Just got slammed by my "pre-med" advisor. Input?

Reckoning

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I thought I would start a very self-centered thread because I just walked out of a meeting with a pre-med advisor. Last year she was singing my praises but after getting rejected from an MD/PhD program and looking more closely at my GPA she is suggesting that I go back to school... And I need some perspective from those of you in the trenches. I am trying to decide whether to go the MPH route though it would sting financially for me and my family, but I am willing to do it if my application is the non-starter that my pre-med advisor seemed to intimate.
One ADCOM at this program brought up the possibility of MPH because of my low GPA. Welcome your thoughts:

3.38 Science (Chem Major)
3.21 Overall
33R 2003 August MCAT

Masters in Engineering
15 Engineering publications
4 years in Semiconductor Industry
1 Yr recent Clinical Volunteer Exp. 1 yr a while back
NCAA Runner, Team Captain (way back when)
Some other minor stuff
+pity+
 

SurgeryRA

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From your MCAT+GPA+Experiences I would say you should be able to get in somewhere. At face value the only weak point of your app seems to be your GPA but even that isn't too bad. You should apply to more schools this time around. If you want to attend a top-tier school, then a Masters wouldn't be a bad idea either to increase your GPA. Good luck.
 

dtreese

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Your numbers don't look bad. Do you have tuition reimbursement at work? This can help. Take a couple of classes, just to show while you're applying that you've got what it takes.
 
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Reckoning

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Thanks, guys. I did take Biochem last semester, though obviously a semiconductor company is not going to reimburse me for that. I got the 'A' I was after. I had planned on taking another course this summer and another in the fall.

One thing this advisor said was that schools will be looking for whether I can ace a full course load rather than single courses at a time. ie throw down the guantlet and enroll full time. I am not ready to endow some kind of omniscience on this advisor but she's seen more app cycles than I have

And I will definitely apply to more programs (if I don't do the MPH) this year. I simply did a shoot the moon application after getting my MCAT scores back with the plan of "really" applying in June 2004. Good news is I have all my app materials ready to go from last years exercise. And I worked really hard on all my essays.

So it sounds like it may boil down to trying to squeak in anywhere that will take me next year versus delaying another year for some possible choices after MPH. It won't hurt my future applications if I take the shotgun approach this year and get rejected everywhere (shiver), right? There is no harm in applying this year, no?

Anybody had any luck in contacting admissions offices, sending them your stats (or full AMCAS app), and getting helpful feedback?
 

FoughtFyr

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I did get my MPH before medical school. My undergrad GPA was a 2.8 (I worked full-time) and I was strongly advised to go the MPH route for one simple reason - most of the MPH faculty were also Medical School faculty. That meant my letters of rec would be from faculty members at the Medical School. Not only that but an MPH would give me an added qualification after med school. All of the residents in the Cook County (IL) Hospital's Occ. Med. residency were in my MPH program (I chose an emphasis in environmental and occupational medicine - required coursework for them). So I made lots of professional contacts. I also did research, which was well supported by faculty, and there were no "easy As". I did well, and applied to medical school after my first year...
...to universal rejections. +pity+

Reapplying after graduation, I got in easily. :hardy:

Keep in mind, I got a job with my degree! This is important because many schools (see below) do not "add-in" your Master's work until it is completed. That means, you will be in the "real world" for at least 1 yr. IMHO, it is better to obtain a degree wih real world validity (such as an MPH or MPA/MPP) as opposed to one purely in the sciences. That way, should you need to find a career alternative, you haven't wasted your time.

During medical school, I worked with our admissions committee and had the chance to find out a bit about my own admission. At my institution all Master's Degree programs are given exactly the same weight, and the "extra points" are only awarded AFTER graduation from the program. Unfortunately this means if you apply in June after your graduation, you need something to do over the next year. The only exceptions to the "extra points" are Master's programs designed specifically for premed. Those are considered the same as post-bacc programs and awarded far less of a bump and still require completion before consideration.

BTW - I cast a fairly wide net with my applications, including being granted interviews at UCLA, Uva, GW, and UIC. All saw the MPH as a "positive factor". I had also applied, and was accepted, to the JHU PhD program in Health Policy as a "back-up", they also liked the MPH!

The only caveat to that is that I did seek, and found, a position in Public Health. I was able to "talk up" my job during interviews, separating myself from those who appeared to get the degree only as a means to medical school acceptance. IMHO, that is the difference.

If you want my advice, find a Masters program that interests you and is used in the "real world" (outside of medicine). Do well there and your chances for admission will soar.

Just my $0.02 (actual cash value $0.005)

- H
 

Wahooali

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Hey Reckoning,

First of all, part of you getting slammed by your pre-med advisor might have something to do with you applying MD/PhD. Although there are fewer MD/PhD applicants, the quality (numbers-wise) of the applicants tends to be much higher than the MD pool, with class averages in the 3.8s and MCATs in the upper 30s. So, even with your excellent research experience you may need a little extra umph (like a Masters for example) if MD/PhD is the route you want to go.

As far as MD programs though, I have very similiar numbers/ECs to yourself, and I have been freaking out over this "to go back to school first or not," because being on the bubble is very nerve-wracking. I have been told by many people that an applicant such as ourselves should be able to get in somewhere so long as we apply to a lot of schools and submit our AMCAS on June 1. And although your GPA is a little low, it is not too low that you don't have a chance. Some med schools do admit people with 3.38 GPAs, and why not you with everything else you bring to the table.

Good luck to ya'!
 

kingcer0x

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What, somebody told you that you wont get into medical school? how dare they! j/k


I think that premed advisors just like to put the heat on you before you apply, especially if you have one small mark on your application. You got yellow flagged, not red flagged. I know this cause it happened to me... my premed advisor just wanted to make sure i was cut out for the application process and eventually medicine. Soon enough he changed his tone and said I was very competitive. Do a master's if you think you wouldn't be happy going to any old US allopathic school and need a top-notch research school, but even then there are no guarantees.
 

Reckoning

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Originally posted by kingcer0x
What, somebody told you that you wont get into medical school? how dare they! j/k

My thoughts exactly!:D

Thanks for all the responses. You've all been very kind in writing back. I've decided to take her comments with a grain of salt. Improving my application can't hurt, just need to decide how far to take it. Her rapid change of heart was what really left my head spinning. I think I will stick with the pre-med advisor at my undergrad who seems to be a lot more thorough (the advisor that did the about-face is at a local university). And no, I am not looking for a "yes-man", just someone who I know is going to think before they try to advise me. I am looking in to my MPH options, calling schools and alums.

There are no guarentees in this process, nor do I think there are any bad US MD schools, but there are better locations and better academic fits. I'll let you guys know what I decide in the next few weeks! Thanks again.
 

PACtoDOC

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Apply all over the place and you will get in for sure. You might not get into a top school, but that is relative. Your numbers are very good! Also apply DO if you wish. You seem more nontrad and there are excellent DO/PhD programs that you can get into easy.
 

mosoriire

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I think you have really good chances of getting in...hell, isnt it a bit hypocritical of your advisor to first sing praises and then go onthe tear?
One the applicant profile, there was someone with a similar profile who got into Harvard. From the non-trads I know, they say it would do you a world of good to contact the schools you are interested in ahead of time, and apply as soon as the gate cracks open.
As for the MPH, please, that is just burning money that you dont necessarily have. I think it would be a much etter idea to just take classes part-time and have your company reimburse, if it will still do so. The MPH classes dont necessarily prove how well you will do in medical school -- biostats, epidemiology, health policy. If you want to be a state epidemiologist or execute clinical trials or work in the UN system, sure. But other than that, I dunno.
What about intense shdaowing? That is one area where I know I could a lot of applicants could strengthen their applications, but dont.
Just MHO
 

Optimist

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I think you have a very good shot at getting into an MD program. An MD/PhD might be tough. If you're not particularly concerned about where you get into med school, I think it would be greatly beneficial applying to a larger number of schools.
 
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