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Graduated with no research, clinical experience, shadowing, or LoR's...

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by Jumb0, 05.21.14.

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  1. Jumb0

    Jumb0 2+ Year Member

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    So I graduated from undergraduate with no research, volunteering, shadowing, clinical experience, or LoR's of any sort. This is why I am taking a full two years off to fill in these gaps. I am studying for the MCAT right now and will begin volunteering at a hospital next month. I will take the MCAT in October then hopefully secure a clinical research position somewhere (even an unpaid internship). I plan to take post-bacc courses while being involved in that clinical research. I will also find time to shadow a physician, probably one from the hospital I will volunteer at. If all goes accordingly, I will ask for a LoR from the PI of the research, the volunteer coordinator of the hospital, a post-bacc professor of my choosing, and a bio professor from my alma mater. These LoR's will then get me a composite letter from the pre-health committee of my undergraduate university.

    I will then apply in 2016.

    Is this a viable plan? Will medical schools frown upon the fact that my EC's all occurred after graduating? Or will they look favorably upon my determination?

    I'm going to do it either way. I just want some feedback on the viability of this 2 year gap phase plan.
     
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  3. lmn

    lmn 2+ Year Member

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    It is definitely frowned upon that you didn't do any EC's during college, hopefully you at very least did things like intramurals, clubs, or played an instrument, or really anything to show that you did something other than show up to class and tests. I know you plan to cover all the bases during your 2 year break, but everyone can tell you unexpected issues pop up and make it hard to get certain things done. If things all work out as you planned, great, but if not make sure you are prioritizing some clinical volunteer work (nursing homes,w/e) and shadowing (aim for at least 50 hours). You can get in without research, but it is a lot harder to get in if you don't have adequate clinical volunteering and shadowing to show you know what the profession is like. Research is helpful for all schools, but it is unlikely that you will be competitive at top schools that strongly value/require research work, given that you are going to only have 2 years of EC's after nothing for 4 undergrad years, so make your priority one which will help you with the most schools.

    Also make sure you are covering the letter requirements for schools you are interested in. Many will require 2 sci/1 non-science teachers, or different things like that which you may miss based on your current plan.
     
  4. NuttyEngDude

    NuttyEngDude Red-Flagville 5+ Year Member

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    Schools prefer long term involvement even if it is modest (4 hours week) over a frenetic burst of short term involvement, but you can't go back in time. Get the hours, but they will be skeptical of your commitment.
     
  5. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun SDN Administrator 5+ Year Member

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    How do you know you want to be a doctor if you have no shadowing, clinical exposure, or research experience?
     
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  6. Jumb0

    Jumb0 2+ Year Member

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    Well, it's not like I've never set foot in a hospital before. I understand what it is that physicians do, and I consider it to be the coolest and most fulfilling profession there is. I am sure that the clinical exposure I will garner in the coming years will only bolster this feeling. I know I want to to be a doctor because I have a penchant for science and a deep-seated belief that medicine is the most awesome application of science. To pursue any other profession would be to ignore my natural proclivities and fundamental desires in life.
     
  7. lmn

    lmn 2+ Year Member

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    You'd be surprised how many people 100% feel this way until they see/learn of all the crap you have to go through in the profession and how it often isn't at all like you interpreted it to be from the outside...
     
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  8. Jumb0

    Jumb0 2+ Year Member

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    Fair enough. That's why I am going to do hundreds of hours of clinical volunteering and dozens of hours of shadowing in the next two years. Surely no one will be able to say that my desire to be a doctor is still unfounded after that? Sure, it's not four years of commitment throughout undergrad, but i can't change the past now. Spending two years out of college immersed in clinical experiences that offer no financial compensation when I could be climbing the corporate ladder somewhere must signify some level of commitment. A great deal of commitment, in fact.
     
  9. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    Hold on... did you take all the pre-reqs for med school as an undergrad? What are you taking as a post-bac?
    Why clinical research? Most clinical research jobs for people with bachelors degrees is paper-pushing with no intellectual involvement in study design or analysis. Bench research is usually a better choice if you are shooting for admission to a research heavy school. Otherwise, you might get more traction doing a service project like full time tutoring/mentoring or other community service.
    What was your undergrad GPA? At what point did you decide on med school?
    Were you involved in anything in college outside of classes?
     
  10. Apollo1

    Apollo1 Deciding between MD/DO and PA 2+ Year Member

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    OP, I think what some persons were getting at is that it's one thing to volunteer/shadow/etc. when you don't have any major constraints upon you (i.e. full-time course load), but something entirely different when you're taking x classes and have to study for multiple exams that occur in the same week while drafting a lab report and meeting your weekly volunteer hours. The pace-of-schedule is vastly different, and from what I understand that's the life of a physician. It's much easier to accomplish a goal when your plate is clear of other strenuous obligations, but completing that goal while you're free of said obligations isn't as naturally realistic as the everyday comings and goings of the profession you're hoping to enter.
     
  11. lmn

    lmn 2+ Year Member

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    I think this is a back burner concern, the big concern will be why should they accept him when he seems to have only become seriously interested in the profession in the last two years and how can they know if he will remain interested in it in another few years, this is compared to students who have been doing all of things he hopes to do over the course of 4+ years which not only shows a more consistent dedication, but begs to question why wasn't he doing anything of value before he decided he wanted to become a doctor.

    OP, I'm not bringing up these concerns to hate on you in any way, but these are the challenges and types of questions you will be facing, unfortunately you have dug yourself into a decent sized hole, so now you just have to really pick your best path forward. Instead of trying to cover every single base that you should have been doing the past 4+ years, look for what would best show that you are committed to helping/serving others and showing your interest and dedication to the medical field. I agree with LizzyM, unless you are really shooting for a research school, I would personally devote what time you have to trying to display the qualities listed above.
     
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  12. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    I do want to say that some top post-bac programs take people who never gave medicine a thought during undergrad and pop them into medical school in 2 years of pre-reqs, bench research and hospital volunteering. Most of the time these puppies are musicians, English majors, or people who have had enough of Wall Street and decide to make a major change. It can be done. However, this does not appear to be OP's story.
     
  13. Jumb0

    Jumb0 2+ Year Member

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    Hi @LizzyM!

    I did take all of the pre-requisites as an undergrad, but my cGPA is pretty abysmal at the moment at 3.21. I am taking post-bac to improve my gpa as much as possible by the time I apply. I am retaking two pre-req classes that I got a C and a C- in. The rest of the classes will be upper level biology courses, including Biochemistry, which has recently become a pre-req for many med schools (I took Orgo II instead as an undergrad). I figure I can squeeze in about 10-15 science courses in the next two years. If I get an A in each of them, which I fully intend to, my cGPA will end up in the 3.4-3.5 range, and my sGPA will end up in the 3.5-3.6 range.

    As for my research aspirations, I figured clinical research would suit me better since I am lacking clinical exposure in general. I thought this would be a way to kill two birds with one stone and get research and clinical exposure all in one go. In all honesty, though, I would accept any research involvement that I can get at this point, be it clinical or bench. Having no prior research experience, I am finding it very difficult to get involved as a college grad. This is why I'm thinking I will probably end up doing an unpaid internship or even work as an unpaid research aide. I will take anything I can get.

    I decided on med school as a freshman in college, but my heart wasn't with it the first two years. I was misguided and daunted as a first generation college student, so my GPA hovered around 3.0 for my first two years of undergrad. I picked it up as an upperclassman, maintaining a GPA in the 3.5-3.6 range my last two years. I took three upper level biology courses in my last semester of college, and it ended up being the highest GPA semester of my undergraduate career.

    I was involved with some activities outside of class. I worked a federal work-study job all four years of undergrad at the university post office. I was also involved in a club/community known as Arts Haus, of which I served as the treasurer my senior year. I organized art projects and social gatherings while managing all financial accounts for the organization. In addition, I worked as part of a start-up that provided professional audio productions for corporate functions as well as web-hosting. In addition, I was a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

    And if it means anything, I am an immigrant from a poor Eastern European nation and, like I said, the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college.
     
    Last edited: 05.21.14
  14. SN12357

    SN12357 2+ Year Member

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    I think people are being a little too hard on this guy. Not everyone knows they want to be a doctor in undergrad, or has the cultural savvy to understand the importance of ECs in the convoluted American medical admissions process.

    OP, if you treat your goal with the appropriate seriousness and don't rush things I think you will be fine. Be honest with yourself about your preparedness, though. If the two year plan ends up seeming a little rushed, add another year. One year is a small price to pay for a greatly strengthened application.
     
  15. ThisCouldBeYou

    ThisCouldBeYou

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    I agree with the above - don't rush this. My concern though is that you already have four years of college and yet no research, clinical experience, shadowing, or LoRs. You sound realistic that you'll need those aspects, but it seems a bit unrealistic to think you'll do "hundreds of hours of clinical volunteering and dozens of hours of shadowing in the next two years" plus courses and everything else you've listed crammed into two years.
     
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  16. SympatricSpeciation

    SympatricSpeciation 2+ Year Member

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    I strongly disagree with this. While there are positions where the vast majority of responsibilities rests on IRB paperwork and other logistical aspects of a study, there are plenty of clinical reserach jobs where intellectual involvement in study design is just as heavy as (if not heavier than) wet bench research. Also, clinical research and wet bench are not mutually exclusive. There are tons of clinical projects that aren't necessarily huge, multicenter investigational drug studies where your involvement is quite peonic. To bring in my own example, I have been involved in "clinical research" in that I've consented patients and obtained samples from them/administered a novel treatment, yet this same project qualifies as "wet bench" because I would then do chemical and microbiota analysis of those samples in my lab. This isn't true of the majority of clinical research jobs, but it certainly isn't as hard to find as the above suggests. At the academic center I worked at, these types of projects (single-center projects) were quite common, and I'm sure they're common at other academic centers as well. I disagree with the implication that it would be a better choice for OP to pursue non-clinical, wet bench research instead. Given their lack of experience and their inclination to improve credentials in as little time as possible, I would highly suggest clinical research as it will effectively "kill two birds with one stone": involvement in research and patient interaction.
     
  17. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

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    It's a viable plan. Not everyone comes to medicine as a college undergrad.

    Is this a viable plan? Will medical schools frown upon the fact that my EC's all occurred after graduating? Or will they look favorably upon my determination?
     
  18. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    Most clinical research is not research in the minds of adcoms. That said, the OP has no business shooting for research heavy institutions and would be best off doing a job or a volunteer gig that is community service oriented and then targeting schools that are focused on developing primary care providers for underserved communities.
     
  19. kyamh

    kyamh 2+ Year Member

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    That doesn't really sounds like an intellectual contribution to me. Also, are you really allowed to administer treatment, sounds funny. Intellectually contributing to the project includes but is not limited to setting the question, figuring out the methods and controls, analyzing the data and setting forth subsequent experiments/controls based on the results, researching the field to figure out how your findings fit into the greater story and writing it all down in a manuscript. Note, data collection is not on the list. In clinical research as an undergrad you can't really design the study, you can't change anything about the study, and it doesn't sound like you're writing the manuscript yet.
     
  20. SympatricSpeciation

    SympatricSpeciation 2+ Year Member

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    Wow, you seem to have a great grasp of research methods. Please do tell me more what the scientific method and study design entail. My research is actually at the forefront of a very new, unique treatment for an antibiotic-resistant infection. I was, in fact, involved in designing the study, setting the controls, even was consulted if the protocol we were creating was too ambitious to carry out at the site level (the clinic) to deciding what statistical measures we would employ for analysis. I wrote a large portion of the paper that was published, and I was published as a first author.

    The level of your involvement depends on the specific job. My point is this: it's not true that clinical research doesn't allow you to contribute intellectually to research. It's pathetic to bring up a random detail I brought up to belittle the contribution I've made. Consenting patients isn't much intellectual contribution just as running gels all day does not mean you're getting to "set the question".
     
    Last edited: 05.22.14
  21. kyamh

    kyamh 2+ Year Member

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    :whoa:

    Congratulations on your paper being published. If you would like to insult me further, please continue over PM. I am happy to lay our CVs out on the table grab a ruler. If you are going to get upset about me making assumptions based on your post, please do not respond with assumptions about me.
     
  22. jm192

    jm192 7+ Year Member

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    I feel like SDN is full of sharks. If you ask the wrong question, they smell blood and tell you not to be a doctor. This is supposed to be a supportive place.

    OP, you do need to shadow. And part of it is to make sure that you want to do it. But, no one should be shocked that you want to do it without shadowing. Did the rest of you not think you wanted to do it without shadowing? And then shadowing confirmed it? It's not that big of a stretch.

    As far as intellectual contributions to research...LOL. OP, you don't even NEED research.

    This is SDN, so I'm sure there are a lot of people that have designed experiments and found cures to 3 types of cancer. But, broadly speaking, most applicants that list research are doing scutwork cookbook bio or chemistry.

    And now we're in a pissing contest talking about measuring CV's? Really?
     
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  23. lmn

    lmn 2+ Year Member

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    I don't see anyone telling him he shouldn't be a doctor. He asked for thoughts or critiques on his plan and imo received very helpful opinions on how he should focus his efforts to the best results, as well as receiving insight into the challenges he will have when adcom's read his application or interview him. Nobody told him he was wrong to want to be a doctor or thinking he wanted to be a doctor, he was just told he really should focus on clinical volunteering and shadowing to 1) confirm he really knows what it is and is interested and 2) importantly for his app, to show to the schools that he is sure of it and with some concrete reasoning.
     
  24. hippocampus503

    hippocampus503 2+ Year Member

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    I think your plan is good. There are many schools who love a comeback story and who will consider you if you do very well in those post-bac courses. Focus on the mcat and on gaining shadowing experience. Research is not a must-have (depending on the schools you want to apply to). You should focus on grades and clinical experience. Consider volunteering for a hospice. You get one-on-one time with patients and you get to learn lots. Sometimes volunteering at a local hospital ends up being you answering their phones. Try and get actual patient contact. Also, don't let the nay-sayers on here dissuade you from pursuing your dream. You upward trend in your grades are a good thing. You can do this! Two years are plenty of time to work on weaknesses in your application. Good luck!!
     
  25. bunionberry

    bunionberry 2+ Year Member

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    Honestly, just make sure you kill the MCAT. If you can do that, I would think that most adcoms will give your application a more serious look. You definitely sound like you have a plan, so stick with it. Just make sure you're realistic with your goals and you should have a decent chance at some schools.
     
  26. hubriz

    hubriz

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    As a PhD-level scientist, I support this comment. By the time research hits the clinic and becomes observational in nature, the great, exciting and frustrating exploration of basic scientific phenomena has concluded and with it the major effort of hypothesis-driven research.

    But OP, do what you enjoy most. Be passionate. It will all work out. Good luck!
     
  27. optimistic3

    optimistic3 2+ Year Member

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    Just curious - when you say you are take post-bac classes, do you mean an actual post bac program or just classes after your bachelor's degree?
     
  28. mehc012

    mehc012 Big Damn Hero 2+ Year Member

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    Post bacc just means any courses taken after graduation. Given that OP has already taken the prereqs, I doubt they're in a formal postbacc program (what I think you were going for with 'actual', but as a DIY postbaccer taking mostly upper levels, I find that phrasing a bit off) unless they want to do endless retakes.

    If you find the right school, you can totally take a post-bacc of all upper-levels.
     
  29. optimistic3

    optimistic3 2+ Year Member

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    Yeah I guess what I meant was formal vs. DIY. I just did some searching on google and SDN and learned the differences! Thanks!! It looks like I'm planning to do a DIY postbac myself.

    Anyway, sorry to hijack your thread, OP.
     

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