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Medical Big career change; 3 questions (post-bacc) on what I should do

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Jun 11, 2010
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First, you are all amazing. I have lurked around these forums for a while and greatly appreciated the wealth of knowledge and resources that you and the broader community so freely share.

Context
I am a 34-year old attorney seeking to enter a post-bacc program next year. For the past 8 years, I have worked at a prestigious management consulting firm providing cybersecurity and privacy risk management services to major health industry companies. Occasionally I have the privilege of working on something that directly leads to improved patient care (e.g., implementing security controls for a medical device). Witnessing how my clients can change lives is deeply inspiring and energizing. While I enjoy my work, I want to become a physician to directly interact with patients instead of watching and supporting from afar.

Hopefully that's enough info... I promise my personal statement will be more robust, as I have also dealt with some personal experiences - both ups and downs - that allow me to intimately understand and empathize with patients dealing with challenging circumstances.

GPA/Education
  • Undergrad: 2.8
    • B.S. from 4-year state university majoring in Technical Communications w/Computer Security concentration; grades trend up after first 2-3 semesters; med school sciences = 1 3-credit "C" in a Chemistry for Engineers course so sGPA repair is possible
  • Law school: 3.4
    • Graduated top third of class; held two research TA positions; received the top grade in one class; accepted to law review; scored ~90th percentile in LSAT
  • Ivy league Masters: 4.0
    • Computer Security at Brown University; full merit-based scholarship
Relevant professional highlights
  • Deep experience across the health care value chain. Clients include Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Varian, St. Jude, Baxter, Pfizer, CVS, Aetna, Becton Dickinson, Philips Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Prudential, Alexion, Alcon, etc.
  • Strong leadership credentials. I've led large international teams of 40+ people, managed $10+ million projects, served on the Board for my professional association, etc.
  • My work has contributed to major commercial publications (e.g., Wall Street Journal), law review articles, and presentations at well-attended conferences
  • Appointed to my firm's diversity and inclusion committee, and presented on the topic at conferences (I am not a minority, though I come from a very low income background)
  • Outside of work, I volunteer as a Board Member for a nonprofit which provides access to healthy food for those in need
  • Once COVID-19 restrictions relax, I have made arrangements to volunteer at a local hospital for 4 hours per week

Questions
  1. Post-bacc programs take a wide variety of applicants, so it's difficult to identify the hallmarks of a good background. Would my industry and legal background be interesting to competitive programs (and, ultimately, medical schools)? Or do I need to focus on typical application factors (e.g., undergrad GPA, patient experiences, relevant research)?
  2. How will my law school and master's work be considered by an admissions committee? Is my undergraduate GPA going to be a non-starter for competitive post-bacc programs?
  3. Would taking bio or chem course(s) before applying help demonstrate aptitude? My Science Reasoning ACT score, which some schools review, was 27 and my Master's is heavy in computer science, but I would welcome insights on how to make a stronger case given my 1 "C" grade in chem. Is there something else I could do to build a more well-rounded application?
Thank you for your time! I believe my professional experiences can bring perspective to the class and clinic, and welcome your feedback on how I can best prepare.
Questions
  1. Post-bacc programs take a wide variety of applicants, so it's difficult to identify the hallmarks of a good background. Would my industry and legal background be interesting to competitive programs (and, ultimately, medical schools)? Or do I need to focus on typical application factors (e.g., undergrad GPA, patient experiences, relevant research)?
  2. How will my law school and master's work be considered by an admissions committee? Is my undergraduate GPA going to be a non-starter for competitive post-bacc programs?
  3. Would taking bio or chem course(s) before applying help demonstrate aptitude? My Science Reasoning ACT score, which some schools review, was 27 and my Master's is heavy in computer science, but I would welcome insights on how to make a stronger case given my 1 "C" grade in chem.
  4. Is there something else I could do to build a more well-rounded application?
1) Not necessarily. Having a work history and a valid reason to run TO Medicine is always good though. Your industry background doesn't involved direct interaction with patients, which is far more important.

2) It will be ignored. It doesn't tell us how you can handle a rigorous med school program. MD programs won't count your graduate GPAs. DO schools will, but they're still be discounted.

3) Sounds like a good idea to get your feet wet.

4) For med school or the post-bac program?

Goro - thank you for the response. As I synthesize your comments (alongside the others), it does look like my background is "nice" but patient contact is king, and I need to show both commitment to care and an understanding of the associated sacrifices. It's a completely fair critique that my current resume shows neither. As I think about next steps, I'll need to get that exposure for myself, and for my applications.

To answer your #4 question above, I was trying to assess whether a well-regarded post-bacc is in the cards, or if I need to go the DIY route. Ultimate goal either way would be med school.
 

lord999

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Feb 21, 2002
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Another problem if attempting to go to mid-Atlantic, Midwest, or the Californian schools, many of the faculty know how the management consulting business works, and you are in the age range that is known that making the equivalent of Consultant or Partner should be in the making in the career progression ladder or that you are in the terminal track to leave. One question that you will be asked is whether or not you would have been successful in your management consulting role or are you on the "out" side of up and out? If you very successful at the management consulting role, it is actually is a red flag for certain schools (including mine) due to previous experience with admitting from that pool and what ends up happening in terms of trainable candidates. Many of the characteristics that make one successful in the management consulting role are absolutely not tolerated in medical training or in the working relationships. You may be the exception, but there is a rule on this.

So, if you are on the regular track in management consulting and I saw your application, it would be a major red flag for catch-22 reasons. If you are very successful at your current role, then those traits that drive success tend to make for bad medical student or practitioner candidates particularly in subordination and zero-sum competitiveness behavioral reasons (this is not the 90s where gunner behavior was tolerated if not encouraged at some schools). If you are not very successful or on the out track and want to join for a different career trajectory, then it would be an issue with whether the former issues apply but also whether the nontraditional admission would meaningfully be useful to patients and whether you could be successful.

If you have to take all the sGPA prerequisite classes, you might be at a clean-slate advantage to pick up, but that is not going to be a one-year issue. It still would be a hard transition and if you are already a Level 3 or 4 equivalent in the management consultant industry, it would be a huge change in both lifestyle and how you would have to conduct yourself for the next decade (2 postBac, 4 Medical, 3-4 Residency/Fellowship).

lord999 - I genuinely appreciate the insight here. Your observation about consulting culture, while fair, completely caught me off guard. The point makes sense though. Zero sum in patient care is a nonstarter, but it's a daily way of life for many in consulting.

I also hear you on the financial implications and have been working to mitigate with careful savings and frugal choices -- but that's a long time horizon and my current style of living would shift for for sure. It's a good point to consider carefully.
 
Oct 14, 2011
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Also, have you done a deep dive into shadowing doctors? Your past experience is impressive, but it doesn't really say much to your capacity to be a physician based on what has been disclosed. Especially if you are doing a career change, you're going to be starting at the bottom of the totem pole and you need to be comfortable with being less than secure for the first few years.

Is there a reason why Health Administration (M.H.A.) is not on the table?
Mr.Smile12 - I really like your use of the phrase"deep dive". I've shadowed (mostly standard office visits), but need to get more realistic exposure to day-to-day life in medicine. “Deep dive” shadowing is a good way to think about what I should be targeting next.

RE: MHA - I am looking into this now, thanks for the suggestion. I'm exploring my network to see if I can get into contact with some MHAs that can speak to their experience and perspective on the degree.
 
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