Feb 8, 2013
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Pre-Medical
Hoping some of you who are a bit farther along can help me come up with a solid plan for knocking out my pre-reqs and being in super shape to apply to med schools...

Background first: I'm 37, married with 3 kids (14, 8, and 16mo.) I've been chipping away at a BA for the last nearly 20 years but what with having kids, getting married, and just going off to DO things I've never finished. I have 94 credits and am almost done with an English major. I took 1 semester of Bio, 1 Anatomy and 1 Nutrition class way back when and that is it as far as science/math/health classes go. I have a 4.0 this time around, but including all college course work my GPA is low 3s.

My current school doesn't do a pre-med major. They suggest the standard 2 semesters + labs of Bio, Chem, OChem and Physics, plus Calc. They also recommend a Stats class and a "life cycle" class - Soc or Psychology... The med schools I'm targeting ask for all of the above plus Bio Chem and Genetics.

Including summer school I could do all of the above in 2 years, graduate in 2015 and start med school just before my 40th birthday. The biggest drawbacks that I can see to that plan are the huge amount of stress that cramming all those courses in will create and having to take the MCAT next spring, before taking OChem or Physics.

Alternatively, I could take 3 years, still do the basic pre-reqs in 2 but be better prepared for the MCAT and have a calmer life overall. The bummer there would be having to wait an extra year, and being that much older when I start.

Not sure if it makes a difference but I have plenty of clinical experience, ECs and community service. I have a meeting next week to kick off a research opportunity and if I take the 3 year path there is a summer program just down the road that would be a lock.

So what do you all think? Hurry up and get it done or take an extra year to hopefully have a better shot at the MCAT?
 

Chip N Sawbones

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I think either plan will work well. Just don't let your grades take a hit because you're trying to go faster and you'll be fine. I admire your perseverance.
 

DrMidlife

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My school has three first year med students over 40. We got together over breakfast last week. In a nutshell, all three of us are very tired and very happy.

Three years is painful, but it's probably going to be better for you.

You don't necessarily have to take calculus, but you do need to take a fair bit of math. The graphs and formulas in chem and physics are endless, and you need a strong foundation.

Stop letting your school do your premed advising, and start letting us. If you want to PM me the school you attend, I'll look through the course offerings for you. School premed advisers are notoriously bad at helping different-path students.

Take it one term at a time, and focus on getting A's. That's by far the most important thing.

Keep us posted.

Best of luck to you.
 
Feb 28, 2012
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It seems in your best interest to take your time and insure that you get excellent grades in your prerequisite courses. As you have not taken any science classes for many years, some of those might prove quite difficult. While I don't at all doubt the academic rigor of studying arts (I myself have a non-science graduate degree), you will find it is quite different to studying science. Your current cGPA is on the low side, and a boost from your prerequisites is quite important and could work wonders for you in the long run (and would obviously establish a high sGPA for you too).

Perhaps I am stating the obvious here too... but make sure you realize what a MASSIVE life shift medical school and residency will entail. You have taken 20 years to complete a B.A., and now plan to go on to complete medical school - which will be exponentially more difficult and more time consuming - in only four years. There will be no stretching the degree out. After that, you will spend a minimum of three years working ~80 hours per week for ~$50,000 per year as a resident.

I don't mean to sound condescending at all, and I trust you have thought all that through. Be prepared for interviewers to ultimately ask the same sort of questions though.

If I may ask, what has inspired the change?
 

yossarian444

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Mar 3, 2008
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It seems in your best interest to take your time and insure that you get excellent grades in your prerequisite courses. As you have not taken any science classes for many years, some of those might prove quite difficult. While I don't at all doubt the academic rigor of studying arts (I myself have a non-science graduate degree), you will find it is quite different to studying science. Your current cGPA is on the low side, and a boost from your prerequisites is quite important and could work wonders for you in the long run (and would obviously establish a high sGPA for you too).

Perhaps I am stating the obvious here too... but make sure you realize what a MASSIVE life shift medical school and residency will entail. You have taken 20 years to complete a B.A., and now plan to go on to complete medical school - which will be exponentially more difficult and more time consuming - in only four years. There will be no stretching the degree out. After that, you will spend a minimum of three years working ~80 hours per week for ~$50,000 per year as a resident.

I don't mean to sound condescending at all, and I trust you have thought all that through. Be prepared for interviewers to ultimately ask the same sort of questions though.

If I may ask, what has inspired the change?
I agree. I think the taking 20 years to finish one degree will significantly harm your application. You're competing against many people who got married, had kids, did stuff, and still managed to get a 4-year degree in about 4-years (plus additional time later for post-bac if necessary). If that's your rational for the delay, you'll be considered a high risk for admission. Anybody can complete med school if you had 10 years to complete it. The pace of med school is absolutely mind-boggling - one can't even comprehend the amount of studying that goes into it (especially for us non-science majors) during those first two years. Almost everybody who fails out of med school does so because they can't or don't want to keep up. Med schools know this and want to minimize the number of drop outs so they tend to prefer safe bets as far as academic track record. Yeah, there are plenty of GPA recovery stories, but they all probably had a strong upward trend and likely didn't spread out their initial undergrad degree over 20 years.

I think to demonstrate you can handle the academic workload, you should complete the pre-req's in 2 years and get all/mostly A's. Probably take a third year doing some sort of research or something and take the MCAT when you're good and ready. In the ideal world, you could do an SMP to demonstrate you can handle the work load, but this adds an additional 1-2 years to your timeline.

I'm not saying give up - it's best to finish your undergrad degree regardless of your future. No harm in applying to med school after that, even if the matriculation odds aren't spectacular.
 
OP
D
Feb 8, 2013
9
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Status
Pre-Medical
I don't mean to sound condescending at all, and I trust you have thought all that through. Be prepared for interviewers to ultimately ask the same sort of questions though.

If I may ask, what has inspired the change?
Fair question.

I had my first kid at 22, while taking a year off from school. I started college at 17, not because I wanted to or had any real academic or career goals, but because my parents said I either had to go or be cut off entirely. That first stint as an undergrad was really lousy - I never did find any sort of career path and I goofed off a lot and my GPA reflects that. After my daughter was born I had to work full-time to support us but I also quickly realized I wasn't going anywhere without a college degree so I fit classes in when I could, which as a single mom working full-time wasn't often.

Fast forward a few more years, I got married, had another baby and decided to stay home full-time - now an option thanks to my husband's ability to support the family. I homeschooled my oldest, we spent a year in India, homeschooled some more, I started (and later closed) a catering business, dabbled in a few other fields of work... but all the while my unfinished degree has been nagging at me.

Which brings us to the present: Kid #3 is on the scene, my older kids are no longer homeschooled and I finally have the time, money, and most importantly, the motivation to finish school.

It hasn't taken me 20 years to finish a BA because I'm in any way incapable. Rather, I have lacked the willingness to continue spending money with no real goal in mind and/or have chosen to devote my efforts elsewhere.

Along the way I worked as a birth and postpartum doula, and a childbirth educator. In doing that work I discovered a real passion for helping people during "crisis" moments in their lives - the birth of a baby, an illness or serious injury, etc... The varied and constant challenge of providing care to a wide variety of people during those phases of life is what motivates me and makes me want to pursue medicine, along with the challenge of marrying evidence-based care to compassionate patient care in high-intensity acute situations. (OB and emergency medicine are at the top of my list...) That's a fairly inarticulate answer to your question - but I'm sure I'll have time to polish it up before med school interviews!

Would this really hurt me in the eyes of an admissions committee? If anything I should think they would like to see a person discovering a passion and then following it with great determination (and hopefully speed and success!) despite greater than average obstacles. At least that's what I'm hoping.

I appreciate everyone taking the time to respond, offer help, and especially to challenge my plans as that's what seems to help most in refining my approach and strengthening my commitment.
 

yossarian444

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You might be able to make that work. Perhaps in your personal statement you can attack that issue head on as you explain how your life lead you to where you are now without making it a boring autobiography. ...About how you never got your undergrad degree as you never saw a need for it during your path you've traveled in life...until now. If done right, it could be intriguing. I'm sure the admissions people will ask/wonder why md/do instead of certified nurse midwife. I'd recommend allowing several months to work on your personal statement - waiting until the last minute won't work in your situation as you'll probably need dozens of revisions and suggestions from the most hyper-critical readers you can find.