Rough start, but can i still go to med school?

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Apr 29, 2016
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I am new to this forum, and I have done some reading around on similar situations, but I wanted to get some opinions on my situation directly, and possibly some advice on what would be best to do. I am currently 27 and in my senior year of undergraduate. I have wanted to go to medical school since I was a child, but I am now worried that I will not make the cutoffs.

I started college early, dual enrolled in high school, and graduated high school with 42 college credits (B average). I then moved to Jacksonville and started at University of North Florida, studying Biology with a minor in health care services. Since I had more credits than my peers, I decided to take a few random classes to round out my college experience and relax a bit (Sign Language, Art/Drawing, Alternative Medicines, etc…). However, I spent more time focusing on girls/friends/work than I did my classes, and quickly began to struggle and my grades dropped. I had to retake a few classes (Orgo chem 1 twice, orgo chem 2 twice, and chem 2). I continued to struggle for 3 years, and then my financial aid dried up and I was forced to pay for classes on my own. I tried working two jobs to support myself and pay for classes, but my grades dropped lower and eventually I had to drop out.

I took almost 2 years off and worked to save, and then returned to school at the local state college about a year ago. I have since been taking full time classes and getting A’s in almost every class in the Bio-Medical program. But I fear I have already hurt my GPA and record too much to repair. I am in my final year (3 classes in the summer, 3 in fall, and my final 2 in spring) but my GPA is currently at 2.97 cumulative, 3.0 for upper level credits. I am working hard to raise my GPA, but I don’t know what else I should do.

Also, I have almost no volunteer hours or research experience, so I am applying for a job as a medical scribe. Hopefully this will make my application more appealing to schools. I have signed up for the STEM club and pre-med clubs at my college. I plan on trying to get as many volunteer hours with the MAYO clinic here in Jax as I can in the next year. What other advice can anyone give me? Should I be considering a different career path, maybe PA school or nursing?

(I am just really worried because my younger cousin is also applying this year and is having serious troubles. His GPA is at 3.6, almost 1000 volunteer hours at the local hospital, but scored middle of the pack on the new MCAT. He currently hasn’t had any responses from any schools within the U.S. I hoped I could explain away some of my grades, as I have had a great improvement in the last year at my new college. I have had to work hard to put myself thru school, whereas he has never had a job, but I don’t know if that is something med schools consider at all….)


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Mar 1, 2013
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No doubt you shot yourself in the foot, but recovery is possible. It will take time and sustained effort with strong results --

Your record raises three flags with me -- immaturity/seriousness, questionable academic strength, and focus. Your remediation program will need to focus on these three areas.
  • To demonstrate maturity, you'll need to support yourself financially, get and keep a real job, stay out of legal trouble, and probably show leadership in some area. Sounds like you're already doing some of the right things here.
  • To remediate your shaky academics, you'll need 2-3 years of really strong grades in challenging courses and an overall GPA of 3.4 or so. More upper division classes that are not part of a masters program. Also look at DO school and grade replacement. You can replace your way out of bad grades MUCH sooner than you can augment your way into decent GPA territory. You'll also need a strong MCAT.
  • And to demonstrate an appropriate focus on a medical career, immerse yourself in things medical -- shadowing, scribing, volunteering. Know also that volunteering in a non-hospital (hospice, nursing home, clinic, Planned Parenthood, etc.) tends to carry more weight. Start now and build long-term service hours.
And finally, apply only when you're ready, not before.
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Apr 4, 2016
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If you're set on applying to MD schools, you'll need to raise your science GPA to around a 3.3. This likely will take at least 1-2 years of post-bac classes to do. A formal post-bac program is one option to explore as doing well in upper division science classes at a 4-year university can help offset your GPA issue. If you're open to doing DO, the grade replacement policy will help.

While the medical scribe job will help increase your clinical exposure, you'll definitely need to have some volunteering hours as well. I would also try to have another clinical experience (the Mayo Clinic experience helps) in addition to your medical scribe job. You have some hurdles to overcome, but getting into medical school is possible if you stay motivated and want it bad enough.

As far as your cousin goes, he might fall under the typical pre-med label. Has a decent GPA and MCAT, but nothing else really stands out on his application. 1000 volunteer hours in a hospital is fine, but he also has to demonstrate his desire to pursue medicine in different ways. That includes diverse clinical experiences, non-medical volunteering, research, etc. The 1000 hospital volunteer hours in itself wouldn't really make him stand out unless he started a project at the hospital or did something significant in a leadership role.