VictorAlpha

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I've recently been accepted to medical school.
I wanted to write this for a few reasons. I know that there are talented and dedicated people right on my heels fighting for their spot in medical school. Also, it has been a long journey and I want my struggles to have meaning by providing some encouragement and reminding applicants and re-applicants that there is hope. It can be yours if you want it. Believe it. It's true.

My story:
I took an MCAT prep course to prepare myself for an application (this will be my first) in summer/fall '07 which was leading into my senior year in undergrad. I had no idea at this point what I was getting in to.

I thought choosing a difficult science major while at the same time opting for all the AP credit I earned was the best thing. Well I immersed myself in more advanced courses before I was ready. Consequently, my GPA was alright by normal standards but well below where I needed to be for medical school. My first crack at the MCAT was fine. While I did have an undergraduate research summer job, I misguidedly thought I was much more competitive an applicant than I actually was, even after applying late. Of course I got many secondary applications and filled them out, also late but on time. And of course, time passed without any interview invites. And of course, the rejections started trickling in. Other than learning the application process was going to be a bigger part of my life than I ever wanted it to be; this cycle was entirely fruitless. It was discouraging but I also knew that re-application was not abnormal.

I finished my senior year with a double major (biochem and genetics) but only an ok average (again, well below what is normal for medical school admissions). Over the course of the summer I consulted with a former admissions committee member. He advised that, primarily, I needed to raise my GPA. Well, with all that AP credit, I graduated with 150 some credits, so my undergrad GPA was pretty much level-locked were it was. It became clear that I needed to distance myself from my undergraduate studies by showing strong clear academic growth (i.e. a new me). I chose a master's degree in laboratory science; because it was interesting but also because I thought I needed to prove academic success with "hard" science courses. Whether that was actually necessary, I don't know for sure.

I hurried in the GRE and an application to the program in the summer after graduation and was accepted and started that fall ('08). At this same time I began working part-time in a hospital in-patient pharmacy, shadowing a primary care physician and volunteering at a free medical clinic. These were busy days. They are the kind where you forget what day it is; where you're busy enough that you aren't sure if that one thing happened yesterday or 10 days ago. I guess this was good conditioning. :) By the second year, I initiated my thesis project which turned out to be inappropriately large in scope.

I wanted to try and have one more application with my first MCAT score but I was not far enough in my master's program. I would have to re-take the MCAT (2nd attempt). I didn't take a prep course this time. I had taken the test before and I still had the materials. This was a mistake. I studied, but not as effectively and subsequently performed atrociously on test day (05/'10). At the end of the test, I was debating about not even having the test scored, but I thought "you never know". Well, sometimes while you may not know, you still have a pretty good idea. I just decided to forgo that whole cycle rather than try to jam in another MCAT date before AMCAS opened.

I kept up with all my activities and schoolwork. I scheduled another well-timed prep course and another MCAT date (3rd attempt). Going through the course again, I felt like I really screwed up; like I actually lost ground. There was no real end in sight at this point. I began to see that I was going to have to gain that ground back only one inch at a time. During review, I went through every question, marking notes on all questions I guessed on and every question I got wrong. I took the test (04/'11) and did well.
I had completed all the requisite coursework for my master's at this point and was unconsciously stalling my research, partially because I was focused on my medical school application and activities, but also because I think I was scared to finish my master's and not be accepted to medical school. From all my clinical experience that I had, I knew at this point without a doubt that a career in research was not what I wanted. I would do a PhD if I had to but I knew that was not what I wanted. I went ahead with my application (06/'11) and new MCAT score.
Out of 8 schools I got two IIs. I was waitlisted at both and eventually rejected. This was discouraging but overall, I was making advances (small and very slow). I kept up with my activities and kept moving through my research. I decided I would apply again right away in the next cycle. My score was still good, my grades were good and I was on pace to have completed my master's by AMCAS opening.

I completed my master's in June ('12) and submitted AMCAS right away. I chose about 8 schools. I filled in and submitted all secondaries same-day or next-day. I got two IIs again (so far; this cycle is going on as I write this). I made to both interviews despite a hurricane (gonna have to bring a little more than that to stop me).
About four weeks after my first II, I got a call and I had been selected.

After all of it, the re-taken undergrad courses, the time, the money, OMG the money, the MCAT, the second MCAT; falling out of touch with friends because I was too busy all the time; missing holidays with the family because I worked in a hospital (never closes); answering "Oh, I'm not sure" for years when people asked what I wanted to do because I never wanted to be someone who says they want medicine, I wanted to just do it; constantly being so close to what I wanted every day at work and at the clinic and still being so far away, the doubts, the anxiety; all that. Done.

I wanted to share my story for people just getting started or who are still fighting for their spot. If it is what you really want, then don't give up. I'm declining to share all my GPAs and MCAT scores because ultimately, they don't matter. I'm not going to intentionally or unintentionally suggest anything shouldn't or can't be done. If you want something, go get it. It is possible and it can be done.

I am going to face challenges ahead, no question. But in one very big way; the hardest part is over.

I'm back at square one, my slate is clear...

"Continuous, unflagging effort, persistence and determination will win. Let not the man be discouraged who has these." -James Whitcomb Riley

I'd love to help any way I can....
 
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iforget2

7+ Year Member
Jun 23, 2012
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I’ve recently been accepted to medical school.
I wanted to write this for a few reasons. I know that there are talented and dedicated people right on my heels fighting for their spot in medical school. Also, it has been a long journey and I want my struggles to have meaning by providing some encouragement and reminding applicants and re-applicants that there is hope. It can be yours if you want it. Believe it. It’s true.
Simple, yet very motivational. Huge congratz on your acceptance. I love reading stories like these
 

kami333

10+ Year Member
Aug 15, 2007
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It's possible for you....keep at it....:)
It definitely is:) I just was curious what you considered good by normal standards as well as help keep future SDNers from becoming too neurotic.

I graduated with a 2.8 in 2004, did a postbacc while working in research, finally applied this year and I've got a DO acceptance with 2 MD interviews so far (rejected by UW).
 
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VictorAlpha

VictorAlpha

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Also, I just found out that both my manuscript submissions have been fully accepted for publication....

So, since the powerball is going to be upwards of $430M; I am going to greedily go for the hat trick :D
 

IncognitoGuy

life of leisure
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Congratulations :) I believe the quote at the bottom of my MDApps is quite appropriate for you!
 
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VictorAlpha

VictorAlpha

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Can somebody explain the youtube links? I'm too nervous about getting rickrolled.
yeah those people ruin it for everyone I suppose. They're just some videos I found during this time that struck true for me.
 

Belle Melodie

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Aug 21, 2011
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This is great! Love it!
 

Hemorrage

Ambrose
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Sep 4, 2011
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awesome story. could you please just give us a summary of your scores? You don't have to provide exact numbers but i don't exactly know what your standards of "low" and "high" are
 

sinombre

carboloading
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Bumping this because I stumbled across your signature in another thread. Congrats man... you're finally starting in a couple of months :thumbup:
 
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VictorAlpha

VictorAlpha

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Bumping this because I stumbled across your signature in another thread. Congrats man... you're finally starting in a couple of months :thumbup:
thanks bro :thumbup::)
 
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VictorAlpha

VictorAlpha

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Congrats! Best of luck. If you don't mind me asking, which MCAT course did you take when you earned the score you wanted?
it was Kaplan. It was expensive, they'll give you supplies and direction but like anything you'll get what you put in.
 
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VictorAlpha

VictorAlpha

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what is a masters in a laboratory science?
I'm not sure what it is supposed to be exactly; you'd have to ask them. In my case...a stepping stone.

Also, I'm more than happy to share whatever answers or advice I have... MCAT, statements, applications w/e....
 

La Presse

Due to the fact....
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Mar 20, 2012
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At Caillou's House.
Wow. Congratulations. I think I teared up a bit when I read your story. So heartfelt...
 
Apr 21, 2011
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As a fellow MCAT retaker and soon to be reapplicant, I needed this! I did my first application cycle two years ago and now I'm about to go through it all again. I think the worst part is feeling like you have to put your life on hold. Nobody around me understands why I'm always broke (had to take time off of work to study for the MCAT, or having to pay for the MCAT plus MCAT study materials, or pay for AMCAS, or take time off of work for classes to raise GPA, and pay for those), why I have no free time, why I'm working for peanuts as a nurses aid when I could just go to nursing school instead, why I have to volunteer so much, or shadow, or do any of the other million little things I do everyday to make sure this is the year. Soon hopefully, I won't have to explain myself to anyone anymore. When they ask me why I do what I do, I'll be able to just hold up my acceptance letter and say "This is why." That'll be the proof that I wasn't crazy all along.
 
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VictorAlpha

VictorAlpha

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I don't mean to bump this thread other than I need the character space to reply to a question. As the OP, I find the question relevant and related to the point of the thread's creation. Anyway, the question and answer is contained within my next post.
 
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VictorAlpha

VictorAlpha

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the question was....

"I read your pre-med journey and I find it impressive. One question I have, though, is this: do you consider all the years in-between to be "wasted years"? So many people seem to be in such a rush to get into medical school that any extra year between college and med school seems like wasted life...is that how you saw it/see it?"

the answer:

Well, let's just get right to it then. :)

The shorter (TL;DR) answer:
It might be a waste and it might have value, depending on what you do with that time. I see it as it was for me: definitely painful and inconvenient but definitely an experience with value.

The longer answer:
That is a really great question. The fact of the matter is the when you are talking about something competitive like medical school admissions, it is easy to become very myopic. After all, the entirety of the anxiety of the admissions process is based on a binary outcome: you get in or you don't. It is a simple yes/no, up/down verdict on years of work, hope and aspiration. If you consider that, in conjunction with the fact that at least some amount of "competition" or "ego"; must be present in any student applying to medical school with any kind of genuine interest (I mean, as a physician you are going to be in charge and people are going to look to you to make big decisions), it only compounds the temptation to view any extra time as "wasted"; or to view rejection as failure.

The truth though, is that the extra time isn't "wasted", not if you are looking at medicine (or really, life) for the right reasons. When I thought about medicine after my first (and second) cycle, there were two ways I could take things. One way was that things didn't work out and I'm meant to do something else. The other way is that I am still in control, I will own my situation, I will learn and become better than I am and if it means the journey is harder/longer, then it is harder/longer...but it is still going to happen. To be honest, I fought the trap of viewing this big part of my journey as wasted time.

I guess what I've come to think, at this point anyway, is that everyone has their own journey. If I had chosen, after being rejected once (then twice), not to own my situation or not to learn about myself or not to become better than I am, then yeah...it would have been closer to time wasted.

I thought a lot about my own place in the course of events. I had time to think about what it was about medicine that was so important to me...or if it was that important to me in the first place. After enough thought, I knew that I didn't want medicine for its own sake, but that medicine would provide the things I was looking for; things like connection to others, heavy responsibility, service and importance among other things. And I came up with a few other directions that might have provided what I was looking for as well in the event my focused shifted. But I had just never gotten to the point where I felt I would be satisfied going in another direction. Even now it is tough to say how that might have happened. I think at some point though, it would have. I guess I just wanted to be the one dictating my direction and be sure that my circumstances weren't deciding for me.

The other large part of the experience was the test. There is something to be said for finishing what you've started or following through on your words, especially against the odds and in the face of extra work/time. I'm not saying that I'm more prepared or a better applicant or somehow smarter than another student coming straight from UG. In fact, I have no illusions and I know that there are plenty of younger students that will be smarter than I am. I hope to learn what they have to teach. But I have had my commitment tested in a way and to an extent that the other student has not. To that end, I know more about how much (and likely, why) I want to pursue medicine than the other applicant. I can say that I can and will work harder and sacrifice more...because I've had to do just that. I can move forward with confidence knowing I have responded to this challenge and overcome this setback. I am much less afraid of "failure" because I've established a track record of hard work and progress (following "failure"). I really don't believe that person-to-person comparisons are worthwhile. Like I said before, everyone is on their own journey and what may be good or better for one person may not be for another. My experience was a lengthy, painful personal challenge. It was a test I would rather not face again soon. But if/when it comes again, I'll be ready. That's roughly what I learned and it doesn't seem like a waste to me.

If the question is really "Would I rather have sailed through without skipping a beat or gone through what I have, taken longer but have the satisfaction of staying persistent, rising to a challenge and coming back from behind?" That's tough. Of course the former has obvious appeal, but the truth is that life is going to deal out challenges to everyone in one form or another. I do like my ability to draw on this experience as I face whatever challenges ahead. Ask me again in 45 years :)
 
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VictorAlpha

VictorAlpha

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Congratulations!! What's next for you?


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile

Professionally -> Residency training ... then likely fellowship
Personally -> continue practicing living while in the middle of the journey
 

Frogger27

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Professionally -> Residency training ... then likely fellowship
Personally -> continue practicing living while in the middle of the journey
Which residency did you end up matching into? I always love seeing old threads like this bumped, congrats on graduating!
 
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VictorAlpha

VictorAlpha

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Which residency did you end up matching into? I always love seeing old threads like this bumped, congrats on graduating!
Medicine :)