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Cant get in this cycle: PhD --> MD

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by Creightonite, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. Creightonite

    Creightonite Senior Member
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    My question: Does anyone have any suggestions on any programs? I feel like it is the end of the rope for me and I have no idea whether I am going to get older and just pursue medicine or do something else.
     
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  2. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Aww, Creightonite, I'm sorry to hear that you've had such a lousy app season. :( You understandably sound pretty burnt out. I guess what I would say to you is to worry right now about finishing your degree....you must be defending soon, right? Then take a few months off to think about whether you want to go through with all of this again. It's ok if you don't, but then you need to have something else to do with your life. If you don't want to go into academia, how do you feel about industry or gov. work?

    Unfortunately, I think you should listen to the adcom's advice if you want to attend that school. So if you decide you want to get into med school, you'll have to take more classes and retake the MCAT like they said. Don't worry about your age; 27 is not much older than the average age of matriculants for many med schools. I started at age 31 myself, and there are plenty of folks older than me in the nontrad forum. Best of luck to you. :)
     
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  3. ntmed

    ntmed Senior Member
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    I probably wouldn't do Georgetown's (or any other) SMP. They tend to be expensive, have rigid requirements, and offer no real advantage over other options. Go to a state school to save money. It also would be better to have a more flexible schedule where (1) you can take science courses that will help you for the MCAT and (2) where you feel you can get A's (which is the bottom line at this point).

    It's very tough to do well on the MCAT if you didn't do well on the premedical sciences. Given your 3.19 undergraduate GPA, here's what I suggest.
    • You probably should retake some or all of your premedical courses.
    • Then take the MCAT, but only after studying 20-40 hours a week for at least 2-4 months.
    • You really need to improve your Verbal Reasoning score. This score is the best predictor of whether you'll pass the USMLE, so it's important to do well in it. Start studying for the Verbal Reasoning now (it will likely take you a good 12 months or more to improve in this area).
    • If you get A's and a 30 on the MCAT, apply to medical school.
    • While your application is being processed, start a masters in biology, just in case you have to reapply.
    However, before you start, make sure you are ready to dedicate yourself completely to getting into medical school. Given your history of weak performance, I think it would be a bad idea to try to squeeze in some classes while you are primarily doing something else.
     
  4. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    You do realize that the OP is finishing his PhD in biology this year, right? I don't think there's much point in him getting a MS in bio after his PhD. But other than that, I thought your advice was dead on.
     
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  5. Scottish Chap

    Physician PhD Moderator Emeritus Verified Expert 15+ Year Member

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    I'm so sorry about this cycle. It is discouraging, and it's very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now, but know assuredly that it is there.

    In your case, it's just the MCAT. The scores suggest a global issue rather than just a lack of a fund of knowledge in the sciences. Beg borrow or steal to pay for a review course if you have not already done so, and try to figure out where the major issues are. I used to teach MCAT prep for a professional company and I lost count of how many really bright students ended up with low scores. In many cases it was one of two things: 1) slow reading, 2) applying too much outside knowledge to the questions rather than reading the passages carefully to see what the question is asking. That is, many students see the question that you 'wanted' to be asked rather than the one that was asked. The MCAT is not so much hard, but it is tricky. The good news is that neither problem is insurmoutable if you are dedicated to figure out where the major issue is. Many people have earned presentable scores on this test after several retakes but it does take time.

    Again, right now, the MCAT is the major issue if you want to get into an allopathic medical school. In my opinion, there is nothing to be gained by taking more science classes. You have proved yourself at the graduate school level and, unless you're dead-set on one medical school that is insisting you do this to get past their pre-interview screen (in which case you need to do it), retaking classes or taking more classes is a very poor use of your time and money. While many people quote the MCAT as a significant predictor of performance on professional medical exams, do realize that many of those studies show a significant, but only slight correlation. Also, look at the average MCAT for osteopathic schools and you'll see that they do just fine on professional exams. Bottom line: good test takers tend to stay good test-takers, that's all.

    Speaking as a Ph.D. with a less than stellar MCAT score, I applied (late!) to nine allopathic medical schools and I received just three interviews--two of which I attended--and I was admitted without waitlist to both. It's rare, but it happens. I think these things may have helped me: 1) The Ph.D. showed I had a lot of commitment, 2) I had a ton of publications in both clinical and basic science, 3) I did both a clinical and a basic science post-doc, so I was an 'unusual' applicant (med schools like unusual applicants), 4) I obtained my green card half-way through the application cycle, 5) I only applied to schools that I had thoroughly researched and believed that I had a realistic chance of winning an interview.

    You can gain admission to an osteopathic school with those scores. If you want allopathic, I would try to get that MCAT to 27+. Allopathic medical schools are real sticklers for the numbers, and I'd be lying if I told you that that a decent GPA and MCAT are almost mandatory. No matter how stellar the extra-curricular work is, notable matriculants to allopathic programs with a really low MCAT score, GPA, or both are very few and far between. With a Ph.D, recent clinical experience, a 27+ MCAT, and a VERY wide application net (20+ schools), I think you'll receive more interviews. That said, not being a perm res will keep you out of a lot of schools, too. Can you start that paperwork now?

    My advice may differ somewhat from what you hear from medical schools, but it is just based on my experience which seems to be similar to yours. If a specific medical school tells you that they want something, you pretty much have to give them what they want. My very best to you.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Creightonite

    Creightonite Senior Member
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    Thanks guys. I think the committee looked at my grades without research credit junk and saw that I had many B's. They said after such a college performance, it was expected of me to get only "A's". I feel that I am good B+ student but it seems like on tests i always miss enough questions that do not get me a B. Plus in grad school, the mosts of exams are designed to challange your intellect at the highest level. Getting 90% on tests is impossible if you are taking the class for the first time.
     
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  7. CD4helpCD8

    CD4helpCD8 Senior Member
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    I feel your pain, my friend. Well, at least you got one interview - it is better than nothing at all, which is unfortunately my situation at the moment (still waiting to hear from several schools, but I think it will take some sort of divine intervention for anything positive to happen :( ). I talked to the chair of AdCom at the school I got my PhD (a very good school), and he said the thing killed my chance of getting into this particular school is the lack of RECENT medical work/activities. As for the numbers, I think your GPA is probably not going to kill you - as long as you can pull your MCAT PS and BS scores to ~12 (or better). In fact, I suspected my foreign UG GPA (which is NOT even verified by AMCAS) and not-so-great graduate GPA (in the US) was the main reason I was screened out pre-interview, and the chair of AdCom did mention my GPA briefly. So, I asked him whether I should consider post-bacc program to boost my GPA, he said "No. Don't waste your time and money doing that. You got good science scores in MCAT (12/12) and a quite good publication, so we know you can do science." Even for VR, you are not too far away from that - it seems even 8 is enough to give you an interview (provided the rest of ypur application is strong), though 10 will be more secure for an acceptance. English is not my native language either, so I know what kind pain in the *** it is to work on MCAT VR (and I am likely to work on it again to get the magic number of 10, IF I have to re-apply the next cycle).

    By the way, your visa status is a BIG RED FLAG for med school application. If you do not mark either US citizen or permanent resident on your AMCAS, then it is almost for sure you just got yourself a ticket to "automatic" rejection from most medical schools. Is it possible for you to find a way to get your green card? I know it is very hard and no less painful than applying to medical school, because I just went through it. Other than marrying a U.S. citizen, the most practical way (if you want to start medical school by the age of 30) is to find a very good research position in a field where you can get good publications quickly to claim national interest waiver (a special subcategory for green card). As I mentioned earlier, unfortunately, it is quite unpredictable, just like med school application (or even worse) - I have seen more than plenty of people who have superior credentials (in terms of # of publications and citations) but did not get approval. To me, it is not too different from people complaining, "I got 34/3.75 and decent EC, volunteer, and shadowing, why didn't I get in?"

    One last point: if you plan to apply again some time later, do it early - I mean, ridiculously early - sending out secondaries no later than August, if possible. That is one lesson I learn from the SDN :D . I could not do it this cycle (thesis defense two weeks before the August MCAT...:scared:...talking about the fun of being stressed.....), but definitely I am going to do it next time if I have to re-apply. Good luck!
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Creightonite

    Creightonite Senior Member
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    I cant do anything about my visa status at this point.

    I rethought the whole situation. I think I have to fix in the biggest hole in my application, that is MCAT. I think i will delay my graduation for another year and will take some class this summer and fall. I would rather stay where I am than try to finish mt PhD and then get into another grad degree. Yes, I am missing "A's" but my grand grades are not that bad to start everything over again. In my school there are classes that are taken alongside med students and I cant take some of them free while in grad school... why not take advantage of that.

    I am going to reapply this summer with new MCAT. I am enrolling in Kaplan class and hiring some private tutors. I cant get my VR above 8-9 for sure, but I can improve my science scores. I will takeing MCAT in June or the 4-th. The target is a 32. I have to do what I have to do till June to raise my score 8 points.

    How do you guys go about getting tutors? I do not want to take classes since they involve labs. I really do not want to hire student tutor. How do you go about hiring a faculty member?
     
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  9. Scottish Chap

    Physician PhD Moderator Emeritus Verified Expert 15+ Year Member

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    Your plan sounds like a good one.

    If you have a lot of money, I say take every advantage. It might benefit you most, perhaps, to have an experienced MCAT test-taker 'diagnose' which areas you need to work on most: timing, over-analyzing the question, applying too much outside knowledge, confidence during the test, speed-reading etc. I'm betting that it's one or more of those because you're obviously accomplished.

    You can beat this test and, since you have been interviewed at an allopathic school already, it can happen again....and then some.

    Keep in mind that you won't be eligible for federal loans for medical school without a green card. As a PhD, CD4helpCD8 explained about the national interest route, which is an attractive option. It takes time, but it will get you there.

    Good luck!
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Creightonite

    Creightonite Senior Member
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    I felt like complete sh$t for like 3 days after I found out that i wont be in. I think I felt better today after I figured the game plan. If I fix this hole in my app, i think everything else should go in its place. Maybe, excellent MCAT score will make a difference for me, who know knows. I enrolled in Kaplan and getting some tutoring in Physics, my weakest field.... and the reason why I got a 7.

    My school gives interviews pretty much to everyone who is a student there so interview is not a big deal at all. It was a very good experience though.
     
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  11. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    I was going to suggest getting a grad student to tutor you. Probably faculty won't be available, but a grad student in physics or whatever other subjects you need help with could be what you need. I tutored tons of people in chemistry and organic chemistry all the years when I was in grad school. Good luck with everything, Creightonite, and keep us posted. :)
     
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  12. OP
    OP
    Creightonite

    Creightonite Senior Member
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    Actually, I got in touch with my physics professor and he agreed for a pretty much what I would pay for student tutoring. Sometimes students lack some understanding, so I just decided to go for the faculty. My school does not really have a big grad physics program anyways.
     
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  13. OP
    OP
    Creightonite

    Creightonite Senior Member
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    Also, I discovered our school has classes that grad students and med students take together. Exams are separate though. So in addition to MCAT, It will add some classwork and I will send update letters. I think I would not have to pay for a lot of these credits. Otherwise, going to a SMP in boston or GT would be too much hassle for me, plus tution, moving expenses, etc. Not sure how official SMP program would be MUCH more effective than taking the same classes on your own. Since I am in grad school, I should take advantage of that. It will be my own special program.
     
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