Visit this thread to beta-test StudySchedule is a free nonprofit site that builds dynamic MCAT study schedules unique for your needs and timeline.

Changing careers (engineer to medical school) with a low uGPA

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by gtxbmed, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. SDN is made possible through member donations, sponsorships, and our volunteers. Learn about SDN's nonprofit mission.
  1. gtxbmed


    Apr 11, 2012
    Hi all!

    This is my first thread and I'm really to see all the enthusiasm and optimism!

    I graduated from a top engineering school with a degree in biomedical engineering. GPA, not so good, around 2.9, sGPA 2.5. I got lucky and got a job with a huge global medical device company (goes to show that you can still get a legitimate job even with a low GPA!).

    I've relocated to Minnesota and am in the process of re-taking science classes I received a C or below in at the local community college. I am finishing up bio + lab and plan on transferring to the University next semester to take more science classes.

    I noticed on the U of MN medical school website that they only require 1 semester of bio, chem, humanities and 4 semesters of upper science level courses. These are the only pre-requisites listed on their site. Upon seeing this, I got really excited. Originally I thought I would be spending 2+ years trying to boost my GPA but the pre-reqs for U of M(N, I know U of M is Michigan, but Minnesotans call it U of M!).

    Does anybody know much about the U of M medical school and have any input? I thought that because it was a state school, I'd have a better chance of getting in since I am a resident now especially if their pre-reqs are so much lighter than other med schools.

    I have tons of clinical/volunteer work from undergrad (and am planning on starting soon again) and engineering/medical related work experience.

    What do you guys think? I've repeatedly tried to contact their admissions office but to no avail.

    Sorry if this post is boring! I really would love to hear your input! :laugh:
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. pkwraith

    pkwraith 5+ Year Member

    Apr 15, 2011
    It does look like Minnesota has much more lax class requirements, but it's a pretty dangerous route that you're thinking about. Let's say you do the bare Minnesota requirements, but that locks you out of 95% of schools. Is a 30% chance or so of getting into med school worth not taking another year?

    Actually, I'm kind of confused. Since you're BME, you should have 99%-100% of the prereqs under your belt. If you're just retaking low GPA classes, then the point about specific prereq requirements is moot.
  4. FrkyBgStok

    FrkyBgStok DMU c/o 2016 10+ Year Member

    Aug 7, 2005
    You have a better chance being a resident, but your gpa is incredibly low. you have no chance with it as it is. Moreover, retaking grades that you got a C or lower in will drastically change your gpa for DO schools, but not for MD schools.

    Not trying to crush your dreams, but if you want to go to med school in MN, you are going to spend a lot longer than 2 years raising your GPA to get it to competitive range for acceptance. I am not that familiar with MN, but I am in Iowa so I have looked briefly into it.
  5. gtxbmed


    Apr 11, 2012
    Hi pkwraith!

    Thanks so much for your input!
    You're right, I do have most pre-reqs under my belt but they are mostly B's with a few C's sprinkled here and there. My pre-health adviser has told me that I would have to re-take all classes I got a C in to be a competitive applicant.

    So, I guess I need to keep on truckin' and taking as many upper level science courses at the U, in addition to repeating some classes.

    Another question, you mentioned that re-taking classes will be acceptable for DO schools but not specifically for MD. That seems to differ from what my adviser has told me...Can you explain that a little bit more? I really don't want to give up my dreams for med school! (MD, that is)

  6. darmalee

    darmalee 7+ Year Member

    Jun 29, 2008
    It's not that retaking classes isn't allowed for MD schools. It's just that if you retake a class and get a higher grade, DO schools will use the new higher grade and disregard the lower previous grade in calculating your GPA. MD schools will count the new higher grade but they will also count the previous lower grade. This means that you would be able to do GPA repair much quicker in the eyes of DO schools than in the eyes of MD schools.
  7. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion 10+ Year Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    Bad adviser.

    You could retake every C and still be far from being a competitive applicant. Except for prereqs, retaking all C's isn't sensible, not even for DO school. There's no step in the med school admissions process where they comb your transcript for unretaken C's.

    You'll never actually be a competitive applicant, unless you move to Texas and do academic fresh start. The best you can hope for is to be a compelling applicant despite your current, permanent undergrad record. You're on a GPA comeback, and you have multiple years of academic work at about a 3.7+ to get yourself to where you could expect to be considered.

    The problem, of which your premed adviser failed to advise you, is that you are missing the asset that premeds are expected to have after undergrad: a multiple-year strong performance in difficult coursework (average MD/DO GPA is 3.6). You didn't produce that asset in undergrad. You still need to produce that asset.

    Step one: figure out how to get A's in hard coursework, and how to take school seriously. Start slow, maybe with a couple community college courses. Every grade you get that isn't an A is a step away from med school.

    Step two: get boatloads of A's. Such as a 2nd bachelors.

    Everything else? Nowhere near as important. But start clinical volunteering right away, anyway.

    Best of luck to you.
  8. gtxbmed


    Apr 11, 2012

    Hey DrMidLife,

    Thanks for your input. My adviser told me to repeat all pre-req's I got a C or lower in, not all classes with a C or below. Sorry, I should've clarified that.

    I've taken two pre-reqs at a community college and am getting A's. My undergrad was such an intensive school that I hope to excel in my classes at the U as well. I'm hoping by excelling in my classes at U, the U med school will be able to see the potential but now that seems like a far-fetched notion. (Reading all the non-trads success stories with low uGPA just got my hopes up...)

    I've done some figuring out on the AMCAS GPA calculator and I am running out of hope to say the least. :( I was really excited that I may be able to do this but now it seems like an impossible dream.

    I'm glad I'm getting such honest feedback because maybe I shouldn't waste my time and just work harder at my job now. (I know what you're thinking, why not give DO school a try? They essentially can perform what most MD's can. I'll have to think about this a little more, so don't attack me! Medicine was always my passion, but I'm working in the biomedical industry and I'm finding my work just as exciting and stimulating...I'm a cross-roads and need to do some more soul-searching)

    Either way, I'm going to keep taking classes. If I don't get in anywhere, at least I won't have any regrets.
  9. shaggybill

    shaggybill 10+ Year Member

    Jul 8, 2004
    The Sunny South
    Don't let the letters of the degree persuade you one way or another. DOs and MDs have exactly the same privileges in any specialty. I was in your boat 4 years ago. I didn't consider DO a good route for me (out of ignorance, admittedly), and maybe I was a bit biased myself because I wanted the good ol' MD behind my name. I had plans to fix my terrible GPA from years back and apply only to allopathic schools.What I came to find out though was that osteopathic medicine, and VCOM in particular, was exactly what I was looking for in a med school. I work in an ER staffed only by MDs, and I started asking them what they knew and thought about DO schools. EVERY single one of them enthusiastically told me I should go for it, and several mentioned that the DO's they had worked with in the past were some of the best doctors they knew. DOs have historically been the underdogs in medicine, but in the past decade they have really started making a name for themselves. Average gpas are almost on par with MD schools, and the avg MCAT for matriculating DO students creeps up every year, it seems. In 10 years there will probably be virtually no distinction between the two. Just keep that in mind as you make your decision. Good luck!
  10. vc7777

    vc7777 Nontrad MD/MS Resident Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Jul 1, 2009
    Rocket Scientist
    Minnesota global medical device company? Can't think of any. :hungover:
    Hmmm...impossible? You started off with such enthusiasm.

    Not impossible. Check out my MD apps profile and tell me what you think?

    When did you graduate?

    Sent from my phone using Tapatalk 2
  11. gtxbmed


    Apr 11, 2012
    Thanks, ShaggyBill! I really needed some words of encouragement.
    I will definitely consider DO now that I've done some more research into it.
    Congratulations on your acceptance! I wish you all the best!

    JESSFALLING 2+ Year Member

    Jan 17, 2011
    First, I think all of the above advice is fantastic.

    That said, here's what I would personally do if I were you:

    1. Take/Retake all pre-reqs until you have a B+ minimum in each of them (mostly As, though!).
    2. Take 4-5 upper-division elective biology/chemistry courses. Good choices are Biochemistry, Genetics, Cell Biology, Physiology, Microbiology, Immunology, Virology, Histology, Embryology, and Cancer/Molecular Biology.
    3. Take statistics (or research methods or epidemiology), bioethics, nutrition, and psychology coursework for relevant breadth. (4-5 courses in total).
    4a. Make sure that you have the full year of English coursework complete. If you originally did poorly (C-/C+) in the course(s), then take an additional course and earn an A.
    4b. An additional course or two in religious studies, anthropology, medical economics, or another humanities/social science field should be strongly considered. These courses may be valuable to you throughout your entire life/career, and may also benefit you on the MCAT and interview process.
    4c. Take public speaking if you haven't and think you will benefit. (Public speaking is an essential skill for medical school).
    5. If you have room in your schedule, consider retaking a few (1-2) other courses that you previously did poorly in (i.e. C/C- or lower). The osteopathic grade replacement policy is generous, so take advantage of it! (Caution: Do not retake a course unless you are absolutely certain that you'll earn an A.)
    6. Solidify the shadowing/clinical/volunteering/leadership/research/MCAT requirements. Build a compelling case that you are a motivated, altruistic individual that will add value to the public through the profession. Be aware that DO schools require a letter from a DO.
    7. If, in doing the above, you find that your c&s GPAs will not be >3.35, you should consider doing a post-bacc program. I would advise against doing a post-bacc program until you're complete with 1-6, though, as you want to be adequately prepared for the rigor of the program, as doing poorly in one will terminate your chances.
    8. Lastly, when you apply, do so broadly to both DO & MD (US) programs (I'm thinking about 30 schools). The Carib. takes almost everyone, but you should avoid if possible.

    As a side note, make sure that you are calculating your c&s GPAs correctly for both DO & MD applications. PM me if you'd like a copy of the spreadsheet I use.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  13. scarshapedstar

    scarshapedstar MD c/o 2016 5+ Year Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    What's the good word? :)

    As a fellow GT alum/victim, just keep in mind that you're a 95 in the engineering world and a 0 in the medical admissions world. It will take 3 or 4 years for you to have a chance, which is very different from a guarantee.

    I had a similar experience (although I left cmpE for bio and thus didn't even have a viable degree) and finally lucked out. A friend of mine was a BME with a somewhat better uGPA but has been rejected three times even after doing very well in a master's program.

    Just remember that you're talking about a very long and hard road when you're already kinda set with a great degree and job experience.

Share This Page