Engineer did not make the cut this application season. Recommendations?

Aug 10, 2009
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I didn't do as well as I was hoping to on the MCAT (26 know I can do better, 3.6GPA demanding curriculum) didn't get in MD, did not apply DO now regretting this (listen to some people who said it would limit me, realize this is not really the case these days). My undergraduate was in chemical engineering with some options for a couple jobs (60-70k range); however, many of these options are multiple year rotational/management training opportunities.

I have a couple option:
1.) Obviously one I will retake the MCAT. (will do regardless)
2.) Take an engineering job go through 18-24 month commitment in a rotational program, and try again in 2 years. (I'll be in my 30's when done with residency) Should be able to save enough to put my self through most of med school.
3.) Do a special master program (more schooling=more debt and heard these are better for people with low GPA/good MCAT).
4.) Find a lab job in a medical field (have some connections), shadow and buffer extra curriculars (i.e. volunteering)

The engineering jobs are management training grooming participants for mid/upper level management, would this look good on an application in the future.

I really would love to be a doctor, did engineering as a fall back. Does anyone have any input? Looking back everything played out well, but now comes the time to decide do I fall back on an engineering job get comfortable and maybe never pursue my dream? Or strengthen my application for next year.

Any recommendations would be helpful, or even better experiences others have had with maybe a similar story.
 
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I didn't do as well as I was hoping to on the MCAT (26 know I can do better, 3.6GPA demanding curriculum) didn't get in MD, did not apply DO now regretting this (listen to some people who said it would limit me, realize this is not really the case these days). My undergraduate was in chemical engineering with some options for a couple jobs (60-70k range); however, many of these options are multiple year rotational/management training opportunities.

I have a couple option:
1.) Obviously one I will retake the MCAT. (will do regardless)
2.) Take an engineering job go through 18-24 month commitment in a rotational program, and try again in 2 years. (I'll be in my 30's when done with residency) Should be able to save enough to put my self through most of med school.
3.) Do a special master program (more schooling=more debt and heard these are better for people with low GPA/good MCAT).
4.) Find a lab job in a medical field (have some connections), shadow and buffer extra curriculars (i.e. volunteering)

The engineering jobs are management training grooming participants for mid/upper level management, would this look good on an application in the future.

I really would love to be a doctor, did engineering as a fall back. Does anyone have any input? Looking back everything played out well, but now comes the time to decide do I fall back on an engineering job get comfortable and maybe never pursue my dream? Or strengthen my application for next year.

Any recommendations would be helpful, or even better experiences others have had with maybe a similar story.

I would suggest one and four plus maybe a part time job if you really want to be a doctor and you can afford to take this route. A lot of your decision should depend on your financial situation. Don't give up if it is what you want to do. I am starting medical school this summer at 28 so really age shouldn't be a factor if this is what you really want to do.

Apply DO next year as well as MD! BTW, a couple of DO schools accept applications into April if you are still interested in trying this route this year.
 

JJMrK

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An SMP strikes me as more of something for people with low GPAs. I think you'd have been fine if you had gotten a 30+ MCAT score. Retake it, but not until you are consistently getting 30s on your practice tests.
 
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I'm gonna be real honest... engineering is a good field. I feel like if you can definitely get a job this year, then you might want to consider following the engineering path as a career.

If that's really not something you want to do, I still think that doing a two or three year engineering rotation is a good opportunity to have "something to contribute" to a med school class and applying in two-three years sounds like a great idea. Keep up on your MCAT-able knowledge while you work and take the MCAT in a couple years. Maybe even wait until your "old" mcat is invalid. Not only that, but you could save a sizable chunk of money, buy a decent car if you don't have one, and generally have funds to make med school and residency a bit easier.
 
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88pich14

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If you are absolutely sure you want to be a doctor, go with option number four. If you have any doubts take option 2. All you need is a 30 on your MCAT and you're in.
 

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A couple of years is not all that long in the grand scheme of things. I know we have people in my class who have worked as engineers, one for a full 10 years. It might be fun to be able to work a 40 hour a week job and enjoy being a young professional rather than immediately moving on to school.

My personal opinion is that it might be better to do something solid for 2 years (while working on the MCAT and ECs) rather than try to save a year by taking a larger risk in a year off. At the same time, either option would be fine. Good luck!
 

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Do you have to commit to at least 18 months of engineering? I would suggest getting an engineering gig for the year that you are reapplying (12 months max) because it would be awefully nice to have that money (you won't have any again for a while).

I was a ChE too. You have all of the tools to smoke the MCAT. I suggest taking a course if you need the structure. Good luck!
 

searun

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Usually you guys have a great MCAT and a crappy gpa. You actually have a decent, but not great, gpa and a crappy MCAT. I am a little surprised by the MCAT, but you probably had an off day. Engineers are usually pretty smart.

Take the MCAT again, get a 33 or 34, and you will be fine. Don't choke.
 
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Take the 60k job, retake the MCAT, apply next year, and quit your job when you'd start med school the following year.
 

combatwombat

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Consider taking that chemical engineering job. You said it was your backup, and now here you are. Besides, 60-70k does not sound bad at all, especially for an entry position. Also no malpractice, no attendings, no academic hierarchy to ascend, no stress, no dying patients, no biting your nails over exams...
 

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I did all my engineering internships in the aviation industry and have worked as a full time engineer for the last 3 yrs at a biotech company. My experience developing medical technology has been a massive plus on my med apps and has given me a lot of insight in to what I want to do. I've also been able to save enough to put myself for 1.5 yrs of schools which will help debt and make some connections that will be a huge help if I ever come across a good idea and want to turn it into a product. If I had to do it over, I wouldn't change a thing :D
 
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Usually you guys have a great MCAT and a crappy gpa. You actually have a decent, but not great, gpa and a crappy MCAT. I am a little surprised by the MCAT, but you probably had an off day. Engineers are usually pretty smart.

Take the MCAT again, get a 33 or 34, and you will be fine. Don't choke.

I did choke when I took the MCAT. Did great in verbal (go figure), and totally bombed the science sections. Don't ask me how this happened, I think I approached the MCAT as I can figure out the science (i.e. derive formulas as needed). When really on the MCAT you need to know the stuff cold. There's not a lot of time to think about each question.

Thank you everyone for the responses. No real consensus, but it has given me a couple different views. One of my biggest fears was starting med school so late, but it really does seem that with a small savings built up before hand could really help out in school/residencies.
 
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I didn't do as well as I was hoping to on the MCAT (26 know I can do better, 3.6GPA demanding curriculum) didn't get in MD, did not apply DO now regretting this (listen to some people who said it would limit me, realize this is not really the case these days). My undergraduate was in chemical engineering with some options for a couple jobs (60-70k range); however, many of these options are multiple year rotational/management training opportunities.

I have a couple option:
1.) Obviously one I will retake the MCAT. (will do regardless)
2.) Take an engineering job go through 18-24 month commitment in a rotational program, and try again in 2 years. (I'll be in my 30's when done with residency) Should be able to save enough to put my self through most of med school.
3.) Do a special master program (more schooling=more debt and heard these are better for people with low GPA/good MCAT).
4.) Find a lab job in a medical field (have some connections), shadow and buffer extra curriculars (i.e. volunteering)

The engineering jobs are management training grooming participants for mid/upper level management, would this look good on an application in the future.

I really would love to be a doctor, did engineering as a fall back. Does anyone have any input? Looking back everything played out well, but now comes the time to decide do I fall back on an engineering job get comfortable and maybe never pursue my dream? Or strengthen my application for next year.

Any recommendations would be helpful, or even better experiences others have had with maybe a similar story.


this is a no-brainer: options 1 and 2 with a bit of shadowing or volunteering thrown in on the weekends or after work. definitely take the MCAT first though so you wouldn't be wasting your time on ECs if you can't bump that score up at least 5 points. you worked hard for the engineering degree, may as well reap the benefits rather than getting a crappy job. most med school applicants don't get lab tech jobs because it looks good on med school apps but because they aren't qualified to do anything else...you are lucky that you can make a nice living during your years off....don't blow it. best of luck.
 
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Usually you guys have a great MCAT and a crappy gpa. You actually have a decent, but not great, gpa and a crappy MCAT. I am a little surprised by the MCAT, but you probably had an off day. Engineers are usually pretty smart.

Take the MCAT again, get a 33 or 34, and you will be fine. Don't choke.

Engineers are usually smart lol!
 

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NO SMP! Those are for low GPA.

Retake the MCAT. How did you prep the first time? What were your AAMC practice scores?

No opinion on the job stuff, but keep a hand in the ECs game no matter what else you do.
 

futile

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When I was asking a premed advisor (also an adcom) what I should do if I had to work a year (i.e. I didn't get into med school) after undergraduate, she told me this:

"Whatever you do, DON'T STOP VOLUNTEERING."

I would say yes, go ahead and work, but if you're serious about this, you seriously need to keep involved with the medical field. Volunteer every weekend while you are working, get some clinical experience, kick ass next round.

Do you really need to commit 2 years? Every engineering company I've worked for has had some sort of clause saying either the employee can quit or the employer can fire you for any reason and at any time. Would you feel dishonorable? It's really not worth it for their sake, they're losing all the money they spent training you either way.
 
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Well some positions are just entry level placement, others are these rotational programs (normally 2 years). I guess I'd just feel bad cutting out like that. futile makes a good point tho, but the extra financial security of 2 years savings going in would be nice. What's one year lost in the grand scheme of things.

Do MCAT's go invalid?

I can definitely get the score up practice tests were all in the low 30's. It might be nice to actually use the degree I put so much time and effort into, and who knows I may love the job I and be completely content sticking with it.

Looking back engineering is really what got me interested in medicine, if you think about it the human body is the most complex machine ever created (evolved ;)), its essentially the biological version or pumps, tubing, wiring, levers, reactors, beams and what ever else you can think of.
 
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Why do people seem to often suggest working a year or two before medical school to "be able to afford tuition and not get into so much debt"?

Every year that you delay working as a doctor means one year less of income (for many doctors, 200,000+ gross salary is easily attainable, which equals roughly 120,000+ take home salary per year)

In addition, medical school tuition goes up much more than inflation. This idea of working a few years to save up money for tuition strikes me as penny wise, pound foolish. Some of the debt fear is psychological. If one wants to work for experience before starting medical school, that is another issue.

In this person's case, the 65,000 gross is a pittance compared to the median attending salary...

It seems to me like dropping 60,000 on ~200,000 in tuition will save a lot of compounding student loan interest over the residency/school years, or may represent an increased "quality of life" during medical school/residency.
 

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Why do people seem to often suggest working a year or two before medical school to "be able to afford tuition and not get into so much debt"?

Every year that you delay working as a doctor means one year less of income (for many doctors, 200,000+ gross salary is easily attainable, which equals roughly 120,000+ take home salary per year)

In addition, medical school tuition goes up much more than inflation. This idea of working a few years to save up money for tuition strikes me as penny wise, pound foolish. Some of the debt fear is psychological. If one wants to work for experience before starting medical school, that is another issue.

In this person's case, the 65,000 gross is a pittance compared to the median attending salary...

Your points are all valid but negate the human elements (or minimize the so called "psychological" aspect if you will):

1. It's nice to have disposable income as a student (and as a resident if you don't have as many loans). It can really enhance quality of life. Few things are as frustrating as working your ***** off and being broke at the same time. Savings beforehand will allow for at least a bit of enjoyment.

2. With less debt, you may feel more free about choosing a field which pays less, but might make you happier. I'm sorry to say that the increasing debt burden of loans has driven many into the high paying subspecialties out of a sense of need.

It's perhaps financially wiser to go ahead and get started, but I have learned that there's something to be said about quality-adjusted years.
 

futile

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Well some positions are just entry level placement, others are these rotational programs (normally 2 years). I guess I'd just feel bad cutting out like that. futile makes a good point tho, but the extra financial security of 2 years savings going in would be nice. What's one year lost in the grand scheme of things.

Do MCAT's go invalid?

I can definitely get the score up practice tests were all in the low 30's. It might be nice to actually use the degree I put so much time and effort into, and who knows I may love the job I and be completely content sticking with it.

Looking back engineering is really what got me interested in medicine, if you think about it the human body is the most complex machine ever created (evolved ;)), its essentially the biological version or pumps, tubing, wiring, levers, reactors, beams and what ever else you can think of.

Schools will often not accept MCAT scores over three years old. This might serve you well, who knows.

It sounds like you are more interested in taking a break from medical school applications than applying immediately. If this is true, then go ahead and do it, and don't worry about the possibility of financial ramifications (especially since you're not going to be racking up debt or anything).

I have never had a "real job" but I've done a lot of internships. Without these experiences, I NEVER would have thought to apply to medical school because I really didn't know how I liked to work. Especially if you haven't had any internships, I definitely recommend working if only so that you know what you are leaving behind. It is valuable experience regardless whether you go into medicine in the end or not.

And yeah, I agree. Engineering is awesomesauce. I've been in this program (EE) for 5 years and I don't regret a second of it.
 
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That MCAT needs to come up. Maybe consider a SMP where you can focus on your MCAT work and still have to build ECs (if you need them). I think your GPA is fine, but continuing to be in an academic environment may keep you on track.

SMP shouldn't even be on the table at all in this situation. completely scratch it off your list. it's expensive and is very high risk and little reward in this case.

Why do people seem to often suggest working a year or two before medical school to "be able to afford tuition and not get into so much debt"?

Every year that you delay working as a doctor means one year less of income (for many doctors, 200,000+ gross salary is easily attainable, which equals roughly 120,000+ take home salary per year)

In addition, medical school tuition goes up much more than inflation. This idea of working a few years to save up money for tuition strikes me as penny wise, pound foolish. Some of the debt fear is psychological. If one wants to work for experience before starting medical school, that is another issue.

In this person's case, the 65,000 gross is a pittance compared to the median attending salary...

1. don't build a strawman. this isn't a discussion about whether OP should or should not take time off. He is already going to take time off. The question was whether to get a lucrative job that seems like it won't "help" him in admissions.

2. let me give you an example: let's say we both go to starbucks and we both buy some overpriced yet delicious caffeinated beverage at the menu price of $4.40. While my drink, which i paid for from money I saved from working during my time off) cost me $4.40, your drink just cost you ~$8. And I'm assuming you aren't taking any grad plus loans and that you are paying your debt in full immediately after residency (which is impossible). Of course when you apply this to bigger purchases you can see my point more clearly. While someone who has saved up can fill their car up for $40 but if you've taken out loans for all your living expenses and take 20 years to pay your loans after graduating you're basically paying $200 to fill up your car. Also the less loan money you take out, the smaller your loan payments will be during residency and the better your quality of life.

Basically here's the point.....let's say OP takes a $60k/year job, lives at home (no rent, food is paid for) and saves ~70% of his salary (which is completely plausible) ....after taxes that's about 70k of savings right there...which is basically ~3.5 years of living expenses! Yes, tuition is expensive and all but if you don't have to live off of loans for 4 years you've won in the short and long run IMO.
 
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Being an engineer I looooove excel and graphs :D. So I did a little bit of comparing: 1 year vs 2 year before applying again, I also compared it to engineering. Salaries are national averages + incremental raises. Assumed 7% return on investment assuming you invest 20% of you salary and spend the rest, except in the transition years where I assumed I'd be living like a college student on next to nothing. Did the whole tax bracket correction thing. I guess I kinda went a little overboard.

Taking a year off does not really set you back at all. I found it interesting that you wouldn't even break even in engineering until mid to late 40's. Not that money is a huge issue, but saving for 2 year might actually help the standard of living trough school/residency.
 

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amine2086

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I didn't do as well as I was hoping to on the MCAT (26 know I can do better, 3.6GPA demanding curriculum) didn't get in MD, did not apply DO now regretting this (listen to some people who said it would limit me, realize this is not really the case these days). My undergraduate was in chemical engineering with some options for a couple jobs (60-70k range); however, many of these options are multiple year rotational/management training opportunities.

I have a couple option:
1.) Obviously one I will retake the MCAT. (will do regardless)
2.) Take an engineering job go through 18-24 month commitment in a rotational program, and try again in 2 years. (I'll be in my 30's when done with residency) Should be able to save enough to put my self through most of med school.
3.) Do a special master program (more schooling=more debt and heard these are better for people with low GPA/good MCAT).
4.) Find a lab job in a medical field (have some connections), shadow and buffer extra curriculars (i.e. volunteering)

The engineering jobs are management training grooming participants for mid/upper level management, would this look good on an application in the future.

I really would love to be a doctor, did engineering as a fall back. Does anyone have any input? Looking back everything played out well, but now comes the time to decide do I fall back on an engineering job get comfortable and maybe never pursue my dream? Or strengthen my application for next year.

Any recommendations would be helpful, or even better experiences others have had with maybe a similar story.

OP, I currently work as engineer and will be starting medical school this August. I also pursued engineer mostly because it is a good backup. Although engineering is not a bad job (salary is decent, hours are reasonable, fairly well respected, etc), I think my passion lies in medicine. So if medicine is what you always wanted to do, I do not see a reason to second guess yourself. Use engineering for what you planned to use it for-as a backup. What is reassuring in your case is that you did well in the VR section of the MCAT. This is the hardest section for most people with engineering background. Here is my suggestion for the gap year:

1) Retake the MCAT. Take the MCAT after 3-4 months of good studying (at least 3 hours a day on average). Since you did well on the VR and you have an engineering background, with some solid studying, it should not be too hard for you to do well.

2) Find a job that pays well. Ideally you would like the job to be in a medically related field. Having a job in research/area related to medicine will help you during the next admission cycle. But if you can not find anything in that area, take the engineering rotational program job and get clinical exposure through volunteering.

3) Reapply and let us know how things go.
 

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I'm a similar story to above, engineering undergrad, worked for a few years, starting med school in the fall. One thing to remember is that med schools like seeing success in whatever you do, so the engineering job can be a great example of that.
Given the length of the application cycle, consider reapplying as soon as you get a decent MCAT. If you don't, just make sure you're showing a clear interest in medicine while you're working- more medically-related volunteering, shadowing, etc. Interviewers will expect you to have a definitive answer to "so why medicine?" (true for everyone but expect a little more grilling if you're giving up a career for 160k in debt :))
Two things that came up when I was working -
1) I kept that I was applying totally secret, probably would have been fired if they knew. Your company may be more supportive, but many places don't want to train people who they know are leaving.
2) Consider throwing maybe 15% of your salary into a 401k/IRA, especially if your company matches contributions. This can be a great chunk of change that will grow while you're in school and doing your residency (consider a Roth since you'll probably be in a higher tax bracket as a physician)
Go for it if you want to be a physician, but don't consider it settling if you decide to pursue a career in engineering.
 

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with all the chicken littles running around on SDN, it seems this upcoming app cycle will have significantly less competition anyway :D
 
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It would be nice if the health-care bill scared away a few applicants!
I highly doubt this would be the case, but one can hope, right!

I think I'm going to try out the engineering option for a few years, and then try to reapply to med schools. Hopefully all goes well if not, I have a job that will keep me under the tax hikes! There's a plus!
 
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