Dec 19, 2013
4
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Hello Everyone,

I am new to the board and I'm looking for some advice.

I am thinking of doing a career switch into science research and or medicine. The following is my background and tentative plan of action. I want to give myself some exposure to the field a bit before going through with anything. Please give me some honest feedback! Again this is tentative, I am content at my job but I just don't feel as challenged intellectually. I am good working with people and kids and get fulfillment out of helping them but I find myself daydreaming about a career path that is a bit more dynamic and challenging.

Undergrad GPA: 3.78
Degrees: B.S. , Biology (2009), M. Ed. , Science Ed. and certification (2011)
The undergraduate school was at a big ten school and the graduate was at a fairly well known private school in the state.
Experiences: Undergraduate research for about 2 years. Various leadership roles on a club sports team.

I am in my 4th year of teaching high school science. I am currently teaching Physics at a private, college prep. school and have taught chemistry previously. I help out with coaching cross country and track and lead a science team that piggy backs research of local professors. This is partially what has sparked the fire into science and possibly medicine again. I find myself more interested and involved in the process than the students are!

My plan is to get back into a lab on a volunteer basis and to also do some volunteer work at a local hospice on the weekends. I really want to see if this is an appropriate career switch.

This summer, I'll study up on the MCAT (I feel as though I might have a slight advantage given that I've taught several years of Chemistry and Physics) and take it late fall. My goal is to score high and I have plenty of time to put the work in.

The following winter and spring I'll compile letters of recommendation, create a personal statement, continue volunteer opportunities, and be ready to submit my application June 1 of 2015.

I am tentatively thinking of getting letters from the following:

1. Most recent research mentor

2. Undergraduate research mentor

3. Representative (who has Ph.D. from the science team program)

4. Prof. from a summer science course I took last year.

4. Volunteer coordinator at hospice

5. Department chair from my work

6. Professor from my M.Ed. work


There are a couple of things that I have mild concerns about.

1. I will not have a formal letter from a science professor from my undergrad. My classes were 300+ and I just never got to know any of the professors that well. There is perhaps one professor I may be able to draw on--I took a summer course and the classes were small. I doubt, however, that he remembers me much. The letter would be vague at best.

2. I heard the MCAT is changing for 2015. There is a psychology and sociology requirement. I have not taken these classes. I have heard the most schools will accept the old MCAT. Even if the old MCAT is accepted, will there be an expectation that most applicants have at least taken these courses?

3. Clinical experience may be somewhat limited.

4. I'll be 29 by the time I start medical school. Right now I am debt free and earning a decent wage. Would I be plunging off a financial cliff?

Again, I am in the early stages of exploring this option and I am hoping the volunteer work puts any questions at ease.

Thanks for your input.
 

theseeker4

PGY 3
7+ Year Member
Apr 20, 2011
3,502
758
Suburban Detroit, MI
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Hello Everyone,

I am new to the board and I'm looking for some advice.

I am thinking of doing a career switch into science research and or medicine. The following is my background and tentative plan of action. I want to give myself some exposure to the field a bit before going through with anything. Please give me some honest feedback! Again this is tentative, I am content at my job but I just don't feel as challenged intellectually. I am good working with people and kids and get fulfillment out of helping them but I find myself daydreaming about a career path that is a bit more dynamic and challenging.

Undergrad GPA: 3.78
Degrees: B.S. , Biology (2009), M. Ed. , Science Ed. and certification (2011)
The undergraduate school was at a big ten school and the graduate was at a fairly well known private school in the state.
Experiences: Undergraduate research for about 2 years. Various leadership roles on a club sports team.

I am in my 4th year of teaching high school science. I am currently teaching Physics at a private, college prep. school and have taught chemistry previously. I help out with coaching cross country and track and lead a science team that piggy backs research of local professors. This is partially what has sparked the fire into science and possibly medicine again. I find myself more interested and involved in the process than the students are!

My plan is to get back into a lab on a volunteer basis and to also do some volunteer work at a local hospice on the weekends. I really want to see if this is an appropriate career switch.

This summer, I'll study up on the MCAT (I feel as though I might have a slight advantage given that I've taught several years of Chemistry and Physics) and take it late fall. My goal is to score high and I have plenty of time to put the work in.

The following winter and spring I'll compile letters of recommendation, create a personal statement, continue volunteer opportunities, and be ready to submit my application June 1 of 2015.

I am tentatively thinking of getting letters from the following:

1. Most recent research mentor

2. Undergraduate research mentor

3. Representative (who has Ph.D. from the science team program)

4. Prof. from a summer science course I took last year.

4. Volunteer coordinator at hospice

5. Department chair from my work

6. Professor from my M.Ed. work


There are a couple of things that I have mild concerns about.

1. I will not have a formal letter from a science professor from my undergrad. My classes were 300+ and I just never got to know any of the professors that well. There is perhaps one professor I may be able to draw on--I took a summer course and the classes were small. I doubt, however, that he remembers me much. The letter would be vague at best.

2. I heard the MCAT is changing for 2015. There is a psychology and sociology requirement. I have not taken these classes. I have heard the most schools will accept the old MCAT. Even if the old MCAT is accepted, will there be an expectation that most applicants have at least taken these courses?

3. Clinical experience may be somewhat limited.

4. I'll be 29 by the time I start medical school. Right now I am debt free and earning a decent wage. Would I be plunging off a financial cliff?

Again, I am in the early stages of exploring this option and I am hoping the volunteer work puts any questions at ease.

Thanks for your input.
There is some leeway at some schools for non trads regarding LORs but this is hit or miss, and you may want to contact med schools you are interested in to see if taking more classes is something that will benefit you for the purpose of LORs. My guess would be it isn't needed, but I don't know for sure.

I would only worry about the additional requirements if you are applying to a school that says they want to see them. If they expect you to take a class, they will tell you so.

If you start volunteering and shadowing now, you will be fine as far as clinical experience by the time you apply in 2015. Make sure you have something consistent from now until then and adcoms will be happy.

Pursuing medicine will result in a significantly delayed payback. The fact that you are debt free is a good thing, but understand it will be decades, not years, before you make a profit by being a physician over what you would have earned if you remained a teacher. If money is a main motivation for you in this, you should probably reconsider. That said, if doctors were not well paid, I wouldn't be doing this myself, but I am doing this knowing it is not providing a short or medium term financial boost; I am pursuing medicine because I don't think I would be happy not doing so.

Welcome, and feel free to ask anything else you are unsure of.
 
Jan 18, 2011
186
38
Status
Pre-Medical
You will probably have the greatest advantage taking the old (current) MCAT with your chemistry and physics background. You can take the current one through Jan of 2015. Pretty much all schools will accept MCAT scores about 2-3 years old, so you're fine there. The intro psych and soc classes are just suggested for the upcoming MCAT content, and don't have anything to do with prereq courses required by medical schools. That being said, there may be some schools that require those classes. Check the latest MSAR. The letters of rec requirements will vary by school. Check with schools you are interested in, many may accept alternate ones like you listed on a case by case basis. That might be in the MSAR too.

The biggest things to consider for you, is since you have such a great interest in research, realize that you won't be doing that much research during medical school, and even if you find a research heavy residency, much of your time will still be spent doing doctor things, (taking care of patients) not research things (growing tumors in rats). Is that OK with you? You will also be competing against other top medical students for those coveted "university" residencies, with the research gigs. (Not me, I'm going to be quite happy with a community residency, all clinical for me!) What if you don't get into the program you want?

Also consider the MD/PhD route, if you could get in touch with someone from one of those programs you may be able to get a better idea about what you want/can do.
 
OP
N
Dec 19, 2013
4
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
There is some leeway at some schools for non trads regarding LORs but this is hit or miss, and you may want to contact med schools you are interested in to see if taking more classes is something that will benefit you for the purpose of LORs. My guess would be it isn't needed, but I don't know for sure.

I would only worry about the additional requirements if you are applying to a school that says they want to see them. If they expect you to take a class, they will tell you so.

If you start volunteering and shadowing now, you will be fine as far as clinical experience by the time you apply in 2015. Make sure you have something consistent from now until then and adcoms will be happy.

Pursuing medicine will result in a significantly delayed payback. The fact that you are debt free is a good thing, but understand it will be decades, not years, before you make a profit by being a physician over what you would have earned if you remained a teacher. If money is a main motivation for you in this, you should probably reconsider. That said, if doctors were not well paid, I wouldn't be doing this myself, but I am doing this knowing it is not providing a short or medium term financial boost; I am pursuing medicine because I don't think I would be happy not doing so.

Welcome, and feel free to ask anything else you are unsure of.

In the case of taking more classes for a purpose of LOR, would it have to be science related? Does that depend on the school as well? If anything I would probably take a summer psychology or sociology course.

I realize the delayed paycheck, the feeling to make a switch hasn't really been financially motivated...I think it's the challenge and dynamics of the career that are pulling me toward it. Again, this is only my perception as well from talking with current students and doctors etc. I'm hoping the experiences put some sort of closure--either one way or the other--going forward.
 
OP
N
Dec 19, 2013
4
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
You will probably have the greatest advantage taking the old (current) MCAT with your chemistry and physics background. You can take the current one through Jan of 2015. Pretty much all schools will accept MCAT scores about 2-3 years old, so you're fine there. The intro psych and soc classes are just suggested for the upcoming MCAT content, and don't have anything to do with prereq courses required by medical schools. That being said, there may be some schools that require those classes. Check the latest MSAR. The letters of rec requirements will vary by school. Check with schools you are interested in, many may accept alternate ones like you listed on a case by case basis. That might be in the MSAR too.

The biggest things to consider for you, is since you have such a great interest in research, realize that you won't be doing that much research during medical school, and even if you find a research heavy residency, much of your time will still be spent doing doctor things, (taking care of patients) not research things (growing tumors in rats). Is that OK with you? You will also be competing against other top medical students for those coveted "university" residencies, with the research gigs. (Not me, I'm going to be quite happy with a community residency, all clinical for me!) What if you don't get into the program you want?

Also consider the MD/PhD route, if you could get in touch with someone from one of those programs you may be able to get a better idea about what you want/can do.
I hear of some doctors doing a 20%/80% or 50%/50% split research/clinical experience. Obviously and M.D. is required but is a MD/Ph.D obligatory to do something like this? Is this something the progresses slowly in one's career? For example, may a MD develop a niche and end up doing lab research with it somehow? For those who pursue a clinical residency, are their at least part time opportunities for research? How much actual "flex" is there in the MD pursuit?
 
Jan 18, 2011
186
38
Status
Pre-Medical
I hear of some doctors doing a 20%/80% or 50%/50% split research/clinical experience. Obviously and M.D. is required but is a MD/Ph.D obligatory to do something like this? Is this something the progresses slowly in one's career? For example, may a MD develop a niche and end up doing lab research with it somehow? For those who pursue a clinical residency, are their at least part time opportunities for research? How much actual "flex" is there in the MD pursuit?
In order to get better information, I would post this question in one of the resident/physician forums. Maybe the Physician scientist forum and the internal medicine forum. You need answers from people closer to the answer than me!