Volunteering Ok or switch to a CNA job to help with second application attempt


New Member
15+ Year Member
Aug 11, 2003
    I've been reading quite a bit of great advice in the SDN forums and even though my question seems to be a common one, I thought I'd just throw it out to see what ya'll think.

    First off, I didn't get accepted to med school this year. I'm not too surprised considering the sheer number of applicants this year, but I still am left wondering what I can do to improve my profile to show how serious I am about becoming a physician.

    As an applicant, my numbers are not too bad: 33S MCAT, 3.7 GPA with degrees in biology and chemistry. I have a total of five years of research experience with the past two years spent in the cancer research lab of a Nobel Prize winner where I was fortunate enough to be credited as a co-author on a paper published in the journal Cancer. My letters of rec were all from top-notch research professors, including the Nobel Prize winner. My volunteer experience is modest and my medical/clinical experience is quite light. Truthfully, the majority of my medical exposure comes from my wife of four years, who is nearing completion of her intern year as a pediatrician at OHSU.

    I applied to a number of schools, received secondaries from all of them, but did not recieve a single interview invitation. I'm already in the process of shadowing a physician and have started to volunteer in medical settings. While I know that these activites will help, I wonder if it will be enough. My question is: what else can I possibly do to increase my chances as a second-time applicant? Should I quit my current job to train as a CNA, get full-time volunteer experience, etc.? My current job isn't great (no research labs out here in Portland would pick me up when they found out I was applying to medical school and possibly available for only a year) but it pays a decent amount above minimum wage (with GREAT insurance) so I really would like to keep it if possible. Anyhoo, I'd really appreciate any advice. Thanks for your time.


    Senior Member
    15+ Year Member
    Aug 20, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    1. Attending Physician

      I think you have very good numbers, and good research experience. As far as the job is concerned, I think you need clinical experience - perhaps not necessarily as a CNA, but there are other relatively short training programs for phlebotomy, radiology tech, EMT, etc where you can get patient contact as well. Volunteer will help, but it may be worth the sacrifice to try to find a job in the medical field - I think it might raise questions about your motivations if you stay in your current job, which I assume, is not medically related. Overall, I think it would help your application tremendously to have worked clinically. A couple of other things I can think of would be to make sure your essay is well written and stands out. I would suggest getting as many people as you can to revise it, and start writing as early as you can tolerate. Finally, I'm not sure how many/which schools you applied to, but you could also try expanding the places you apply to. I imagine your first choice is OHSU since your wife will be there for the coming years -- if you applied there this year, call them up and ask them what you can do to improve your application for next year. If you didn't, you could still call them and ask what would maximize your potential for acceptance next year. Good luck!
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      Senior Member
      7+ Year Member
      15+ Year Member
      Oct 20, 2003
      You never know
      1. Resident [Any Field]
        I'm surprised that you didn't get in anywhere with your stats and research experience. Is the fact that you didn't get accepted this year due to your choices in med schools that you applied to? I mean, did you only apply to top ten schools or something?

        I worked as a CNA for a year and found it to be great experience. However, you should think about something like EMT since you are out of undergrad and already have a degree. CNA is hard work and very little money or respect is earned through doing it (not that these things should be your primary motivation). You should really try something that will challenge you intellect more. As far as volunteer experience goes, anything will help, but working with old folks looks really good. I hope this rambling helps. good luck.


        1K Member
        7+ Year Member
        15+ Year Member
        Jul 21, 2003
        Los Angeles, Calif.
          yea, i am also very confused as to why you didnt even get interviewed. there must be some other problem. maybe like the op said, you applied to top notch schools ONLY. but even with those stats, you should of heard something from them.


          i wish you better luck next cycle!!
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