HenryH

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I'm a junior in college, and during my first 2.5 years of school, I wanted to be a dentist...or, at least, I thought I wanted to be a dentist. Several weeks ago, I decided that I would be happier practicing medicine (not that dentistry isn't "medicine") and am planning on applying to medical school (MD, DO, whatever).

However, herein lies the rub: I have zero volunteer hours. I also haven't shadowed a single physician. Christmas break just commenced for me and doesn't end until January 12th, so these next few weeks are obviously going to best be spent shadowing.

But when it comes to volunteering, am I already too far along in the process to begin putting hours in somewhere without ADCOMs writing me off as undedicated because I waited so long to start?

I would like to be able to apply this summer to medical schools and will be taking an MCAT prep course that begins either this January or this April, but will schools not even give me a second glance if I only have a few months of regular volunteering?

I'll be doing my own research project at school this summer, if it matters...
 

Bacchus

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To make yourself the strongest applicant I'd personally recommend you take a year off. However, there are people that get bit by the "premed bug" in their junior year.

1. You need to get shadowing under your belt. Try shadowing a DO and get a recommendation letter from the experience. This is sometimes harder than it sounds.

2. You do not need to volunteer in a clinical setting, but it serves to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. Volunteering in the medical field gives you exposure and volunteer hours. However, you can volunteer at events or places that aren't clinical sites. I feel as a dental applicant you should have been volunteering time somewhere along your undergrad path--but no looking back now.

3. You need to have grades consistent with medical school applicants. I'm sure this isn't a problem or you would have indicated it in your post.

The reason I suggest an extra year is because you're cramming a lot into a very small timeframe. Shadowing, MCAT prep, clinical experience, and research usually take more time than a semester and summer before applications. Best of luck, but seriously consider taking a year off to improve your application.

IMO, of course.
 

andexterouss

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I'm a junior in college, and during my first 2.5 years of school, I wanted to be a dentist...or, at least, I thought I wanted to be a dentist. Several weeks ago, I decided that I would be happier practicing medicine (not that dentistry isn't "medicine") and am planning on applying to medical school (MD, DO, whatever).

However, herein lies the rub: I have zero volunteer hours. I also haven't shadowed a single physician. Christmas break just commenced for me and doesn't end until January 12th, so these next few weeks are obviously going to best be spent shadowing.

But when it comes to volunteering, am I already too far along in the process to begin putting hours in somewhere without ADCOMs writing me off as undedicated because I waited so long to start?

I would like to be able to apply this summer to medical schools and will be taking an MCAT prep course that begins either this January or this April, but will schools not even give me a second glance if I only have a few months of regular volunteering?

I'll be doing my own research project at school this summer, if it matters...
You are very fine, don't worry. Going to a DO school mostly requires a DO letter and you can get that by shadowing a DO for a brief period(mine took 2 weeks).You have lots of time and I'd worry more about my MCAT.
 
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Semicolon

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I agree with Bacchus above; you should take a year off as that would give you the best chance to create a great application for med school.

I do not think schools will look down upon you starting to volunteer/shadow at this point; you have a valid reason and you should work it into your many chances to explain why you chose medicine. Definitely begin shadowing and volunteering when you can (perhaps an ER at a hospital?) and give yourself ample time to study and do good on the MCAT.

Have you been working on the pre-reqs already?
 

HenryH

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Thanks for your advice, Bacchus. You mentioned GPA; mine currently is a 3.58, but for the classes I took during the fall 2008 semester, I'm anticipating to make 10 credits worth of "A" and 4 credits worth of "B"...so I would estimate my "new" GPA to be somewhere around a 3.61-62?

I know that a 3.6 is kind of low for many allopathic schools (my only public state school had an average GPA of 3.72), and I don't harbor any hesitation to having the letters "DO" after my name instead of "MD," so I can say that I'm definitely going to be applying to osteopathic medical schools. I have heard good things about the DO school that recently opened in my state, PCOM-GA, and it's in a nice area.

Taking a year off probably is the best idea, unless there are DO schools that really don't give a crap about volunteering...
 

dani042

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I did not start taking a majority of my pre-reqs until my junior year. I am taking a 5th/post grad year to finish up a few of my pre-reqs so if that is how your schedule works out it's not really taking a "year off". I also did not start volunteering until I was a junior have have acumulated 200 hours thus far. I shadowed a few times as a junior and senior with an MD and then again this year with a DO for the first time. But a large amount of my medical experience has come with my volunteering hours. So I would say you are just fine because it has all worked out for me as I was accepted this fall to med school.
 

Semicolon

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Thanks for your advice, Bacchus. You mentioned GPA; mine currently is a 3.58, but for the classes I took during the fall 2008 semester, I'm anticipating to make 10 credits worth of "A" and 4 credits worth of "B"...so I would estimate my "new" GPA to be somewhere around a 3.61-62?

I know that a 3.6 is kind of low for many allopathic schools (my only public state school had an average GPA of 3.72), and I don't harbor any hesitation to having the letters "DO" after my name instead of "MD," so I can say that I'm definitely going to be applying to osteopathic medical schools. I have heard good things about the DO school that recently opened in my state, PCOM-GA, and it's in a nice area.

Taking a year off probably is the best idea, unless there are DO schools that really don't give a crap about volunteering...
Whoa whoa whoa, a 3.6 is "kinda low"?! That's not low at all; you can apply, and get into, allopathic schools just fine. As long as you have the MCAT to back it up, of course. I'm not saying you should not apply to osteopathic schools, just that you can apply to both if you wish to; DO and MD school differences in GPA averages are usually narrow.
 

PunkmedGirl

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Whoa whoa whoa, a 3.6 is "kinda low"?! That's not low at all; you can apply, and get into, allopathic schools just fine. As long as you have the MCAT to back it up, of course. I'm not saying you should not apply to osteopathic schools, just that you can apply to both if you wish to; DO and MD school differences in GPA averages are usually narrow.
Yea I agree a 3.6 is not low for allo or osteo schools. Ignore pre-med talk about a 3.6 being low for allo schools.
 

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If your MCAT is not a 30 or above, 3.6 is considered low for most allo schools.

And assuming you're starting now, I also don't think that not having any shadowing/volunteer experiences by now is the end of the world either, especially if you have strong numbers to back you up.

Also, from my very limited experience, osteo schools don't really care as much about research as allopathic schools, so I think your time would be better spent in doing more clinical work than research if you had to prioritize now.
 
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dragonfly99

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OK. You are only a junior in college. Don't stress and don't freak out. Your GPA is fine. Try to keep it where it is, or even raise it a little.

You do need volunteer experience. I would try starting with some this semester, if there is any way you can. Try volunteering one afternoon or evening/week (say 3-4 hours/week) starting this January. Your university may be able to help you set this up, or you can just try a local hospital. You need to get on this ASAP (as far as arranging this) because sometimes it takes them a month or so to set you up.

The MCAT is a hard exam. Don't underestimate it.

You can definitely try applying next summer. You might not get in the 1st try (especially if you don't yet have your MCAT score by July or August and you don't have that many volunteer hours) but it really doesn't matter that much because you can always apply again the next year. Many people don't apply until their senior year or even until done with college. It's really not a big deal.

What is a big deal is figuring out for sure that you really want to do this. That's part of why the shadowing and volunteering stuff is really important. Medical school is kind of brutal and so is residency in many cases, so you need to try to be as sure as you can that you're going to love medicine. If not, then it doesn't really pay to go through all of the crapola you'll have to go through in order to practice.

If you like dentistry and MD/DO medical stuff, you could consider going for oral surgery. Most of them are DMD's...you should check it out. It's a long road also though, as I think they do even more school (? 5 years) because they do some or all of dental school plus some medical school years.
 

Revilla

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If your MCAT is not a 30 or above, 3.6 is considered low for most allo schools.
3.6 is actually the average for allo school matriculation (3.5-3.6 actually). Just FYI.
 

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The average MCAT for allo school matriculation is also at a 30. So an applicant with a sub-par MCAT would most likely have to compensate by bringing a higher GPA. Generally.

I know it seems trivial, but I do think a few points on the MCAT (or even 1 point per section or one more question right in each section) could make a significant difference in the admissions process, esp. if one has a 27 vs. a 30 but with a solid GPA. Or a 28 vs 31, etc. This is my second time applying so I am grateful to have an acceptance now, but if I had to do this a third time the MCAT would be the first thing I would target.
 
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TheGoodGoodTime

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:laugh: I'll never understand some of you. Take a year off? Not even close...

You have a 3.6 GPA. If you get a good MCAT you'll be good as long as you have some sort of research/clinic experience and some good letters of rec. I have a 3.63, 28T MCAT, have research, and work as a PCT in the local hospital. Do I have volunteer hours? No. Yet I have multiple acceptances to both MD and DO schools. Don't let people you don't know hold you back for a whole year based off a single flaw in your application...
 

Bacchus

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:laugh: I'll never understand some of you. Take a year off? Not even close...

You have a 3.6 GPA. If you get a good MCAT you'll be good as long as you have some sort of research/clinic experience and some good letters of rec. I have a 3.63, 28T MCAT, have research, and work as a PCT in the local hospital. Do I have volunteer hours? No. Yet I have multiple acceptances to both MD and DO schools. Don't let people you don't know hold you back for a whole year based off a single flaw in your application...
You have research. You have clinical experience. The OP will have minimal of each when applying, not helping his situation. You have experienced the health care industry, he hasn't.

As a PCT you get compensated, but you have direct patient contact which allows you to answer "Why medicine?" more definitively than the OP.

I would wager the clinical is more important than the volunteering. Working as a PCT may get you past volunteering.
 

HenryH

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As far as research experience goes, it's actually a requirement for graduation from my university's biology program to propose and execute a research project. Students typically write and submit the proposal during the spring semester of their junior year and then, once the proposal has received approval, the project is usually completed during the proceeding summer or fall.

I'm leaning towards a project a project that will investigate the application and evaluation of potential treatments for pancreatic cancer, and I have already found my mentor. Students actually have to sign-up during the class registration period for a one-credit "proposal" with the mentor they've arranged to work with. I would like to have the proposal submitted and approved during the spring semester so that I can get the project done this summer.

Of course, I'll also need to be reviewing for the MCAT during the spring/summer and taking it sometime this summer...and on top of that, I'll also need to work on shadowing physicians and volunteering.

Oh, and I'll need to nudge "Apply to Medical School" somewhere into my schedule...
 

dozitgetchahi

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I think you're in a pretty solid position myself, but I'm also one of those people who tends to think that taking a year off is essentially a waste of time unless you have some seriously awful problem in some part of your app (i.e., GPA < 3.4, MCAT < 27, etc) that you're actually able to rectify within that period of time. Most people I've seen who take a year off end up getting distracted and end up even further behind the 8-ball than they were the year before.

Basically, you need to focus on a) getting a meaningful amount of volunteering experience, b) ensuring you manage at least a high-20s MCAT score (getting above a 30 would help your case immensely, especially if you want to get into the more competitive DO schools and/or any MD schools), and c) getting some experience shadowing a DO so you can secure a DO letter of recommendation.

If you can pull all three of these things off, I think you'd be in pretty good shape for a DO acceptance.
 

Sandlot13

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you're fine.... just rock some shadowing hours this winter break and do as much as you can in between now and when you apply. A little dedication is all it takes....

PS - I was a junior in college before I knew what I was gonna do.... it's definitely possible, cause Im starting med school next year ;)
 
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