DingoPingo

7+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2013
348
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Pre-Medical
Hey all,

I'm a senior graduating from a research-focused college in December. Stats:

-3.9+ GPA
-research: cognitive neuroscience lab (2.5 yrs), marine biology research (0.5 yrs), neuroscience summer research fellowship
-2 non-first author papers (1 in marine biology, 1 in developmental pain), couple of posters/abstracts
-random jobs: tutor, biology facility technician, registrar office
-non-clinical service: post-acute center and senior apartments (semi-clinical), lots of working/tutoring with children
-leadership: coordinated a program connecting mental illness patients with students
-hobbies: web development (mainly personal experimentation), a cappella, choir, public speaking clubs, religious societies
clinical service: none
shadowing: none
MCAT: I'm studying, dang it..

After freshman year I had a personal setback (read: depression) which prevented me from doing some ECs (I completed EMT-B course but then couldn't volunteer) and stopped me from studying the MCAT. However, I am trying to put myself back on track. I will, of course, be taking a gap year.

What steps should I take moving forward to maximize my chances? What are the weaknesses and strengths currently? What are some common, interesting clinical service opportunities? I have a spring semester and a gap year left and would like some advice.

Thank you all :)
 

starlite911

5+ Year Member
May 14, 2014
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Hard to say without an MCAT, but provided that turns out well, your research/leadership experience makes you a good fit for some top research schools.

HOWEVER...as you've already pointed out, your glaring weakness is your lack of clinical service/shadowing.
You need to start getting clinical exposure soon, so that you can accumulate 200+ hours by next June when you apply. (Unless I misunderstood your application timeline). Hospitals are the easiest place, but typically allow you to do the least. Hospices are another good avenue. Or, since you have your certification, you can volunteer as an EMT? (I'm not sure how that works, so correct me if I'm wrong).
Also, try and accumulate 40 hours of shadowing, seeing some primary care, but also other specialties that interest you.
 
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cantankerous

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Aug 5, 2015
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With a 3.9+ gpa, I doubt that depression was severe enough to be an excuse......
 
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Pacna

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ac62994

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Jul 1, 2015
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Plenty of time to get Clinical and Shadowing experience. Aim to shadow as many physicians as possible (maybe one in the Fall, Winter, Spring) and aim for ~200hrs of clinical volunteering (hospice and hospital).

Your app is :horns:!
 
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Pacna

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Wow so witty. So clever.
WoW did have some funny moments, I agree. The Leeroy Jenkins bit still gets me. But why are you talking like Tarzan?
 
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Pacna

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ImmunoLove

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May 5, 2014
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Your weaknesses are your bolded areas (MCAT, lack of clinical experience). You've got the GPA, and so perhaps will do well on the MCAT too. Now just get yourself to a hospital and gain some clinical experience! Through clinical experience, you'll get a better glimpse of medicine, which likely varies greatly from what you may think (at least such was the case for me). It'll sway you toward or against medicine, and is critical for your personal evaluation of the profession (and whether you ought bother choosing it).
 

DingoPingo

7+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2013
348
302
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Pre-Medical
With a 3.9+ gpa, I doubt that depression was severe enough to be an excuse......
Haha, I will take that as a compliment. I am proud to have been able to do well grade-wise even with depression, which gives me the courage to face medical school (I took the easiest classes I could). The worst part of my depression was being afraid I would hurt the people closest to me. I was lucky to have tremendous social support from my friends and family and professional support from counseling and medication, but even then, it was a hell of a time.

Anyways, I am not using depression as an excuse but an explanation. I do not intend to mention depression at all in the actual application.
 
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DingoPingo

7+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2013
348
302
Status
Pre-Medical
Hard to say without an MCAT, but provided that turns out well, your research/leadership experience makes you a good fit for some top research schools.

HOWEVER...as you've already pointed out, your glaring weakness is your lack of clinical service/shadowing.
You need to start getting clinical exposure soon, so that you can accumulate 200+ hours by next June when you apply. (Unless I misunderstood your application timeline). Hospitals are the easiest place, but typically allow you to do the least. Hospices are another good avenue. Or, since you have your certification, you can volunteer as an EMT? (I'm not sure how that works, so correct me if I'm wrong).
Also, try and accumulate 40 hours of shadowing, seeing some primary care, but also other specialties that interest you.
Plenty of time to get Clinical and Shadowing experience. Aim to shadow as many physicians as possible (maybe one in the Fall, Winter, Spring) and aim for ~200hrs of clinical volunteering (hospice and hospital).

Your app is :horns:!
Your weaknesses are your bolded areas (MCAT, lack of clinical experience). You've got the GPA, and so perhaps will do well on the MCAT too. Now just get yourself to a hospital and gain some clinical experience! Through clinical experience, you'll get a better glimpse of medicine, which likely varies greatly from what you may think (at least such was the case for me). It'll sway you toward or against medicine, and is critical for your personal evaluation of the profession (and whether you ought bother choosing it).
Thanks for all the feedback, everyone! I literally decided to think about medical school again two weeks ago and I've gotten farther along than I have for the past two years, and you've all lifted my spirits.

My first and current goal is to take the MCAT by January; I'll probably only get one chance at it so I'll try my best. Then, I think I will focus on getting some interesting clinical experience. I think EMT would have been cool but I think I didn't get certified because they sent my background check to the wrong address and I was too unmotivated to care. I think I might send an email to a good friend and ask him what are some fun possibilities for clinical experience. Shadowing should be pretty easy assuming I can find a hospital.
 
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After freshman year I had a personal setback (read: depression) which prevented me from doing some ECs (I completed EMT-B course but then couldn't volunteer) and stopped me from studying the MCAT.
Why did you want to start studying for the MCAT after freshman year? Also agree with the above posters about clinical and shadowing experience.
 

DingoPingo

7+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2013
348
302
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Pre-Medical
Why did you want to start studying for the MCAT after freshman year? Also agree with the above posters about clinical and shadowing experience.
I didn't start studying immediately, I tried to study in junior year so that I wouldn't have to take a gap year and could take the old MCAT. I registered for January 2015 test but ended up cancelling because I couldn't study.
 
Mar 8, 2015
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I didn't start studying immediately, I tried to study in junior year so that I wouldn't have to take a gap year and could take the old MCAT. I registered for January 2015 test but ended up cancelling because I couldn't study.
I'm sorry to hear that. I hope you have recovered now. How are you doing with your own health?
 

DingoPingo

7+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2013
348
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I'm sorry to hear that. I hope you have recovered now. How are you doing with your own health?
Thanks for the kind words. I currently do not have depression (although I have said these words in the past only to find out differently) and am very glad. I would say that I am occasionally dysthymic and very vulnerable to emotional agitation. At the time, it was very difficult with everyone else applying to medical school/doing internships/going abroad and myself being unable to study or work towards my goals, but I am doing much better now. I think three points of advice I got from r/depression helped me move forward:
1) try hard to keep the people you want in your life <- biggest one
2) make plans to make your future what you want it to be
3) try not to talk about depression with random people

Of course, I'm not really following the third rule but I feel fairly confident no one I know will notice :p
 
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7331poas

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Jun 16, 2015
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Aim to shadow as many physicians as possible (maybe one in the Fall, Winter, Spring) and aim for ~200hrs of clinical volunteering (hospice and hospital).

Your app is :horns:!
Please dont shadow more than 50 hours. I never saw the point in people who have like 500 hours of that.
 

Strudel19

5+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2011
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Unfortunately in this process I don't know if interesting and common go hand in hand. As far as clinical experience goes, if you live near a large city I swear by Craigslist - I have the majority of my volunteering, research and clinical job opportunities from there. VolunteerMatch.com is also a great resource. You could filter for healthcare opportunities and there will be dozens of them. Medical scribing and clinical research assistant jobs can be hard to come by, but they were very valuable experiences for me and I think that you could be taken more seriously by employers because of that year off after graduation. Do some shadowing, but like others have said, I wouldn't do too much. Working clinical jobs was far more valuable.
 
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starlite911

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May 14, 2014
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Unfortunately in this process I don't know if interesting and common go hand in hand. As far as clinical experience goes, if you live near a large city I swear by Craigslist - I have the majority of my volunteering, research and clinical job opportunities from there. VolunteerMatch.com is also a great resource. You could filter for healthcare opportunities and there will be dozens of them. Medical scribing and clinical research assistant jobs can be hard to come by, but they were very valuable experiences for me and I think that you could be taken more seriously by employers because of that year off after graduation. Do some shadowing, but like others have said, I wouldn't do too much. Working clinical jobs was far more valuable.
Out of personal curiosity, I checked Craigslist volunteer opportunities in my own small city :nailbiting:
Never again :laugh:
 
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Mad Jack

Critically Caring
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Jul 27, 2013
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With a 3.9+ gpa, I doubt that depression was severe enough to be an excuse......
Numbers don't really tell the whole story. People with depression can still excel, but it kind of robs you of your upper limits. When I was suffering from depression, my grades were fine, I just had trouble juggling multiple activities without feeling like my life was burning down. For some people, that activity ceiling is lower (the people who just lay about all day), while for others it is higher (the ones that excel in everything they do and then one day suddenly commit suicide out of nowhere). It's different for everyone.
 
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Pacna

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Naw, he's cool in my book. He is a medical student and has a sense of humor.
That is the nicest thing anyone's said to me all week! :D <3
 

DingoPingo

7+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2013
348
302
Status
Pre-Medical
Numbers don't really tell the whole story. People with depression can still excel, but it kind of robs you of your upper limits. When I was suffering from depression, my grades were fine, I just had trouble juggling multiple activities without feeling like my life was burning down. For some people, that activity ceiling is lower (the people who just lay about all day), while for others it is higher (the ones that excel in everything they do and then one day suddenly commit suicide out of nowhere). It's different for everyone.
Yup. I was one of those who laid about all day. Good thing college classes don't take attendance. But I pretty much didn't leave my room because of anxiety.
 
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