Roll Tide

Student of Life
Dec 11, 2010
8
0
Status
Pre-Medical
I need advice:

First of all, this is my first day on the website, so if my 'netiquette' isn't up to standard, I apologize in advance- sorry.

Below is a summary of my situation and where I need advice.

Bio:
27 y.o.
Wounded Warrior
Single
No Kids

Experience:
U.S. Army (medically retiring soon- combat injury)
2 combat tours (1 Iraq, 1 Afghanistan)
Work in Intelligence field
7 years of service
Basic medical training (trauma, basic pharmacology, etc.)

Education:
Undergraduate- Sociology/Business Admin (3.7 GPA)
Graduate Degree- Organizational Leadership (3.6 GPA, 2/3 complete)
Speak Spanish and basic Arabic/Dari (intend to further Arabic soon)

Life Experience:
Travel (middle east, southwest asia mostly)
Humanitarian assistance- Iraq/Afghan
Volunteer- School's/Churches
Close interaction with foreign cultures

Hobbies:
Skydiving
Travel
Studying Cultures/Languages

Knowing the basic's listed above, what would one recommend for me to accomplish within the next year, in regards to getting into a medical school? I understand volunteering in the medical field is greatly beneficial, but other than that vague statement, I'm lost. Also, a friend (who is in medical school) mentioned science classes. My question is whether there is a 'specific' set of classes I should just take or is there a specific subject area I should focus on? Also, I will have my Graduate degree completed prior to my medical retirement, as the process affords me roughly another year before my actual discharge.

I understand one should do soul searching and test the level of determination prior to deciding on a career as a Doctor, especially with the broad range of opportunities in the medical field. I have checked those boxes and am now in the 'take action' end of the spectrum in order to prepare myself as best as possible before I am discharged.

One final note is where I should begin, in reference to researching medical schools- i.e. which ones can I practically rule myself out of, which ones are notorious for their level of post-degree competency.

Any advice is helpful. Thank you.
 
Aug 10, 2009
1,807
13
Tulsa, OK
Status
Medical Student
Edit - I didn't notice when I posted this that Roll Tide already had a degree. Since he already has a degree, it moves up the timeline a little. He should aim for his MCAT/Application year to start after he completes at least Physics 2, OChem 2, and at least 2 upper-level bio courses.

I need advice:.
Roll Tide. All of the questions that you ask are available through research, but each question is a separate research issue.

Because you are a wounded warrior, I will take the time to write all of the basic stuff down. My son is deploying to Afghanistan in 4 months. Anyone else I would tell to "do your own homework."

There is a book at Amazon that I think that you should read. It gave me all the answers to these questions. "Med School Confidential"

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312330081/ref=oss_product

1) Science classes needed
You'll need Chem 1 and 2, Organic Chem 1 and 2, one year of Biology for majors (typicall Intro to Bio for Majors and Zoology), and Physics 1 and 2. In addition some schools require Biochemistry and all schools suggest it. Anatomy and Physiology, Genetics, and Cell Bio are highly desirable. All upper level (animal) bio courses are good

2) Scholastic experience
You need an extremely high GPA. Right now a 3.6 will squeak in, but this is going up. Make as close to all A's as possible. Get a BA or BS degree in any major that interests you. You can even be a theatre major if you want. They won't ask why and you won't have to tell. :)

2) Extra Curricular activities
Clinical experience used to be a nice addition. It is now a requirement. You have the basic trauma training. You can leverage this to get into a hospital or nursing home as a volunteer, low-level tech or nurse aide, or EMT. The more experience you have with blood and guts, the better the schools like it. In addition you want to show considerable community service volunteering. Join several community service organizations that you are interested in.

3) Research
In your last couple of years in your undergrad experience you will hear of opportunities to do research. Take them. A year or two of research is effectively required by a few medical schools

4) The MCAT test
In May before your last year in Undergrad (at the latest) you will take the MCAT test. This is the hardest admissions test known to man. It includes Physics, Chemistry, Essay questions, and Biology. Even though this is three years in your future, I hereby give you permission to start losing sleep over it now.

5) Letters of Reference
Find 3 professors who you can make your best friend. Keep in contact, send Christmas cards, buy their kids presents, offer your body to them. You will want incredible letters of reference from them. During your Junior year you will gather their letters of reference at interfolio.com and they will be part of your application.

5) The Application process.

Treat the earliest possible date to apply as if it were your deadline. You can start your AACOMAS (for DO) and AMCAS (for MD) applications on May 1st and submit it on June 1st for matriculation 15 months later. This is referred to as your "application year". During May you will have your universities send in your transcripts. These are verified after June 1st. The applications are sent to schools in mid-June - just as your get your MCAT score. You will add your final list of schools to which you apply the day before the schools are sent your application.

6) The Personal Statement.

This is a 7000 character free form essay that is your opportunity to make the school want you. In it you should convince them that you are an interesting person, will make a great doctor, and will add something special and desirable to their student body. Do not get any books from Amazon on how to write this essay, the published books on it are insane.

Start thinking about what you want to say about yourself now.

7) Financing Medical School

Stay out of personal debt (except for student loans) and learn to live within your means and you will be able to make it through.

8) Personal relationships
Yes you can get married and have children now or later. As long as your spouse is comfortable with being moved all over the country for a few years, this presents no obstacle.

In conclusion

My fellow posters can correct me on this or add anything that I left out. But these sections represent the conventional wisdom that you will get in this forum.
 
Last edited:

DrMidlife

has an opinion
10+ Year Member
Oct 30, 2006
7,506
2,601
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Another good book for getting started: http://www.galenpress.com/024.html
1) Science classes needed
You'll need Chem 1 and 2, Organic Chem 1 and 2, one year of Biology for majors (typicall Intro to Bio for Majors and Zoology), and Physics 1 and 2. In addition some schools require Biochemistry and all schools suggest it. Anatomy and Physiology, Genetics, and Cell Bio are highly desirable. All upper level (animal) bio courses are good
For med school you generally have to take one year each with labs of genchem/ochem/bio/physics. Take the genchem/ochem that chem majors take, take the bio that bio majors take, and take the physics that isn't calculus based. See the school's premed website and make sure you're not taking the wrong class.

Agreed, upper div science is very worthwhile.

Find out early if you need to beef up your reading comprehension or composition, and take more critical thinking and/or writing if so. How to tell? You can take a free practice MCAT test, just verbal if you like, on www.e-mcat.com. imho if your verbal score is below 10, you need to invest.

Best of luck to you.
 

eablackwell

It Wasn't Me
Moderator Emeritus
7+ Year Member
Nov 17, 2009
1,791
132
The Land of Sleepless Nights
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Conversation moved to its own thread per the instructions of the "already accepted" thread. You will get more helpful information this way. Good luck! :)
 

Old Grunt

2000 yard stare
10+ Year Member
Aug 28, 2007
1,633
79
Status
Attending Physician
I need advice:

First of all, this is my first day on the website, so if my 'netiquette' isn't up to standard, I apologize in advance- sorry.

Below is a summary of my situation and where I need advice.

Bio:
27 y.o.
Wounded Warrior
Single
No Kids

Experience:
U.S. Army (medically retiring soon- combat injury)
2 combat tours (1 Iraq, 1 Afghanistan)
Work in Intelligence field
7 years of service
Basic medical training (trauma, basic pharmacology, etc.)

Education:
Undergraduate- Sociology/Business Admin (3.7 GPA)
Graduate Degree- Organizational Leadership (3.6 GPA, 2/3 complete)
Speak Spanish and basic Arabic/Dari (intend to further Arabic soon)

Life Experience:
Travel (middle east, southwest asia mostly)
Humanitarian assistance- Iraq/Afghan
Volunteer- School's/Churches
Close interaction with foreign cultures

Hobbies:
Skydiving
Travel
Studying Cultures/Languages

Knowing the basic's listed above, what would one recommend for me to accomplish within the next year, in regards to getting into a medical school? I understand volunteering in the medical field is greatly beneficial, but other than that vague statement, I'm lost. Also, a friend (who is in medical school) mentioned science classes. My question is whether there is a 'specific' set of classes I should just take or is there a specific subject area I should focus on? Also, I will have my Graduate degree completed prior to my medical retirement, as the process affords me roughly another year before my actual discharge.

I understand one should do soul searching and test the level of determination prior to deciding on a career as a Doctor, especially with the broad range of opportunities in the medical field. I have checked those boxes and am now in the 'take action' end of the spectrum in order to prepare myself as best as possible before I am discharged.

One final note is where I should begin, in reference to researching medical schools- i.e. which ones can I practically rule myself out of, which ones are notorious for their level of post-degree competency.

Any advice is helpful. Thank you.

Thanks for your service. Your numbers to date look pretty good. Unless you have taken the med-school pre-reqs, you will need to do that, which will take several semesters worth of course work. I'd recommend plunking down the $30 or so for the MSAR.

https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/requirements/62892/msar/

Which will give you all the information you need about every MD program in this country, to include the pre-reqs. Generally, it's one semester of English, two semesters of biology with labs, two semesters of physics with labs, two semesters of general chemistry with labs, and two semesters of organic chemistry with labs. I'd also recommend genetics, biochem, and physiology if you can swing it.

You'll also need to be able to answer the "Why Medicine" question, so you should consider doing something (even if it's just volunteering at a hospital) to show that you know what you are getting into.

Good luck.

You
 
OP
Roll Tide

Roll Tide

Student of Life
Dec 11, 2010
8
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Thank you everyone for the help so far. I truly appreciate the websites and book references. Any other information is still welcomed.
 

bryce

10+ Year Member
May 22, 2007
1,365
1,098
Ohio
Thanks for your service and welcome back home. I was stationed at FT. McClelland for a little bit. Fond memories of Alabama. Anyhow, one thing that will be in your favor is that you have awesome life experiences and many professors that do utilize TA's will be looking to you to help teach their class after you're done with it. This will aid not only in your application appeal, but your mastery of the information as you begin preparing for your dreaded mcat.

No chance that you're associated with 20th group? Miss those guys.
 

Choo

7+ Year Member
Oct 12, 2009
130
6
Status
Attending Physician
Everyone gave great advice. I was just going to add that if you haven't already used your GI Bill, you might be best off saving it for medical school since GI Bill pays per credit and medical school is near 40 credits a year. That could significantly reduce or eliminate loans that you would have to get.
Good luck.
 

Lil Mick

5+ Year Member
Apr 23, 2009
927
33
The South
Status
MD/PhD Student
First, thanks for your service :) Were you ever stationed at Fort McNair? Good memories from there :)

I'd recommend getting a book about medical school/applications (liked The Princeton Review 168 Best Medical Schools). Most will list pre-rec courses, extracurriculars, GPA, and MCAT scores for each school, as well as how many students are non-traditional students. I found that most useful when I was applying to schools, as well as looking up schools of interest on-line. Some schools have unusual required courses, such as Harvard, Wash U, and Johns Hopkins requiring higher level calculus classes...
 
OP
Roll Tide

Roll Tide

Student of Life
Dec 11, 2010
8
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Bryce- I'm not associated with them, I've been active duty my entire career; however, I have worked with some of them overseas and knew the old Group Commander personally. They are a good group of guys.

Choo- You're right about the GI Bill. In addition, I will have other educational opportunities due to my being medically retired. To make a long story short- the Army is obligated to help me fulfill my 'life goals' due to their making me disabled. Also, one reason I insist on completing my pre-med classes now is because I have the Army's tuition assistance, which would cover all of the classes and not cost a cent from my GI Bill. If things go well, before I get out, I will have my undergrad, graduate, and pre-med degree's all free of charge.
 

phltz

7+ Year Member
May 13, 2010
889
30
Status
Medical Student
There are a variety of postbaccalaureate premedical programs that specialize in taking people with a degree and another career and getting them ready for/into med school. If you're willing to plunk down a good chunk of change for one of these and then throw yourself into it full time, you could finish all of the science prerequisites in one year. You would then typically spend the subsequent year doing some sort of "glide year" job in a medically related field, and then start the year after that. Several such programs have "linkages" with a small group of med schools that would make it possible to skip the glide year and go straight from the postbac into med school.

The upside (if you're in a good program) is that you'll be able to move fast, that you'll get good advice, and that you'll be in the hands of professionals who specialize in helping you make this transition. The downside is that it'll be relatively expensive (probably about the same of a year of college at a private university, but with no real prospect for any sort of scholarships or anything), that you'll probably have to move and then spend all of your time on this. It could be quite disruptive to your life if you have a job/family/other commitments.

I did one of these programs, and was quite satisfied with it. The science classes were good, and the advising was top-notch. It turned the whole process into a fairly straightforward affair - the path I needed to take was clearly laid out before me. They provided help finding volunteering and shadowing gigs, as well as glide year jobs. There was a vet in my class, who did quite well.

This may or may not be right for you, but you should take a look at it. One word of caution - there are some postbac programs that specialize in students who were not premeds and are trying to make a career change, and other postbac programs that largely take premed students that didn't get into med school the first time and are trying to buff up their application. Given your situation, I'd recommend not wasting your time looking at any of the second type.
 
OP
Roll Tide

Roll Tide

Student of Life
Dec 11, 2010
8
0
Status
Pre-Medical
There are a variety of postbaccalaureate premedical programs that specialize in taking people with a degree and another career and getting them ready for/into med school. If you're willing to plunk down a good chunk of change for one of these and then throw yourself into it full time, you could finish all of the science prerequisites in one year. You would then typically spend the subsequent year doing some sort of "glide year" job in a medically related field, and then start the year after that. Several such programs have "linkages" with a small group of med schools that would make it possible to skip the glide year and go straight from the postbac into med school.

The upside (if you're in a good program) is that you'll be able to move fast, that you'll get good advice, and that you'll be in the hands of professionals who specialize in helping you make this transition. The downside is that it'll be relatively expensive (probably about the same of a year of college at a private university, but with no real prospect for any sort of scholarships or anything), that you'll probably have to move and then spend all of your time on this. It could be quite disruptive to your life if you have a job/family/other commitments.

I did one of these programs, and was quite satisfied with it. The science classes were good, and the advising was top-notch. It turned the whole process into a fairly straightforward affair - the path I needed to take was clearly laid out before me. They provided help finding volunteering and shadowing gigs, as well as glide year jobs. There was a vet in my class, who did quite well.

This may or may not be right for you, but you should take a look at it. One word of caution - there are some postbac programs that specialize in students who were not premeds and are trying to make a career change, and other postbac programs that largely take premed students that didn't get into med school the first time and are trying to buff up their application. Given your situation, I'd recommend not wasting your time looking at any of the second type.

Thanks for the advice. I have been looking for some of the courses and have found great places; however, these places are- as you mentioned- quite far away. I do not have an issue moving and dedicating my time to a program of study. Currently, with my being on active duty, I am limited to locations within my general area, but still want to knock out as many of the science classes as possible- not only to be proactive, but also to ensure I'm fully capable of completing everything I need. What is your opinion, or that of anyone else reading this, in regards to online classes in the sciences? Is it worth having them out of the way, but doing so via online classes- or is it detrimental to my chances of getting into Med. school? I am sure I can find a couple/few classes locally, but I am finding a ton of online programs from good schools. What are your thoughts?
 

MCAT guy

...
May 24, 2010
2,058
11
Status
Other Health Professions Student
Thanks for the advice. I have been looking for some of the courses and have found great places; however, these places are- as you mentioned- quite far away. I do not have an issue moving and dedicating my time to a program of study. Currently, with my being on active duty, I am limited to locations within my general area, but still want to knock out as many of the science classes as possible- not only to be proactive, but also to ensure I'm fully capable of completing everything I need. What is your opinion, or that of anyone else reading this, in regards to online classes in the sciences? Is it worth having them out of the way, but doing so via online classes- or is it detrimental to my chances of getting into Med. school? I am sure I can find a couple/few classes locally, but I am finding a ton of online programs from good schools. What are your thoughts?
If you are willing to go DO then they will probably be more lenient/forgiving. Online is not preferred. Some MDs may quickly discriminate and not give you an interview. Others may not care. Since you will have no way of knowing, it is best to avoid. Remember, some schools get 10,000 applications and invite only ~500 or so to an interview. Think about that. 9,000 people are axed for one reason or another. Can you see why most of us that have applied are against online?

With all that said, online could be ok. You will just have to explain it AND do really well on MCAT. Email admissions committees of schools you plan applying to and ask them. They will probably reply, although it is a busy season. Do really well in your pre-reqs. Know the material better than the class requires. Good luck!
 

phltz

7+ Year Member
May 13, 2010
889
30
Status
Medical Student
Thanks for the advice. I have been looking for some of the courses and have found great places; however, these places are- as you mentioned- quite far away. I do not have an issue moving and dedicating my time to a program of study. Currently, with my being on active duty, I am limited to locations within my general area, but still want to knock out as many of the science classes as possible- not only to be proactive, but also to ensure I'm fully capable of completing everything I need. What is your opinion, or that of anyone else reading this, in regards to online classes in the sciences? Is it worth having them out of the way, but doing so via online classes- or is it detrimental to my chances of getting into Med. school? I am sure I can find a couple/few classes locally, but I am finding a ton of online programs from good schools. What are your thoughts?
It may just be baseless academic snobbery, but most good schools are likely to look down their noses at online classes. They'll probably cut you more slack if you're active duty military at the time.

You can do some prioritization here. If you're leaning towards doing an organized postbac program, I'd say you should plan on doing your basic science prereqs there (that's two semesters each of gen chem, orgo, physics, and biology, all with labs). In some programs you can bang this all out in one calendar year. Many med schools also require additional classes beyond these basics. Common requirements are math (usually a semester of calculus or stats is enough), English (sometimes two writing classes are required), and biochem. The math and English are, I think, more of a formality, and the prestige of the school you take them at isn't likely to be as much of a concern. If you wanted to start on something now that you can do online/locally, maybe calculus is a good choice. It'll broaden the set of med schools you can apply to a bit, and taking calculus now will really make physics a lot easier for you when you get to it.