Non-traditional, want to apply in Spring but considering delaying to strengthen my application.

Sep 16, 2020
5
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Hi all, I've posted here a few times but this is my most substantial post. I'm looking for feedback on how competitive I would be as an applicant. Currently, I'm planning on applying next year. I'm committed to pursuing medicine and will do whatever it takes to get there, I'm mostly asking this to see if it would be wise to delay applying to schools for one year to strengthen my application. Some relevant information:

Background: Non-traditional. I actually dropped out of high school and for a long time had no intention of going to college. Eventually I did go to college at 23 years old and studied exercise physiology.

Education: BS and MS (research-based) in Exercise Physiology. I've always been interested in physiology and consider myself an empathetic person. When I enrolled in college I knew I wanted to be involved in healthcare, so I took pre-med courses and volunteered in the emergency department of one of the local hospitals for a few years. As I approached graduation I got overwhelmed by the prospect of going to medical school and enjoyed my experience in labs and doing research, so I decided to pursue that instead. After getting my MS I enrolled in a PhD program, but withdrew last year after deciding that I view research-only as one dimensional and that I did not like feeling disconnected from the patient population I was supposed to be helping. I found research to be lonely and at times felt like what I was doing wasn't making a meaningful impact in people's day-to-day experiences. Now, I'm very interested in the role of the physician-scientist, and I think that being trained as a scientist will help me as a physician and vice-versa. I'll add more info if requested.

cGPA: 3.9

sGPA: 3.9 (I have several "A+'s" including in course that contribute to my sGPA such as Bio1 and OChem 1).

MCAT: Not taken, currently studying. I got a 500 on one of the diagnostic tests and I'm not planning on taking the test until about March. I study every day and am reasonably confident I can get my score to 510 or so.

Achievements: Graduated cum laude in my undergraduate degree. While I was a PhD student I received a highly competitive scholarship that funded my PhD stipend for an entire year.

Leadership: Treasurer for a Neuroscience organization while I was a PhD student. The organization was involved in community outreach and education (I'm not sure if this counts as non-clinical volunteering instead of leadership experience?). While I was a PhD student I formally mentored an undergraduate to complete a project that was sponsored by the research foundation I worked at. I also was an undergraduate TA for several courses and taught throughout my master's.

Volunteering: 350 clinical hours in an ED (non-administrative, I interacted with and transported patients, got supplies for the providers, turned over rooms, etc.). I am currently waiting to complete paperwork for a non-clinical volunteering program that I should start within a month or so. This is an area of concern for me and one that gives me pause for applying in the upcoming cycle. I will continue to strengthen it until I am accepted.

Shadowing:None. This is definitely my weakest area and a tremendous source of stress for me right now (even more so than the MCAT). I'm desperately looking for physicians to shadow but haven't had any success with COVID shutting down shadowing programs in all the hospitals in my area. I am in the process of reaching out to former doctors of mine and two people I went to high school with who have completed residency, but for now that's all I have.

Research: I have a lot of research experience. I worked in a lab during undergrad and then transitioned into a master's program after I graduated with my BS. I've either been in graduate school or working as a professional research assistant since. My research experience ranges from anything to basic science benchwork to interacting with and collecting data from clinical patient populations. I have thousands of hours of experience in many advanced lab techniques, authorship on 17 publications in "good' journals (including one first-author) and am first-author on a short book chapter about aging and protein turnover (along with my two master's advisors).

Note on ORM/URM: I am Hispanic (my mother's family is from Cuba). I had sort of a rough upbringing which is related to me dropping out of high school. However, I am white-passing and grew up in a predominantly white area. My childhood was sort of white-washed because of that. For example, I never learned to speak Spanish because my mother didn't want me to stand out that way. At the same time, I've never really felt discriminated against or disadvantaged due to the fact that I am Hispanic, so I was not going to indicate that I am URM anywhere on my application. I just do not feel that I fall into the URM demographic and want to make sure that status is reserved for those who do. Maybe that's not the best approach for my chances of getting in, but I feel like it's the right thing to do.

I know that's a lot and thank you very much to anyone who took the time to read it. My main question is: Assuming that I can get some shadowing before I actually apply (and possibly get more clinical volunteering hours) is my lack of clinical experience going to be so much of a factor that I should delay my application by one year to get more? Any other insight is welcomed and much appreciated as well.
 
Last edited:
Mar 18, 2019
426
752
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Wow, it sounds like you have an intriguing story and I am sure your past experiences will inform a successful career as a physician! Coupled with your stats, I only see one flaw in your app that you've already touched on, that being your lack of clinical experience. My advice (as an applicant myself) would be to perhaps consider a position as a medical assistant, CNA, EMT, scribe, etc. Your GPA is great and provided you do well on the MCAT, the only thing standing in your way is that you potentially lack the ability to speak to why you want to be a physician (beyond liking science and wanting to help people).

Also, to address your last point, I would be honest about your demographic information on your application. If you're Hispanic, say so. By selecting your correct R/E designation you're not saying "I'm disadvantaged!" - there's another box to state that if you wish.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
May 16, 2020
633
1,566
Somewhere in New England
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
  2. Academic Administration
You already have a lot of hours of volunteering in the ED; you just need a little more volunteering and some shadowing (can you shadow any of the ED docs to start?) If you get a decent score on the MCAT, I don't see any reason to wait an extra year.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
About the Ads
Sep 16, 2020
5
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Wow, it sounds like you have an intriguing story and I am sure your past experiences will inform a successful career as a physician! Coupled with your stats, I only see one flaw in your app that you've already touched on, that being your lack of clinical experience. My advice (as an applicant myself) would be to perhaps consider a position as a medical assistant, CNA, EMT, scribe, etc. Your GPA is great and provided you do well on the MCAT, the only thing standing in your way is that you potentially lack the ability to speak to why you want to be a physician (beyond liking science and wanting to help people).

Also, to address your last point, I would be honest about your demographic information on your application. If you're Hispanic, say so. By selecting your correct R/E designation you're not saying "I'm disadvantaged!" - there's another box to state that if you wish.

Thanks for your reply and the useful information. I appreciate your advice on how I should approach including my demographic information, I didn't know that there is a separate option to indicate that I come from an URM. That's all great advice on ways to buff up my clinical experience. I had considered most of those at some point but was a little turned off to them because I work full time and am studying for the MCAT, and as far as I know most of those positions are "jobs" in the typical sense, so it would be hard for me to take that on right now. If I could find a volunteer scribe position that would be great, but the positions I've found in my area require a time commitment that I just can't accommodate right now. I know you are also applying, but based on what you've read and your understanding of the process, would it be wise to delay my application based on that factor (assuming I can get a reasonable amount of shadowing in between now and when I submit the application).
 
Sep 16, 2020
5
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
You already have a lot of hours of volunteering in the ED; you just need a little more volunteering and some shadowing (can you shadow any of the ED docs to start?) If you get a decent score on the MCAT, I don't see any reason to wait an extra year.

Thanks for your response. I've read some conflicting and vague information on the internet. Do you happen know what an acceptable number of shadowing hours is in light of COVID restrictions? When you say that I could use more volunteering, do you mean clinical or non-clinical (or both)?

Edit: To answer your question, I am not very sure that I can approach the ED doctors to shadow them as most of the larger hospitals in my area have completely shut down their shadowing programs (based on websites and responses I've gotten in emails). I'm going to try doctors I have a more personal connection with and if that doesn't work will resort to cold-calling physicians at private clinics.
 
May 16, 2020
633
1,566
Somewhere in New England
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
  2. Academic Administration
Thanks for your response. I've read some conflicting and vague information on the internet. Do you happen know what an acceptable number of shadowing hours is in light of COVID restrictions? When you say that I could use more volunteering, do you mean clinical or non-clinical (or both)?

Edit: To answer your question, I am not very sure that I can approach the ED doctors to shadow them as most of the larger hospitals in my area have completely shut down their shadowing programs (based on websites and responses I've gotten in emails). I'm going to try doctors I have a more personal connection with and if that doesn't work will resort to cold-calling physicians at private clinics.
You don't seem to have the non-clinical volunteer hours (helping the community/the underprivileged). Keep up the ED work if you are still doing it. There's not so much clinical/shadowing experience available right now, so you are not alone in lacking shadowing hours.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
Sep 16, 2020
5
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
You don't seem to have the non-clinical volunteer hours (helping the community/the underprivileged). Keep up the ED work if you are still doing it. There's not so much clinical/shadowing experience available right now, so you are not alone in lacking shadowing hours.
Thanks again for your response. I waiting for my paperwork to be processed for a non-clinical volunteering opportunity I am very excited about. I should probably have noted in my first post that the ED volunteering experiences was a few years ago, it is something I stopped doing once I transitioned into research full-time.
 

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.
About the Ads