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Need a little advice for my situation...

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by SpartanBlueJay2, Mar 15, 2007.

  1. SpartanBlueJay2

    5+ Year Member

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    First of all, hi to everyone! I'm brand new the SDN forums. I've been lurking for awhile, reading up on the wonderful advice around here, and decided to join because I have some questions about how to address my application situation.

    I will be applying for the Class of '12 cycle. I graduated in 2004 with a degree in biochemistry from Case Western with a 3.76 GPA. I did all the "typical pre-med" things (volunteered ~75 hrs, shadowed ~450 hrs, worked in a residency office for 3 years, 1 year undergrad research) plus was a varsity athlete for 2 years and then coached high school volleyball when I got injured and couldn't play anymore. It had been my plan since a young age to become a doctor, but during my junior year, I kinda freaked out a little about applying to med school when my friends with better grades, good MCAT scores, boatloads of ECs, etc., were getting rejected. I didn't think I'd cut it in med admissions, so I decided to step back from the clinical medicine route and give something else a try because up until that point I hadn't considered any other career options.

    After my 1 year of research I (pretty hastily) applied to Ph.D. programs, and ended up at Johns Hopkins. I was kinda luke-warm on a basic science research career to begin with, and I found out pretty quickly that I made a mistake going to grad school instead of med school. I really feel strongly about finishing what I start, so I was planning on finishing the Ph.D. before applying to med school, but after much consideration and talking with professors, I decided that I didn't really have a valid reason to finish, so I'm completing a master's degree and applying to med school.

    So here are my questions: First, how do I explain this whole issue of my panicking and using grad school as a default route, then ultimately realizing that I would only be happy in a career in clinical medicine? And second, I'm a little concerned about how my grad school grades might affect admissions. The courses for JHU-SOM Ph.D programs are graded really tough... about 10% get A's, 30% get C's and must retake the course, and the remainder get B's. I've never seen my grad school transcript, but I assume my grad GPA to be around a 3.5. While this might seem to be low at other schools, I would say this is above average here. Plus, most of the B's I earned were less than 5% shy of being an A. I'm just afraid that the difference between my undergrad GPA and my grad GPA might cause concerns. Basically, I would just like some feedback on how to address these issues on my application.
     
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  2. TheGalvaniFrog

    TheGalvaniFrog Dissected & Electrocuted
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    Don't mention panicking. I had to do the switcheroo after grad school too. When asked about why medicine after research, I just said a couple of words about discovering that research is not really for me and why I see medicine is a better fit for me. The interviewers seem satisfied with the answer.
     
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  3. Krisss17

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    Another thing is that med school adcoms look at your UG GPA more than your grad school one, and with a 3.76, that is pretty respectable.

    I echo what TheGalvaniFrog stated and not to mention the panicking,. I totally believe in timing, and for some people, their time to pursue medicine is later than others. I know for me it is, and I think that I will be a better doctor because I'm going when my motivation is strong, and I know that my life experiences will help me more relate to my patients than if I went to college and med school immediately after high school.
     
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  4. OncoCaP

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    Welcome! My first suggestion is take this one step at a time. Don't try to solve all your "problems" at once.

    So far you haven't really said how you know that you will enjoy being a physician and that you'll find the processes of getting there bearable. There will be many tests of confidence on that road.

    I would focus more on why you want to become a physician at this point and making sure that this isn't going to be another situation like what happened with your Ph.D. (how can you ensure this?). In other words, just because you didn't like Basic Science, doesn't mean you'll like clinical medicine. You'll need a great explanation of your journey and what you have learned along the way to deciding that med school is the right path for you. You will probably find some gaps in your story and think about those issues, gaining further insight. Once you have that framework of why you want to become a physician, your issue with the Ph.D. will be much easier to address.

    With respect to the grades in your graduate program, they don't really count as much as your undergraduate grades. Also, there is nothing you can do about them now. You may want to take some additional UG courses just to show that you can still make the A's (if you decide you want to address that). Since your UG grades are decent, you should be ok. You'll need to make sure you do very well on the MCAT and maybe it would help to do some additional clinical experiences and volunteering. Good luck and keep us posted. :luck:
     
  5. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
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    Here are a couple of problems that I see right now. First, as others have said, you need to make a strong (very strong) case for why you want to study medicine. I have done both the MD and Ph.D and I can tell you that medicine is a far more difficult path unless you are strongly motivated by interest in the subject matter. As a member of an admissions committee, I encourage you to think long and hard why you want to practice medicine and be fully prepared to explain your decision.

    Second, you really need to drop the attitude of "what might seem to be low at other schools I would say this is above average here". Your grades are your grades and you need not defend or explain them on your application. Most of use who have been through the Ph.D process, know what is required for this degree. There is nothing wrong with opting out at the Masters level but don't apologize for your grades but rather explain that you changed your mind as you moved through your graduate coursework. Your graduate coursework will be evaluated (by a medical school admissions committee) separately from your undergraduate work. You maintained a high enough average to complete your degree and keep your funding so end of story. Don't address the difference between your graduate GPA and undergraduate GPA. If asked in an interview (where you are likely to be asked about this anyway), you can explain that your heart was actually always in medicine but your explanation as stated above is a little condescending especially to non-JHU Ph.Ds.

    The fact that you "used graduate school as a default" is more likely why your grades are lower than most graduate students attain as opposed to JHU being much harder than other programs. I am attempting to warn you that using this excuse is going to be counterproductive to what you actually want to convey.

    Explain your passion for medicine. Sell that passion to an admissions committee by a well-written personal statement. Highlight your strong points and how you will be an asset to a medical class because you are __________, _______ and __________. Your undergraduate GPA (you are fine there), a competitive MCAT, well written personal statement (that shows you as an individual ready and passionate about the study of medicine), good LORs and extra-curricular activites will get you accepted into medical school.

    Don't attempt to make an excuse for something that you don't need to explain in the first place. Good luck!
     
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