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non-traditional in need of advice

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Teach, Nov 2, 2001.

  1. Teach

    Teach Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2001
    Edwards, CA
    I'm 27 years old and graduated with a BA in Biology in 1997. I have sinced finished a master's in education and have been teaching in the public school system. Anyway, I have decided to chase my medical school dream that I was too afraid of when I was younger. I took the MCAT's in August (VS 9, PS11, BS 10) and my gpa is a 3.7 from a small "public honors college" on the East coast. I want to apply this summer and have started looking at the application process. I am concerned about the letters of recommendations. I haven't seen, let alone talked to most of my professors for years. I also live on the West coast now - so I am no where near my alma mater. Any suggestions or advice about whom I should seek letters from? I have contacted the professor I researched with in undergrad and he will be writing me one. Should I get letters from the principals I work for at my school? Are those acceptable? Or do letters of recs have to come from specific people from your "college" career and not your "professional" career? Thank you for any advice you may have.
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  3. ajz

    ajz Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    I am a non-traditional student also. Some of my letters of recommendation came from my previous bosses at a large bank. However, I had to go back to school to complete my prerequisites. So, I obtained two letters of recommendation from the school where I did my post-bacc. I also have two letters or recs from doctors where I currently conduct research.

    Letters of recs are VERY IMPORTANT. I think admissions committee want to see recommendations from people who are NOT ONLY in academia but also from people who are physicians/researchers. This is because, those letters will hold the most weight in evaluating your skills/aptitude in becoming a doctor. The other letters simply say that yes they are good at academics (teachers) and yes they are hard working and intelligent (non-physician letters). Again, a letter of rec from a physician whom you have/should work for hold a tremendous key for your overall compilation of letters.

    Hope that helps
  4. old lady

    old lady Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 27, 2001
    Tampa, Florida
    I am in exactly the same situation. I graduated four years ago and don't live anywhere near my undergrad school. Some med schools will allow you to send letters from your current or past employers, volunteer coordinators, etc., so get some of those. (I got two) However, most of the schools require you to send letters from undergraduate professors even though those people don't know who you are. This was very stressful for me, but it worked out okay. I sent emails to some professors, and I told them my situation and that I understood that they wouldn't remember me. I said I would send them my college transcripts, my MCAT scores, a description of my activities, and my essays from my medical school application, and they could write a letter based on that. I had to look up their names in our college couse archives, because I didn't remember any of them. A few of them said no, but I managed to get three science letters and one nonscience (This should cover all the different school's requirements). Two of them even wrote to me and said they had written excellent letters based on the information I had sent them! Good luck! Oh, I just noticed you have a graduate degree - I think some schools might let you send some letters from that, but you will still have to get undergraduate letters for some of the schools, so write to your professors now.
  5. rondo

    rondo Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 29, 2001
    i also graduate about a million years ago (seems like it anyway) and then worked in industry and am now in graduate school.

    i called medical schools all over when i decided to apply (call them in the "off" season, they're really nice). basically, i couldn't get away with not having the academic letters at all but letters from grad school were fine. only one school INSISTED that i have the undergrad letter (dartmouth) although they admitted it probably was not as informative as the others. but some schools were very flexible and understanding sow you should call the schools you are interested in.

    i'm always SO impressed by people who change from other careers to go into medicine and don't apply from an academic setting (that part is a pain). but the adcomm people i talked to really liked to show off about those kind of students they'd accepted (especially yale!).

    good luck!
  6. watto

    watto Sleek White Pantsuit 10+ Year Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    It wouldn't hurt to take a refresher course in one of the basic sciences, or even an anatomy/physiology class at a local college, if you can swing it. Then you can kick butt in the class and ask the prof for a letter when you are finished. You will then have at least one current science letter based upon a class you excelled in, as well as the extra course on your record. Win-win as it gets.
  7. EpiII

    EpiII Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 26, 2001
    I also am a non-traditional student. Undergrad in 94, grad in 97 and have been working in Public Health since then. Some school require letters from undergrad (USC), but since you went to a small school (like I did) the profs will still remember you. Mine were more than happy to write letters. This is the second time they have written, once for grad school, now for med school.

    I also asked a graduate prof to write one and I asked the health officer who I work closely with to write one as well. If you are currently working and do not have a letter from that employer, it will look a little odd. I heard that advice from a former dean of admissions - I didn't just make it up :)
  8. Teach

    Teach Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2001
    Edwards, CA
    I want to thank everyone for their advice. I've decided to contact two of my undergraduate professors and send my portfolio to them to help them decide. I will get letters from my principals, vice principals and mentor teacher that I have worked with. I am going to write to two of my grad profs and forward them a portfolio.

    How early is too early to ask for letters? I'm going to apply this coming summer. I want to give them plenty of time.

    Oh, one more thing, does anyone know anything about preceptorships for non-traditionals? I volunteer at a local hospital but my duties are very limited and I don't get to interact very much with the staff. What type of volunteer experience are admission committees looking for? I have lots of volunteer experience in my teaching career (tutoring, mentoring at risk students, coaching, science club sponsors, etc. - all volunteer) but I don't know what the admincomm will think since it's not medical oriented.

    Any thoughts? Thanks, again.

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