It Can Be Done -- Non-Traditional Medical Student Success Stories

blee

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I meant to start this thread a few months ago, but better late than never. I wanted to share a quick summary of my story as a non-traditional applicant, in the hopes that those who are tentative or just starting their journeys might gain some insight into the process or at least be encouraged that success is within reach. I am neither the most successful nor the best qualified of the folks I've met here, though, so I'd like for all non-trad medical students to join in. If this thread becomes long/important enough, I'd like for it to become a sticky.

***

I was a so-so student in college, graduating with a computer science degree and a GPA of 2.75/BCPM 2.65 in 1999. I was actually a pre-med chemistry major for my first two years, then changed course after nearly failing honors orgo during my sophomore year. I got every possible grade at school, from A+ through F, except for C- and D-. While my then-girlfriend, now-wife graduated the following year cum laude, my diploma would more appropriately be subtitled "thank the laude."

Roughly three weeks into my new career as an IT consultant, I knew that I had made the wrong choice and that I needed to find a different way to make a living. Unfortunately, ennui and increasing comfort with my income caused me to make only halfhearted attempts for the following four years. I would consider business school, then stop to read up on law school, then stop to consider medicine briefly, and so on, never settling on or committing to any one course. Meanwhile, I grew ever more miserable. The bitterness I felt towards my job leaked into my personal life, eventually putting significant strain into my marriage. Yes, we had a DINK lifestyle, a nice new townhouse in the suburbs, and plans to get "the big house" and start our family in the near future. But I hated every minute I had to devote to my job. I hated getting up early, getting dressed, driving in, sitting down, working, driving home, and trying to relax afterwards. It wasn't working, no matter how much I thought I might make it work. I couldn't divorce myself from my work, and my work was turning me into a terrible person.

Enough was enough, and a series of very painful personal challenges finally convinced me that I had to make a change or just submit to being miserable forever. I finally listened to the voice inside my head that I should pursue medicine, a dream that I'd had for years. In college, I dismissed it as requiring too much work; as a consultant, I dismissed it because it would cut into my family schedule. But I realized that nothing else would do, that becoming a physician was the only thing that would make me comfortable with myself. That, I reasoned, was enough to give up a lot to make my dreams come true.

I quit my job two weeks shy of my fifth anniversary with the company and started a year of post-bacc courses. The post-bacc program director was actually unwilling to let me into the program at first, agreeing after some badgering to let me enter only if I managed to get A-s or higher in both summer sessions of gen chem. I got two As. In the school year that followed, I took orgo, bio, and physics simultaneously, earning As except for two A-s. I completed the program with a 3.93 GPA, having earned second honors and first honors in the fall and spring semesters. I took the April MCAT during that spring semester, getting a 37R -- 12 verbal, 13 physical, 12 bio.

I began the medical school application process during the summer of 2005. Out of 15 schools, I eventually received five interviews. Each one of them led to an acceptance offer. In just over a week, I will be starting orientation at the ******* School of Medicine.

To say that I was scared about starting this life-changing process would be a grave understatement. I was absolutely terrified about voluntarily giving up my salary, taking on significant debt, and sitting in class with over a hundred smart, motivated students all seven years younger than me. I had no idea how (or if) I would transition from employee to full-time student, and I honestly did not think that I would do all that well at first. Even if I managed to do well as a post-bacc, I didn't know how I would pull off the MCAT. Assuming I did well on the MCAT, I had no idea how my old GPA would affect the admissions process. I figured that if I managed to clear all of these hurdles, I would be lucky to hold one firm acceptance offer by April 2006. As it turned out, I had five by November.

I was scared, but I was also determined to make the most of the opportunity I'd given myself. I worked myself to the bone, applying myself much harder than I ever did in college. I was the dork in the third row with questions, I was the one who went to office hours every week. I was also the one who forged some personally rewarding relationships with my professors, which naturally led to some great referrals.

Ironically, I think the hardest part of my journey was, and will continue to be, balancing my academic workload with the rest of my life. I will be 29 this December, but I'm non-traditional in more than age. I'm married and I have a beautiful eight-month-old daughter. We've got a mortgage, a dog, two cars, bills, taxes, friends outside of school, and everything else you'd expect to find in a normal young family's life. I can't expect to make it through med school if I end up neglecting my family; at the same time, I can't expect to succeed if I don't continue to press my nose to the grindstone. In addition, the process of paring down my life and my family's life to one more affordable on loans has cost us a number of things. The material items that we would normally take for granted, the time that I normally would have had to help my wife and raise our children -- these things are being pinched, and these things matter a lot. I have absolute faith that we can make it through, but I wonder just how much I will have sacrificed at the end. Money is one thing, of course, but family is another and time is priceless.

It is with all of these doubts that I went through the process, and I expect to continually be challenged as I progress through my medical education. That's the rub of being non-traditional, I suppose. At the same time, I have managed to excel as a student and prove to myself that I do have what it takes to become a physician. I'm incredibly excited to be where I am today, and I can't recall a time when I was happier than I am now. I can't wait to don my white coat and show those 22-year-olds what these old bones are capable of doing!
 
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lpressley130

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blee said:
I meant to start this thread a few months ago, but better late than never. I wanted to share a quick summary of my story as a non-traditional applicant, in the hopes that those who are tentative or just starting their journeys might gain some insight into the process or at least be encouraged that success is within reach. I am neither the most successful nor the best qualified of the folks I've met here, though, so I'd like for all non-trad medical students to join in. If this thread becomes long/important enough, I'd like for it to become a sticky.QUOTE]

Thank you! Your story is very inspiring! Congratulations on your acceptance and good luck you and yours!
 

chocomorsel

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congrats, also think this is a very inspiring story. And trust me there's more like 25% of the class that's at least 25, so you will not be the only one. Trust me on this. More and more people are exploring life before medical school.
 
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pirata

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That IS a wonderful story...and old bones? I know lots older than you!

Seriously, thanks for sharing. Maybe in a year I can post my successful trek too. :)
 

lakeshow

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blee said:
I meant to start this thread a few months ago, but better late than never. I wanted to share a quick summary of my story as a non-traditional applicant, in the hopes that those who are tentative or just starting their journeys might gain some insight into the process or at least be encouraged that success is within reach. I am neither the most successful nor the best qualified of the folks I've met here, though, so I'd like for all non-trad medical students to join in. If this thread becomes long/important enough, I'd like for it to become a sticky.

***

I was a so-so student in college, graduating with a computer science degree and a GPA of 2.75/BCPM 2.65 in 1999. I was actually a pre-med chemistry major for my first two years, then changed course after nearly failing honors orgo during my sophomore year. I got every possible grade at school, from A+ through F, except for C- and D-. While my then-girlfriend, now-wife graduated the following year cum laude, my diploma would more appropriately be subtitled "thank the laude."

Roughly three weeks into my new career as an IT consultant, I knew that I had made the wrong choice and that I needed to find a different way to make a living. Unfortunately, ennui and increasing comfort with my income caused me to make only halfhearted attempts for the following four years. I would consider business school, then stop to read up on law school, then stop to consider medicine briefly, and so on, never settling on or committing to any one course. Meanwhile, I grew ever more miserable. The bitterness I felt towards my job leaked into my personal life, eventually putting significant strain into my marriage. Yes, we had a DINK lifestyle, a nice new townhouse in the suburbs, and plans to get "the big house" and start our family in the near future. But I hated every minute I had to devote to my job. I hated getting up early, getting dressed, driving in, sitting down, working, driving home, and trying to relax afterwards. It wasn't working, no matter how much I thought I might make it work. I couldn't divorce myself from my work, and my work was turning me into a terrible person.

Enough was enough, and a series of very painful personal challenges finally convinced me that I had to make a change or just submit to being miserable forever. I finally listened to the voice inside my head that I should pursue medicine, a dream that I'd had for years. In college, I dismissed it as requiring too much work; as a consultant, I dismissed it because it would cut into my family schedule. But I realized that nothing else would do, that becoming a physician was the only thing that would make me comfortable with myself. That, I reasoned, was enough to give up a lot to make my dreams come true.

I quit my job two weeks shy of my fifth anniversary with the company and started a year of post-bacc courses. The post-bacc program director was actually unwilling to let me into the program at first, agreeing after some badgering to let me enter only if I managed to get A-s or higher in both summer sessions of gen chem. I got two As. In the school year that followed, I took orgo, bio, and physics simultaneously, earning As except for two A-s. I completed the program with a 3.93 GPA, having earned second honors and first honors in the fall and spring semesters. I took the April MCAT during that spring semester, getting a 37R -- 12 verbal, 13 physical, 12 bio.

I began the medical school application process during the summer of 2005. Out of 15 schools, I eventually received five interviews. Each one of them led to an acceptance offer. In just over a week, I will be starting orientation at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

To say that I was scared about starting this life-changing process would be a grave understatement. I was absolutely terrified about voluntarily giving up my salary, taking on significant debt, and sitting in class with over a hundred smart, motivated students all seven years younger than me. I had no idea how (or if) I would transition from employee to full-time student, and I honestly did not think that I would do all that well at first. Even if I managed to do well as a post-bacc, I didn't know how I would pull off the MCAT. Assuming I did well on the MCAT, I had no idea how my old GPA would affect the admissions process. I figured that if I managed to clear all of these hurdles, I would be lucky to hold one firm acceptance offer by April 2006. As it turned out, I had five by November.

I was scared, but I was also determined to make the most of the opportunity I'd given myself. I worked myself to the bone, applying myself much harder than I ever did in college. I was the dork in the third row with questions, I was the one who went to office hours every week. I was also the one who forged some personally rewarding relationships with my professors, which naturally led to some great referrals.

Ironically, I think the hardest part of my journey was, and will continue to be, balancing my academic workload with the rest of my life. I will be 29 this December, but I'm non-traditional in more than age. I'm married and I have a beautiful eight-month-old daughter. We've got a mortgage, a dog, two cars, bills, taxes, friends outside of school, and everything else you'd expect to find in a normal young family's life. I can't expect to make it through med school if I end up neglecting my family; at the same time, I can't expect to succeed if I don't continue to press my nose to the grindstone. In addition, the process of paring down my life and my family's life to one more affordable on loans has cost us a number of things. The material items that we would normally take for granted, the time that I normally would have had to help my wife and raise our children -- these things are being pinched, and these things matter a lot. I have absolute faith that we can make it through, but I wonder just how much I will have sacrificed at the end. Money is one thing, of course, but family is another and time is priceless.

It is with all of these doubts that I went through the process, and I expect to continually be challenged as I progress through my medical education. That's the rub of being non-traditional, I suppose. At the same time, I have managed to excel as a student and prove to myself that I do have what it takes to become a physician. I'm incredibly excited to be where I am today, and I can't recall a time when I was happier than I am now. I can't wait to don my white coat and show those 22-year-olds what these old bones are capable of doing!
Very Inspriring. I am kind of going down the same route that you took. At this moment I am preparing for the MCAT in Jan and hopefully the results will be as promising. I will be 34 once I start med school so you are no old bones.
 
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BlakeTyger

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blee said:
I meant to start this thread a few months ago, but better late than never. I wanted to share a quick summary of my story as a non-traditional applicant, in the hopes that those who are tentative or just starting their journeys might gain some insight into the process or at least be encouraged that success is within reach. I am neither the most successful nor the best qualified of the folks I've met here, though, so I'd like for all non-trad medical students to join in. If this thread becomes long/important enough, I'd like for it to become a sticky.
Thanks again for another wonderful and inspiring post. I hope to start a 2-year post-bacc program next August (or even earlier than that) and hopefully start med school at age 26 or 27. It doesn't end up mattering what age we are when we are lucky enough to enter med school, what matters is that our passion and dedication will eventually earn us that white coat. Congrats to you on entering medical school soon...all the best! :) :thumbup:
 

tncekm

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Awesome story, blee! Glad to see you're doing what you truly want to do and I wish you and your family the best of luck during this endeavor :)
 

Playmakur42

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Congrats on your acceptance! It's nice to hear about a "non-trad" who has had success.
 

Velvette

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Thank you for the inspiration :) As an undergrad, my gpa isn't so hot and your story makes me confident in my journey.
 

tncekm

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And its just nice to hear somethign that sounds "real", ya know? You worked hard to overcome decisions you weren't happy with in the past and now you're living out a dream.

Not to go O/T, but I read so many bunk sounding threads/posts/mdapplicant profiles with kids with like 3.96 GPA and 3.91 BCPM wit a 37+ MCAT and they're saying: "ohh, I was rejected here...and here....and here..." I just don't see how that happens, honestly. If you're getting a 3.96 GPA and 3.91 BCPM and getting close to 40s on MCAT, I just don't see how you'd be getting rejected from hardly anywhere unless you can't speak without slurring and foaming on the interviewers desk.
 

QofQuimica

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tncekm said:
And its just nice to hear somethign that sounds "real", ya know? You worked hard to overcome decisions you weren't happy with in the past and now you're living out a dream.

Not to go O/T, but I read so many bunk sounding threads/posts/mdapplicant profiles with kids with like 3.96 GPA and 3.91 BCPM wit a 37+ MCAT and they're saying: "ohh, I was rejected here...and here....and here..." I just don't see how that happens, honestly. If you're getting a 3.96 GPA and 3.91 BCPM and getting close to 40s on MCAT, I just don't see how you'd be getting rejected from hardly anywhere unless you can't speak without slurring and foaming on the interviewers desk.
It happens because schools aren't only looking at grades and MCAT scores, and it doesn't necessarily mean that you communicate like a Neanderthal.

Great idea for a thread, Blee. :thumbup: I will have to post my story on here too, but not right now. :sleep:
 

trustwomen

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blee said:
I'd like for all non-trad medical students to join in.
I'm a sucker for entreaties, so I'll add my tale. I'll try to keep it short, I guess. (I may fail at that.) Hope this can encourage you to just keep on truckin', even if it seems foggy and futile and hopeless.

Graduated HS at 16, and had no idea what I wanted to do. I went to university, majoring in economics. I hated it, nearly flunked out, then switched to sociology and political science. I had no work habits and was "living life to the fullest". Managed to graduate (late) with a couple of BAs (it's just an extra year for the second one) but with a GPA of about 2.5 (maybe a bit less, I forget, but over 2). Didn't care at the time. Started a career as a counselor and social worker. Discovered my passion (women's health, specifically reproductive rights) and had a grand old time with activism and work. After a few years I realized what I really wanted to become, yada yada yada.

Took a few more years to finally decide to quit my clinic job and go back to school. This also involved going back home to Canada, trying to get my American SO to come with me (it worked - yay!) and basically start over, leaving behind great friends and some good, valuable, fulfilling work (both paid and volunteer). At first I thought that if I did the med school prereqs and the MCAT, and shone in both, I'd have no trouble getting in. So I found a full-time job and went to school part-time (as an independent student) for a year and a half. (There are no post-bacc type programs in Canada). Then I realized that my school would not let me take my bio prereqs without being in a bio program, so I joined one and started taking four classes/term instead of three. After another year, I did well on the MCAT, celebrated, thought that that was my ticket...

Then after some (long overdue) research it became clear that despite my 60-ish credits (equiv. of two years of full-time study), I'd have to finish another degree to be remotely competitive. Most schools would not count my part-time grades (for some, even semesters at "less than full course load", i.e. my 4 courses/term, were discounted despite being "technically" full-time). Many schools would just lump all my studies together despite the years in between, meaning no chance of making the GPA cutoffs. (Kicked myself for quite a while for those recent part-time studies, and for my youthful indolence.) I applied to three in-province schools anyway, and was turned down by all: "lumped" GPA failed to meet cutoff, and they failed to read or consider my weird circumstances. Even appealed one rejection - nada. Had excellent grades during all my recent studies, didn't matter. (The schools, being French, didn't look at my MCAT).

So I did another year, cutting work down to 30 hours/week and increasing to five classes. Applied more broadly this past year, 10 Canadian schools (out of 17 in the whole country, please note). Got refused at first cut by 9 of them (three of those weren't a surprise, anyway). Got ONE interview. (Happened to be my top choice school, and in my beloved city of residence!) They only used my current, bio degree's GPA... good, since my lumped GPA is only around a 3.0. So I stressed, joined SDN to get interview tips (and can't seem to stay off this particular pipe ever since), interviewed, stressed, wrote finals, and then on April 24... was accepted! Since that day, I graduated with my bio degree, took a trip, bought a home and a car, and I start school in a few weeks.

I turn 30 next Tuesday. I think if I were still in NYC and not pursuing my dream, I'd feel old or scared of that number. Now, instead, I'm just excited about the upcoming decade. Yes, I will be 10 years older than about a third of my classmates (and at least 5 years older than almost all the rest). But they were a really good, valuable 10 years for me. I've enjoyed my journey, and it's just starting to get REALLY interesting...

So don't give up. Don't think it's too big, or it's too far away, or it's too remote. Take it a year at a time and enjoy the journey - keep your quality of life up and make sure you're doing something fulfilling while you strive for this goal. Even if it takes you nearly four years, like me, it will still taste like strawberries and feel like rollercoasters and all kinds of pure unbridled joy all at once, on the day when you are accepted. And for many days after that...

All my best to everyone with a dream :D
 
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vtucci

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Turning 30 in August. Went to ivy undergrad and majored in history/polisci. Got a law degree and practiced in NYC. ABsolultely hated life during that time. Came over from the dark side and started a post-bac program at CCNY. Ended up with a 3.93 post-bac GPA and 29S MCAT. Had 11 interview invites and started yanking them due to $$$$ considerations. 3 acceptances and am a second year at USF COM.

We have a lot of non-trads and they are very friendly to us. I was also out of state when I applied.
 
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QofQuimica

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Great stories! :thumbup: Ok, here is mine.

********

I went to a very unusual liberal arts college with no grades, GPA, or credit hours. Many of the SDN regulars have already heard a little about this, but I'm just mentioning it again in case there is anyone left out there who doesn't know that. ;) While I was an UG, I thought about med school, and even took the MCAT, but my attempts to apply were pretty half-hearted. I only applied to three schools, and I did not make a significant effort to convince them that I really wanted to go to med school, which in retrospect was because I was not totally convinced of it myself. I wound up getting interviews to my two state schools (UF and USF; FSU didn't have a med school yet at the time), and from here I am not completely sure what happened....I thought I had been accepted to USF and waitlisted at UF, but REL from USF said that I had been waitlisted at USF, and the UF people did not have my records from a decade ago. So now I am not sure whether I was waitlisted at both, or whether I just got them backwards.

Be that as it may, what I am sure of is that I was engaged to my ex at the time, and I was also very interested in research. I had spent two years working in a plant pathology lab, and I had written a senior thesis. I had next to no clinical experience, and this was brought up to me at my interviews. I decided that the interviewers were probably right and that grad school was a more appropriate choice for me than med school. When my ex didn't get accepted to grad school anywhere in FL, but we both got accepted to grad school in AL, that made the decision easy.

I decided to go into organic chemistry, and it was a good match. I really enjoyed chemistry in college, and I continued to enjoy it in grad school. My first year, I found out about the existence of MD/PhD combined programs, and I tried to transfer into one. They interviewed me, but ultimately told me to finish my PhD first and then they would take me into the med school. That was my plan from then on. However, I ended up having to leave school early about 1.5 years away from finishing my PhD due to personal reasons. I did get my MS, and I moved back to FL and worked for a while at a few different jobs. But I felt bad about not having finished my degree, so I decided to go back to school here in FL. I graduated with my PhD in organic chemistry this past May.

While I was in grad school the second time, I spent quite a bit of time working with pre-meds. I taught them for the university, and also through Kaplan. Being around so many college students who wanted to go to med school made me think again about how I had wanted to go, too. I decided to study for and take the MCAT again, just to see if it would be reasonable for me to expect to be a competitive applicant, and in August 2004 I did that. I joined SDN in Oct. 2004 when scores came out, so many of you already know that I was shocked beyond my wildest dreams when my scores came back. I decided that I definitely would apply to med school at this point, and I wanted to get some more clinical experience. So I started working with a physician who, like me had earned his PhD and then gone back to get his MD. He is a world-wide expert on the disease that he studies, and I was a co-investigator and the project manager for his clinical trial for the last year and a half that I was in grad school.

Several of you went through the app process with me last year, and it was both hellish and gratifying by turns. I got very few lukewarm responses from schools; with few exceptions, they either absolutely loved me or they told me not to let the door hit me. Initially, the pre-secondary rejections were rolling in, and I thought I'd have to get a post-doc and go on with my life. I had already decided that if I didn't get in this year, I wasn't going to re-apply. I didn't hate chemistry, and I wasn't willing to go through this whole horrible process again. All of a sudden, though, things started to turn around. I wound up being granted secondaries and invited to interview at most of my schools after much petitioning on my part, and I was ultimately accepted at 12 of the 17 I attended. (I would have liked to attend the last couple too, but I was just running out of money, time, and energy at that point!). I am starting med school this summer on a full scholarship at a school that I really loved.

Applying to med school is amazingly stressful. It is a huge blow to your ego to try your best and be told that you're still not what Dream School X wants presumably because of things that happened a decade ago. (My initial top choice was the first school to reject me pre-secondary, and my second top choice after interviewing rejected me post-interview.) I would advise you all to apply with an open mind and attend every interview that you can afford, because you really can't know until you get there whether a school lives up to the hype on paper. There were some schools that I loved and didn't expect to love at all, and others that I thought I'd love and decided were definitely not the right school for me. Best of :luck: to all of the current applicants. :)
 

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I love the stories - it's so amazing to see people work so hard and succeed, and I hope that you will all be rewarded by finding the study of medicine to be all that you had idealistically envisioned.

I'm 30 in Sept. and just started my MSIII year. After hearing other peoples' stories I don't know what it was that made the universe smile upon me. I was a talent agent assistant in Hollywood after getting a BA in sociology (and after dropping out of college the first time at 18) when I realized that I would only be happy if I acknowledged this inner voice telling me to try for med school. I hadn't taken a science class since high school really and was pretty average at it back then, so I took a really long time slowly collecting my pre-reqs, volunteering, working a little bit, but mostly just studying, and not even getting the best grades or MCAT score despite it. I guess my message would be that no matter how unlikely a candidate you are, if you believe that your purpose in life is to practice medicine and you really put your mind to it, you can make it.

I suppose my history might put me at risk for not doing so fabulous in med school since it's so much more rigorous than anything I'd done in preparation for it, but I'm holding my own, not the best student ever but far from the worst. Comfortably average, excelling on my first rotation, and I passed the boards with no problems! It all feels so "Oprah" to me, to answer the universe's call to you and humbly work towards it no matter how hard it gets at times. Good luck to everyone, you can achieve if you believe!

Ok, back to reading up on asthma treatment guidelines. :oops:
 

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More non trad success stories, please :) These are great, very inspiration to people like me who are hoping that our long and winding path will eventually lead us to medical school. I hope someday I can tell my own success story :D
 

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Thanks for starting this thread - it makes me feel like I'm not alone in starting down this road so late in life!

Here's my story...

I'm 44 and starting medical school in August. My background is as a classical musician (bachelor's and master's) and an engineer (BSEE in between the music degrees). I've wanted to be a doctor off and on since high school and never felt ready until two years ago. So, I started a post-bacc, took the MCAT, and applied to a pile of schools. It's been a wild ride. Courage to all of you who are now traveling this path. You can do it!
 

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QofQuimica said:
Great stories! :thumbup: Ok, here is mine.

********

I wound up being granted secondaries and invited to interview at most of my schools after much petitioning on my part,

Thanks for your story Q. Could you elaborate on what you did to "petition" your schools into getting an interview? I'd like to do this but I'm not sure how it works (LOI etc. tend to come after the interview). :confused:
 

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MiesVanDerMom said:
Thanks for your story Q. Could you elaborate on what you did to "petition" your schools into getting an interview? I'd like to do this but I'm not sure how it works (LOI etc. tend to come after the interview). :confused:
I guess I should clarify; I was really petitioning to get secondaries and not interviews. I had to ask a lot of schools to make exceptions to their requirements because my pre-reqs were ungraded, they were more than ten years old, etc. There were several schools that did not initially want to send me secondaries because I had no GPA and they screened at least in part based on GPA. I had to call them and write to them, plus photocopy my narrative evaluations and send those to them in order to get some of the secondaries. A couple of schools also insisted that I sent my UG transcripts directly to them before they'd consider me. And then there were a couple that still rejected me presecondary anyway in spite of my best attempts to plead my case.

Usually, the secondary hurdle was the sticking point for me; once the schools agreed to give me a secondary, most of them ultimately interviewed me. There were only two that rejected me post-secondary. That being said, not all of those interviews came quickly or easily. I know that you're waiting on Pitt in particular, so I want to tell you not to be too discouraged yet, because it might take them several months to get around to inviting you. I went on my last interviews in late Jan. even though I submitted AMCAS on June 1 and I had submitted all of my secondaries by September (except Pitt, ironically, because I didn't add them until later. :oops: ). There were a few schools that left me hanging for three or four months before deciding to send me an invite.

Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do at this point to force their hand; they have all the control, and you just have to wait for them to make up their minds. It sucks to be in that position, and I completely commiserate with you. The best advice I can give you is to prepare for the worst, but don't give up yet, because it's way too early to conclude that things won't turn around. Things seemed so bad to me that I was starting to look for post docs at this time last year....but then all of a sudden the invites started coming in, and then the acceptances started coming, too. :luck: to you. :)
 

CCEVJG

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great stories. love to hear them!! just turned 34 a few weeks ago. in the process of withdrawing my app b/c my practice mcats suck. haven't officially done it yet though :oops:

hopefully i'll have a success story soon. keep em coming :thumbup:
 

LadyWolverine

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I recently turned 27, and I start orientation next week.

I was a CMB major who didn't know what route to take after college...MD? PhD? Something else entirely? I was very unhappy because, for the first time in my life, I had no idea where I was going, or what I wanted to do. I don't know how to explain the way I felt...everything in my life just felt stale and dead-end. I wanted a chance to start over. So, I decided to take the all-or-nothing tack, and went way outside my comfort zone. I finished my BS (with a 3.5 cumulative GPA) and research project, said good-bye to both Ann Arbor and the East Coast, ended a 4-year relationship that, had I remained, would have resulted in marriage, moved to Seattle where I knew almost no one, and started over with no clear plan or identity. And, for the first few weeks, I wasn't quite sure that I would make it.

I took baby steps at first - found a job at UW, rented the perfect apartment on Alki Beach, fell in with a great group of friends. Pretty soon, the gaps started filling themselves in, and I discovered more and more who I was and what I wanted out of life. It was scary but refreshing to be so independent - I had to go to work every day, manage my time well, set a budget, pay my own bills...but I also had plenty of time to do what I loved, energy to go out with friends, and money to travel and buy what I wanted. And I had a lot of time to try new things. I've tried on so many hats over the past few years - scientist, volunteer, ski bum, party girl, grad student, paralegal...I know that I haven't done it all, but I *feel* like I've done a lot. And, so far, my life has been one adventure after another. All it took was that initial step.

Whatever I was missing during that slump during my senior year of college, I got back, tenfold. I know who I am and where I'm going, I have an idea of what I want to do, and, most importantly, I have no doubts that I'm doing the right thing, FOR ME. Looking back, there were many moments of doubt, but had I stayed in my "comfort zone," I don't think I would have grown as much as I have. I would have gotten married far too young (for me), not experienced living on my own and working in a brand-new city, and probably not have challenged myself as much as I did. I've found a confidence now that I never knew I had before. And I think it showed when I applied this time - I was blessed enough to be accepted at several good schools.

Sometimes I think that many of my classmates will be too young, and I won't be able to relate to them. But then I remember that each of us is an individual, and we all take our own time to grow and mature. I wouldn't have been ready for medical school at 22 - I had too much to get out of my system. That doesn't mean that another person can't be ready at that age. Personally, though, I don't think I would have done it any other way. I find other "non-trads" to be exciting, insightful people who have the same zest for life that I do. I can't wait to start the next adventure!!

It may have taken us a little longer to get here...but we've earned it. Good luck to my fellow non-trads - don't lose that spark!! :luck:
 

ImRizing

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Goes without saying how inspiring all of your stories are.
For me its daunting to say the least, I'm 25 right now and I start at NOVA ( community college) this spring. Luckily they have this agreement with UVA and W&M that guarantees admission as a transfer if you do well. God knows that is the only shot I have of getting into a good school.
So I'll be almost hiting 30 when I start med school, wow that sounds really scary to me. Looking at how my friends are doing so well right now and I will still be grinding 8 yrs from now.

If there are any other stories out there, and I'm sure there are plenty, please post and help out us newbies...
 

Brickhouse

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LadyWolverine said:
I recently turned 27, and I start orientation next week.
Sometimes I think that many of my classmates will be too young, and I won't be able to relate to them. But then I remember that each of us is an individual, and we all take our own time to grow and mature. I wouldn't have been ready for medical school at 22 - I had too much to get out of my system. That doesn't mean that another person can't be ready at that age. Personally, though, I don't think I would have done it any other way. I find other "non-trads" to be exciting, insightful people who have the same zest for life that I do. I can't wait to start the next adventure!!:luck:
Girl you totally remind me of myself - I started med school at 27 and had much the same thought process - I had the opportunity to settle into a 9-5 job and marry at 25 - I ran away from it because I knew it was not "comfort" that would get me where I needed to be. If I'm not being challenged, I feel dead.
I was also afraid that I wouldn't relate to my classmates but I was pleasantly surprised, there were tons of non-trads, and I realized that being younger than I doesn't mean they won't relate to me. Everyone matures at a different rate and I'm at peace with being a late bloomer. Like you, I felt I saw enough of life to know that this is where I'm meant to be. I'm curious to see how things go for you! Congratulations!
 
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MollyMalone

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I'll add my story, too.

I always thought I'd be an English professor. I dedicated my whole high school career to arts and humanities -- exited the math and science tracks early to take more foreign languages and music classes. I started college at a small LAC as a double major in English and drama. College was a real disappointment to me. Somehow I'd thought that in college everyone would care about their classes and what they were learning. (Yeah. Don't ask me where I got that idea from.) I soon realized that I wouldn't be happy cramming the classics down the throats of undergrads. I explored some of the other options -- editing, research, writing -- and none of them really floated my boat. I was totally lost on what I wanted to do with my life.

With some concurrent personal issues, this created a perfect storm and I dropped out. I was looking for a job that made more than minimum wage that I could do while I figured out what my next step was, and my aunt recommended that I be a nursing assistant. I'd worked in the kitchen of a nursing home in high school and I knew that I enjoyed working with the elderly so I figured I might as well go for it -- a quick class and I'd be making some decent cash.

I didn't expect to love it but I did. Suddenly, instead of exploring degrees in linguistics or Japanese or what have you, I was looking at health care. Due to more personal issues (marriage and divorce), I didn't return to school for another few years and, when I did, it was to nursing school. I did consider med school at the time, but I was broke and frightened of the prereqs. The hospital where I worked would pay for a two-year nursing program for me, so I figured that if I wanted more, I could always do a nurse practitioner, CRNA, or midwife program after that.

In nursing school I loved the science and hated the nursing theory. My non-nursing instructors in A&P and micro both independently pulled me aside and asked me why I wasn't trying for medical school, which kept resurrecting the idea in my head. When I graduated, I decided I would practice for a few years to get a better idea of where I wanted to go in the future and to save up some money to get there. I really enjoyed many aspects of floor nursing but I knew it wasn't a forever thing for me. After interacting with all sorts of professionals, I finally decided that medicine was where I wanted to be, and I started taking the prereqs. Because I did not have a bachelor's, I needed to pick up one of those as well, so I finished my English degree alongside taking Bio, Chem, OChem, Physics, etc. (I basically had to start the prereqs from even before the beginning -- I had to take college algebra and trig before I could take intro bio and chem).

So now, 13 years after I dropped out of college, I'm starting medical school in September. :)

I had heard a lot before I started the application process that there is a bias against nurses in med school admissions. I never got any sense of that in my interviews or conversations with admissions staff. I was very happy with the results of my application -- I got a very early acceptance to my state school which allowed me to save some money by withdrawing my application at most other places, and so I only attended four more interviews, which resulted in another acceptance at a top 20 school and two waitlists at top 10 schools. I mention this just to encourage other non-trads and especially other nurses to aim high!
 
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RxnMan

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I'll post mine, which has been mostly available via MDApps. For those who wish to be bored:

I graduated a private, LAC-prep high school at the age of sixteen. My mother was diagnosed with cancer 3 days before I graduated. I didn't know at the time, but she was told she had 6 months to two years to live. When my dad was away at work, I was primary caregiver for her first round of chemo that summer. It was brutal, and I RAN to college.

I had already decided to become and engineer, like my father. I had an idea of becoming a doc at that time, but it was on the order of a kid wanting to be an astronaut - unformed at best.

So, as she went through rounds of chemo and surgery, I became less and less interested in school. I got to partying too hard and I got caught with alcohol by the police (I was 19 at the time,) and sent to court. I participated in a counseling program so that the misdemeanor would be expunged. During counseling sessions it became apparent that the partying was a symptom of depression. I started seeing a counselor weekly.

During this time my grades slipped more and more. Finally, the semester after my mom died, I earned a stunning 0.7 GPA. I was given a mandatory leave of absence. I was 20.

I didn't know what to do with myself. I knew I needed a change. I happened to get a research assisstant job at the local med school, working under a doc. I got to shadowing him and I watched him round. I decided that I loved the medical research, but I wanted to see if being a doc was for me. I had to know, as definitively as possible, if medicine was for me, BEFORE I commited to it. I decided to volunteer at the local level-one ER. That sort of place polarizes you - you either love it or hate it. I would know if med research (and a PhD) was in my future, or medicine.

I loved it.

The traumas, the people, the action, the procedures - I loved it all. Every day I volunteered served to boost me up - I was on the right path, and gave me the energy to press on.

The next semester I re-entered engineering school, earning a 3.5 GPA and takig my prereqs at night. Weekends were taken up with volunteering at the ER (Saturdays, 7pm-3am). My school doesn't offer pre-md advising, so I applied the first time without any academic support (and I paid for all my apps out-of-pocket). I took the MCAT and did well. I was rejected from all 20 places.

I knew my grades (now a 2.4, up from 1.7 when I left school,) were the problem, so I went to grad school. I took classes full time and did a medically-related thesis project, and I taught O-chem and gen chem (classes I earned "D's" in). During this time I took the MCAT over, did better, and re-applied, but was rejected again. I did get one interview, so I knew I was on the right track.

Later I funded my education with an engineering job at the local children's hospital. I did a bunch of research there and got published. This last year, I applied to 27 schools, got two interviews, and one acceptance. I am now 25.

Yes, putting yourself out there again and again hurts like hell. It is hard to do so, but you can come back from a low GPA. Dream big, but be sure of your convictions, so that you can weather the nay-sayers and have the will to overcome the hard work before you.
 

chocomorsel

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Great stories people. I am addicted to this forum. Anyhow, here's my story.
I graduated at 17 and joined the Army reserves. I always wanted to be a doctor but neither I nor my parents had the funding to put me thru school. So when the Army came knocking on my door and offered me free training to be an LVN, I jumped right in.
I was gone for two years, came back home took my LVN license exam, and started working parttime and going to school full time. 18 months later I earned an associates degree from community college and then went on to 4 year college. I was trying to earn a bachelors in bio and was going to Universtiy of North Texas in Dallas. Then I talked to one of the english professors asking him to proofread my essay that I was going to submit to UNT and he talked me into going into Baylor, because soo many more applicants get accepted to medical school than from UNT. So I went to Baylor in the spring semester, hated it, and realized it was a complete waste of financial aid. I could earn a bio degree from a state school for way cheaper. So I transferred after one semester to UT San Antonio to continue taking my pre-reqs. I had a hard time, and realized that I needed a back up plan just in case I couldn't get into medical school. So I changed major to Nursing and decided to get my BSN. Two years later, I finished my bachelors of science in nursing at the age of 24. I graduated summa cum laude with a 3.85 GPA and 3.2 or so science GPA.
I took on a full time job and finished the few pre-med classes that I hadn't finished yet. The summer of 04 I took the Kaplan review for the MCAT while working full time (36 hrs). I struggled in there. On my practice tests I never got above a 20. At the same time I was working on my applications and personal statement but after getting dissapointing MCAT mocks, I held off completing and submitting everything, even though they were pretty much ready to go by the end of july. I took the Aug MCAT, felt horribly about it, but promised myself that if I got above a 20, I would submit my application. I honestly had resigned to re-applying the next year. Awaited the results, and when they came back in I had a 21. Not too hot, but I kept the promise to myself. I applied to 4 schools in TX, the only ones that didn't require secondaries, and the DO school. It was mid october by this time and I didn't have time to start writing essays. So anyway, didn't finish the secondary for the DO school so of course didn't get in there.
By december I figured nothing was gonna happen so I kept on about my business working and hanging out. Then got a call from my current school for a last minute interview. Someone else had cancelled on them, and now they had a slot for me. I drove down that next night with my best friend, (Luckily I was off from work) and interviewed the last day of interviews on December 12th. My first went great, but my second I figure I'd pretty much blown. So I figured I didn't get in.
But by God's grace, I got in to this one school. What a long shot. My story is actually one of those that doesn't happen frequently but God is Good. I should thank him more, especially after reading about other's dissappointments. But I told myself that I would give it three tries and that was it. Luckily all it took was one. I know, I know, how the heck did I get in with a 21MCAT? Luckily, I had a great background, military and healthcare experience, good total GPA'S, and I'm a minority. I'm not blind to the whole AA thing, I definetly appreciate it. I just want to say that I am blessed. I'm now 27 and in my third year, and getting closer and closer to my goal. Sure I'm not at the top of my class, but I managed to stay in the middle third, did ok, on Step 1 and am trucking right along. And sure I took the scenic route, but I am eventually gonna get there. Go Non-Trads. You can do it. :love:
 
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CCEVJG

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MollyMalone said:
In nursing school I loved the science and hated the nursing theory.

I had heard a lot before I started the application process that there is a bias against nurses in med school admissions. I never got any sense of that in my interviews or conversations with admissions staff. I was very happy with the results of my application -- I got a very early acceptance to my state school which allowed me to save some money by withdrawing my application at most other places, and so I only attended four more interviews, which resulted in another acceptance at a top 20 school and two waitlists at top 10 schools. I mention this just to encourage other non-trads and especially other nurses to aim high!

I totally hear you on the nursing theroy. Drove me nuts to the point were it affected my grades. Good to hear from a fellow nurse and see that there's hope! Thanks. :thumbup:
 

CCEVJG

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chocomorsel said:
So I changed major to Nursing and decided to get my BSN. Two years later, I finished my bachelors of science in nursing at the age of 24. I graduated summa cum laude with a 3.85 GPA and 3.2 or so science GPA.
Awaited the results, and when they came back in I had a 21. Not too hot, but I kept the promise to myself. I applied to 4 schools in TX, the only ones that didn't require secondaries, and the DO school. It was mid october by this time and I didn't have time to start writing essays. So anyway, didn't finish the secondary for the DO school so of course didn't get in there.
By december I figured nothing was gonna happen so I kept on about my business working and hanging out. Then got a call from my current school for a last minute interview. Someone else had cancelled on them, and now they had a slot for me. I drove down that next night with my best friend, (Luckily I was off from work) and interviewed the last day of interviews on December 12th. My first went great, but my second I figure I'd pretty much blown. So I figured I didn't get in.
But by God's grace, I got in to this one school. What a long shot. My story is actually one of those that doesn't happen frequently but God is Good. I should thank him more, especially after reading about other's dissappointments. But I told myself that I would give it three tries and that was it. Luckily all it took was one. I know, I know, how the heck did I get in with a 21MCAT? Luckily, I had a great background, military and healthcare experience, good total GPA'S, and I'm a minority. I'm not blind to the whole AA thing, I definetly appreciate it. I just want to say that I am blessed. I'm now 27 and in my third year, and getting closer and closer to my goal. Sure I'm not at the top of my class, but I managed to stay in the middle third, did ok, on Step 1 and am trucking right along. And sure I took the scenic route, but I am eventually gonna get there. Go Non-Trads. You can do it. :love:

Yet another great story! 21 MCAT...wow...there's hope for me yet! :rolleyes:
 
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blee

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I'm glad to see so many people contributing. :) We really do come from some varied paths!
 

keitaiKT

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Congratulations to all of you! It's great reading all these stories from fellow inspirational non-trads. I'll go ahead and add my story to the rest.

Growing up I had always toyed with the idea of becoming a doctor, and did great in biology my freshman year of high school. However, my sophomore year I transferred to a private school, where the classes were much tougher, and did only mediocre in my science classes for the rest of my high school career. Convinced that I wasn't smart enough to do well in science, I gave up my dreams of becoming a doctor and picked a major in Japanese (a language I had studied in high school and enjoyed).

After graduation, I spent a year in Japan teaching English and translating, and decided that it wasn't for me. I then decided to get a masters degree in political science, since that was another field that I had found interesting and would still be compatible with my undergrad major. However, after a year of studying politics, I again realized I had hit a dead-end. No career involving political science really seemed to interest me.

At this point I was completely lost. I had little interest in the fields I was qualified to work in, and didn't have the slightest idea of what to do instead. After a year of working in a completely unsatisfying job, I realized that I had to figure out what I really wanted or I would be miserable the rest of my life. Since I had nothing to lose as far as my career was concerned anyway, I allowed myself to return to my original desire to become a doctor. I decided that if I could learn Japanese, live in a foreign country by myself, and get a masters in political science, I could probably take a few college level science classes. So I enrolled in a post-bac program, took all the prerequisites for medical school, and never got lower than an A- in any of them. I took the MCAT, got a 32, volunteered at the local hospital, forged some great relationships with my professors, worked at a private clinic as a receptionist, and in general threw myself into the task of getting into medical school. Out of the 16 places I applied to, I received interviews at 8, accepted 6 of them, and received 4 offers of admission.

Now, at the age of 28, I am about to start medical school. I can't believe that my childhood dream is about to be realized. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night in complete disbelief that I am doing this - it was such a complete and total turn around from what I was doing before. Yet I can't remember a time when I have been happier about where my life is headed than I am now.

No matter what age you are, what career (or lackthereof) that you had before, or what doubts you have as to your ability to succeed in medicine, the dream is possible if you work hard enough. Good luck to everyone still trying to achieve their dreams!
 
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Jaylee

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blee said:
I meant to start this thread a few months ago, but better late than never. I wanted to share a quick summary of my story as a non-traditional applicant, in the hopes that those who are tentative or just starting their journeys might gain some insight into the process or at least be encouraged that success is within reach. I am neither the most successful nor the best qualified of the folks I've met here, though, so I'd like for all non-trad medical students to join in. If this thread becomes long/important enough, I'd like for it to become a sticky.

******

Wow, that is truly a inspiring story, I was kind of losing hope but thanks to you I feel better now. Congratulations on everything.
 

cyperalz

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You guys are def inspirational. I think many students mistakenly succumb to the idea of a not being "good enough" for med school (for various reasons). And this lack of confidence causes students to lose sight of their future and to just float around.

Honestly, at the end of the day, every profession takes hard work and guts, whether it's a physician, reporter, banker, or even a cars salesman. But hard work and guts will only continue with passion. So if you are sincerely passionate about being a physician, loose the fear, be firm with your aspirations, have immense patience (bc admission can take years and may attempts), and work towards med school. If you keep at, your passion and efforts will eventually prevail. Now, if you're not sure about medical school, volunteer at hospital, shadow med students/docs, and research what it means to be a doctor.

My main point is: Whatever it is that you do in life, do something that gives your life meaning and joy. We get one chance at life, so live it to the fullest—REALLY!!! If you're already passed 50, know that you still have a chance! I know someone over 50 who recently started med school and has no regrets!!

Good luck to the non-trads… and please keep me in your prayers. I'm starting MPH at Columbia this Fall (interest in Disaster Relief, nutrition, or maternal and child health… who knows!), and may even pair that with a MD. I know it'll be an amazing ride no matter what I do bc I'm pursuing my love, public health (which conveniently also has job and financial stability :thumbup: ).
 

mich79

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chocomorsel said:
Great stories people. I am addicted to this forum. Anyhow, here's my story.
I graduated at 17 and joined the Army reserves. I always wanted to be a doctor but neither I nor my parents had the funding to put me thru school. So when the Army came knocking on my door and offered me free training to be an LVN, I jumped right in.
I was gone for two years, came back home took my LVN license exam, and started working parttime and going to school full time. 18 months later I earned an associates degree from community college and then went on to 4 year college. I was trying to earn a bachelors in bio and was going to Universtiy of North Texas in Dallas. Then I talked to one of the english professors asking him to proofread my essay that I was going to submit to UNT and he talked me into going into Baylor, because soo many more applicants get accepted to medical school than from UNT. So I went to Baylor in the spring semester, hated it, and realized it was a complete waste of financial aid. I could earn a bio degree from a state school for way cheaper. So I transferred after one semester to UT San Antonio to continue taking my pre-reqs. I had a hard time, and realized that I needed a back up plan just in case I couldn't get into medical school. So I changed major to Nursing and decided to get my BSN. Two years later, I finished my bachelors of science in nursing at the age of 24. I graduated summa cum laude with a 3.85 GPA and 3.2 or so science GPA.
I took on a full time job and finished the few pre-med classes that I hadn't finished yet. The summer of 04 I took the Kaplan review for the MCAT while working full time (36 hrs). I struggled in there. On my practice tests I never got above a 20. At the same time I was working on my applications and personal statement but after getting dissapointing MCAT mocks, I held off completing and submitting everything, even though they were pretty much ready to go by the end of july. I took the Aug MCAT, felt horribly about it, but promised myself that if I got above a 20, I would submit my application. I honestly had resigned to re-applying the next year. Awaited the results, and when they came back in I had a 21. Not too hot, but I kept the promise to myself. I applied to 4 schools in TX, the only ones that didn't require secondaries, and the DO school. It was mid october by this time and I didn't have time to start writing essays. So anyway, didn't finish the secondary for the DO school so of course didn't get in there.
By december I figured nothing was gonna happen so I kept on about my business working and hanging out. Then got a call from my current school for a last minute interview. Someone else had cancelled on them, and now they had a slot for me. I drove down that next night with my best friend, (Luckily I was off from work) and interviewed the last day of interviews on December 12th. My first went great, but my second I figure I'd pretty much blown. So I figured I didn't get in.
But by God's grace, I got in to this one school. What a long shot. My story is actually one of those that doesn't happen frequently but God is Good. I should thank him more, especially after reading about other's dissappointments. But I told myself that I would give it three tries and that was it. Luckily all it took was one. I know, I know, how the heck did I get in with a 21MCAT? Luckily, I had a great background, military and healthcare experience, good total GPA'S, and I'm a minority. I'm not blind to the whole AA thing, I definetly appreciate it. I just want to say that I am blessed. I'm now 27 and in my third year, and getting closer and closer to my goal. Sure I'm not at the top of my class, but I managed to stay in the middle third, did ok, on Step 1 and am trucking right along. And sure I took the scenic route, but I am eventually gonna get there. Go Non-Trads. You can do it. :love:
All of the stories are very inspirational. Reading the various posts gives me hope. I have actually put into practice some ideas/approach. I haave found majorityof the info to be helpful.

Believe when say that as a non trad others sometimes dont see our need or passion to achieve the goal of becoming a physician. there will be nay sayers telling you to do something else, something that requires less time effort and debt. But little do they realise that all those others things will not provide the level of fullfillment that will will get from having outr dreams come true. It can also be heart breaking especially when your parents whom you would have hoped could see that dream with you, suggests doing somethng else.

Keep posting positive words. We need all the encouragement we can get. Good luck to all as you embark on a great journey.
 
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Ebete

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CCEVJG said:
great stories. love to hear them!! just turned 34 a few weeks ago. in the process of withdrawing my app b/c my practice mcats suck. haven't officially done it yet though :oops:

hopefully i'll have a success story soon. keep em coming :thumbup:
Same here. I'm 32 and also had to withdraw my applications...now back to MCAT studies :( I'm so sad.

Thank God for this tread...thanks Blee!
 
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blee

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Ebete said:
Same here. I'm 32 and also had to withdraw my applications...now back to MCAT studies :( I'm so sad.

Thank God for this tread...thanks Blee!
I'm glad to have helped. :)

We all run into snags in this process for various reasons, ranging from grades to family matters. There were many, many times when I thought I'd reached a dead end, only to find out that I had hit something more like a speed bump. When things looked really bad, it might have taken a day or two of doing something completely different before I found a solution or workaround. I guess it's important to keep in mind that most issues can be solved with a little patience and creativity.
 

NonTradMed

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Well, my story isn't quite as dramatic as some on these boards. However, I guess it's worth sharing.

I attended a selective college where I busted my ass trying to do well, but felt I was barely keeping my head above water. I was premed and engineering, two of the most difficult options at my school. Hindsight tells me that I bit off more than I could chew with my crazy schedule. High school was relatively easy for me and I assumed college would be as well.....arrogance on my part.

I finished all my premed stuff, even took the MCAT, but my score wasn't all that good, and I knew I would need to retake plus get my computer science requirements in in order to graduate on time. I was exhuasted by that time and couldn't imagine another killer year. So I dropped premed.

However, here is where I made my second mistake.

My Chinese parents impressed upon me the importance of grad degree in today's economy. I was also told the importance of finishing my education before working because taking a 'break' from school was equivalent to quitting school (b/c once you quit, you won't want to go back). Graduating with only a BS just seemed wrong.

The economy was hot (2001) and I had interviews at several large firms, but I was convinced by my fellow engineering students and adviser to stay another year and finish up with a MS as well (since my scholarship covered the cost and it was only a year program). The next year, I graduated and found a job at an IT firm and was moderately happy to be getting $50/yr in a cheap city.

However, throughout all this, I felt displaced. All my academic life, I was focused on med school, I couldn't imagine what else I would do. I also felt a hidden jealousy for students who were premed for doing something they liked and had a clearly defined path to follow. However, every time I thought about med school, I remembered how horrible my premed years were. Besides, I told myself, it was kind of late to be having second thoughts.

My first six month at work was great. For the first time, I had a chance to really have fun. I had so much free time and money to burn. I went out with friends to bars and clubs. My weekends were so full I barely had time to sleep before I was dragged out again. The IT company was filled with fresh college grads. It was like being in college with a bunch of rich kids minus the exams and studying.

But after a while, the partying got old. I realized it was kind of meaningless. I asked myself, "Is this it?".

I kept on thinking about my college friends who were all in grad/med school, they seemed to all have purpose in life. And here I was, stuck in dilbert land.

I started strategizing. I made a timeline to figure out when I should apply to grad school of some kind. Like a lot of ambitious kids who dont' know what to do, I thought about law school.

Here, I almost made my third mistake. I seriously considered law school, even so far as to start studying for the LSAT. After speaking with some lawyers and after doing my own research, I realized I was making a common mistake of many law students: I didn't know what else to do and law school seemed like a good way to 'do something ambitious' while delaying the real world.

My mind kept on wandering back to what it would be like to do medicine. I started shadowing at a local childrens hospital. I bought a copy of Kaplan MCAT book to see if I could stand to look at chemistry again. I no longer felt that dread about studying premed anymore. I made a mistake in quitting premed so early and began setting up a plan of attack. Since my MCAT score expired, first thing was to focus on the that.

It was tough. I worked 45-50 hours a week and after 9 hours of coding, the last thing I wanted to do is to study. However, that's what I did. I learned to manage my time. I spent my 'breaks' doing chores around the house. I planned my meals on the weekends so I could get a hot meal within ten minutes of walking through the door after work. I had a tight schedule to follow. I spent my 'nights out' getting groceries instead of partying.

I told almost no one what I was doing. However, for the first time since I quit premed, I felt purpose in what I did. The reasons I wanted to med school stayed with me, but now I also felt a focus that I lost somewhere during college.

However, my nerves got the better of me and I psyched myself into a frenzy and did poorly on the MCAT. I knew my chances of getting in dramatically decreased without a competitive MCAT score. By that time as well, I knew my job was hanging by a thread. I put in minimal effort at work. I came to hate my job so much I think I was subconsciously sabatoging myself. I wanted to quit my job so I could focus fulltime on getting into med school.

Coincidently, when it looked like I would be let go, I was offered a higher paying job as a IT consultant in one of the 'Big Four' in a major city.

If I was a religious person, I would take this as God's way of testing my commitment to medicine: the plump position offered to me as a test of my fortitude. Shall I continue on my career course and take this step up to a better job (higher salary, promotion, better city, with chances to travel to San Fran evey week)? Or should I quit and focus on my goal of medicine, with no guarantee of a happy outcome (Ok, that's not completely right.....I knew my score was competitive for DO schools, and there was always the Carribean option)?

So there wasn't much debate when I refused the offer of a better job. The axe came shortly after my August MCAT score came back and my boss uneasily said I would be asked to leave the company. He was relieved when I said I already planned on attending med school. I had already decided for myself that if my August MCAT score was too low, I would definitely quit to focus fulltime on the MCAT.

People at work was incredulous that I would quit my job and refuse another with no guarantee of a med school acceptance. But I realized med school wasn't something done half heartily. One cannot do it as a little thing on the side. And I didn't have kids, husband or debt to tie me down.

I went back home, did the MCAT again, took some undergrad classes to up my GPA. The 2006 cycle was coming up. One of my bio professors suggested that I transfer all my bio credits into the school's nonthesis MS biology program. They had one with a med school focus. This way, I could prepare for med school during the application cycle while putting my bio credits to good use.

My mom was very supportive but my father was another story. Throughout the entire process, he tried to talk me out of it. It was laughable if it wasn't so painful. My father believed that once a person picked out their college major, they must stick with it the rest of their lives.

My father said I would be 'wasting' my Masters in CS if I did med school, that I should spent the next 40 years doing engineering since I spent an extra year in school studying the profession. He also feared I would 'quit' med school, since obviously, I was quick to 'quit' my CS profession. I admit that is a understandable fear, but he didnt' realize how deeply I regretted not doing medicine. All he could see was the money going out for my various academic misadventures.

When my dad's friend's daughter recieved a 35 on their MCAT, he assumed that was normal. So when he heard I got a 29, he got into an argument with me and told me how dumb I was to have taken the MCAT 'multiple' times and 'failed' at it. He was under the impression a 30 was a "passing" score on the MCAT, and therefore, I had almost no chance of getting into med school now.

Yes, it seems to go against every stereotype that my father, a Chinese biologist, would be so against his own daughter applying to med school.

My father's objection seems to stem from the idea that a law degree could use my engineering degree, while a med school degree would not. He also assumed I would have him foot the bill for med school and residency. For some reason, he kept on thinking residency required tuition.

It's strange how things work out in the end. Just as things started looking up ----I began getting interviews for med school---my father's own job became precarious making him realize that a career as a doctor might be more secure than a career in corporate. For the longest time, he loved his corporate job for the high salary and security it offered him. Med school seemed like a ardous journey for the same kind of security albeit with a higher salary.

Now, he was singing a different tune. One night, he spoke with me about med school and said he believed it was the right choice to make because it offered far more security than most corporate jobs, and the higher salary would probably offset the extra tuition incurred.

I finally had the full support of my both parents, financially and emotionally. The only thing I didn't have was an acceptance----yet. By November, I had acceptance from one of my top choices and I knew I was gonna be a doc. The following year in Febuary, I recieved an acceptance from my #1 choice and the process was over. I accepted the offer of my state school that was 15 minutes away from home. Cheap and economical, it was even a top 50 med school! :p

Looking back, it amazes me how much crap I had to put up with to get to this point. My unsupportive father, disbelieving friends, my bosses who demanded 20% overtime....there were also times I had to deal with my own doubts, yet somehow I ended up getting exactly what I wanted.

I admit it was also luck that brought me my acceptance, but there was quite a bit of blood, sweat and tears involved as well.

So that's my 'success' story. Not as dramatic as some of the others, but certainly an interesting ride for me. :thumbup:
 
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UMP

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great thread, blee... thanks for putting a smile on my face. I need to read more of your posts not people's like Law2Doc who just makes people want to give up altogether... again thanks, and good luck! :)
 
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Ebete

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blee said:
I'm glad to have helped. :)

We all run into snags in this process for various reasons, ranging from grades to family matters. There were many, many times when I thought I'd reached a dead end, only to find out that I had hit something more like a speed bump. When things looked really bad, it might have taken a day or two of doing something completely different before I found a solution or workaround. I guess it's important to keep in mind that most issues can be solved with a little patience and creativity.
I guess its one of days today. A friend of mine just told me that her 22 y/o cousin just got accepted... I'm happy for her, but I guess that brought me down a bit, since its been such a loooooong road for me, I just wanted this year to be my time. I do have at least 10 years of great life experience that I just would not trade (although some of those years were pretty bad, sometimes its the only way to learn to survive). Happily married with 2 great kids (and another on the way :scared: and super :) ...I just :love: kids! A very supportive hubby, and the most gigantic desire to become a physician. This will be my 3rd. attempt on the MCAT and WILL be the last attempt because this time I will seriously kill it!
Seriously, non-trad really need a nice pat in the back for our endurance and determination to this goal. We at least have the understanding, conpassion and by this time the patience to endure whatever gets trown our way...yay for us!!! Sometimes I wonder how am I ever going to get there, and if I do how will I be able to continue there, can I really do it? am I smart enough? and then I look at all my accomplishments (including my children) and just smille and know that I can do it. Med school can't possible be harder to achieve than motherhood :laugh:
Good luck to all and again thank you for the perfect inspiration to lift my mood today. Soon I will be posting on your sticky thread Blee (I hope!)
 

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UMP said:
great thread, blee... thanks for putting a smile on my face. I need to read more of your posts not people's like Law2Doc who just makes people want to give up altogether... again thanks, and good luck! :)
Unfettered enthusiasim and hope is not a good attitude either
 

Ebete

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UMP said:
great thread, blee... thanks for putting a smile on my face. I need to read more of your posts not people's like Law2Doc who just makes people want to give up altogether... again thanks, and good luck! :)
dito
 

CCEVJG

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Ebete said:
Happily married with 2 great kids (and another on the way :scared: and super :) ...I just :love: kids! A very supportive hubby, and the most gigantic desire to become a physician. This will be my 3rd. attempt on the MCAT and WILL be the last attempt because this time I will seriously kill it!

congrats on the little one! and we know the mcat is no match for you :D
 

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Nontradmed:

I really liked your story (and the others too), i think it captures the isolation and the constant swimming up stream that alot of us are going through or have gone through. good luck in your career as a doctor, i'm glad you made it! :love: --Ben.
 

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NonTradMed's post reminded me of this quote...

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.

- Seneca


UMP, remember that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it. :)
 

NonTradMed

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Nasrudin said:
Nontradmed:

I really liked your story (and the others too), i think it captures the isolation and the constant swimming up stream that alot of us are going through or have gone through. good luck in your career as a doctor, i'm glad you made it! :love: --Ben.

Thanks!

I think one of the biggest problems we nontraditionals deal with is the emotional isolation we experience during this trying time. Traditional premeds are more likely to have society's blessings because that's how one is 'suppose' to apply to med school.

As nontrads, we are more likely to be working, have families, be established in our lives. Therefore, people tend to think us crazy for considering medicine, upturning our lives for the hope of four more years to the grindstone and 3-7 years of slave labor. Worse of all, most of us applying have no guarantee of an acceptance!

And unlike an MBA program, med school is not as work/family friendly. Plus, for some, it requires years of sacrifice getting pre-reqs in in order to even apply. And it is actually during this vulunerable time in our lives, when an acceptance is uncertain, when money is going out the window, that people will say we were stupid to even try.

I doubt my experience of feeling isolated was unique. The best people will do is offer you bland platitude of support. Very few truly understand why you would put yourself through this.

I tell any nontrad who is going through this process that there's a good chance you may have friends and family who think you're nuts. So it's a good thing it's not their lives we're fooling with :D .

But I also believe that med school is totally doable for anyone who have a plan and the dedication to carry it out. :thumbup:
 

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NonTradMed said:
Thanks!

I think one of the biggest problems we nontraditionals deal with is the emotional isolation we experience during this trying time. Traditional premeds are more likely to have society's blessings because that's how one is 'suppose' to apply to med school.

As nontrads, we are more likely to be working, have families, be established in our lives. Therefore, people tend to think us crazy for considering medicine, upturning our lives for the hope of four more years to the grindstone and 3-7 years of slave labor. Worse of all, most of us applying have no guarantee of an acceptance!

And unlike an MBA program, med school is not as work/family friendly. Plus, for some, it requires years of sacrifice getting pre-reqs in in order to even apply. And it is actually during this vulunerable time in our lives, when an acceptance is uncertain, when money is going out the window, that people will say we were stupid to even try.

I doubt my experience of feeling isolated was unique. The best people will do is offer you bland platitude of support. Very few truly understand why you would put yourself through this.

I tell any nontrad who is going through this process that there's a good chance you may have friends and family who think you're nuts. So it's a good thing it's not their lives we're fooling with :D .

But I also believe that med school is totally doable for anyone who have a plan and the dedication to carry it out. :thumbup:
Non trads also have the battle of time weighing on us that younger applicants don't. When you're in your 20's and even early 30's, you still have a bit of that feeling that there is time left to get there, to reapply, to take extra classes, to reapply... Not the feeling of, "Oh man, this is my 3rd try at the MCAT and I really can't afford to take more classes and reapply in 2 years if this doesn't work!"
 

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It's an interesting perspective difference between us versus trads. One trad was lamenting to me at our second look that she would not get out of med school until she was in her mid-twenties, and she would be nearly 30 by the time she started practicing. I looked at her for a moment, and then pointed out that I am starting medical school at an older age than she will be when she starts practicing medicine. I'll be lucky to be actually practicing by age 40 :)
 

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These stories are great motivation. I am about 2 solid years from applying but it will probably be more like 3-4 years.

Keep them coming.
 
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