Undergrad student with unfulfilled curiosity

Discussion in 'Pathology' started by Katwayne, Oct 1, 2002.

  1. Katwayne

    Katwayne New Member

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    Hi,
    I'm not sure how this works but i'm going to be a Sophomore at Wayne State University currently my declared major is biology. However i'm not sure if thats what I wanted to do. I've wanted to be in medicine since the age of 10. I am currently thinking about going into the area of Pathology perhaps even forensic pathology. The very first time I looked in an microscope at some cells I knew thats what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I'm not sure if I do indeed want to do forensics aspect, but i do however know that i want to do autopsies but i want to be so much more than a mortician. I want to determine causes of death and other things. I want to look at the human body in microscopes. I have the desire to help people as well, but am debating whether or not i want to be cooped up in a room all day, i want variation. Currently my gpa isn't so hot, it's a 2.5 overall due to my hardships not just in adapting to college environment but in dealing with personal issues such as the new found acknowledgement to my father's crack cocaine addiction. I work many hours and try to help out my family. I'm afraid that this has hurt my chances in getting into med school. I want so badly to go there is no question in my mind and since removing myself from the family situation my grades have dramatically improved. What should I do to get into med school and could you explain on a physical or emotional level the advantages or disadvantages that some pathologists are faced with. Are my chances of even being considered into med school forever ruined????
    Please help I value any and all responses and am very eager to hear from all. Thankyou so much!
     
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  3. dentalapp

    dentalapp Member
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    No one understands you better than I do, because it also happened to me.

    A cumulative 2.5 gpa is bad. If it's mostly your science courses that are leveling your grades to a 2.5, it's from bad to worse.

    A 2.5 is way too short of the 3.7 gpa ( esp. in science ) and MCAT 32 that is typical of entering medical students.

    Numbers aren't everything, but how else would they single out the best 400 people to interview out of the 2000 motivated applicants?

    Until you attain those numbers, and if you still want an MD, you are bound for a Carribean medical school. If you get around, say, a 3.0 - 3.4 gpa by the time you apply, you might get into a relatively good Carribean school with a record of decent residency placements.

    I am only a college senior lamenting on my marginal chances of acceptance to medical/dental/PhD programs, so I do not have enough experience to tell you what it's like to be a pathologist.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Qafas

    Qafas Jarhead
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    Hi Katwayne,
    I don't think your chances for med school are ruined by any means. It's still pretty early in the game, being that you are a sophomore. I had a pretty bad GPA during my first couple of years of undergrad., and I didn't even have any hardships!!! But, it only matters what you do from now on. By all means, do everything you can to improve your credentials; don't be discouraged because you still have a lot of time. I would suggest getting involved in some extra-curricular activities, preferably in medicine. You might even want to check with your local coroner's office to see if you can do an internship there, since you are so interested in pathology. I did that for a few months, and it was an incredible experience - not one that can easily be described; we actually got to do a lot of the grunt work right alongside the pathologists. It made me realize that I NEVER want to be a pathologist, but that's me ;) I'm sure you'll have a different experience.
    As for your family situation, all I can say is that it is really unfortunate. If you think that they need your help, I say stick with them, especially if they are appreciative of your efforts. But, do try to find some sort of balance; if that means having to work twice as hard as the next applicant, then so be it. We all are faced with our own challenges, and some have it worse than others. I hope that you will find the strength and the inspiration that you need. Rest assured, however, that you are not out of contention by any means. Never mind what has happened; just concentrate on what you need to do from here on out.
    Good Luck!!

    with regards
     
  5. Mindy

    Mindy Senior Member
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    By all means your chances of getting into medical school are NOT ruined. I think that most admissions committees will allow for "freshman adjustment" and dismiss early poor grades if you show significant improvement over your next several years. Personal trouble, as long as it occurs over a discreet period of time, is certainly understandable too.

    I have seldom heard of a reason so sincere as to why someone wanted to be a pathologist as: "The very first time I looked in an microscope at some cells I knew thats what I wanted to do for the rest of my life." I think anyone who cannot image doing this is not cut out for anatomic pathology (clinical pathology is a different ball of wax).

    As far as variation is concerned, I think that forensic pathology has impressive diversity. You would spend your morning discussing the days activities with your team--what autopsies to do, whether or not you had to appear in court, what family or community meetings were scheduled. Then you would accomplish those activities with interspersed viewing of slides from previous cases, fielding phone calls from a variety of people and agencies, and inspecting death certificates. Then of course, you may get called away from your office to investigate suspicious deaths.

    Downside: The top of the list is lack of cash. Most medical students become significantly more worried about pay as years and years of their life appear to be stripped away by medical training. The other negative is the frequent weekend at night call. I think some medical examiners are bitter when they compare themselves with the private lab pathologist down the street making 3 times their salary and not being on call most weekends or nights.

    That being said, I personally think that forensics is a pretty cool field. I spent 2 months during my medical training at a medical examiner's office and loved it. Admittedly it is also one of the most disgusting jobs you can imagine... you have to have a strong gut! Anyway, I think the advice about volunteering at an MEO's is superb.

    Good Luck to you!

    Mindy
     
  6. dentalapp

    dentalapp Member
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    I've been keeping close tabs on patho because I prefer doing autopsies than surgeries.

    Based on what I heard, MEs have an income comparable to those practicing internal medicine. Unfortunately, the standard deviation on the salaries of MEs are high, depending on experience and performance.

    The salary and security of an ME is fine.

    It's just the public's misconception of MEs as coroners ( an MD isn't required to be one ) or cops that bother me.
     
  7. GreatPumpkin

    GreatPumpkin Mystical Treatbringer
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    There are very few pathologists that sit in a room all day and view slides. Forensic pathologist for instance perform autopsies, go to crime scenes, go to court, have conferences with other pathologists, teach law enforcement and others, etc.....etc....As a matter of fact they probably spend the least amount of thier time looking at slides. Many times the MEs I have worked with don't even ask for slides on cases, they just make gross diagnosis. You don't have to look at a slide to see a bullet hole hehe.

    As for your GPA you are not dead in the water yet, but it is time to fix the problem. You need to get it up to at least the 3.2+ with a great MCAT score. The admission folks will give a little slack for personal issues, but not much. They have tons of high quality applicants to choose from and they use the numbers extensively as an indicator of future achievement. With GPA numbers in the low 3s you will not even recieve secondary applications at many places, which means you may not even be able to explain your circumstances to them.

    Other things you can do to improve your chances include post graduate training to improve your GPA, research, healthcare experience and sometimes you can repeat courses at certain schools to have the grades changed.

    good luck
     
  8. scopemonkey

    scopemonkey Member
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    I know several people who, for various reasons did poorly in undergrad and took time to do a post bac program when they were better able to concentrate and do well. These individuals did well on their MCATS and got into US medical schools.
    If you are really committed and life doesn't improve to much during undeergrad, there is room in the future to make up for it.
    It does take some determination.

    However, you are still way early in the game. If this is really what you want to do, everything should turn out fine.
     

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