Interested in applying to med school - questions about preparing for it

mg2006

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Hi! I also posted this in the non-trad section. I hope it's okay to post the same thing twice. I'm just hoping for some advice on my decision to go pre-med, regarding extracurricular experience, MCAT timing, application timing, etc...

First- a little background. I would love some advice on what my chances of getting in are, based on this info. I know it's kind of too soon to say...

I am 27. I began college at age 24, and will graduate in a few months with a B.S. in Health Studies, with an option in Community Health Education (kind of like a social, cultural, economic perspective on health). My first two years were at a community college, with my final year being at a state college. My state college GPA is 4.00, my overall is 3.7. My science GPA is 4.00, but that really just includes a year of general chemistry, a couple of intro biology courses, and microbiology.

If I do, indeed, decide to follow the med school path, I will need to take 3 more quarters of sciences, meaning I would graduate with a second degree in Health Studies with the option in Health Sciences. As I said, I have already taken a year of gen. Chem, but I would need to take a year of Biology, O Chem and Physics.

I am sorely lacking in extracurricular experiences, I think. All I have to speak of is some volunteering for the former Governor in a campaign to provide universal health insurance, and I intern for a nonprofit company that seeks to improve health care quality.

I'm not out of school yet, though, so I plan to add to this by including some more volunteer experience. My options include volunteering at a hospice, or volunteering at Oregon Health Sciences University, which also happens to be my first choice for med school.

Here are my questions:

1. Does it hurt me that I went to a community college?

2. What are the best ways to increase my volunteering / extracurricular activities profile?

3. Regarding the MCAT- if I plan to finish all my sciences by August 07, should I plan to take the April 08 MCAT, or do you think I could manage the 07? I'm hoping to try for both, but I don't know if the August one would be too soon.

4. Also, I know at OHSU, you have to take the MCAT, then wait a year, THEN apply. Is this the case everywhere else? It seems, from what I've read, that other schools let you apply the same year you take the MCAT?

Thanks a lot to anyone who read through all this. I appreciate any advice anyone can give me! :)
 

LizzyM

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mg2006 said:
Here are my questions:

1. Does it hurt me that I went to a community college?
No.

2. What are the best ways to increase my volunteering / extracurricular activities profile?
Do something. In particular, as I like to say, get out there and "smell patients". By that, I mean do something that give you the opportunity to be up close with patients. Hospice or hospital, nursing home or clinic, do something that gets you in the door and talking to them. This is called testing your interest in medicine.

3. Regarding the MCAT- if I plan to finish all my sciences by August 07, should I plan to take the April 08 MCAT, or do you think I could manage the 07? I'm hoping to try for both, but I don't know if the August one would be too soon.
If you are planning on starting med school in Fall 09, then taking the exam in April 08 would be fine. Taking it in August 07 would be okay and would give you the opportunity to re-take in April 08 if you felt that you needed to. Take several months to prepare for the MCAT (while you are still taking science courses) because you'll need a very good score to show that your college grades are not a "big fish, little pond" phenomenon.

4. Also, I know at OHSU, you have to take the MCAT, then wait a year, THEN apply. Is this the case everywhere else? It seems, from what I've read, that other schools let you apply the same year you take the MCAT?
Huh? That sounds odd. Usually: April MCAT, June AMCAS, interviews in the Fall, offer letters by April 15, applicant makes decision by May 15. What am I missing here?
 

sistahnik

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If you already took two semesters of biology why do you need another year of bio? The regular needed prereq biology includes 2 semesters of introductory bio and anything other than that is recommended/optional. Now some schools do require biochem or genetics etc., but that's exclusive to certain schools which you have to look up on their individual websites. Extra upper level sciences are always a plus though. Some people have even informed me to take classes such as micro, physio, biochem, and a few others to prepare for the med school courses. Each person takes what they may expect to have challenges with, that may offer a "heads up" for the more challenging med school course.
 
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mg2006

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LizzyM: You're right about the MCAT-- I see now that I misunderstood what the OHSU website was saying. :oops:

Here it what it says: "An eligible MCAT is one that is taken from one to three years prior to the year in which the applicant seeks matriculation to medical school. For the 2006 entering class, eligible MCAT scores are those recorded in 2003, 2004 or 2005. All decisions are based on an applicant's most recent eligible MCAT."

It makes sense to me now, but for some reason when I was reading it, I thought there had to be a one year gap between taking the test and applying. Oops!

Thanks for all of your thoughtful answers to my questions. :)

Sistahnik: My previous Biology courses were just intro classes- they were not the required "General Principles of Biology" courses. I have an appointment to speak with my adviser on Monday, so she will be able to give me more info on exactly what I need to take. I know that OHSU requires a Genetics course, which I will take, as well as a Biochemistry course.
Thank you for the advice! :)
 

mvenus929

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It should also be noted that starting in 2007 (January, in fact) there are more than 2 MCATs offered per year. I haven't looked at the list yet, but I'm pretty sure there's some offered in July, if you'd want that, and if you do want one in August, you can retake it later in 07, rather than waiting until April 08. Don't know if that helps you much, but I thought I should mention it. Personally, I'm going for the May 11th one, cause it'll be right after I finish O Chem II.

Edit: Got the list for 2007 off the AAMC website:

January 27 - Morning
January 29 - Afternoon
April 7 - Morning
April 12 - Afternoon
April 16 - Afternoon
May 11 - Afternoon
May 16 - Morning
May 25 - Morning
May 31 - Afternoon
June 15 - Morning / Afternoon
July 13 - Morning / Afternoon
July 24 - Afternoon
August 6 - Morning
August 9 - Morning / Afternoon
August 14 -Afternoon
August 16 -Morning
August 20 -Afternoon
September 7 - Afternoon
September 8 - Morning
 

LauraPaz

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On a somewhat different note (re: non-academic) I would think that the somewhat non-traditional route you have taken in reaching your decision to be pre-med would be a positive thing. Being a little older than the usual med school applicant pool, and having strong interests in a health-related area like healthcare policy shows (to me at least) that you've really thought a lot about what you want to do. I may be pulling this from no where, so everyone please feel free to correct me, but I would think adcoms would recognize and appreciate your drive to accomplish this.
 

modelslashactor

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you're absolutely right, Laura, they eat the non-trad stuff up. mg, I think you will do very well, especially if you play up the public health thing.
 
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mg2006

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mvenues929: Thank you so much for letting me know about the new MCAT schedule. :) It's great that they will be offering it so frequently next year. The September dates work out perfectly.

LauraPaz and modelslashactor: I'm glad that my health-related interests will help me out. My first degree, in Community Health, has really given me a great perspective on health and health care--beyond just the biological aspect of it. A lot of what I've learned with this degree is what has really motivated me to want to pursue an M.D.

Thanks everyone, for the input! :)