31flavors

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Jul 17, 2006
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Pre-Medical
Hey to all SDN,

I didn't want my first post to ask for advice for weird reasons, but I couldn't help it since a lot of threads have great advice on them. Don't worry. I read through most threads and sections, so I won't ask a dumb question like "these are my stats - will i get in?"......hopefully. I hope I didn't put this in the wrong section.

I've been having sleepless nights thinking over my current situation as a pre-med student. Here's the jist of my path towards medicine. After high school, I worked different jobs with no satisfaction while taking classes part-time. After an experience with a physician who was a great patient advocate, I wanted to be just like her. So I decided to major in Biology-minor psychology (favorite subjects, not because everyone else has done it) as a full-time student. I also had a CNA license and worked part-time at the latter end of spring semester and over the summer. Unfortunately, the energy I put into CNA, although I loved the job, took so much out of me that it started to affect my grades. I had to make the hard decision to leave the job because I couldn't repair my GPA if I had continued. My license expired and I can't renew it because I don't have reliable transportation anymore. Undergraduate education practically dwindled my savings to zero and I'm surviving on loans and federal aid. I'm about 1.5 - 2 years away from finishing my bachelor's, trying to go for a degree with distinction. My stats are a bit below "average" (3.35 cum, 3.3 sci), but it should be up around 3.5 by the time I graduate here in Nevada. I've been volunteering for about 3 months and also beating myself trying to find ECs because none really interest me and I've become a monk over Organic Chem. Finally finished that with an A, though.

Here's the part I've been thinking relentlessly over. Finances. I've been raised in a single parent home, so I didn't have financial resources to go straight to full-time college out of high school. In my above rant is the current situation now, laden with debt. I know application to med schools, particularly the secondary apps, is expensive. Going to interviews is really going to be expensive. That may prohibit me from applying to a lot of med schools. I would love to work again, but transportation issues in getting an EMT, CNA, etc., certification prevents me from doing so. By the time I graduate, I would probably only be able to interview for 2 schools - instate at Nevada, and some out of state private school. I don't really like my chances considering others have traveled the world, a long list of ECs since their freshman year, and stellar MCATs and GPAs. The only "international" exposure I've had was living in the Northern Marianas Islands for 6 years. Not sure if that even counts since its a U.S. commonwealth. It's near Guam, if you're wondering.

I'm wondering what advice you would have if you were in my situation. Would you still apply anyway? Or would you take some years off to take up an LPN program in Oregon to pay off my large debt and get more clinical experience? I have relatives there that can help me out with transportation. The downside is I got to put off med school and I don't feel like getting older at 26 years old. I know the older non-trads are laughing at this. Is there another route I should try for? Any advice you can give is greatly appreciated and sorry for the long post.
 

tncekm

MS-1
10+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2006
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If you get a great MCAT score I don't see your application to UNSOM being quickly rejected by any means.

How are your grades in the big 4? bio, g-chem, o-chem, phys? Any grades lower than B's?

Go ahead and call the admissions office at UNSOM. You'll find some very helpful people there. I'd say your best bet is to bust your butt and get a great MCAT and apply in state. (But, i'm no expert and others may disagree with me.)
 
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31flavors

New Member
10+ Year Member
Jul 17, 2006
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Pre-Medical
for the big 4
bio - all A's, except a B in Human AP and Genetics. Horrible lab compenent and notoriously hard class, respectively.

physics - haven't taken them yet, but I guarantee an A. physics is a strong point of mine, along with bio

g-chem - chem is my achilles heel. I got a B on my first one and C on my second one. NO ONE got an A in Gen Chem II because the teacher was ultra-hard. I know that's no excuse, but man.....

o-chem - I got a C in O-Chem I. I had to leave the university for a semester, and they didn't offer O-Chem II when I returned the following year. So I retook it and got a B. O-Chem II turned out to be an A.

i haven't taken the MCAT yet, but I did take that full online test from AMCAS, not kaplan. I got a 33, but I don't know how that practice test translates if I take it next summer.

I'm busting my butt over my courses, and I will continue doing so. I hope this extra info will help in your advice. Thanks.
 
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tncekm

MS-1
10+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2006
3,616
5
Status
Medical Student
Man, if you have a hard time in g-chem and think you'll ace calc-based physics, you're the first I've met. two things to really consider, (A) physics is hard to teach, let alone learn. (B) its considered by many to be THE hardest UG class you'll take. However, with that said, it does just "click" for some people, maybe you're one of them.

I'm not sure how AMCAS compares to the real MCAT. I've yet to take either in all honesty. But, if it is comparable and you're getting a 33 without having taken physics, I'd say you can get a good enough MCAT with some studying to make youreself competitive, despite the C's.

Good luck and keep everyone updated on your progress. Just try to ace the rest of your classes, they'll take note of trends in your education.
 

Sondra

UMC 2010
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Aug 6, 2005
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I also worked after high school for nearly a year to save money to buy myself a car and to have some savings for med school. I knew when I started college that I wanted to be a physician and worked toward that goal every day.

Being a CNA, even for a short time, will be a great EC or part of your personal statement. Admissions committees understand the difficulty of going to college especially when you have to work or borrow money. I worked all the way through college. The adcoms were very understanding that working limited my abilities to participate in ECs, but I worked extra hard to keep my grades high to show that I was capable of the extra work load. If you can't work and go to school, don't. Find yourself a job at the school in the library or at a video rental store. Someplace where you can study while it is slow. You don't necessarily have to have a medically related job. Work is work when you need money. You can learn something at every job you will work than can translate into an EC if you wanted to. I worked at a bakery during my first year of college. I learned book keeping skills, lots about customer service, and I constantly talked to the owner about what it takes to keep a small, family owned business running - all this from a bakery. If you want an EC building job - try to work in a lab on campus. It may only pay minimum wage, but they are usually willing to work around your school schedule and you get resume fodder.

If you have to go to school part time and work part time to save your grades then do it. It may take a little longer, but it is worth it. It took me five years while taking classes nearly every summer begining in June 2000 and graduating in August 2005.

I was raised in a single parent home too. We lived off less than 12K a year for a family of 3. I was never handed anything which made me all the more determined to do the best I could with what I had.

For Christmas and my birthday, I asked for cash to put in my savings account to save for my application/secondary expenses. I only applied to my state school. There is a Fee Assistance Prgram (FAP) for the MCAT and AMCAS. Look into it early because there is a deadline for it several months before you take the MCAT. I didn't qualify for it. I made 12K and my mom who still supports 2 other people made 16K that year. So we had 28K for 4 people in two seperate households which was too much money to qualify for the fee reduction. The fees don't come all at once though. You pay for the MCAT one year. The next summer you pay for the AMCAS (be really sure about the schools that you want to go to, and make sure they match your stats - GPA, MCAT to keep your costs low). Then secondaries come in, and you can pay for those one at a time as they arrive throughout the summer/fall. My secondary was $50. As far as interviews, I bought one suit for under a $100 at JC Penny. It cost me $50 in gas to get to my interview. I got up at 4AM and was home by 10PM so I didn't have to get a hotel room.

The cost of the application/interview process can get pricey if you are planning on applying to a lot of schools, so be really picky about the schools that you want to go to and weigh them against what you can afford. Interviewing for only 2 schools is okay. Not everyone applies to many schools.

I never traveled the world, and I don't have a long list of ECs. In fact, I didn't even fill all the EC spots on my app, but I did have ECs that I was passionate about and talked about in length in interviews.

I graduated with BS in Aug 6, 2005, and I took the MCAT on Aug 20, 2005. I continued to work until I interviewed in Dec. In the meantime, I consolidated with 28K in student loans I had accrued. I worked most of the year that I have had off and will be starting med school the first week of Aug 2006.

I hope through my experiences that you can see some of the same things you are facing. It is doable.

I would still apply if I were you. Don't let the money issue keep you from reaching your goal. You don't need more clinical experience. You already have some. If you want more, try shadowing, volunteering an afternoon a week in your student health center. If it was me, I wouldn't take years off to take up an LPN program. I would possibly try to regain my CNA and start working after graduation if I still wasn't in med school or even to earn up the cash to apply to med school. You don't need to go as far to get more education that does not directly benefit your ultimate goal - to get into med school. Taking the LPN program would probably only raise your debt too.
 
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