Jul 16, 2009
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Pre-Medical
Hi there,
Im a 30 year old male who has just begun the path towards med school. For reasons I wont get into now, I need to complete the premed process as quickly as possible. I started this summer, taking BIO I and II. If all goes according to plan, I will have completed my requirements by the end of this spring semester, take the MCATS over next summer and apply at the end of next summer to be considered for the following fall (fall of 2011), unless by some miracle my application is received and reviewed by the end of next summer and there is a spot for me for that very fall (is that even possible)?

Regardless, since I have just begun this process, I have absolutely ZERO EC's in the medical field. And I mean zero. With the intensity of my schedule in order to complete my pre-med requirements by end of this spring in order to take MCATS next summer, I really dont see how or when I will be able to gain any EC's in the field. First off, would this total lack of EC's essentially preclude me from acceptance even assuming a very high GPA and MCAT? It just seems that everyone on this forum is STACKED with medical EC's. Would schools take into account that an older, non-trad applicant like me might not have the schedule to permit fulfilling these EC's?
Lastly, any advice on some EC's that I might be able to take on despite a rigorous schedule would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
 

Law2Doc

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Hi there,
Im a 30 year old male who has just begun the path towards med school. For reasons I wont get into now, I need to complete the premed process as quickly as possible. I started this summer, taking BIO I and II. If all goes according to plan, I will have completed my requirements by the end of this spring semester, take the MCATS over next summer and apply at the end of next summer to be considered for the following fall (fall of 2011), unless by some miracle my application is received and reviewed by the end of next summer and there is a spot for me for that very fall (is that even possible)?

Regardless, since I have just begun this process, I have absolutely ZERO EC's in the medical field. And I mean zero. With the intensity of my schedule in order to complete my pre-med requirements by end of this spring in order to take MCATS next summer, I really dont see how or when I will be able to gain any EC's in the field. First off, would this total lack of EC's essentially preclude me from acceptance even assuming a very high GPA and MCAT? It just seems that everyone on this forum is STACKED with medical EC's. Would schools take into account that an older, non-trad applicant like me might not have the schedule to permit fulfilling these EC's?
Lastly, any advice on some EC's that I might be able to take on despite a rigorous schedule would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
No no no no no. This is not a race. If you have the attitude that you need to complete the process as quickly as possible, don't even bother. This isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. Yes you need ECs. Consider them prereqs, because med schools will. They want to see good healthcare ECs because they (1) want to be sure you know what you are getting yourself into, and (2) to see that you have some longterm interest/devotion to the profession. Med schools need to know that you aren't dabbling, and that you plan to make it through 4 years of school and 3+ years of residency and become a practicing clinician. That's their mission, and one most programs take seriously. It's not like other professional schools where you can drop out in a year if you find it's not for you and it's no big deal for the school.

People who don't know, first hand, what doctors do day to day tend not to be good applicants for med school because you have to really want to do the bad with the good, and that involves having a better sense of the bad. They don't want the applicant who sees the medical field as a respected, well paid, professional who gets to cure sick people. They want the applicant who enjoys the work that doctors do, working with patients, notwithstanding the masses of paperwork, inefficiencies, hours and aggravations of the job. So to this end, they at least want all applicants to spend a decent amount of time working with doctors in a medical setting, seeing their interaction with patients, seeing what they do most of the day. And more than what the schools want, this should be something you want too. You don't want to embark into a career which will involve 65-90 hours/week of your time every week for the next 40 years without researching it ahead of time. You NEED to do this, to make an informed decision. Not rush through and hope some school will ignore the fact that you didn't have the good sense to research your decision fully. You need to look before you leap, not rush through to leap early.

Sorry, but you are way off kilter here, and will not be getting into med school unless you revamp your time to incorporate a lot of EC time, and slow up the pace such that you get mostly A's in everything. Having the prereqs done quick is well and nice, but no med school is looking for someone who did it fast -- the person who does it in twice the time, and fits in all the necessary other stuff, always has a better chance of getting in. You won't be starting in September 2010, and maybe not 2011 unless you find time to do what needs to be done. Which is fine -- most nontrads take a couple of years to get themselves ready for med school, and your age is still not likely going to make you the oldest person in your matriculating class. But many places are going to wonder why you didn't start shadowing and volunteering BEFORE you started in on the postbac stuff, let alone why you will be trying to squeeze a little in late in the game. This smacks of leaping before looking. Most nontrads are expected to have better researched their decisions than trads -- it's fine for an undergrad to squeeze in a little shadowing and "wing it" and apply to med school, but a 30 year old is expected to have a good sense of what's involved before they disentangle from what they have been doing since college.

So ditch the "must get done quickly" attitude, or don't go the med school route. This is a life of learning, and it starts with premed. If it takes an extra year, it takes an extra year. The NUMBER ONE reason people don't get into med school is due to rushing things. You need to make your app competitive and THEN pull the trigger, not have your finger on the trigger long before everything you need to make the shot is in place. And ECs are one of those things. Realistically, your odds of getting in will be better if you slow everything down, take fewer prereqs at a time and start volunteering/shadowing/working in a medical setting a couple of days a week for the next year. That's a prereq, just like bio or the MCAT. So make sure it happens or don't bother. Which might mean 2012 is more realistic for you. And if that's the case, that's the case. Nobody said getting into med school is easy.
 
May 14, 2009
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Resident [Any Field]
Really not feasible to start school in 2010 - my advice would be to work towards taking the MCAT in June 2010. That gives you a full year to do some volunteering and get medical experience. There is always time to volunteer - 3 hours every Saturday morning will have no effect on your grades but will give you 150 hrs by the time you apply. For clinical experience I'd recommend either getting a part time job at a nursing home (or that could be your volunteer time) or do some community college course like phlebotomy or EMT (requires minimal effort and can get you a part time job). I went through the same crap you're going through - from the medical school perspective, if you can't swing a shift or two per week in addition to undergrad work you will not be a very competitive med student.
 

NTF

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Jul 1, 2008
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I don't think you'll find many proponents of "ECs are optional".

The reality is that you're going to need to make time for ECs, get as many A's in your prereqs as possible, and in a time frame that allows you a reasonable chance at success.

While you're being reticent about the special circumstances of your situation, I think by perusing the non-trad forum you'll find that many of us have had to juggle difficult burdens from family, visa issues, financial strains, and illness. Many of us had to work to support our families (financially, emotionally, and spiritually) while still finding time for classes, ECs, MCAT prep, and the whole rigamorole that is the med school application process. And this juggling won't end with matriculation. It's one that will be an ongoing struggle in school, internship, residency, fellowship, and beyond.

I don't think we'd be doing you a service by telling you ECs are optional. What we can do is give our advice about how to accomplish what we think needs to be done under difficult circumstances.

I agree with previous posters that you should probably slow down. There are many examples in the non-trad and reapplicant forums of people who regretted digging themselves a bigger hole by trying to rush a process which is really only a first step before 7-10 years of training and a 20+ year career.

Good luck. Keep us posted.

As far as ECs go, the two simplest suggestions I can give are to get some shadowing and commit yourself to volunteering somewhere (as soon as possible) at least 2hrs a week. Make time for it. And an absolute must is to get face time with patients. You can easily find a doctor to shadow on the AOA mentor exchange website. Volunteer at your local hospital. Tutor some kids at your local public school.
 
OP
S
Jul 16, 2009
171
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Thanks for the responses guys. Its not as though I was expecting to get responses of "you dont need EC's, dont worry about it". I guess Im just trying to get a sense of what IS expected of the applicant in this regard, and if I will have time to meet these expectations in the timeframe im trying to keep (I know that 2010 wont happen, but am truly hopeful for 2011).

On a different subject, as I said, ive already finished BIO I and II and was planning chem I phys I in fall, chem II phys II in spring, and orgo I and II next summer. However, several people have chimed in and said that i would probably be able to take chem I and orgo I concurrently this fall, and chem II and orgo II concurrently in spring. I had assumed that I had to have finished gen chem before I could take orgo but many here seem to say that this is not the case. If indeed I can do this, do you guys think taking chem I, orgo I and phys I all in one semester is too heavy a load? It seems that taking 3 lab courses in 1 semester might be intense, but perhaps not. Has anyone tried this with success?
The advantage of going this route is that if i take the 3 courses in fall and spring, then I will be done with pre-reqs by the end of spring and can then devote all of summer to mcats. If I go with my original plan, Ill need to take orgo I and II in the summer which will make it hard for me to have enough prep time to take the MCAT next summer and get my apps out early. Any ideas? thanks
 

Law2Doc

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Dec 20, 2004
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Thanks for the responses guys. Its not as though I was expecting to get responses of "you dont need EC's, dont worry about it". I guess Im just trying to get a sense of what IS expected of the applicant in this regard, and if I will have time to meet these expectations in the timeframe im trying to keep (I know that 2010 wont happen, but am truly hopeful for 2011).

On a different subject, as I said, ive already finished BIO I and II and was planning chem I phys I in fall, chem II phys II in spring, and orgo I and II next summer. However, several people have chimed in and said that i would probably be able to take chem I and orgo I concurrently this fall, and chem II and orgo II concurrently in spring. I had assumed that I had to have finished gen chem before I could take orgo but many here seem to say that this is not the case. If indeed I can do this, do you guys think taking chem I, orgo I and phys I all in one semester is too heavy a load? It seems that taking 3 lab courses in 1 semester might be intense, but perhaps not. Has anyone tried this with success?
The advantage of going this route is that if i take the 3 courses in fall and spring, then I will be done with pre-reqs by the end of spring and can then devote all of summer to mcats. If I go with my original plan, Ill need to take orgo I and II in the summer which will make it hard for me to have enough prep time to take the MCAT next summer and get my apps out early. Any ideas? thanks
Again, this is not a race. Taking chem, phy and orgo concurrently is a recipe for disaster. Your goal shouldn't be to finish ASAP, it should be to finish with straight A's. It's better to take an extra year than to end up with a lower letter in one or more of those classes. So no, your goal cannot be to get everything done in light speed. I wasn't kidding when I said above that the BIGGEST MISTAKE people make is rushing things, and as others have mentioned above, the reapp board is littered with people who did what you suggest and took on too much just to save a semester. Your goal should be to get into med school however long it takes. Your impatience is concerning.
 

BennieBlanco

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No no no no no. This is not a race. If you have the attitude that you need to complete the process as quickly as possible, don't even bother. This isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. Yes you need ECs. Consider them prereqs, because med schools will. They want to see good healthcare ECs because they (1) want to be sure you know what you are getting yourself into, and (2) to see that you have some longterm interest/devotion to the profession. Med schools need to know that you aren't dabbling, and that you plan to make it through 4 years of school and 3+ years of residency and become a practicing clinician. That's their mission, and one most programs take seriously. It's not like other professional schools where you can drop out in a year if you find it's not for you and it's no big deal for the school.

People who don't know, first hand, what doctors do day to day tend not to be good applicants for med school because you have to really want to do the bad with the good, and that involves having a better sense of the bad. They don't want the applicant who sees the medical field as a respected, well paid, professional who gets to cure sick people. They want the applicant who enjoys the work that doctors do, working with patients, notwithstanding the masses of paperwork, inefficiencies, hours and aggravations of the job. So to this end, they at least want all applicants to spend a decent amount of time working with doctors in a medical setting, seeing their interaction with patients, seeing what they do most of the day. And more than what the schools want, this should be something you want too. You don't want to embark into a career which will involve 65-90 hours/week of your time every week for the next 40 years without researching it ahead of time. You NEED to do this, to make an informed decision. Not rush through and hope some school will ignore the fact that you didn't have the good sense to research your decision fully. You need to look before you leap, not rush through to leap early.

Sorry, but you are way off kilter here, and will not be getting into med school unless you revamp your time to incorporate a lot of EC time, and slow up the pace such that you get mostly A's in everything. Having the prereqs done quick is well and nice, but no med school is looking for someone who did it fast -- the person who does it in twice the time, and fits in all the necessary other stuff, always has a better chance of getting in. You won't be starting in September 2010, and maybe not 2011 unless you find time to do what needs to be done. Which is fine -- most nontrads take a couple of years to get themselves ready for med school, and your age is still not likely going to make you the oldest person in your matriculating class. But many places are going to wonder why you didn't start shadowing and volunteering BEFORE you started in on the postbac stuff, let alone why you will be trying to squeeze a little in late in the game. This smacks of leaping before looking. Most nontrads are expected to have better researched their decisions than trads -- it's fine for an undergrad to squeeze in a little shadowing and "wing it" and apply to med school, but a 30 year old is expected to have a good sense of what's involved before they disentangle from what they have been doing since college.

So ditch the "must get done quickly" attitude, or don't go the med school route. This is a life of learning, and it starts with premed. If it takes an extra year, it takes an extra year. The NUMBER ONE reason people don't get into med school is due to rushing things. You need to make your app competitive and THEN pull the trigger, not have your finger on the trigger long before everything you need to make the shot is in place. And ECs are one of those things. Realistically, your odds of getting in will be better if you slow everything down, take fewer prereqs at a time and start volunteering/shadowing/working in a medical setting a couple of days a week for the next year. That's a prereq, just like bio or the MCAT. So make sure it happens or don't bother. Which might mean 2012 is more realistic for you. And if that's the case, that's the case. Nobody said getting into med school is easy.
Good advice.
 

BennieBlanco

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Again, this is not a race. Taking chem, phy and orgo concurrently is a recipe for disaster. Your goal shouldn't be to finish ASAP, it should be to finish with straight A's. It's better to take an extra year than to end up with a lower letter in one or more of those classes. So no, your goal cannot be to get everything done in light speed. I wasn't kidding when I said above that the BIGGEST MISTAKE people make is rushing things, and as others have mentioned above, the reapp board is littered with people who did what you suggest and took on too much just to save a semester. Your goal should be to get into med school however long it takes. Your impatience is concerning.
I agree and disagree.
1. Not a race (agree)
2. Thinking back, I could have taken all three together and done well, I've had harder semesters.

yet, I wouldn't recommend it if you are unseasoned. If you are just coming back then you don't have a semester under your belt with difficult classes.

A guy who has had a tough semester can learn shortcuts and be more efficient while still getting an A. You will likely be doing trial and error and therefore it could blow up in your face.

So, I would recommend against it. Yet a seasoned person could accomplish this with no problem.

STOP HURRYING. Ask yourself, would I still do this if it took 5 years to get in? If you can't answer yes to that question then you probably will struggle with lack of commitment. You can get in. Give yourself 2 years. You will work until you are 65, maybe 75. What is the difference of 1 more year? The hospital I volunteer at has a pre-med 50 year old engineer. You have time.