Dec 9, 2012
463
120
Status
Im a non traditional student currently taking the pre-med classes, but I am wondering what else I should be doing and HOW to go about it. Im non traditional not because I had some great career with a ton of experience but because I took a year off after college(working dead end jobs) and then doing a semester of law school before deciding that I wanted to pursue medicine. So right now I dont have any of the traditional pre-med ECs or any non traditional ones. In fact the only ECs I have are 5 years of dead end retail experience, off and on off the books carpentry work(as an assistant) and a few volunteer experiences while in law school.

Right now I am working informally(off the books) as a carpenter's assistant, but I am looking for something on the books(will probably end up being retail). All the desirable jobs that would be useful for premed require either a certification or a ton of experience where I live(a lot of these jobs are taken by people who make a career out of it) so those are out.

So what I CAN do:
-retail job with occasional carpentry work thrown in
-shadowing
-volunteering

But I see some post on here and I wonder, "how can I even compete with that?". Like how would I even go about getting research without a science background?(my undergrad was in philosophy). I just feel like there is a lot more I need to be doing and I dont know how to go about it. The good news is that I dont plan on applying until June 2015, so I have time but I would appreciate it if somebody could point me in the right direction.
 

CapCrunch

5+ Year Member
Oct 31, 2012
263
32
East of Eden
Status
Pre-Medical
Chances are you wouldn't get research right now with no science background. However, hospital/clinical volunteering is easy to get. Just go on the website of some local hospitals and find their volunteer forms. As for shadowing, all I did was cold call a few offices. It's worked so far, but not the easiest to find someone willing to let you shadow. And remember, med schools want to see community service...find a local soup kitchen or something like that. I volunteered in a soup kitchen in undergrad, and it was actually a really awesome experience.
 
OP
Tommyguns89
Dec 9, 2012
463
120
Status
Chances are you wouldn't get research right now with no science background. However, hospital/clinical volunteering is easy to get. Just go on the website of some local hospitals and find their volunteer forms. As for shadowing, all I did was cold call a few offices. It's worked so far, but not the easiest to find someone willing to let you shadow. And remember, med schools want to see community service...find a local soup kitchen or something like that. I volunteered in a soup kitchen in undergrad, and it was actually a really awesome experience.
And would that be enough to get in assuming my stats are within an acceptable range? Or would I need to find a way to get research and a better job?
 

CapCrunch

5+ Year Member
Oct 31, 2012
263
32
East of Eden
Status
Pre-Medical
Don't worry about your job; your job is largely irrelevant in the admissions game (as long as it's a non-clinical position). However, yes, shadowing, and volunteering both clinically and non-clinically will be enough- in fact, it's all a lot of applicants have. Make sure you actually take something from your experiences, it'll help you with your PS.
 

okokok

5+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 12, 2012
447
199
Status
I've been a home health aide for three years, which required no certification or experience and is clinically relevant. I spoke about many experiences from being a caregiver in med school interviews. (There is an actual Home Health Aide certification you can get, but you don't need one for most agencies. I was also hired directly by a family, not through an agency.) Hospitals in my area are often looking for patient sitters, a job that requires no experience or training.

As for volunteering, it was a pain to get in at my local hospitals and from what I heard, there wasn't much value in it. Instead, I volunteered as a patient driver through the American Cancer Society (started immediately, highly rewarding position, no training) and with a local hospice (took them a few months to get enough volunteers to hold a training session so I didn't start immediately).
 

okokok

5+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 12, 2012
447
199
Status
Oh, also I was an English major with no science experience either, but when I returned to school to take the premed pre-reqs (which I assume you'll have to do?) I began research with a colleague of one of my professors. So you can maybe try that if you have to go back to school.
 
Jun 30, 2013
634
254
West Lafayette, Indiana
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Im a non traditional student currently taking the pre-med classes, but I am wondering what else I should be doing and HOW to go about it. Im non traditional not because I had some great career with a ton of experience but because I took a year off after college(working dead end jobs) and then doing a semester of law school before deciding that I wanted to pursue medicine. So right now I dont have any of the traditional pre-med ECs or any non traditional ones. In fact the only ECs I have are 5 years of dead end retail experience, off and on off the books carpentry work(as an assistant) and a few volunteer experiences while in law school.

Right now I am working informally(off the books) as a carpenter's assistant, but I am looking for something on the books(will probably end up being retail). All the desirable jobs that would be useful for premed require either a certification or a ton of experience where I live(a lot of these jobs are taken by people who make a career out of it) so those are out.

So what I CAN do:
-retail job with occasional carpentry work thrown in
-shadowing
-volunteering

But I see some post on here and I wonder, "how can I even compete with that?". Like how would I even go about getting research without a science background?(my undergrad was in philosophy). I just feel like there is a lot more I need to be doing and I dont know how to go about it. The good news is that I dont plan on applying until June 2015, so I have time but I would appreciate it if somebody could point me in the right direction.

I dont know how old are you. But if I was you, I would get "on the books" job in carpentry and also use that in my applications. But besides that start with you pre-req work and get all the classes needed with good grades. I would also think about getting a CNA's license and get a part time job as a CNA. It wont make you much money, but it will give you some clinical experience. Start shadowing now and get to know some good docs that will right you some good letters. That would be a start. Leave the rest of worries for later. Take one step at a time.
 
OP
Tommyguns89
Dec 9, 2012
463
120
Status
I dont know how old are you. But if I was you, I would get "on the books" job in carpentry and also use that in my applications. But besides that start with you pre-req work and get all the classes needed with good grades. I would also think about getting a CNA's license and get a part time job as a CNA. It wont make you much money, but it will give you some clinical experience. Start shadowing now and get to know some good docs that will right you some good letters. That would be a start. Leave the rest of worries for later. Take one step at a time.
Im 24, and getting an on the books job in carpentry that is flexible with a school schedule is pretty much a no go. And with how hard it was for me to even get into the classes I need for the spring(the premed classes fill up very fast at all the schools near me) the school schedule has to come before the work schedule. Thats also another thing that people do for a career and is very competitive and most of the job postings(which I wouldnt be able to do in the spring anyway because they conflict with my schedule) want people with more experience than I have. Believe me if this was a realistic option I would jump on it because the pay is a lot better than retail.
 
Jun 30, 2013
634
254
West Lafayette, Indiana
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Im 24, and getting an on the books job in carpentry that is flexible with a school schedule is pretty much a no go. And with how hard it was for me to even get into the classes I need for the spring(the premed classes fill up very fast at all the schools near me) the school schedule has to come before the work schedule. Thats also another thing that people do for a career and is very competitive and most of the job postings(which I wouldnt be able to do in the spring anyway because they conflict with my schedule) want people with more experience than I have. Believe me if this was a realistic option I would jump on it because the pay is a lot better than retail.
Just keep in mind that its a marathon not a race. If I was you, I would make sure I high grades in all the classes I am taking. I am 41 and getting ready for my first interview. I done mean even in a dream that you do the same, but what I mean to say is that don't rush it. If you mess it up this time, it would be hard to correct.
 
OP
Tommyguns89
Dec 9, 2012
463
120
Status
Just keep in mind that its a marathon not a race. If I was you, I would make sure I high grades in all the classes I am taking. I am 41 and getting ready for my first interview. I done mean even in a dream that you do the same, but what I mean to say is that don't rush it. If you mess it up this time, it would be hard to correct.
Well the good news is I am doing well in the classes I am taking now(Chemistry and calculus) and my GPA from my first degree is manageable(3.6) so Im not too worried about all of that because as I said I am putting school first, and I am also perfectly fine with a DO school. I just hope the clinical volunteering, non-clinical volunteering and shadowing will cut it for the ECs. New York is a really competitive state for med school admissions.
 
Jun 30, 2013
634
254
West Lafayette, Indiana
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Well the good news is I am doing well in the classes I am taking now(Chemistry and calculus) and my GPA from my first degree is manageable(3.6) so Im not too worried about all of that because as I said I am putting school first, and I am also perfectly fine with a DO school. I just hope the clinical volunteering, non-clinical volunteering and shadowing will cut it for the ECs. New York is a really competitive state for med school admissions.
Yea thats great. Dont worry about ECs. I am 41 years old. I am a nurse though. With about 200 hour of non clinical ECs and 4 docs shadowed, I have 2 interviews so far with 2 rejections. I am still waiting on 11 school, all of them DOs.
 

samc

M4
7+ Year Member
Dec 26, 2010
160
70
Cincinnati, OH
beckse.googlepages.com
Status
Medical Student
Hey, OP, I think I can offer some perspective here. I am older than you (36) but have a not dissimilar story. For 5-6 years after college I worked in meaningful but low-status jobs. (I went to an Ivy League undergrad, so a lot of my classmates in the "helping professions" worked, for example, at a think tank in DC with a neat job title before deciding to go to professional school. My jobs were something to talk about in an essay, but nothing to look at on a resume.)

Then I decided to retrain for med school. How bad could it be? I said. Beforehand I worked full-time in [low-status field], so surely I can get a part-time job in the same field, I told myself, after a lot of effort and aggressive searching, of course. Well, no, it didn't work out that way. To pay the bills while taking prereqs I have done a wide, I do mean wide, variety of freelance work, temp secretarial, babysitting, editing, tutoring, you name it. The extreme stress of making money in increments of $30 and $40 at a time had its effect on my grades, for sure. Damn straight I put "babysitting" as one of my AMCAS activities, because if you want to know what user samc has been up to, that's it.

(A lot of people were too nice to say it, and this may not apply in your case, but in these years, there was a lot of wondering about why with a degree from such a place I couldn't "just get a job." Well, a flexible PT job, OR a job where you can reliably clock out at 5 sharp to go to class, is not so easy to find. Indeed, waiting around for the perfect school-compatible job is the province of people who HAVE RESOURCES to wait it out--help from parents, a significant other, what have you.)

So. I won't lie. It was not pretty, this scenario.

In hindsight, two pieces of advice. At least consider them, even if you don't do them.

(1) Resolve the steady job problem first BEFORE starting classes. I did not do this because I had a specific reason (outside the normal premed range of discussion) for starting school while still looking for work. Don't do this! Find the flexible job or easy 9-5er FIRST. Keep working your present gigs while you look, of course. On a reread, it looks like you may have started already. Well, think about stopping after this semester (having gotten As!) to address the work issue. Really. Really think. It's OK to hustle like that for one or two semesters, but can you do it for a full 2.5 years? What if your market slows down?

(2) At least consider moving in with relatives, if this is an option. I am not close to my family and thus did not consider it. Probably I wouldn't have done it in any case. BUT if I had known how hard it would be to make a living around a school schedule, I would at least have given it some thought.

In the end, I don't think my work history held me back. My trouble getting in was for other reasons that don't show up on paper.

With regard to ECs, volunteering, etc., I say do what you can. You have to make a living. Research, in my experience, will depend on personal contacts with professors once you're settled in school. I, too, was a philosophy major. Parenthetically, I also had a grad school misstep in there, so I wouldn't let the law school matter worry you.
 
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Beandog

5+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2011
221
28
Status
Pre-Medical
One option to solve your temporoary career and volunteer issues while going to school:

Join a local volunteer fire dept. They will pay for you to get your EMT certification.

Volunteer at the Fire department, gain tons of medical experience and get started working as an EMT when your training is complete. Not the best pay, but better than what you are describing. You're building a medical background, gaining important comm. service for your application, and a job with flexibility to boot. Plus connections, possible LOR can come from it.

I also second the "do what you have to do to make a living" remark. In the current economy a job and path towards your goal is a score, regardless.
Just my 0.02
 

ruedjgtc

5+ Year Member
Jul 9, 2013
293
303
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Im a non traditional student currently taking the pre-med classes, but I am wondering what else I should be doing and HOW to go about it. Im non traditional not because I had some great career with a ton of experience but because I took a year off after college(working dead end jobs) and then doing a semester of law school before deciding that I wanted to pursue medicine. So right now I dont have any of the traditional pre-med ECs or any non traditional ones. In fact the only ECs I have are 5 years of dead end retail experience, off and on off the books carpentry work(as an assistant) and a few volunteer experiences while in law school.

Right now I am working informally(off the books) as a carpenter's assistant, but I am looking for something on the books(will probably end up being retail). All the desirable jobs that would be useful for premed require either a certification or a ton of experience where I live(a lot of these jobs are taken by people who make a career out of it) so those are out.

So what I CAN do:
-retail job with occasional carpentry work thrown in
-shadowing
-volunteering

But I see some post on here and I wonder, "how can I even compete with that?". Like how would I even go about getting research without a science background?(my undergrad was in philosophy). I just feel like there is a lot more I need to be doing and I dont know how to go about it. The good news is that I dont plan on applying until June 2015, so I have time but I would appreciate it if somebody could point me in the right direction.
Hi,

I was a non traditional applicant, I had some medical volunteer experience but nothing impressive. Because of this I decided to use my non medical ECs to my advantage. Let's be honest, while medical volunteering is interesting, there's a big chance as a volunteer you'll have very little impact on the organization as whole. So, I just listed the medical EC to prove I've "been there and done that", then I spent more focusing on positions where I had a large effect, ie. non med ECs. For example, because I did tutoring I made sure that I volunteered my time to tutor at risk primary school students, after hours college tutoring, and even inmate tutoring (GED). This allowed for me to be different, show responsibility and concern for my community, fyi medical schools really liked my prison volunteering time, made for great stories during interviews. Perhaps because they assume everyone does medical volunteering, and your interview is in a hospital setting everyday, my interviewers never brought up my medical experience once except to verify that I have smelt patients. They seemed to be more interested in what I've accomplished and how I personally used my skill-set to help my community.

So my suggestion is that while trying to fulfill the typical medical EC, don't forget that you're strength as a nontraditional is that you bring something else to the table. In your specific case, I could see you hosting some carpentry workshops for kids/parents with low incomes. It may seem trivial, but to a lot of kids who NEVER get those skills/attention a small pilot program with a few kids would likely change their lives forever. If you know how to keep a job, a lot of people don't, so you could get together with your university's community outreach program to teach job skills/job search skills etc. When volunteering in prison I gave mock job interviews, one prisoner almost wept because it was his first time having an interview that didn't involve an interrogation. You could use your writing skills (from your semester in law school) to help teach writing workshops etc., a lot of people can't progress in life because of their inability to communicate. I think if you bill your skills correctly you won't feel like you're behind, just find a way to lead/show your positive traits in your own way, using what you've already established. It's all about impact -- that's I sold myself at interviews and landed multiple acceptances.

That's my two-cents anyways, good luck in your cycle.