Medical Looking for advice as a non-trad - What are my chances?

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Oct 14, 2011
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Hey everyone! Thanks so much for this. This is a combo of WAMC, what shouldn't I include in my app, and what can I do (aside from study for the MCAT) to increase my chances?

Undergrad: Top 25 School (large, private university - as selected by US News & World Report)
uGPA: 3.42 (worked 20 hours a week pretty much the entire way through college, sometimes more; death in the family plus sexual assault also affected my grades)
Studied: two humanities majors and a humanities minor

To preface, I wanted to be a writer and a teacher, but I've always had a very intense interest in science. Long story short, a teacher from high school had me convinced I couldn't do science, hence the journey back to medicine and the non-trad trajectory. I've always loved volunteering and have done so since I was young. Same with teaching. I'm trying to get my app together to prepare for the upcoming 2020 to 2021 application cycle. I'm doing this because I'm finally at a place where I feel mature, able to handle school, and have the confidence to do so.

post bacc Science GPA: 3.44 (again, working 2 jobs, ~30 hours a week while taking Bio, Physics, and Chem at the same time)

- internship with Planned Parenthood doing Middle School Sex Ed
- spent a summer volunteering in a town in rural Tanzania, teaching HIV and reproductive health in partnership with host country nationals
- 1.5 years of volunteering with AIDS Healthcare Foundation, checking in people to the mobile testing van
- 100 hours volunteering as a abortion doula
- maybe around 100 hours volunteering as a birth doula
- Peace Corps Health Education volunteer
- AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer
- 50ish hours at Crisis Text Line
- Full year of volunteering with RAINN Online Crisis Counseling (~120 hours)
- other stuff that I can't remember but will dig up, including HIV-related volunteering
- leadership positions in my sorority in undergrad
- leadership positions in clubs at my Post-Bacc
- lots of one-off volunteering

Wanted to do health education after all of that, so got my MPH from a top 5 school, to which I was admitted with a half scholarship. Graduated with a 3.9 GPA (despite working roughly 20 hours a week throughout the program, and full time my last semester (while still taking a full course load and writing a thesis)). During grad school:
- Health Coach to teens in the Bronx for 1.5 years (~15 hours a week)
- on the Curriculum Committee as the only student voice at my school
- Practicum: writing a community college course on public health for a Native American CC
- wrote for a well-known online health advice column for 1 year (5 hours a week)
- volunteered with the Career Day 3 of my 4 semesters in grad school
- my Americorps organization hired me as a contractor to re-do the curriculum I had been teaching (which had been developed before I got there)

I currently work for a health coach company writing curriculum.

I'm also CHES-certified and am currently working on being Health Coach certified. I'm incredibly committed to being an approachable doctor (hopefully primary care).

Weak points I can see:
- No shadowing
- No research
- Without a story, it has the potential to look a bit aimless (but really, I actually enjoy volunteering and love doing different things)

What am I missing? What can I do over the next half a year to beef up my application? Is there anything I shouldn't talk about? The abortion doula experience (preceded by clinic escorting) came after a long time of being pro-life, then trying to make up for the hurt that I caused others by being very vocally pro-life. I still have a few more classes to take, but I don't think I can get my science GPA over a 3.6 (I did 143 credits in undergrad alone, before all the post-bacc stuff). I'm thinking of focusing on schools that look for people committed to service and non-religious schools and schools in more liberal areas because of my volunteer activities, but maybe I'm overthinking this.

You've answered your own questions: how much shadowing and networking with physicians have you done? Have you connected with current students or residents about their careers? What is your answer to the expected "Why Medicine?" question since you'll have to have your answer/story in personal statements/essays and interviews. You are a Health Coach so what do you see are the gaps you fill that being a physician doesn't?


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Jun 11, 2010
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You represent an outlier in terms of competitiveness. Your GPAs (both UG and post-bac pre-reqs) are very weak for MD schools, but ok FOR do. Can't advise on chances beyond that without an MCAT score, but a high MCAT doesn't remediate a weak GPA.

An MPH is not helpful for MD schools, but DO will count it (although I personally don't consider them rigorous enough).

The big BUT is the Peace Corps volunteering. This is among what I consider a "killer EC".

therefore, with a good MCAT score (511+), I recommend targeting your state MD schools, and those that are service oriented (SLU, Gtown, BU, Creighton, GWU, Drexel, Netter, Albany, Tulane).

Research is overrated,. especially for non-trads.


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Oct 27, 2013
I dont think your background is overly aimless. I see a lot of connections within the volunteering itself.

I'm not the most familiar with the Peace Corps, but were you a full member/volunteer for the usual 2 or so year commitment? Or some sort of adjunct to it? I ask because I didn't know if Peace Corps health education volunteer is different in any way.\

As for the research - don't worry about that as it's not as important as the other factors with the exception of some particular schools.

Get some shadowing in and score well on the MCAT and I think you will be successful based on what you present here. Use your experience in the Peace Corps and your MPH and desire for primary care to your advantage.

The one thing I'd tread lightly on though is the pro-life versus pro-choice debacle. Certainly include your work with planned parent hood, but I just wouldn't be so specific with it. It's important to you, and people have differing, sometimes strong opinions... don't let someone else's opinion have any opportunity to hurt your chances of becoming a doctor if that makes any sense.

Good luck!
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