Nov 16, 2013
4
0
Hi everyone,

I'm contemplating moving to Texas to establish residency and attend medical school there. I've been slowly convincing myself to follow through and wanted to get feedback.

Some basic stats:
Age: Late 20s
State: CA
GPA: both ~3.0
MCAT: 38 balanced
ECs: Research, shadowing, volunteering (both clinical and non-clinical), medical mission abroad, working, etc.

Recent history:
I applied to allopathic schools this cycle. Submitted late June, verified early August. Completed most secondaries that I received, but didn't turn them in yet because I was waiting on my final letter writer who just got me my letter a week ago. I had all my other letters ready before I was verified, but this person took his sweet time despite multiple attempts at polite prodding (Side note: I didn't know him well enough to flat out tell him to finish it. It's obvious to me now that I wasn't a high priority for him, and this may be reflected in his letter).

Since getting the letter, though, I've had an epiphany. A lot of my ECs (and the crux of my personal statement) are with working with medically underserved populations. I've been shadowing a doctor for the past few months who has friends working in underserved health clinics (as primary care docs). Their salaries are mostly in the low 100s. While this is obviously anectodal, I'm inclined to believe the idea that working as a primary care doctor in underserved clinics offers relatively low salaries. I am okay with this. You don't starve on a 6 figure income. What I cannot imagine is leaving medical school 200+k in debt, but not having the advantage of healthy specialist salary to help pay that off. I know there are loan forgiveness programs for working in underserved areas, but I've read a lot horror stories online. I'm scheduled to shadow a doctor working in such a clinic who received loan repayment. Hopefully I will get a better picture.

I have a friend who went to one of the public Texas schools. 17k in tuition blows my mind. Through some sdn/google research, I found out I can buy a house in Texas, live there for a year, and be considered a resident. Not only will it be easier to get into medical school since Texas takes at least 90% residents, but the tuition is dirt cheap. Since I have virtually no chance at my state [UC] schools (read: 3.0 gpa, didn't find a cure for cancer), any school I go to will be in effect a private school and have a tuition of ~50k. I figure I'm saving roughly 30k x 4 = 120k in principal alone. I'm no accountant, but I bet the interest over time almost doubles that figure for many people.

Through good saving and public undergrad educations, my wife and I (no kids) have enough for a down payment on a small house. Her job will allow her to transfer easily to a big city (Houston, San Antonio, Dallas). My plan is to move us to Texas and apply as a Texas resident a year later, hoping to get into the school in the city where I buy a house (obviously not guaranteed).

I graduated undergrad with a ~2.6,2.7 GPA. I read the low GPA plan on SDN of being able to successfully complete 1 class first, then slowly increasing your work load. At my peak, I was taking 3 upper division science classes at UC school while working full time. I did have troubles at first-- after I got As in 1 class and then 2 classes, I got a big head and went for 5 upper division science classes because I was impatient and wanted to fix my GPA faster. Got a D. Stupid. Since then, it's been a 1.5 years of all As in 3 classes max.

I have too many total/science units (was also a science major), so I assume additional classes won't help much. I think my ECs are good (subjective), but I don't see glaring holes. Took the MCAT this year, so I have a few years before it expires. So once I move to Texas, I intend on finding the highest paying job possible, and applying to Texas schools after a year.

Besides the money and the better chance of acceptance, moving to Texas gives me a known quantity in terms of where I will be living. My wife can continue her job and I know we'll be in the same state. In contrast, most lower tier medical schools are in smaller cities, so there exist fewer chances to work with underserved populations (I neglected to mention I'm interested in urban, as opposed to rural, underserved populations). Also, smaller cities means fewer job opportunities for my wife. The location/tuition problems apply to high-linkage SMPs I've researched like RFU and EVMS (not to mention the extra year of tuition) that I was thinking about applying this cycle. We want to stay together because we're trying to start a family in the very near future (it's important to us to be younger parents, i.e. no kids after mid 30s).

Now the flip side: I'm older, so it's best to start sooner. Turn in (and pay) all those secondaries and hope for the best. Because of my GPA, I shouldn't rely on Texas residency and it'd be best to apply broadly all over the country. Everyone else deals with med school debt, so I'll be able to survive it. My wife can find a job anywhere, it just may not be as desirable. Essentially: stop whining and welcome to life.

As of right now, I see the pros heavily outweighing the cons. I'd appreciate any comments, particularly about errors in my thinking or alternate scenarios I haven't considered. Basically, am I crazy?
 

DrMidlife

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when did you get that 38?
Spanish fluency and/or willingness to acquire it?
 
OP
T
Nov 16, 2013
4
0
when did you get that 38?
Spanish fluency and/or willingness to acquire it?

MCAT was in May of this year (2013).

Working on Spanish fluency. Currently in the second semester of Spanish. Not only willing, but highly motivated to learn it, particularly given the high proportion of Spanish speaking patients in urban underserved communities (at least in California). I plan to take all the Spanish language classes and the conversation classes. In addition, I'll be signing up for introduction to Chicano Studies classes next semester. By taking Chicano studies classes, I intend to gain a better understanding of the culture, context, and history of Latinos in the United States in the hopes that it will give me a better background when working with Latino patients.
 

Amygdarya

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Feb 14, 2009
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texasbound, strictly speaking, one does not have to be a TX resident to get IS tuition: I know for a fact that UTSW offers *every accepted OOS applicant* a small scholarship that quialifies OOS applicants for IS tuition; I've heard that some other TX schools do that as well, but UTSW is the only one I can speak of with certainty. Now, of course, OOS applicants have to be pretty competitive to get into that 10% OOS quote - and that's where being a TX resident helps.

Another way being a TX resident helps is by providing an opportunity to improve your GPA. Let's face it, you have a very strong MCAT (congratulations!) but a low-ish GPA (the consensus is, you need to have at least 3.5 for MD schools, the higher the better). I really don't know how much your high MCAT can compensate for your GPA; my guess is it depends on the strength of your application as a whole. But, if you're willing to take more classes to improve your GPA, TX Fresh Start program may be of interest to you: http://www.utsystem.edu/tmdsas/medical/texasAcFrshStrt.html
Otherwise, will you be willing to consider DO schools? (they may run more expensive than TX state schools though.)

Spanish fluency is certainly a plus for TX, especially if you want to work with underserved population. (Check out Texas Tech El Paso by the way.)
 

Amygdarya

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And, by the way, in your late 20s, you're not "older" at all. Welcome to the non-trad forum :)
 

DrMidlife

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OK, a 38 taken in May 2013 is good, because MCAT scores expire, and it would be tragic to lose that 38. You'll need to read the fine print at the schools to which you apply, but I think you can assume you can use this score to start med school through Fall 2016. It's too bad your app was late this year, because a 38 is otherwise a door-opener.

Going after med school in Texas with fresh state residency and a low GPA needs to be offset by as much goodness as you can pack in your app. For Texas, Spanish is goodness. Spanish coursework is fine, but the ability to use Spanish to communicate takes real experience. So start working this into your clinical volunteering. The Chicano Studies class sounds interesting but has no value for med school.

Can you consider working as a public school teacher in a poor area in Texas for a couple of years? This will be the most thankless job of your life, except that Texas badly needs public school teachers in poor areas and it gives your claim on Texas residency some legitimacy. For instance, consider having home base in San Antonio and spending your work week in Brownsville or whatnot.

You'll want to keep in mind that moving to Texas and making no mistakes in your preparation to apply to med school has no guarantee of any kind on it. You can do all this and find yourself needing to regroup after getting rejected by all the TX schools, with a wife in tow. So as you think through this big bold move, keep an eye on your plan B and C.

BTW, the SMP at EVMS has tripled in class size since I did it. The program should no longer be considered to have linkage with EVMS MD. A bunch of EVMS SMP students will still get to be EVMS MD students, but the 80% number is history.

Best of luck to you.
 
Jan 18, 2011
186
38
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Pre-Medical
Great job on the MCAT! That will help out a lot in smoothing the low gpa troubles. It sounds to me like you have put some decent thought into your plans, and are currently continuing to examine possibilities. Spanish would be a great asset, and DrMidlife's suggestion of being a school teacher sounds like a great plan to consider.
The Texas Fresh start program will only be of benefit if your courses are at least 10 years old. If you can get your application seen by someone, I think you would have a real shot with your upward trend upper division courses and great MCAT, plus strong ECs.
The real question is: Is it worth it to you to wait a few more years to get in (just for the cheaper tuition)? If you were willing to go DO I'm sure you would have a good shot, then you would only be moving once (before medschool anyways!), especially since a lot of the DO schools strongly support/encourage primary care. Depending on the school, scholarships are available to the motivated, at least to some degree. If you wanted to find out more about scholarships you could email the admissions department and see what might be available, just an alternative idea.

If you are really sure you want primary care, check out these programs: LECOM Primary Care Scholars Pathway (DO), Mercer SOM accelerated track (MD), and NYU SOM (Langone) 3 year MD program. These are accelerated 3 year programs, so you have one less year of tuition to worry about.
And of course the ultimate in minimal medical school debt, the Texas Tech FMAT (Family Medicine Accelerated Track (MD), which if you get in, comes with a 1 year scholarship, so you end up only paying for two years of tuition (cheap Texas tuition!).
Anyways, good luck and Do your Best!
 
OP
T
Nov 16, 2013
4
0
Amygdarya said:
texasbound, strictly speaking, one does not have to be a TX resident to get IS tuition: I know for a fact that UTSW offers *every accepted OOS applicant* a small scholarship that quialifies OOS applicants for IS tuition; I've heard that some other TX schools do that as well, but UTSW is the only one I can speak of with certainty. Now, of course, OOS applicants have to be pretty competitive to get into that 10% OOS quote - and that's where being a TX resident helps.
My friend was actually in this situation. He was in San Antonio and said something about receiving a small scholarship and receiving IS tuition. I would love to be in this situation, but my GPA makes it unlikely to be accepted as an OOS, as you've mentioned.

Amygdarya said:
Another way being a TX resident helps is by providing an opportunity to improve your GPA. Let's face it, you have a very strong MCAT (congratulations!) but a low-ish GPA (the consensus is, you need to have at least 3.5 for MD schools, the higher the better). I really don't know how much your high MCAT can compensate for your GPA; my guess is it depends on the strength of your application as a whole. But, if you're willing to take more classes to improve your GPA, TX Fresh Start program may be of interest to you: http://www.utsystem.edu/tmdsas/medical/texasAcFrshStrt.html
Otherwise, will you be willing to consider DO schools? (they may run more expensive than TX state schools though.)

Spanish fluency is certainly a plus for TX, especially if you want to work with underserved population. (Check out Texas Tech El Paso by the way.)
I am willing to take classes. I remember reading about the Fresh Start program several years ago and thinking that I'd never be old enough for it to take effect. I guess the time has come! From what I've gleaned from the site, I may be able to start taking classes in Fall 2014. The program is a great idea, but I would get only one year of fresh start under my belt (Fall 2014-Spring 2015) before applying for matriculation to medical school in Fall 2016 to ensure my MCAT score doesn't expire. Unfortunately, my undergraduate grades are almost uniformly bad. I wish I could say I had a rough start and made leaps and bounds as I continued, but my maturation and good study habits did not come about until after graduating. Thus, while 1 year of grade replacement will help, I would probably need more (I need to do the math to be sure) to get to the 3.5 threshold you mentioned. I will look at Texas Tech El Paso. Thanks for the help.


Amygdarya said:
And, by the way, in your late 20s, you're not "older" at all. Welcome to the non-trad forum :)
Thanks! It's hard to see friends already in residency while I languish in pre-med purgatory, but you're right, perspective is key. I'm inspired by all the non-trads who may be older or have even more difficult situations than I do.


DrMidlife said:
OK, a 38 taken in May 2013 is good, because MCAT scores expire, and it would be tragic to lose that 38. You'll need to read the fine print at the schools to which you apply, but I think you can assume you can use this score to start med school through Fall 2016. It's too bad your app was late this year, because a 38 is otherwise a door-opener.
I'm definitely worried about this. I actually took the MCAT coming out of college and received a 33, only to watch it waste away. Re-taking is doable, but extremely time consuming and stressful. I want to do everything I can to be sure I get in before it expires.

DrMidlife said:
Going after med school in Texas with fresh state residency and a low GPA needs to be offset by as much goodness as you can pack in your app. For Texas, Spanish is goodness. Spanish coursework is fine, but the ability to use Spanish to communicate takes real experience. So start working this into your clinical volunteering. The Chicano Studies class sounds interesting but has no value for med school.
Point well taken. I may take the time I was going to spend on Chicano Studies and instead find a clinical volunteering experience where I can utilize and truly learn how to converse in Spanish.

DrMidlife said:
Can you consider working as a public school teacher in a poor area in Texas for a couple of years? This will be the most thankless job of your life, except that Texas badly needs public school teachers in poor areas and it gives your claim on Texas residency some legitimacy. For instance, consider having home base in San Antonio and spending your work week in Brownsville or whatnot.
Oddly enough, Plan B for careers is to be a teacher. This is actually something I will look into. I'd prefer to avoid the distance of Brownsville, particularly with the possibility of pregnancy looming, but I follow the reasoning. Perhaps I can find a poor area in the greater San Antonio area that would give me a similar experience. My other concern with full time teaching is the time commitment associated with not only teaching, but grading papers and making lesson plans. Literally all my teacher friends, whether through TFA or traditional routes, find themselves with negligible extra time during the weekdays for other commitments. I'm afraid this will ruin my ability to continue volunteering or to perform any other ECs for that matter.

DrMidlife said:
You'll want to keep in mind that moving to Texas and making no mistakes in your preparation to apply to med school has no guarantee of any kind on it. You can do all this and find yourself needing to regroup after getting rejected by all the TX schools, with a wife in tow. So as you think through this big bold move, keep an eye on your plan B and C.
This is obviously a big worry. I am operating under the HUGE assumption that if my application is good enough for a seat in an MD school outside of Texas, it is good enough for Texas schools as an IS applicant. As of this morning Plan B for applying to medical school is Texas Fresh Start, which Amygdarya reminded me of. No Plan C yet, but you're right, I need to have some ideas before I commit.

DrMidlife said:
BTW, the SMP at EVMS has tripled in class size since I did it. The program should no longer be considered to have linkage with EVMS MD. A bunch of EVMS SMP students will still get to be EVMS MD students, but the 80% number is history.
That's good to know. I might throw in an app to RFU this year just to give myself the option, should my Texas move blow up unexpectedly or I come to the realization that I may not have a good shot at med school in Texas regardless of bona fide residency.

DrMidlife said:
Best of luck to you.
Much appreciated. If all my hard work fails to amend for my previous transgressions, I can only rely on luck to get me the rest of the way.
 
Last edited:
Jan 18, 2011
186
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Status
Pre-Medical
Oh, and if you haven't already, take a look at the Below 3.0 GPA support group thread here in the nontrad forum.
 
OP
T
Nov 16, 2013
4
0
hawkbit said:
Great job on the MCAT! That will help out a lot in smoothing the low gpa troubles. It sounds to me like you have put some decent thought into your plans, and are currently continuing to examine possibilities. Spanish would be a great asset, and DrMidlife's suggestion of being a school teacher sounds like a great plan to consider.
The Texas Fresh start program will only be of benefit if your courses are at least 10 years old. If you can get your application seen by someone, I think you would have a real shot with your upward trend upper division courses and great MCAT, plus strong ECs.
The real question is: Is it worth it to you to wait a few more years to get in (just for the cheaper tuition)? If you were willing to go DO I'm sure you would have a good shot, then you would only be moving once (before medschool anyways!), especially since a lot of the DO schools strongly support/encourage primary care. Depending on the school, scholarships are available to the motivated, at least to some degree. If you wanted to find out more about scholarships you could email the admissions department and see what might be available, just an alternative idea.
You're right about waiting a few years. I'm hoping to get in the first go around in Texas, but that may be too optimistic. The other major concern that Texas ameliorates is the uncertainty with my wife's [career] future. Living in Texas will give her the opportunity for continued advancement. I have admittedly done little research into DO schools, but I know that many are located in less populated areas of the country which limits 1) ability for me to work in urban underserved medicine and 2) ability for my wife to transfer/easily find comparable work. That being said, I do need to research more about DO schools. I'll do some research into the scholarships, but I have a feeling my low GPA automatically excludes me from a majority.


hawkbit said:
If you are really sure you want primary care, check out these programs: LECOM Primary Care Scholars Pathway (DO), Mercer SOM accelerated track (MD), and NYU SOM (Langone) 3 year MD program. These are accelerated 3 year programs, so you have one less year of tuition to worry about.
And of course the ultimate in minimal medical school debt, the Texas Tech FMAT (Family Medicine Accelerated Track (MD), which if you get in, comes with a 1 year scholarship, so you end up only paying for two years of tuition (cheap Texas tuition!).
I've heard of NYU, but not the other two. The FMAT sounds like a great idea, but I'm not ready to commit to family medicine. I have an interest in peds as well, and wouldn't want to limit myself.


hawkbit said:
Anyways, good luck and Do your Best!
Thanks for all your suggestions! I'll definitely do more research into them.
 

cabinbuilder

Urgent Care Physician
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Nov 21, 2005
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You're right about waiting a few years. I'm hoping to get in the first go around in Texas, but that may be too optimistic. The other major concern that Texas ameliorates is the uncertainty with my wife's [career] future. Living in Texas will give her the opportunity for continued advancement. I have admittedly done little research into DO schools, but I know that many are located in less populated areas of the country which limits 1) ability for me to work in urban underserved medicine and 2) ability for my wife to transfer/easily find comparable work. That being said, I do need to research more about DO schools. I'll do some research into the scholarships, but I have a feeling my low GPA automatically excludes me from a majority.
Ok, so I am totally confused by this statement.
1. Not all DO schools are in rural locations. Look at PCOM or NYCOM. I think there are 28 school now to pick from.
2. I don't understand your cross reference about working in urban underserved? You would not be working in medical school and once you finish residency you can work where ever you want. Your school choice has nothing to do with final career location. Don't forget that you will likely have to move for residency too and you will need to factor that in with your wife's job.
 
Oct 9, 2013
12
13
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Pre-Medical
TCOM is also not in a rural location. Although they do have a rural medicine program where some of your rotations will be rural locations throughout Texas.