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Non-trad, best way to prepare for next cycle?

deltak66

New Member
Apr 26, 2017
7
1
  1. Pre-Medical
    Hi everybody -

    First post, forgive my ignorance. After being pre-med for my undergrad career, I decided to explore an alternate career path. I spent the last few years starting a career in business operations and management. I now want to apply in the 2018-2019 cycle to an (any) MD program in the US. I will be quitting my job ~low key panic~ to spend the next 12 months preparing my application. I have to take 5-6 months to study for the MCAT. Should I spend the rest of the 6 months to raise my GPA via post bacc (the most I can reasonably raise my GPA is ~0.10) or more focus on volunteering and/or getting clinical experience?

    Profile:
    Career: I completed a competitive internship at a top strategy consulting company and was given a return offer for a full-time role. I declined because I started becoming someone I did not want to be. Instead, when I graduated, I joined a small (10-20 person), non-profit technology company as a product manager. This nonprofit is reputable (high profile donors and foundation backing, etc.) with the mission of building software to address social challenges. One of those focus areas was health - I spent my time working with low-income hospitals and most recently with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid on clinical quality of care - we were working on the technology side (90% of the time, I couldn’t smell patients). I was promoted to Chief of Staff for the CEO about 8 months in and now am in a COO-type, leadership role where I help direct the company strategy and business operations.
    cGPA: 3.48, sGPA: 3.40 (with post bacc -> cGPA: 3.54, sGPA: 3.50)
    MCAT score: One of my biggest regrets was choosing “Do not score” on my first MCAT attempt. I was scoring ~32-33 on practice test leading up to it. Will this hurt me as a failed attempt?
    State of residence: CA
    Ethnicity: Asian
    Undergrad: UC Berkeley, Bio, been out of school 2 years now
    Research: ~9 months wet lab research (no publication).
    Shadowing: ~150 hours rotating through the Department of Surgery at UC Davis Medical Center and ~100 hours shadowing an Ob/Gyn.
    ECs:
    • President of a business fraternity. I
    • I started a nonprofit student group that funded student-run startups (our cohorts raised ~$15M in funding).
    • I helped to build an innovation center near the campus (I raised ~$300,000 for it).
    • I worked at a digital health company that was improving patient-doctor communications via a web application for 9 months during undergrad (I did smell patients, I ran pilot tests of our product at medical center).

    Thank you, everyone, for your time and help - it is greatly appreciated.
     
    You're not exactly a "traditional" nontrad. You've only been out of school a couple of years. You'd be treated in the same way as most trad students because of your age and because you took many science courses that are the prerequisites.

    If you want to get into an MD school, you seem to be doing well as far as the service aspect. You're obviously going to have to re-take the MCAT.
    Do Not Score is really not a great thing for you, but it's in the past now. It's not so much bad for AdComs, but it is a huge waste of your money.
    Now, you have to go through that torture again. lol.

    Get the MSAR subscription. It's a great way of sorting where they will even look at your stats and not.
    If I were you, start with studying hard for the MCAT. Take it.

    You could possibly take classes. If you do, the obvious start would be to complete the prerequisites that you did not take yet.
    Personally, I would start your AMCAS application. Start it and pick universities from the MSAR that you fit in their requirements.
    If you obtain a good grade on your MCAT, you could try applying this cycle.
     
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    candbgirl

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      Do you have any clinical experience besides shadowing(not the same). How about nonclinical volunteering to the underserved-something that shows your altruism to those less fortunate than yourself. Do you have your LORs ready to go? We know you haven't taken the MCAT or completed the primary. You are not ready to apply this cycle(despite what DeepFriedWater suggests.) Take your time, you only want to do this once. You really can't throw together a competitive application in a few weeks. And it's getting late for the MD cycle. (The DO cycle does run later. )Investigate DO schools and see if you might be interested in applying to DO schools. Your current GPAs are more in line with DO than MD. Much depends on your MCAT score so prepare well for that. Don't hurry yourself taking it and don't take it before you are consistently scoring at your target score on FL pretests. Good luck.


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      deltak66

      New Member
      Apr 26, 2017
      7
      1
      1. Pre-Medical
        I have no intention of applying this cycle as I do not have LORs, clinical experience, nor volunteering experience under my belt. I've read a good deal on DO but prefer MD. I have not ruled out DO and given my GPA, I want to keep it open as an option.

        Given MD as my goal, should I spend 6 months improving my GPA to 3.5? Or is my time better spent working on the other weaknesses in my application? Thank you both!
         
        I have no intention of applying this cycle as I do not have LORs, clinical experience, nor volunteering experience under my belt. I've read a good deal on DO but prefer MD. I have not ruled out DO and given my GPA, I want to keep it open as an option.

        Given MD as my goal, should I spend 6 months improving my GPA to 3.5? Or is my time better spent working on the other weaknesses in my application? Thank you both!
        Your GPA is ok. Try first to work on the other weaknesses. Your MCAT, LORs, and experiences are more important right now. Without that, they won't even look at you. If you try and don't get much of a response after getting your ducks in line, THEN you can work on GPA. It's at 3.5 now, and if you have a lot of credits already, it becomes much more difficult to raise your GPA. It is MUCH easier to accidentally lower your GPA at this point in the game. I would say to try to work with what you have.
         
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        deltak66

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        Apr 26, 2017
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        1. Pre-Medical
          it becomes much more difficult to raise your GPA.

          This is very true. I will have to take 1 or 2 classes this fall semester because I need a solid, science LOR. I have one old science professor I can ask but it has been years since I've connected with any of them. I think your intuition is correct, I need to address the other weaknesses on my app (volunteering, clinical experience) or else I am dead in the water vs. low-GPA could be overcome by a high MCAT.
           
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          fourandtwo

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          Jan 31, 2012
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            Hi, non-trad here. Let me tell you about my experience and give some insight, but still, take what I say with a grain of salt.

            I am 7 years removed from school and I took 7 months to prep for my mcat with my full time (aka 60 hour/week) consulting job. It was hard and many times I wanted to quit, but it's possible. But if you're financially okay, then go for the pay cut for your mental health .

            Volunteer if you can't find medically related work. I think adcoms understand nontrad life and responsibilities, especially if you can WRITE meaningfully about them. For the average recent grad, it may take 500 hours for an activity to make an impact on them, but for someone more mature, it may only take 100. It's like dating, at this point of your life you already know what you want and it will only take you a few dates to know you want to commit. You know what I mean? So stay focused and find meaning in your clinical activities.

            Also, don't forget to think about how your non-medical life has led you back to being a premed. What parts of your job DID you like that made you want to do medicine?

            For me, it was enjoyable to volunteer at a medical kid's camp and at hospice. Keyword, ENJOYABLE. Don't do something just because you feel like you need to do it. I started volunteering last October and shadowing in April. I have 4 interviews so far and it's still early in the cycle, so I think I'm doing well.

            Last but not least, write super strong essays. Prep like no other for your essays. The mcat is just the beginning.
             
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            fourandtwo

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              This is very true. I will have to take 1 or 2 classes this fall semester because I need a solid, science LOR. I have one old science professor I can ask but it has been years since I've connected with any of them. I think your intuition is correct, I need to address the other weaknesses on my app (volunteering, clinical experience) or else I am dead in the water vs. low-GPA could be overcome by a high MCAT.

              I asked to meet with my professors from my undergrad after not speaking with them for 7 years and every one of them offered to write. Don't be shy! It's a much easier, cheaper, and less time consuming route! Plus it's fun to catch up :)
               
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