" method of learning. Tell yourself that you WILL adapt to do what you need.
You're right, . This is something I need to learn to do without practice tests. Are there ways to retain information besides rote memorization from reading and flash cards?
 
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datsa

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Well, things look mixed. I found out that I have a chance at an A in my virology class, but that I am headed for a C in my biochem lab; I thought I was getting a B, but apparently that was not the case.

But the worst, is that apparently, I cannot drop out of the Biochem lab class; the deadline for that one class was 2 weeks ago, but at that time I thought I was doing better. I will try to drop my anatomy lab class; I have a solid B but I really want an A.

So it looks like that I may only be able to drop one class out of four, but my GPA would go lower than I had expected.

It's time to start over. I will do my best for the remainder of this semester, but starting next semester, I am going to follow Dr. Belle's advice and from now on just take things easy. I will concentrate on getting A's and keep taking classes until I do my best to keep getting A's until I can rectify my GPA. It will be years/decades before I can raise my GPA to an acceptable level but if that is what it takes, then so be it.

I can't believe that I have screwed things up this far.
But, again, that is the story of my life in general . . .
 
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1) I need to sleep much more; I only sleep 3-4 hours per night, and that doesn't help bring things from short-term memory into long-term memory. And memory is the major problem that I am having, I can't seem to recall things on tests; my papers, on the other hand, are excellent, but I've always been a much better writer than a test-taker (which is why I was an anthro major in undergrad). The reason I sleep only 3-4 hours per night is that I have an incredible amount of homework and paper-writing and test-quiz preparation. I don't procrastinate, I just don't have sufficient time to get all the work and studying I need to get done within the alloted time, and my biochemistry lab is the main reason for this; it takes up half of my off-campus time.
2) I need to take fewer classes per semester. 4 science classes is waayy too much.
3) I also need to review more often, and make practice tests, but doing so requires time, which I don't have because of that [email protected]#$% biochemistry lab class.
4) I've discovered that I remember best when I take practice tests.

No offense, but it sounds like med school is not for you if you can't function/have poor memory on little sleep and 4 science classes per semester in a post bac is "waayy too much."

Also, if you are interested in an MD program and completing an informal post bac to raise your GPA, you are pretty much dead in the water if you can't get AT LEAST a 3.6 or 3.7 in your post bac work. And they want to see you taking a full load of classes... virtually anyone can take 1 or 2 classes at a time and ace them. Good luck.
 

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I agree with speedy that if you can't handle a lot of course work @one time, then med school MAY not be for you. I don't know you personally and I don't know what school you are attending, so I can't say. Maybe you just need to learn better study techniques.

I am concerned about your comment that "it's going to take me decades". NOTHING is worth spending decades getting ready to do...especially if the outcome is not a sure thing. Medical school admissions NEVER is. You say that you are a nontrad. You want to spend your life taking care of patients, not being "pre" something, like premed. You need to set a reasonable time frame to try to get yourself in to some sort of medical school - say 2 years or so. It sounds like you have perhaps already taken the prerequisite courses for med school admissions? Forget the multiple upper level science courses...they are unnecessary and you're going to take them all again if yo go to med school anyway.

My recommendation would be to take maybe 2 classes/semester, at most, from now on. Would retake whatever science classes you got a C in, so that they are removed/replaced (for the DO schools). Being a nontrad, the DO schools are by far your best bet. And it is a myth that DO's can't work abroad...there are some countries where it is a problem, and others where it isn't. You say than your nonscience GPA is 3.7...that is good. I don't know what your cumulative is, but would think you have a shot at a DO school if you can do decent on the MCAT. Given your story (nontrad age plus lower GPA plus struggling with your science courses) I don't see that getting an MD is very realistic at this point.

I would consider studying for and taking the MCAT if you've taken your 2 years chem, 1 year physics, 1 or more years of bio. After you take it you'll know where you stand - if you can't score in the 20's somewhere, then perhaps med school isn't the right path for you. Everyone who applies to med school needs to have a backup. Mine was to be a physical therapist or high school teacher. There are more ways than just being an MD to help people in 3rd world countries. You could become an aid worker/other employee of an aid agency, an RN, physical therapist, public health worker, English teacher, etc.

I am concerned about how little you are sleeping. 4 science classes at once IS too many, but it's much like what you'll face in med school, and med students have to find ways to cope and absorb the material (other than not sleeping).
 
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You have essentially answered your own question. DO is very doable if you retake classes that you previously did poorly in. .



What constitutes having done "poorly in?" My worst grades have been in Genetics and Biochemistry II (C), and probably Biochemistry lab this semester, another C. All the rest are B's and a few A's.

As far as premed courses go, I got B's in Ochem, Physics I, Calc II, as Biochem I.

Should I retake these courses? I don't mind taking the time to do so, but will it not reflect poorly on my transcript to have retaken B-grade classes?

There are no D's or F's. I did get one D in undergrad (differential equations), but that was 25 years ago.

I guess I am just not that smart anymore. I read recently that for some people, one's cognitive abililties start to decline after age 40. Apparently it has already started for me. *sigh*
 
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student1799

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My post-bacc school doesn't give out plus or minus grades, so if you miss an A, you get a B. That really lowers one's GPA, since most of the time I miss an A but just a few points. In O'Chem I missed an A by 10 points out of 1000.

That grading system seems fairly harsh. If you truly have missed A's in a lot of classes by only a few points, maybe you would be better off leaving your current institution and going somewhere else with +/- grades. Obviously, this is hardly your only problem, but it certainly isn't helping things.
 

datsa

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I agree with speedy that if you can't handle a lot of course work @one time, then med school MAY not be for you.

Perhaps you are right; may be medicine isn't for me.


Maybe you just need to learn better study techniques.

I spent last summer working on my study techniques after a disastrous
Spring semester. I am studying differently now, but still with the same results.

Forget the multiple upper level science courses...they are unnecessary and you're going to take them all again if yo go to med school anyway.

I started taking multiple upper-level science courses on the advice of a premed advisor at a local medical school. Perhaps I should not have followed her advice.

Given your story (nontrad age plus lower GPA plus struggling with your science courses) I don't see that getting an MD is very realistic at this point.

Should I not apply to any MD schools? There are so few DO schools.
Also, what is it about my story that would dissuade an MD school: my age, grades, or the struggling? I can't change my age, and I don't want to be penalized for being older. I took a different path, albeit a circuitous one.

If you can't score in the 20's somewhere, then perhaps med school isn't the right path for you.

Will a high MCAT offset any of my B grades?

I am concerned about how little you are sleeping. 4 science classes at once IS too many, but it's much like what you'll face in med school, and med students have to find ways to cope and absorb the material (other than not sleeping).
I neglected to say, that these were three science classes with labs, and one science class without labs.
 

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I don't have specific details, but be aware that many foreign countries do not recognize DOs. I've heard of DOs running into trouble when trying to practice in Africa, for example. Definitely do your homework if working abroad is your dream!

It's not much harder to get practice rights as a DO than as an MD, in a large number of countries. MDs and DOs both typically have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get licensed in a country other than where they were trained. Just like there are a bunch of hoops to get licensed in the US if you didn't train here.

With some exceptions, when you work with an aid organization, you don't have to get full practice rights in that country. MSF (Doctors without Borders) doesn't care if you're MD or DO. The US military doesn't care if you're MD or DO.

There is good information available about the many, many countries where one or more DO's have forged the path to practice rights for the next DO. Good luck finding this info for MDs (and post it if you do).
 

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It's not much harder to get practice rights as a DO than as an MD, in a large number of countries. MDs and DOs both typically have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get licensed in a country other than where they were trained. Just like there are a bunch of hoops to get licensed in the US if you didn't train here.

With some exceptions, when you work with an aid organization, you don't have to get full practice rights in that country. MSF (Doctors without Borders) doesn't care if you're MD or DO. The US military doesn't care if you're MD or DO.

There is good information available about the many, many countries where one or more DO's have forged the path to practice rights for the next DO. Good luck finding this info for MDs (and post it if you do).

Good to know, thanks! :thumbup:

I just remember a particular thread here about a year ago where someone with DO was running into problems practicing in some African country. Wish I could remember the details about the thread. It just stuck out to me as another complication to be aware of.

But since it seems that whatever hoops there are will be shared by MDs alike, it's really not a concern then.
 

datsa

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Good to know, thanks! :thumbup:

I just remember a particular thread here about a year ago where someone with DO was running into problems practicing in some African country.
Yes, there are still some countries that don't understand that DO's are trained essentially the same as MD's. I suspect it is because DO's are a uniquely American phenomena. If DO schools were established abroad in other countries, then their visibility would be higher, and DO's would have greater recognition and acceptance. BTW, the only country I know that doesn't accept DO's is Uganda. I wouldn't mind going there myself (I did some volunteer work with a local NGO to raise awareness of the child soldiers and children orphaned by Uganda's guerilla war, but never went there -- can't afford the plane ticket at this time). In some other countries, DO's must be vetted before practicing, especially if they want to move to the foreign country and live there while practicing (which is what I want to do: practicing as an extension of an international aid agency. I have a background in public health, and so I only want to do non-profit health work. ).

Most of my international experience has been in rural Mexico and Central America, although I am also interested in other areas. I also have very long-term domestic health care experience (both volunteer and paid).
 

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No, I would not retake the B's. Retake the classes that you got C's in.
Don't worry about one D or F from 25 years ago.
Yes, a higher MCAT score (like 30 or hopefully more) would offset some of the B's.
I don't think you even needed a 2nd semester of biochemistry.
r.e. Your ? about whether it is your age, your lower grades or the struggling with academics in general that would hurt you at MD schools. It's all of the above. There are MD schools that take nontrads older than low to mid 30's, but from what I have seen there are quite a few that don't, or at least take very few. DO schools, on the other hand, tend to value work and life experience a bit more.

You are correct in that you may run into problems getting permission to work in some select countries, but you have to ask yourself are you going to set yourself up for 5 or 6 more years of playing "undergrad premed" just with the hope of getting in to some MD school, which is uncertain at best. I think you are exactly the type of candidate that a lot of the DO schools would like, and that MD schools might overlook. And I am an MD, btw. I honestly don't think it's going to end up mattering much which one you are...you can do international work with both. Might be more ideal to be an MD, but like I said I think getting in to a US MD school will be uphill both ways for you. The average GPA at most all of those is 3.5 or above, and those B's and C's are pulling down your overall GPA...plus you have no idea what you are going to get on the MCAT. BUT as you said you have extensive volunteer experience, etc. All med schools like that but DO may like it more.

I think you got bad advice from the premed advisor, for what it's worth...if she really did tell you to go and take a ton of science classes with labs. Just take the prerequisites you need, +/- a few upper level biology classes, and be done with it. Get a B or greater (hopefully A or A-) in all your future classes. Your time and money would be better spent on a good MCAT prep course like Princeton Review, as your MCAT score is going to be as important as your GPA in getting you in to school.
 

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No, I would not retake the B's. Retake the classes that you got C's in.
Yes, will retake the genetics and biochem. My school discourages retakes but I think that won't matter.

r.e. Your ? about whether it is your age, your lower grades or the struggling with academics in general that would hurt you at MD schools. It's all of the above. There are MD schools that take nontrads older than low to mid 30's, but from what I have seen there are quite a few that don't, or at least take very few. DO schools, on the other hand, tend to value work and life experience a bit more.
Yes, I had some hassles about my age when I talked to some East coast med schools -- one school dean told me that they would not accept me if I was above age 45 -- I'm 44 now and I wasn't even planning to apply until I was 46.But given my current GPA, these schools are obviously out of my league.

BUT as you said you have extensive volunteer experience, etc. All med schools like that but DO may like it more.
Yes, I have about 15 years worth of diverse, continuous volunteer experiences, both domestic and abroad. But I was not premed when I started volunteering; I just did it for fun. It was my experiences abroad, doing rural health work, that ultimately convinced me to consider medicine. I was told to stop volunteering and start studying, i.e. return to school.

I think you got bad advice from the premed advisor, for what it's worth...if she really did tell you to go and take a ton of science classes with labs. Just take the prerequisites you need, +/- a few upper level biology classes, and be done with it. Get a B or greater (hopefully A or A-) in all your future classes.
In retrospect, you are right. I wish I had just taken it slow and gotten good grades, then I could have boosted my 3.5 to a 3.7 and have been done with it and saved years worth of headaches. I can't change much what I am going to get this semester, but starting next semester, it should be all A's. Better an A since my school doesn't give out +/- grades.

Your time and money would be better spent on a good MCAT prep course like Princeton Review, as your MCAT score is going to be as important as your GPA in getting you in to school.
Yes, I studied for the MCAT last summer, but I wasn't satisfied. I will do it again starting this winter break.
 
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student1799

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... what I want to do: practicing as an extension of an international aid agency. I have a background in public health, and so I only want to do non-profit health work. ...

This got me thinking: if you want to do international relief work while living abroad, maybe it makes sense to go to medical school overseas also. I can't claim to know anything about it other than what I've seen on SDN, but I've seen posts that say some overseas medical schools (especially in Cuba, Eastern Europe, and possibly Scandinavia) will accept US citizens whose aim is to practice medicine in developing countries. And unlike Caribbean med schools, these schools charge either no or low tuition, so you wouldn't graduate with the debt burden of either a US or Caribbean medical education. (A good thing, since you're not likely to make much money in your field of choice.)

I'll repeat that I'm not pretending to be knowledgeable about this option: I'm just throwing it out there as something you might want to look into. Cuba, in particular, might make sense for you if your Spanish is good (which I'd imagine it is, given all the time you've spent in Latin America).

Good luck figuring out your plan of action.

P.S. I'd love to know which med school told you point-blank they wouldn't take you over the age of 45. (No need to post it--you can PM me.) I'm that age myself, and in the middle of applying right now, so I'd like to know what I'm up against.
 

dragonfly99

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Those > early 30's would probably have a better chance at most DO schools, and some state-sponsored medical schools, than at most of the ivy league type private medical schools. The latter tend to like people in their 20's, for the most part, which I think is in part due to the fact that they like to get people to go into the research lab for 1-2 years (at least as many as they can entice) and/or get them into an MD/PhD program. The state schools want to recruit those who will stay and work in their state (i.e. U of Missour likes only Missour folks, and U of Arkansas likes folks who want to stay in Arkansas and practice). Therefore, these may be more friendly to someone in his 30's or 40's b/c they may see him as less of a "flight risk" (i.e. unlikely to try and leave Missouri and go to California to do residency).
 

datsa

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if you want to do international relief work while living abroad, maybe it makes sense to go to medical school overseas also.

Yes, I have considered those, but being a non-citizen to those countries, I am unsure of how to go about applying, but I will look into it.

I can't claim to know anything about it other than what I've seen on SDN, but I've seen posts that say some overseas medical schools (especially in Cuba, Eastern Europe, and possibly Scandinavia) will accept US citizens whose aim is to practice medicine in developing countries.

Some of these schools have age limits. Age discrimination is much more blatant, pervasive, and even acceptable outside of the U.S. and Canada. Cuba's main medical school prefers applicants under age 30. In Mexico, for example, employers can legally state the age limits, sex, and other qualifications of jobs, and in some cases, the "looks" as well. (I used to live in rural Mexico)

P.S. I'd love to know which med school told you point-blank they wouldn't take you over the age of 45. (No need to post it--you can PM me.) I'm that age myself, and in the middle of applying right now, so I'd like to know what I'm up against.
I sent you a PM about that med school and a few others that I've talked to over the years. But it's been a few years since I talked to them, so things may have changed about their attitudes toward older applicants.
 
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datsa

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Those > early 30's would probably have a better chance at most DO schools, and some state-sponsored medical schools, than at most of the ivy league type private medical schools. The latter tend to like people in their 20's, for the most part, which I think is in part due to the fact that they like to get people to go into the research lab for 1-2 years (at least as many as they can entice) and/or get them into an MD/PhD program.
I will proffer that other reasons that med schools like young students are stereotyping and history. Historically, medical students have come straight from college, so they have tended to be young. Our culture and media is filled with references to "young doctors" because of its cultural fixation on youth. We tend to view anything "young" in a more positive light than things that are "old." And physicians and other health care providers are no exception to being the subject of this biased perspective. It is akin to the way children and young adults view their parents as being "out of touch" and set in their ways. Adcomms don't realize that some of us older students are just as capable as younger ones, that we have the same drive, ambitions, aspirations, and potential -- we just happen to be older, but we are not necessarily dumber or less capable. True, we may not be able to practice as long, but since when has "length of practice" been a criterium for medical school admissions? No med school that I have looked at has stipulated that its graduates must practice for a minimum amount of time before retiring. And if it is an admissions criterium, why don't the med schools just stipulate this in their literature and websites? It would make things a lot easier in choosing med schools.
 

datsa

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Well, the chair of the chemistry department heard about my situation and decided to let me drop the Biochem lab. I also dropped my anatomy class because I really wanted to do well, and I got a C on my last midterm; I had little time to review for it since I was writing a length (40+ page) lab report for that Biochem class. Yes, I'll have two W's on my transcript, but hopefully none more from now on. So now I can focus on getting A's in the rest of my courses. And then start anew with a lighter schedule in the Spring.
 
N

njbmd

I will proffer that other reasons that med schools like young students are stereotyping and history. Historically, medical students have come straight from college, so they have tended to be young. Our culture and media is filled with references to "young doctors" because of its cultural fixation on youth. We tend to view anything "young" in a more positive light than things that are "old." And physicians and other health care providers are no exception to being the subject of this biased perspective. It is akin to the way children and young adults view their parents as being "out of touch" and set in their ways. Adcomms don't realize that some of us older students are just as capable as younger ones, that we have the same drive, ambitions, aspirations, and potential -- we just happen to be older, but we are not necessarily dumber or less capable. True, we may not be able to practice as long, but since when has "length of practice" been a criterium for medical school admissions? No med school that I have looked at has stipulated that its graduates must practice for a minimum amount of time before retiring. And if it is an admissions criterium, why don't the med schools just stipulate this in their literature and websites? It would make things a lot easier in choosing med schools.


The above is very wrong. Medical schools are searching for the best applicants that they can find as evidenced by undergraduate GPA, scores on the Medical College Admissions Test, extracurricular activities, personal statement and letters of recommendation. If they were just interested in people who were under the age of 25, I would have had no chance of acceptance into medical school as I was far older than 25 when I applied.

I started medical school in my mid-forties and had very little difficulty entering medical school, performing in medical school and in residency. This was not the case for many non-traditional students who have poor uGPAs and difficulties with the Medical College Admissions Test.

It is not that non-traditional students are not capable of having a good grades/MCAT scores but more of a case of being away from academic to pursue other vocations, raise families etc. It is very, very difficult to for many people to work at the same level on return to academics after having left academics for an extended period of time. This is why we strongly advocate that when one returns to take coursework that they start slow, get some strong grades under their belt and then add coursework. Many folks do the opposite (because they want to finish quickly) and find that they have academic problems.

In addition, many older students are working to support themselves and their families in addition to coursework. If you are working full-time, it is likely academic "suicide" to attempt to master a full-time courseload of pre-medical classes. I took my pre-med courses when I was age 15-17 after completing a very strong secondary academic course. It took more than a full-time job to keep my grades very high. These are not easy course to master well. To attempt to speed through this work (heavy courseload) in addition to working full-time invites (not a drop in your work performance but) a drop in your academic performance.

In the medical school admissions process, there is little room for errors and "re-dos". You have essentially one shot at not "screwing up" your academic work. When you have remote academic work that is below average, it can take years of excellent coursework to raise that uGPA into something that is competitive. This means taking one day at a time; one course at a time and ensuring that you perform well.

It also takes placing emphasis mastery of the material presented because you are going to be asked to apply your premedical course knowledge in solving problems on the Medical College Admissions Test. You can't sit and "memorize" your way to a strong MCAT score. Application of knowledge takes a strong base in addition to plenty of practice with problem-solving. These characteristics do not have anything to do with age but with disciplined practice and thorough understanding or how to do well on application tests.

To sit around and lament that "well medicine prefers younger people because they are young and we are in a youth oriented society" is a very poor approach (and something of a "cop-out"). You have to get the job done period. It can be more difficult when you are older but it is far from impossible (I am living proof of that fact). There were two people in my medical school that were older than myself. Both made it in and through with little difficulty and are currently in practice. Both had the attitude that they would get the job done and did so, again, more proof that age is not much of a factor.

When a patient is trying to die in front of you, they don't know your age, sex or anything other than you either have the knowledge to help them or you don't. Medical school is not a reward for being anything other than well-prepared for the academic challenges that you will face both pre-clinical and clinical. We don't select students because they are young, we select students because they are prepared and have shown evidence that they can thrive in a very challenging environment without excuses.

It is always frustrating and difficult to keep going when you find that you are not achieving what you set out to achieve. A far better attitude than attempting to fix blame is to fix the problems that are preventing YOU from achieving success. The first step in doing this is not looking outside yourself but figuring out what YOU need to do to get what you need and taking some action.
 

speedyk

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The above is very wrong. Medical schools are searching for the best applicants that they can find as evidenced by undergraduate GPA, scores on the Medical College Admissions Test, extracurricular activities, personal statement and letters of recommendation. If they were just interested in people who were under the age of 25, I would have had no chance of acceptance into medical school as I was far older than 25 when I applied.

I started medical school in my mid-forties and had very little difficulty entering medical school, performing in medical school and in residency. This was not the case for many non-traditional students who have poor uGPAs and difficulties with the Medical College Admissions Test.

It is not that non-traditional students are not capable of having a good grades/MCAT scores but more of a case of being away from academic to pursue other vocations, raise families etc. It is very, very difficult to for many people to work at the same level on return to academics after having left academics for an extended period of time. This is why we strongly advocate that when one returns to take coursework that they start slow, get some strong grades under their belt and then add coursework. Many folks do the opposite (because they want to finish quickly) and find that they have academic problems.

In addition, many older students are working to support themselves and their families in addition to coursework. If you are working full-time, it is likely academic "suicide" to attempt to master a full-time courseload of pre-medical classes. I took my pre-med courses when I was age 15-17 after completing a very strong secondary academic course. It took more than a full-time job to keep my grades very high. These are not easy course to master well. To attempt to speed through this work (heavy courseload) in addition to working full-time invites (not a drop in your work performance but) a drop in your academic performance.

In the medical school admissions process, there is little room for errors and "re-dos". You have essentially one shot at not "screwing up" your academic work. When you have remote academic work that is below average, it can take years of excellent coursework to raise that uGPA into something that is competitive. This means taking one day at a time; one course at a time and ensuring that you perform well.

It also takes placing emphasis mastery of the material presented because you are going to be asked to apply your premedical course knowledge in solving problems on the Medical College Admissions Test. You can't sit and "memorize" your way to a strong MCAT score. Application of knowledge takes a strong base in addition to plenty of practice with problem-solving. These characteristics do not have anything to do with age but with disciplined practice and thorough understanding or how to do well on application tests.

To sit around and lament that "well medicine prefers younger people because they are young and we are in a youth oriented society" is a very poor approach (and something of a "cop-out"). You have to get the job done period. It can be more difficult when you are older but it is far from impossible (I am living proof of that fact). There were two people in my medical school that were older than myself. Both made it in and through with little difficulty and are currently in practice. Both had the attitude that they would get the job done and did so, again, more proof that age is not much of a factor.

When a patient is trying to die in front of you, they don't know your age, sex or anything other than you either have the knowledge to help them or you don't. Medical school is not a reward for being anything other than well-prepared for the academic challenges that you will face both pre-clinical and clinical. We don't select students because they are young, we select students because they are prepared and have shown evidence that they can thrive in a very challenging environment without excuses.

It is always frustrating and difficult to keep going when you find that you are not achieving what you set out to achieve. A far better attitude than attempting to fix blame is to fix the problems that are preventing YOU from achieving success. The first step in doing this is not looking outside yourself but figuring out what YOU need to do to get what you need and taking some action.

Agreed. Very well said. I am also a nontrad who has multiple acceptances. They don't care about age (unless you are like 60+). The reason that med schools "prefer" younger applicants is that they have much better stats than nontrads on average. Not because med schools are "fixated on youth." That's completely ridiculous. It also sounds like sour grapes, considering his current situation.

It's really tough to get into an MD program after blowing your "first chance" in college, but by no means impossible if you have the drive and talent and are willing to devote yourself to getting into med school. (Though I wonder why he decided to take more, non-prereq classes with a respectable 3.5 BCPM.) But now that he has a 3.1 BCPM and a few W's, he has blown his second chance and I'd say it's darn near impossible. Especially if he believes that he is giving 100% to his classes already (and not distracted by a full-time job) yet are coming nowhere close to achieving what he needs to. He might be able to get into a DO program, but he should really examine if he will be able to succeed there if he is having trouble getting a 3.0 in undergrad courses in his postbac.
 

echidna

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Well, the chair of the chemistry department heard about my situation and decided to let me drop the Biochem lab. I also dropped my anatomy class because I really wanted to do well, and I got a C on my last midterm; I had little time to review for it since I was writing a length (40+ page) lab report for that Biochem class. Yes, I'll have two W's on my transcript, but hopefully none more from now on. So now I can focus on getting A's in the rest of my courses. And then start anew with a lighter schedule in the Spring.

Whoa, 40+ pages for a lab report? Really? I'll definitely NOT be taking biochem lab then.
 

dragonfly99

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Agree w/above 2 posts.
Except that I do think there is some bias on adcoms at some med schools against admitting over-40 applicants. One could argue that this is reasonable since someone who doesn't finish residency until age 50 is going to have 20-30 years max to practice, while someone who finished at age 30 is going to have 30-50 years. And residency is funded by public dollars (Medicare) so the public has a vested interest in seeing that docs who will practice for a long time get trained. But as the OP pointed out, there is no guarantee that all the young docs will stay with it for many years/not retire early or quit. However, there is no guarantee the older students/docs will stick with it a long time either. There are no guarantees about any medical school applicant...the Adcoms just do the best they can.

However, I totally agree w/the above post that patients do not care about your age or any other thing when they are in front of your face trying to die. They only care if you can get the job done. And making excuses won't get it.

I do think that staying up all night repetitively while on call might be harder for someone in his 40's than it would for a 25 or 30 year old, and that shouldn't be discounted by the OP. Are you sure you want to do this if you can't maintain your GPA taking undergrad classes. I'm not trying to be harsh, I'm just saying that you need to think really hard about what your priorities are, what your abilities and affinities are, and what you need to do to get where you want to go. And the above post about not being able to "memorize your way" to a good MCAT score is totally true...you have to be able to understand and apply the materials. It's just basical biology, chem, organic chem and physics...you don't really need all the extra upper level science courses for the test particularly. You do need to be able to read fast, solve the problems fast, etc. to do well on the test. Being able to read and assimilate course material fast is something that's necessary in med school as well, so it's not a totally silly exam, though it was definitely a thorn in the side of a lot of us at some point!

I think the OP should get busy with studying for the MCAT and apply to school ASAP, particularly DO schools. He doesn't have time to waste and he wants to practice medicine...
 
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