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Do I even have a shot at medical school? Here's my situation.

Discussion in 'What Are My Chances?' started by virtuoso735, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. virtuoso735

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    I graduated from college this May with a Bachelor's of Science degree in biology. During my freshmen through junior years, I was pretty set on going to graduate school to get a PhD, with hopes of becoming a scientist/professor, but I slowly discovered that the research route was not what I really wanted. While I enjoy research, I don't want to spend my life as a post-doc earning 40k a year if I end up not ever getting a tenure-track job due to the glut of biology PhD's. I don't like the politics involved with obtaining a professorship, and I feel like a lot of research does not really do much to help others. I know that scientific research is important, and that scientists are largely responsible for technological and medical advancement, but the field that I was considering entering, evolutionary biology, while fascinating, does not contribute too much outside of satisfying people's intellectual curiosity.

    Anyhow, enough of why I don't want to go into research. During my senior year, I started thinking about a career in the medical professions. It would combine biology, my interest in working to help others, and a sustainable career (or at least I hope so). I've thought about becoming a dentist or doctor--both appeal to me, at least on paper, but the problem is I do not have any with either field. This thread is not to discuss the merits of either profession. What I want to know is if I have a shot at a medical school.

    I graduated from Yale in Biology (the ecology and evolutionary biology path) with a 3.42 overall GPA. I'm not sure what my science GPA is, but it's probably between 3.25 and 3.30. It's pretty terrible since it's pretty much all B's. I'll list my relevant course (sciences/math and english) grades below:

    Chemistry
    General Chem: B and B
    Gen Chem Lab: B+ and B+
    Organic Chemistry I: C+
    Organic Chem Lab I: B+
    Organic Chemistry II with lab: A-
    (I took orgo II at a state school this summer)

    Physics
    Physics I: B+
    Physics I Lab: A-
    Physics II: B

    General Biology I: B
    General Biology II: B+
    General Biology Lab II: A-
    Genetics: B
    Genetics Lab: B+

    Math
    Calc II: B
    Statistics: B
    English: B

    Misc. Biology for my Major
    Ichthylogy and lab: A-/A-
    Ornithology: B
    General Ecology: A-
    Evolutionary Biology: A-
    Evolution of Development: B+
    Rain Forest Exped.: B+
    Senior Project Research I and II: A/A

    I got really discouraged just typing out my grades. I can't believe how many B's I have. And I wasted my time by not taking classes like biochem and microbiology. I don't even know if these grades will get me into any medical school at all. I don't care if I have to go to a bottom-tier med school, I would probably be lucky to get into any.

    Also I don't have any medical-related extracurriculars or volunteer experience. I did a few biology research projects, but they don't have anything to do with medicine. I don't think I'm even done with prerequisites. I still have to take the second semester of physics lab, at least. I might have to take another seemster of english and a semester of biochem. I'm not sure what else but I have to look into that.

    I'm taking two years off before applying (if I end up applying). If I do apply, I would apply next summer (summer 2012). What should I do during the year. If I still have a chance at med school with my dismal grades, I would volunteer and shadow and try to get a feel for the field. I would study for the MCAT and try to score well on it. What else should I do during the year to boost my chances?

    Please give me an honest assessment of my situation. Any comments would be appreciated!

    Thanks
     
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  3. medicaldreams13

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    you have a decent shot at some DO schools with your grades, and you could possibly apply to your in-state MD schools depending on their average stats. I also have lower than average gpa, so I applied to DO schools and a couple of MD schools which I looked up on MSAR.

    The main thing you should focus on is getting clinical experience and doing some volunteering in whatever interests you. Also, finish your pre-reqs. I would try shadowing a doctor and volunteering at a local hospital if possible. I'm sure there are various volunteer opportunities in your surrounding community, and probably some that you would be interested in.

    Many DO schools look for applicants to have extensive clinical experience and volunteer hours. So if you start now, you could continue for a year or so. Depending on how you do on the MCAT, you may have a chance at low-tier MD schools.
     
  4. Catalystik

    Catalystik Platinum
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    Leadership and teaching also help to strengthen a med school application.

    And research need not be medically-or even science-related to be of benefit.
     
  5. virtuoso735

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    So it appears that based on my low GPA that DO schools are a better option for me. I've been looking at average GPA's for DO schools, and there are some that are 3.4 or lower. Will have to look into the DO degree some more.

    What kind of experience should I focus on? Volunteering, shadowing? Which kinds of experiences would give me the most clinical experience? Does it matter where I volunteer/shadow? I live very close to a local hospital, but I also live 30 minutes away from Stanford, where I could also potentially volunteer. Should I save time and gas money and volunteer at the local hospital, or is it worth driving an hour each time I volunteer? Does it matter in the end?
     
  6. Catalystik

    Catalystik Platinum
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    It doesn't matter which hospital you volunteer at, provided you have direct contact with sick people (ie, not the gift shop). You could also consider a nursing home, hospice, clinic (free, private, low-income, VA, or family-planning), or rehab center, among others. Start this soon as the average applicant has 1.5 years.

    Shadowing can be done later, as you should meet docs at whatever gig you decide on. About 50 hours is typical and should include a primary care doc. Some DO schools require a DO LOR, so strategize for this.

    Having some nonmedical community service would also be viewed very positively.
     
  7. virtuoso735

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    Thanks for the input, everyone. I will start calling local hospitals soon to see where I can volunteer and hopefully get some clinical experience. Also, I am also looking at volunteering for a tutoring program that teaches literacy skills to adults that have trouble reading and writing (recent immigrants or adults that did not finish high school). A few months in, I can hopefully start shadowing doctors. Does this sound good? I'm actually pretty excited to start my volunteering.

    Also, should I start focusing on DO schools since MD schools seem to be a long shot?
     
  8. Catalystik

    Catalystik Platinum
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    1) Sounds good for all three.

    2) If you are a strong test taker and willing to take 2-3+ classes in med school-like coursework this fall and again in spring to prove your potential (eg, Physiology, Cell Bio, Biochem, Microbiology, etc) getting straight As, then MD is still possible. If not, then focus on DO.
     
  9. Etorphine

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    Yes, I think you have a shot at a US MD school, albeit on the lower end. You must get more clinical EC's during your year off if you want to make it happen, but I truly do believe you can do it.
     
  10. virtuoso735

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    So it appears to be the consensus that I may have a decent chance at some DO schools if I use this year off to get clinical experience and do well on my MCATs's. If I want to get into an allopathic school, I would have little chance unless I took at least one more year of coursework and get A's in those classes, in addition to the clinical experience. I really would like to take another year to get more classes in, but I just don't know how I'm going to pay for classes. And I don't know if I want to spend 3 years out of school. The DO route would take 2 years, the MD 3. I don't even know how to finance the additional classes. :(
     
  11. Catalystik

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    Some jobs come with a tuition benefit, and often if you work for a university, classes are free to employees (full or part time).

    But yeah, otherwise the DO path would appear to be more cost and time efficient.

    If you just retake the two C- grades, many DO schools won't mind if you do it at a cheaper CC.
     
  12. Goro

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    Jeeze, what are you complaining about? Do fine ont he MCAT, apply to DO schools, and in four years you'll be a doctor. Your GPA is not all that competetive for MD schools, so don't waste time and money there.

     
  13. virtuoso735

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    I have one C+ grade in Orgo I...but almost no A's so I don't know if this makes a difference.

    I just recently learned about the DO degree, so I'll have to do more research on it.
     
  14. Catalystik

    Catalystik Platinum
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    Oops, my bad for misremembering. No need to retake a C+ especially as you so did well in OChem II. Of course we don't yet know your sGPA yet.
     
  15. virtuoso735

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    I just calculated my science GPA using a pen and paper (with A- equal to 3.7, B+ equal to 3.3, etc.), and my science GPA came out to be 3.33 if I use ALL of my science classes (including the ones listed under "misc. biology for my major", which I was told by the prehealth advisors at my school would count towards bcpm GPA). If I am conservative and use only the classes that will 100% be counted, my science GPA is only 3.20. How should this information affect my situation?
     
  16. sector9

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    It sounds like your prehealth advisors were giving good advice. ALL biology, chemistry, physics, or math classes will count toward your BCPM (click on the "AMCAS course classification guide" on this page to see which departments are included under those vague titles https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/amcas/amcasresources/). It doesn't matter if they're prerequisites for med school or necessary for your major. They all count, period.
     
  17. LawlasaurusRex

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    Just be careful if you do decide to attempt heavy science course loads to apply to MD schools. What they will want to see is you pulling off nearly all A's. Further, there are no guarantees that this will "erase or forgive" your poor start, and doing poorly may also jeopardize your app to DO schools too. It is a double edged sword, which can pay off for some but backfire for others. From what you have given us, there are no indications whether you would be able to handle a term of all upper level science courses. I'm not trying to discourage you, but before you start taking more classes, decide hard on what is the best route for you to hedge your future on and figure out what you can do better to receive a better outcome in your courses. Don't be too discouraged about your grades, since it is just one of many factors in the determination process. This extra time should also give you some great chances to participate in some fantastic EC's. Just put yourself out there and see what sort of experience or lesson you can learn from it. Make a decision, and stick with it through the highs and lows.
     
  18. Morsetlis

    Morsetlis I wish I were a dentist
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    I agree.

    You need 1 or 2 years to fix yourself up in the ECs department. On top of that, work on acing the MCAT. On top of THAT (and this is why it might require 2 years) you need to fix your GPA: Since you already have a degree, additional work is likely to be meaningless, but you have two choices:

    Post-bacc: Find an reputable program with ties to medical schools. Do well in it.

    Special (1 year) Master's Program: There are several, several SMP's affiliated with med schools. Do well in this one and you're almost guaranteed to get in somewhere. Do bad and... Caribbean (in fact, many of my classmates are people who sucked during their Masters', either traditional or SMP).
     
  19. Catalystik

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    Keep in mind that AACOMAS DO schools don't include math in their sGPA, though MD schools do. This link has what AACOMAS includes in sGPA at the bottom:

    AMCAS BCPM GPA and AACOMAS sGPA includes: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=552026
     
  20. virtuoso735

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    What should I aim for on my MCAT to be competitive for med schools. Based on my stats?
     
  21. Catalystik

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    For DO med schools, aim for a 27+. For MD, historically with a 3.42, an MCAT of 33 gave All Applicants a 57% chance of an acceptance, and a 35 gave a 63% chance.
     
  22. sector9

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    Hehe yup sorry I should have been more clear
     

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