Lvl 15
5+ Year Member
Dec 19, 2013
Medical Student
Alright, this is basically my first post here. I'm somewhat of a nontraditional applicant. I graduated from a top 10 LAC in 2012 and recently started taking my prereqs at a state school near my hometown. My freshman and sophomore years of undergrad weren't the best; not bad by any means but not up to par for med school. I had lots of B's and had a solid 3.3 gpa going into my junior year. Luckily the realization that I wanted to go into medicine reignited the academic passion that got me into my undergrad in the first place. I finished strong with good grades and a research based neuroscience thesis.

cGPA: 3.57
sGPA: 3.78
Postbac GPA: 4.0 (23 credits)

I've had a lot of clinical experience working as an inpatient phlebotomist for the past 2 years. I get to see pretty much everything. We get called to traumas in the ER and codes on the floors. I've gotten to go into the OR and have drawn on women delivering their baby. That being said, however, I've had very minimal "volunteer" clinical experience. I volunteered for 40 hours on a pediatric wing during junior year of my undergrad and that's about the extent of it.

Question 1: should I get more clinical volunteering experience or is my job enough? I see much more working for the hospital than I ever did volunteering but fear that I won't be able to "check the box. "

Second, I'm currently enrolled in orgo II and physics II for the spring semester but I plan on applying this upcoming summer. When do you all suggest I take my MCAT? I was thinking June because I'd have all the content in my classes as well as a month to reenforce it prior to taking the test, I just worry that I'll get my scores too late and that it will hurt my chances at schools.

Last, but certainly not least, where do you suggest I apply? I'm a PA resident open to MD and DO schools but as of now have only decided on:

Penn state

Any additional suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Much thanks for even making it to the end of this post!
Dec 20, 2013
It's tough to make a list without your MCAT score but your GPAs are solid and that phlebotomist experience sounds amazing! I wish I had the chance to do something like that.

I always thought the clinical box was separate from the volunteering box. By that I mean that if you get clinical experience from a job, that works too, especially if it was one as involved as yours was. So, if you are looking to beef up your volunteering experience, I would say stick to something you enjoy doing (ie teach a knitting class or volunteer at the homeless shelter) rather than focusing on if it is a clinical experience or not. I personally would try to add a volunteer experience, even if it is only to check a box. It's hard to say you want to go into medicine to help people if you don't show that you enjoy helping people.

You should be OK in June and not too late. I would say as you are studying spring semester, begin your MCAT studying (leaving out Orgo II and Physics II). Orgo is really de-emphasized on the test anyway. If it were me, I would make sure to have minimal commitments in that month leading up to the test. While you are waiting for your score, write your personal statement and activities list. Finish your primary app before you even get your score back. While you are waiting to be verified and to receive secondaries, pre-write them using SDN's school-specific threads to see what the secondary questions are. If you could get those out the same day you receive them (ideally), that wouldn't put you at much of a disadvantage.


5+ Year Member
Aug 14, 2013
I would find time to volunteer between now and applying. It isn't so much about the time you spend as what you get out of it. I only volunteered 60 hours but it was all at the same place and I told a good story (plus I love what I do) and it worked for me.
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