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Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by spideyman44, May 28, 2008.

  1. spideyman44

    5+ Year Member

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    I've been lurking on SDN for a while now but finally decided to register and start interacting. A little bit about me as it pertains to my goal of becoming a medical doctor. I graduated with a B.A. in chemistry in '06 with the intent of going to medical school right after but due to a low gpa (2.9 cum) and very low MCAT (17N, 08/05) I decided to go out into the real world to see what I could do with my degree. I've been working for 2 years now at a company and I'm doing relatively well but I still want to pursue a career in medicine. I took the MCAT again (08/07) and did poorly once again (19M) and decided that if I ever had a shot at getting into medical school that I would need to bring up my MCAT scores and GPA. I was accepted into a program at Southern Illinois University but because of financial reasons I don't think I'm going to be able to attend. I decided that it would probably be best for me to stay where I'm at for right now and take classes at the university where I live.

    Even though I've been reading these boards for a while I'm not really sure to begin with any of this. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on what classes I should take, should I enroll as a 2nd undergrad or continuing ed. student, etc? Thanks for any help.
     
  2. sunny1

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    With a low GPA in a science major and consistent low scores on the MCAT, it sounds like there may be a problem with your mastery of the content in the prerequisite courses. What were your grades in gen chem 1/2, org chem 1/2, bio 1/2 and physics 1/2?

    Perhaps you should start there and retake the basic prerequisite courses if your grades were poor. If you apply to osteopathic (DO) schools, your new grade will replace the old one when they calculate your GPA. This will help you in two ways: 1) refreshing your knowledge base for the MCAT but 2) helping to increase your GPA more quickly as well. For allopathic schools, you can't "replace" the grades, but you can add more courses with A grades to your current history to help bump the GPA up. It will just be easier to improve it via the osteopathic process.

    Then once you've taken the prerequisites again and feel more confident with the material, prepare for the MCAT and don't take it until you are consistently scoring on the practice exams at a level/score you would be happy with (i.e., >19).

    In terms of re-enrolling, generally as a 2nd bachelor student you will have earlier access to registration for classes compared to a continuing ed student. This means you will be more likely to get the classes at the times your want. Also, you will likely be eligible for financial aid this way as a "degree seeking student" if you need to take out loans to cover the costs of tuition. Technically you don't have to finish the 2nd degree since you already have one.
     
  3. Mobius1985

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    Planning to apply to DO schools is your most reasonable game plan. With your current GPA, you'd need another 120 hours of straight As to be close to an AMCAS GPA of 3.5. Keep in mind that for allopathic med schools the average acceptee has a GPA of 3.6. The least expensive/most convenient way to resurrect your stats would be an informal post-bac, where you take classes on your own, rather than in a program like SIU's. If you do a second bachelors degree, you may be obliged to take a lot of classes you don't want or need to fulfill the new department's requirements. As sunny1 said, the DO application service will replace any grade where you get a higher grade than the first time you took the same course. It sounds like you really need to repeat all your prerequisite courses to get a sufficiently solid grounding to do well on the MCAT.
     
  4. spideyman44

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    Thanks for the responses. I've definitely been looking more at D.O. schools. For the prerequisite classes I pretty much got C's across the boards except physics where I got A's. I got A's in Chem 2 and all the labs I took for the prerequisite classes. I attribute this to a combination of things but really, I should've performed better. I definitely want to retake most of my prerequisite courses if not all of them. I'm unable to find anything about getting a 2nd bachelor's degree at the school I'm applying to (Ohio State). I have to imagine they have this option with the university being so large but I don't know.

    Realistically, if I worked hard and applied myself to my courses and the MCAT would I be able to apply to D.O. schools by sometime next year?
     
  5. sunny1

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    Call and speak to an undergrad advisor at Ohio State. They probably even have a prehealth advisor who has experience assisting people who already have a bachelor degree and want to complete an informal postbacc.

    I think when I re-enrolled in a new institution a few years after graduating, I applied as a transfer student and I just picked a major. But of course the exact process for applying and enrolling will vary by school.

    A year might be pushing it. If you only plan on retaking org chem 1/2, gen chem 1, and bio 1/2 and not doing anything else (no job, etc.), you might be able to do it. This would involve taking the MCAT over the summer.

    However, how much will 5 classes of As (assuming) raise your GPA? It may take more than that to raise it; I don't know. Can you get started now and quickly sign up for bio 1 or gen chem 1 for the summer or is it too late? This way you wouldn't be taking as many classes at once. You could always aim for one year and then re-evaluate where you are in the spring. Two years for sure would be enough time.
     
  6. Mobius1985

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    You need to work on the other facets of your application at the same time, while you take classes: Volunteer, get clinical experience, shadow (many DO schools require that you shadow a DO, for others it can be DO or MD), research, exhibit leadership skills, take an MCAT prep course and give yourself plenty of time to study for it, etc. It's unlikely you can do all this in a year and take a lot of classes too. Remember, this is not a race. Applying and interviewing are expensive and time-consuming. Don't apply until your application is the best it can be.
     
  7. spideyman44

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    I just thought I might ask. I'm definitely going to be taking my time with this. I'm also going to be working full-time so I know I wouldn't be able to get it done in a year. I'm hoping to take chem 1, bio 1/2, and ochem 1/2 over the course of this year. I don't think I'll be able to start this summer because my application materials didn't make it in time. I'm still going to try though. You never know. I want to hopefully enroll in an MCAT prep course next summer.

    I'm going to be looking at places to volunteer in the next few weeks. I've shadowed a D.O. in March but I would like to do some more of that of course. Where are some good places to look for clinical experience? I never really thought about how difficult this would be while still working 40 hours a week. I think my boss might be flexible with my schedule so hopefully that will make it somewhat easier. Thank you for all your replies. This has been very helpful.
     
  8. spideyman44

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    So I called OSU this morning and found out what I need to do to apply and everything. I still need to talk to the financial aid office though. I'm kind of mad at myself because the admission deadline for the autumn quarter was yesterday. Now I have to wait until January to take classes. I guess it's not so bad. I'll try to find somewhere to volunteer so I can get clinical experience. I have a lot of volunteer experience from college but it's mostly all from Big Brothers Big Sisters. I would like to get some experience in a hospital type of setting. I was really hoping to start classes in September. Oh well. Is there anything else I should consider in planning to get into medical school?
     
  9. Luxian

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    One more thing that hasn't been mentioned yet. The MCAT is a terrible thing to take "cold". Even if you've gotten good grades in physics and chemistry and bio, it pays to be prepared. The only way to prepare for the test is to practice on test-like questions until you get a good score. There are tons of materials out there. You don't need to take a course, though you may want to, but at the very least I would recommend getting a study guide (ExamKrackers, Princeton Review, Kaplan Review). Study for the test itself instead of rereading your text books and DON't take the MCAT again until you can consistently get a reasonable score (>25) in the practice.
     
  10. spideyman44

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    I definitely plan on not taking it again until my scores are consistently high. I would prefer not to take a review course if possible because of the hours I'm already working and the courses I plan on taking. I have a couple of review books and some sample tests but I think I'll stock up on some more books. It seems that a lot of people like the ExamKrackers books so I'll probably pick those up. Would it matter if I started preparing for the MCAT now and took it later this year/early next year or should I wait until I have taken my prerequisite courses?
     
  11. Mobius1985

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    To be the best prepared for the MCAT, wait until you have taken the prerequisites again. There is no point to rushing yourself and getting another low score. Since you got As in Physics, if you feel you understood that subject well, maybe you can relearn that material on your own. If you didn't get a good PS score on the MCAT, you could consider retaking Physics as well, to give yourself the best shot at an improved score.
     
  12. HanginInThere

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    Getting it done in a year while working full-time would have been very unrealistic even if you had gotten your app in on time. In fact, I think you're really lucky that you missed that deadline. The process is a marathon, and you really need to pace yourself the whole way through.

    I'd say you're probably looking at a 2 1/2 year process from here, maybe even 3 1/2 years. That isn't a bad thing - you'll still be starting med school a lot younger than many of us on this forum.

    It's very important for you to do well in your classes from here on out, and considering that you'll be working full-time and that you had trouble with these classes the first time through you really don't want to get in over your head at the start. I'd recommend taking just one class in the spring to see how it goes (is chem 1 offered as a spring class?), then do either one or two classes next fall, depending on how much you think you can take on and still excell.

    Don't think about the MCAT for now - if you don't improve your GPA the MCAT score won't matter. You'll want to take the MCAT course after you finish all your coursework and give yourself a few months to concentrate on that phase, but that step comes later.

    As you said, you'll also want to do some more shadowing now while you have the time, and you'll want to find some volunteer work you like. A few hours a week will be plenty, but you're going to want to do this long-term (throught the time you're taking classes and the MCAT) to demonstrate an ongoing commitment.

    Again, the process is going to take you a few years. This gives you time to do all the work you need to do at a pace that won't kill you, AND it builds evidence of serious, ongoing dedication that's going to be important once you get to the application/interview stages.
     
  13. spideyman44

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    Thank you for telling me that. I think that's something I needed to hear. Going through school, I feel like a lot of emphasis is put on getting into medical school as soon as possible. Of course if you perform well enough in school, get a great MCAT score, and have all your necessary extracurriculars then this is possible. I think this is where my mentality of trying to hurry up and get into medical school comes from. I'm only 23 so waiting/preparing in 3 - 4 years in the grand scheme of things is really nothing.

    I'll take your advice and just start off with one class to see how things go. I was always under the impression that medical schools wanted to see you perform well under a heavy course load. If I can space out 1 - 2 courses a quarter that would be great. I'll put the MCAT out of my mind until I at least finish my prerequisites.
     
  14. HanginInThere

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    Good. The other nice thing about spacing this out a little is that it gives you a chance to investigate you're getting into and make sure it's really what you want to do.

    Yes, schools want to see evidence that you'll be able to handle the med school courseload. But doing well with one course a semester looks much better than doing poorly with three. And if you have other things going on (working full-time plus some ongoing volunteer committments), the adcoms take that into consideration. So start with one class at a time, and ramp up to two when you think you're ready for it. Anecdotal experience: in my own applications, two classes plus work plus volunteering plus a family were enough that none of my interviewers questioned the workload.

    Good luck!
     
  15. Lacheln

    Lacheln Cavorting in the Hills
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    I felt the same way you did spidey (about the urgency). I started my prereqs at 26 and delayed another year after they were done for personal reasons. It felt so far away when I started, but now I'm amazed it's gone so quickly. We'll see how this cycle, but I think I'm glad I took the slow and deliberate route.

    :luck:
     
  16. CultureDoc

    CultureDoc MSII
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    Ugh. I definitely felt the urgency too . . . and I did it the wrong way. I lept in with both feet without really doing my "homework" on what med schools would want to see. I tried to cram in too many classes while working a full time job, which left me with not-so-hot postbacc grades and no time for volunteering or other ECs that would have both given me a better perspective on the profession and helped round out my app. I've been trying to play catch-up in the last year or so, but it seems like too little too late.

    I certainly wish I would have discovered SDN sooner! I've gleaned so much info just from hanging out here.

    So, spideyman, it seems like you're definitely on the right track in seeking out advice and thinking about taking it slowly. I would also urge you to make an appointment and talk to a pre-med advisor at whatever school you're attending (if you can). I'm not sure how accessible they'll be to you if you're not in a degree/official post-bacc program, but they may be willing to just have a chat and direct you to some additional resouces. Another option might be to contact the pre-med advisor(s) at your undergrad institution, who may be willing to talk with you as well.

    Best of luck! :luck:
     
  17. spideyman44

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    You guys are awesome. I'm very glad I came here first before just jumping in. I've gained so much knowledge just by lurking around for a while and then even more after registering. Thank you everyone for all the advice.

    The people at SIU told me that they are willing to advise me in any way that they can even though I won't be a part of their program. I'm going to get into contact with a pre-med advisor here as soon as I can. I received a call today saying that I was admitted into the continuing education program. I sent that about a month ago. If I had known better I would've sent a transfer student application. I think I might still do it just to see. I'd rather be able to have priority scheduling and pay much less for classes if possible. There's a chemistry class in the autumn quarter so I might start off with that class and just see where things go.
     

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