Dismissed for COMLEX I failure; trying to reapply

Discussion in 'Re-Applicants [ MD / DO ]' started by D7C, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. D7C

    D7C

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    Hello SDN,

    I've been a long time, intermittent lurker during medical school. However, recently, I was dismissed from my D.O. program for failing the COMLEX Level 1 three times (our school's policy). I appealed the dismissal but the appeal was not granted.

    So, here is some background... I was fighting through depression and anxiety throughout medical school, but it came to an all time high while I was preparing for the COMLEX due to serious family issues, personal financial issues, and my own health issues (I could not walk without extreme pain and was in constant pain throughout). I take complete responsibility for not taking a leave of absence and taking time to work out my personal problems before sitting for the board exam. In all honesty, I was being stupid and fooled myself into thinking that if I could just take control of my studies, I could forget about my personal problems. Obviously, I was kidding myself and I failed the COMLEX Level 1 three times.

    All three times, my scores were around 390 and my COMSAEs all predicted scores of higher than 500. All three times sitting for the exam, I experienced test anxiety and panic attacks. Now, you might ask why I didn't get treated for that if I experienced it three times... well, I was ignorant and brushed it off as being nervous. Again, completely my fault for not getting more help.

    This was roughly 6 months ago. During the 6 months, I've been getting treated, taking care of my financial issues, and resolving my family issues. I am still "sick" but in much better condition than I was 6 months ago. I KNOW I made horrible choices, but I am still passionate about the medical field. However, I'm also feeling very discouraged... for obvious reasons of course, but also because of my age (30's) and the fact that I have student loans accumulating.

    I've searched other threads and I do know that a dismissal, especially for board exam failure, is nearly a death sentence. However, I would still like to try all that I can to get back to the medical field. I am definitely open to other career options; however, I'd like to stay on the D.O. path if possible. (I've reached out to my school to see if I can reapply, but the Dean of Students told me that he has never heard of a dismissed student getting back into the program.)

    Right now, I planning on reaching out to the admissions departments of D.O. schools for a chance to apply (I know that some/most schools do not allow dismissed students to apply.). I am also considering applying to Caribbean schools and podiatry school (I am not too familiar with other health care programs.). I am also planning on retaking the MCAT.

    I would appreciate any advice, suggestions, insight, or similar experiences anyone would be willing to share. Again, I know my situation is horrible, but I am determined to try and I know I could succeed if given a second chance.
     
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  3. GypsyHummus

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    DO NOT GO TO CARIBBEAN!! Seriously bro. You failed COMLEX 3X, what makes you think you can pass STEP?

    Podiatry is your best bet for a couple reasons, although you need to do some soul searching as to why you failed the standardized test at DO school. Is it all the mental health issues? Can you get healthy again? What was your MCAT?

    Do not go to school until you have all your issues dealt with.

    When you are ready to go back to school, Podiatry will probably be the closest thing to a rebound you can get. 1) You have already gone through the first two years, and the firs two years at a DPM program are the same as DO, some schools take classes with the DOs 2) The podiatry boards are easier and are pass fail 3) Pods are virtually indistinguishable from MD/DOs after residency 4) It is super easy right now to get into Pod schools, although that might change in 5 or so years. There might even be some schools that will give you advanced standing.

    Podiatry is not a good option if you are looking for a quick turnaround however. The base is 7 years, 4 for Pod school, 3 for resiedncy. At the end of it, you can expect to be making anywhere from 120K to 220K, about what PCP docs make. Some ortho pods make 400K+, but these guys are rare.

    I would also look into dental schools.
     
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  4. feeling-dizzy

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    Try go to nursing school, then become nurse practitioner later. No other professional school will accept you give the history of dismissal (maybe new pharmacy school since there are so many of them; but even that may not happen)
     
  5. sb247

    sb247 Doer of things

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    I wouldn’t risk the expense of med school any more. I’m so sorry
     
  6. D7C

    D7C

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    Thanks for your advice. My MCAT was a 29.

    Most of my COMLEX failure was due to ill preparation and mental health. I wasn't financially secure enough to pay for a lot of resources which I really regret. I take complete responsibility... I didn't invest enough time into studying. I know the USMLE is harder than COMLEX, but I believe with proper preparation I can get a good score.

    Has anyone had any good experiences with Caribbean schools? I feel like people are either hot or cold about this.

    I am not looking for a quick turnaround and I am seriously considering Podiatry.

    Thanks again.
     
  7. D7C

    D7C

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    Thanks for the advice.

    I had read some posts about others being dismissed then reapplying successfully... however, I had not specifically heard of anyone reapplying after a COMLEX failure dismissal, which is why I am asking for advice on SDN.

    I am seriously considering a nursing program as well.
     
  8. D7C

    D7C

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    Thanks for the advice.

    Honestly, the expense is one of the things that is holding me back the most... I am in debt due to student loans already... so it is quite the risk.
     
  9. IslandStyle808

    IslandStyle808 Akuma residency or bust!

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    Unfortunately if you fail three COMLEX exams, you won't be licensed in some states. This is far worse than failing three classes. You need to move on from this and consider other careers. I wish you well.
     
  10. GypsyHummus

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    I have heard success stories from the carribean, but they are few and far between and as @IslandStyle808 said, there are some states you cannot practice when you have failed Comlex 3 times. I’m not sure if it is the same for Podiatry, as the boards are There own for Foot and Ankle Surgery.

    I would call up different nursing, Podiatry, Optometry, and pharmacy schools and see what they say. Explain the situation to them. Like you said, your loans have to be breathing down your neck at this point. Honestly, I would look into other careers that require less time and training to make good money, as you gotta pay back those loans.

    Like I mentioned, Podiatry is prolly the best rebound you can get at this point in terms of salvaging a bad situation, and the only way you are going to be a practicing doc in America, but before you commit to that road, get all the health problems sorted out. Pod school is going to set you back anouther 250k, by the time you are done, you are looking at 500k+ I would imagine in student loans. That is not a death sentence on 200k/year, but you gotta know all the aspects of the burden you want to take on.

    If it were me, I would take a break from medicine and find something in the private sector that paid well with little time investment, like IT, and work until your DO debt is paid off. Then at that time you want to try again, do so.

     
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  11. DexterMorganSK

    DexterMorganSK The Blood Guy

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    Any professional programs you apply to, you will have to disclose your dismissal and that will end the path to many of these programs.

    I am sorry to say this, but you should have known better after not passing the COMLEX the first time with a 390, and definitely when you failed it again the second time. In your case, you should have taken an LOA and not retake the exam for the third time.

    That said, please get better first, then move on to another career, away from medicine. GL!
     
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  12. Goro

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    Very sorry to hear of your woes, but you had your chance, and now it's time to do something else. Going to the Carib would only lead to your dismissal in a year or two, and get you in even more debt.

    You'd be DOA at my school if your app ever reaches our desks.
     
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  13. D7C

    D7C

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    This is true, but most states more times.

    Thanks for the advice though and the well wishes.
     
  14. D7C

    D7C

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    Thanks so much for your advice.

    I am considering working first, but of course, it is not easy to earn that much money quickly. I am leaning towards Podiatry right now and hoping I can get a second chance at medicine.
     
  15. D7C

    D7C

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    Thanks for the advice.

    I would, of course, disclose my dismissal as I don't want to be dishonest.

    I know I should have known better...I was being stupid, mired by my own personal problems. I cannot describe the tremendous regret I feel at not taking an LOA instead of just repeating my mistakes.

    However, I still have hope that I can continue in the health care field. Maybe that's stupid also... I don't know... which is why I'm asking for advice.
     
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  17. D7C

    D7C

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    Thanks for the advice. What school do you hail from?

    I know that I "would be DOA" at a lot of D.O. schools just by the fact that there is a dismissal on my record. However, I'm hoping that I'd get a chance to explain my situation and prove that I can handle the workload (possibly by retaking the MCAT).

    From my lurking on SDN, I'm under the impression you are on an admissions committee? Do you not consider the whole application if there is a dismissal on record?
     
  18. GypsyHummus

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    If you decide to go down the Pod path, please get all of your health problems in order. The last thing you want is to be enrolled into a DPM program, get sick again and then fail boards.

    Do lots of research into the profession, learn the good and the bad. Take what you learn from SDN with a grain of salt. Learn about podiatry where you would like to move, learn about what their scope of practice is in the state you wish to be in. Learn about their residency (its three years). Just absorb all the knowledge you can about it and have a genuine interest in medicine of the foot and ankle, and I am sure a pod school will accept you and overlook the dismissal. There is a shortage of applicants, so now might be the time to get in before more and more people start getting rejected from MD/DO and look for other alternatives.

    But that doesnt mean rush it either. Pod school will always be there, get yourself in order first.

     
  19. gyngyn

    gyngyn Professor
    Moderator Physician Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

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    The admissions committee members here have the luxury of anonymity . This allows us to speak freely without the constraints that would would be imposed by our respective institutions.
     
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  20. Goro

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    The dismissal outweighs everything else.
     
  21. D7C

    D7C

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    Thank you so much for the continued advice.

    I am definitely recovering and am much better than I was before. Unfortunately, my illness isn't something that's curable, it's chronic but I have a better way of managing it and I know what to do if my health worsens.

    I think your advice has been by far the most realistic and supportive so I really do thank you.
     
  22. D7C

    D7C

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    Ah, I'm sorry about asking then.

    I guess I wasn't thinking about the constraints of having to reveal the school.
     
  23. D7C

    D7C

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    Thank you for the input.

    I did know that most would turn away just at the word "dismissal" without looking at the application. I just wasn't sure if everyone did so...or at least if anyone at a D.O. school admissions committee would be willing to at least look at the application.
     
  24. GypsyHummus

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    You got it.

    It hurts that something you worked so hard for fell apart. Ive had it happen to me. Your dream of becoming a doctor doesnt have to die, it might just have to change, grow, and adapt a little. Who knows, becoming a podiatrist might be the best thing that has ever happened to you. Maybe you will meet someone there who can propel your future 10X what it would have been coming from a DO school. Maybe you will have a chance to become a world renown surgeon, while the DO route would have made that impossible. Be virtuous, show courage in the face of adversity, and have humility. People like those who are thankful for what they have.

    Hope this helps, and good luck on the path. Your life is your life, Don't let it be clubbed into dank submission.

     
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  25. Goro

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    Here's your problem...and all I can tel you is what we do at my school:

    We don't pre-screen, so you might very well get an interview. However, your interviewers will reject you outright.

    Why engage in the cruel practice of interviewing you when your DOA? Because our wily old Admissions dean, much to our chagrin, has different priorities. He just cares about putting warm bodies in seats. We faculty, on the other hand have to actually teach the bodies in those seats, and as such, we want people we know will make it through med school, and become good doctors as well.

    The only chance I see at you having to earn academic redemption is to ace an SMP given at a med school.
     
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  26. D7C

    D7C

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    You are awesome. Thanks so much.

    I am getting more and more excited about podiatry as I research and shadow, so your encouragement really helps.

    Thanks again :)
     
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  27. D7C

    D7C

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    Thank you for your honesty.

    I do see your point as a professor. I am trying to prove that I have paid dearly for my mistakes and that I am on the right track now... so an SMP might be a good option. I've had another recommend that to me as well. I am currently looking into which programs will consider me.

    Thank you for your advice!
     
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  28. Instatewaiter

    Instatewaiter But... there's a troponin

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    Even if you hadn't taken the MCAT ever before, it wouldn't help allay the fears you wouldn't pass the boards. But, you've already proved that your MCAT does not predict that you can pass the boards.

    As to the question of whether Goro considers the whole applicant... To me your question is a litlte strange. Its as if A boy./girl you're meeting in a bar tells you they had AIDS and was surprised that you didn't consider them as a whole person before kicking them to the curb. Is there something in your academic record that makes you a more attractive candidate than someone without a major blemish on their record?

    You have a likely unrecoverable academic record for multiple reasons dealing with you as a prospective applicant, dealing with your fitness to practice and finally with your ability to get a license to practice medicine. This isn't just about your ability to get in.

    First, re: ability to get in- First, you didn't have the insight into your condition to realize you were going to have issues with the boards not once, not twice but three times without getting help. This alone would be concerning enough but the issues about having to pass not only step 1 but step 2 while in school. Finally, most schools will not consider anyone dismissed from another medical school

    Second, re:fitness to practice medicine- your anxiety did impair your ability. This is asked on every state's application for a medical license. I am glad your stress/anxiety/depression are under better control but realistically you have removed a major cause of the stress- school. Who is to say how you would responde to an even more stressful event (residency)

    Finally, regarding ability to get a licesnse- the anxiety issues would be a hurdle but I don't think at this point it would be bad enough to preclude you from getting a license alone. However, it is another hurdle which added to the other issues (3 fails) does become a larger problem. Many states (not all) will not license anyone with 3 fails of a single board exam. Many wont license people with >7 years between the start of the first step 1 and the passing of step 3 which would be a tight fit for you.


    I am not sure an SMP is a great option either. Most people consider these more stressful than regular medical school, they are often very expensive and it still doesn't prove you will do well on the boards. What were your grades in medical school?
     
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  29. D7C

    D7C

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    Thank you for the assessment.

    I was asking Goro whether or not the school considers the whole applicant because D.O. schools are usually known for considering "the whole person". I realize that a huge red flag would be my dismissal on my record; however, I was wondering if they took circumstances into consideration & further steps taken to resolve any problems, etc.

    Re: re: ability to get in - I do realize I was stupid enough not to get help within the three attempts at COMLEX. I won't blame anyone but myself and I'm sorry I didn't have more guidance going into the situation after the first, or even second, failure. I have no excuses. I was feeling desperate at the time due to my financial and personal situation and didn't know how to deal.

    Re: re: fitness to practice medicine - Honestly speaking, I do think I had a bit of anxiety and depression throughout medical school; however, the tremendous stress I had on me at the time of my COMLEX sittings (poor physical health, financial troubles, as well as family issues) were the biggest load on my mental health. I couldn't focus properly and I wasn't able to perform as well as I did on my COMSAEs. I have resolved my physical health issues, my financial issues are mostly resolved (not my student loads however), and my family issues (which weighed on me the most) are now completely resolved. Though I have my anxiety under more control now, I honestly feel being OUT of school and lost about the direction I should go is more anxiety-inducing than medical school.

    Re: re: ability to get a license - I do know that in most of the states I am interested in, there is either no limit of attempts that can be made on COMLEX or it is 6 attempts (most restrictions I saw were on Level 3, not Level 1). That being said, I know that three attempts at a Level 1 exam is a black mark. What I'm trying to convey to programs/directors is that I made a mistake and I've learned from it and that I'm making attempts to grow from it.

    As for SMPs, you're right in that they are expensive...which is why SMPs are being prioritized a bit later on my list than other options. I am planning to retake my MCATs (as it has been more than 3 years since my last sitting) to show that I CAN do well on standardized tests. That's the only way I can think of to prove I can "do well on boards" without actually taking the boards. If you have any other advice on that, please let me know.

    As for my grades in medical school... I was not in the top of my class. My family issues started throughout medical school and escalated during my COMLEX sittings. However, I did perform very well on my rotations. I don't think my grades will exactly help my situation; however, again, I'm hoping that they will consider my circumstances and my growth. One of the reasons I am also considering an SMP is to prove I can be top of my class in terms of grades alone.
     
  30. GypsyHummus

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    If I had problems with physical health and had trouble with stressful situations, I would look closely at careers that do not require a ton of standing or exertion.

    One profession that I have been eyeing (pun incoming) is Optometry. The schooling seems much easier vs the traditional medical school curriculum, and they are out in 4 years. I think that ODs have a great setup, everyday practice is very safe and low stress. Low malpractice, little communicable diseases/fluids to deal with and it is a clean profession. They dont make the highest salary vs debt (around 100-110K/year before taxes and school is around 200K+), and it is a far cry from being a doctor/surgeon like MD/DO/DDS/DPM, but it is still technically medicine. I would rather be an OD than a PA.

    I could see (pun) working under a MD ophthalmologist to be a pretty sweet setup.

     
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  31. D7C

    D7C

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    Thanks again GypsyHummus.

    I think Optometry is a great profession also. I'm going to look more into it, but I know one must take the OAT for admission.

    Before I commit to another exam, I'm going to try and do my best on retaking the MCAT first.

    Thanks again for all the great advice!
     
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  32. GypsyHummus

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    Depending on when you took the mcat, you might be able to use it at a podiatry school. 29 is really strong for pod school and it might even net you some scholarships. Just a heads up if you are looking at the pod route.

    I’d call up some pod schools and see if they would let you use your old mcat. There are still plenty of spots available for next year’s class. Just make sure Podiatry is what you want, get to shadowing ASAP!

    Good luck, and I hope everything works out for you. Let pod schools know you are interested in them more than just a backup option and that you truly value the profession and have a passion for medicine of the foot and ankle. If you can successful illustrate that, I can deff see a couple lower tiered pod schools (Kent, New York, Schools) offering you a second chance at becoming a physician.


     
  33. D7C

    D7C

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    I was checking out AACPM and I believe most schools require an MCAT less than 3 years old.

    I am scheduled to retake the MCAT this May, so that I can apply for Fall of this year. Would you say that's a bit too early to put in an application for me? I saw that the latest MCAT score most podiatry schools take is June, and I'm hoping to get back into a program so that I won't be rusty.

    I did shadow a podiatrist in the past (while in another state; however, did not ask for a letter of recommendation) and am looking to shadow another near where I live now.

    I'm also in the midst of trying to contact podiatry schools individually to see if they can evaluate my case specifically.

    Do you think there is anything more I could do?

    Thanks again for all your help. This has been tough on me but also on my family. It's hard to remain positive in the midst of financial struggles and my current situation, but you've helped a lot.
     
  34. GypsyHummus

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    PM'd you


     

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