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So What is the Best Course

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by rogue0722, May 13, 2008.

  1. rogue0722

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    So here is my story, I'll try to keep it brief.

    I started college in January 2004 at a small school and did two years. I took a year off and resumed studying at a major university (in Atlanta). I didn't do "terrible" at my first school (2.8 GPA for 58 hours) but I certainly could have done better.

    After I transfered I changed my major to psychology (from biology) and will finish the requirements for that course in May of 2009. My institutional GPA is 3.49 and I hope to be around 3.6 when I graduate (unless I completely screw up which I don't anticipate doing).

    This fall I'll be registering with Psi Chi (the psychology Honor Society at my university). I'm also anticipating volunteering every Wednesday with a battered women/children's program run from my school and (if it works out) will be doing an off-site practicum this fall as well.

    Academics wise I'll be retaking the second semester of biology this fall (I got a D the first time...I know this is going to hurt me). I'll be finishing the non-organic chemistry (D in the first part once, then a C) in the spring then taking organic chem and physics next summer and fall. I've had four semesters of math so far and taking at least two more (not including physics) with a 3.31 GPA (and again on the upward trend).

    I enrolled in an MCAT class that's doing a pilot run here (very interesting concept being done Creative Commons over several months) and will take the MCAT next summer. I know that since I'm starting now I can do very well on it. Er...I have to.

    This entire time I've been working full time. Part time at my first university but I've been full time as the billing and asst. office manager of a medical (psychiatric) practice for 2 years now (unless something changes will be 3+ years by the time I apply). This is what makes me non-traditional (though I'm probably skirting that definition, it will take me 5.5 years to get my degree).

    So I know I'll probably have to look at DO schools. I want to go into pediatrics or emergency medicine after I'm done. So my question is, I know I'm not "wasting my time", but ... what's the best course to continue on... Any suggestions. I really just finally decided to pursue this (after tossing around PhD vs. MD for a while when I realized being in the second half of my junior year that I needed to start considering graduate school).
     
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  3. osli

    osli Senior Member
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    Sounds like you are on the right path already.

    First things first... you need to make sure you keep high grades for the remainder of your courses, both to improve your average GPA and to show that the upward trend was not an early peak before the tough stuff hit.... If that means putting the MCAT off for a couple of months, or even a whole year, so be it. Medicine is the rest of your life... don't screw up your chances by rushing things if you are having problems with classes, working, and MCAT prep at the same time. But it sounds like you have made great progress there, and while you may not finish with an "optimal" GPA you should be in the right ballpark at least.

    Second, make sure you are really prepared for the MCAT when you take it the first time. A good to great score there will erase a lot of doubt about your earlier grades. Having to repeat a couple of times before getting a solid score won't look that good with a sub-optimal GPA.

    Third, continue with your volunteering and such. Showing an active interest in medicine will really help to give adcom's something other than pure grades and scores to focus on in your applications and interviews.

    Looks like you're in good shape if you stick to your plan - best of luck!
     
  4. studentDO

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    First there is nothing wrong with DO schools, that is the only school I applied to and I could have easily gone to MD school. I like the extra anatomy and manipulation training.

    If you can score about a 27 or higher on the MCAT than I would say that you already have everything else they are looking for it all depends on how well you interview.
     
  5. rogue0722

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    Oh I'm not putting down DO schools at all. I mentioned in another thread that I only recently discovered my former general practitioner is a DO. I just want to make sure I can get into my first choice specialty which is pediatrics.

    I'm confident I can do well on the MCAT. I'm in a prep. class for that and we don't even start taking practice tests for about 3 months (the entire course is going to run around 10 months) so I know that I'll have a good amount of practice there, plus I have the AAMC practice tests as well as my own selection of them so I'll be well prepared.

    The one thing I'm lacking is I've not shadowed a doctor. I work with one, but I haven't "shadowed" one so I've got to see about doing that. I'm also trying to increase my volunteer services this summer and fall.
     
  6. studentDO

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    You will do just fine! Determination is an excellent trait to have in an interview.
     
  7. osli

    osli Senior Member
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    I think this is one part of the application where "something" is needed, but may not have to be shadowing. Many activities provide exposure to one or more aspects of the practice of medicine... shadowing, volunteering at a clinic, working as some sort of assistant, EMT or phlebotomy experience, and probably many others. Make sure that what you do is actually interesting, so that come interview time you'll enjoy answering questions about it and will come off much better. It wouldn't hurt to shadow a couple of docs in a variety of fields for a day or two so that you can say you wanted to get a better sampling of various practice settings, but if you have significant time in other areas (mentioned above) then don't think that you'll need hundreds of hours of shadowing. Of course, more is usually better, but be realistic about time management and make sure you focus it where it does the most good (grades, MCAT... you seem to have the others stuff covered fairly well so long as you stick to your plan).
     
  8. rogue0722

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    I just have no clue how to actually approach a doctor to do shadowing. I'm actually meeting with a recent Emory Med grad tomorrow night maybe he'll have some suggestions. Or maybe some connections I can use.

    And thanks for the suggestions, I know I can do it, I've certainly got the determination it is just making everything fall into place.
     
  9. studentDO

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    It's easy, contact the AOA or the Osteopathic medical association for your state and someone will refer a physician to you.
     
  10. saylorsdad

    saylorsdad OSU-CHS OMSII
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    On how to approach for shadowing, I just called a doctors office and explained to secretary what I needed. She put me through to doc's voicemail, and he answered and told me to call back and have nurse schedule an hour.
     
  11. rogue0722

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    I emailed the Osteopathic Association today to see if they can set me up with someone. We'll see where that goes.

    I guess I'm just a little discouraged because I'm looking at my application and, well it isn't very strong.

    Some points that I've gathered from various sites: some schools don't accept applicants with more than one "C" on their transcript (I've got two Ds and 4 Cs but they were all from my first school I've been very steady and even more upward trending at my current school).

    My community experience isn't great (I'm trying to get into a program this summer and hopefully will stay involved from now-next year) but other than that I'm not in any extracurricular organizations currently (except for Psi Chi which I'll be joining in September). My first school I was in student government for a semester, news editor for the student paper for 2 years, Asst. VP for the theater society and a few other groups. Working full time during the day means I can't be very involved at my new school.

    The shadowing I expect to work out, also trying to get into the upper level science courses (biochem and genetics are two I plan to take). I should get some research experience as well this fall.
     
  12. princekc

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    ....and the answer is; there's no best course!
    major in any area; it could be in porn movie (so far you are granted a BA or BS degree) but make sure that you complete the pre-req and do well on the MCAT then apply.
     
  13. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call"
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    IMHO, forget the psych honor society, waste of time and predictable resume padding unless they have some exceptional activities going. You do not need to get involved in anything at your school unless they can help set up shadowing and clinical opps. Find opportunities to shadow DOs in the ED or other places they work at night, when you can shadow them. This is one place you could really strengthen your application. You also need more clinical volunteering experience.

    I'm sure you know this: I'm all for confidence that you can do well on the MCAT, but do not equate time spent preparing with success. Find really, really good instructors who know the thing like the back of their hand, or work your *ss off on your own. Beware the well-intentioned but ineffective instructor. I have had many, many students go to these people and get low-20s on the MCAT, which is not exactly what you need.
     
  14. rogue0722

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    What sort of clinical experience do you mean? Shadowing or volunteering at a hospital?
     
  15. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call"
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    anything like what osli suggested above would be good. I was an MA at a community clinic, first volunteer then paid.

    You need both shadowing and volunteering, ideally in clinical settings, to best strengthen your application. You have almost no real volunteer/community service work experience, and no clinical experience. You need to show that you can deal with real, stinky, cranky people and you don't just have an idealized notion of grateful patients with the nurturing doctor. You also need to show that you are willing to do service work under less than ideal circumstances.

    This is the one area where you could really fill in the gaps and make yourself a better candidate in 6 months or less. Interviewers always commented on how much more shadowing and clinical experience I had than the average applicant, even though I only started that less than 6 months before applying. If you can't do daytime stuff, then find a DO who works evenings/nights/early mornings/weekends and shadow then. Find anything that fits into your schedule. The more actual patient contact and skills you can develop (i.e. phlebotomy), the better. Any place you can start working in Spanish is also very helpful (another area where you could add a very useful skill to your resume).
     
  16. rogue0722

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    Thanks. I really, really appreciate your advice. I'm still waiting to hear back from the DO association and I'm in the process of emailing a few local clinics to see what they have available. Of course it will be difficult with my work schedule but hopefully I can find something that works out. I'm not taking any classes this summer so it will be an ideal time to get involved with something.

    I'm also planning to start working with a battered women's shelter starting next month so that should be at least some experience.
     
  17. rogue0722

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    Don't mean to needlessly bump this thread, but just wanted to do a small update (lots can change in a short period of time I've discovered).

    As of last night I'm a volunteer with a domestic violence organization (if I have the chance to explain it in an interview, I'm not sure how I would cover or address this but I experienced domestic violence as a child so I'm really looking forward to being involved here). 3 hours a week and an indefinite commitment, so hopefully that will look good on my application when I start them.

    Also trying to get some clinical volunteering experience but that is taking a bit longer to find.
     

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