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Switching from psychology to medicine?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by unsung, Mar 15, 2007.

  1. unsung

    10+ Year Member

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    Hi all. I am 25 and thinking of becoming a "nontraditional" pre-med student. Right now, I am on the path to enter graduate school for clinical psychology. (My BA was in biology & my MA was in psychology). In fact, I applied to PhD programs this year, but was not successful, so I am planning on bolstering my record (gaining experience at a crisis hotline, as well as taking the GRE psych) and trying again next year. I feel like if I do things right and choose schools wisely, I have a good shot at entering grad school next fall.

    BUT. For reasons a bit complicated to go into (and not necessarily relevant), I've been leaning toward going for medical school (ultimately) in order to become a neurologist, instead of a clinical psychologist.

    Through some self-evaluation, I think I'm probably two years away from being able to apply. First, I've taken all the pre-reqs (basically) as an undergrad at a top 10 university. The problem is, I didn't do incredibly well. Believe it or not, I wasn't actually a pre-med back then... just a bio major wandering around sort of cluelessly. Overall, I didn't do totally terrible (~3.2, and 3.25 at my school gets you on the Dean's List!) ... but in some of the classes that matter, like biochemistry, I really didn't do too well. I estimate my science GPA is probably lower than that. My graduate GPA is a LOT better, as I did well in grad-lvl psych courses, and I also did very well in stats. But again, those courses don't count toward that almighty UGPA.

    I will probably need to take some post-bacc undergrad science courses both to bolster my UGPA and also to finagle good letters of recommendation from a science prof. The MCAT I feel okay about, as I know it's just a matter of studying, and I DID actually take all the pre-reqs as an undergrad, so it wouldn't be exactly foreign material.

    So, all that said... right now I'm working at "menial" type jobs in order to make a living and make ends meet. At the same time, I'm studying for the GRE psych as well as volunteering. Of course, this is Not an easy lifestyle. If I manage to get myself into graduate school next fall, I will be in a much better "place" (physically and mentally), which would allow me a certain degree of security in which I can prepare to enter medical school.

    But part of me is wondering-- is this even "ethical", per say ? If my ultimate/true goal is to enter medical school, what am I doing preparing for and applying for graduate school in something else unrelated ? And also, how will medical schools look upon an applicant coming from this background who is already in graduate school for something else ?

    I just think that with my record, I am *this* close to entering grad school for psych (and PhD programs generally fund their students)... it sure beats working menial jobs and trying to study at the same time. And considering it'll take me "some time" to re-take some science courses, study for the MCAT, etc., I just think things would be easier if I were back on campus as a student.

    Any thoughts??
     
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  2. PepperMD

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    One thing to consider, and I'm sure others on here will have more insight into this, is that many med schools require you to finish any degrees you're currently working on in order to matriculate. This is most common among applicants working on a Masters. Some med schools require you to finish the Masters as opposed to just dropping out and moving on. I'm not entirely sure if the same thing applies to PhD programs (since a PhD is a somewhat different animal). It's something to look into because you don't want to be stuck in a program you don't truly want to finish. As far as the graduate stipend, around here PhD students generally make about 24k, whereas with your background I'm sure you could find a mid-level research assistant position pushing 35k. Hope that helps.
     
  3. neurorat

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    Are you me?!!

    I entered a terminal masters program in clinical psych and then did a year internship in neuropsych. In that year, I was able to finish the pre-reqs I needed to apply to med school. The graduate program also allowed me to publish 3 articles and do a slew of poster presentations which turned out to be a really good thing on my application. While I was doing my required clinical contact hours & my internship, I was getting patient experience that you just couldn't get as a volunteer. This showed med schools that I knew what it is like to work with patients. Another thing that really stood out on my application.

    I can say from experience that you will only have time for your graduate courses and research for your dissertation while enrolled in a graduate program.If you quit the program, it peeves the people who took you as a student because your spot could have gone to someone else, and medical schools often question your commitment if you have already left one graduate program for another.

    The good news: If your GPA has a general trend of getting better, with the exception of your biochem grade, your GPA doesn't come out looking as bad as you may think. Your graduate GPA is listed on the AMCAS application separately, so that will stand out. Also, the best thing is that all of those grad stats courses and anything research/bio related go to your math/science GPA and boost it. A great MCAT score can call attention to your application even when the undergrad GPA isn't great.

    In the end, I say apply for both the MD and the PhD and see what happens. In the mean time, see if you can find an internship or a job as a psychometrician. The pay isn't great, but it is a living wage [My pay was $16.00 an hour, which is laughable since I had a MA, but I wasn't struggling, either!] and it will give you time to brush up on the MCAT stuff. Of course, I am biased, because this is what I did and I ended up getting offers from several schools, so I was happy. I ended up not doing PhD apps because I already had my acceptance before app time for the PhD programs.

    If you want, e-mail me if you have more questions. We seem to have a lot in common! Good luck!
     
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