Is my GPA bad enough to give up research for a masters?

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Aug 2, 2020
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So I'm nearing the end of undergrad, graduating Spring 2021 with a BA in Biology. I have a really cool 1-2-year clinical research position with an NIH predoctoral fellowship in a lab I worked in Junior summer lined up before med school.
My issue is that it took me a couple of years to really get my head and heart in the game to preparing for medical school:

cGPA: 3.43 (upward trend, had a 3.89 this semester)
sGPA: 3.24
MCAT: 508 (retaking 1/2021, I really don't want to have to take it a 3rd time but will if necessary)
Research: 1,040h of basic lab science research, no pubs (yet, hopefully); 2 conference posters one of which led to a presentation award
Shadowing: 160h in a pathology/medical lab; I plan on getting more regardless of where I end up
Clinical volunteering: 75h in a rural hospital bringing comfort items (coloring books, stuffed animals, etc) to patients
Non-Clinical: Writing Tutor at my undergrad; member of a couple of singing groups on campus
I'm also a URM (Hispanic) and am fully bilingual if that helps

Onto my question, I was hoping to take the research position and use the time outside of lab to do more volunteering and shadowing.
However, I know that if my stats are low it won't matter how good the rest of my app is. If I try to do the masters to get higher grades in upper-level science courses, then I'd be missing out on a really cool research opportunity.
I want research to be a component of my medical career but at this point I just really want to go to medical school (trying to see if MD is still an option, I think I'm pretty ok in terms of potential DO minus the fact that I need to shadow a DO physician).
Are my stats low enough that I need to give up my research position and do a masters? Is doing a couple upper-level science courses in a DIY postbacc an acceptable option?
Would simultaneously doing a masters AND full-time research be a viable option?
Thank you in advance!
 
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deleted889094

You're definitely good for DO, I think. You could also potentially hit some lower MD's. I had a Hispanic friend with very similar GPA's (actually lower) do rather well, but he had a 515 and pretty cool EC's
 
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deleted1030321

Also, don't worry about your shadowing, you have plenty of hours (although it would be an excellent idea to shadow DOs since it would be wise for you to apply to DOs as well as MDs). You should get more clinical experience if that will be somehow possible for you during the pandemic.
 
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candbgirl

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Your clinical and nonclinical experiences are low. In fact you seem to have NO nonclinical volunteering. The purpose of nonclinical volunteering is to serve people less fortunate than yourself. You need to find activities that focus on the unserved/underserved in your community. Look for food banks, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, working with underprivileged kids, etc.. ADCOMS expect about 200+ hours in clinical experience (can be volunteer or paid) and 200+ hours in nonclinical VOLUNTEERING. You have more than enough shadowing but if you are applying DO find a DO to shadow (if you haven’t already done that.)
There is nothing on your application that says “I want to be a doctor”, rather your application screams LAB RAT.
I understand it’s exciting to work at NIH but maybe you should look at getting a PhD instead. You willl be asked why not a PhD? Why MD/DO? At some point you are going to have to answer those questions yourself. And if you really decide you can’t see yourself doing anything else but being a doctor, you are going to have to shift gears and build a med school application and not a graduate school application. As @Goro always says “med schools aren’t going anyplace” so go work at the NIH and see if that’s a better fit for you. You aren’t applying for several years. And why are you retaking the MCAT now? It will be expired by the time you are ready to apply.

And currently Masters grade do not help with a MD application but they do help with a DO application. Stats wise you are probably okay for DO schools but low for MD. What Hispanic group do you represent?
 
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Jun 5, 2020
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Interesting situation. I'm not an AdCom. I think your grades and MCAT score warrant some remediation but it's do-able if you take the required time and have some financial support. First, I'd be sure not to take the MCAT until your are consistently scoring several points above 508 and are very confident in your test taking. You could finish out this year doing your current research and then pass on the NIH fellowship and take a first gap year to do a post-bacc of some sort (2021-2022) to bring up your grades, especially your science gpa. While doing the post-bacc, work on your non-clinical volunteering and get service to the underserved as @candygirl notes. You could start this volunteering upon graduation as the pandemic eases. In summer of 2022, after completing post-bacc, study full-time for MCAT and take the exam in September 2022. At that point, you can start getting some substantial paid clinical experience and apply in May 2023 and continue clinical experience through the application cycle.

It's a long road, but you could potentially have a very strong application and with URM status, lots of opportunities for MD schools. You could limit to one gap year if you can do clinical work in parallel with post bacc and also find time to improve your MCAT.

If you want to go PhD, the NIH fellowship beckons. You have to decide. Good luck!
 
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shouldvestudied

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Would simultaneously doing a masters AND full-time research be a viable option?
What kind of masters program are you talking about? A standard MS in a field like Biology or a SMP?

I ask because if you enroll in a standard masters program you will be doing research as part of your masters. You will need to conduct original research and defend a thesis in order to receive your MS.
 
Aug 2, 2020
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Thank you so much to everyone for taking the time to respond and for your advice!

There is nothing on your application that says “I want to be a doctor”, rather your application screams LAB RAT.
I understand it’s exciting to work at NIH but maybe you should look at getting a PhD instead. You willl be asked why not a PhD? Why MD/DO?
That's definitely a massive issue with my application, although I have been able to get research over summers I have neglected the nonclinical volunteering aspect. I do have what amounts to 60 total hours of nonclinical volunteering doing a kind of volunteering service trip in my college's rural town plus some foodbank work, but definitely shy of the 200+ hours medical schools want to see.
I know that I want to be a physician as opposed to going to graduate school because I want to be on the front lines of care and actually implementing the discoveries that are made in labs, but the trick now is to actually make sure that my application actually reflects that. I also know that I want to have a research component in my career so it's good to have the training and publications, but I definitely see that it's not worth sacrificing other components of my application.

What Hispanic group do you represent?
I'm white Hispanic (born in Argentina) if that's what you're referring to.

You could finish out this year doing your current research and then pass on the NIH fellowship and take a first gap year to do a post-bacc of some sort (2021-2022) to bring up your grades
Something I was really hoping for was to be able to do all three: research, post-bacc, and volunteering. Not just because the research is a cool opportunity but also because I don't have the financial abilities to just take classes and volunteer, and I haven't heard of any post-baccs that are fully funded. I can see myself doing research and post-bacc while doing some kind of volunteer work for maybe 3-4 hours a week, that would amount to over the 200 hours medical schools want to see.

What kind of masters program are you talking about? A standard MS in a field like Biology or a SMP?
Most likely a masters in biomedical science or something along those lines, and if I did do that then I wouldn't take the NIH research fellowship position. I'm wary of SMPs because of how high-risk and expensive they are hence why I prefer the DIY post-bacc option.
 
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