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Please help - Need Honest Advice

Discussion in 'Postbaccalaureate Programs' started by DuckGirl, Apr 23, 2004.

  1. DuckGirl

    DuckGirl Junior Member

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    I have been reading SDN posts for about a year now, but have never posted anything ever on the internet...so here I go...

    I would like some honest feedback/advice regarding my situation. I graduated from an ivy league university back in '99. I completed about half of my pre-meds there and did poorly in them. Unfortunately, I pretty much did really poorly the first two years of college in all subjects because of a severe bout of depression which eventually required that I take a one-year medical leave. When I got back from the medical leave, I did much, much better. However, because of my dismal grades early on I only graduated with a 2.99 GPA. Very frustrating. I was ignorant about the significance of a GPA when I first got to college since we didn't have GPA's in high school and both my parents never went to college (they barely squeeked by high school) and were happy to just see me "pass" my classes.

    I worked very hard in high school, lived in an tumultous home where neither one of my parents really cared about my schooling (getting a ride to school from them was sometimes a struggle) and both my parents created situations that were emotionally scarring (ie. dad dated a woman that was a crazy and hated me because she didn't like my mother and would stalk me, chase me with her car, and continously threaten to kill me...this went on for over a year). Despite all this, I worked fervently and managed to do well enough to get into an ivy league university. I focused all my attentions on doing well in school so that I could get college scholarships and get out of the house. I succeeded in doing this, but I think all the years of turmoil I had suffered came crashing down on me when I was finally away from it all. This, along with a debilitating depression which runs in my family, lead me to not reach my full potential in college. Once I did focus, I found myself near the top of all the classes I took getting mostly A's.

    I find myself now working in a company that is doing extremely well financially and getting paid fairly well. I am now married and have a 2-year old daughter. My husband is a dream come true...supportive, successful and loving. :love:

    I have gone through extensive therapy and I now feel so fulfilled in every aspect of my life except one. I still have a very strong desire to go to med school. I spent a lot of time in college shadowing surgeons and watching hundreds of surgeries. I also did rounds with them and the interns. I loved it! As I sit in my cube, I feel so disappointed and frustrated because I feel as though I may have thrown my chance for med school away. :( I still keep in touch with some of the doctors I shadowed and they all highly suggest that I apply to med school, but I don't have the courage to let them know that my grades in college were terrible. I feel like I've disappointed them and myself.

    I know GPA's are extremely important. I know that I would be successful in a post-bac program, but I feel my chances of getting into a reputable program are slim. I live in Rhode Island near Brown University. Brown used to have a post-bac program but they discontinued it. The University of Rhode Island states on their website that they have a post-bac program. Does anyone know anything about URI's post-bac program?

    Since I have taken half of my premed courses already (Chem I & II, Physics I, Calculus, Cell Biology) can I apply to formal post-bac programs? Most seem to stress that they are for "career-changers" and not for students who have already taken any of the necessary pre-med courses. It has been 7-10 years since I took these courses, so I feel that I should re-take some of them but I don't know what med schools would think of this.

    Sorry for the long, rambling post. Any advice/suggestions would be really appreciated! Thanks!!! :)
     
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  3. lolli

    lolli Member
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    Wow. You've come through a lot to get to the functional, fulfilled place where you are at now. That takes a lot of courage. Congratulations.
    I would like to offer you some encouragment about attending a post-bac program. You can defiantely do it. Post-bac programs are for people just like you.
    I went to the Columbia program, starting from a zero science background, and it was great - extremely difficult, expensive and exhausing - but I would do it again in a heartbeat. If you went to Columbia you would probably come in and do the Orgo/Bio year, take your MCAT's in the Spring and apply the next year. It would only be two years for you if you went full time, which is what they would likely require from you. It would mean coming in and working your ass off. Sometimes this is hard to do if you have been out of school for a long time. The adjustment to student life/mindframe can be really difficult, no matter how good of a student you were in your last years of college. The columbia advisors will take the time to get to know you, and write you a detailed letter of rec about what brought you to the place of applying to med school, your performance in the post-bac program, what issues you faced in your undergrad, and also be able to explain any deficiencies in your application. You will also have the space to talk about all of this in your personal statement and secondary applications, should you so choose. If your grades from GChem, physics etc. are *really* bad, the advisors will probably suggest that you take these courses over again. That would be another year of work.
    You should consider the post-bac your second chance to proove that you can really function in a demanding, high stress, competative environment. If you can do this, and score highly on the MCAT's, med school admissions committees will likely be all over you. They like to take students who have had life experience, who can overcome obstacles and come out on top.
    I would recommend calling COlumbia and seeing if you can talk to one of the advisors there.
    One major downside is the cost. No financial aid whatsoever. Also, living in NYC with a child is not the easiest thing in the world.
    Good luck with everything. Follow your dreams, as cheesy as that sounds. It's your life.
    Loli
     
  4. Duckgirl,
    Inspiring story. I wouldn't worry at all about the low GPA with all the legitimate reasons you had and with the strong proof of improvement you made. In fact, it will work for you making you stand out of the crowd.

    On the practical side, I am finishing off Harvard Extension postbac this year and have taken the April MCAT. I have a classmate communting from Rhode Is, to attend here and he has two kids and working. He has been doing well but now thinking about the financial and time demands of medical curriculum, he is considering something else. His most difficult dilemma was choosing between seeing his kids grow up and medical training.

    Commuting for you would be difficult, which leaves you with the schools near you. If I were you, I would just take the necessary courses nearby - provided that the school is not known for low quality, avoid junior colleges - and come away with good grades. The most important factor for you is MCAT. It will be the ultimate proof that you are competent. And MCAT is something you can prepare on your own. For example, taking orgo or bio course is not necessary at all - based on my recent experience - to take the MCAT. In short, if you do well on the MCAT, you need not worry about "where" you take the required courses. Are you a minority? If yes, the chance is higher even with mediocre MCAT score.

    The most important is that you examine why you are doing this, so that you don't end up wasting one or two years in attempting. I noticed some people in my program coming in with an attitude, "I'll try and see how it goes." Well, many of those ended up stopping or changing to other "lucrative" careers. And that's fortunate for the quality of the medical services.

    More than anything, determination and passion will decide whether or not one is to become a physician. Yes, we don't need anymore stupid doctors and I've seen plenty already. But if you are not stupid and have passion for it, nothing should stop you. I honestly think large portion of medical students are just above average by intellect. The unique intellects are in theoretical physics, mathematic, and philosophies. How do I know? Bio and chem are the simplest subjects in academia requiring the most primitive mental exercise, memorization. The revised MCAT format is trying to weed out those who can't think critically, but yet, most questions in science sections are still simple enough. Why am I saying all this? So that you are not discouraged by the false rumors about how difficult to be a doctor and how really smart you must be and how terribly difficult MCAT is. Judging from what you pulled through, the process of getting into med school won't be that difficult. Well, unless you are shooting for an ivy med school.

    Bottom line, if your intention is right, your will firm, your intellect confident, you have no problems.
     
  5. medtechv79

    medtechv79 Senior Member
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    What an inspirational story! I also didn't do well in my first two yrs as as undergrad pre-med. I eventually switched majors. I don't have a desire to go to med school anymore....but thats just me.
    First off, I may not be an authoratative expert on this but undergrad GPA is very relative. Most ppl will look at each individuals life experience, plus undergrad GPA. Especially with yer mental illness I'm sure ppl can understand yer situation. I would reccomend retaking those pre med courses and maybe do a post bacc program. I have a friend who is doing the post bacc pgm. and her GPA is around a 2.8 from William and Mary! Alot of ppl take into consideration that if u IMPROVE in courses u take after college (either throught masters pgms or retaking courses) they will not focus on the undergrad GPA as much.
    I also had a cousin who had depression during her first two yrs of undergrad at UVA. Guess what? She overcame it decided to go to med school did premed courses and now shes doing a fellowship as a psychiatrist. She was a music major to say the least! So don't get discouraged! My cousin said the main thing in med school is that it is not for everyone. U have to really want it/to be a doctor and from yer post it seems u have the desire. I say go for it and don't dwell on the undergrad GPA. LIke th post above do well on yer premed courses if u retake them and the MCAT and interview.
    GOOD LUCK!
     
  6. medtechv79

    medtechv79 Senior Member
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    Oh oops! I didn't answer yer question! I think u should do a post bacc program! I'm sure it will help yer chances to med school considerably. Also yer premed courses...how were yer grades? IF they were below a C I'd prolly retake them either thru post bacc pgm or college courses. either way do what u need to do to fulfill yer dream!!
     
  7. DuckGirl

    DuckGirl Junior Member

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    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! :) Your responses were both informative and extremely motivating! It was really touching to receive such well thought out advice and support.

    I will contact all the post-bac programs in Boston, as well as URI to try to determine what my options are. I am not technically a URM (half Peruvian/half Irish), but I am completely fluent in Spanish since that is my first language (I was raised mostly by my Peruvian mom). I know there is a need for bilingual doctors, so I'm hoping this will help.

    Luckily, along with marrying a supportive husband, I married into a a wonderfully supportive family that all live in Rhode Island and are willing to help me out. I am so happy to have come this far and I'm thrilled to have found an SDN support network with people who can lend me their invaluable advice and support. Thanks again...I'll keep you all updated!
     
  8. medicomel

    medicomel Purveyor of short posts.
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    Just another thing to add that I've posted elsewhere in the past: as long as you take your prereqs at any four-year college, you're good to go! You can also petition to be classified as an "at large" student for your repeated science courses, and on the condition of making good grades for those, you would be admitted into the formal post-bac program.

    And, when you're finally an applicant to medical school, rest assured that your fluency in Spanish will definitely make you a stronger applicant!
    I wish I had had the foresight to take it in college!

    Good luck to you,
    m
     

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