SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

I posted this in "Below 3.0GPA support group" - but I could really use some advice!!

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by mgrantcolburn, May 12, 2014.

  1. mgrantcolburn

    mgrantcolburn 2+ Year Member

    May 12, 2014
    Hard Facts:
    Age: 27 (not URM)
    cGPA: 2.39 (when retakes are substituted and remedial math is removed this changes to a 3.17)
    sGPA: 3.92 (AP1/2, MBIO, Cell Bio, General Stats)
    MCAT: Not taken because I haven't finished pre-med.
    HC Exp: ~1000 hours between training and working in the Endocrinology office.
    Previous careers include construction foreman/laborer, bartender, personal trainer, etc.

    I got my BA in English, with minors in Sexuality and Gender Studies and Technical Communication in 2010. I finished my undergrad with a cGPA of 2.39 and a major GPA of 2.89 (cherry-picked). I took and failed Cell Bio and General Chem during freshman year, and never took another science or math course beyond "math/science for liberal arts majors." I still have several "W" grades, was placed on academic probation twice, and dismissed for poor academic performance once. But, I finished my degree.

    Fast forward to December 2012 - I had spent two and a half years working construction and tending various bars and I decided it was time for a change.

    Previous to, and while earning my undergrad, I had worked as a medical assistant (Endocrinology) and personal trainer. I decided to try for PA via a community college Surgical Technology program. January 2013 I re-enrolled at my alma mater, retook (and earned 4.0 marks) in several courses I previously failed. Fall 2013 I began taking science and math pre-reqs. I earned a 4.0 in Cell Biology and General Statistics. Winter 2014 I transferred to a CC and pulled a 4.0 in MBIO and a 3.6 in AP1. Currently, I am pulling a 98% in AP2 and will finish that class with a 4.0. My cumulative GPA has risen nearly to a 3.2 in just over a calendar year. My science GPA is a 3.92, but that lacks physics, GEN/ORG/BIO chem, calculus, and MCAT.

    Using Khan Academy, I've had quite a bit of success preparing for physics, the chems, and my math is improving.

    Now my confidence is up in terms of my academic performance, and I am sure that I can be successful in a DO/MD program. Without hyperbole, making myself into a physician has consumed my being. I understand that I am not competitive for MD programs, but what about DO? I am shadowing every specialist, surgeon, ER/IM/FM doc I can convince - DO or MD, but I have that horrible undergraduate GPA to deal with.

    From the numbers listed above, as well as the upward trend, what can I do to improve my application and achieve entrance into a DO medical school?

    Is it beneficial for me to train as a Surg. Tech for 12 mos, gain OR experience, and finish my pre-med part time? That leaves me a 31-32 year old applying to medical school, and I would prefer to find a quicker way in the door.

    Furthermore, do I even have a shot given my age and poor undergraduate performance?
    BEATLVR likes this.
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. mavric1298

    mavric1298 Long live snugseal 2+ Year Member

    Mar 16, 2014
    Seattle, WA
    I would say the Surg. Tech wouldn't be that beneficial to you, especially if you are thinking DO route. Your time would be better spent retaking any classes you did poorly in (even non-sciences) as DO does grade replacements. DO continues to offer a shot to people who are willing to turn things around, which you seem to be. You'd be surprised how quickly you can raise your GPA replacing some lower grades. You seem to be in a good position, you just have to get thru your premed classes. Your Gen/Orgo/Bio/Math/Phys is what is going to make your application or not. Thats going to be about 70-80 quarter credits right there (3 quarters of phys, gen chem, ochem, bio, 2 of calc, 2 of biochem for the MCAT). If you are already at a 3.2 with what, around 180 quarter credits, you almost will have another half a degree worth of additional grades to bring it up.
    Indianarn likes this.
  4. Admissions to Medicine

    Admissions to Medicine Former Adcom 2+ Year Member

    Mar 23, 2014
    You need a clearly defined strategy. This is the MOST IMPORTANT thing that you can do to give yourself a real chance at med school admissions. Since you did horribly, and I mean horribly during your undergraduate experience, the only way for you to redeem yourself is to really show that you are on a specific track. So DO NOT just shadow every doctor, DO NOT jump from experience to experience and DO NOT take random courses to just get an A. You need to show that you have methodically thought out each and every step to eventually achieve a certain goal. - Admissions to Medicine
    Thales and BEATLVR like this.
  5. mgrantcolburn

    mgrantcolburn 2+ Year Member

    May 12, 2014
    First of all, thank you for your response. I would value more input, if you don't mind. Are you able to clarify some aspects of your advice?
    1. I am extremely pulled toward ER/IM/FM due to the breadth of practice. By shadowing physicians practicing many specialties, and educating myself on the role of doctors within each specialty, I hoped to appear well informed of practicing opportunities available to physicians. The goal was not to present an unfocused "whatever sticks" approach. How can I ensure that my shadowing and volunteer experiences help present a focused, well-defined candidate for admission? Is it best to only shadow ER/IM/FM?
    2. The courses I am currently taking are basic pre-medical sciences. You're absolutely correct, my undergraduate GPA was abysmal. Academically, what do ADCOMs look for in candidates like myself? Would entrance into a post-bacc be a step in the right direction? Or, should I focus on my basic sciences while pursuing extracurricular activities within the local medical community?
    3. Finally, are there any texts, books, or other resources you might recommend? My goal is to build the best possible application, and any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you again!
  6. sb247

    sb247 mean I got in? 5+ Year Member

    Jul 5, 2012
    Galt's Gulch
    You need to get your cgpa up into the 3.1/3.3 range once your grade replacements are calculated. I don't know what you meant by "and remedial math is removed" because nothing is removed in gpa calculations, only replaced by retaking the class.

    You don't need a trillion shadowing hours, just finish your prereqs and apply DO after you land a solid MCAT (25+ is about the avg for most DO schools but you have a slightly lower gpa). remember mcat changes in 2015, so unless you are strong in behavioral sciences you might need to take a few of the relevant courses.

    don't forget the full length practice tests that mcat puts out...they are great for getting a feel for the test
  7. Goro

    Goro Faculty 7+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2010
    Somewhere west of St. Louis
    Well, it's a good backup in case you can't get into med school or decide being a doctor isn't for you. I say go for it.

    Is it beneficial for me to train as a Surg. Tech for 12 mos, gain OR experience, and finish my pre-med part time? That leaves me a 31-32 year old applying to medical school, and I would prefer to find a quicker way in the door.

    Some of my all-time best students have been in their 30s and 40s, so quit worrying about age. And AACOMAS' grade replacement policy doesn wonders for the GPA.

    Furthermore, do I even have a shot given my age and poor undergraduate performance?[/QUOTE]
    BEATLVR likes this.

    BEATLVR cry, cry some more-- then roll up your sleeves!

    Apr 15, 2014
    Fairfax, VA
    I have a similar background as the OP. I graduated w/my BA with a 2.54 cGPA, i was a former Phys/Neuro major but haven't even calculated my old sGPA (but i have a few W's, one F, & a few C's and D's :hungover:). I tried to apply to a few graduate pgms in the proceeding my graduation in 2000, but *surprise*surprise* didn't get in anywhere. So I decided to go back to school and get ANOTHER bachelor's in Psychology. Currently I have a 4.0 cGPA and should be finishing up next Fall. I originally thought to just apply to PA schools since I am 35 y/o right now (even though I look 25 ;)) and going to DO school would put me at around 45+ y/o upon graduation (i say "+" bc I haven't finished a majority of my pre-reqs for school yet!), but I still want to apply to a few DO schools. I really wish I had started this earlier, but I can only move fwd.

    I would like to piggyback off the OP and ask a few ?s myself:
    1. I keep reading that DO schools are more "forgiving" with our grades (as in when we re-take classes)… what does that mean? My only experience is with the PA school's CASPA format of "grade averaging" which screws "second-chance" candidates because they will always be averagely lower than an undergrad who did stellar the first time around… so @mavric1298, what do you mean by, "DO does grade replacements" and, "DO continues to offer a shot to people who are willing to turn things around" ?

    2. @Admissions to Medicine , what makes a "clearly defined strategy"? Do you mean only taking all the pre-req/mandatory classes needed for school? what about classes needed to raise one's sGPA? How can I stay away from falling into the "transcript padding" category?

    3. @sb247, I have direct PT care experience (16,000+ hours) due to my former job as a combat medic in the Army; I am still active with my EMT license as a civilian and have worked with both a rescue squad and at an ER. I planned on finding and working with an Osteopathic doctor this summer (while maintaining my current full-time job w/ the DoD). Is having direct PT care NOT a DO/MD pre-req as it is for PA school?

    4. I heard it is next to impossible to get into Ortho Surgery as a DO, yet much easier for a PA… is that true?

    5. I've never taken/seen the MCATs, so I would love to know what new changes are occurring with it starting 2015 per @sb247 . You stated "behavioral sciences" as a change. What category is being added? (psychology?)

    6. Lastly, I will be PCS'ing (permanent change of station- a military move) to Germany this August. I had hoped to continue working on my pre-reqs while overseas at either UMUC, or one of the other schools on post. However, I am in a bind since I need to take LAB classes which may NOT be offered as readily by these institutions for some reason; sooooo, how are ONLINE classes viewed by DO schools?

    sorry for intruding into @mgrantcolburn's post! I hope my questions can help both of us!
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
  9. Beth_W737

    Beth_W737 Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 27, 2006
    DO allows you to retake grades and uses the new grade (ie grade replacement). Did you mean orthopedic surgery? We've had a number match into orthopedics

  10. UTsksk

    UTsksk 7+ Year Member

    Oct 23, 2008
    1. AACOMAS will essentially use your repeated course grade. For example, let's say you got a C in bio1. Later on, you retake bio1 and get an A. Your AACOMAS GPA will just have the A. It gets tricky when you take equivalent courses at different universities.

    2. I think all they meant about a path is showing the direction you're headed. Take the pre reqs and upper science courses. Don't repeat random courses that have nothing to do with applying to medical school such as repeating your C that you got in medieval literature.

    3. Health care experience is one of those unwritten rules I think. Your pt experience can only help you.

    4. Almost impossible for DO's to get ortho through ACGME, but definitely possible through AOA. Not sure how the merger affects this though. Idk anything about PA's and ortho.

    5. 2015 mcat is incorporating behavioral science and biochem I believe.

    6. Idk the answer to this. Sorry.
  11. mavric1298

    mavric1298 Long live snugseal 2+ Year Member

    Mar 16, 2014
    Seattle, WA
    AMCAS counts every grade you've ever had, whether you used it to graduate, no matter your institutions policy (averaging, only taking the highest, etc). AACOMAS only takes the highest grade, so there is normally vastly different GPA's if people are doing "repair".
  12. HinduHammer

    HinduHammer We Do Not Sow 2+ Year Member

    Aug 6, 2013
    It seems to me (if I read correctly) you still have the bulk of your pre-med classes to take (orgo, gen chem, biochem, calculus, etc.) and your first priority should be doing well in your pre-med classes. If you can do the surg tech program in addition to doing well and preferably also studying for your MCAT, I say Do It -- **IF** thats what you want to do. I was thinking of doing something similar,and still may if I don't get in this cycle. However, after talking to surgical techs and surgeons they say that if my end goal is to be a surgeon, doing the surgeon tech thing doesn't really do much for me except get me into med school. Everything I need to learn as a surgeon I'll learn later. So, for me, my goal is on rocking my MCAT (to achieve my first goal of getting into med school, before my next goal of being a surgeon/psychiatrist/internist whatever)

    As numerous people have told me, with my stats - low also (2.8 c and sgpa after 4.0 postbacc for 60+ credits) - if I get a 40 mcat (unlikely) with my current experience I will have alot more doors open to me than if I have a 30 mcat plus my current stats + surgical tech. Like, the best thing I can do to achieve my goal of gaining medical school admission is rocking the MCAT. But, I have different life experiences than you and different ECs.

    So anyway back to you: FWIW, I think if your only goal at this point is to get into medical school, you may want to focus on just rocking your academics, rocking the MCAT, and doing volunteering/jobs in whatever time you have left. Biggest factor is also whether you truly want to be a surgical tech or just doing it to get into med school.

    PS I'll be 30 when I matriculate if I get in this cycle, which is most certainly not likely (but I have hope!). I'm not stopping. Neither should you.

Share This Page