Oct 26, 2010
Hey, I need your help! I'm Canadian, coming from one of Canada's better schools and really would like to apply to medicine in the U.S. You guys have been the hands-down most helpful thread I've found, so I thought I'd post.

- 3.65 cGPA, 3.62 sGPA, no MCAT yet
- Third year double-major honours Psychology and Human Biology
- International experience (Exchange student)
- Two research projects, one in Canada, one in Europe - anticipating publication for both
- Worked in clinic (paid) for 5 years, summer student
- 2 years of peer mentorships on campus
- 200 clinical community hours
- 150 nonclinical community hours
- national champion gymnast (2004 --- too old for my application?)
- fluent in English and Norwegian
- ECs: VP in a club; hoping to be president of another club next year.
- thinking of taking up Varsity Sports - recruited for rowing, wrestling, and cheerleading

.... any advice?

(1) slightly too low GPA (thinking 3.7+? good enough?)
(2) should I take up varsity sports? what's the payoff "passionate, work life balance" vs "varsity sports are eating up my time"
(3) what sort of MCAT score should i reasonably aim for to be a competitive applicant?
(4) should i take more arts courses, or should i take higher-level sciences (beyond my human biology major, which has a significant number of high-level science)
(5) not enough EC's
(6) does it look bad to admissions committees if i stay in uni a fifth year for some additional courses?

and, because it's been brought up in previous people's posts - cost of schools doesn't matter *that* much, i'd be open to SMPs/post-baccs, or other things that would be helpful.

any recommendations for next steps, as well as which schools are appropriate for me to apply to ?


Membership Revoked
Apr 28, 2010
If you land a 32+ just apply directly. You don't need sports, post-bacc or SMP.


The Gimlet Eye
10+ Year Member
Sep 4, 2006
Camp SDN: The Place for Summer Fun
Data from the AAMC: In 2009, of 1293 international applicants (without a US state of residence) only 12.6% matriculated to a US med school (whereas 44.5% of US state residents applying did matriculate).

Mean stats for those Canadians who matriculated at US schools in 2009:
MCAT 33.5+/- 3.8, cGPA 3.78 +/- .16, BCPM GPA 3.78 +/-.2

Mean stats for US state residents who matriculated:
MCAT 30.8 +/- 4.1, cGPA 3.66 +/- .26, BCPM GPA 3.6 +/- .32

As you can see, Canadians are held to a higher standard than US residents. Since your cGPA is below the mean for accepted Canadians, your MCAT score should ideally be correspondingly higher than the mean if you can manage it. I'm thinking 35ish is a good goal for you.

Research with pubs is helpful, as is nonmedical community service and leadership. HS activities are generally not helpful on a med school application, but if you continued to be a gymnist during the college years you can mention the title you won in the activity description. If not, you could fit it into your Personal Statement somehow if it relates to your decision to be a doc.

Getting involved in varsity sports can go on to haunt you if you let your grades drop. It might help you in some adcomms eyes, but not all. You'll have to decide if it's worthwhile.

With the goal of raising your BCPM GPA, I think that additional upper-level science courses would be helpful if you can earn As.

Staying in school an extra year and taking summer school classes would not put you at a disadvantage in the US application process.

Can you get in some physician shadowing, perhaps take on a leadership role, maybe with your nonmedical community service organization (better than officer of a campus club), and have a total of 2+ years of research before you apply?

You don't need an SMP. You do need final stats before schools can be suggested. You can see a comprehensive list of US schools accepting internationals on www.premed101.com somewhere, I've heard.
Oct 26, 2010
Thank you so much to you both. I have no one to approach about this (top secret pre-med.... *shivers*) so any advice is so incredibly helpful to me.

Your stats about Canadian matriculants scares me though. I didn't realize that we were held to a different standard. If I were a U.S. permanent resident, would the process differ, or do I have to be a citizen? My parents live in the States part-time.... I wonder if there's a way I can become eligible for the U.S. applicant pool.... does anyone know?

And sorry, I calculated the Science GPA the way my school calculates it. After checking AMCAS, my BCPM GPA is 4.0. Should I still add upper-year science courses, or just leave it as is?

As for research, I already have 2 years. I think my research is solid. I'm more concerned about community involvement.

What exactly does "physician shadowing" entail, and how does one go about finding someone to shadow? Is it just following them around, or is there more to it? For how long should each "shadowing" experience last? Do you ask them for a letter at the end? Canadian applicants (as far as I've heard) never do this, so it's new to me.

Because, like most people on this forum, I'm neurotic..... what would the ideal stats I'd need to most-likely be accepted?

...GPA 3.8, MCAT 35+, physician shadowing, nonclinical community service leadership..... anything more? Are these good enough? How many hours of community work should I aim for? Would I be better off in a post-bacc program, or doing a fifth year at the school I already study at?

Sorry for the mountain of questions.

Thank you thank you thank you!
Any input at all is immensely appreciated.