BA in International Relations --> Peace Corps --> NOW what?

racataca

5+ Year Member
Nov 6, 2009
32
0
Chicago
Status
Pre-Medical
So basically I graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2007 with a BA in International Relations, and about a 3.35, with an upward trend going from a 2.9 freshman year -> 3.5 sophomore -> 3.7 junior -> 3.2 senior (psychiatric problems + juggling three jobs). I've known since about high school that I wanted to be a doctor, but I was stupid and rebellious since all my family works in medicine and I wanted to be ~different~. I even worked in an ER for 3 years as a receptionist, but the the lightbulb didn't turn on.

After graduation, I joined the Peace Corps as an Environmental Health worker (meaning public health/STI ed, basically), worked in Panama for three years, including two with the Ministry of Health where I helped develop Public Health programs and went on "tour" to rural areas and did vitals so that the doctors/nurses could focus on other things.

Now I'm back in Chicago and I'm ready to start taking my prereqs, which the ultimate goal of getting into UIC (though hell, I'd take Loyola/Rush/UChicago/Northwestern if they'd have me), but I'm not sure what the best route would be. According to UIC, they don't care if you take your prereqs at a CC, which I'm signed up to start doing in January, but I take that with a grain of salt. There are some post-bacc programs in Chicago (at Loyola, UIC, and Northwestern, plus the CAHMPS program), but I am the only one working in my household, since my husband is a doctor from Panama and is dedicating all of his time to studying English/studying for the Boards so that he can match/practice here. Money is a huge issue because I am $70,000 in debt from undergrad and I'd rather not take out a $50,000 loan now, only to have to take out another $150,000 for med school. That said, if I have to, I have to.

I have literally all of the prereqs to take. I am signed up for Chem I at Truman College (which has a pretty reputable nursing program so I'm not concerned about the difficulty of their classes in that I'm sure they'll prepare me). It's a 5 credit class with the lab component included, but they don't give you a separate lab grade, if that makes any sense.

I'm just curious, SDN people, as to what your suggestions would be on how to maximize my chances of getting in. I was originally aiming for matriculating in the Fall of 2013, but I also know that it's gonna be tough to get all my prereqs + possible upper level classes at a 4 year + the MCATs done in enough time to apply early enough to be competitive, so I wanted to know what your take on it was.
 

0919mmk

5+ Year Member
Oct 27, 2009
947
24
Skid Row
Status
Medical Student
Fall 2013 will be tough. To do that, you have to apply summer 2012, which is 1.5 years from now. You need 2 bio, 2 gen chem, 2 orgo, 2 eng, 2 phys at least, which is 10 tough classes. I probably wouldn't try to do more than two of those per semester = 5 semesters =~ 2 years if you take a couple summer credits. So yeah, in theory, you could apply summer 2012 having completed about 7/10 of these classes.

The reason this is a bad idea is the MCAT. If you were to apply 2012, you'd have to take the MCAT spring 2012 while you are taking some tough classes. That is a recipe for, if not disaster, a really unfun spring, and potentially a lower score than you are capable of under idea conditions. If I were you, I would give myself another year and apply in Summer 2013. THis way, you will have all your classes done before spring 2013, so you can focus on the MCAT then, and get a killer score, which you need as a nontrad.

I know it seems life forever - I'm ina similar boat. HOwever, keep in mind that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Also, my favorite "though experiment" to do for those of us worried about starting too late is as follows: Take your probable retiring age =~ 68. Subtract 4 years for med school, 4 years for residency (apprx).Subtract the 3.5 years from now till you matriculate=56.5 right? I think...hehe. Anyways, subtract your age from that. I forget did you say you were about 30? So about 25 years. Thats how long you would be an attending if you take your time and do this right. 25 years is plenty long enough to do ANY one thing! That's lots of career. It just takes a little patience. Good luck!
 
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racataca

5+ Year Member
Nov 6, 2009
32
0
Chicago
Status
Pre-Medical
I'm actually only 25, so it'd be more like 32 years of practice! Your math certainly puts a lot into perspective and makes me realize that, you're right, this IS a marathon. I also feel as though I'm so hurried because I AM 25, and feel like being 30-something is "old," comparatively speaking (and I KNOW it's not!). How strange.

Anyway, immediately after having posted this, I checked out Northwestern's Post-bacc program. If I do the math right, it's about $18,000, which isn't bad at all, and it takes about 2 years to finish, which is perfect. I'd matriculate in 2013, or 2014 at the latest, and I'd be getting a first-rate education, if they'll have me. I think it's the route I'm going to take!
 

Rustifer

10+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2008
22
0
Status
Pre-Medical
I was 25 after getting out of the Corps when I began my undergrad. Since I've been in college I've met about a dozen other people in similar situations. It's not as rare as you might think to be in your upper 20's and just starting towards med school.

Take a deep breath, relax, and look at all your options. Choose the one that makes the most sense for you even if it means you'll be 30 something by the time you get your MD. There is no sense comparing yourself to those who went into college directly out of high school.