SM8806

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Feb 5, 2010
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Senior in college, getting degree in Health Sciences in May. Original plan was physical therapy, but I have elected to take additional classes. In doing so I have considered medical school. I have gotten straight A's last semester, and am on track to do so again.

My stats as of right now:
Cumulative GPA: 3.6
Science GPA: 3.5***
Member of a journal discussion club
Vice-president of campus health sciences club
No MCAT (plan would be to study over summer and take in fall)
No research (I may however have several opportunities)
Little volunteer experience (have recently applied to several places)
Physical therapist shadowing (useless I'm pretty sure)
Campus AMSA chapter will let me join for $10
I've had a job all 4 years in college (20+ hours a week)
EDIT: I'm also certain I can get a teaching assistant gig (anatomy lab), for this summer and fall, if that helps

***I realize AMCAS only considers math, chemistry, biology, and physics in sGPA calculation. However, some of the health sciences courses (HSC) I have taken include: Human Gross Anatomy, Human Physiology, and Pathology. I plan on taking Neuroscience in the fall. Will these courses count as science courses? I've taken OChem I, and would take OChem II in the fall as well.

Anyway, I'm in Ohio and I would love to get into any MD school. In-state especially. I have glaring holes in my application thanks to no volunteer or clinical experience. So, starting from this point on, how long would it take me to build up a competent application? A year? Two years? Never? Also, any additional criticism/advice is welcomed.

Thank you for your time. I realize this is a jumbled mess. I'm meeting with a pre-medical adviser, but I also wanted the opinions of total strangers. Thanks.
 
Last edited:
Sep 4, 2006
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Well you're starting with a decent cGPA at least so you're in a good position there.

If the mentioned courses have a BIO prefix, then for sure they'll count as science. If not, you can petition AMCAS to count them by sending in course descriptions if they don't include them in the BCPM (even though you call it science, they may change your category during the verification process).

If you start getting clinical experience (~4 hr/week) and some kind of nonmedical community service (~2-3 hr/week)immediately, I think you could be ready to appy June 2011, if you have finished enough prereqs to take the MCAT in April or May (June at the latest). Sometime you'll need physician shadowing (need not be regular) aiming for 60-80 total hours split among 2-3 types of doc, of which one is primary care. If you'd like to go to Northeastern, be sure to shadow a rural doc. Listing the PT shadowing, too, is fine.Other than that, at least a semester of research would be nice (two is better, being average. It isn't required, but 60% of applicants have tried it).

Leadership is good to list (VP might do it for you, President is better). And teaching is desirable, if you have the time to be a TA. AMSA won't help you unless you are an officer.

List the employment too. It's good to look busy and still be academically successful.
 

SM8806

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Thanks for the reply! So I do have a chance to apply next summer...wow. If this is what I want to do, the clock is ticking.

The courses I mentioned are denoted 'HSC', not 'BIO'. I would most definitely petition to have those counted as science courses. Our anatomy lab had 10 cadavers for students to dissect.

I've applied to volunteer at two hospitals...do you think the local YMCA would be good for community service? I figured I could tutor some kids, but I'm not sure what I would to over the summer.

My employment is at IT department. Basically taught myself network administration, and consulted people daily, so yeah I'd probably list that.

Again, thanks so much for your response.
 
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I've applied to volunteer at two hospitals...do you think the local YMCA would be good for community service? I figured I could tutor some kids, but I'm not sure what I would to over the summer.
The YMCA would be a great place to provide weekly community service, and the advantage of tutoring is that that teaching experience, as I mentioned, is considered positively, too.

Is there any chance you could apply to start research over the summer? If not, a regular job is fine, as long as you keep up with the volunteer gigs.
 

SM8806

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The YMCA would be a great place to provide weekly community service, and the advantage of tutoring is that that teaching experience, as I mentioned, is considered positively, too.

Is there any chance you could apply to start research over the summer? If not, a regular job is fine, as long as you keep up with the volunteer gigs.
Thanks again for the help. I'll try to get some research ASAP.

You mentioned in an earlier post to take the MCAT before this June. Does taking your MCAT too close to applying raise a red flag?
 
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Not THIS coming June (I assume you have to complete prerequisites first), but rather, before June of 2011 if you'd apply then.

Recall that it takes a month to get the MCAT score back. You can actually take the MCAT after you submit your application, but schools won't consider your application until the score is available. And it's harder to pick schools without knowing your score. January, April, or May are good times to take the MCAT. Late fall works well too, if you plan to apply the following summer.
 

SM8806

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Hey I'm back - more questions.

I met with a pre-medical adviser at my university. We discussed some issues, and one thing she mentioned regards letters of recommendation. She said that at least two letters must come from professors in the natural sciences. I believe I can get these letters, but the professors I am more familiar with teach the health sciences courses. Though the prefix is different, I believe much of the content in these courses is similar (my one professor is a neuroscientist currently performing research). So I'm lead to believe that these professor's letters would not qualify for this natural sciences requirement, because they don't teach biology, chemistry, etc. Anyone have any further comments on this?

Secondly, she mentioned that I may petition to have my non-bio, chm, etc. classes included in my science GPA on an admission form, but that the individual schools may still not count them. This is discouraging because these are 400 level courses with a lot of biology and chemistry in them, but they still don't have the magic prefixes. I do understand that this is in the nature of tradition.

My adviser mentioned that I may have more success applying to an osteopathic school. Are DO's looked down upon in the medical world (because it's easier to get into)? I'm not too familiar with the differences between a DO and MD.

Thanks again for your time!
 
Sep 4, 2006
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Osteopathic schools include other health sciences in the science GPA, whereas AMCAS doesn't. So perhaps your advisor is thinking your sGPA being higher would make you more competitive there. But the cGPA and BCPM GPA you mentioned in your first post aren't that bad, if you calculated them without the maybe-science (health) classes.

DO and MD schools teach the same material except that the DO curriculum also includes OMM (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine). Maybe with your previous interest in PT, that discipline would be of greater interest to you. The DO application service allows for retaken coursework to supercede older, poor grades, allowing for an easier redemptive process if one had a slow academic start. If you look in SDN's PreMed Osteopathic Forum, there are stickies at the top discussing What is a DO. There are many (searchable) threads discussing the near-invisible differences between having the two degrees. Minute differences are often hotly debated.

As far as the LOR from your neuroscience professor goes, the course he taught you will not have the prefix listed in the letter, but he will likely refer to the name of the course you took (which sounds science-y). It's up to you if you want to disregard your advisor's advice, but she sounds pretty savvy to me. At my school such professors often teach two identical courses, each with the prefix from a different department, but using the same book. If you check it out and find out the that prof is also teaching a BIO prefixed course with the same content, you would be fine to use him for a science letter. But your advisor would probably be aware if that were the case. If you think his letter will be great, you could always use it as a nonscience letter.
 

SM8806

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Catalystik you are amazing, thank you very much for your replies.

Can a DO specialize in physical medicine and rehab? Because that interests me as well. I'll need to contact a DO to learn more about the profession.

I'll concentrate on trying to get a good LOR from a bio or chem professor, perhaps use the discussed professor as a last resort in this case.

Thanks again.
 
Sep 4, 2006
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Can a DO specialize in physical medicine and rehab? Because that interests me as well. I'll need to contact a DO to learn more about the profession.
Absolutely. There is no specialty that a DO can't go into. Many DO grads do residencies in MD dominated programs, even though there are DO-only residencies as well. In the afore-mentioned PreMed Osteo Forum, there is a link somewhere to a way to link up with a DO to shadow.