Law2Doc

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Couple of thoughts:
First, have a good story as to why you are interested in medicine (beyond having been premed for a while). Make sure it doesn't come off as running from law -- no specialties want another's cast-offs. As such applying to med school after getting fired from a First year law job (if it plays out that way) could look bad. You want to sell yourself as successful even if on the wrong road.
Second, don't take the MCAT until you are doing well on full length practice tests. Rushing things is how people don't get into med school. I would wait until you finish the prereqs to take it. And would be realistic about your goal -- most people who get into med school don't have 35+ on the MCAT, and if it's California or bust there is certainly a risk of busting.
Third, In terms of clinical experiences, you might want to volunteer in a Local ER or do some shadowing because you need to be able to see what doctors actually do each day -- your public service type jobs don't provide this kind if insight.
 
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Goro

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Good luck in your endeavor; it's definitely doable.

As of now I have quite a few premed classes to take (evening CC courses) and I have to study for the MCAT (35+ goal). I'm studying every spare hour I have because I'm taking the MCAT this upcoming May.


I have a high opinion of Americorps, so you've got one good EC under your belt so far.

I have always leaned towards medicine (was premed my first year of college), and have done public service in the past (two years serving in a high-need area through Americorps).


You have an uphill battle...highly competitive is the watchword.

Also I'd like to go to school in CA since my significant other already has a job here and we are pretty serious. I know all the CA schools are competitive, and given my financial situation I am not looking at any private medical schools.

As a non-trad you can dispense with the clinical research (or any research for that matter). What you need is shadowing experience (so you know what you're getting into and what a doctor's day is like) and patient contact experience (so you can show us that like being around sick and injured people). Best thing to do will be contact your local hospitals and finding out what kind of volunteering schedules they have that can mesh with your work schedule. Also, think outside the box and look at clinics, nursing homes, hospice, being a big Brother/Sister, or camps for sick/disabled children. Also check with your local houses of worship.


Biggest question now - What kind of clinical experiences can I get working full-time? How about clinical research opportunities?

Thanks, and I hope to continue this conversation and follow in the footsteps of many lawyer-->doctors here![/quote]
 

Law2Doc

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Good luck in your endeavor; it's definitely doable.


I have a high opinion of Americorps, so you've got one good EC under your belt so far.

I have always leaned towards medicine (was premed my first year of college), and have done public service in the past (two years serving in a high-need area through Americorps).


You have an uphill battle...highly competitive is the watchword.

Also I'd like to go to school in CA since my significant other already has a job here and we are pretty serious. I know all the CA schools are competitive, and given my financial situation I am not looking at any private medical schools.

As a non-trad you can dispense with the clinical research (or any research for that matter). What you need is shadowing experience (so you know what you're getting into and what a doctor's day is like) and patient contact experience (so you can show us that like being around sick and injured people). Best thing to do will be contact your local hospitals and finding out what kind of volunteering schedules they have that can mesh with your work schedule. Also, think outside the box and look at clinics, nursing homes, hospice, being a big Brother/Sister, or camps for sick/disabled children. Also check with your local houses of worship.


Biggest question now - What kind of clinical experiences can I get working full-time? How about clinical research opportunities?

Thanks, and I hope to continue this conversation and follow in the footsteps of many lawyer-->doctors here!
[/quote]

Forget about big brother/sister an houses of worship -- OP you have plenty of public service experience, you need useful experience with patients. So that means shadowing, ER, maybe hospice/nursing homes. Don't think outside the box, you have been outside enough at this point.

As for being a good test taker, while that is certainly helpful, the MCAT is not an aptitude test. It's a test largely on the prereqs. It's a very different animal than the LSAT, rendering your experience on that and other standardized tests meaningless. You can only gauge yourself on how you do on full length practice MCAT tests, not other standardized tests. And a 35+ is higher than most med students ever get. I think you are overestimating how easy this path will be.

I have to warn you, one big law firm guy to another, this is going to be a very humbling path for you, if not now, then as you progress. Odds are good you won't get your target MCAT score. If you hit a score of 30 you will still be in reasonable shape for getting into a med school, but it might not be a California one. You have to be flexible if medicine is your dream. You will find that many of the people in the medicine path are remarkably bright and not to be underestimated. It isn't the continuation of college like law school was. Expect to constantly feel like the dumbest person in the room and have to work harder then you ever did on the law school track, because that is what most experience. But in the end it's hopefully worth it.

Finally don't play up working with underserved communities unless you really mean it. If you are saying that because you think that's what schools want to hear that's not a wise game to play. It will come off as hollow coming from a big law firm instead if coming from a legal aid or public defenders office. There are lots of ways to help people in many professions, and if on paper you seem to have gone for the big salary in law, they are going to assume you probably will in medicine too. Which is why I'd stay clear of that subject unless you are truly expecting to go down that road and prepared to back it up.
 
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Goro

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I think this will be less of an issue. Many people will go into medicine because they like the high salaries that the specialities yield. I don't have a problem with that. Just be humble about your goals.

"if on paper you seem to have gone for the big salary in law, they are going to assume you probably will in medicine too"
Specifically, how do I combat or at least deal with this assumption? I mean financially it doesn't make sense to go into seven years of debt and no income by walking away from a six figure salary now for the money. Yet, I've heard this criticism before and am lost as to what I can do about it....



Many people become dissatisfied with their first career path, so you'll just need to articulate why Law isn't for you, but Medicine is. Of my own students, most of the career changers have come from a clinical career, like, say, respiratory therapist. I've interviewed a few lawyers, or law students, and they were fine in interviews.


As a former Big Law firm attorney yourself, how did you sell the transition to medicine? I became disenchanted with just doing a job for the salary, and my parents' financial situation has stabilized. I understand there are many ways to help people in law as well, but I do not find that route as fulfilling. I would like to practice medicine because I believe it is more in line with my strengths, and I would personally want to make a change through improving people's healths.

However, after speaking with several adcoms I realize "Why medicine? Why now?" is the question that is probably the most crucial one in terms of my med school application. And I can't roll off an answer that the typical 22 year old premed gives....[/quote]
 

QofQuimica

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OP, I don't have a background in law, but I do have one in changing careers, as well as four years of experience as a med school student adcom. The timeline and pathway you're suggesting are a recipe for disaster.

First, you have a job, and your first priority should be to do a good job at work. Presumably you signed a contract when you started on with your company, and you agreed to live up to certain terms. So it's on you to deliver what you owe them in return for that big salary they're paying you. If you don't like your current job, that's fine: interview elsewhere and look for another. No one is suggesting that you ought to be a martyr. But you will not get brownie points with adcoms for blowing off your current employer. It's also unwise to burn that bridge at work, because you're going to need those people later when it comes time to get LORs. So I'd advise you to turn that attitude around quickly, and give your work the respect and effort it deserves.

Second, it is not reasonable for you to work full time as a professional (which is probably more than full time in terms of hours per week) and expect to complete all of your prereqs, study for the MCAT, ace the MCAT, amass 20 gazillion hours of clinical experience, pay off your loans, marry your fiancee, save the children, and get into the med school of your choice in CA all in one year. You need to slow things down a little. Take one class at a time to begin with, because it's more important for you to make As in your courses than it is for you to take them as fast as possible. This is all the more true because you're taking your prereqs at a CC, which are considered to be less rigorous than classes at four year schools by many adcoms and may put you at a disadvantage at some schools. In fact, I'd advise you to check the policies of the CA schools concerning CC credits now, so that you won't have any unpleasant surprises about that later.

Third, you need to adjust your expectations. As L2D said, getting a 35+ on the MCAT is very difficult; doing so puts you in about the top 5% of all test-takers. Even if you do achieve this, it doesn't mean you'll definitely be able to get into a CA med school, or into any med school at all. Good stats are necessary but not sufficient for a successful application. There are people every year with stellar stats who don't get accepted anywhere; if you stick around, you'll start seeing some of these posts on SDN this spring. In order to maximize your chances of getting into medical school, you need to play the game strategically. That means: making all As (or as close to it as possible) in your prereqs, doing as well as possible on the MCAT, documenting sufficient clinical experience, having a well-thought out reason for changing careers and explaining that coherently and clearly on your PS, getting strong LORs, interviewing well, and applying strategically (both early and broadly). With the possible exception of early decision programs, it is not wise for anyone to apply only to one state, especially to CA, no matter how good their stats and the rest of their app are.

You will find a vocal minority of people on SDN who will tell you that it's fine to do things your way, that they succeeded by following unconventional pathways, and that therefore so will you. However, as a lawyer, you don't need me to tell you that the plural of "anecdotes" is not "facts." Medicine is a conservative, by the books kind of profession. There is limited room for mavericks and iconoclasts, particularly during the training stages. If you want to maximize your odds of success in your endeavor of becoming a physician, it is best to follow the tried and true paths, and take things in the proper order, one step at a time.
 

katiemaude

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As a non-trad career changer who was successful in my previous career*, I'd advise you to do your best at your current job. Use the hefty salary you are no doubt earning right now to pay OFF any debt you have and save like a madman/woman to pay for a post bacc and an application season whilst living the life of a poor student while your fellow associates are dining high on the hog. (Might as well get used to being broke.) Meanwhile, get in your shadowing and amass some medical volunteer experiences that will get you patient contact hours, as well as give you a preview of how low you are going to be on the hierarchy of medicine for the first 7 years or so of your new endeavor. (Might as well eat the humble pie now!)

After a couple of years, take whatever savings you have amassed and apply to a prestigious post bacc with a linkage program to a CA medical school. With no science prereqs and a high undergrad GPA, you will qualify for most, and 2 years of shadowing and patient contact experience should net you a rec letter or two and show your interest and commitment to switching to medicine. One year of post bacc + MCAT and you can apply for medical school. If you decide against medicine, oh well, you still have a swank job, nice savings and a chance to switch to a law firm you like better.

* I decided to switch careers and go for medicine at the same time as two former colleagues left for law careers. They studied for the LSAT, took it, applied to law schools, and were attending a top regional law school within 1 year of making the decision to leave our previous career. Four years later, they have graduated and are earning mid-100s salaries at a top law firm in our city. Four years later, I have completed my prereqs and taken the MCAT, volunteered for 250+ hours, shadowed for more than 100 hours, worked in a low-paying clinical job for two years to scrape by financially, paid for two application seasons, interviewed, and have only recently found I was ACCEPTED to medical school. That is, I have not yet ATTENDED. I have 4-1/2 years to go before becoming a resident, when I know I will be thankful to be earning a salary in the mid-50s (which is what we were earning, oh, four years ago).

ENJOY YOUR WELL-PAYING LAW CAREER.

No, I am not bitter... I love medicine even on its lowest rung. But it is a hard, hard road.
 

Law2Doc

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Thanks Law2Doc! I'm probably underestimating how difficult the MCAT will be....I'll take some full length diagnostics after studying and get back to you with what my scores are.

As for this being a humbling path, you hit the nail on the head. I really do expect hardship in the future, but I believe it will be worth it. I know that there are many smart premeds out there. I'm not sure if that is true, but I do know the path ahead is a difficult one.

I do have a desire to work with underserved communities. What made you say it came off "hollow"? I'm assuming if you feel that way, so would many
adcoms so I'd like to find out why.

"if on paper you seem to have gone for the big salary in law, they are going to assume you probably will in medicine too"
Specifically, how do I combat or at least deal with this assumption? I mean financially it doesn't make sense to go into seven years of debt and no income by walking away from a six figure salary now for the money. Yet, I've heard this criticism before and am lost as to what I can do about it....

As a former Big Law firm attorney yourself, how did you sell the transition to medicine? I became disenchanted with just doing a job for the salary, and my parents' financial situation has stabilized. I understand there are many ways to help people in law as well, but I do not find that route as fulfilling. I would like to practice medicine because I believe it is more in line with my strengths, and I would personally want to make a change through improving people's healths.

However, after speaking with several adcoms I realize "Why medicine? Why now?" is the question that is probably the most crucial one in terms of my med school application. And I can't roll off an answer that the typical 22 year old premed gives....
Selling the value of a big law background to medical school is easy. Both are service based careers, professionals, and there are tons of transferable skills. Selling that you want to work with the underserved after not doing something similar in law is harder. You didnt focus your law career on the underserved (there are tons of venues to do this) so it's hard to buy that as your true population of interest. Actions speak louder than words. So it sounds like you saying what I think you think med school want to hear. I would (and did) leave this kind of thing out.
 

Law2Doc

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There is at least as much politics and hierarchy in medicine as law, probably more. Truth of the matter is the jobs are oherise very similar. People come to you with problems in both settings. You face hurdles of time and money in both settings. You have a hierarchy of bosses and administrators in both settings. You have to conduct yourself similarly and with similar professionalism and decorum in both fields. In both cases you will face emotionally sensitive issues. In both cases communication and tempering expectations will be important to keep you from being sued. The similarities are endless. As such, there had better be a lot you like about your current job, because there will actully be a ton of overlap with the next one. But that also means most if your skills are transferable.
 

katiemaude

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One of two things that alarm me about your plan is taking the MCAT without any physics, orgo II, and bio II. That's half of your prereqs. The other is that I'd reconsider taking the majority of these classes at a CC, since you graduated from an "Ivy League" caliber undergrad and do not have the excuse of financial necessity. It might appear to some that you are going for an "easy A" (no judgement - I took my classes at a CC due to financial/logistical reasons and I felt that they taught the material extremely well and by no means was it easy).

You awant to give yourself the best possible shot of getting into California medical schools. Don't be so afraid of the 2015 MCAT that you jeopardize your dream by rushing the MCAT.
 

Apollo1

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One of two things that alarm me about your plan is taking the MCAT without any physics, orgo II, and bio II. That's half of your prereqs.
This. OP, are you absolutely sure that you recall whatever relevant course material you took during freshman year (ex. RNA transcription, Chromosomal Inheritance Theory, oxidative phophorylation via Kreb's Cycle: WITHOUT looking it up online just now)?It might be possible to watch Khan Academy etc. until you're bleeding from your eyes, but most people aren't able to cram material that takes a couple of years to cover in a span of a few months when they haven't taken those courses or haven't been actively keeping up with reviewing those courses.

I work in BigLaw as well, and I turned down a great law school with good scholarship money for a "chance" at becoming a physician. With all respect to the LSAT for what it is, it is nothing like what premed classes cover/what the MCAT will be like (aptitude/learning how to approach logic problems vs. rote memorization/linking of concepts). In terms of the application process and all for med school, I defer to the above respondents. In terms of comparable skill-set for tackling premed courses & the MCAT, its a different ballgame. I think you should knock out most, if not all of your prereqs before you do any MCAT prep.
 

Law2Doc

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Apollo1 I actually do remember all those concepts! When I first saw those terms I panicked but I thought about it for a minute and the concepts came back to me. I know a review would help me refresh those concepts.

The biggest blind spots are Orgo and physics. Chem and bio are very familiar subjects for me since high school and college FWIW.

What I don't understand is the advice that I should take more prereqs. I know for the CA bar exam there were 13 subjects covered and I hadn't taken six of them in law school but learned the relevant material via a prep course. Isn't that what they are for , to review content on the exam? I would imagine any class would cover lots of topics outside the scope of the MCAT and be over inclusive or under inclusive anyways.

I'd love to hear differently!
Prep classes are ideally meant to be review courses for things you have already taken, not places to learn things de novo. You are kidding me if you think the average Kaplan teacher (usually someone whose only teaching credential is they scored well themselves on a test) is the ideal person to be teaching you orgo or physics. Again, this falls into te category of winging it, something you ought not do. Finish the prereqs. Then maybe do a Prep course. If it means you are taking the newer test, so what. At least you will be prepared for it. Cowardice about tests not serve you well on this path.
 

QofQuimica

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Apollo1 I actually do remember all those concepts! When I first saw those terms I panicked but I thought about it for a minute and the concepts came back to me. I know a review would help me refresh those concepts.

The biggest blind spots are Orgo and physics. Chem and bio are very familiar subjects for me since high school and college FWIW.

What I don't understand is the advice that I should take more prereqs. I know for the CA bar exam there were 13 subjects covered and I hadn't taken six of them in law school but learned the relevant material via a prep course. Isn't that what they are for , to review content on the exam? I would imagine any class would cover lots of topics outside the scope of the MCAT and be over inclusive or under inclusive anyways.

I'd love to hear differently!
This gets back to what I was saying before about doing things properly. The classes are called "prereqs" and not "postreqs" for a reason. Is there someone on this site who scored 40+ on the MCAT without studying at all, taking any prereqs, and/or following other shortcuts? Probably. But it's an arrogant attitude to approach the test with, and the vast majority of people will be most successful if they take the classes first, then study for the exam, and *then* take the exam.

I don't know why people are so freaked out about the new format. It's going to test a broader set of skills and should play to the strengths of nontrads if anything. But either way, the basic tried and true concept remains: take prereqs, then do test prep, then take test.
 

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Second, it is not reasonable for you to work full time as a professional (which is probably more than full time in terms of hours per week) and expect to complete all of your prereqs, study for the MCAT, ace the MCAT, amass 20 gazillion hours of clinical experience, pay off your loans, marry your fiancee, save the children, and get into the med school of your choice in CA all in one year.
Even after revisions, this guys sounds very naive about the process and how difficult it is to get into medical school, especially a UC. It's rather humorous to hear you speculate about being a dad to newborns and being a medical student at the same time. Anyways, intelligence and idealism will only take you so far in this process.

Maybe you do, but you have no idea what a buyer's market it is for medical school ad coms these days. Applicants increased 6% from last year and above 9% from two years ago. By the time you want to apply, there could be more. Even if you have the grades and a great MCAT, some may not like that you didn't do enough research/ECs. Others may question why you took your classes at a CC, or why you didn't quit your job to go at this thing full-time. Unreasonable? Sure, but there will be people who have done that. It sounds you like you're pinning your strategy on an awesome MCAT to justify your CC classes, and even there, you want to take short cuts on preparing for the exam. Come to think of it, taking short cuts and cutting corners seems to be a recurring theme throughout this thread. Just let me say one thing: the process is designed to make sure you pay your dues.

By far, the MCAT is the most difficult graduate school exam that has no comparable peer in terms of difficulty, types of questions asked, or caliber of test-takers.
If you think you an can get into a UC / Stanford, then you think you are competitive enough to possibly get into Harvard, Hopkins, Columbia, and Penn medicine. Are you?
 
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Hi,
I know all the CA schools are competitive, and given my financial situation I am not looking at any private medical schools.
In my opinion, this is a mistake. While private medical schools have a higher sticker price, the financial aid is also sometimes much more generous than a public school. While one single example doesn't prove anything, consider this: The average medical student loan debt from Harvard Medical School was around $98,000 when I looked a couple of years ago. At the same time, my local state schools had average medical student loan debts of $125,000 and $150,000 respectively. Also, don't rule out any schools. They may be your only acceptances, especially in a climate where less than half of the people that apply to medical school get into even one school, and the acceptance rates at many schools are often less than 5%.
 
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And to follow up on my last post, I agree with the others who say hold that big law job for at least another year if you can. Pay off all of your debt including existing student loans and bank enough to pay for applications, pre-requisites, study courses/books, etc. If you can manage to stow away $30-$35k, you may even be able to have a year of study time and have the luxury of working few if any hours in another position.