Post Bacc Opportunities and Strategies for Someone in my Position

chiefheath

2+ Year Member
Aug 19, 2015
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
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chiefheath

2+ Year Member
Aug 19, 2015
3
0
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
haha I thought you might have when I posted it. For some reason the wording/motivation of Grassini's admissions letter in the times article, the 'inciting incident', always stuck with me.

My situation is a little different than yours. I have a degree in neuroscience from a liberal arts school (one of those little-ivy types) with a deadbeat GPA (c2.8 s2.4). Horrible. I didn't even bother applying to med school. I did a lot of post bac research for both record enhancers and career changers (which I dont qualify for) and eventually decided the safest career move for me was to transfer my credits towards a chemical engineering degree, retake my classes as part of the degree, get involved in research and apply to med school after proving myself for a year in my chem e program. Med school is still my top priority, but I will have the fall back of working as an engineer if I don't manage to make it in. A year into my program, and I am getting my research work published and maintaining a 4.0 and working as an emt/shadowing - so things may yet work out for me.

From what I remember during my research career changers seem to have more options than record enhancers and tend to do very well once they are admitted to a program. Not only is your GPA is good, but you are from a top school and your resume also shows initiative in your field of choice - all signs of a commited student and good work ethic. I think the most important thing for you is establishing why you are the most authentic future doctor out of your pool of competition. Anything in the medical field will help, but as my research prof. pointed out, doctors are primarily decision makers and communicators, rather than technicians. Try to find something in the medical field that will highlight your analytical ability and your commitment to caregiving. I don't have experience with applying to post bacs, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but it might be beneficial to also volunteer in a hospice or see if you can get involved with hospital research in addition to shadowing (which you should definitely spend 100+ hours doing). I've heard that being medical scribe is a great way to understand the reality of being a doctor and gain medical experience, so I think that's a great decision on your part.
 

GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
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I would definitely give consideration to simply trying to do an informal post-bacc either at your current school(if you can afford it) or to go to the local state school nearest you to do so. While the GPA averages of those formal post-baccs you are talking about is often in the 3.7 range, you might be competitive.

But I will say this; beware of how competitive those programs are. You hear stories far more often of success from those programs than those who struggle and don't get into medical school(and those post-baccs that love to tout their % acceptance rate into medical school often screen out the less desirable candidates and prevent them from applying). This skews things in terms of how difficult we perceive them to be. If you have a 3.5 from a top 20 school it's not that you are incapable of handling them, but they are very competitive with all kinds of fierce competition for the grades in the class given out. It's a furnace out there.

If however you go to a local State U to complete the pre-reqs and perhaps take a couple upper level science classes you'll find a) they are cheaper b) the competition is just simply not nearly the same as it is at those top post-bacc programs full of very smart students who simply werent pre-med or at Duke/Emory/Vanderbilt where half the class was a valedictorian in high school. Instead of classes where half the students were valedictorians and the SAT average is in the 2200's, you might find at your State U a class full of students who were medicore in HS and didn't even break 1800 on the SAT. The difference in quality is tremendous; even if ADCOMs don't care that it is.

Like others have said above, this is a real generalization I'll state up front but many pre-meds often overstate the impact of undergrad institution. This is particularly true at the lower tier schools I think you would be trying to target. Do well in a DIY post-bacc at your local State U, and apply with say 3.55/3.7 and I think your GPA can be quite competitive.

To answer your questions about EC's
1) You need far more than shadowing. And doing 3 months of shadowing is pointless; get your 50 hours and move on. That's all you need.
2) You need clinical exposure beyond shadowing. Volunteering in a hospital or hospice, working as a nursing assistant or scribe are some of the many examples of things that can fulfill this.
3) You need volunteering to demonstrate altruism, beyond the clinical volunteering. What really makes a differnece here is volunteering with the less fortunate; the terminally ill, those with disabilities, those in severe poverty etc.
4) While this isn't mandatory like the things above research experience is something most pre-meds have. IT doesn't need to be your typical basic research experience in a "wet" lab counting cells and doing PCRs; anything hypothesis driven is more than fine. This can include clinical research where you analyze data, analyze case studies and write reports and can do so from your computer on your own schedule.

Realistically you are looking at a couple years before you are in position to apply to medical school but it is certainly possible.
 

Goro

Gold Donor
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Jun 10, 2010
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Here's the deal: You need to show AdComs that you know what you're getting into, and show off your altruistic, humanism side. We need to know that you're going to like being around sick or injured people for the next 40 years.

Here's another way of looking at it: would you buy a new car without test driving it? Buy a new suit or dress without trying it on??

We're also not looking for merely for good medical students, we're looking for people who will make good doctors, and 4.0 GPA robots are a dime-a-dozen.

I've seen plenty of posts here from high GPA/high MCAT candidates who were rejected because they had little patient contact experience.

Not all volunteering needs to be in a hospital. Think hospice, Planned Parenthood, Ronald McDonald House, nursing homes, rehab facilities, crisis hotlines, camps for sick children, or clinics.

Service need not be "unique". If you can alleviate suffering in your community through service to the poor, homeless, illiterate, fatherless, etc, you are meeting an otherwise unmet need and learning more about the lives of the people (or types of people) who will someday be your patients. Check out your local houses of worship for volunteer opportunities.

Examples include: Habitat for Humanity, Humane Society, crisis hotlines, soup kitchen, food pantry, homeless or women’s shelter, after-school tutoring for students or coaching a sport in a poor school district, teaching ESL to adults at a community center, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or Meals on Wheels.

Shadowing is required, but not sufficient, as it tells you what a doctor's day is like.



First, a quick background on myself:
Background
I will be graduating in December 2015 from a top-20 university (think Vandy/Duke/Emory) with a BBA in Finance and IT. As far as my stats, my cumulative GPA is a 3.45, and my SAT is CR: 640, M: 680 and W: 700 (2020/2400). I have work experience (internships) in private equity, investment banking and SaaS (Software as a Service). I have worked on M & A transactions with healthcare companies, although I recognize this does not count as medical experience. I know for a fact that I can shadow a few Emergency Physicians during fall semester (I have already spoken personally with them and gotten a guarantee). Outside of the work experience listed above, I have no medical-related experience, apart from shadowing an Emergency physician and working at an orthodontic clinic in high school, which I don't consider relevant at this point since it was roughly 6 years ago.

Questions
1. Right now, what do you think my candidacy is like for the top post baccs (preferably Goucher or Bryn Mawr, but also Columbia, U Penn, Johns Hopkins, and possibly others as well) considering my GPA, SAT, and lack of medical work/ volunteer experience?

2. Do you think shadowing 1-3 Emergency Physicians over a 4 month period max would make a significant difference in my candidacy?

3. It's my feeling now that I would be much better off trying to work in some clinical capacity for a year, such as a scribe, before applying to these programs. Do you think this is accurate?

I appreciate advice from anyone, but would love to hear from people in particular who have applied to or gone through the post bacc programs I mentioned above, or other post bacc programs. Thanks!
 
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