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Looking for Improvement

Discussion in 'Re-Applicants [ MD / DO ]' started by IDreamOfMD, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. IDreamOfMD

    2+ Year Member

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    I applied June 2010 after graduating but received no love, but I'm not too sure on what is the best way to improve my application. I am looking to apply June 2012.

    Here is what I put on my application the first time:

    B.S. Human Biology from a UC

    3.73 cumulative, similar for science.

    Phi Beta Kappa

    MCAT: 33Q (11,11,11)

    Undergraduate Lab Assistant for 2 years. Helped on a small project towards the end but no significant research. Mostly genotyping transgenic mice.

    Clinical Care Extender, 1 year. Over 200 hours. Great program, basically did the duties of a CNA except for charting. Worked Med/Surg, ICU, and ER.

    Club Water Polo, 1 year.

    Various short community service programs linked to a Christian Fellowship on campus. I didn't really list these because I felt they were not significant enough to get their own listing in the primary.

    I was auto-verified for all of the UC's but never received an interview. No interviews for the out of states either which surprised me since my stats were above the average of matriculating students. This leads me to believe either my personal statement absolutely sucked or the committees didn't believe I would be a good doctor. I talked a lot about wanting to work in an underserved area, so maybe they thought I was just lying to get in. Lol.

    For the past year I have been teaching the MCAT for a test prep company. I am thinking about taking the MCAT again and would love to hit the 37 mark. I studied on my own when I took the MCAT and everything seems a lot more manageable now that I know the test tricks and strategies. I am also worried about my MCAT expiring since I took it in March 2009. Taking it again would also give me the freedom to work in a lab for a couple of years if I have to before applying again.

    I was hoping that teaching the MCAT would be a plus for the admission committees, but when I spoke with someone who manages the admissions at my UC he told me it isn't that big of a boost because it isn't really medically related. I am looking to get more clinical experience, but in the area I am located now there really isn't anything like the CCE program. It seems all of the hospital volunteers in my area now are 65 years old answering phones in the lobby or working at the gift shop.

    What would be the best way to prove to the committees that I am dedicated and capable of becoming a doctor?
     
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  3. vin5cent0

    7+ Year Member

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    Would you mind sharing your PS? Your stats are excellent, I'm just curious what the tone of your essays/PS were like.

    Two things that jump off the page for me:

    1) You said that your repeated claims were to work in an underserved area. Yet, it looks like you've done no work or volunteering of the sort in an area like that. BIG RED FLAG. If I was reading your application, the first thing I would ask is why you're claiming to want to do that if you've never worked or volunteered in such an area. Right away the gears would be turning in my head that you're just spewing any rhetoric you'd think I wanted to hear.

    2) Overall ECs are kind of lacking. If you really only listed 3 ECs, one of them being water polo.. that's a problem. You have no reasearch, little or no volunteering (not sure on that CNA-ish position), only one thing linking you to patients, no leadership, etc.

    I think if you addressed both of those issues - I.e put in some significant hours volunteering at the salvation army, you would be golden. I think as little as that could help you out, but I would honestly shoot for 2-3 things. It looks a little sparse when you fill 4 spots up (how many are there, 15?). You have the stats, you just need to back them up. It's a game, you gotta play by their rules.
     
  4. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion
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    I'm going to ask a bunch of questions. If these questions piss you off, I don't care. I don't care what your answers are. I have never met you, will probably never meet you, and I have absolutely no skin in this game other than wanting people who will be good doctors to go to med school. Take it or leave it.
    Any leadership activities? Anything where you were responsible for business or community outcomes? Where you had to make difficult decisions? Where you were the one who got called at 2 am on a Sunday to fix something? Where if you didn't do it, it wouldn't get done, and getting things done right mattered a great deal to you?

    2 years in a lab, no publications, why not?
    If any of those OOS schools were public, you have to be substantially better than average. Instaters can be average.

    Californians with great stats apply in huge numbers out of state, as backups for the UCs. You have to stick out as compelling out of state as much as you have to instate.
    Did it? Who reviewed it? Anybody older than you? Anybody not related to you? Anybody you were afraid of asking for feedback? Any of your letter writers?
    Do you believe you'd be a good doctor? Why? Think of the most grounded, solid, mature, accomplished premed you went to school with - how do you measure up? Think of a doctor you've seen when you're sick - do you understand what they do all day, every day? Why do you think you'd be good at it? Why would you want to do it, other than prestige and money and keeping your parents happy?
    Were you lying? Have you ever lived in an underserved area? Have you ever spent a substantial amount of time with underserved populations?
    OK so you have to take the test again, but clearly your numbers had nothing to do with getting no interviews. If you get another 33, you're fine. A 37 won't fix whatever kept you from getting interviews before.
    Serious question: what if you went after a lab-based career? Does the thought make you feel relieved? If there's even a tiny part of you that would rather work in a lab than go to med school, listen to it. Medical training is the most ridiculously expensive and time-consuming thing you can do - if there's another career in which you'd be happy, definitely do the other career.
    Teaching, generally, is a good thing to do as a premed. Teaching the MCAT for a prep course company means you were handed not just a curriculum but probably a script, and you have students who have money and are arguably med school caliber. By comparison, teaching high school or teaching an adult how to read or tutoring somebody with a learning disability or teaching for free would make a different impression.
    I think you will find clinical experience opportunities if you look harder and if you're interested in being in a hospital or clinic. (If you're not interested, what does that tell you?) Try public health facilities, free clinics, homeless clinics. If you have to be a patient escort for 6 months before they'll let you in the ER, then do it.
    Before you try to prove anything to med schools, pay your dues and suffer for an understanding and affinity for the actual work of being a doctor. Ask the doctors you work with or shadow to describe the characteristics of a good doctor - do you actually have these characteristics or do you just assume you'll get them? What do older doctors see in younger doctors that is scary or worrisome with respect to patient care - would you be scary or worrisome? Ask the nurses to describe med students and residents that the nurses were scared of because they would not be good doctors - are you like that? Ask faculty to tell you what the characteristics are of students they've recommended highly - are you like that?

    Do you understand and respect the responsibilities of a physician? Do you comprehend the many, many reasons why medicine can be unsatisfying as a career? What will happen when you are tired, pissed off, and completely done with it and you have 17 more patients to care for before you get to go home? Do you follow current events that can profoundly affect medical practice, such as the Affordable Care Act, and do you understand why the effects can/will be profound?

    Best of luck to you.
     
  5. IDreamOfMD

    2+ Year Member

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    Thank you both for your input. My clinical experience with the underserved is limited. The hospital where I did the CCE program was based in a city with a large Latino population, and I routinely worked with patients who did not speak English. This was one of the reasons I picked the program. I have been to Mexico a couple of times to work with the very poor and help provide basic necessities and very basic medical care. I have also participated in "health fairs" where I worked alongside nurses doing BP screening and health seminars.

    I'm definitely sincere when I say I want to work with the underserved. Not only because they are the underserved, but I enjoy learning about different cultures and have always worked to push across cultural boundaries. Most of my experiences with other cultures have been in a non-medical setting. As an undergraduate I co-lead a small group aimed at welcoming South Asian Christians in to the main body on campus. We also set up events where we would meet with the Hindu Student Council and learn from each other. This lead me to continue pursuing interfaith dialogue, and I began working with the Muslim Student Association to connect Muslim and Christian students on campus. I also tutored Asian refugees in English and basic job skills.

    I wouldn't really consider my city an underserved location, but we do have a sizable latino population as well as a large number of medically uninsured families.

    As far as the lab stuff, I mostly did genotyping and lab maintenance so that is why I didn't get in to a paper. The lab positions that involved actual research were usually volunteer, and I needed to have a paying job for living expenses. And honestly, I wasn't and still am not thrilled by research. I love to learn about all the different breakthroughs and advancements, but I would not be happy with a life in full time research. I need and want to see the direct benefits of my work in someone's life.

    I do not come from a family of doctors, so I am not one of those who are trying to please mom and dad. I'm the first one to graduate from a UC, so they are already pretty stoked about that. I'm not worried about the money either, more worried about how I will pay for med school and survive. After getting rejected, I put a lot of thought in to if this was truly for me. I wondered if I would be happy through the years of studying and all the stress on my personal life. But I have always pushed myself to perform at my personal best and I do it for myself, no one else. After looking in to my personal desires and abilities, I don't believe I will be fully satisfied with any other career.
     
  6. gman33

    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Your stats are fine, maybe average at best for Cali schools.

    Take a look at the OOS schools you applied at last year.
    You need the school to think there is a good reason why you applied there, not just as a backup. Many of these schools get 10k+ applications a year. If they don't think you really want to go there, they may not waste a spot interviewing you. In your secondaries, try to put in some specific reasons why you want to go to the school. Ex: ties to the area, you like XYZ aspects of their program, PBL, whatever. Just make it very specific and reaslistic.

    It's nice to say you want to work with underserved populations, but unless you show how you've done this already it sounds like bs. I'd just leave that out of your PS, unless you have already done a lot in that area.

    Also, try to figure out if your LORs are okay.
    Technically you can't see them, but if you are using a premed advisor to process said letters, sometimes they can give you an idea if the letters are okay. This is a kind of a shady area, but you don't want a bad letter bringing down your app.

    :luck:
     
  7. GoZags

    5+ Year Member

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    Friend of mine had outstanding stats by my evaluation (33 MCAT and 3.9 GPA Double Major Biochem/Bio) with 2 publications etc. etc. you get the picture and he didn't even get a sniff from a UC and he was a CA resident. On the other hand, he applied broadly to private schools out of state, and yes I know that costs lots of $$$ but he got multiple acceptances and wait lists at pretty good schools (i.e. Northwestern) so I would take a look at elsewhere besides the UCs because of such a high volume of applicants there.
     
  8. IDreamOfMD

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    I'm wondering what "old stuff" to put on the application when I apply again. My first post didn't include everything, so here is everything I put down the first time.

    Clinical Care Extender, 200 hours direct patient contact

    Lab Assistant, no publications. 2 years. Letter of rec from PI who is well known for cancer/hypoxia/angiogenesis research

    Leader for Intervarsity (Christian fellowship) for 2 years. Participated in various community service activities such as working with the homeless, two short term medical missions to Mexico, health fairs, teaching English, etc. The problem I see with these is that none of these were long term, like several months or more. I moved around a lot in where I was serving.

    Bible study leader for 2 years. Cooperated a lot with the Hindu Student Council to support interfaith dialogue.

    Spent time with the Muslim student association (attending meetings and special events) to support interfaith dialogue and for personal interest in learning about another religion and culture. 1 year.

    Club water polo. 1 year.

    I definitely wasn't lying when I stated I wanted to work with the underserved, but I do see how the committees might think that given I don't have a lot of clinical experience with the underserved. I honestly do believe I have more cross-cultural experiences than the average applicant. In most of the things I was involved with I was either the only white dude or one of a very few.
     
  9. IDreamOfMD

    2+ Year Member

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    Also, I frequently attended a Bible study aimed for students of color and helped out with many special events.
     
  10. Keewee

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    have you shadowed any mds?
     
  11. IDreamOfMD

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    So I'm trying to get a feel for the strength of my future application. I was planning on applying this upcoming June. This is what I would have:

    Still a 3.73 GPA
    Retake the MCAT, hopefully above a 35.
    Taught/tutored for the MCAT
    ER Scribe, about 6 months and hopefully over 400 hours.
    Teaching English to Spanish Speakers, 3 hours/week for about 9 months
    Would get LOR from current Supervisor, ER Doctor, and Family Practice Doc
    Better PS
    Plus Athletic things I like to do
    Would it be helpful to shadow some docs even though I will be essentially doing this as an ER scribe?

    And the previous stuff like the CCE program (>200 hours) and working in the lab as an undergraduate.

    How strong of an application would this be? My other idea would be to put off applying for a few years and look for a full time job in the biotech industry. Then I would also look for a hospital to volunteer with and some physicians to shadow. What do you think?
     
  12. dreamweaver1988

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    I think your application looks good, and definitely better than it did when you first posted. I think not having shadowed a doctor was probably a problem the first time around, and may be an issue this time, too. You may already know exactly what a doctor does, but shadowing is just one of those hoops we have to jump through.

    With CA being so competitive, yes, I would look at some private MD schools Also, if you truly want to be a physician and work with under-served patients, you will apply to DO schools, too. That's my $00.02.
     
  13. Buzz Me

    Moderator Emeritus Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    What do you do, as an ER scribe? How, exactly, does this allow you to shadow an ER doctor?
     
  14. IDreamOfMD

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    As an ER scribe you are assigned to an ER doc each shift and you follow them around as they see patients and fill out the medical histories and order labs, etc.

    I will be applying to DO schools this time around as well.
     
  15. ineed2stpsmurfn

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    lol... might want to get that screen name changed then.. :laugh:. Dude.. they already all said it was NOT your stats.. applying to schools YOU may perceive as easier to get into will not fix your problem so why are you trying to fit the ball in the square hole? just take some of their advice and buff up that app.
     
    #14 ineed2stpsmurfn, Nov 10, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011
  16. rubisco88

    2+ Year Member

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    I think it is probably your extracurriculars that are lacking. I think I know which undergrad you attend because I think almost every premed I know has done the CCE program. If 50% of our undergrad is applying to medical school in California and they all have the CCE program listed, they are all going to look the same. The fact that you didn't have your own research project after being in the same lab for 2 years doesn't look good. It seems like you were just a tech, which isn't too significant. Beef up your ECs and maybe you won't look like every premed at the UCs. Try to get some teaching and leadership experience.
     
  17. dragonfly99

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    I think you need to think about how to frame your application differently.
    I actually don't think it's that bad.
    I suggest you apply broadly to a lot of out of state schools, and be ready to travel.
    Try St Louis U, Chicago Med School, Albany Medical College, etc. etc.
    Instead of laying it on thick about how you want to serve the underserved, give specific examples of how you have tried to learn about and/or interact with different cultural groups. If you're some white dude from an average middle class or upper middle class background, you can't change that and it's not necessarily a bad thing. If you can't explain ("spin" your application, if you will) then it will be hard to get a foot in the door.

    Make sure you have people read your essay. People who are experienced with helping people get into med school. Also, what is your school's med school acceptance rate for people with similar credentials?

    If you can't make your application look "cool" enough, you might need to do one of those federal volunteer programs for a year or something.

    I think it's interesting that people were piling on a little on the OP, because his stats and extracurriculars I don't think are that bad...but there are the type that could easily get buried in a stack of similar looking applications.
     
  18. longroad59

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    You absolutely should shadow as many MDs or DOs as possible in different specialties. Volunteer for the community. Volunteer for anything. I was just accepted to a DO school and your stats are WAY better than mine. But I have developed a well-rounded application over many years including some reapps. It has nothing to do with your numbers. I don't see why you would take the MCAT again with a 33. I just got in with a 23. Just work on the other areas of your app.
     

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