Really strange application--trying to decide what to do

Shpamme

status pages confuse me.
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 14, 2005
357
0
Status
Non-Student
Disclaimer: this is a sort of "what are my chances thread.. "

Hi. I already submitted AMCAS and I'm waiting for secondaries. I have a huge decision to make--I promised I'd make it while waiting for secondaries--so I'm trying to get some input. I didn't realize I wanted to be a doctor until the end of law school. Now, I've been at this for a few years now, trying to make up for lackluster undergrad performance (got a Masters after law school). I'm no gunner, and I don't expect things handed to me on a silver platter--I know I alone am responsible for my predicament. But I do think I've done a lot to make it up--the cumulative consequence being that there are a lot of strengths AND weaknesses in my application. I want med school more than anything for a variety of reasons, but the reality is I'm getting older and have to start facing some financial practicalities. I'm going to see this application cycle through no matter what, since I've already invested so much energy. But the twofold question on my mind is:
1. Is a US med school actually possible this year? Or am I dreaming? (I applied to mostly lower-tier schools, with a few reach schools)
2. If it's possible, does anyone have any concrete suggestions to alert schools to the recent strengths?
2. Should I apply to the Carribbean as a backup (I'm still undecided about whether I'd go--not because I don't want medicine but because I have some family obligations here), or instead devote my energies to looking for a job at a law firm?

Okay, have at it. I'd really like to hear frankly what people think. From anyone--lawyers, premeds, kids who did masters programs. Please don't flame though.. I'm sorta sad about all this right now. I can take a "I'm sorry, but I really think it's not going to happen," but maybe not a "You shouldn't even have bothered applying this year you sorry loser."
 

jackieMD2007

***MVI***
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 23, 2006
2,510
4
The Hospital
Status
Resident [Any Field]
You could try the "What are my chances Thread". You might have more luck there.

EDIT: You also may want to browse the Non-Trad forum.
EDIT: Finally, if you put your GPA/Stats/Age/whatever into www.mdapplicants.com, you can search for people with similar stats/home state/etc and see where they ended up.
 

ChymeChancellor

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2006
952
2
Status
Pre-Medical
Your undergrad GPA is what counts. The law school and grad school won't make too much a difference IMO. They don't really know how to evaluate law school GPA so you won't be hurt too badly there. My father also had an abysmal law school GPA... I think that's how they do things.

Either way, I would take a year and do a post-bac retaking the classes you didn't do too well in. Your MCAT score show you know your stuff so this shouldn't be too much of a problem. DO schools will also only count the retaken grade to factor into your GPA if you are considering that.

Otherwise, I think you have a very broad and interesting application otherwise. I'd give it a shot either way. Some schools will look beyond your grades but be prepared for a lot of rejections.
 
OP
Shpamme

Shpamme

status pages confuse me.
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 14, 2005
357
0
Status
Non-Student
Wow..two responses already! So excited.. Thank you.

JackieMD--thanks for the resources. I'll start taking a look at those now.

ChymeChancellor--
>Either way, I would take a year and do a post-bac retaking the classes you >didn't do too well in.
My worry in all honesty is not so much waiting another year, but that I'd do just as bad. I think medicine is a different beast from o-chem and physics. I seemed to really take to histology and physiology, even if I never tackled o-chem and physics. And MCAT o-chem and physics really seemed to be a different discipline altogether from what was taught in college.

> DO schools will also only count the retaken grade to factor into your GPA if > you are considering that.
No..for some well-thought out reasons. I just can't bring myself to personally agree with some of the treatment modalities after shadowing some DOs and looking into the malpractice rate. I know it's very respectable and right for some, but not for me. Thank you though.

>Some schools will look beyond your grades but be prepared for a lot of >rejections.
Do you think I could get even a single interview? I have a feeling I could sell myself if I got to the interview.. if I can just get past a numbers screenout post-secondary.
 

jackieMD2007

***MVI***
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 23, 2006
2,510
4
The Hospital
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Your UGrad GPA worries me, because those classes are going to calculate into your BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math) GPA on AMCAS...

I do not know how the whole post-bacc work factors into all of that, but I know that they break out your post-bacc GPA in a separate column on the AMCAS before showing the cumulative.

Maybe you should see a pre-med advisor or make an appointment at your state medical school to talk to someone in admissions?

Everything else is good, good job pulling up the MCAT. That is definitely in your favor.
 

ChymeChancellor

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2006
952
2
Status
Pre-Medical
Shpamme said:
Wow..two responses already! So excited.. Thank you.

JackieMD--thanks for the resources. I'll start taking a look at those now.

ChymeChancellor--
>Either way, I would take a year and do a post-bac retaking the classes you >didn't do too well in.
My worry in all honesty is not so much waiting another year, but that I'd do just as bad. I think medicine is a different beast from o-chem and physics. I seemed to really take to histology and physiology, even if I never tackled o-chem and physics. And MCAT o-chem and physics really seemed to be a different discipline altogether from what was taught in college.

> DO schools will also only count the retaken grade to factor into your GPA if > you are considering that.
No..for some well-thought out reasons. I just can't bring myself to personally agree with some of the treatment modalities after shadowing some DOs and looking into the malpractice rate. I know it's very respectable and right for some, but not for me. Thank you though.

>Some schools will look beyond your grades but be prepared for a lot of >rejections.
Do you think I could get even a single interview? I have a feeling I could sell myself if I got to the interview.. if I can just get past a numbers screenout post-secondary.
Your best chance is to take the classes you bombed in your undergrand and ace them in the post-bac. A few upper level sciences will also show you can "hack" it. There are also some masters programs that will let you take classes with med students. If you do well in one of those it will prove to the adcom you can make the grade.

Try not to get discouraged. A lot of people will put you down for being older and having low grades. The main doctors that I shadowed did not take the traditional route. One had a horrible undergrad GPA and applied at the age of forty. He ended up going to the carribean and getting his degree there. He is now back in the states and practicing. The other had an undergrad GPA close to yours and did the post-bac and things seemed to work in his favor. It won't be easy but as the saying goes.... where there's a will there's a way.
 

silkworm

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
May 29, 2004
463
1
Bardo
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Was your master's program a SMP? It sounds a lot like the Boston MAMS program (med school classes, research thesis . .)

If so, you seem to have done well there. Also, you have improved all aspects of your application, MCAT, master's program, research, etc. So it seem you should have a good shot this cycle.
 

ChymeChancellor

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2006
952
2
Status
Pre-Medical
Didn't see you already did a masters with medical school students. You did do moderately well in it. I would slog through an application cycle and see what you get. Good luck!
 
OP
Shpamme

Shpamme

status pages confuse me.
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 14, 2005
357
0
Status
Non-Student
Thanks guys.. you guys are the best. It was a SMP.

I know the Masters GPA isn't the strongest, but it's well over 1 GPA point than what I had before. And my dean in the Master's program says even though it's not the highest, it's competitive.

I guess I'll follow your advice and slog through the cycle and see what happens.. maybe check out the websites like Jackie MD suggested and go talk to some schools. And it was a relief to hear law school won't count for much. Maybe I'll apply to 1 or 2 firms after I finish secondaries just to make some money to pay the bills.. but then in the meantime, I'll keep volunteering and trying to get clinical exposure. It's a relief to make this decision today, so thank you.

I figure at this point, there's nothing more I can do. I've tried to address everything, save for going back and taking those ugrad classes again.. which, I have to admit--I'm really loathe to do because I am so worried about doing badly in them again.

I guess one question remains. As for talking to schools, how can I get through to an admissions officer and not just a admissions counselor? I realize the purpose is to ask them if my Masters GPA will be averaged in with my ugrad, but as long as I'm there I'd also like to try to get a foot in the door. One interview..just one, and I would be so happy.

I'll keep you guys posted on how it goes.. but thanks again. For being realistic but supportive.
 

Law2Doc

5K+ Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Dec 20, 2004
30,981
9,891
Status
Attending Physician
Shpamme said:
Disclaimer: this is a sort of "what are my chances thread.. "

Hi. I already submitted AMCAS and I'm waiting for secondaries. I have a huge decision to make--I promised I'd make it while waiting for secondaries--so I'm trying to get some input. I didn't realize I wanted to be a doctor until the end of law school. Now, I've been at this for a few years now, trying to make up for lackluster undergrad performance (got a Masters after law school). I'm no gunner, and I don't expect things handed to me on a silver platter--I know I alone am responsible for my predicament. But I do think I've done a lot to make it up--the cumulative consequence being that there are a lot of strengths AND weaknesses in my application. I want med school more than anything for a variety of reasons, but the reality is I'm getting older and have to start facing some financial practicalities. I'm going to see this application cycle through no matter what, since I've already invested so much energy. But the twofold question on my mind is:
1. Is a US med school actually possible this year? Or am I dreaming? (I applied to mostly lower-tier schools, with a few reach schools)
2. If it's possible, does anyone have any concrete suggestions to alert schools to the recent strengths?
2. Should I apply to the Carribbean as a backup (I'm still undecided about whether I'd go--not because I don't want medicine but because I have some family obligations here), or instead devote my energies to looking for a job at a law firm?

Stats
AGE--27
STATE--a uber competitive one
MCAT--32S, April 2006 (Previous scores 27T, 28S)
MASTERS GPA (in all medical school classes)--3.42; Honors on thesis.
REAPPLICANT--applied once 2003-2004. Got lots of secondaries but didn't even get a single interview. Didn't turn in secondaries right away. Primary went in late July. New things since last application are publications, more clinical exposure, new MCAT score, higher Masters GPA after thesis, and masters degree.
UGRAD GPA--2.8 (2.2 Science). Really brought down by a few F's from science classes I took at a university while in high school, that I didn't drop properly. Also some C's in ochem and bio.
LAW SCHOOL GPA--too abysmal to mention in polite company (although had lots of job offers)
RESEARCH--Co-authored 1 original research publication on a subject involving both clinical and molecular bio; Published 6 review articles on the subject in a year. 2 addiitonal co-authorships on original research expected next year.
CLINICAL EXPOSURE--Worked in father's medical practice for 11 years, volunteered at hospital for 2 years in high school, currently volunteering at a free clinic for 6 hours a week
SHADOWING--Over 100 hours of shadowing experience over the last few years
RECCS-strong, from what the recommenders tell me (some from my Masters program, some from law school, some from research, and some from college)
Friends--several people from my masters program with similar stats (slightly higher GPAs but lower MCATs) got into med school after we finished the program


Okay, have at it. I'd really like to hear frankly what people think. From anyone--lawyers, premeds, kids who did masters programs. Please don't flame though.. I'm sorta sad about all this right now. I can take a "I'm sorry, but I really think it's not going to happen," but maybe not a "You shouldn't even have bothered applying this year you sorry loser."
With those stats I would personally would apply to a huge amount of schools and see if anyone takes an interest. The UG GPA, BCPM and the MCAT retakes may scare off some places, especially places that screen. The SMP should help others get past it. No idea if your law grades are going to have much of an impact, but won't help if you've done badly there. Too late now, but in retrospect, your app would be significantly stronger if you actually worked as a lawyer for a while -- having been a professional in another service industry tends to dovetail nicely, provides lots of transferable skills, and makes it seem less like you are degree hopping but haven't found yourself yet, or a career student. But at this point, may as well go for it. Good luck.
 

utahjazz

10+ Year Member
Jun 8, 2006
971
5
Status
Attending Physician
Hi. I agree with the people who recommended doing a SMP. Your UGPA is what they will focus on and this is the best way to help make up for it. You have great ECs and WE though... I'm a lawyer with a not-so-great GPA from law school too (3.3, which was good enough for top 10-15%) All you need is one school. Good luck.
 

63768

Guest
10+ Year Member
Mar 5, 2005
2,202
4
Status
Medical Student
utahjazz said:
Hi. I agree with the people who recommended doing a SMP. Your UGPA is what they will focus on and this is the best way to help make up for it. You have great ECs and WE though... I'm a lawyer with a not-so-great GPA from law school too (3.3, which was good enough for top 10-15%) All you need is one school. Good luck.
he's already done an SMP with a 3.42 from those classes. OP, i think you have a shot, it may not be as good as you'd like. you're basically fighting an uphill battle here. i hope that you explained your ugpa and then your SMP gpa and explain why you went law and switched to medicine. looks like you've got some good ECs and LORs. the only issue i can imagine a med school having is how well you'd do in there. your track record thus far has not been stellar, although a 3.42 is certainly an improvement from ugpa and lawgpa.

to answer your questions:
1) US MD is not out of the question. you just have to be persistent and relentless in pursuing those interviews and wowwing them in those interviews.
2) you've already submitted your primary so the best spot for you to mention these recent strengths is past. you should most definitely mention them in the secondaries where applicable but i wouldn't send an update letter or anything like that.
3) i would apply to carib in the spring if you still haven't had any interviews. right now i'd consider DO if possible.
 

2Sexy4MedSchool

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 16, 2006
154
1
"I may be going to Hell in a bucket, but at least
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I'm not going to address the issue of grades beyond one point: your law school grades shouldn't make a whit of difference. They aren't B/C/M/P, so they don't get averaged in there, and the skills for success in law school don't seem to have much in common with success in med school, so they aren't predictive of anything relevant. All I can say is my law school GPA stank and they took me, so there you go.

I think you've got another, more important issue that I hope you addressed in your primary app, and whether you did or didn't I'd flog the hell out of it in your secondaries and interview: why the career change? I think it would look better if you had worked for a while as a JD, perhaps gradually shifting your focus from pure law to something health-related. Failing that, if you are dead-set on doing this now I think you should have a really REALLY good answer to "Why medicine?" I would imagine that answer would be a combination of something like everyone else's ("To help people") and something unique to you, but I would bend over backwards to make it look like you are progressing TO medicine rather than running away FROM the law. The former reflects maturation while the latter might look, well, kinda scary to the admissions people. Good luck to you.
 

Nasrudin

Apropos of Nothing
10+ Year Member
Jun 8, 2006
3,516
2,624
Status
Attending Physician
What smp did you attend...that's your one trump card, so its strength of reputation is important in your case...followed by your law degree, i suppose.
You've got some huge holes in your application. It will not be easy to get adcoms to look far enough into your application to give your serious consideration. I'm not trying to be negative just realistic based on what i've heard and read, your gpa's are way wide of the mark. I would apply extensively and include many DO schools and a few carribean schools. Your MCAT while solid took you three times to get it there...that's yet another cooling off of your already lukewarm application. You've also got to tackle the professional student who can't commit to a career suspicion. Good luck.
 

Law2Doc

5K+ Member
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Dec 20, 2004
30,981
9,891
Status
Attending Physician
2Sexy4MedSchool said:
I think you've got another, more important issue that I hope you addressed in your primary app, and whether you did or didn't I'd flog the hell out of it in your secondaries and interview: why the career change? I think it would look better if you had worked for a while as a JD, perhaps gradually shifting your focus from pure law to something health-related. Failing that, if you are dead-set on doing this now I think you should have a really REALLY good answer to "Why medicine?" I would imagine that answer would be a combination of something like everyone else's ("To help people") and something unique to you, but I would bend over backwards to make it look like you are progressing TO medicine rather than running away FROM the law. The former reflects maturation while the latter might look, well, kinda scary to the admissions people. Good luck to you.
Agree with this strongly. The goal of adcoms is to enroll folks who will actually practice medicine. Some schools have even more specific missions to generate physicians likely to work within a state, work with the underserved, in rural areas, etc. Folks perceived as undecided about a career or jumping from school to school, dabbling, or just wanting to be a professional but not so much caring what, tend not to be folks who fit this goal. The "jack of all trades, master of none" tends not to be the model med student sought, nor is the person who decides they are miserable in a field without really trying it. Folks who actually work in and master one career tend to be considered more likely to do well in the other (especially when both are largely customer driven service industries) -- so career changers who have worked don't hit this issue as much. So "spin" is important -- you have to explain why you decided you needed to be in medicine, why you didn't want to even try law, and need to not bash law because a lot of that field is really quite analagous to what you will do in medicine. If you say you want to "help people" you are going to get hit with the comment that you could do this in law too. There are lots of lawyers who work with the indigent, work in public service, etc. At its base level, both fields are about working with people to help them with problems. So as 2Sexy indicated, you are going to need a pretty compelling story and set of answers.
 

defrunner

I'm Greased Up
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jun 11, 2006
339
1
Status
Pre-Medical
I agree with everyone. As a current applicant myself with subpar numbers in undergrad GPA and a pretty strong but unbalanced MCAT score, I am still pressing on with this and focusing on making my application as strong as possible from this point on (i.e. essays, etc). You can't do anything about the past, and if your essays/LORs are strong, then your chances are not as bad as you think they are. I'd say that your background will definitely get them to notice your application, especially with such a homogenous applicant pool in which everyone has done all of the stuff that you're supposed to 'check off'. At this point, since you're already noticed, its on you to make them sure that you can not only handle the rigors of medical school, but also to make them certain that you're going into medicine for the right reasons. Apply to a wide variety of schools and just do the best you can. You're already in so deep that at this point, you really can't (and shouldn't) extricate yourself from this, no matter what anyone says about your chances. It's not that great for people like you and me, but since the admissions process is sometimes a crapshoot almost, doing anything less than our best will lead to regrets. Also, be prepared to apply again next year, if necessary. Good luck.
 

notdeadyet

Still in California
Moderator
15+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2004
11,730
1,892
Status
Attending Physician
OP- I wish you the best of luck with the application cycle. A few thoughts to keep in mind when writing out secondaries.

1. Why medicine, why now? Basic question for every non-trad. Just be sure you have a stellar answer to assure them that you won't change your mind about medicine like law.

2. GPA. Unfortunately, there will be an emphasis on your GPA from your undergrad years. The fact that your law GPA is poor is not good. And a 3.4 in your SMP doesn't set things on fire. Think of how you can spin this into something more positive. The fact that you have a strong MCAT is a big plus.

3. I agree with Law2Doc about it being a shame you didn't get a chance to use the law degree. You might consider some volunteering with it (free law clinic, rights organizations, etc.) just to put it to some use. It's a talent you can do some good with that most can't and adcoms might like to see this.

4. Have a Plan B. You'd be a very strong DO candidate (they drop older, poor grades if you have more recent, stronger grades in a subject), but you're not interested. I'm sure you could find a carrib, but do a lot of research for this. Regardless, have a plan in place, because it will probably come up in interviews, if nothing else.

Not everyone knows that medicine is their passion at 18. Best of luck finding your calling. I wish you well.