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Nontraditional students and Caribbean Schools

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by rkhull, May 3, 2007.

  1. rkhull

    rkhull Junior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2005

    I'm 29, I didn't have a spectacular undergrad career, but I rocked the MCAT(36S). I applied to MD schools last year and didn't get any interviews. This year I applied to DO schools, got 2 interviews, but no acceptances. One of the schools I interviewed with (VCOM) said I wouldn't be a good fit. When I pushed a bit, she admitted she was lying, but still wouldn't tell me why I didn't get in. I thought the interviews went well, except for one DO at VCOM saying he didn't think I could handle biochem, even though they take way dimmer students than me. Then, when he talked about medical missions, and the difficulty of getting traditional cultures to accept medicine, he was pretty nasty about the fact that I work in a bookstore.

    There isn't any field I want to go into besides medicine, and being a re-re-applicant, I don't have tremendous hopes for getting in next year. Also, as a late college graduate, I'm having a terrible time finding a job, so I'm not likely to have a better application next year.

    Are any of the Caribbean schools friendly towards older applicants?
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  3. postbacker

    postbacker Banned Banned

    Mar 27, 2007
    Just how low are your grades? Any thought to a post bac or SMP?
  4. bioteach

    bioteach MSIV 7+ Year Member

    Apr 9, 2007
    A 36 MCAT and no DO schools were interested? What type of background do you have? Are you seriously deficient in either GPA or clinical experience?
  5. spicedmanna

    spicedmanna Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Yeah, I'm curious, too. OP, what is your complete profile and when did you apply (being a late applicant in the cycle can really hurt), if you feel like sharing it? BTW, rocking the MCAT isn't always enough. It's a myth, more or less, that a great MCAT score will make up for deficiencies. If your UGPA is lacking, you need to fix that specifically, or otherwise demonstrate your academic prowess. Also, it's really hard to be objective about our own interviewing skills and about what we are projecting; it is beneficial to get a third party that you trust to give you more objective feedback about how you actually interview. Do some mock interviews and find out about where you can improve in that area.

    Also, keep in mind that some DO schools are going to test your desire to go into osteopathic medicine, specifically. You need to demonstrate your knowledge of the history of osteopathic medicine and your desire to become a DO. Perhaps you did that, but I just wanted to mention it.
  6. NonTradMed

    NonTradMed Perpetual Student 7+ Year Member

    What was your GPA? What's your ECs like? When did you apply? What schools did you apply to? Did you have a state school to fall back on? Do you have any blemishes on your application such as a felony/DUI/academic explusion?

    All these things can and will affect your application, making the difference between an acceptance and a rejection. A really good MCAT score will get you far, but if you have serious deficiencies in other areas, they may not save you.
  7. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    There are plenty of caribbean schools that are friendly toward anyone with a checkbook, regardless of age. Whether they will get you to your goal is a different story. Your story sounds strange. Either you had unbelievable horrible GPA (which one would think you could improve based on your MCAT), your application was troubling in terms of essays, LORs, deficient ECs, or you interviewed very badly. The fact that you were initially pegged as not a "good fit" and still felt the need to push further, and the fact that you described another interviewer was pretty nasty, I suspect that you don't know how to play the game. Consider postbacs and maybe find yourself a good advisor to review your essays and coach you on how to interview.
  8. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator 10+ Year Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    Second this. Your GPA can't be that bad if folks were willing to interview you. It sounds like you really turned some people off. It may simply be inexperience and something you can be coached out of.
  9. rkhull

    rkhull Junior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2005
    Well, the interviewer was fairly nasty. He pretty much started off with "I don't think you can do biochemistry" I said I did o-chem, biochem, and relearned o-chem for the MCAT. I think starting an interview with "I think your too dumb or lazy to be here" can be reasonably characterized as nasty.

    I felt the need to pursue why I didn't get in because I thought I might get another interview, so I wanted to see what I could change. The VCOM Director of Admissions said there were better uses of my time than reapplying to VCOM. That was when I pushed for a reason for the rejection. I do have certain legal protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act as a recovering addict. And the Admissions director lied about the not a good fit thing as being, so she may have been lying about the interviews having gone badly. Because at the time I thought I won over the reviewer I mentioned.

    My overall GPA is 2.9, nonsci 3.17 science 2.4.

    I don't want to go to a Caribbean school, but my chances of getting in here are pretty much zero, and I'll go wherever an opportunity for me is. Ideally I'd like to practice and research, I don't know if I can actually do any research with a Caribbean degree. I graduated from a really bad school (Roanoke College) and I'm still kicking myself over that, so I'm not sure if I want to dig myself deeper with worthless "education".

    I've heard Ross and St. George aren't that bad, and probably all them are competitive with DO schools on student quality, right?
  10. spicedmanna

    spicedmanna Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    I would be kind of hesitant to draw that particular conclusion. It doesn't make any more sense than saying that SGU's and Ross' students are comparable to students in MD schools. Caribbean medical schools are not really in the same ball park as any US medical school, MD or DO; as far as Caribbean programs go, though, you are correct that SGU and Ross have decent and well known programs. However, in any case, it is fair to say that each student is an individual and student quality varies individually, not necessarily by school. Thus, it is possible for there to be good students in any medical school, regardless of the school's perceived quality or its location. On the other hand, it can be said that Caribbean medical schools were created as a cottage industry, catering mostly to students who didn't get into, for whatever reason, any US medical program. The attrition rate is rather high, but if you do make it, you will probably be okay. It is more difficult, in general, and it is not as secure as going the US medical school route, but it can be done.
  11. spicedmanna

    spicedmanna Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    No comment here. I wasn't there, so there's nothing I can say that will be meaningful. However, I have had tough, stress-type, interviews before. The task is to say calm, open, and responsive, regardless of what they throw at you.

    I'm not saying that this is fair, but medical schools are very sensitive when it comes to drug and alcohol problems and violations, even if it occured years ago and you are recovering. Again, I'm not saying it's fair, nor am I judging you. I'm just saying what I've heard on the issue.

    This is your main issue here, I think. Your UGPA is sub-par for both MD and DO schools. This is the problem that needs to be addressed. You need to prove to the medical schools your academic prowess by doing a post-bacc program, formal or informal, where you take a whole bunch of undergraduate science classes in fulltime semesters and trend A's for a couple of years. This is what they want to see.

    I think you can probably get into SGU and/or Ross without much difficulty, if that's what you want and what the best option is. However, consider all of your possibilities carefully before making a choice like this.

    Good luck.
  12. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004

    Well with a 2.4 BCPM and an apparently colorful past, your options are a bit more limited. You might be able to change things with a couple of years of straight A's in a postbac or science oriented graduate degree, since your C science student status has places concerned with your science ability. Med school is two years of science classes far more difficult (in terms of detail and volume) than the ones you didn't exactly ace, so that is what the interviewers were concerned about. Adcoms don't like to gamble, and so if you struggled in sciences once upon a time, they like to see a fairly lengthy recent track record that you now can handle it. (A high MCAT is helpful, but apparently not enough). It still sounds to me like your interviews were somewhat adversarial, rather than the positive discourse most successful applicants manage, so this is a skill you will want to improve.

    Some of the better caribbean school grads are fine, I'm sure, but the key difference between the caribbean schools and US schools is the amount of attrition along the way. For the most part you won't be looking at a research oriented career if you go to the caribbean, because most of those schools have no research funding to speak of, and tend to be feeders for less competitive primary care slots, which don't do as much research as the more competitive specialties. Not an absolute rule, but those are the odds.
  13. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    It's not unexpected given that this field has it's own problems with depression and dependance (higher rates than many other careers), as well as the fact that physicians will ultimately be given the power to write prescriptions.
  14. postbacker

    postbacker Banned Banned

    Mar 27, 2007
    You are screwed with these grades for MD schools. With a GPA under 3.0, the percentage of applicants who get accepted anywhere is extremely low, in the range of 1 to 2 percent. Your science grade is REALLY low - I can understand someone questioning your ability to cut it in med school with this record, notwithstanding your MCAT scores.

    I know nothing about DO and offshore schools.
  15. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Mar 30, 2001
    Yep thats why. Although I can't base much on online text, it seems you are quick to assume things. I wouldn't assume that they take "dimmer students" than you. There is a plethora of reasons why one student may not get in vs. another. GPA, MCAT, and trends are just part of the picture. Letters of rec play a role too. About 8-9 years ago a student got into Tulane School of Medicine (Allopathic) with an overal undergrad GPA of 2.5. Does that mean they were lesser than you? Who knows.

    There is no such thing as a bad school to go to. We all picked our schools, and also picked our majors. If its an accredited university, then its up to you to do well in whatever you do. If you base a good vs. bad school on the grades they give out, then you might as well call UC Berkeley's engineering program a bad school since there are a lot of C's and B's. In reality the school is just competative.

    I would assume nothing about anything. Regardless of any Disabilities Act, the fact is your GPA is not competative, even for DO schools. Your MCAT is great, but as I've stated many times in other threads, a good MCAT never makes up for a bad GPA or vice versa. They are two totally different things. MCAT only tests you on a few standardized subjects, while your GPA is earned over years of work. The MCAT OChem alone is only 33-50% of the biosci section these days. Anyone can say that they restudied OChem and knew OChem to do well on the MCAT. Thats great you got a 36, but what did you get in the OChem class? Or Biochem? Thats why the adcom said they weren't too sure you could survive med school level biochem. I took med school level biochem and a low pass is 75%. This class is much more indepth than undergrad level if you had a C in undergrad for example, do you think you can get a pass in a harder class?

    To put it bluntly, and I don't mean any offense by it, but evidence is right in front of you, and the solution is clear as day. You have a low GPA, and thus it behooves you to improve upon it. There's no sense in analyzing any conspiracy theories as to why adcoms didn't let you in, or how the past haunts you to this day. The question is, how will you compare to the "next best applicant". How many students out there apply with a GPA of >3.0 and MCAT of 30+? I would say a good number. In quantitative factors alone, the vast majority of admitted students beat you in that aspect. Therefore you should do something to fix it. Why am I so blunt about this? I was more or less in the same shoes. I had an undergrad GPA of 2.65 (sci 2.7 though), and an MCAT score of 36S. Did post-bacc and maintained a 3.85. Doing a PhD, and took undergrad, grad, and med school level classes while maintaing a 4.0. When I apply to med school, I'll have 5-6 years of additional coursework, and my overall undergrad GPA should be at or past 3.0. You do what you gotta do, no sense in wondering, or dwelling on things that are out of your control. Good luck!
  16. rkhull

    rkhull Junior Member 5+ Year Member

    Jun 13, 2005
    So my GPA is not competitive. How can I boost it? Most postbacc programs explicitly state that they are for people who don't have the coursework, not remedial programs for failures. Are they any postbacc programs that I could get into? I live in Virginia, but I'd move anywhere.
  17. spicedmanna

    spicedmanna Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    You don't need to attend a formal post-baccalaureate program. You can take classes a la carte at any 4-year institution as a non-degree seeking student. Basically, you can create your own informal post-baccalaureate program, if you desire. There are plenty of universities in the Maryland/Virginia/DC area; take your pick.
  18. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Right. By "postbac", we are using the AMCAS definition which is any undergraduate level courses you take subsequent to your college graduation. Many people retake classes or take upper level sciences as a "postbac".
  19. remo

    remo Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2005
    Bailout Nation
    A 36 is an awesome MCAT but you need lots of post-bac work at or near a 4.0 to convince them that you are willing to hit the books and take tests. Figure out how many credit units it would take at a 4.0 to get your science gpa to a 3.0. DO schools will replace grades so it should take a lot fewer classes to do this. Make sure you don't let that MCAT expire!

    On the other hand, it could take a couple of years to do this and you might consider just biting the bullet and going to St George or Ross because in 2 years you could already be back in the states doing your rotations. There are plenty of threads about the Caribbean but the bottom line (IMO) is that you will get an MD and if you want to do primary care then you should be fine. If you want to do a competitive specialty then it might be a big risk to take by going there.
  20. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call" 10+ Year Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    There is another significant issue: depending on your drug/alcohol history, it may be very difficult or impossible for you to become licensed in certain states. If you haven't done this already, you need to look into this in great detail before you spend a lot of money on med school.
  21. PA Paul

    PA Paul

    May 9, 2007
    Hi I've been a PA for six years and interested in getting my MD degree. ANY suggestions, I have a pretty strong PA gpa. My only problem is I have been practicing medicine for six years in dermatology and own 4 practices.
    I will be willing to pay top dollar to get in as long as I practice in the states. Any idea??????:confused:
  22. spicedmanna

    spicedmanna Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    I'm curious, why medicine now, especially in the face of so much success?
  23. Faze2

    Faze2 2+ Year Member

    Nov 15, 2006
    Jessica Biel's Closet
    Here's my opinion. You REALLY have to get that science GPA up. no question about it. Your ugpa is low, but it is not the lowest I've ever seen. If you had a 2.9 gpa with say a 3.5 bcpm gpa I think a lot of schools would give you more of a chance because you would have shown that you can do well in science, which helps cause medicine is a science. Yeah Captain Obvious here to the rescue!!!:laugh:

    Now it is also obvious that you would have to take classes for quite a while to raise your science gpa to above a 3.0, especially since you have already completed the pre reqs, but taking some upper level science courses and doiing well in them will show a few things

    1) It will show you can do well in the sciences,which is obviously important.
    2) It will raise your science gpa. Even though it will be tough, enough credits can get your sGPA close to a 3.0
    3) Taking a few more classes could raise you overall GPA to above a 3.0, which is a very good thing. A lot of schools have that 3.0 cutoff, and getting over that hump can open up a lot more doors for you to maybe get some interviews and be in the position to explain yourself and your past.

    So my advice is take some science courses to get that science gpa and overall gpa up and you will put yourself in a much better position. Compare these two applicants.

    2.9 GPA 2.4 Science GPA

    3.1 GPA 2.8 Science GPA

    The second one could be you just by taking some more science courses and doing well in them.
  24. Kateb4

    Kateb4 7+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2006
    If you are looking to go DO, you can re-take some of those sciences that you got lower grades on, since AACOMAS replaces grades. Plus, it raises your GPA much faster than just taking additional classes. I'd say anything that you got a C or lower on re-take. Also, if you have any F's in non-science classes, you can look at re-taking those also to boost your overall GPA fast.

    I'm in a similar boat, I didn't take school seriously my first two years away, and now I'm paying for it having to re-take alot of stuff that I got C's in. Live and learn!
  25. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    I'm wondering how VCOM knows about the addiction/disability issue. Do you have a criminal record that you had to disclose? Or did you talk about your addiction to explain your bad grades? If the latter, bad move. If the former, that might be your answer right there, in which case it's not about your grades.

    My understanding is that if you're arguing for protection for a disability, you can wait until admitted to assert that. You don't have to disclose a psychologically related disability on AACOMAS or AMCAS. I'm also wondering about the nature of your disability. If it's an addiction, it shouldn't be disabling anymore, right? If that's the case, and there's no record of it anywhere, there's no need to ever bring it up with your med school. Of course, the state licensing board's another issue.

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