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Independent studies? poor first semester? NPO work? questions abound!

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Acc1999, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. Acc1999

    2+ Year Member

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    I was wondering if i could have your honest thoughts on my application. I didn't post this in the "what are my chances section" because I think I am looking for answers to questions that I list below more than my application/where I can get in. While I have not been an extremely active member of this community, I read frequently and LOVE the passion of the SDN'ers, and would really be honored by your advice. This is rather long as I want to give as many details as possible, but understand that not everyone is looking to read an entire application. Thank you in advance!

    I am currently a senior at a big ten university with the intention of applying to medical schools. Coming into college, however, this was not my intention. I was an integral leader at a NPO in high school and really gladly let my academics slide because I really felt like i was involved in something worthwhile ( i was pretty much a straight C student...but received a 32 on my ACT and thus got into college). I received a 2.69 my first semester because I was still in the mindset of continuing my NPO work by creating a new satellite location. This NPO was an organization that took unused food in dining halls and remade them into meals for delivery to other NPO's and underprivileged people. This work took all my time and my grades were:

    Econ I: BC
    CALC I: C
    Chemistry I: AB
    Psychology I: B

    During the semester, I saw my work with the new satellite location get ripped to smithereens by red tape and realized that the world was sorta brutal and my work couldn't go on…and that I had to find something new to direct my energy towards. It was also a huge maturation process as I realized that I couldn't really be a part of something just with enthusiasm my entire life…at a certain point, people look at your credentials before giving you a chance to do your work. Thus, I decided to go on this pre-med track (and thus I should be considered a traditional student) and got my academics in order. Here is a quick summary of my resume with EC's:

    I have received a 3.84 excluding my first semester and a cGPA of 3.78. My overall GPA is now a 3.67, with a core GPA of about 3.67 (that calc class really dropped a nuke on my gpa).

    I took my MCAT after my sophomore year and got a 36Q (11,12,13).

    Involved with a project with a science department to create an undergraduate teaching network and this program is looking to expand campus wide.

    Research project for 2 years with a poster presentation at the end

    Shadowing experience for 2 weeks

    Active person, has run 2 marathons (4 by the time I apply) with the intention of qualifying for Boston.

    Will be going to Tanzania this summer for a medical mission (those ISL mission are fantastic!) and will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro (took me forever to be able to pay for this).

    Now, I understand that I am incredibly lucky to have some of the things that I do. However, I believe that everyone is looking for honest opinions and in no way am I looking for anything other than your honest thoughts…and please don't simply tell me that a good MCAT score will get you in! I believe that admissions people should always look for the best candidates and I am definitely not one of them. Here are some of the concerns I have:

    As you can see, my clinical experience is a bit light. I have debated on whether or not this is the right track for me (the academic competition turns me off….we should be fighting something greater than ourselves…not each other!) and I came to the conclusion of yes more or less so earlier this year.

    I have taken many independent studies. I have been told that admissions committees look down upon this, and I would like to see what people's thoughts are. For example, I received 3 credits of independent study one semester to create this project in the science departments that now incorporates 1200 undergrads in the same project. I am not slacking off by taking independent studies. Do you believe that all committees think independent studies (I have taken about 17 credits of independent study in my time) are fluff? Are there avenues to explain what I did so that I don't come off as a slacker?

    If I plan on working at a McDonald's in my gap year, would this be looked down upon? ( I come from a family with some money, but my family strongly believes in the value of work as we are all immigrants…I want to raise some money and be self dependent before I go to medical school).

    Does my prior NPO work help me at all? It has nothing to do with health care per say but I do believe it has a lot to do with the interpersonal skills necessary for being a doctor.

    I looked on the LizzyM spreadsheet and saw that there were lots of places where I was under average…should I still apply to those schools because it was 1 poor academic semester or should I stick with the places that lizzyM suggested?

    So…go at it. Ask lots of questions! I am a human being with lots of flaws! Please give me your thoughts!!! Thank you!!
     
  2. 236116

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    How much longer do you have in school? Can you get clinicals? Can you write a decent PS? Hold your own in an interview?
     
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  3. Acc1999

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    I think my personal statement will be unique, which can be viewed in both a good and bad light. But only medically related to a certain degree. I can talk alot about my experiences, my observations from a limited time in clinical settings. let me ask you....how interesting was my NPO story? I think that may give you an idea of what i will discuss

    i believe i am a good interviewer. I spent most of my undergrad and high school in meetings int interviews (i was meeting with CEO's of companies by 16-17)

    But still very little clinical. I will try to spend time with a disabled person in a job, and am trying to volunteer at an alzheimer's center. I just want my time to be worthwhile rather than getting coffee for nurses.
     
  4. Acc1999

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    and yes, a novel indeed! im a writer :D
     
  5. 236116

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    the npo work can work, if you can spin it into why medicine- something besides "i had an npo and it went bust and now i want to go to med school"

    the disabled thing isn't going to do much, the alzheimer's may count more. ed vols do more than fetch coffee-- the idea is that you spend time in a clinical setting, interact with patients and providers a bit, make sure that the insanity doesn't change your mind.
     
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  6. 236116

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    :p As long as you have paragraph breaks, it's all good.
     
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  7. Acc1999

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    yeeeep! sry, didnt go into enough detail with the transition. its a novel :D

    thanks for the input :). anyone else?
     
  8. scottyT

    scottyT Real Member
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    Remember, the topic for the PS is "why medicine," not "life story." If you can't clearly and concisely answer that, then your experiences won't matter much. Talk about your NPO work in the context of how it helped you to decide on medicine, not to just describe it.

    My advice would be to get more clinical exposure if you can. Even fetching nurse coffee will expose you to the hospital environment where you can interact with patients. Clinical volunteering is more for you than the patients.
     
  9. Acc1999

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    Interesting thougts! I would like your opinion though: how would medical schools weigh 3 weeks in Tanzania doing clinical work to 4 years of consistent hospital work ? I believe that as long as there are important lessons learned that I can clearly articulte , I should be ok but I feel like raw hours do have an impact. Thoughts?
     

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