FloridaMed09

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Hey all, I'm planning to apply to med school this coming cycle and I just met with an adviser who seemed pretty doom and gloom about my chances. I hope no one thinks this is a troll thread because it's my first post, I made a new account because my other name contains private information.

My situation:

I'm a chemical engineering student and decided to go into medicine my junior year. I got back my junior year and began volunteering in the hospital which I did for 3 semesters. This past semester I did nothing while I was taking classes and studying for the MCAT because I really didn't know what my schedule would be like and didn't want to commit to anything that might get in the way of my MCAT studies (wanted to spend 3 months and be done with it because I was on a bit of a time crunch).

I've done research since my sophomore year including a semester abroad (Japan) doing research there (resulted in presentation and abstract), spent a semester in Korea, been an RA, a chemistry TA, held positions in an engineering club, etc.

GPA: 3.82
MCAT: Unknown, expecting mid 30's give or take a few (33-37)

I am a Florida resident and will definitely be applying to 3 Florida schools (UM, USF, UF). I intend to shadow a doctor in July but unfortunately can't do it any earlier so it won't be on my AMCAS.

So essentially I was told that my chances are not very good and that I might not even get secondaries some places (Florida namely). I was told that the clinical exposure I have is insignificant and that while it may not kill my application, it's going to be difficult. I feel like by the numbers I'm a pretty solid applicant, I've done some pretty unique EC's and have a pretty unique life story, but what he said really bothered me a lot.

Should I be worried? I know my volunteering isn't as significant as many but is it so insignificant that it would prevent me from getting secondaries and interviews, especially at Florida schools?

Also, how important is a letter of rec from a health care experience? Thanks for any advice.
 

dd128

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By whom? A pre-med adviser? Take that with a grain of salt.
Unfortunately this is very true. My premed adviser was a great guy, but he was severely lacking in a lot of information I wish I had. What was your volunteering activity, did you get patient exposure? As long as you got some meaningful time in a clinical setting you're probably ok, especially with good stats. You don't need thousands or even hundreds of hours logged.
 
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FloridaMed09

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melodramatic title much?


By whom? A pre-med adviser? Take that with a grain of salt.
Yea a pre-med adviser. I understand to take it with a grain of salt, hence me coming here. This was just how I was made to feel and it's been bothering me lately. He mentioned the possibility of even waiting a year to apply. I'm inclined to think he was far too pessimistic, but wanted to hear everyone else's opinion. I thought I was a pretty solid applicant so it came as a bit of a shock to me.

As far as the clinical exposure, 1 semester of it was in the ER and I'd say had significant patient contact.
 

muscles

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I was in the same situation as dd128,
my premed advisor was a great guy, but there are a few things I wish I would have known at the time...Alas, that was 4 years ago and I have moved on.

Floridamed, I wouldn't worry about the clinical exposure. With a 3.82 gpa, extensive research and overseas research as well, and if you can land an MCAT in the 30's, you are a competitive candidate for admission to a medical school.

What you need to be able to do is convince the admissions committee that you know what you are getting into. If, during an interview, you can draw on your clinical experience in the ER from volunteering, and effectively relate your passion and interest in medicine from those experiences, and how you envision yourself as a physician, then you will be fine.
 

Ki45toryu

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start right now then if you are worried about it...you have a whole summer to get some exposure...although I have known people with less than 3 semesters get accepted at numerous institutions
 

beachblonde

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You will definitely get secondaries, and you'll probably even get a bunch of interviews with your stats. Your main hurdle will be proving to them you understand what life as a doctor is like and that you're prepared to commit to it. I wouldn't be surprised if you had 10 interviews and 10 waitlists, because you're qualified to go but ADCOMs probably won't admit you off the bat.

I'm fighting a similar battle myself (except with a lower GPA) and I was told that I haven't "proven myself to be dedicated to the profession." Being qualified apparently counts for very little. I would start shadowing pronto so you can get it on your AMCAS.
 

45408

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I wouldn't be surprised if you had 10 interviews and 10 waitlists, because you're qualified to go but ADCOMs probably won't admit you off the bat.
Maybe if he applies to like 40 schools....
 

nontrdgsbuiucmd

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You will definitely get secondaries, and you'll probably even get a bunch of interviews with your stats. Your main hurdle will be proving to them you understand what life as a doctor is like and that you're prepared to commit to it. I wouldn't be surprised if you had 10 interviews and 10 waitlists, because you're qualified to go but ADCOMs probably won't admit you off the bat.

I'm fighting a similar battle myself (except with a lower GPA) and I was told that I haven't "proven myself to be dedicated to the profession." Being qualified apparently counts for very little. I would start shadowing pronto so you can get it on your AMCAS.
I've heard that over and over from schools' admissions offices.. they're looking for the candidates who have "clearly demonstrated commitment to medicine through their ECs". Some schools like shadowing, all seem to value clinical exposure in some sense. They're looking to admit candidates who know what they're getting into, and can prove it because they've experienced the less-fun parts of medicine first-hand over an extended time period.

Quantitatively, I've heard different things, in general I've heard that 300 hrs clinical exposure (around where I'm at) is more than many/most applicants have, and separately that the number of hours is less important than the actual exposure during those hours. Patient contact generally is the most important thing. I was told by one school that they're looking for 1+ years volunteer experience, regardless of how few hours per week, a number of schools regarded my experience which was largely crammed into 4 months (20-25 hrs per week) as similar to the same number of hours completed over a long time period. In my first app, I had NO clinical exposure until turning in the secondaries, and many schools read only the primaries rather than any updates that I'd sent; generally the schools said that NO clinical exposure was a really bad thing.

My opinion based on what I've heard is that 3 semesters' clinical volunteer work is not way too little, if possible to pick up a 4-hr volunteer shift now (even every other week? Friday night 5-9 in the ER?), that'd help show current exposure to clinical medicine.
 

nu2004

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i think that if you sit and think about what you got out of your past experience (particularly in the ER), you can focus on what you saw and how it was significant in your personal statement and interviews. the more clinical experience the better in my opinion, but from what you've described i certainly don't think you're doomed... just make sure you can describe a memorable or meaningful experience from that clinical exposure.
 

SnoPearl

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I was just like you, I got interested in medicine junior year and I actually only had 1 full semester of clinical volunteering immediately prior to applying (unless you count some hospital volunteering in high school). I did manage to squeeze in a 3-day shadowing experience, which was definitely useful as well. Are you absolutely sure you can't shadow a doctor just for a day or two? In interviews, they always ask you what your clinical experiences are, after first asking you how you got interested in medicine (for which I'm sure you have an interesting story to tell). You want to have more than 1 thing to talk about here, and the ER volunteering will definitely be a highlight. You just want to come across as having looked at medicine from a few different perspectives. The research experience will definitely help you. Oh, and nail that MCAT and I'm sure you'll get the secondaries and interviews!
 

realjara

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Yea a pre-med adviser. I understand to take it with a grain of salt, hence me coming here. This was just how I was made to feel and it's been bothering me lately. He mentioned the possibility of even waiting a year to apply. I'm inclined to think he was far too pessimistic, but wanted to hear everyone else's opinion. I thought I was a pretty solid applicant so it came as a bit of a shock to me.

As far as the clinical exposure, 1 semester of it was in the ER and I'd say had significant patient contact.
I got the same doom and gloom from pre-med advisor. I am a non-trad with original BA in Humanities and decided 6 yrs after grad to return as pre-med. I of course had to work full-time while pursuing BS in biochem limiting my time to volunteer and shadow, etc. With 3 semesters clinical inc. ER already, your gpa, and test scores, I would not be worried. I probably only had around 40 hours volunteer with minimal patient exposure. The cardiac cath lab stuck my with their filing! Big help. But, I was accepted to UMiami, because of my academics/work history. You may not get as many interviews as you want, but I think you'll be accepted. Good luck!
 

ChubbyChaser

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How is 3 semesters too little??? thats a year and a half...if you volunteer for hours a week for a year and a half thats close to 300 hours.
 

mdgator

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If the doom-and-gloom came from Robert Kwong...ignore it. Worst prehealth advisor ever, imo.
 

mdgator

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Yeah so after re-reading your post, I've concluded: You have much more clinical experience than I had, your GPA is great, it's great that you have research...basically, if you score in your expected range on the MCAT, you'll be golden and have no reason to worry. Just do well on your PS and the interviews and you'll have a very strong app.

Consider adding FSU and the two new FL schools as well. I can understand someone being hesitant about going to a brand new school, (although it is my bet that UCF will be one of the top programs in FL in a few years), but there is no reason to hesitate about going to FSU, if for some reason you don't get into the other 3 established schools. FSU COM grads do very well in the match, and are not limited as to which specialty they enter in the least. The idea is to maximize your chance of acceptance, in case there is some little flaw in your app that hinders you at a few schools. Good luck.
 

mdgator

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Ok, fine, but a 3.8 GPA and a 33+ MCAT will get a person some interviews. Maybe not 10, I'll concede that, but I was just arbitrarily picking a number.
Actually I don't think 10 is farfetched at all for someone who applies broadly and intelligently. I had similar numbers to the OP. I had six interviews, and I only applied to 11 schools. And I submitted my apps in December and January. It would not be unusual at all for the OP to apply to 15-20 schools, and wind up with 10+ interviews, IMO.
 
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FloridaMed09

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Thanks for all the encouragement guys, I think it's all been very constructive and reasonable. It's kind of what I had thought initially before seeing my adviser. While it's not ideal, it's still a pretty good situation to be in. I will be unable to get any clinical experience this summer because I will be traveling for 2 months (I obviously wouldn't have planned the trip if I knew I still had stuff to do but what's done is done). I have a shadowing lined opportunity lined up for when I get back, and will continue to volunteer and such during the semester. Hopefully the MCAT pans out. Thanks for setting my mind a little more at ease guys =)
 

goldenstandard2

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I was reading a similar post about "clinical experience" --- my question is not whether it is important to have clinical experience before applying to med school, but what exactly the best type of experience is to have. My pre-med advisor told me that clinical experience had to be in an in-patient setting, however I was hoping to do my clinical volunteering in low-income out-patient clinic. I was advised against this. How important is it to be in an in-patient setting (i.e. a major hospital)? I had been under the impression that as long as you were in a setting where doctors and patients were interacting, and you had some contact with patients and were able to assimilate a good understanding of what being a doctor entails, you were doing well for yourself. But yeah its important, so do as much as you can ASAP!
 

mdgator

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I was reading a similar post about "clinical experience" --- my question is not whether it is important to have clinical experience before applying to med school, but what exactly the best type of experience is to have. My pre-med advisor told me that clinical experience had to be in an in-patient setting, however I was hoping to do my clinical volunteering in low-income out-patient clinic. I was advised against this. How important is it to be in an in-patient setting (i.e. a major hospital)? I had been under the impression that as long as you were in a setting where doctors and patients were interacting, and you had some contact with patients and were able to assimilate a good understanding of what being a doctor entails, you were doing well for yourself. But yeah its important, so do as much as you can ASAP!
Some of my clinical exposure was inpatient, some outpatient. I think it is always beneficial to have some variety in your experiences, but I honestly think you can get good, quality experiences in either setting. I think that if you do your volunteering in the out-pt clinic you had in mind, you will be fine. Adcoms would much rather your experiences mean something to you, than for you to try to go out of your way to do what you think they want you to do. With the exception of two days of shadowing, all of my experiences were outpatient.
 

adios24

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Just thought I'd put my two cents in. I applied this cycle with literally no clinical experience to put on my AMCAS. I had a high GPA, average MCAT, lots of research, and other volunteering/community service, but no clinical stuff, although I tried to cram in some in the fall semester, which I don't think really made a difference. I ended up with 8 interview offers, went to 6, and got 3 acceptances. Only 1 interviewer really gave me a hard time about my lack of clinical experience, and I got an acceptance to that school. I think you'll be perfectly fine. Sell yourself on the stuff you've got and be sure to apply broadly. I think those two things made a big difference in my case.