This has to work out ... and I need advice.

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by FtrDoc, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. FtrDoc

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    Hi everyone,

    So I need some advice on how medical schools look at non-trads who have been out of school for awhile. I graduated in 2004 and have been working as a paralegal until recently. I've wanted nothing more than to be an MD and after a failed attempt at pre-med undergrad I decided to give it one more go.

    My undergrad BCPM was a 2.167. I only took 12 credits and dropped. My undergrad cum was a 3.35.

    After a year of post-bacc with Bio, Gen Chem and a semester of physics, I have a 4.0. If I continue on that path, will I need to take more science courses next year? Or should I just plan on taking the MCAT and applying this spring 2008?

    I currently have 0 volunteer hours, but switched jobs and work as a clinical research assistant in NYC. What else can/should I do??? Is this enough? Thank you!!!!!
     
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  3. teddybear

    teddybear "Teddy"

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    Look, man, you're all over the place, and you're getting panicky. Please settle down and focus. And have more confidence in yourself. As far as people going to medical school who have been out of school for a while, it happens every day. Relax.
     
  4. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion

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    This isn't subjective: you need to do the math. Specifically, spreadsheet out what you've taken, and figure out how much more you need to take to get up over 3.5 for both numbers.

    Don't take it until you score above your goal on practice tests.

    Best of luck to you.
     
  5. Luxian

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    Slow down there! Med school isn't going anywhere and you haven't been out of college that long!

    Okay, you have a low GPA to get over, but you are doing well in post-bacc. Excellent! You still need to take organic chemistry, and you really should take it before you take the MCAT. Furthermore, the MCAT is not like a final for a post-bacc class! You really do have to sit down and study for the MCAT itself. Get a prep book like ExamKrackers, take a practice exam, and don't take the MCAT until you know that you are doing decently on MCAT-like questions.

    It sounds like you just got into a position with some clinical exposure. If you applied now, you'd have no letter of rec from them and no experience to add to your application! Wait till next year and you can have both.

    Lastly, people don't hear this a lot if they're not in school, but you really do need to apply early and widely. That means, getting your primary into AMCAS in June or July and your secondaries done in Aug or September. You are well on schedule to do that next year, but doing that this year, with no O-chem, with a rushed MCAT, and with little volunteer experience? You should save your money for the next time around.
     
  6. HanginInThere

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    Um... this has to be a joke.

    This is the only post the OP has made. Only half of the prereqs have been taken. No MCAT. Asking about applying this cycle.

    There's no way this could be serious, right?
     
  7. nontrdgsbuiucmd

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    Don't think 2008 application would be wise. I'd concur about finishing up all of the prerequisites before the MCAT, even before sitting for the practice MCAT. Supposedly there are some who can just ace the MCAT after studying for it without prerequisites, for most people all prerequ's are needed first + 1-3 months of dedicated, full time study.

    In my experience, sitting for the mcat after most prerequs put me in the mid/upper 20's (last year) finishing all prerequ's + a few advanced bio course bumped that up to 30 average on the first 4 aamc tests this year, (trending up to 32 so far)

    Also, although I'm not familiar with NYC schoools, every school that I've spoken with in midwest, east coast, and rocky mountains expect recent, clinical (patient oriented) volunteer activity and preferably also non-medical volunteer activity. Some may accept experience from your job, many will also be looking for straight volunteer work.

    Finally, (GPA was addressed by others although that's important) a number of schools value experience shadowing a physician, per a discussion thread last year on SDN and conversations I've had, several schools will not consider an applicant without it.
     
  8. FtrDoc

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    Oooops. I'm obviously not applying for admission F2009. When I said Spring 2008, I meant spring 2009. At that point, I'll have completed all my reqs besides Orgo II. A bunch of my friends who went through my post bacc program took the MCAT while taking Orgo II. I've looked through the examkrackers books and I think it'll be fine to do that. What do you all think?

    I might be applying for an SMP next year (because of my devestatingly low science/math grades undergrad). An earlier MCAT leaves me more time to get my applications all set which is why my advisors and I thought the earlier the better (hopefully I'll be able to complete my secondaries before my SMP starts). As to the objective nature of grades ... I'll have somewhere around a 3.5 science gpa after my post bacc. I'm pretty confident that I'll get a 4.0 total. I'm not so worried about hitting the numbers marks for MCAT/GPA. I didn't do well undergrad for lack of focus, not for lack of ability. If I need to prove this by doing an SMP, I'll suck it up and jump through another hoop and do well.

    What I am worried about, though, is the volunteer portion of my application. I've been trying to get volunteer work on top of what I'm currently doing, but I work a 40+ week and am currently taking summer courses (and before that regular semester work). It's been frustrating because a lot of the shadowing and research exposure that I've been offered does not fit my schedule or they want me there for more hours than I can offer (at peak regular work hour times). How did you guys find doctors to shadow? I don't have a relationship with a physician in the city where I live. What do you suggest I do?

    Finally, anyone know how to get alerted when someone responds to your posts? I'm still trying to navigate these forums, and it's not the most user friendly platform.
     
    #7 FtrDoc, Jun 29, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2008
  9. FtrDoc

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    What's OP mean? I'm not familiar with the SDN jargon yet ... is that like operator??? :D
     
  10. HanginInThere

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    OP = Original Poster = the person that started a thread. In this case, OP = you.

    Take a little time to look around the site and read old threads. You'll probably find a bunch in this forum and in the PostBac forum that are relevant to your situation.

    The first thing people will tell you is not to rush it. Don't bite off more than you can chew at one time. If you're able to get As with the courseload you're taking now, great. Once you start your MCAT prep, don't take the real test before you're consistently happy with your performance on practice tests. Don't apply before you don't think you've made your application as strong as possible. Etc...
     
  11. thoffen

    thoffen Member

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    You're not alone. I did the same thing. You'll have to be able to balance your life. If something inside you says you can't, then stop. Go at the pace that is reasonable for you. If this puts you on track for an '09 application, great. If it doesn't, don't fret. For example, I volunteer 6-8AM Wednesday at Moffitt Cancer Center. It's not a whole lot, but that effort counts a lot. Adcomms know that you're busy. They will respect you doing everything that you can and learning lessons from the activities that you do end up doing.
     
  12. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I think you are underestimating everything. People don't "look through the examkrackers book" and get any sense of confidence. You need to take a bunch of full length MCATs and see how you score. If, and only if, you are scoring in a competitive range you take the MCAT. If that puts you on target for Spring 09 then great. If not, push back the target. Second, for a LOT of people it is a very bad idea to take the MCAT before you complete the prereqs and a similarly bad idea to try to study for the MCAT while finishing the prereqs, putting together applications, etc. Orgo II is fair game on the MCAT, and so you want to finish it and then study for the MCAT unless you are a very strong science student. Which your original history in the sciences lays into question. Plus as folks have mentioned, you need to get clinical experience if you haven't already. Clinical research does not count. I know quite a few folks who were informed in interviews that clinical research only counts as research and thus they were deemed to have no clinical experience, despite whatever patient contact they may have had. So you need to find a way to add in some hospital volunteering, shadowing, etc on top of what you are doing. This all takes time. You need to get all your ducks lined in a row before you pull this trigger. This is not a race, and you are actually pretty young in terms of nontrads, so take the time you need to get your credentials in order. That probably means finishing the courses first, studying hard for the MCAT second, and squeezing in some decent clinical exposure along the way. This might push your timeline back a year, or not, depending on how you do on a few full length MCATs and whether you can squeeze in some better activities. But it's not a race and people only tend to burn themselves when they rush.
     
  13. thoffen

    thoffen Member

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    Law2Doc, FtrDoc is just about where I was 2 years ago. Obviously, it worked out pretty well for me. His schedule is ambitious, but not impossible. His MCAT assessment is feasible, but not typical. His clinical background is lacking, but obtainable.

    FtrDoc, I say that you do what I did: plow forward and take on everything that you can handle. Shoot for application next year, but if it doesn't work out then be ready for the year after.
     
  14. Rainingstairs

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    :laugh: quite the opposite in fact.
     
  15. FtrDoc

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    Thanks for the advice everyone. Obviously, Law2Doc I get all of this - it's not like I haven't thought carefully about the process. I'm just trying to reach my goal on a schedule that MANY MANY post baccs follow - in fact, I'd go so far as to say as many as 95% of postbaccs follow this schedule (see Med School Confidential). Finally, let's face it - this is all pretty much bs anyway. It's arguable whether all this research and "clinical" experience handing out pillows in a geriatric ward will at the end of the day even make you a better doctor or more confident of your career choice.

    Additionally, the majority of people who get the really interesting clincial or research work are being supported by their husbands and/or parents-at least in my postbacc. Again, it's arguable then that you can fairly compare applicants with very different circumstances. I feel that adcoms HAVE to take into account whether you were working while taking your courses.

    As to whether or not it will be a bad idea to take the MCAT while I'm taking my last prereq class-it's probably pointless to try and make that decision now. I'll just prep like you said and hopefully I can take the MCAT spring 2009.

    I just think you missed the mark by saying that you feel that I'm underestimating everything. I really don't think I am, but I do appreciate your candid advice :)
     
    #14 FtrDoc, Jun 30, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2008
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  17. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Actually, the majority of postbacs do not take the MCAT before completing the prereqs and taking adequate time to study for it. It is the less common self learner type who takes the test without completing the prereqs first. You will find many on SDN but they don't represent 95% -- more like the other 5%.
     
  18. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    There are a ton of hoops to jump through, and they don't end with admission to med school. Get used to it, and just resign yourself to doing them properly and in whatever time frame it takes. This is the dance you are signing on for.
     
  19. FtrDoc

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    Ok I will. I'll get there. I really want this so, however long it takes. I'm just a HUGE worrier and need to do something about that. I'm doing very well in my postbacc, with the correct preparation for the MCAT, and by taking the time to do the necessary clinical/volunteer work I'll eventually get together a strong application. I wish I was more mature as an undergrad and just did this earlier :D

    Thanks for everyone's help.
     
    #17 FtrDoc, Jun 30, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2008
  20. FtrDoc

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    Where are you in med school Law2doc?
     
    #18 FtrDoc, Jun 30, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2008

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