Jul 9, 2016
3
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Status
Pre-Medical
[cross-post from post-bacc forum to get some more eyes!]

I have been accepted to BU's MAMS program, but I am currently agonizing over whether or not to do the program due to financial concerns.

I have ~$14,000 in loans from undergrad, and $4,000 in credit card debt. The program requires I borrow upwards of $100,000 (~$80,000 from a private lender at a 9.5% interest rate...oh boy), and then I will have the expenses of medical school (considering mostly state schools, but still ~$280,000) to add to my bill. My parents have no way of helping me with any of it, so I will be taking out loans to cover everything ($400,000 in total + interest).

To make matters worse, I would like to become a primary care physician, so my future salary will be on the low end for physicians (the irony of the PC physician shortage is not lost on me here). I'm beginning to wonder if this Master's program is just too much of a burden financially.

The Stats:
I graduated in May with a degree in neuroscience from a top liberal arts school with a 3.33 uGPA and 3.33 sGPA (which is a big weakness). During undergrad I worked a lot (25+ hours/week) and struggled with some mental health issues that I have since overcome. I haven't yet taken the MCAT, but I scored a 496 on a diagnostic test without any preparation whatsoever and feel I could get around a 510 with a good study plan (again I haven't taken the exam for real, so maybe this is just naive of me haha). I am planning to take the exam early next summer.

I have a good amount of clinical experience: ~100 hours volunteering in hospital/medical environments, ~50 hours of clinical shadowing, work as an activities assistant at a nursing home, work as a pharmacy technician

In terms of ECs I served in leadership/editorial positions on the staff of an international relations publication for 2 years and served as the president of a peer health organization during my senior year. I also worked the duration of my undergrad career at a restaurant and coffee shop.

Unfortunately I never had a chance to conduct research, which is another weakness in my application for both med school and research assistant positions. Since I never conducted research, there is a lingering thought in my head that I just might like it... But obviously I don't know for sure.

I am also low-income and a first-gen college student

I am planning to apply to mid- to lower-tier mid schools in my state (PA) and on the East Coast

The Pros of the SMP:
good structure to prepare for MCAT/get into med school
~70% acceptance rate to med school
research aspect in 2nd year

The Cons:
adding over 100k to my debt
high stress over financial burden

The Pros of research:
fill in the research gap in my application
potentially explore research career path
earn money to pay off existing student debt/save up for med school

The Cons:
more difficulty finding a position due to lack of research experience
more difficulty in studying for the MCAT while balancing work
do not show improvement in GPA (unless I were to take some advanced science UG courses alongside work)

My pre-medical advisor urged me to consider SMPs/post-baccs OR research to strengthen my application to medical school, but I wanted to see what you all think. If I did choose not to pursue the SMP, I would apply for a clinical research position lasting 1-2 years and perhaps supplement it with some UG science courses.

Objectively, is it a foolish financial decision for me to pursue the SMP considering the total debt I will be taking on? Maybe it's silly of me to think so far into the future, but I worry that having so much debt will be difficult to manage alongside goals of buying a car/house, having a family, saving up for kids' college tuition, etc.

Do you think my application would be strong enough just by conducting research?

I feel like I'm really at a cross-roads here. The SMP would be a really great opportunity for me to show my grit to med schools, but I just don't know if the financial burden will be worth it in the grand scheme of things.

Any advice or direction would be greatly appreciated!
 

Faha

7+ Year Member
Sep 15, 2012
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3,781
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Attending Physician
Concentrate on doing well on the MCAT. If you score at least 500 you would be competitive for some DO schools. For MD you could take additional undergraduate level science courses at a local college (community college would be fine) in order to increase your GPA. If you increase your GPA to 3.5 and your MCAT is over 510 then you would have a ~50% chance for a MD acceptance. However, you are fine now with your GPA for DO schools as long as you do well on the MCAT. It does not matter whether you choose MD or DO in the long run.
 

GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
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I personally wouldn't do an SMP without an MCAT score. You should only do an SMP if you otherwise have an MD caliber application ie ECs, MCAT etc.
You need an MCAT score to guide you in terms of what your plan should be.
There are far more people who have good grades than good MCAT scores: we all think we'll do well but until you actually do it you cant really assume or project.
You really dont need an SMP at all for DO schools, at most maybe retake a few low grades.
There'd be nothing worse than doing an expensive SMP and at the end taking the MCAT only not to do well and realize you wasted your time with an SMP.
Likewise there'd be nothing worse than acing the MCAT and realizing you could have gotten away with no SMP by just doing some informal PB work.
Way to avoid those situations is get your MCAT score before making a plan about an SMP
 
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