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Non-trad guy will be starting med school at 25. First generation college student, URM, from very poor family. My biological family thinks bettering myself is a bad thing. They are unsupportive, and they always say things like "that takes too long, why don't you just work at the factory." Im from the type of place that is so impoverished, that working in the local factory makes you rich @ ~ 30k a year. Here there is a general mistrust of higher education and science in general . Becoming a doctor in my hometown is unheard of and people think I will inevitably fail. I know med school is hard, and it will probably be helpful to be able to call your parents and vent and have them encourage you. Sadly I won't have that. I was thinking maybe mentors can help me out, but I don't know how personal mentors can get. I would like to be able to talk to someone similar who understands what im going through and can offer encouragement and help me often.
 

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1) You can do this.
2) Sometimes support comes in unexpected forms from unexpected people. Let yourself be open to it.

My coworkers were far more supportive of me during my application process than some of my family members were. It might be hard distancing yourself just to keep nay-sayers from taking a picnic in your mind. (Because, really, you WILL have moments of self-doubt, and you probably will think of all the negative things they have said to you.)

3) Please refer to #1.
 

cabinbuilder

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That happened to a friend of mine who is American Indian. He grew up on the Res, was the first to go to college then onto nursing school. After working as a nurse for a few years he applied to medical school and got in. He did it on his own without any family support. He graduated medical school. He was at my residency program. When he was close to being done with residency his mom visited and told him, "now I can finally tell people". Meaning???? She was so afraid and sure that he was going to fail that she never said a word to anyone about him being in medical school because she was waiting for the day for him to drop out. How sad is that?? I think if you live in a place where fear trumps dreams it's hard for others to support you in your endeavors. You will have to find someone who supports you and when you finish, then you can go home and be accepted. Poverty does strange things to people and most only have vision of what they know is a sure thing - i.e. the factory. Follow your heart and your dreams. I didn't have parents when I went to medical school. I clung to my friends, my husband, my kids. We got through, and so will you. They will never understand and you will need to DO IT FOR YOURSELF.
 
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EMDO, I full realize where you are coming from! We have one single college educated adult between both sides of my entire extended family, and he is a jerk.

You know the steps that you have to take. If you can put up the numbers, and polish yourself professionally, you have built in evidence of overcoming adversity and will be a very strong applicant.

I can't speak to whether you'll find mentors who can stand in for familial support. You'll need to cultivate those types of relationships if you feel that you need them. There will be others in med school that didn't come from the upper middle class, however, and they'll understand how far you've come. In turn, perhaps you will be the mentor for some other struggling kid with aspirations. I plan to be.

Have you looked into clubs or organizations for and by underrepresented groups in medicine?
 

ruedjgtc

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I can see where you're coming from. My mother is bipolar, and my step dad is pretty hands off when it comes to my support. Sometimes she unintentionally (I like to believe) sabotaged my college life, and even hampered my efforts at being competitive during medical school applications -- fortunately, I made it out okay and am currently accepted you can make it out. I got into medical school and not much as changed, so you probably need to learn to move on.

I was in a strange situation when I started college, just prior to doing FAFSA my mom was single and we were on welfare. Then she got married, and suddenly I was not qualified for FAFSA. Despite making over six figures collectively they've probably put about a total of $500 on my college education, I had to work for years before finally being qualified for FAFSA. I probably wouldn't of believed in myself to go for the MD if I didn't meet my mentor and started doing electrophysiology research. I think he too came from less than supportive family, so he helped me through just helping me hang in there. In retrospect I see that I saw him as a role model.

Negotiating help for medical school applications process was like working with a resolution with Afghanistan.

Now I have some time to sit around while I'm accepted, and I work at my old university one of my jobs is for undergraduate research programs where we help mentors and undergrads work together -- so I really believe in the mentoring process, and strongly advise you to both seek-out and surround yourself by positive influences.
 

FromTheGroundUp

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:hello:I am in your boat! My immediate family consisted of my paternal grandparents since my mother and father were unfit to care for me since infancy. You would think, "hey! Grandparents love and support grandchildren!" No. Definitely not the case. Being a first generation American from this side of the family, I was not expected to graduate from high school, let alone go to a UNIVERSITY-- an OUT-OF STATE, WELL-KNOWN UNIVERSITY and become a first generation college GRADUATE. *GASP* They figured I would grow up, get pregnant (not that it's a bad thing to me, but to them it's the devil), drop out, join a gang, sell my soul, and become "unfit." I guess because of this, they never really connected with me on an emotional level. I left 7 years ago and haven't looked back since. :diebanana:I can go on and on all day about how sucky my life was and how poor we were that we couldn't afford bug spray to kill the mass amount of vermin in the house,+pity+ but I will not, simply because I didn't dwell on it and didn't allow my circumstances and others expectations to define me. :zip:

I KNOW that a mentor would be the best option for you because we all need a support system in order to survive. In high school, my support system were my friends, teachers who believed in my abilities, and staying busy with ECs.

I suggest you join a mentorship program like Diverse Medicine that specifically caters to minorities looking to get into medicine. You have made it this far, Im positive you can make it even further! :clap: We got this!!!

Also, you may find some love here on SDN on the "Underrepresented in Healthcare" forum. Just a thought!
 

DrMidlife

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Carefully select some mentors who are successful, who are 1-5 years ahead of you, and who are not crazy. Collect a few of them so you don't have to be too dependent on one individual.

If you know what med school you'll be going to, reach out to the office of student affairs. Get to know the staff who can help you navigate the big picture, and can connect you to upperclassmen who can help you with day-to-day details. Don't be a secret to the administration - let them help you succeed.

Best of luck to you.
 

Goro

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Suggest talking to your previous faculty...surely you had an advisor?

It seems like you're more than disappointed that your family isn't supportive; you have my sympathies, (my own mom thought I'd not succeed in grad school and was very dismissive of my going that route) but you do need to move on from that. Suggest also that your medical school faculty and your fellow students will be VERY supportive. So, there are more options than you think.

Congrats on the acceptance, and good luck!

Non-trad guy will be starting med school at 25. First generation college student, URM, from very poor family. My biological family thinks bettering myself is a bad thing. They are unsupportive, and they always say things like "that takes too long, why don't you just work at the factory." Im from the type of place that is so impoverished, that working in the local factory makes you rich @ ~ 30k a year. Here there is a general mistrust of higher education and science in general . Becoming a doctor in my hometown is unheard of and people think I will inevitably fail. I know med school is hard, and it will probably be helpful to be able to call your parents and vent and have them encourage you. Sadly I won't have that. I was thinking maybe mentors can help me out, but I don't know how personal mentors can get. I would like to be able to talk to someone similar who understands what im going through and can offer encouragement and help me often.
 

MalachiConstant

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Thought I would echo some of the previous sentiments and offer a word of support. Though my background wasn't quite impoverished, we were on the bottom end of lower middle class. No one in my family had pursued any education beyond high school. My parents made enough money to disqualify me from federal aid for college and they were actively disdainful of the effort. There is a mindset associated with constant financial struggle that leads to a disbelief that there could ever be a way out.

I ended up dropping out of college twice unfortunately mostly because of the financial struggle, and partly to do family encouragement to pursue a more "realistic" career in construction. I finally went back once I was 26, considered an independent student and eligible for federal aid. I completed that successfully, but still had little support in my decision to go to medical school. In spite of all that I'm set to graduate in May. My circumstances negatively affected my confidence and that's something I still struggle with, but rest assured, if you've been accepted to medical school, you deserve to be there and have what it takes to succeed. There have been few people, either faculty or other students who could relate to this situation in my experience, but I feel that success in the face of such experience builds character few of your classmates will ever approach.

Interestingly, now that I'm nearly done my family seems to finally be more accepting and even excited about the situation. Try not to be too upset, realize that their lack of support is probably a manifestation of their own circumstances, and remember that while everything is easier with a solid support system, if you've made it this far, then given appropriate determination, there's no reason you can't succeed in medical school as well.
 
OP
EMDO2018

EMDO2018

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Just wanted to say to everyone that responded to the thread thanks for the support. Over the past few days I have come to realize everybody has some sorta problems they are dealing with, and we all have to do the best we can.
 
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Non-trad guy will be starting med school at 25. First generation college student, URM, from very poor family. My biological family thinks bettering myself is a bad thing. They are unsupportive, and they always say things like "that takes too long, why don't you just work at the factory." Im from the type of place that is so impoverished, that working in the local factory makes you rich @ ~ 30k a year. Here there is a general mistrust of higher education and science in general . Becoming a doctor in my hometown is unheard of and people think I will inevitably fail. I know med school is hard, and it will probably be helpful to be able to call your parents and vent and have them encourage you. Sadly I won't have that. I was thinking maybe mentors can help me out, but I don't know how personal mentors can get. I would like to be able to talk to someone similar who understands what im going through and can offer encouragement and help me often.
I dont know if you are in the process of applying or a med student now. However, I am impressed and happy for you. Go for it, you can do it. As you move along and get close to being a doctor, some of your family members will come along. Meanwhile, you will have your fellow students, college staff, and us here on SDN. We will encourage you. God bless you.
 
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beBrave

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A lot of SDN members have to deal with this issue. Find ambitious friends, get to know a few Physicians. They will cheer you on.
 

Prncssbuttercup

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Listen to CB. She's spot on, as are all the other people telling you that this is feasible. I won't lie to you, even if you've never really struggled in classes ever, medical school is hard. The pressure is daunting, if life gets hard, it can seem unbearable, and you have thoughts of giving up. I'm in that spot right now, except I look behind me and say "all that work, wasted, all for not??? I don't think so!!!" and I keep going.

Realize that you are in a position to show other people in your community that THEY can get out of this situation, you can do this, and when you're done, you can go back and be a leader and mentor to people and show them that THEY can do it too...
 
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Nov 21, 2012
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A mentor is a good idea because you can get a LOR and someone who can help you through the process, also if you find a mentor who is a doctor you can shadow them. I know where you are coming from being a URM and 1st Gen (extended family included). Its not that my family tells me I can't do it. It's more of a "Oh thats nice hun," when they really have no idea what I'm talking about. I don't even think they know what med school is. Or this ones my favorite, "What did you want to go to school for again?" I actually never got my own mentor, I just looked online at resources like SDN, Medscape, AAMC, etc. I also qualified for the Fee Assistance Program, which will send you a study guide for the MCAT and help pay for applying and stuff like that. Whenever I had a question or needed something I got it myself, thats how I feel about life if you want something, you've got to get it yourself and you've got to be willing to fight for it. Prove to them that they are wrong. I see it as, nobody from my family goes to college and nobody from my hometown goes to med school, until now. You can do it and you can't let them get to you.
 

sat0ri

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Would putting that your family was unsupportive in a PS be a good idea?

It might (though shouldn't) be important to note that I'm an ORM. The feeling I get when you tell people you have been through a difficult time is that you're ungrateful, whiny, and not willing to take onus. People seem doubtful that you really had difficulties. (I'm basing this on nearly every conversation I had, including with advisors). I really can't comment on if everyone is typically incredulous when you tell them, but my intuition is that this is not true.

Anyone want to take this to bat?
 

theseeker4

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Would putting that your family was unsupportive in a PS be a good idea?

It might (though shouldn't) be important to note that I'm an ORM. The feeling I get when you tell people you have been through a difficult time is that you're ungrateful, whiny, and not willing to take onus. People seem doubtful that you really had difficulties. (I'm basing this on nearly every conversation I had, including with advisors). I really can't comment on if everyone is typically incredulous when you tell them, but my intuition is that this is not true.

Anyone want to take this to bat?
This is interesting... In what ways do people seem to doubt you have had difficulties? Why do you think they react this way? A person or two being overly critical/sensitive/skeptical is one thing, but if virtually everyone is reacting to you that way, there is some reason for that. First, you might be extremely sensitive, and reading a certain reaction as being present when your audience is thinking nothing of the sort. Second, maybe the "hardships" you are describing are really worthy of ridicule? For example, if a trust funder who never had to work for anything was complaining about his parents refusing to fly him to interviews in their private jet, people hearing this would be justifiably incredulous about his "hardships". Third, you might have legitimate complaints you are trying to describe, but are doing it poorly. Maybe you are not effectively describing your struggles, or not describing how your experiences are hardships. You also might be coming across to others as whining when you are not intending to.

I think the most important thing here is to understand no matter which of the above you fall into, it is probably NOT a good idea to try to bring your hardships up. It obviously doesn't go well when you do, either because you are not doing it effectively or because you have noting to complain about, so trying to use it can only hurt you. Focus on other areas in your story to describe why you want to be a doctor, and you avoid any issues with your story. Good luck!
 

sat0ri

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This is interesting... In what ways do people seem to doubt you have had difficulties? Why do you think they react this way? A person or two being overly critical/sensitive/skeptical is one thing, but if virtually everyone is reacting to you that way, there is some reason for that. First, you might be extremely sensitive, and reading a certain reaction as being present when your audience is thinking nothing of the sort. Second, maybe the "hardships" you are describing are really worthy of ridicule? For example, if a trust funder who never had to work for anything was complaining about his parents refusing to fly him to interviews in their private jet, people hearing this would be justifiably incredulous about his "hardships". Third, you might have legitimate complaints you are trying to describe, but are doing it poorly. Maybe you are not effectively describing your struggles, or not describing how your experiences are hardships. You also might be coming across to others as whining when you are not intending to.

I think the most important thing here is to understand no matter which of the above you fall into, it is probably NOT a good idea to try to bring your hardships up. It obviously doesn't go well when you do, either because you are not doing it effectively or because you have noting to complain about, so trying to use it can only hurt you. Focus on other areas in your story to describe why you want to be a doctor, and you avoid any issues with your story. Good luck!
First let me say thanks, because it can be so difficult to produce evidence about this occurrence, but I think that you jumped immediately the stance of incredulity is exactly my point. So I'll grant that perhaps you're just looking for the most parsimonious explanation and it's easier to say that one person is wrong (me) than everyone else is (the people I mentioned)--but you failed to even concede the possibility that there might be an inherent prejudice that people don't believe in hardship unless it fits their preconceived schemes of what hardship looks like, going to great lengths to provide alternative explanations. (Also possible is that you simply did not come up with this explanation, though it was obviously the insulation of my post).

So I know this happens, because immediately it's an uphill battle; and this is before I provide any information whatsoever--I say it's been rough, and they say how so, dubiously. The constantly doubt until I provide enough information until I get a reluctant "well, that does sound pretty bad". Here too, it's exactly what you did. Sorry I wasn't clear, but I meant this is always their first reaction. So I'm contending that we have an inherent scheme that by nature that is a bit prejudice. If you don't fit within their prototypical model, they are reluctant to accept it. (I was actually involved with research involving this, though it was investigating age prejudice).

So there have been bad reaction where at first they were just like, "C'mon, you didn't have it that bad" and this after I say a mere one sentence to the effect of "my childhood situation was difficult". Then I provide the exact same information as OP, barring the fact that I'm obviously white, and I get the same response--doubt. I takes me producing tangible examples of things that were said to me that they concede the slightest ground. Even with my prehealth advisor, I say that "I was wondering about including my family life was difficult," again no further information about me, and immediately she says "you want to be careful ..." basically saying that anything I say will be viewed as badmouthing my parents and generally being ungrateful. I of course haven't systematically investigated this, but I think this answer won't be given to everyone that ask this question while providing to further details to go off of.

It's a conflict of whether or not to include for me because it really is a lot of who I am, but I'm always met with this initial doubt, but for instance OP it is immediately accepted and he only receives solidatory amongst the SDN'er's. I think worst of all is that you feel your suffering is illegitimate and not real, as if you had to validate it. It's all very dehumanizing.
 

theseeker4

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First let me say thanks, because it can be so difficult to produce evidence about this occurrence, but I think that you jumped immediately the stance of incredulity is exactly my point. So I'll grant that perhaps you're just looking for the most parsimonious explanation and it's easier to say that one person is wrong (me) than everyone else is (the people I mentioned)--but you failed to even concede the possibility that there might be an inherent prejudice that people don't believe in hardship unless it fits their preconceived schemes of what hardship looks like, going to great lengths to provide alternative explanations. (Also possible is that you simply did not come up with this explanation, though it was obviously the insulation of my post).

So I know this happens, because immediately it's an uphill battle; and this is before I provide any information whatsoever--I say it's been rough, and they say how so, dubiously. The constantly doubt until I provide enough information until I get a reluctant "well, that does sound pretty bad". Here too, it's exactly what you did. Sorry I wasn't clear, but I meant this is always their first reaction. So I'm contending that we have an inherent scheme that by nature that is a bit prejudice. If you don't fit within their prototypical model, they are reluctant to accept it. (I was actually involved with research involving this, though it was investigating age prejudice).

So there have been bad reaction where at first they were just like, "C'mon, you didn't have it that bad" and this after I say a mere one sentence to the effect of "my childhood situation was difficult". Then I provide the exact same information as OP, barring the fact that I'm obviously white, and I get the same response--doubt. I takes me producing tangible examples of things that were said to me that they concede the slightest ground. Even with my prehealth advisor, I say that "I was wondering about including my family life was difficult," again no further information about me, and immediately she says "you want to be careful ..." basically saying that anything I say will be viewed as badmouthing my parents and generally being ungrateful. I of course haven't systematically investigated this, but I think this answer won't be given to everyone that ask this question while providing to further details to go off of.

It's a conflict of whether or not to include for me because it really is a lot of who I am, but I'm always met with this initial doubt, but for instance OP it is immediately accepted and he only receives solidatory amongst the SDN'er's. I think worst of all is that you feel your suffering is illegitimate and not real, as if you had to validate it. It's all very dehumanizing.
Incredulous that you have had a rough life or a lot to overcome? of course not, you provided no information at all, so how could I have an opinion about that? Incredulous that everyone you talk to about it is skeptical that you could possibly have had a rough life without there being something causing it, other than everyone is racist? Yeah, that was more where I was coming from.

My point wasn't in any way to say you haven't had a hard time in one way or another. The only point I was making was, if everyone seems to jump to that conclusion, it is probably best not to bring it up voluntarily. After all, the point of your application is to be accepted, and no matter what has happened in your life, if virtually everyone is dubious, you gain nothing by talking about it to admissions committees, no matter how bad your life actually was. Obviously I have nothing to go on other than the very limited information in the post you provided, so obviously I have no opinion one way or another about how bad your life has been, or how hard you have had it. Nothing in my post was an attempt to comment about that.

There are a lot of ways to describe what you have gone through and lived with without coming across as "woe is me." Focusing on your life story, and how that brings you to medicine, is what you should do. Trying to frame it in a way to make people think "wow they have really had a hard life" has too high of a chance to backfire on you and may come across as being whiny. Your advisor is correct that you should be careful, as anyone of any race or background should, because trying to act like a victim is unbecoming of anyone. That was the point I was making.
 

Quik

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Wow, this thread seems like home to my siblings and I... Anyway, yes, mentors help. Sometimes, they are the only one's who can relate to our ambition, and the only ones supporting us telling us we can and must succeed. For me, I have several of these people in my life whom I've told my dreams and plan to become a doctor and I feel are constantly supporting my pursuit of medicine. None of these people are my parents. My father, a drug dealer. My mother, a multiple divorcee wishing she had her life back to live her dreams. They do not relate and they think my ambition is selfish. Well, maybe it is. Selfish for yourself, so do it for yourself. Do it for your unborn children, so they may be born unto a familial foundation that supports the prospect of a better than mediocre life. Whatever the reason(s) focus on them. Give what energy you have to those who support and believe in you.
 
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