Medical Non-traditional student - How do I best prepare for application?

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Mr.Smile12

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Hey all, looking for some advice if anyone is willing. I am a non-traditional student applying in 2021 (early but needed for planning!). Pasting my stats below, but a little about me:

I graduated college in 2011 with a B.S. in Molecular Biology and a Minor in math followed by 3 years of research experience at the Fred Hutch Cancer research center (2 second author publications). I then began working at an inpatient center for children with mental and behavioral health issues as a crisis counselor with the goal of applying to medical school.

My family ran into financial hardship at the time -- health issues. I joined tech 5.5 years ago to help pay bills and support. Worked as a Data Scientist and now lead Engineering teams. I have successfully helped my family over the last 5 years and grown as a professional, helping grow the highest valued startup in the US from early stages. I am now looking to go back to my original plan, now that I am able to apply to medical school, but unsure if I’m now uncompetitive/what I need to do to be competitive. Never thought I’d get my family financially stable, but want to fulfill my dream.

Stats: GPA:
3.73 SGPA: 3.85 MCAT -- taking Jan 2021 studying now

Shadowing:
- 2 docs lined up waiting for shelter in place to lift
- 2009-2011 Shadowing (2 diff doctors): 80hrs

Research:
- 2.5 years as a researcher 2 pubs
- 3.5 years of undergrad

Volunteer Service:
- Ran the community events at yearly company gathering (2016-2018 240 hours)
- Involved in two local non-profits focused on homelessness (200 hours last 2 years)
- Indiana Gay Pride 120 hours
- Taught underserved high school kids science experiments while a researcher (60 hours per year)
- Orientation leader for community service (2009-2011) 240 hours per year

Clinical:
- Hospice (haven’t started due to COVID shelter in place)
- Working as a Crisis Counselor (2014-2015): medical record updates/documentation, participating in treatment plans defined by therapists and psychiatrists for the children, providing med delivery
- Clinic Assistant (2008-2011): patient intake, room setup, vitals, chartering, restocking meds, preparing lab tests, running inhouse blood, saliva and urine tests.

Honors, Achievements and Awards from undergrad:
- Excellence in student research
- Phi Sigma biology honor society
- President’s Scholarship award

Work Experience:
- Technical Program Manager (2019-current)
- Data Scientist (2016-2019)
- Field Engineer (2015-2016)
- Crisis Counselor (2014-2015)
- Research Assistant (2012-2014)
- Clinic Assistant (2008-2011)
From this description, I will make the assumption that you still live around Seattle as a Washington resident and probably have some champions who know people at the UW medical school. So you should reach out to the admissions staff at UW and gauge whether they think you have done enough for a strong application and what else you would need. Hopefully some of your supervisors know some faculty at UW who could also inquire on your behalf among faculty there. Knock the MCAT out of the park and you'll have a good chance.
 

tantacles

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Silly question, but what defines knock the MCAT out of the park, ooc? I'm actually back in California and have found it hard for any admissions staff to be willing to gauge my qualifications. I've been considering paying for a service to do so.
The only service you need to pay for is MSAR, which gives you the 10th and 90th percentile ranges for MCAT and GPA for every US MD school and is available for $28. If you are above the 90th percentile for a school, you have knocked the MCAT out of the park for that particular school. If you are below the 10th percentile, you are extremely unlikely to gain admission at that school. If you are somewhere in the middle you are in the running but haven't knocked it out of the park.

Your GPA is excellent for getting into any given medical school, so now all that's left is the MCAT. Your experiences speak for themselves, and if everything pans out according to your plan, you should have enough clinical and non-clinical experience that it won't keep you from getting in.
 

TheBoneDoctah

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FOCUS ON THE MCAT.

This is what separates you right now from becoming a doctor. You have a good story, a solid GPA, and if you do your ECs you say, good ECs. Like others have said, use the MSAR to gauge which schools you are competitive at, apply broadly and smart. It sucks being a California resident as most of the medical schools in California are highly competitive. Good luck!
 
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TheBoneDoctah

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Yeah I am curious if I need to take classes at all? E.g. some more recent upper division courses or if a good MCAT score would be enough. Any thoughts there?
I think good MCAT would be enough.


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tantacles

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As everyone else has been saying, please focus on the MCAT. You do not need to take more classes with your GPA. You just need to do well on the MCAT.

Once more: Focus on the MCAT exclusively and don't bother taking extra classes with your GPA.
 

tantacles

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Any suggestions on how to "prove" I want to be a doctor? The one thing I worry about is not having clinical experience or research in the last 5 years. I have something lined up that is delayed due to shelter in place for clinical, but curious if there are any other suggestions for "proving" this is what I want on paper -- vs them thinking: this is just a data scientist who has an interesting thought to become a doctor.
You don't need to do anything but talk about your experiences intelligently and talk about how they make you want to do medicine. If you do well on the MCAT and can talk about your experiences intelligently, you have a great shot.
 

TheBoneDoctah

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Quick question, just after speaking with an admissions consultant. They recommend not re-taking courses but showing recent coursework in possibly upper division bio to "prove" my ability to hang in a classroom still. Have you heard of this/thoughts? Last question, just trying to quell my anxiety.
...still think you should focus on MCAT.
 

tantacles

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Quick question, just after speaking with an admissions consultant. They recommend not re-taking courses but showing recent coursework in possibly upper division bio to "prove" my ability to hang in a classroom still. Have you heard of this/thoughts? Last question, just trying to quell my anxiety.
I'm just going to copy and paste what I wrote before. My advice is the same as before.

Please focus on the MCAT. You do not need to take more classes with your GPA. You just need to do well on the MCAT.

Once more: Focus on the MCAT exclusively and don't bother taking extra classes with your GPA.
Who is this admissions consultant? Do they have an MD? Do they work for a medical school? Have they ever taken the MCAT? Have they ever applied to medical school? When you have these answers, I think we can re-address your questions. If the answer to all of these questions is no, my answer will continue to apply infinitely.
 

Mr.Smile12

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No bets without an official MCAT score. You can easily damage your chances if you don't take our collective advice to put your focus on the MCAT.

I'm definitely fully focusing on the MCAT that I can assure you -- just trying to figure out all the things I should do to make myself confident/competitive. It is an MD. Their advice was just to take 1-2 classes in the spring to prove after 10 years I can still hang in a classroom -- maybe a graduate class or two.

I appreciated all of your advice and am definitely taking it! I'm taking a sabbatical from work to study on the MCAT for 3 months (content review), will then study while working for an additional 3 months (practice tests, questions, and review) and take it in January. If my scores aren't trending where they need to be, I'll keep studying and push the test back.

The three have you have given me actual confidence. I've just been waiting for this opportunity for so long I want to do everything possible to make myself competitive.
 
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