Sep 28, 2010
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So, I have a verified AMCAS application and have received a lot of secondary requests, although all from schools that I automatically request them. The problem is, I feel very behind, lack confidence in my application this cycle, and do not feel that any of my essays, especially some of my secondary essays, are strong enough to get me into a school I'll feel excited about attending.

I have a fairly low GPA from my undergraduate studies, but most of my prereqs were taken as a post-bac student, where I had at 3.97 GPA. My EC are pretty pathetic, with most of them beginning this year, and really no shadowing. I scored far below my expectations on the MCAT, most of my practice exams were in the mid-30s, but I got a 30P, dropping most of the points in the PS section, a 9, compared to my average of a 13 on the practice tests.

I'm wondering if I should just cut my losses now and save the money from the secondaries and reapply next year, or whether not finishing this cycle will do more to hurt my chances next year than finishing up and possibly not getting accepted. I was initially trying to push through this cycle because I'm 28 and really feel like I want to get things moving, but I also don't want to just screw everything up.

Any advice or request for information is welcomed.
 

Catalystik

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What was your undergrad GPA not counting the postbac work?
How many hours of postbac work have you done?
What is your AMCAS uGPA and BCPM with the postbac?

What ECs did you list with the hours of involvement at that time?
What is your state of residence?
 
OP
L
Sep 28, 2010
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So cumulative ungrad GPA is 3.28 BCPM and 3.00 AO.

Post-bac GPA is 3.96 BCPM, with 22.20 hours. I also did a graduate certificate program in the intervening years to help with a family business and have a 3.52 graduate GPA from that, it was only 17 hours though (25 quarter hours).

Extracurriculars were:

20 hours - Outside In Project Erase - assisting physicians in a tattoo removal clinic

Approximately 75 hours - Outside In IDU Needle Exchange - providing clean needles, HIV/Hep C testing and counseling, and referral services.

50 hours working at a critical care unit of a retirement home, mainly providing activity assistance, but also some patient transport assistance.

Wilderness First Responder - mainly for myself, but recently have begun working with search and rescue. Really no concrete hours involving this.

Operation Night Watch - around 50 hours - work with homeless and low-income individuals, not really a medical setting.

Tutored math and science at a local high school, approx. 80 hours.

My state of residence is Oregon.

Thanks and sorry if this information isn't very well laid out.
 

Catalystik

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I agree that it would be most appropriate for you to pull the plug on this year's AMCAS application. Stats tables would suggest you'd have a 25% chance of success, but those numbers include those who completed an SMP (Special Masters Program) and don't account for the lateness of the cycle and a brevity of ECs.

If asked, I'd have suggested another year of postbac classwork in the upper-level sciences.

Were you to apply to DO schools with proper longevity of activities and shadowing, I think you'd get an acceptance. Are you aware of the new school in your state (lebanon)?

For a better shot at MD, I think you'd need a much stronger MCAT score (35+) and a longer run of As than 22 hours worth. Unfortunately, you don't have a particularly forgiving state school. They do seem to like nontrads preferentially though.

Besides continuing some of your current clinical acitivies, shadowing (perhaps to include a DO) for 60-80 hours, and additional nonmedical community service which I'm happy to see, perhaps also seek out a peer leadership activity. The teaching is terrific, BTW, and moreso if it's also volunteer. Do you have any plan to try a research experience? You might decide if you want to demonstrate an emphasis toward future rural practice in your application for the sake of greater in-state consideration, in which case, you'd need area-specific activites to be taken seriously.
 
OP
L
Sep 28, 2010
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Thank you very much for the thoughtful reply. I am aware of the new DO school here in Oregon, but am definitely more interested in MD programs. A DO who I know quite well is quite critical of DO programs vs. MD programs, primarily as a concern over the clinical rotations. I am also somewhat reluctant to apply to startup schools, i.e. the Lebanon or Yakima DO programs.

I am wondering if you have any advice about medical school advising programs that might be able to assist me in targeting my activities (and advice on where to look for some of them) and the application process or whether you'd simply recommend using this website as a reference?

I currently have no plans to pursue any research experience, partly because opportunities seem to be so much more tailored to people with more undergraduate or graduate training. Although I would be interested in doing some if I could find an opportunity.

One last question, any particular advice on how to go about withdrawing my application? Do I simply withdraw it through the AMCAS? Go to each secondary application and withdraw? Or do I need to contact each school?

Sorry for all the questions and I thank you very much for your time and advice.
 
Aug 18, 2009
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If I learned one thing through my application process, it's that clinical experience matters a lot. ECs are one of those things that really help make up for a lower MCAT score or GPA, but if you're only mediocre or below average on all of those parameters, your chances are pretty much nil this year.
 

Catalystik

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1) I am wondering if you have any advice about medical school advising programs that might be able to assist me in targeting my activities (and advice on where to look for some of them) and the application process or whether you'd simply recommend using this website as a reference?

2) I currently have no plans to pursue any research experience, partly because opportunities seem to be so much more tailored to people with more undergraduate or graduate training. Although I would be interested in doing some if I could find an opportunity.

3) One last question, any particular advice on how to go about withdrawing my application? Do I simply withdraw it through the AMCAS? Go to each secondary application and withdraw? Or do I need to contact each school?
1) I've seen such programs referred to on SDN, but am personally unfamiliar with any of them. I think it's highly likely you can get the information you need on SDN by reading these forums widely and using the Search function (or asking if you don't find it).

2) Keep in mind that research need not be basic science or even in the sciences to be valid. And it's often possible to get involved in clinical research through a local hospital research clinical trials coordinator by making it known that you're interested.

3) By not returning the Secondaries, you are withdrawing, but I'm of the opinion that if you plan to apply to same schools in the future, that a polite note is appropriate. No explanation need be given. Just withdraw your application from further consideration for this cycle. I think that the checkbox on AMCAS is mainly used if you haven't been verified yet, but that could have changed since last year, so read the directions for a better response.
 

Catalystik

The Gimlet Eye
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Additional comments:

If there is a reasonable chance of getting at least three more points on the MCAT, it is worth attempting a retake. From your initial comments, that seems quite possible.

You've made a good start in gaining clinical experience, and I think the problem there is more that they were of such short duration at the time you submitted. I think that the Wilderness First Responder gig sounds VERY interesting (unique, actually), and if you have a chance to get further involved and actually bring assistance to the indicated tartget population that will make your application stand out. I'd continue with at least some of the other clinical experiences as well, besides gaining the already mentioned shadowing.
 
OP
L
Sep 28, 2010
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Thank you very much for your help with this. A few more questions have come up since first posting this topic and I was hoping to get some advice on those as well.

As I'm faced with a decision on how to increase my attractiveness to schools, would I be best served by focusing my efforts on expanding my ECs and shadowing experience, increasing my GPA, or increasing my MCAT score? I feel that time constraints make only focusing on two of those really viable and also feel that increasing the MCAT score and ECs would be easier than working on increasing my GPA, especially when it comes to focusing on relevant coursework.

I'm also wondering what my chances are, with my current credentials, of getting into a DO school? I've been considering the Lebanon, Yakima, San Francisco, and Portland, ME programs.
 

Catalystik

The Gimlet Eye
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Sep 4, 2006
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increasing the MCAT score and ECs would be easier than working on increasing my GPA, especially when it comes to focusing on relevant coursework.

I'm also wondering what my chances are, with my current credentials, of getting into a DO school? I've been considering the Lebanon, Yakima, San Francisco, and Portland, ME programs.
A higher MCAT score and better ECs would be the most time and cost efficient place to focus your efforts.

With a 3.28/MCAT 30 and high grades in your science classes, I think you'd have a good chance at a DO school acceptance after some EC improvements alone, but I can't speak to your chances at those specific schools. Maybe you could PM TriagePreMed, who I think may be more knowledgeable on relative competitiveness of DO schools, and ask him to post his comments in this thread.