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Too little experience? need advice

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by closertofine, Nov 16, 2002.

  1. closertofine

    closertofine Emerging from hibernation
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    I was reading some of the posts here, and I noticed that many people have long-term committments to activities, organizations, etc. and lots of experience in the medical field. Unfortunately, I don't...and I'm wondering how med schools will look at that.

    My main activities have included: 1 year of working on the college newspaper, 1 year tutoring, 1 semester of part-time research in a lab, some volunteer work with the Humane Society (I was pre-vet) and another organization. I also spent a few weeks this summer volunteering abroad, which was medically related to some extent.

    I guess I have a problem committing to activities... plus I have struggled with major depression throughout college... but that of course isn't a good excuse, and I don't plan to tell that to med schools. Maybe my GPA will compensate a little (I have a 4.0 and three majors, but at a state school)...I haven't taken the MCAT though.

    After I graduate this May, I may go abroad again for medical-type work (I have a grant), and then hopefully volunteer in a hospital. I'm going to apply to med schools next fall, and I'd like to know if this much experience is still way below average...and if so, what I can do in the next year or so to fix it.

    Thanks!

    Karen
     
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  3. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member
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    I dont think it will matter that much to be honest. Sounds like you are doing several things that interest you, and it sounds like your grant is something long-term. If you do well on your MCAT, you will definitely be riding high on a ton of acceptances.
     
  4. moviefreak

    moviefreak Senior Member
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    i don't see any problem w/ your ECs. actually, from what they sound like, you have better ECs than me and i'm the app process already. you still have until next june before you apply and by then you'd have accumulated enough volunteer hours. i don't think you had clinical depression, it's prob the usual blues. it's very unlikely that a clinically depressed individual could have done and gotten involved as well as you did.
     
  5. DoubleDoctor

    DoubleDoctor Ceder Dog's Daddy
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    Clinical depression is often treated by medication so the person can remain effective and all people with depression do not have problems carrying through with plans. I can't believe that you are down playing someone's medical problem based on a single post.
    It is like saying that someone suffering from severe post partum depression just has the "baby blues". I happen to know a lot of highly effective people that have had a major depressive episode and take medication for it.
     
  6. moviefreak

    moviefreak Senior Member
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    ok, we're both not doctors. my opinion was based on a class that i took called biological basis of psychiatric disroders where in we studied the symptoms and treatment for disorders such as depression. our tests included vignettes, written and video, of people with psychiatric disorders. forgive my narrow background, but whatever reasons i have for saying my statement were based on this. you're right, people with depression can lead normal lives with the help of therapy, especially medications. a major depression will entail symptoms such as withdrawal from usual activities, a general lost of interest, sleeping disorder, appetite changes..overall, your system is outta whacked and this will show in your performance in school, at work, with your relationship with other people, etc. obviously, there is something inconsistent with a person severely depressed but not displaying changes in behavior or routine. maybe the individual was prescribed SSRIs a week after the beginning of depression so symptoms weren't as grave. all that i'm saying is that we should be careful with our words/statements and not to use them lightly, eg i have major depression, because this does not help alleviate the stigma with regard to psychiatric diseases.

    since diagnosis is still variable when it comes to p. diseases, how do i know if i have a major depression? if i was prescribed anti-dep/SSRI and i now feel better. if the only way to treat me is by ECT.

    i'm sorry if you find my previous statement offensive. actually, only the orig poster can resolve this issue.
     
  7. moviefreak

    moviefreak Senior Member
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    BTW, having a major depression is not a good excuse for struggling throughout college. It is a vaid reason.
     
  8. closertofine

    closertofine Emerging from hibernation
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    OK, I'm glad you guys think my EC's are acceptable...but whoa, I didn't know my mentioning depression would become the issue of my post! I will try to clear that up, though...I agree that we shouldn't use terms like "major depression" lightly, but I think that anyone who knows my story would agree that I have suffered from it (and still do).

    Since this forum is somewhat anonymous, I will tell you guys what I went through, even though no one at my school (except my therapist) knows about it. I was first hospitalized for being suicidal about a month after entering college...and I was kicked out of that college because of it (btw., do I have to list this as a college I attended??). Since then, I've been hospitalized two more times...so I've spent a total of over a month in a locked psychiatric ward. And in between, I've been clinically depressed, sleeping all day, eating barely anything or more than I should, forcing myself to keep committments to activities, missing many classes...

    I agree (and so do my psychiatrist and therapist) that it is unusual that I have been able to accomplish what I have...but it is also true that depression occurs in episodes...and I have had short periods when my medication was working well and I felt good. But generally, I have somehow been able to channel my depression to at least get the minimum done for school...and being kind of a perfectionist, I know that failing a class would only make me feel worse. Also, I don't want to put down state schools, but I know I wouldn't have gotten these grades at a more challenging school (when I do so little to get by).

    And I know I would have been much more involved, and more consistently, if I hadn't felt so bad. Even right now, I'm in another episode (though I have learned to deal with it better so that I probably won't end up in the hospital again)...and my activities consist entirely of sleeping (upwards of 12 hours a day), crying, going to a few necessary classes, and doing the bare minimum for school. So I will have absolutely nothing to list as an activity on my application for this semester...which bothers me, of course, and I'm trying to drag myself out of bed more often.

    OK, after reading all of this, you probably think "this person is definitely not fit to be a doctor!" and I have to agree to some extent. But I know that I will be most satisfied doing something I enjoy (not that I enjoy anything now), and I think being a doctor fits my personality, talents, goals, etc. better than any other career. Plus, if I'm going to be depressed, I will be no matter what career I choose, so I might as well choose what I'd really like to do!

    Still, I do question my ability to make it through med school and the rest. And even though this issue has affected my life tremendously (and I feel, also made me much more empathetic towards people who suffer), I am pretty sure it would be a really bad idea to mention it to prospective med schools. Even if I said I'm over it now, I think they'd probably be much less likely to accept me, thinking I might experience another episode. Would you agree, or would med schools see this as overcoming a challenge?

    Wow, this post got pretty long! But I have to say I am a little offended by the comment that I probably just had the "blues." The many therapists and psychiatrists I've seen since starting college would disagree. And I guess you could see it in this kind of silly light: you know that you have a problem when you are trying to study for a physiology exam surrounded by some really disturbed people! Or when you have to wait until it's quiet in the ward to call your research professor, telling him you're sick and can't come in that week.

    Oh, and to answer a question, the grant I have is ongoing (a major merit-based fellowship)...but no one in the program or in the adminstration knows about my problem...so I do feel like I'm living a double life...they just see me as quiet, I think!

    OK, hope this clears things up...I'd appreciate any comments on whether I'm fit to go to med school....


    Karen
     
  9. care bear

    care bear pink fuzzy user
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    wow, what a story.
    i really admire your dedication and perserverance.
    i don't know if you're the type to go for hugs, but i really have the impulse to give you one. . .honey, you are loved! by God, i believe, and i'm sure by
    so many people in your life who may not even have a clue what you
    are going through. . .
    i've never struggled with clinical depression, but i'm the type who "gets the blues" often. . .so when i think of someone experiencing 20X that despondency, it really pulls at my heart.
    anyhow. . like you said, you didn't want depression to become the main focus of this thread. . .
    yeah, along w/everyone i'd say your ECs sound fine. . .
    as for whether or not you want to go to med school right now. . .just remember that in the US, you basically only get one shot. so if you get in and find that you can't handle it combined w/your illness, you can't drop out if you ever want to go back. of course, some of them might possibly let you take some time off, etc. . i don't know.
    so if you really think you can handle it, then go for it!
    if you'd rather do something else you enjoy for a while, and only apply when you're *sure* you can handle the stress of med school, then that could be good too. . .
    whatever you decide, i hope that it works out. . .pulling for you! :love:
     
  10. moviefreak

    moviefreak Senior Member
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    i publicly apologize. i hope you've read my piece.
     
  11. closertofine

    closertofine Emerging from hibernation
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    Carebear, thanks for the hugs and words of encouragement! I do want to be relatively sure I can make it before starting med school, but I plan to use the next year in part to get my medication straightened out, figure out some stress-management skills, etc.

    Even if I do decide to go to med school, though, I think I'll probably often wonder if I'm really suited to be a doctor... how can I take care of other people if I don't have a history of taking care of myself? But I really feel that medicine is something I want to do, so I'm going to try my best to get there. And I am going to try to find a lower-stress med school (if one exists!), maybe with a pass-fail system...

    Moviefreak, I did get your email...thanks for the apology, but seriously, don't worry about it. I completely understand that you didn't know my situation when you wrote that, and I know some people do exaggerate their problems. (Besides, I didn't feel really offended as much as slightly misunderstood). So no hard feelings!

    OK, I'm sure I'll be back here soon....

    Karen
     
  12. closertofine

    closertofine Emerging from hibernation
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    Moviefreak, I LOVE Rilke! He's one of my favorite poets...and I'm a German major, so I get to enjoy reading him in his native language...

    :)
     
  13. unicorn1

    unicorn1 Junior Member
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    Karen .....I admire your courage:)
    Its often people that have been through a lot
    themselves that can relate to and help other people
    I bet you'll make a fine doctor someday
    Good luck:clap:
     
  14. moviefreak

    moviefreak Senior Member
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    karen,

    so cool that you like rilke too! maybe we like him for a few similar reasons;) after i graduate, i'll study more of his writings to become inspired to write better poetry:love:
     

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