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Recovered From PTSD and Failure- Will I Matriculate?

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medicalshiba

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I'm a 22 year old pre-medical student.

I've done quite a bit of volunteer work and plan to do more, and am currently a phlebotomist while pursuing a degree in the biological sciences. I'm also a certified life guard, so I've got quite a bit of work experience in that category as well. I've had the opportunity to shadow a physician even, and I hope to do more to bolster my resume.

Meaning, more volunteer work in and out of hospitals, research mentorship programs, participation in AMSA conventions presenting about telemedicine (an area I'm passionate about), mission trips abroad through an organization affiliated with AMSA, and after graduation I will be entering the peace corp for two years. There are also research symposiums which I could submit work for if I really wanted to go for an award. I am a leader of an LGBT organization on my campus, and I've been offered to join the debate team at my university- considering taking the opportunity and I believe that would fit nicely into my application.

Problem is- I fudged up a bit entering into the pre-medical process because of struggling with PTSD, and related- severe depression and anxiety. I didn't receive this diagnosis until it was much too late though.

Basically, I wasted 4 semesters (failing math and science related courses only) because of how bad I was struggling with this mental illness I wasn't able to perform as my best self, as a student. I know I am capable, and in high school before I the PTSD really began affecting me- teachers were *recommending* that I study medicine and become a physician, because of my natural ability in the sciences. All honors AP classes, passed them with flying colors, and was also a very involved student in the school, a varsity athlete, and an award winning thespian. I won several awards in academics and in creative areas as well.

I know that it wasn't the material that was causing me to fail, as I haven't seen it as "too difficult", what was difficult was simply learning to manage my mental illness- which, during the failed semesters, I was unaware I even had, and, had no clue how to deal with. It's hard to describe how it can get ahead of you, and ultimately ruin your life.

After a long stint of going in and out of mental hospitals and receiving lots of treatment, including specialized treatments for PTSD, as well as being put on a medication that works excellent for me, and spending a lot of time improving my mental and physical health, I am doing very well. It wasn't a question whether I would finish what I started or not, I very much so was going to. So I retook and replaced the failed courses with A's, every single one, and now have over a 3.0 GPA. I've already completed a lot of the other courses required to complete a bio degree as well with A's. I've already started studying for the MCAT and will be in an MCAT prep course next year. I also know someone who has already taken it and can give me some tips. I'm determined to get the highest MCAT score possible, knowing that my average of science and math GPA is not going to be my strong suit.

The question is will medical schools have understanding for what I went through, and be able to look over my mistakes, if my report card and resume is very strong minus the two bad years? As well as a high MCAT score? I could take extra science and math courses to improve the science and math average GPA even more and I'm considering reaching out to a paid private college counselor who will be able to give me advice and get me through to medical school. I don't mind at this point going to medical school in the Dominican Republic, or Mexico even- as I do speak Spanish, and have lived there before independently for two years- and I hope to return to Mexico to practice medicine there in the future. I will do whatever it takes so even the most unusual suggestions I will take into consideration. I've also read about entering masters degree programs to improve GPA from that point and then matriculating into medical school through those programs.

This is truly the life I have always seen myself pursuing and I am very passionate about and dedicated to. I hope that through my letter it is possible I can make it obvious that my rocky transcript is the markings of an individual who just does not give up, and who has persevered through something difficult, rather than someone who is incompetent and not a good candidate for medical school.

Sorry for the lengthy post. Thanks to anyone who read all of that.

So, what do you think are my chances?
 
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ciestar

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I’ll let other’s chime in about chances, but be aware that AMCAS doesn’t replace grades.

Sorry for your struggles
 
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DokterMom

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You sound like a very capable, high-achieving applicant -- so very desirable in many ways.
But also high-risk with your history of PTSD and hospitalization.

What you will need to do is show that you have confronted and overcome your issues. Is the underlying cause of your PTSD something you can talk about calmly and without breaking down? Was it the result of chronic abuse or a single traumatic event? And how likely is the root cause to resurface and cause you problems again? Also, how badly did you 'crash' at your worst (mild or total?) and how likely are you to now be able to recognize when you are not handling things well? How long ago?

You don't need to answer these questions here of course, though it will probably help you get better answers if you can.
 
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medicalshiba

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You sound like a very capable, high-achieving applicant -- so very desirable in many ways.
But also high-risk with your history of PTSD and hospitalization.

What you will need to do is show that you have confronted and overcome your issues. Is the underlying cause of your PTSD something you can talk about calmly and without breaking down? Was it the result of chronic abuse or a single traumatic event? And how likely is the root cause to resurface and cause you problems again? Also, how badly did you 'crash' at your worst (mild or total?) and how likely are you to now be able to recognize when you are not handling things well? How long ago?

You don't need to answer these questions here of course, though it will probably help you get better answers if you can.

I confronted my issues by self admittance to hospitalized care, as my parents were resistant to getting me therapy and medication (they don't believe in it) and so I purposefully put myself into a place I know I would be getting the treatment I needed.

My PTSD is the result of very severe abuse and homelessness. My parents disowned me and left me to die on the streets, saying that was the best thing they could do for me. The sole reasoning being that, if they endorsed my sexuality and continued to support me, that they would burn in hell for it. They wanted nothing to do with me. This was hard to grapple with and it's ultimately what caused me to be suicidal. Dealing with being disowned was difficult enough on its own, homelessness was also a battle of its own. I lived on park benches, and relied on the kindness of literal strangers for quite some time. I then started going through severe panic attacks caused by PTSD. Men attempted to rape and drug me on multiple accounts. I slept couch to couch for a long time, having no where to go.

The kind of therapy that I have participated in is CBT, DBT, A.R.T. I have done extensive amounts of focused and diligent work on improving my mental health, and have gone through medication trials, as well as picking up tools that have taught me to become better. I have no chance of going backwards at this point because of how consistently well I've been doing now for quite some time, and I make sure of that by continuing a regiment that works for me. I also addressed my physical health at the metabolic level, leaving no room for physiological factors to stand in the way of maintaining good mental health.

"A mind that has been stretched will never return to its old dimensions."

I have been essentially training myself with the help of professionals to recognize when things are going well and have something called an Action Plan that prevents any sort of relapse.

I was diagnosed two years ago.
 
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DokterMom

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Wow. That's a helluva story and one that an unfortunately large number of LBGTQ patients will be able to relate to. You have the background to become a powerful advocate for change and means of support. Congratulations to you for coming as far as you have --

Given your circumstances, my advice is to "put it out there" and to focus your application list on schools that are likely to be supportive. Going from "homeless" to "physician" is an amazing story.

The one area where I would counsel discretion is in describing "a long stint of going in and out of mental hospitals" -- I'm not sure how much time constitutes "a long stint" in your view, and how many "ins and outs" are involved, but given your relative youth, you wouldn't need to call it that in order to describe the gist of your history truthfully. You can describe a 'meatgrinder' of an experience without chronicling every crank of the handle, and finding the right balance there will be important.

Sounds to me like you've got a very bright future ahead of you --
 

Goro

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A long stretch of academic excellence will allay Adcoms fears about your red flags.

That said, you have to get your mental health issues 100% under control. Medical school is a furnace, and I've seen it break even healthy students. The #1 reason my school loses students to withdrawal, dismissal or LOA is to unresolved mental health issues.
 
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Walter Raleigh

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A long stretch of academic excellence will allay Adcoms fears about your red flags.

That said, you have to get your mental health issues 100% under control. Medical school is a furnace, and I've seen it break even healthy students. The #1 reason my school loses students to withdrawal, dismissal or LOA is to unresolved mental health issues.
Yep. If she puts a year or two of 3.7+ behind her and gets a 513+ MCAT those academic doubts will be put soundly to bed. Her story's an inspirational one, and may well give her a lot of leeway with that GPA - as long as it's north of 3.0. If it's not, things get harder, but she's not out of the running at all.
 
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