lostnconfused

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Hey guys!

I was wondering if anyone has considered or have been in the Peace Corp and could advise me on the timeline for joining the Peace Corps and applying to medical school.

I am currently a third year undergraduate planning to graduate spring 2014. I plan to take the MCAT in late August/early September (I am giving myself about three months this summer to prepare for the MCAT while taking summer school).

I plan to study abroad the spring of 2014 so I will be doing my Peace Corps application abroad for the most part (unless I start the application process in the fall - would that be better?).

My question is, since the Peace Corps is a 27 months commitment, if I join immediately after graduation, will I be eligible to start medical school right after?

I had originally planned on only taking a one year gap but am willing to extend it to two. But the problem is this would entail applying for medical school during my 27 months commitment. So it sounds like it would actually turn out to be a three year gap if I was to join and I would really like to avoid that if possible.

Is it common or possible to only take a two year gap when joining the Peace Corps? How would the medical school application and interview process work? Would most medical schools be understanding enough to take phone interviews or must volunteers fly back home? If so, is flying back home for interviews common during your Peace Corps commitment and would it be possible to schedule all interviews to be around the same time to avoid multiple trips?

My other concern is if I join the Peace Corps, I need to consider when to take the MCAT. My understanding is MCAT scores are usually valid for only 2-3 years - usually you must apply two years after and it will be three years by the time you enter medical school. Therefore, if I take it the summer of my junior year, I MUST apply one year after graduation - in the midst of my Peace Corps commitment - or wait until after my 27 months of service to take the MCAT and apply for medical school.

It sounds like I must decide now if I should prepare for the MCAT this summer or rule Peace Corps out of my near future. Joining the Peace Corps have been my dream since high school but I cannot afford to take two years off and an additional one year on top of that for MCAT and medical school applications.

Any advice and insight from past volunteers or admission advisers or anybody that have had experience in this would be greatly appreciated, thank you!!
 

Ismet

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I don't have personal experience in this, but one of my friends is about to start a Peace Corps service next month, and he plans to take the MCAT and apply to med school when he comes back in 2 years, so I'm pretty sure he'll be doing a gap year between Peace Corps and med school.

You won't be able to do phone interviews. You'll either have to fly in for interviews (and try to schedule interviews in a similar timeframe so you only have to fly in once) or apply the year after. I met a couple people on my interview trail who flew in from study abroad and managed to schedule several interviews in a 2-week timeframe.

Why don't you take the MCAT right before leaving for the Peace Corps? If you take it this summer, that's a 2013 score and the "3 year" mark would be 2016. If you take it at the end of senior year, it'll be a 2014 score and you'll have another year of play.
 

lostnconfused

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I'd ideally like to take the MCAT this summer because I have just finished organic chemistry and will be finished with the biology series by the end of summer. Therefore, both subjects will be fresh and I don't wan to wait any longer than I have to to re-learn the material years after taking the courses.

It says the Peace Corps allow for 45 days of vacation time, for which we can save up and visit home. Would it be possible to schedule all interviews in the span of a month? Is that likely or would that be very hard to accomplish?
 
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Lya

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It says the Peace Corps allow for 45 days of vacation time, for which we can save up and visit home. Would it be possible to schedule all interviews in the span of a month? Is that likely or would that be very hard to accomplish?


I don't have any personal experiences on this, but I will give it a try and chime in.

Do you have any friends/contacts for your Peace Corps? I know one person who did her Peace Corps in Cameroon and would be going to Duke MBA right afterwards, so I know that it is possible to complete all the applications while abroad. Sometimes, secondaries do ask you if you have any particular plan during the interview season that adcoms should be aware of, so you can talk about your issue there as well.

In short, from my understanding, yes it is possible to schedule all the interviews in a month, but just remember that it can be quite hard to manage. Some schools will notify you right away for the interviews, while others might take several months.

However, I'm also concerned about other things like sending your transcript and coordinating with professors for your letters. Do you know for sure that you can send your transcript through online? There's a request form that you have to give to your registrar office, but I know usually students are required to be there in campus physically and personally to give the form to the office. In addition, keeping in touch with professors while you are abroad might be tough, so I would say get your letters ready to go before you leave, so that you don't have to worry about them.

Above all, the most importantly, are you absolutely certain that the place you will volunteer will have stable Internet connections where you can be online whenever you want? I traveled as well as volunteered many different areas in developing countries, and very often I did not have any stable connections to the Internet and/or the Internet speed was very slow, let alone simply turning on the computer.

Things to think about. Make sure you can plan every step of the way, instead of just "filling out applications."
 

1stmeds

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the PC app is 9-12 months itself, with many hurdles in between, such as an interview with a recruiter, med exam, dental exam, and follow-up exams if issues arise. Then waiting, waiting, waiting, not dissimiliarly from med school app cycle actually. in any case, you will likely not be able to finish all the requirements while study abroad that are needed before being accepted to PC and by the time your study abroad term ends. you should actually begin everything this summer 2013, so that you can finish all the paperwork and so forth before studying abroad in spring 2014 and then let your study abroad serve as the "waiting" portion of the application process.

However, your possible summer 2014 PC departure poses a significant problem for your application timing. service is 26-27 months (its 24 months plus training which depending on sector and country will be 8-12 weeks. although, you could actually end sooner if you "cash in" your saved up vacation time, but that is highly variable and the country director might not practice this policy where you serve. plus why not spend your vaca!?) so assume 27 months for now. if you take the MCAT in, say, may or June 2014, you will not get back until August/September 2016. you're MCAT will still be good, but you would be shooting yourself in the foot if you applied the 2016 cycle because it would be very late in the cycle. so you would need to wait until summer 2017 to apply but that would be 3 years and by the time you got your app in I believe your MCAT would have expired. You also do not want to attempt applying while overseas because you cannot predict your technological capacity in-country (email, internet reliability, electricity, etc etc) and sometime will inevitably go wrong.

So, it would be better to take it when you got back in early fall 2016. You could study during the fall and take it Jan 2017. However, you should be aware that this will also be challenging because, to be honest, the reverse culture shock can be brutal. You don't want to rush the transition. It might be hard to sit at a desk with your nose in a book studying/trying to remember things you have not thought about in over 2 years while readjusting to life here. This is hard to do, and admittedly hard to describe here in a text box. But if you are so motivated (and still so 3 years from now), you will do it.

All that being the case, I think PC service is a great idea for many people and I encourage you to do it. If you have further questions, feel free to PM.
 

HSUReddie

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I was considering going through the application process about two years ago and doing something very similar, if not exactly, what you have described. Even trying to do it without the gap year.

Personally, in the end, I decided to let it go. :( I've found that despite how much you plan, doing things overseas don't always go exactly as planned. I didn't trust that it would go as smoothly as I hoped. That being said, I admire and know several people who have served in PC. If you can swing it and feel comfortable with it, then I'd say definitely go for it. I'd just probably definitely shoot for there being a three year gap instead of two. You definitely want time to make sure your application year goes as well as possible.

Also just simply my two cents worth and one of the reasons I backed out... realize that you can make opportunities to serve and practice overseas in your future professional career. I'm not sure about your healthcare background, but I was barely, if at all qualified, to do healthcare work with PC a couple of years ago. I would have been doing science education had I gone ahead and applied. Still a good contribution, but I felt like I would rather be involved in some sort of service later as a physician instead.
 

jeffs office

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Man, I wouldn't recommend trying to apply while in Peace Corps. That was my plan last year and it didn't work out. You never know where you end up and really, you need a lot of electricity to get everything you want done. I cannot tell you how many days I prayed for the electricity to come back to my town. Also, saving up enough vacation days for interview season would be tricky. You never know when you'd get an interview, so if you got a few spaced out by months, you'd end up spending a lot of money flying back and forth.

If Peace Corps was your dream in high school, I think you should go for it. An extra 3 years isn't that bad. From what I hear, once you start med school, you just keep going and going. Peace Corps is a great opportunity, so I think and extra year after is worth it, especially since you've been considering it for so long. My advice is to take the time to enjoy the journey. America is go go go, so I understand your stress for not wanting to postpone med school for too long. I think the experience was worth it. It's up to you. :)
 

Derv

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Like the above posters mentioned, make sure you understand that the the Peace Corps application itself can take you around a year. So I would start applying now if you are planning on going this time next year. I did it myself, and its a long process.
 
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Former PC volunteer here: I tried to apply while still completing my service, and I had to plug my laptop into a car battery for electricity. Then my laptop was stolen. Moral of the story: you will need a gap year. I also suggest taking the MCAT after you return. Otherwise your scores may expire, especially if you end up needing to reapply like I did. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
 

jeffs office

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Former PC volunteer here: I tried to apply while still completing my service, and I had to plug my laptop into a car battery for electricity. Then my laptop was stolen. Moral of the story: you will need a gap year. I also suggest taking the MCAT after you return. Otherwise your scores may expire, especially if you end up needing to reapply like I did. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.


Ohhhh, Peace Corps. :rolleyes: Where did you serve?
 

Mt Kilimanjaro

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As a taxpayer who thinks the Peace Corps and Fulbright programs should be axed immediately, I think if you are going to take federal government money to go "make a difference" in another country, you should be fully vested in that activity while you are there. Worry about leveraging your experience to your benefit once you complete your service.
 
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As a taxpayer who thinks the Peace Corps and Fulbright programs should be axed immediately, I think if you are going to take federal government money to go "make a difference" in another country, you should be fully vested in that activity while you are there. Worry about leveraging your experience to your benefit once you complete your service.

As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I can tell you that last year the U.S.government paid the 8,073 current volunteers a total of 24,219,000. Divided among the 210,000,000 taxpayers in the U.S. comes to a horrifically burdensome 11 cents per taxpayer.

So, OP, once you work off that 11 cents and write a check to Mt Kilimanjaro, you can get to work on your med school application.
 
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As a former Peace Corps volunteer, I can tell you that last year the U.S.government paid the 8,073 current volunteers a total of 24,219,000. Divided among the 210,000,000 taxpayers in the U.S. comes to a horrifically burdensome 11 cents per taxpayer.

So, OP, once you work off that 11 cents and write a check to Mt Kilimanjaro, you can get to work on your med school application.

^^^^

I am doing Americorps (I was to wimpy to devote 2 years to peacecorps/have a gf. but the Peacecorps sounds amazing) and I get irritated when people say these things! I get paid 12,500 to work 40 hours a day for 12 months. I know the person is probably a troll but it just boils my blood when people say these things. if everyone did peacecorps or americorps so many of the US's problems would be solved.
 

Mt Kilimanjaro

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^^^^

I am doing Americorps (I was to wimpy to devote 2 years to peacecorps/have a gf. but the Peacecorps sounds amazing) and I get irritated when people say these things! I get paid 12,500 to work 40 hours a day for 12 months. I know the person is probably a troll but it just boils my blood when people say these things. if everyone did peacecorps or americorps so many of the US's problems would be solved.

Please explain how America's problems would be solved if every US college graduate went to hang out in another country for 27 months.

Hippies smoking pot in Honduras don't buy the US much soft power.
 

lostnconfused

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Woooow... Unbelievable. Giving up 27 months of your life to volunteer in a different country - away from your family and friends and most likely a familiar language - is not in any way taking an advantage of our government's money.
 
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I am a current PCV applying to medical school. I took my MCAT the week before I left the states and I am applying right now. I am lucky enough to have pretty regular power and Internet (posh corps) so applying abroad for me is relatively easy.
Everything is going pretty much as planned. I got my LORs saved in interfolio before I left the states. I am having my parents send in my transcript request forms.
I am in the lucky situation to be returning to the states in late September for the beginning of interview season.

It would be difficult to not take off a third year while applying. You don't want to waste your vacation days flying back for interviews. You are going to be in a foreign country. Take the time you have an explore it. You may never have a similar opportunity like that again. Plus, trying to coordinate all of our interviews in the same two week time frame would be difficult, depending on the schools you apply to, how far apart they are, etc. if you do apply while in peace corps, count on taking at least 3 years off, possibly 4 depending on your departure/ close of service date.

With regards to the MCAT expiry date, check the schools that you want to apply to. Each school make its own rules. I think I remember seeing only one school that has a two year expiry. the many have 3, 4 or 5 years (majority are 3 years, I think). Also, be sure to check to see if it is from the date of matriculation or application. A lot of schools say the MCAT must be within 3 years from the time of matriculation, (not from the time of application) which can cut down your options of you have to take 4 year off.

Other volunteers can correct me if I am wrong, but somewhere in your country you can find somewhere with relatively stable electricity and Internet.

My advice:
If you only want to take 3 years off, plan to take the MCAT right before leaving the states. Get all of your stuff ready, LORs, people to send in your transcripts, schools you want to apply to, etc.
I would even get a lot of the information for your application ready, like the basic sections, the activities/work section that you are able to complete, etc. and have it all on paper. If you don't have good Internet connection at your site you can communicate with someone back home to fill out all the stuff online that you already completed on paper (and gave to them with instructions on how to complete it). Then when you go to the capital (or whatever place you can find with Internet) to complete the other parts: PS, remaining activities, etc.

I understand that what i am suggesting is pretty ridiculous. It will be a lot of work before you leave and it may not work out, but for me, risk would be worth not having to take a 4th year off.
 
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And if you complete your service in the posh corps like me then you won't have to worry about much. You can do almost everything yourself with a good Internet connection.
 

Mt Kilimanjaro

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Woooow... Unbelievable. Giving up 27 months of your life to volunteer in a different country - away from your family and friends and most likely a familiar language - is not in any way taking an advantage of our government's money.

Peace Corps' total budget for FY 2013 is 377.295 million US dollars.

Personally, I think that money would be better spend hiring teachers for schools in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

All I'm saying is that people who do sign up to go abroad to represent the United States in the service of others should focus on their current mission rather than worrying about getting accepted to graduate school while they are still in country.
 

alliemay

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I am a current PCV applying to medical school. I took my MCAT the week before I left the states and I am applying right now. I am lucky enough to have pretty regular power and Internet (posh corps) so applying abroad for me is relatively easy.
Everything is going pretty much as planned. I got my LORs saved in interfolio before I left the states. I am having my parents send in my transcript request forms.
I am in the lucky situation to be returning to the states in late September for the beginning of interview season.

It would be difficult to not take off a third year while applying. You don't want to waste your vacation days flying back for interviews. You are going to be in a foreign country. Take the time you have an explore it. You may never have a similar opportunity like that again. Plus, trying to coordinate all of our interviews in the same two week time frame would be difficult, depending on the schools you apply to, how far apart they are, etc. if you do apply while in peace corps, count on taking at least 3 years off, possibly 4 depending on your departure/ close of service date.

With regards to the MCAT expiry date, check the schools that you want to apply to. Each school make its own rules. I think I remember seeing only one school that has a two year expiry. the many have 3, 4 or 5 years (majority are 3 years, I think). Also, be sure to check to see if it is from the date of matriculation or application. A lot of schools say the MCAT must be within 3 years from the time of matriculation, (not from the time of application) which can cut down your options of you have to take 4 year off.

Other volunteers can correct me if I am wrong, but somewhere in your country you can find somewhere with relatively stable electricity and Internet.

My advice:
If you only want to take 3 years off, plan to take the MCAT right before leaving the states. Get all of your stuff ready, LORs, people to send in your transcripts, schools you want to apply to, etc.
I would even get a lot of the information for your application ready, like the basic sections, the activities/work section that you are able to complete, etc. and have it all on paper. If you don't have good Internet connection at your site you can communicate with someone back home to fill out all the stuff online that you already completed on paper (and gave to them with instructions on how to complete it). Then when you go to the capital (or whatever place you can find with Internet) to complete the other parts: PS, remaining activities, etc.

I understand that what i am suggesting is pretty ridiculous. It will be a lot of work before you leave and it may not work out, but for me, risk would be worth not having to take a 4th year off.

It's great to hear that someone actually made this work! I'm a junior in undergrad now and trying to work out a timeline for med school and PC. How did the rest of your application cycle go? How do you think peace corps contributed to your success in med school and beyond?
 

flapjack3d

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Do it. Wait til you're back to apply and take MCAT.


EDIT
Got dang. Stop necro-bumping, folks.
 

TMC07

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It's great to hear that someone actually made this work! I'm a junior in undergrad now and trying to work out a timeline for med school and PC. How did the rest of your application cycle go? How do you think peace corps contributed to your success in med school and beyond?

Hey, this thread is like 4 years old. If you want more recent info on this specific topic, PM me. One of my best friends applied this cycle while in PC.
 
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