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Don't Want To Be Like Everyone Else!

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by kimt2234, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. kimt2234

    kimt2234 Member
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    So, I met with a nontrad who is in her second year of residency and the take home message I got from her was you need to package and market yourself in a way that med schools will remember you; be different; do something different when it comes to volunteering and extra curricular's

    She went to an allopathic school in california with a 1.7 undergrad GPA, no graduate work, some research (hated it), a 32 MCAT, and got mostly A's in her prereq's.


    Currently, like I said, she is a 2nd year resident and spoke very strongly about the fact that of course, everyone volunteers in hospitals or tries to have as close to a 4.0 gpa as possible to increase their chances, but if your stats aren't that high (or even if they are) your best chance of getting into med school all lies in how you package yourself to an adcoms committee. Why would they want to take you over john or jane with a 4.0 and a 43 MCAT?

    The answer is, I don't know. I don't know where to begin to make myself sound like it is worth the med schools time to accept me. I have three years until I apply (I can only afford 1 class a semester rigth now) so I have time on my side, but in terms of extra curriculars and volunteering from now to the application point, I don't want to just do what everyone else is doing and hate it or be bored. Call me crazy but if I am going to give up even a few precious hours a week or every other week, I want to actually enjoy and be able to honestly speak to that EC experience as adding fuel to this fire.

    Problem....I can't figure out what sounds appealing to me for EC's and volunteering

    Any thoughts, comments, concerns. I feel like I need to "package" myself so much better than what I currently have going and am not sure how to do that.
     
  2. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I suspect that anyone who has a great idea about how to make themselves unique is not likely to share it on a public board, lest everyone else will make themselves similarly "unique". On the nontrad board, clearly the most common way to distinguish yourself is to have had work and life experience, often extensive, which makes you stand out from the usual undergrad applicant.
    I doubt there are too many folks out there who got mostly A's in the prereqs and a 32 on the MCAT but still managed to only be a D+ student in undergrad. Are we talking about good grades in a lengthy postbac years after undergrad? If not, sounds like your friend would have had to have something pretty amazing in her application to make that get overlooked, or else she had some serious "pull" she's not telling you about.
     
  3. kimmcauliffe

    kimmcauliffe Surfer Chum
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    Med schools look for not only school grades and MCAT scores, but also at the all-round person you are. Any volunteer work, no matter how infrequent, school and personal experience, work that relates to the medical field, or anything that you've done to help people, even if it's not medically related, will help your applicaton shine.

    Presenting yourself in your interview is also important. Speak confidently and clearly. Let them know your short term and long term goals, how you plan to help people, why you're wanting to be a doctor. Go into the whole process as if you've already been accepted. No one wants an unsure doctor!

    Best of luck to you, hope you keep us posted on your progress!

    Kim Mc :thumbup:
     
  4. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Might want to keep in mind that the more you try to package yourself, the more you may end up looking like a package. The schools want to see real individuals, not just folks jumping through hoops trying to get the right volunteer experience and the appropriate research. These schools have seen this all before.

    Have you ever interviewed someone who had all the pat answers and the de riguer bullet points on the resume? Very unmemorable candidates. Just be yourself and do what interests you. If you're a good fit for a med school, they'll pick up on it.
     
  5. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call"
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    You are unique because of who you are and your life experiences. Anything else that you try to add to your resume has already been done, and probably better, so don't worry about trying to outdo anyone. My med school class includes people who have swum across the English Channel, published books, and designed buildings in Antarctica. There is nothing novel in the premed world.

    The key for non-trads is demonstrating that you're making an informed decision, not just a pie-in-the-sky dream of wanting to save people and be noble. This information-gathering is also good for you. Get some good solid experience and exposure to the field. Shadow docs, nurses, PAs. Learn to speak Spanish. Visit the kinds of clinical settings that you imagine you might want to work in as a doctor. Work in a community clinic, get some clinical skills and see if you like it. Community clinics tend to be more interesting than hospitals because they don't get such a flood of premeds. Also, half of all premeds seem to be EMTs; unless you have an unusually great opportunity to do clinical EMT work in your community, you'd probably learn more working as a medical assistant.
     
  6. cfdavid

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    Most of us are more "unique" than we give ourselves credit for. But, it's not easy to prepare a personal statement or to even sort out which of your EC's etc. to put into AMCAS or a secondary.

    However, it's the smaller stuff that we take for granted and don't even really think about that makes us different/unique.
     
  7. medworm

    medworm Senior Member
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    If you are undecided about committing to a particular EC, you should just try signing up with a volunteer placement organization. For instance, SoCal has LA Works which aggregates tons of different short-term and longer-term volunteer opportunities, from animal shelters to Christmas caroling and so forth. Be creative. You can volunteer to be a docent at a cultural museum, read for the Braille Institute, cleanup the coastline, mentor kids, etc. There are just tons of opportunities out there, but you have to decide what capacity you want to be involved in. I already had a desk job, so I made sure that my volunteer work got me bustling about on my feet and made use of my technical skills. I tried a number of different ECs before gravitating towards ones where I can directly improve our neighborhoods and environment. You don't have to limit yourself to hospital volunteering, but you should at minimum get a few hours in for the exposure.
     
  8. medworm

    medworm Senior Member
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    Agreed. One of the schools I applied to asked me to elaborate on one noteworthy activity that I excel at. And since I wasn't a state champ in anything, I tried to demonstrate my uniqueness by mentioning all the different activities that I have participated in. Now I really thought that by dancing around the question, I jinxed my chances. But apparently the school didn't mind, and liked it enough to grant me an interview. So, really, who knows? Good luck! :luck:
     
  9. UCLA2000

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    "packaging" yourself better just means that you need to focus on the things that make YOU unique. Don't ask me what they are because I don't know you. Then again, it's possible that you are not unique. After all, there is already another kim on this very thread! What if...she's...just...like...you are? :eek:

    In all seriousness, focus on the things that make you different from everyone else. Do you play piano? Are you a writer? Do you teach? Whatever you do that's different will be something for you to focus on, nurture, and develop.

    It's no good if you play piano like Mozart but yet nobody has ever heard you play. If you play like Mozart then it's time for you to start doing concerts.

    If you write like Emily Dickinson, then write a novel. Actually, I take that back. If you write like her, just slowly put down the pen and walk away. Her writing is entirely too soperific.

    As someone stated above, if anyone truely had a great idea on how to properly package themselves, then they would be unlikely to share it with a stranger, or on a public board.

    hope that helps.
     
  10. 1Path

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    Hey, I'm a "Kim" too and I think I'm unique from ALL the other "Kims" around these here parts! :D :laugh:
     
  11. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    1Path, you are definitely unique by ANY name. ;)

    OP, I just wanted to add that you should try not to compare yourself to other people throughout this process. That is just going to make you miserable. Plus, someone else having strengths that you lack doesn't equate with you having NO strengths. I think that the most important thing you can do is to pick one or two activities that you are really passionate about, and really devote yourself to them. So if you're interested in research, you need to DO research. But if you're not interested in research, DON'T do it. Go teach, or get clinical experience, or work with kids, or whatever else you really care about. Start with your hobbies and figure out a way to relate them to medicine and/or helping people. If you play an instrument, give concerts for hospitalized patients. If you love reading, volunteer to read to children or blind people. If you're into sports, become a volunteer coach. If you knit, make booties and hats for preemies. If you love animals and own a dog, see if you can join a program to bring your dog to the hospital to visit patients. And so on. You can turn any hobby into an act of giving if you are a little creative about it.

    P.S. Don't underestimate the importance of ECs and demonstrating motivation for medicine. Contrary to popular belief, having a 4.0 GPA and a 40+ MCAT is not an automatic golden ticket into med school. One SDN member with these kind of stats applied last year and didn't initially get in anywhere before she finally got off the waitlist at Vanderbilt: http://www.mdapplicants.com/viewprofile.php?id=2081
     
  12. UCLA2000

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    I knew it! I'm surrounded by Kims!

    So ummm...How YOU doin Kim? :laugh:
     

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