Apr 23, 2010
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Hi all,

I'm new to SDN. This is actually my very first time posting. I was hoping someone out there would be kind enough to read my post and offer some advice (or any necessary constructive criticism... or maybe even a few words of encouragement!). Thank you in advance!

A little about myself...
I earned both my BS and MS degrees in engineering from a prestigious engineering school (not a great pre-med/science school though) though. My undergrad GPA is 3.4 (great for engineering at my school, not great for med school applications). My science GPA is right around 3.2. I was able to improve during my grad degree and earned a 3.9 GPA. I took the MCAT towards the end of college and earned a 26Q. I am sure this was partly due to lack of studying (I was taking a full courseload and working part time and doing research for my Master's)... but regardless, I was disappointed in my score because I knew I needed to make up for my low GPA. I applied to many med schools and only received 1 interview, and 0 acceptances. I was totally crushed and decided to head out into the working world as an engineer. I was so upset and just wrote off the idea of going to medical school, telling myself "it's just not meant to be."

For the past 3 years, I have been working full time as an engineer at one of the top medical device manufacturers. I have had the idea of med school in the back of my head this entire time but wanted to wait until I was really 100% sure I wanted to travel down this path again before exploring this option. In a way, I am glad I didn't get accepted right out of college because I really feel like I've done a lot of self-exploration and growing the past few years. I feel like a different person than I did 4 years ago when I first applied. Anyways, here I am now, and I recently made the decision that I want to apply to med school next June 2011. I'm in it 100%, nothing's going to stop me! That gives me a little over a year to really focus on my application and try to make some sort of improvement (if that's possible?)...

Obviously, I realize I'll need to retake the MCAT and aim for a very high score. This alone is a little intimidating since I've been out of the academic environment for a few years now... I should mention that during college, I had many EC activities and volunteer experiences including working as an anatomy/physiology lab instructor at my university (during grad school), volunteering as a literacy tutor, working 3 years as a medical assistand in a Podiatrist's office and 1 years as an assistant in an OB-GYN office, volunteering in a local ER on the weekends, and volunteering as the Team Lead of our university's Peer Health Education center. However, for the past 3 years, I have ONLY worked. Work has consumed my life... I am a captain for my company's Emergency Response Team and have done small stints of volunteer work here and there... but it was only recently that I have committed to the idea of re-applying next June and therefore I have just been really focused on my career as an engineer and getting promoted, etc. for the past 3 years.

So, a few of my questions are:
1. By the time I apply, I will have worked for the same company for 4 years. I'm not sure how this looks. I'm loyal to my company, yes, but does this really offer me a wide range of experiences? Should I quit my job and try to work the next year as a researcher or something?

2. I know I didn't explain my entire past in detail, but is there something I am seriously lacking? I know I don't have any volunteer work abroad, but in all reality, I can't afford to do this right now... I know I need to start doing some type of volunteer work on a long-term basis.

3. For the MCAT, I am just really worried about trying to focus on studying for this when I have such an intense job. Would it be crazy to quit and find a part-time job someplace in order to study? I don't want med schools to look at this as me not being able to juggle multiple things at once, but given my record, I know what's going to happen if I try studying while working 60hrs per week at my job...

Thanks to all who read this. I really appreciate any advice you can offer. I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining... I know many of you nontrad applicants are in much more "nontrad" situations that me... have kids, etc. I feel like since I've made the decision to re-apply, I keep reliving the feelings of disappointment and failure that I've felt in the past. I'm really hoping this time around is different...:)
 

mspeedwagon

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Oct 20, 2009
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In general, I think you have a good app. See my comments below.

So, a few of my questions are:
1. By the time I apply, I will have worked for the same company for 4 years. I'm not sure how this looks. I'm loyal to my company, yes, but does this really offer me a wide range of experiences? Should I quit my job and try to work the next year as a researcher or something?
1. I think working for 4 years looks good in general. It shows a sense of maturity and it'll help you in the application process. I'm not a fan of quitting a job, but scaling back and doing some volunteer work would be good.


2. I know I didn't explain my entire past in detail, but is there something I am seriously lacking? I know I don't have any volunteer work abroad, but in all reality, I can't afford to do this right now... I know I need to start doing some type of volunteer work on a long-term basis.
2. Well, GPA is lacking. MCAT is low. If you were to improve two areas, those are the two I would start with. Take a few post-bac classes if possible, and study hard for the MCAT. You have health experience, but continual and recent is key.


3. For the MCAT, I am just really worried about trying to focus on studying for this when I have such an intense job. Would it be crazy to quit and find a part-time job someplace in order to study? I don't want med schools to look at this as me not being able to juggle multiple things at once, but given my record, I know what's going to happen if I try studying while working 60hrs per week at my job...
3. I'm intending to do this. Focus on part-time work from Jan leading to my MCAT in June. I think as long as you add some other activities, it'll be understandable. A higher MCAT score doing less, is better than a lower one doing lots of things.
 
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NTF

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I'd suggest 3 things.

1)Find a volunteer gig as soon as possible. Adcoms aren't going to buy the excuse that you couldn't find 2hrs/week to do some community service.

2)Start shadowing docs as soon as possible. Shows you're trying to broaden your medical horizons and develop a thorough understanding of the medical field. Check the link in my siggie.

3)Consider taking a couple of upper level biosci courses. Adcoms generally like to see some recent coursework to reassure them that you're still primed academically. Plus, it'll give you an opportunity to get a good LOR from a recent biosci prof.

I agree with the above poster that you don't need to quit your job, but should try to scale back enough to make room for other stuff.

And you know all the other standard advice (apply early & broadly, include DO schools, etc)

Best of luck. Keep us posted.
 
Apr 23, 2010
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San Jose, CA
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Thank you both for the great advice and suggestions!!

I think it's a great idea to take a couple of upper level science courses. A couple more questions...

Does it need to be a course I've never taken before, or can it be a course (like Anatomy/Physiology) that I took several years ago?

Do I want to do this at a community college or try to enroll in a 4-year university? I live in the Bay Area (CA) so the schools near me would be San Jose State, Stanford, UC Berkley, Santa Clara, etc... not sure if these schools have programs where I could take courses, but I can do some research.

Would the grades I receives in these classes be factored into my science GPA for my application? Or not? (If so, this GPA boost would definitely be an added bonus!).
 
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