menotyou7

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Hey everyone, I just wanted to give any of the graduate students out there who are attempting to return to medical school a little bit of hope. Time and time again, I read on these forums that my PhD wouldn't make up for a low GPA. And you know what? I believed it. However, I'm afraid that I'm now going to have to repectfully disagree. I may be an isolated case, but I applied to medical school with a 3.1 cumulative GPA, a 2.85 BCPM, and a PhD (3.7); and I just got my first (allo) acceptance.

In my personal statement and all of my essays, I made sure to stress that I was a teenager when I received my poor college grades and that I was an adult, balancing a career and a family, when I got my MCAT score (33P). I also made sure to talk about why I didn't want to go to medical school straight out of college, but how a dangerously complicated pregnancy changed my path. I used my essays to demonstrate that I had matured into the exact kind of person that the admissions committee was looking for. I worked my butt off, I published papers, I volunteered, I taught and I shadowed extensively. And now, I'm in! I just received my 1st acceptance last night!

So, listen to the advice that is out there, and use it to strengthen your application. But don't let it scare you or sway you. Don't lose sight of your goal. If I can do it, anyone can! Good luck!
 
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zird00

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Congrats on your acceptance. I am in a similar situation. My GPA isn't a stellar 4.0 but I have a Masters degree with a 4.0 and much healthcare experience, research and life experience that has led me to pursue medicine. I have elected to do the pre-med course work in lieu of pursuing my PhD:eek::D.
 
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QofQuimica

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Congrats on your acceptance. I'm sure you had many things going for you besides just your PhD, because for most people, graduate school grades will *not* make up for low UG grades. Regardless, you've succeeded where most don't, and that's a heck of an accomplishment. Best of luck in med school. :)
 

dragonfly99

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OP, I'm curious where you went to school for
a) undergrad
and
b) grad school
If you don't want to tell, that's cool. I'd be interested in what kind of school(s) you went to. I'm just curious whether the 3.1 GPA was at a really hard undergrad or something...
 

menotyou7

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OP, I'm curious where you went to school for
a) undergrad
and
b) grad school
If you don't want to tell, that's cool. I'd be interested in what kind of school(s) you went to. I'm just curious whether the 3.1 GPA was at a really hard undergrad or something...


I'll post a few more of my stats, but for the sake of remaining annonomous, I'm going to leave out a few things.

I got a bachelors of science in biology at Purdue University. I believe that Purdue produces a very high quality biology major - however our program is very research oriented. I have been working on my PhD since then at a medical school. My PhD will be in Microbiology and Immunology. I think that my subject matter and my progress within the department made a huge difference in my acceptance. My doctoral thesis work focuses on a human disease. I specifically look at host pathogen interaction. This means my work is very medically relavent.

I applied with one 1st author paper published, one 1st author paper in progress, and with the expectation of two more middle author papers to follow me after I graduate (stuff I'm handing off to other people and not finishing myself.) I've done 9 years of research total, split between academics and industry.

At my interviews, I was able to concretly say that I will be graduating in February. I think it made a big differance that my graduation status was no longer up in the air.

I've spent three years teaching the School of Nursing Clinical Microbiology class. I also think that this was a big deal.

I've received several merit based research awards and a teaching award. I don't know how much that mattered, but I did get asked about it.

Most importantly, I had a very compelling personal story for my I would choose medicine at 29, but not at 21. I wrote my personal statement with the aim of specifically addressing "why now, but not then." (Other than the obvious reason that I had no chance as an undergrad, and knew it).

One other important thing. I interviewed like an adult, not a teenager. I was not nervous. I was calm. I went in with an attitude of, "I know I deserve to be here, why don't you tell me why I would choose school X." You don't want to come across as arrogant, but you should come across and calm, confident, and critical.

I also had a fair bit of clinical experience, although it was starting to become out of date. In college I was a phlebotomist for 3 years. I shadowed my Ob/Gyn extensively to help me decide if I wanted to go to medical school. Particularly, I shadowed when she was on call, meaning I was at the hospital at 2am with her. I wanted to see the "dark side" of medicine. I wanted to work long hours and see death, to know if I could handle it.

I volunteered in an OB ICU. I held leadership positions in two volunteer organizations, demonstrating that I have been active in the community continuously for the past 8 years, even when I wasn't pursing medical school.

Hope that helps!
 
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menotyou7

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Congrats on your acceptance. I'm sure you had many things going for you besides just your PhD, because for most people, graduate school grades will *not* make up for low UG grades. Regardless, you've succeeded where most don't, and that's a heck of an accomplishment. Best of luck in med school. :)


Holy crap! I'm going to medical school!

It's still a bit surreal.
 

QofQuimica

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Holy crap! I'm going to medical school!

It's still a bit surreal.
See how real it starts feeling about two weeks into your first year. ;)

It's not an easy change to go from grad school to med school, because they reward very different modes of thinking and learning. But you're obviously a highly accomplished person, and you will adjust. :luck:
 

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I'm in the same situation OP. I graduate in Spring 2009 and then start all over again. The moral of the story is that the application process is anything but predictable. Congrats!
 

menotyou7

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It's not an easy change to go from grad school to med school, because they reward very different modes of thinking and learning. But you're obviously a highly accomplished person, and you will adjust. :luck:

Ah, that's the whole point I'm trying to make. Actually, I'm nothing special. I've never been the smartest person in the class. I've never made straight A's. What I have however, is a fierce level of determination. It's this determination that has allowed me to succeed. That's why I say, "if I can do it, anyone can!"
 

student1799

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I've never made straight A's. What I have however, is a fierce level of determination. It's this determination that has allowed me to succeed. That's why I say, "if I can do it, anyone can!"

Very impressive story. You have my total admiration for your persistence, hard work and refusal to be bowed by the system.

I, too, am a nontrad with a very unusual story (though quite different from yours), ancient GPA baggage, and an unbalanced MCAT score to boot. I'm applying this year, and although conventional wisdom says I should be toast, I haven't given up the fight. I'm feeling very hopeful because I have two interview invites so far, and I'm going to give them all I've got.

Thanks for sharing your story, and best of luck in med school.
 

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Ah, that's the whole point I'm trying to make. Actually, I'm nothing special. I've never been the smartest person in the class. I've never made straight A's. What I have however, is a fierce level of determination. It's this determination that has allowed me to succeed. That's why I say, "if I can do it, anyone can!"
Congratulations, you have overcome the odds, and you've gained admission. You're definitely an inspiration to those that say it's impossible unless you 'have the numbers'.

However, please do heed the advice QofQuimica is giving, and give medical school the respect that it's about to demand from you. I say this, because I believe you and I are from the same ilk and our backgrounds and struggles are quite similar. I'm a MSIV. Medical school really is unlike graduate school. You are rewarded for being a good test taker. Period. If this is not a natural attribute, it's very, very painful at every stage. There are exams to be conquered every year, and for the rest of your natural life.

You'll quickly find that most of your classmates have gotten straight As for most of their life, and you'll also find that many of them did this without much effort; medical school demands a new level of persistence from them, and it often takes a herculean effort for a non-natural test taker to merely pass in medical school. Personally, I don't agree with the major selection criteria that medical schools use and I didn't want to hear it when I was in your shoes but, after four years, I appreciate that it's there for a good reason.

Again, congratulations, I know that you'll be a real inspiration and an advocate for your patients on the other side. Welcome to the club!
 
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fahimaz7

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Congrats on your acceptance. I'm sure you had many things going for you besides just your PhD, because for most people, graduate school grades will *not* make up for low UG grades. Regardless, you've succeeded where most don't, and that's a heck of an accomplishment. Best of luck in med school. :)

It sure helped my application! How do I know? They said so!

Class of 2013 with a MS in Immunology/Oncology.
 

menotyou7

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However, please do heed the advice QofQuimica is giving, and give medical school the respect that it's about to demand from you. I say this, because I believe you and I are from the same ilk and our backgrounds and struggles are quite similar. I'm a MSIV. Medical school really is unlike graduate school. You are rewarded for being a good test taker. Period. If this is not a natural attribute, it's very, very painful at ever stage. There are hard exams to be conquered every year, and for the rest of your natural life.


Oh, don't worry. I've giving medical school it's due respect. I've actually already started studying (Nerd alert!). I assume from the get go that I will have to work harder than everyone else. If no one else is studying anatomy right now, then great. Maybe I'll teach myself something that will stick. I'm the under dog. I managed to defy the odds and get in, now I have to work my butt off to keep going.

If you've got any tips for how I can get ready for this fall, I'd love to hear them. I'm open to as many suggestions as I can get for how to make the transition a bit smoother. I'm writing my thesis right now, which means I've emursed myself very deeply into the tiny details of biology. In a few short months I'm going to have to switch gears and look at the big picture. It will be quite a change.
 

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Oh, don't worry. I've giving medical school it's due respect. I've actually already started studying (Nerd alert!). I assume from the get go that I will have to work harder than everyone else. If no one else is studying anatomy right now, then great. Maybe I'll teach myself something that will stick. I'm the under dog. I managed to defy the odds and get in, now I have to work my butt off to keep going.

If you've got any tips for how I can get ready for this fall, I'd love to hear them. I'm open to as many suggestions as I can get for how to make the transition a bit smoother. I'm writing my thesis right now, which means I've emursed myself very deeply into the tiny details of biology. In a few short months I'm going to have to switch gears and look at the big picture. It will be quite a change.
The one piece of advice I would give you is: don't study until you start medical school! I promise you'll forget everything by the time you get there. Really, it's total overkill, because you won't know how the medical school you'll enter will deliver the material, and how they will test you. This is the last time you'll have to relax, and enjoy yourself. Medical school will teach you what you need to know.

I would just focus on your thesis; that will be the last time in four year years you'll get to be creative. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you'll hear people tell you that medical school is torture, while others say it's a walk in the park. Most average people (like me) find it somewhere in between. I hear residency is similar, but I'll wait until I have experienced it myself....

Again, congrats, and best wishes!
 

QofQuimica

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The one piece of advice I would give you is: don't study until you start medical school! I promise you'll forget everything by the time you get there. Really, it's total overkill, because you won't know how the medical school you'll enter will deliver the material, and how they will test you. This is the last time you'll have to relax, and enjoy yourself. Medical school will teach you what you need to know.

I would just focus on your thesis; that will be the last time in four year years you'll get to be creative. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you'll hear people tell you that medical school is torture, while others say it's a walk in the park. Most average people (like me) find it somewhere in between. I hear residency is similar, but I'll wait until I have experienced it myself....

Again, congrats, and best wishes!
Agree.

Menot, nothing that you study now will help you much, but you *can* manage to burn yourself out before you start the most intense biology-fest you have ever experienced. Seriously, don't do that to yourself. If you want to do something useful to prepare, get yourself some medical Spanish tapes. Or learn to draw; patients appreciate it when you can sketch out something for them.

Once you get to med school, you will have to do some trial and error. People have different study methods that work for them. Some people love flash cards; I hated them. Some people love study groups; I generally studied by myself. Some people spend all their time in the library because they don't get much done at home; I always preferred studying at home where it was quiet. You have kids at home, so school may be quieter for you. Some people only read the syllabus; I liked using textbooks and UpToDate to go more in depth. (This is an awesome clinical resource that your med school will hopefully have.) There's no right or wrong way to study, as long as you are passing your classes. Best of luck. :)
 

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menot,
agree with above,
DON'T study now.
Just talk to the 2nd year students when you get to school next year, and get study tips from them. At my school one needed to memorize the syllabus and/or transcripts of what was said in class by the profs...pretty much all memorize and regurgitate. Also, one really needed last year's exams (it was allowed to use/have them) because some of the questions on the exams were so nitpicky and obscure one would never guess them/know them unless you already knew they were going to be asked. I'm sure the optimal study strategy will vary according to the school you attend, and your own personal study habits.
 

menotyou7

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Thanks guys! Sounds like some great advice. I won't study before I go, but I'll make sure to hit the books hard the minute classes start. I think I'm going to spend the time before I start school running, cooking and reading. I'm also going to take my son to the zoo about 15 times. We love the monkeys :)

Oh yea, and I should finish that pesky little thesis!
 

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Congratulations!

We are the same person, only one year off. I applied to med school last year at 29 years old, with a 33P mcat, 3.1 uGPA, 2.9 uBCPM and a 3.8 grad gpa. I taught human A&P to pre-nursing majors at the local city college for several years after getting my masters degree. I am in my first year of med school now and I LOVE IT. I had no interest in medicine at 22, but at 30 I couldn't imagine being happier anywhere else right now.
 

menotyou7

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Hey! That's great! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one around. How have you handled the transition?

Right now I'm just really excited about starting school. I know I said I wouldn't study, but the anatomy book is just sitting there, begging to be read :) I also have booked some more shadowing time. I'm eating this stuff up. I can't wait to start!

Do you have any specific advice for the post-graduate non-trad group?
 

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Many congratulations! I'm really excited for you. You make it seem really possible. I'm in a pediatric exercise physiology grad program and am very very seriously considering applying to med school here. Since a doing a clinical internship, I cannot imagine doing research without having that constant patient interaction. Question - do you think it would be beneficial to transfer from master's to phd while i finish up things like volunteer time, shadowing, mcat, etc. or would it be better to just finish the master's and do all that with a year off school? Just curious of what someone who made it would do:)

Again, congrats and thanks!
 
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