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Helpful advice is needed!

Discussion in 'What Are My Chances?' started by RevivedPreMed, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. RevivedPreMed

    2+ Year Member

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    I've been reading SDN for a little while now and have finally gotten the courage to make a name and post... So here it goes...

    cGPA: 3.2
    sGPA: 2.9

    Hispanic, FL resident, disadvantaged socioeconomically, first in my family to aspire to go to any sort of professional/graduate school.

    ECs:
    -Hospital volunteering
    -Athletic tutor
    -2 years of research: 1 poster in which I went to conference to present, a publication pending for it (first author), and two other projects (I'd be the second author on both) in the works including one as a clinical study in which a microcirculation camera is used (only one other hospital in the country has this camera)
    -Camp counselor for a camp promoting physical fitness in kids with special needs
    -Started an EMS club at my school from the ground up, I am VP and Treasurer of it
    -Biology mentor for a year
    -Shadowing all kinds of doctors (~100 hours)
    -held various jobs throughout college to support myself, one including working for my school's college of medicine developing and putting to a work a diabetes health program
    -Volunteering at a homeless shelter

    LOR-
    I have many amazing recommendations including from the chief of critical care medicine who is my mentor and who has served on the admissions board various times.

    I know my GPA is abysmal but I have good reason for it. I have struggled all my life through school only to finally get diagnosed with a learning disability. Once diagnosed, my grades have improved significantly. For example, I took OChem II and barely scrapped by with a D, I'm taking it this semester with the hardest professor on campus (anyone at my school would agree) and I am getting an A in the class, scoring 20-40 points above each exam average.

    I want to know realistically, what are my chances, what schools are more open to my kind of application (bad grades, then some drastic change, etc), etc.

    I'm currently studying like a crazy person for the MCAT. I am well aware that I need to score very well in order to even have a chance. I will also be taking every science class possible throughout my application summer, fall and spring to keep updating schools and to prepare myself if I need to reapply.

    Any advice is appreciated.
     
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  3. Mobius1985

    7+ Year Member

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    You have some great extracurriculars. You didn't specify hours volunteered at the hospital and how long you've volunteered there. It's important to have some significant time with face-to-face patient contact (if your other activities didn't provide this), so keep it up. Having about 1.5 years total of 3-4 hours/week would be good to strive for.

    I think your URM and disadvantaged status will help get your entire application reviewed so your pluses can be appreciated. Be sure to discuss your academic challenges in your Personal Statement.

    Admission committee representatives who post here on SDN say they like to see 1.5-2.0 years of excellent grades once a turn-around occurs to prove you have what it takes to do well in their challenging science-intensive curriculum. Some of this should be retakes of any prerequisites in which you got a grade of C or lower (unless you got an A in the next class in the sequence).

    Your GPA will be higher by the time you are ready to apply. A good MCAT score is important for you to prove you "got" the prerequisite material.

    I'm glad you accept the possibility that a reapplication year may be necessary. An extra year of great grades will likely make you fairly competitive in your home state. I expect there are many Hispanic applicants in Florida, and your status as URM may not give you as much advantage there. Many other schools would love to see you apply, in states where Hispanics are scarce. University of Illinois, for example, has given in-state tuition to OOS Hispanics in the past to encourage their attendance. If your MCAT score is reasonable, I'd still say to go ahead and try to get an acceptance during the '09-'10 season.
     
  4. RevivedPreMed

    2+ Year Member

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    Thank you so much for the great advice. By the time of my application I will have at least a year in all my extracurriculars. I had to transfer schools so I basically had to start over.

    My face to face contact with patients is mainly in the form of my clinical trial (i have to go from bed to bed taking down stats and obtaining microcirculation images) and when I shadow in clinics (at least 4 hours a week).

    If you have any specific recommendations of activities to get involved in I'd be happy to hear them.

    By the way, my face lit up when you mentioned University of Illinois because I've always had a love for Chicago.
     
  5. Mobius1985

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    Shadowing is a good experience, but it's considered "passive" since you are watching a doc interact with patients. Interacting with patients as you collect data counts as clinical experience, but you are not really doing something for the patient, you are serving a project. Is this the volunteering in a hospital that you are doing? If so, you need more. When I volunteered in the ER, I basically washed beds. When I volunteered in the post-op unit, I actively served patients, assisting them in many ways, and this is more what you'd want to do. There are many types of volunteerism that fulfill this "unwritten" requirement. You could work in hospice, a nursing home, a free clinic, a residential center for people with medical problems, go on an overseas medical mission (though the latter is great experience, it is less desirable to do short-term, with many hours of service, as opposed to long term, but only 3-4 hours/week. The latter demonstrates dedication to the idea of going into medicine.) One of my volunteer gigs was in a local clinic where I signed up to translate for Spanish-speaking clients. Instead, since my medical Spanish is good, but my legal Spanish is nonexistent, one of the doctors had me actively assist during examinations and procedures. So it was sort of shadowing and volunteering combined, and one of my best experiences that cemented my intention of becoming a physician. I wrote a lot of great essays about the experience.
     
    #4 Mobius1985, Dec 2, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2008
  6. Mobius1985

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    UIC has campuses in Urbana, Rockford, and Peoria too. I'm not a big city sort of person, and having visited all of them, prefer the latter three. So they have something for everyone's tastes.
     
  7. Slowpoke

    Slowpoke I haz cheezburger
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    Mobius ftw once again,

    I would just like to add a word of encouragement as I'm sure its always good to get a little push from a fellow pre-med, your ECs are amazing, particularly the "developing and putting to a work a diabetes health program" my mouth dropped when I read that.

    Kudos to you, and good luck.
     
  8. RevivedPreMed

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    Unfortunately there aren't any regular volunteer opportunities at our free clinic. I was allowed to volunteer once and I ended up being a spanish translator during the exams and I loved it. I wish I could keep doing it but they won't allow it.

    I volunteered for a semester at my other school in the ER. I tried to do that at my new school but it was really not a good experience. We weren't allowed to do anything and had to basically just stand for 3 hours, trying to stay out of the way.
     
  9. RevivedPreMed

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    Thanks so much! I got really lucky when I got that job because I had no idea how involved I'd be in the project. Unfortunately I was only there for the first cycle (a full year) because they did not have enough hours to keep us part-timers after that. It was still an amazing experience because we developed the program and they are planning on continuing it with a new set of people.
     
  10. koffein

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    #9 koffein, Feb 10, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2009

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