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Should I retake my MCAT for 2018 application?

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thunda2005

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Ok so I have a huge decision here whether to retake my MCAT or not. I received a 506 my first time and just graduated in May with a 3.67 cGPA and a 3.64 sGPA, very consistent throughout college. I am still on the wait-list at one OOS middle-tier medical school and am looking to re-apply this next cycle. I am a white male working full-time now in at a pharma company and am worried I cannot get both more clinical shadowing hours and improve my MCAT in time. In all honesty I feel it is one or the other. Regardless, I plan on continuing to volunteer as a tutor and hopefully find a clinic near my new job. I made numerous mistakes my first time around such as not getting my primary in until July 1st, not applying to numerous MD schools that were much better for my scores, and also not applying to any DO schools. I know it will be asked so I will break down my EC's below (which is the strongest part of my app but I think I need my clinical hours...) :

-Worked ~30 hrs/wk jr/sr year as a paid tutor and at a bar (it paid well and I paid for most of my schooling)

-Exec board for 4 years for organization that worked on social events with those w/mental and physical disabilities (>500 hrs)

-Researcher for plant genetics lab (>600 hrs)

-2 years on my fraternity's executive board

-tutor at various high, middle, and elementary schools in the surrounding area (>150 hrs)

-Tutor for underprivileged high schoolers for bio and chem, also head ACT tutor (8 hrs/wk) (was not on last app, from my sr year)

-Did intake for 3 health clinics including training coordinator for one (>75 hrs) (one of these clinics not on last app, from sr year as well)

-Went on a medical mission trip outside of the US for 10 days (recent, not on last app)

-Participated in 1 alternative spring and winter break

-Worked as a camp counselor for special needs individuals for 2 summers, researched for 1, and worked for current employer for another

-Assistant coach for SO Illinois softball team

-Was a TA for freshman seminar class

-Shadowed various physicians from ER to orthopedics to pediatrics (~100hrs)

-Participating in Air Force HPSP (all cleared, just need entrance to med school)

-Strong LOR from 2 teachers, my research manager, and an assistant dean

Please no smart comments; I really just need some honest advice as this is a big decision and have received yes's and no's from a wide range of AdComs when I inquired after the fact on whether I should re-take the MCAT. Becoming a physician is all I want to do and will do whatever it take to achieve it. So what do you think? Just re-apply the first possible day while strengthening my ECs more or study my ass off and re-take the MCAT? Thanks in advance for any and all help.
 

I'm No Superman

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I feel like this is essentially a WAMC thread. Do you think you could do significantly better this time around? a 506 is like a 29 on the old one right?
 

Goro

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With a 506 MCAT score, I recommend these schools. When you write "did intake for clinics" what did this entail? Actual patient contact experience? Your overseas mission will be discounted as "medical tourism".


Temple

Jefferson

Drexel

Quinnipiac

WVU

Rosy Franklin

MCW

SLU

Creighton

Loma Linda (but read their list of don'ts)

Albany

NYMC

VCU

U VM

EVMS

Oakland-B

Uniformed Services University/Hebert (just be aware of the military service commitment)

Rush (note: very service/experience oriented with a 150hr service requirement. Avg student has 800 hours of community service, and >1800 hours of health care exposure.)

Netter

Your state school(s).

Any DO school. Beggars can't be choosy.
 
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thunda2005

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I feel like this is essentially a WAMC thread. Do you think you could do significantly better this time around? a 506 is like a 29 on the old one right?

I feel if I am able to devout all my free time to the MCAT i can get a 510...I got 127 Chem/Phys, 128 CARS, 125 Bio, 126 Psych...was really bummed about Bio as I was scoring 127 consistently on practices. And yes it is essentially a 29
 

thunda2005

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With a 506 MCAT score, I recommend these schools. When you write "did intake for clinics" what did this entail? Actual patient contact experience? Your overseas mission will be discounted as "medical tourism".


Temple

Jefferson

Drexel

Quinnipiac

WVU

Rosy Franklin

MCW

SLU

Creighton

Loma Linda (but read their list of don'ts)

Albany

NYMC

VCU

U VM

EVMS

Oakland-B

Uniformed Services University/Hebert (just be aware of the military service commitment)

Rush (note: very service/experience oriented with a 150hr service requirement. Avg student has 800 hours of community service, and >1800 hours of health care exposure.)

Netter

Your state school(s).

Any DO school. Beggars can't be choosy.

Yes, I performed triage (current ailments, took temp/BP, height/weight, blood glucose, ect). Are you sure about the medical tourism? I performed triage on over 200 patients, sat in on over 60 consultations with physicians, and led public health forums. Not sure if that is different than many other mission trips but I would definitely consider it good clinical experience working with patients. Thank you for the list there are some there that I applied to and was rejected and some I never heard of. I appreciate the help!
 

Goro

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That's the problem...the trips aren't to benefit the people you're examining; they're benefiting you. And you're taking work away from the locals.

Are you sure about the medical tourism? I performed triage on over 200 patients, sat in on over 60 consultations with physicians, and led public health forums. Not sure if that is different than many other mission trips but I would definitely consider it good clinical experience working with patients.
 
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Turkishking

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That's the problem...the trips aren't to benefit the people you're examining; they're benefiting you. And you're taking work away from the locals.
Some pre-med at my school thinks "medical tourism" is a must do.. Lol
 

thunda2005

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I think it is kind of ridiculous this is getting a negative light shined upon it...since when was donating thousands of dollars in medicine and aid and helping organize 40+ volunteers a bad thing? It is incredibly difficult for a third world country to have large scale clinic set up when they lack the resources and educated volunteers in case you did not know. There is a difference between being there to take pictures with little kids vs. being there to actually provide a needed service.
 

Goro

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This is why. Also, tons of people "say:" they've gone on a medical mission, but we know they're just visiting Nana/Abuela/Ajima in the old country, and may stick their head into a local clinic.

http://almost.thedoctorschannel.com/14323-2/

I think it is kind of ridiculous this is getting a negative light shined upon it...since when was donating thousands of dollars in medicine and aid and helping organize 40+ volunteers a bad thing? It is incredibly difficult for a third world country to have large scale clinic set up when they lack the resources and educated volunteers in case you did not know. There is a difference between being there to take pictures with little kids vs. being there to actually provide a needed service.


Not at my school, LizzyM's or Gyngyn's. FYI, the time I ever heard the term it came out of a Pathologist colleague's mouth.

Some adcoms at some schools think "medical tourism" is impressive.
 

Toutie

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Not at my school, LizzyM's or Gyngyn's. FYI, the time I ever heard the term it came out of a Pathologist colleague's mouth.
I'm sure it's looked down at a great many schools. BUT there are some out there that are still impressed by it. It seems every cycle a few people post about how impressed their interviewer was with their missions.

I have some family (on my inlaw side) who go down to Guatamala every year with their church group and do "work" for an orphanage. I get to see all the pics of them with the orphans on Facebook ever year. I get to see all the "walls" they build (not very well I might add, they've had to rebuild one a few times!). See all the suitcases full of donated clothes they bring. I want so much to say something, but I just bite my tongue and shake my head.
 
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Turkishking

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I'm sure it's looked down at a great many schools. BUT there are some out there that are still impressed by it. It seems every cycle a few people post about how impressed their interviewer was with their missions.

I have some family (on my inlaw side) who go down to Guatamala every year with their church group and do "work" for an orphanage. I get to see all the pics of them with the orphans on Facebook ever year. I get to see all the "walls" they build (not very well I might add, they've had to rebuild one a few times!). See all the suitcases full of donated clothes they bring. I want so much to say something, but I just bite my tongue and shake my head.
Majority of these missions are unethical?
 

Turkishking

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I think it is kind of ridiculous this is getting a negative light shined upon it...since when was donating thousands of dollars in medicine and aid and helping organize 40+ volunteers a bad thing? It is incredibly difficult for a third world country to have large scale clinic set up when they lack the resources and educated volunteers in case you did not know. There is a difference between being there to take pictures with little kids vs. being there to actually provide a needed service.
Help your own community?
 
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gyngyn

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    I think it is kind of ridiculous this is getting a negative light shined upon it...since when was donating thousands of dollars in medicine and aid and helping organize 40+ volunteers a bad thing? It is incredibly difficult for a third world country to have large scale clinic set up when they lack the resources and educated volunteers in case you did not know. There is a difference between being there to take pictures with little kids vs. being there to actually provide a needed service.
    Sending cash to authorized local caregivers is not a problem.
    Sending pre-meds to displace local workers is a problem.
     
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    thunda2005

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    This is why. Also, tons of people "say:" they've gone on a medical mission, but we know they're just visiting Nana/Abuela/Ajima in the old country, and may stick their head into a local clinic.

    http://almost.thedoctorschannel.com/14323-2/

    This was an exact article we were required to read before leaving with Global Medical and Dental Brigades, a highly respected and rated service organization. None of that applied to much of what we did as we were all trained in triage to aid with the huge amounts of patients we were flooded with, brought along 3 doctors and 2 dentists, and the money went to medicines prescribed and given to those on site. No shoddy sheds were built, no days were spent sitting around with kids, and certainly jobs were not being taken away as the village we stationed out of did not even have a medical clinic. The organization also trains local caregivers in the community as well to help decrease dependence on foreign aid, but in many areas it is still a necessity. I think it is dangerous to immediately write off a worthwhile cause with tangible results as useless.
     
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    Goro

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    I'm just trying to get into your head what goes on in the minds of admissions committee members. Take it as you will. I'm done talking.

    This was an exact article we were required to read before leaving with Global Medical and Dental Brigades, a highly respected and rated service organization. None of that applied to much of what we did as we were all trained in triage to aid with the huge amounts of patients we were flooded with, brought along 3 doctors and 2 dentists, and the money went to medicines prescribed and given to those on site. No shoddy sheds were built, no days were spent sitting around with kids, and certainly jobs were not being taken away as the village we stationed out of did not even have a medical clinic. The organization also trains local caregivers in the community as well to help decrease dependence on foreign aid, but in many areas it is still a necessity. I think it is dangerous to immediately write off a worthwhile cause with tangible results as useless.
     
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    Toutie

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    Majority of these missions are unethical?
    No, not really unethical. BUT...so much more could be accomplished if the money spent flying down there were used to help the community in a more local way. There are some programs that truly are beneficial, but there are so many that are not...they are basically feel good programs for the volunteers.
     
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    thunda2005

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    Understandable. Thank you everyone for the informative discussion!
     

    MareNostrummm

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    Some pre-med at my school thinks "medical tourism" is a must do.. Lol

    Same at my university, usually the campus groups involved in medical trips will come speak right before premed lectures and emphasize how great it looks to medical schools.
     
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    MareNostrummm

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    Some adcoms at some schools think "medical tourism" is impressive.

    Straight from Georgetown's 2017 Guide to Application

    EXPERIENCES - Clinical Experience, Leadership, Service, and Research. A highly competitive applicant will present a minimum of:

    • ~200 hours of substantive, longitudinal clinical experiences such as: shadowing a physician, medical mission trips, scribing etc. International experiences are acceptable, but a portion should be in the United States.
    • ~100 hours of research in any academic discipline.
    • ~100 hours of direct service of the underserved.
     
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    cke11

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    No, not really unethical. BUT...so much more could be accomplished if the money spent flying down there were used to help the community in a more local way. There are some programs that truly are beneficial, but there are so many that are not...they are basically feel good programs for the volunteers.

    I go on these mission trips to a specific orphanage in Peru. I have gone 7 times.. Spent a month there my first time and have gone on 10 day trips every year since. You think that spending money on flying down is a waste, but being there in person and acting as a role model and making an impact on these children's lives is something that money could never accomplish. I told myself after I went the first time I wasn't going to be the person that goes down once and never returns. Like the people that are going on "feel good" trips. I think if you are committed to the underserved these trips can never be looked down upon. Just thought I'd share my experience!
     

    wb100

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    I know a physician in southern California that goes down to Mexico on the weekends and has clinics set up. Some pre-meds go and help but they are local in Southern CA and literally a 2 hour drive away. I feel in that case it wouldn't be frowned upon as much. Helping your local communities with health care can be just as impactful. Look into local weekend clinics and drives. You can donate that $1,000 plane ticket to the local clinic and it would go very far to help them operate. If you don't want to do that then you're just looking to travel.

    I've talked to the Dean at my UC and he said its nothing as impressive as helping the underserved in your own counties. Most of the medical schools in CA (UC's) emphasize working with the underserved in CA (I'm sure the same applies at other schools). They don't really want to train their doctors to leave to another country and help when there's a lot that needs to be done here (and usually with immigrant populations coming from the same country that you're flying to see). According to him, if you want to help hispanic, asian, or refugee communities then we've got plenty here that have no access to healthcare or physicians. Take this with a grain of salt since the dean I work with is the dean for the medical school and not the actual Dean of admissions but I'm sure it must overlap with the admissions view..?
     
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    redsox93

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    I had an interview question where they asked me about a time I had to adjust to a different culture and the interviewer specifically said "don't tell me about a time you went on a medical mission trip". Just my $.02 on how some adcoms view these trips
     

    sullen-burger

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    I had an interview question where they asked me about a time I had to adjust to a different culture and the interviewer specifically said "don't tell me about a time you went on a medical mission trip". Just my $.02 on how some adcoms view these trips



    What are their thoughts on two years spent in the Peace Corps?

    Does that count as a fluff medical mission trip?
     

    CavsFan2016

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    With regards to OPs initial question, yes it is definitely possible to substantially raise your MCAT score but it takes a lot of effort and preparation. I was able to raise mine to a high score on re-take.

    I say go for it - it will significantly help if you have to reapply in the future.
     
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    Saifa

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    Help your own community?

    This.

    Someone I went to high school with goes somewhere out of the country like every year. They always come home with an Insta post of them looking clean and well-clothed holding an "underprivileged youth" or something. Meanwhile, our rural hometown has absurd levels of poverty, women in crisis, dropout rates. It costs nothing but my time and some fuel to volunteer at home. I don't look down on OP for doing these things, of course, but there is certainly merit to the advice received.
     
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