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Lack of Clinical Experience/Research

Discussion in 'What Are My Chances?' started by dr seuss, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. dr seuss

    7+ Year Member

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    I should have a 3.8 gpa when I apply and think I will do well on the MCAT but I am worried about my lack of clinical experience. My freshman year I wasn't pre-med so I didn't do anything medically related.

    Sophomore year I volunteered at a hospital 3 hrs/week for one semester.

    This year I wanted to do research and also volunteer at a free clinic. I spent 2 days as a technician at a biomedical research facility but I couldn't continue because a herniated disc in my back won't allow me to stand/move around as much as a needed to. I am supposed to start at the clinic in January but my back still isn't good enough to do it.

    My grades were also not as good this semester as in the past because of my back. Before I had one B in a science class and one in a non-science class. This semester I got 2 Bs in science classes and one in a non-science class. I would have only gotten 1 but got 2 more because of my attendance.

    I wanted to take the MCAT in January but I don't think my back will be good enough to sit that long so I am going to wait until May. I wanted to do some research but my back probably won't be good enough to until March and by then I will be spending most of my time studying for the MCAT. I should be able to do some shadowing before I apply but not near as much as I'd like to.

    I have done some non-medical volunteer work since my freshman year. I have also worked ~20 hrs/week thoughout college except when my back got too bad so hopefully adcoms will take that into consideration.

    I wanted to go to Washington this summer and intern for my senator. It would be after I apply so it wouldn't help with my application but it is something I have wanted to do for a while. Would I be better off trying to do research and shadowing or volunteering in a clinic this summer instead?

    I wanted to go to Baylor but I now realize I don't really have a chance there. My first choice now is UTSW but I don't think that is likely either. I'm going to apply to my state school (not ranked) which may end up being better for me anyway because the scholarship I have now would pay for my first year if I stay in-state.

    I was also wondering if I should mention my back problems in my PS or if it would just sound like I am making excuses.
     
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  3. dw2158

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    Some good advice that was recently given to me: DO NOT mention your weaknesses (including your injury and how it affected your grades) in your PS. Focus on your strengths.

    And actually, I have back problems as well (stress fracture and spondylolisthesis in L4/L5) and I took the MCAT just a couple of months after starting PT. It was doable, if slightly uncomfortable... you only have to sit for the 60 or 70 minute sessions and then you can get up and do some embarrassing calisthenics (yeah, I def made a fool of myself) for 10ish minutes in between.
     
  4. Mobius1985

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    You are correct to be concerned about your lack of ECs. Even with great stats, if you don't have the other expected components of your application , you won't get an acceptance. You have 2 days of research, maybe 39 hours of clinical experience, and no leadership you've mentioned. You do have an ongoing altuistic service experience. You have a good excuse for your lacking components, but it does not excuse you from acquiring them. Unfortunately, if you bring up your good excuse, you will also make adcomms wonder how on earth you can ever participate in the required steps to becoming a physician. I wouldn't mention it unless you can honestly be reassuring that the problem is completely resolved.

    First off, take care of your health and get your back issues resolved. That you've been able to maintain your GPA at a redeemable level is great. Applying to medical school is a marathon, not a sprint, and I'd strongly recommend you put off applying for another year, so you'll be able to complete all the "unspoken" requirements to have a strong application. If you feel that doing the Washington internship is important to you, putting everything on hold for an additional year, or more, is no big deal, if that's the time it will take to do things right. People in their 30s and up are getting into med school, so there is no reason you need feel pressured to apply at the traditional time. If you feel compelled to apply in summer '10 (because the scholarship expires, or another reason) and your health is returned to normal, I'd skip the internship, and start the research, clinical experience, and shadowing so you have good things to report on your application.
     
  5. CourageKid

    CourageKid Don't mind me
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    I would definitely recommend taking time off. When I graduated college, I had very strong numbers with so-so extracurriculars. I probably would have done ok if I had applied immediately, but I decided to take two years off to strengthen my ECs. My choice paid incredible diviends as far as my success this cycle.

    Initially, I was hesitant to take time because the process of becoming a doctor seems so long already. However, it was the best choice I could have made. Not only did it help with med school admisssion, but also it has been a really nice break. I have really enjoyed my life in the "real world" over the last year and a half.

    Finding a job might be more diffucult now than when I was looking. Additionally, I understand that there might be other circumstances pushing you towards applying as soon as possible. But if time off is any sort of option, I'd defintely encourage you to think about it.
     
  6. dr seuss

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    Mobius: I didn't mention it but I was philanthopy chairman for 1 year and treasurer for 1 year in my fraternity. I am also the current IFC delegate.

    Thanks for your responses guys. I'm definately going to apply to my state school this year because my scholarship will only continue if it is the 2010 year, but I wonder if I would just be wasting my money if I applied to any better schools.

    If I do take time off after undergrad one of the things I have considered is teach for america. I didn't specify in the first post, but one of the ECs I have been doing since freshman year is tutoring at a public library. Also one of my jobs for two semesters was substitute teaching. It is something that I would really like to do, but if given the choice I would rather go straight to med school after undergrad. One of the downsides to this is that I wouldn't really have time to do research except during summers, and it would also be hard to get much clinical experience.

    My L5/S1 disc is ruptured causing sciatica. The problem for me is that stretching doesn't really help the only thing I can do right now to help the pain is lie down. I probably could take the MCAT but i figured I might as well wait so it doesn't distract me.

    I have an appointment next week with a neurosurgeon. I'm hoping he can do something (epidural, traction? I have no idea) to help it. It's taken so long to go to the neurosurgeon because I went to my doctor and had me go to physical therapy. The pt wasn't working so my doctor said I needed an MRI. The problem was my insurance company wouldn't pay for it unless I had already tried 10 weeks of conservative treatment. So basically I've had to lie down most of the past two and a half months and hobble around when I needed to go to class because I don't have a couple grand to get an mri without insurance paying for it.
     
    #5 dr seuss, Dec 30, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2008
  7. Mobius1985

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    Your leadership experiences look good.

    If you are to have any chance with an application this year, get the clinical volunteering started ASAP. Volunteering, unlike a job, will be flexible enough that you can sit, stand, or walk as needed to ease your back. Just 3-4 hours/week will be sufficient. Since you still won't have enough come submission time, be sure to send the school update letters periodically during the application season mentioning your additional/ongoing relevant experiences, especially if you can get some research started. Good Luck with your back. My sympathies for your situation.
     
  8. Nasem

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    One advice I've been given in the past was (regarding volunteering and research) is....

    Focus on the one that you really wanna do. If you wanna be a doctor that has nothing to do with research, and your planning to apply to lower/mid teir med schools, focus all your attention to hospital volunteering & clinical exposure,

    On the other hand if research is what you really wanna do, focus most of your ECs on that.

    This is what I have been doing the past 2 years, I spent majority of my free time doing either hospital volunteering or shadowing because this is the area I am really interested in, if during the interview I get asked why I have no research exerience, I'll tell them I have no interest
     

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