Switching from pre-pharmacy to pre-medical, need advice

Jan 5, 2011
11
0
Status
Pre-Pharmacy
Hi
I am currently a senior that was Pre-Pharm, but after obtaining a good amount of experience in a pharmacy I decided I would like to switch to Pre-Med. To make this as short as possible, I will not explain my life story/reason for switching, etc.
Here are my stats and relevant information:
3.8 GPA (I did not calculate sGPA, but it would not be much lower)
No PCAT or MCAT scores
About 5 months pharmacy technician experience my junior year (I have since quit)
About 30 hours volunteering at a hospital pharmacy (I still volunteer here).
Pre-Pharmacy club member for about a year

Now, as it stands, I am clearly not competitive. Not only have I not yet taken the MCAT (and nobody, including me, can predict how I would do), but I have very little volunteering experience and no actual shadowing, leadership, or research experience. So my questions are as follows:

1) What should I do about volunteering? Specifically, as I mentioned, I still currently volunteer in a hospital. I am fully aware that I need a lot more volunteer hours, but when I talked to my volunteer coordinator, she said that they do not place volunteers directly with physicians and that any volunteer positions where I would be working with patients/physicians are filled (the only positions left are those that involve next to no patient interaction such as baking). Should I seek out a different hospital to see if I can get more "relevant" experience?
Also, part of the reason why I do not have a lot of volunteering experience is that I commute to school (live with my parents), do not really have my own car, and work about 15 hours a week and >40 in the summer (basically we needed the money, and I pay for college through a variety of loans/scholarships/my money, my parents do not pay). I am not making excuses, and yes, I did make a mistake and I should have volunteered earlier in my college years. But as it stands now, I do not have a lot of experience, and any advice on this matter would be appreciated.

2) Should I bother with research? I have already searched the forums and it seems that research can be very important, but I have also read that if you absolutely do not like it, you do not necessarily have to do it. Well, I do not really care for it, but if it can help me, I would go for it.

3) Should I even bother with applying for Fall 2014? Of course, this would be provided I can even pull off a solid MCAT score and continue to get more volunteer hours. But lets just hypothetically say I do pull off a solid MCAT score. I would still only have slightly over 100 volunteering hours, and no leadership roles or research (and I could not spend a semester researching over the summer as I work full time).

Other things required for admission, such as LORs, interview skills, I feel pretty confident on, by the way.

So basically, if anyone could provide me feedback on my questions above, or any advice in general would be greatly appreciated. I feel very behind (especially switching my senior year), and could use any help. Thanks
 

BABSstudent

Established Member
7+ Year Member
Oct 29, 2011
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Seattle
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Resident [Any Field]
Hi
I am currently a senior that was Pre-Pharm, but after obtaining a good amount of experience in a pharmacy I decided I would like to switch to Pre-Med. To make this as short as possible, I will not explain my life story/reason for switching, etc.
Here are my stats and relevant information:
3.8 GPA (I did not calculate sGPA, but it would not be much lower)
No PCAT or MCAT scores
About 5 months pharmacy technician experience my junior year (I have since quit)
About 30 hours volunteering at a hospital pharmacy (I still volunteer here).
Pre-Pharmacy club member for about a year

Now, as it stands, I am clearly not competitive. Not only have I not yet taken the MCAT (and nobody, including me, can predict how I would do), but I have very little volunteering experience and no actual shadowing, leadership, or research experience. So my questions are as follows:

1) What should I do about volunteering? Specifically, as I mentioned, I still currently volunteer in a hospital. I am fully aware that I need a lot more volunteer hours, but when I talked to my volunteer coordinator, she said that they do not place volunteers directly with physicians and that any volunteer positions where I would be working with patients/physicians are filled (the only positions left are those that involve next to no patient interaction such as baking). Should I seek out a different hospital to see if I can get more "relevant" experience?
Also, part of the reason why I do not have a lot of volunteering experience is that I commute to school (live with my parents), do not really have my own car, and work about 15 hours a week and >40 in the summer (basically we needed the money, and I pay for college through a variety of loans/scholarships/my money, my parents do not pay). I am not making excuses, and yes, I did make a mistake and I should have volunteered earlier in my college years. But as it stands now, I do not have a lot of experience, and any advice on this matter would be appreciated.

2) Should I bother with research? I have already searched the forums and it seems that research can be very important, but I have also read that if you absolutely do not like it, you do not necessarily have to do it. Well, I do not really care for it, but if it can help me, I would go for it.

3) Should I even bother with applying for Fall 2014? Of course, this would be provided I can even pull off a solid MCAT score and continue to get more volunteer hours. But lets just hypothetically say I do pull off a solid MCAT score. I would still only have slightly over 100 volunteering hours, and no leadership roles or research (and I could not spend a semester researching over the summer as I work full time).

Other things required for admission, such as LORs, interview skills, I feel pretty confident on, by the way.

So basically, if anyone could provide me feedback on my questions above, or any advice in general would be greatly appreciated. I feel very behind (especially switching my senior year), and could use any help. Thanks
1. Schools are just looking for volunteer work. It doesn't have to be with a hospital to count. You could join a food bank, clean trash, etc. The more long term the better. If it matches your life story and you do it with a purpose then not only adcoms will be happy but you as well.

2. If you like research, then do it. If you absolutely hate it, then don't. However, some schools almost absolutely require it because research is a requirement at their school and they want to know you have some experience.

3. You could apply, but many people in your position like to wait a year to build up a solid application. You could use this time to study for the MCAT, write a PS, get LOR, etc.

One thing that I noticed you lack and have not mentioned is shadowing. Start on that to make sure being a physician is what you want. Some schools even require X hours to be able to apply. The highest I have heard of is 40 hours of shadowing and that is at UWSOM.
 
OP
M
Jan 5, 2011
11
0
Status
Pre-Pharmacy
1. Schools are just looking for volunteer work. It doesn't have to be with a hospital to count. You could join a food bank, clean trash, etc. The more long term the better. If it matches your life story and you do it with a purpose then not only adcoms will be happy but you as well.
Ok. I sort of thought this. I would obviously prefer not to continue volunteering in the pharmacy, as they basically have me cleaning and stocking shelves. I would much rather prefer something with more interaction. I thought that medical schools did not really care what you volunteer in, but rather that you do and that you show a commitment. However, I also thought that having experience in a hospital (like me) carries more weight, so that is why I went with it in the first place.

2. If you like research, then do it. If you absolutely hate it, then don't. However, some schools almost absolutely require it because research is a requirement at their school and they want to know you have some experience.


3. You could apply, but many people in your position like to wait a year to build up a solid application. You could use this time to study for the MCAT, write a PS, get LOR, etc.
I will consider waiting a year then to build up an application. I have a strong GPA, but no MCAT. The only thing that worries me about waiting another year is that I would have to be in school. Obviously, I could get reserach expirence, but this would also mean I would have to go through grad school which to be honest, does not really interest me. I guess what I am trying to say is that I would be spending an extra year in school solely for the purpose of getting more volunteer hours as well as research and shadowing experience. Do you think there is any other route I could take?

One thing that I noticed you lack and have not mentioned is shadowing. Start on that to make sure being a physician is what you want. Some schools even require X hours to be able to apply. The highest I have heard of is 40 hours of shadowing and that is at UWSOM.
This is correct, I do not have shadowing, which leads me to another question: is it OK to shadow my family doctor? I did a search and it seems that the consensus is no, it can be a conflict of interest, but it seems other have said there is no issue and that is what they did. If not, should I just call around free clinics and see if they will accept students to shadow? And if they do, would maybe 30 hours be good? Another thing I read about shadowing (specifically for pharmacy years ago) was that when you shadow, there is only so much to see and after two or so times, you really get a feel for the position.
 

La Presse

Due to the fact....
5+ Year Member
Mar 20, 2012
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At Caillou's House.
Same classes, different timeline. MCAT instead of PCAT, different level and set of experiences.


Sent from my iPad using SDN Mobile app.
 

Lysilegluleu

5+ Year Member
Sep 26, 2012
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Medical Student
I've often been told that items on a successful applicant's application address four main questions: Does the applicant have a good motivation for wanting to become a physician? That, I think, depends a lot on your particular story as well as addressing the next question. Does the applicant know what being a physician is all about? You need to shadow (>30 hours, if that's what it takes, but give it serious thought during this step) to be able to argue that you do, or working around doctors routinely will also help your case here. Can this applicant survive the academics of medical school? GPA and MCAT. Enough said here, I hope. And is this applicant the type of person that would make a good physician? They're, on a basic level, looking for people who are altruistic, compassionate, have strong interpersonal skills, articulate, culturally aware, etc... We usually demonstrate these biggies via volunteer work and the interview plus good letters of rec.

With that said, make everything you do be meaningful to you so that you can talk about it deeply rather than just listing items on a check-list. If you treat your extras (e.g., volunteer) like ends, and not means, I believe they will go further toward getting the attention of adcoms before and during interviews.

Another thing, taking a year off couldn't hurt. Even if you have a semi-decent shot of getting in this upcoming cycle, the risk isn't worth it. Applying is very pricey, and you only wanna have to do it once. Take the extra year to build a stronger app.

As for research, that's pretty school dependent; if you don't like research, don't bother getting experience and target schools that aren't terribly insistent on research themselves. That's part of how I selected schools.

Good luck. Hope some of this actually helps ya.