Need urgent advice - thinking about going for post-bac for med school

Aug 6, 2015
14
1
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
I have been doing a lot of research and reading through quite a few posts on SDN over the past few weeks in order to gain some insight when it comes to what to do in my situation. I finally decided to register myself since I need brutally honest advice. As long as it's objective, I have thick skin and don't care how harsh it comes off.
I'm a 30 year-old male in Chicago. I just graduated in May with a BA in Liberal Studies from University of Illinois at Springfield. Overall GPA is 3.07. I struggled in college when I was younger due to depression issues, but when I went back to school (after being out for 7 years) in 2013 as an online student to finish my Bachelor's (I had about 65 credit hours remaining), I got mostly A's (except for 1 F in Java Programming). None of the courses I took during the past few years were science-related, and the last time I did take a science course was back in 2005.
As I mentioned, I really struggled during my first tenure in college (2003-2006). I went to a university (IIT) for my first semester, and stopped going to class for the last month or so of the semester and dropped out. I was a premed student at that time and, not surprisingly, failed most of my classes (including bio and chem).
When I transferred to a community college shortly afterwards, I continued to struggle in classes, especially science ones.
After a few years of this, I decided not to continue school and instead, put all of my focus on a career in retail sales/management. After 5 years, I was burned out and had enough of retail and knew that I needed a change. So in 2013, I quit my job and went back to school. I decided on Liberal Studies/Liberal Arts because it was a broad-based degree and the courses I took during my first go-around in college actually counted towards it. None of the courses I took over the past few years were science related, since I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do as far as a career went, and my main goal was getting done with a Bachelors in as short time as possible.
Here are the challenges I face when it comes to getting into med school, and any advice would be appreciated, especially if you've been in a similar situation and made it through.

1) My overall GPA is pretty low for med school (3.07), however, I did get almost all A's in my courses (non-science), over the past few years. 2) From the science classes I took from 2003-2005 (total of 29 credit hours), my science GPA is a miserable 1.68. - Is this a major issue/barrier in which I can't come back from? It was over 10 years ago...

3) I am leaning towards at least going back to my local community college to retake Bio 121 and Chem 201. The thing is, this would be third time I am taking both of these courses (these were taken once at IIT in 2003 when I failed and dropped out, and once again at Truman College in 2005, where I got a D and C respectively).
Am I somehow redeemable by showing that I am a different student now and have learned from my past mistakes? I've read on SDN posts that med schools will still factor in all grades, regardless of whether or not they were retakes.
4) On the other hand, I've read that DO schools actually do take the most recent grades for retakes, is this true? But what if this is the third try - will DO schools still only factor in the most recent grade?


 
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el_duderino

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Yes, you have a chance. Yes, you should only try for a US med school. Yes, if you make it you will have a ton of student loan debt but you'll also have physician salary and be able to pay it off.

I suggest only pursuing this if you literally can't see yourself doing anything else with your life, because it will be very difficult and you will have to devote yourself to the life of a poor student for quite some time.
 
OP
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Aug 6, 2015
14
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Thanks for the reply jonnythan. I've been in the workforce, and unless you're passionate about sales and/or a major techie, it's pretty rough out there. I myself, can't stand sales, don't see myself working in IT for the rest of my life, and would rather be a poor student than go through the retail/sales world again. I've always wanted a career in which I can help others, and what better way to do that than medicine...
 

el_duderino

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There are a lot of ways to help others. Evaluate those other ways, and think critically about your motivations for wanting to be a physician instead of one of those other things.

FYI, I worked in IT for 10 years and started medical school at 33.
 
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Dral

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The part about not getting a residency spot is not really accurate (if you get into a US med school and do well). I started med school at 33 and got into one of the most competitive specialties for residency.

Your big hurdle now is getting into med school.
 
OP
C
Aug 6, 2015
14
1
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
There are a lot of ways to help others. Evaluate those other ways, and think critically about your motivations for wanting to be a physician instead of one of those other things.

FYI, I worked in IT for 10 years and started medical school at 33.
That's interesting. I have a question for you: Why did you want to become a doctor when you decided to transition from IT? I'm sure you made good money in IT, so was it the fact that being a doctor would be a more fulfilling and rewarding career?
 
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OP
C
Aug 6, 2015
14
1
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
The part about not getting a residency spot is not really accurate (if you get into a US med school and do well). I started med school at 33 and got into one of the most competitive specialties for residency.

Your big hurdle now is getting into med school.
Yeah, that make sense. I'm contemplating working full time while improving my science GPA in order to save up money for living expenses for while I'm in med school, if that happens. Do you think taking 1 or 2 classes at a time while working full time would hurt my chances of getting into med school? In other words, do med schools look at how long it took me to get pre-reqs done? Would taking a full time course load look better on a med school application?
 

el_duderino

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That's interesting. I have a question for you: Why did you want to become a doctor when you decided to transition from IT? I'm sure you made good money in IT, so was it the fact that being a doctor would be a more fulfilling and rewarding career?
I never wanted to be anything but a physician. My dad convinced me to go into engineering. I hated it, dropped out, and ended up working in network administration for a decade before realizing it wasn't too late to do the only thing I ever really saw myself doing. Finished my degree (part time while working full time, 2-3 classes at a time including somw summer CC courses) and here I am. Money had nothing at all to do with it; I did make good money in IT. Nothing else pushes my buttons like medicine.
 
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OP
C
Aug 6, 2015
14
1
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
I never wanted to be anything but a physician. My dad convinced me to go into engineering. I hated it, dropped out, and ended up working in network administration for a decade before realizing it wasn't too late to do the only thing I ever really saw myself doing. Finished my degree (part time while working full time, 2-3 classes at a time including somw summer CC courses) and here I am. Money had nothing at all to do with it; I did make good money in IT. Nothing else pushes my buttons like medicine.
A few more questions:
How was the transition for you? Were you always good at science courses, or was there a significant learning curve? What did your path to get into med school look like; did you always have a high gpa, what did you do for volunteer work, etc? How was med school for you, and did you have to support any family while in med school?
Sorry for all of the questions lol
I really appreciate your time by the way. Really means a lot.
 

el_duderino

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I was always good at science, but bio was always my weakest subject. I got 3 points higher on physical sciences than biological on my MCAT. So it's been a little difficult to get fully up to speed academically; I suspect that I had one of the weakest bio backgrounds in my class. Really though the biggest change was to my social environment. It's been quite a change spending every day among highly motivated, brilliant people who share a lot of my interests and values. Adapting to the workload was tough but not impossible. I had been working full time plus going to class for two years prior, after all.

I didn't have any family to support, though I did live with my girlfriend. I spent some time volunteering in the ER and did a clinical research class. I also had some history of volunteer work with a church group, some leadership and experience with a couple of groups, etc. Nothing stellar but I suppose a reasonably solid and diverse set of experiences.
 
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DoctorDrewOutsidetheLines

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Chicago12, I'm in Chicago too. I'm 31. Never had science. About to start working full-time as an EMT. I'm currently taking Calculus I at Harold Washington CC. I deferred my admission to Loyola's post-bac pre-med program. I'd highly suggest looking into doing a post-bac at Northwestern or Loyola, or Dominican (IIT has one too) or just taking the classes needed (aka an informal post-bac) at any four year school: UIC, Northwestern, U-Chicago, Loyola, Northwestern, etc -you can enroll as a graduate student-at-large. But I seriously would do the post-bac route. Loyola has a solid program with advising and a committee letter.
 
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OP
C
Aug 6, 2015
14
1
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Chicago12, I'm in Chicago too. I'm 31. Never had science. About to start working full-time as an EMT at Superior. I'm currently taking Calculus I at Harold Washington CC. I deferred my admission to Loyola's post-bac pre-med program. I'd highly suggest looking into doing a post-bac at Northwestern or Loyola, or Dominican (IIT has one too) or just taking the classes needed (aka an informal post-bac) at any four year school: UIC, Northwestern, U-Chicago, Loyola, Northwestern, etc -you can enroll as a graduate student-at-large. But I seriously would do the post-bac route. Loyola has a solid program with advising and a committee letter.
Thanks for the advice! I've reached out to Loyola regarding their post-bacc program. Seems like a great program, but from my email correspondence with their post-bacc department, the downside is that there are limited loans available to finance it, meaning that I would have to either pay out of pocket or take out a private loan. Not sure if I can do that. Northwestern seems to be a better option in terms of loans being available, but I'm leaning towards doing pre-reqs at Truman or Wright for financial reasons. I would have to start in January at the earliest anyways, so we'll see. Please let me know if you have any other advice. It's kind of nice having someone on here who is also from Chicago. Question: How are you planning on financing the post-bacc for Loyola when you do start the program?
Also, how did you become an EMT? It seems like Malcolm X CC has a one semester program for it. Did you go there to become an EMT? Also, how difficult is it find an EMT job once you go through the program? I may consider going the EMT route in the future to gain some healthcare experience.
 

DoctorDrewOutsidetheLines

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I feel you with the community college courses, but here's the thing: You don't want to take premed courses at community college. At all. Ever. Trust me Trust everyone else on these forums. It's not gonna look good. Look into the state schools: UIC has a tier tuition of $5740 for full time tuition per semester. I'm actually considering it. As far as the Malcolm X EMT course, I was originally registered for that one, but I got hired first and they are teaching me at their headquarters and paying me simultaneously - I am an employee of their company and once I pass the National EMT exam, I have to stay with them for at least a year full-time to pay back the class, etc. Like I'd leave, I now have a job, lol, and that's how I intend to pay for my premed education at Loyola (if I go to Loyola). My company also partners with Advocate Christ to offer the class, a class of hired EMTs just completed their training in late August. I know someone going through the Malcolm X program right now, he seems to like it, but I don't know how or if he intends to seek employment as an EMT when he finishes in December.
 

el_duderino

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I took some premed courses at CC.
 

Gandyy

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I feel you with the community college courses, but here's the thing: You don't want to take premed courses at community college. At all. Ever. Trust me Trust everyone else on these forums. It's not gonna look good. Look into the state schools: UIC has a tier tuition of $5740 for full time tuition per semester. I'm actually considering it. As far as the Malcolm X EMT course, I was originally registered for that one, but I got hired first and they are teaching me at their headquarters and paying me simultaneously - I am an employee of their company and once I pass the National EMT exam, I have to stay with them for at least a year full-time to pay back the class, etc. Like I'd leave, I now have a job, lol, and that's how I intend to pay for my premed education at Loyola (if I go to Loyola). My company also partners with Advocate Christ to offer the class, a class of hired EMTs just completed their training in late August. I know someone going through the Malcolm X program right now, he seems to like it, but I don't know how or if he intends to seek employment as an EMT when he finishes in December.
Kind of. Not 100% true. If you have like 1 physics course or something you need to finish up and it would be very hard for you to relocate or something, then its fine granted that you take the vast majority of your pre-med pre reqs at a 4 year school.
 
OP
C
Aug 6, 2015
14
1
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
I feel you with the community college courses, but here's the thing: You don't want to take premed courses at community college. At all. Ever. Trust me Trust everyone else on these forums. It's not gonna look good. Look into the state schools: UIC has a tier tuition of $5740 for full time tuition per semester. I'm actually considering it. As far as the Malcolm X EMT course, I was originally registered for that one, but I got hired first and they are teaching me at their headquarters and paying me simultaneously - I am an employee of their company and once I pass the National EMT exam, I have to stay with them for at least a year full-time to pay back the class, etc. Like I'd leave, I now have a job, lol, and that's how I intend to pay for my premed education at Loyola (if I go to Loyola). My company also partners with Advocate Christ to offer the class, a class of hired EMTs just completed their training in late August. I know someone going through the Malcolm X program right now, he seems to like it, but I don't know how or if he intends to seek employment as an EMT when he finishes in December.
Do you mind sharing what company you are employed with for EMT? I'm looking into different options and this seems like a great way to make some money while getting patient experience. Also, getting paid while being trained doesn't sound like a bad deal at all. Sure you're locked in for one year, but I don't see that as a negative either.
 

DoctorDrewOutsidetheLines

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I am all for community college courses, I am seriously hoping I can squeeze in a couple myself for financial reasons, but OP was talking about taking all his pre-reqs at CC, not just one or two.
 

DoctorDrewOutsidetheLines

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I would mind sharing my work company, sorry but as far as I'm aware, this paid EMT-training program is a pilot program, there are not many of us in it and I do not wish to call attention to myself or jeopardize my employment. But I'm sure once you get your EMT cert, you'll be applying to this company. It's pretty well known in the Midwest.
 
OP
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Aug 6, 2015
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
I would mind sharing my work company, sorry but as far as I'm aware, this paid EMT-training program is a pilot program, there are not many of us in it and I do not wish to call attention to myself or jeopardize my employment. But I'm sure once you get your EMT cert, you'll be applying to this company. It's pretty well known in the Midwest.
Gotcha. No worries, I completely understand. Thanks for all the advice.
 

Gandyy

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I am all for community college courses, I am seriously hoping I can squeeze in a couple myself for financial reasons, but OP was talking about taking all his pre-reqs at CC, not just one or two.
Yea, I mean you cant take all your pre-reqs at a community college. Thats just a huge red flag.
 
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From Chicago too, looking at premed per-requisites as well. Wondering if taking Physics 1 and OChem 1 is doable in one semester, especially if I go to HES?

Been taking a-la carte courses at UChicago, but I think with work two courses per quarter becomes too much. All feedback is welcome!!