for those premeds who did Peace corps

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by amherstguy, Nov 26, 2002.

  1. amherstguy

    amherstguy Junior Member

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    for the premeds who decided to do peace corps after college, how many years off did u take b4 applying to med school? is it possible to apply to med school during peace corps?
     
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  3. TroutBum

    TroutBum Senior Member

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    Hey, I ended up not doing it but I was seriously considering applying to med school while doing the Peace Corps. I ended up not doing the Peace Corps at all for various reasons, but I had gone through the entire application process, they were basically just figuring out where to place me when I told them I had decided I couldn't go. But, here's my advice after going through a lot of thought about it:

    It's definitely very possible to apply during Peace Corps. You should tell your recruiter though that you require a placement that lets you have relatively easy communication--that would mean reliable internet access. I wouldn't even think about trying to do much through snail mail. This may really limit you on the types of projects you may be able to do though, so think about whether you absolutely have to apply while abroad, or if it can wait to start until you get back. I would make sure you take the MCAT before you go in either case.

    If you do wait until you get back before starting, it will take a year and a half to do the entire application process, assuming you time your arrival back in the springtime, and it might be more because you may not have any choice in the timing of your service, so you may get back in early winter and have missed the AMCAS deadline in October, so you'll have to wait a bit longer.

    For me, one of the several reasons that I also decided not to go was that I realized that making it into med school was more of a priority for me than Peace Corps, and I was letting my med school application requirements dictate my future Peace Corps plans, at which point I realized I probably shouldn't go if it was, in all seriousness, not the foremost thing on my mind. That's not meant to discourage you at all, but that was just the thinking that I had to go through. I have already done a good deal of international travel and I know I'll try to do more, but the timing for me just wasn't right.

    I will be very jealous of you if you go though! I've been working for the last year out of school, and I really wish I had been able to make it work. Unfortunately the above reason isn't the only reason keeping me here. . .

    So those are my thoughts. But I'm sure there are Peace Corps alumni out there who can give much better advice than me, seeing as how I didn't end up going.

    Good luck amherstguy!
     
  4. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    I had not considered medical school until after I completed my Peace Corps service. My educational background prior to going into the Peace Corps was in physics/mathematics. After college I worked in the field of environmental engineering. Then I joined the Peace Corps and decided that I wanted to do more of that type of work but wanted to further my education first, so it seemed that medicine would be a good way to do that (I also want to be an astronaut as well so perhaps somehow medicine will fit into those plans as well, I hope). So I returned from Peace Corps in January 2000 and began taking my medical school pre-requisites: Biology, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry and some other junk. I applied in summer 2001 for Fall 2002 entrance.

    Unless you have some reason to rush through things, who cares how long it takes before you get into medical school. Have a great time in the Peace Corps and deal with applying, MCAT, etc. after you get back. You probably don't want to take the MCAT prior to leaving since some schools won't take an MCAT more than 3 years old and your MCAT might expire before you get to the application cycle depending on how your Peace Corps service dates work out. Although it might be possible to apply to medical school while in a host country I think it is stupid idea. There is no rush and no reason to give yourself headaches regarding lost/slow mail, interview dates, gathering letters of recomendation/transcripts etc. Peace Corps is tough enough alone without adding the additional stress of the medical school application process. Just wait til you get back even if it delays your entry into medical school by 9 months or so. Nine months is nothing in the grand scheme of life.

    I would not suggest that you ask for a service location in which it will make it easy for you to apply to medical school. I don't think this would look good to them and could delay things considerably (or get you rejected from the Peace Corps entirely). Some recruiters are great and basically get on the computer with you to find a position to nominate you for. Others will not tell you anything except that they will nominate you for some position and you'll just have to wait to see if you are accepted (which can take from a couple weeks to 9 months or more). The entire Peace Corps application process can be excruciatingly slow at times.

    Joining the Peace Corps was easily the best decision I ever made in my life. If you are serious about it, then just put medical shcool out of your mind until you get back. Let me know if you have any questions about the whole deal. Good luck with everything however you decide to do it.
     
  5. conquire

    conquire Junior Member

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    I'm another RPCV who hadn't decided on medicine before the Peace Corps. I finished college 7 years ago, did a year of post-bac sciences, and am applying to schools right now.
    I second MPP's statement that time should not be an issue. Your only talking about two years, and at least for me, those two years were more than well spent. I also would not encourage you to apply to medical schools directly from their Peace Corps country. I think coming back to the States can be a difficult transition, and one is better off giving themselves a bit of time to adjust before being thrown into medical school which is hard enough for everyone.
    One bit of advice for all those thinking about the Peace Corps. I received encouragement to join the Peace Corps on a personal level from many people before I joined, but people balked at encouraging me professionally. Since returning from the Peace Corps, it seems that all of my friends have found the job market and particularly graduate school admissions very open to former volunteers. I took the August MCATs, and though my scores aren't perfect, I've received many interview invites from schools that I'm certain would not have looked at my application twice had I not been a volunteer. I don't say this to encourage people to join the Peace Corps to get into medical school, there are much shorter paths if that is your end goal. I simply want to reassure people that they are certainly not hurting their chances by spending 2-3 years abroad. For people interested in gaining perspective on development work and how most of the world exists, there is no better program than the Peace Corps which gives volunteers the freedom to explore the world in a pretty extraordinary way.
     
  6. TroutBum

    TroutBum Senior Member

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    mpp and conquire both give great advice, but the one thing I would point out is that neither of you had decided on med school before going, but only decided you wanted to do it after getting back. If you've decided on going to med school before the Peace Corps though, realistically it can really be difficult to completely put your goal on hold for what could be four years or more, which is what happened in my case. I was worried that thinking about med school when I got back would interfere with my committment to the Peace Corps while in country, which is what I was trying to say before. I guess it all boils down to being completely honest with yourself. mpp, I don't think it's that bad to have certain requests when seeking placement--they ask you were preferences anyways, so why not be completely honest if there are certain things you are looking for during your service? It could just be that my recruiter was awesome.

    Where did you guys serve, btw?
     
  7. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    I agree with you. If the Peace Corps is anything, it is a Committment with a capital 'C'. If you don't feel you can commit yourself to what you are doing you will probably be miserable, so I think you made the right choice TroutBum. The unfortunate thing about asking for a particular type of placement such as "I want a place where communication is possible" is that the recruiters don't know a whole lot about the specifics of the service. I served in Zimbabwe from 1997 to 1999. Some of the Peace Corps volunteers lived in nice apartments in the city with telephone and internet and a real mailbox. Others lived 3 hours or more from the nearest telephone, faucet, or light bulb and were lucky to receive mail once every two weeks. And the last thing you want is to sound whiny at a Peace Corps interview by asking for the comforts of home.

    However, depending on your qualifications you could expect more 'modern' amenities. Business advisors is a common Peace Corps program now and this takes place in more developed places such as Eastern Europe. The Education programs can be anywhere from a nice modern college in South America to a rural bush school in Africa or on a remote island in the South Pacific. Sometimes, after the interview, the recruiter will tell you they will nominate you for a position and discuss with you the types of places that are available and what they likely will have as amenities. But they cannot promise anything and no recruiter knows every site -- and your specific site location is usually not chosen until well after the in-country training program begins. I guess what I'm trying to say is regardless of what the Peace Corps recruiter says, you still could easily end up somwhere with communications (mail, telephone, internet) far inferior to what you would expect in the U.S., if any.
     
  8. TroutBum

    TroutBum Senior Member

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    Hey mpp, Zimbabwe sounds awesome! What kind of work were you doing? Were things already getting pretty sketchy politically when you were there? I don't remember exactly when it was that Mugabe went nuts. I did an abroad program in Kenya and we studied the CAMPFIRE model for natural resource management that Zimbabwe had in place for awhile. It sounded pretty promising. Too bad it all got flushed down the toilet . . .
     
  9. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    I taught math and science in a rural secondary school. I think Mugabe was always a little nuts but the real problem has been the rest of the country. I returned to the U.S. in January 2000, just before the constitutional referendum (April 2000) that really started all the recent problems. I would not have guessed that things could have become as bad as they did so quickly. Everything seemed quite stable. The government corruption was evident but no different than lots of other countries where people aren't invading each other's homes. Hopefully things can get back to normal as quickly as they unraveled. Unfortunately I have little hope that just having a new leader is going to change much. We will see.
     

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