Medical What should be my plan moving forward?

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TheBoneDoctah

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Hi all,
I just graduated from a state university, and I'm planning on taking two gap years. I need guidance with my plan and appreciate the help.

My Stats:

Major - Biomedical diagnostics.

I graduated with a 3.4 - 3.5 cGPA, and a 3.25 - 3.35 sGPA. I have had several clinical research experiences throughout most of college, one and a half semester's of bench research (My lab shifted to remote literature review work during this pandemic mid semester), and I'm working on a literature review that will be submitted to be published this year.

I have 90 -100 hours of shadowing, and I'm still looking to do more shadowing over the next year. Also, I have experience volunteering in an ED, and in the community.

I have not taken the MCAT yet, and I am looking to take it this year.

My clinical contact hours are about 650 - 750 combining research, shadowing, and volunteering in the ED. Additionally, I believe I had decent extracurriculars in college, and I competed in athletics.

I plan on going through a committee evaluation over the next year.

My Plan:
I want to raise my GPA in order to apply to both DO and MD schools. I cannot afford a formal post-bacc or a SMP, so I am looking to do a DIY post-bacc. I did not get any C's in the prerequisites, so I am hesitant to retake those courses.

1. My top priority is to do good on the MCAT, and take it in September and If I have to, again in January.

2. Second, I want to take courses at either UCLA or Harvard extension school online, and possibly in person depending on COVID-19

3. After spending the summer taking a decent number of courses and taking the MCAT, I want to become a clinical research assistant for the next two gap years. I plan on potentially taking one to two courses at a time during this full time employment, and if I am not satisfied with my MCAT score, I will continue to study outside of work.

4. I would like to volunteer during my summer of studying/taking classes, and carry the volunteering into my work schedule in the fall.

This is a lot, so thank you for your time!

Questions:
1. I believe the MCAT should be my #1 priority at the moment over boosting my GPA, is that correct?

2. What courses should I take in my DIY post-bacc? I think I should aim for Anatomy, Pathology, and other medical science courses.

3. Should I have a GPA goal in mind such as a 3.6? Or is it more important for me to maintain a 4.0 upward trend moving forward?

4. Are there any solid extension/online schools that any of you know about apart from Harvard and UCLA?

5. Is this a solid plan, and are there any obvious faults or missing aims I should add?

Again, thank you very much and I appreciate the help.
What is your end goal? Do you care about MD or DO? If not, if you do decent on your MCAT, you don't NEED to do all of this. You would be ok now (pending a good MCAT score) to apply to DO schools. Yes, your science GPA is low, but with a solid MCAT and an "ok" cGPA, I think you would still get interviews. Two gap years is a lot of time, stress, effort, and money (lost salary, courses, etc) if you can start sooner.

If you are dead set on going MD (which you said you would apply to DO so it doesn't sound like that), then you would need to raise your GPA for sure AND crush the MCAT, AND get some more volunteering experiences.

What is your volunteering in? Do you have volunteering helping the less fortunate?

Onto your questions...

Yes, you need to do well on your MCAT to overcome your lower GPA. Refer to my above whether you should actually take the gap or not.

For your DIY post-bac, your science GPA is low and you need to prove that you can handle medical school level courses, so I would take upper-level science courses and you need to ACE them. If you screw this up by getting lower than an A, your chances are dwindling. This is high stakes here.

If applying MD, a 3.6 would be a good GPA, but you still gotta crush your MCAT. You are fine for DO.

Why do you need to take courses at UCLA/Harvard? Your goal is to get A's in your courses. I went to UCLA for undergrad and can tell you it's NOT easy getting a high GPA there. I am not sure how the extensions work, but if they are UCLA students, I am not sure I would go this route.
 
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Agreeing with @TheBoneDoctah : I only read that your goal is to get into medical school, not to become a physician or a health care provider. There's a ton of information that I guess you've read on the path, but you haven't said anything about why and what motivates you. The MCAT is one of the last things you need to concern yourself with if you don't have the early evidence of demonstrated passion and commitment down first. You need to talk to your advisor to know very clearly what the committee wants from applicants that they highly recommend since you want the strongest letter possible given your circumstances when it comes time to put up your materials for application. You need to know early if they will be your ally or you need to find and establish a strong relationship with others who will write you those references you will need.
 

tantacles

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Thank you both so much, and I appreciate taking the time to put this into perspective.

@TheBoneDoctah My end goal is to become a specialist in pediatrics. My community volunteer experience that I've enjoyed the most, and will continue during my gap year, is mentoring high school students. I have also volunteered at a local YMCA. In short, I'm passionate about both children's health and well-being, and medicine. This is part of why I want to pursue this career, including several other factors that come into my decision that I've written about in my personal statement.

I want to do more shadowing this year to determine which schools I am leaning towards more. I certainly want to continue with volunteering.

@Mr.Smile12 I especially agree with you in regards to getting clear expectations, and having communication with the committee. I believe I have established good relationships with my professors who have written LORs for me. I definitely need to keep in touch with the committee throughout the year.

@TheBoneDoctah I certainly would prefer to only take one year off, but from my understanding if I apply in Spring 2021, the earliest I could matriculate would be in the fall of 2022. Am I incorrect? Also, I agree with you as far as school choice. UCLA seems prestigious and affordable, but as I have done some more research some local universities offer the same courses.

I agree with you, this is high stakes, but I believe in myself and I have done better later in college. If I were to decide going the DO route, would you suggest for me not to do my DIY post-bacc, and rather to just focus all in on the MCAT?

Thank you again!

If pediatrics is the only thing you feel like doing, then you can relax a little. It is one of the least competitive fields to match into, and fellowships are generally not competitive. Your goal right now needs to be to kill the MCAT. If you do extremely well on the MCAT, you have a good chance at MD schools, and an excellent chance at DO schools. You don't necessarily need to retake classes, and I would say that taking them at a prestigious institution is no better than taking them at a less prestigious institution. You just need to get more A's.

If you apply in summer 2021, you are correct in saying that you will matriculate fall of 2022. And again, if DO is ok for you, you do not need to retake any courses. You simply need to do well on the MCAT. If you do truly excellently on the MCAT (let's say 515+), you may even have a shot at MD schools. So go all in on that. If you can take it at the end of the summer so you know where you stand, do it.
 
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Hi all,
I just graduated from a state university, and I'm planning on taking two gap years. I need guidance with my plan and appreciate the help.

My Stats:

Major - Biomedical diagnostics.

I graduated with a 3.4 - 3.5 cGPA, and a 3.25 - 3.35 sGPA. I have had several clinical research experiences throughout most of college, one and a half semester's of bench research (My lab shifted to remote literature review work during this pandemic mid semester), and I'm working on a literature review that will be submitted to be published this year.

I have 90 -100 hours of shadowing, and I'm still looking to do more shadowing over the next year. Also, I have experience volunteering in an ED, and in the community.

I have not taken the MCAT yet, and I am looking to take it this year.

My clinical contact hours are about 650 - 750 combining research, shadowing, and volunteering in the ED. Additionally, I believe I had decent extracurriculars in college, and I competed in athletics.

I plan on going through a committee evaluation over the next year.

My Plan:
I want to raise my GPA in order to apply to both DO and MD schools. I cannot afford a formal post-bacc or a SMP, so I am looking to do a DIY post-bacc. I did not get any C's in the prerequisites, so I am hesitant to retake those courses.

1. My top priority is to do good on the MCAT, and take it in September and If I have to, again in January.

2. Second, I want to take courses at either UCLA or Harvard extension school online, and possibly in person depending on COVID-19

3. After spending the summer taking a decent number of courses and taking the MCAT, I want to become a clinical research assistant for the next two gap years. I plan on potentially taking one to two courses at a time during this full time employment, and if I am not satisfied with my MCAT score, I will continue to study outside of work.

4. I would like to volunteer during my summer of studying/taking classes, and carry the volunteering into my work schedule in the fall.

This is a lot, so thank you for your time!

Questions:
1. I believe the MCAT should be my #1 priority at the moment over boosting my GPA, is that correct?

2. What courses should I take in my DIY post-bacc? I think I should aim for Anatomy, Pathology, and other medical science courses.

3. Should I have a GPA goal in mind such as a 3.6? Or is it more important for me to maintain a 4.0 upward trend moving forward?

4. Are there any solid extension/online schools that any of you know about apart from Harvard and UCLA?

5. Is this a solid plan, and are there any obvious faults or missing aims I should add?

Again, thank you very much and I appreciate the help.
1) Why not both?
2) What classes should one take in a DIY post-bac??? Things that mimic a medical school curriculum!
Anatomy
Biochem
Bioinformatics
Biostats
Cell Bio
Developmental Biology or Embryology
Histology
Immunology
Med Micro OR Bacteriology and/or Virology
Molecular Bio or Genetics
Neuroscience or Neurobiology
Parasitology (if offered)
Pathology
Physiology
Tumor or Cancer Biology

3) 3.7+
4) Don't do online.
5) Good plan
 
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TheBoneDoctah

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I would just apply to DO schools without doing a post bac if you are cool with DO.

Also, pediatrics and peds plastics are COMPLETELY different in terms of competitiveness. Peds is one of the easiest specialties to get into and plastics is one of the toughest.

If you are wanting to do plastics, I would try for MD for sure.


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tantacles

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@tantacles My dream is to become a pediatric plastic surgeon, but the pediatric infectious disease specialty also interests me. Another factor that plays into my pathway is that I will likely be applying to the military HPSP.

So regardless you think I should still take upper level medical science courses, such as pathology, anatomy, and pharmacology? I understand not retaking the prerequisite science courses, and going all in on the MCAT.

If so, should I take courses listed as undergraduate instead of graduate? I'm not sure if it matters but, AACOMAS includes graduate GPA separate from undergraduate and post-bacc combined cumulative GPA. Also, my AACOMAS sGPA is slightly lower because they do not accept math courses as science courses.

Thank you!

just to let you know, these are two different pathways with very different levels of competitiveness.

For pediatric ID, you would do a pediatric residency for three years followed by a pediatric ID fellowship. This path is not competitive and is easily achievable as a DO.

To become a pediatric plastic surgeon, there are two pathways.

1. Do a general surgery residency followed by a plastics fellowship followed by pediatric plastics fellowship. General surgery can be quite competitive, and plastics fellowship adds another layer. I am not familiar with pediatrics plastics fellowships at all. This would be very difficult to achieve as a DO but definitely reachable for an MD.

2. Do an integrated plastic surgery residency followed by pediatric plastics fellowship. Integrated plastic surgery is one of the most competitive specialties, so not only would you need to be at an MD school, but you would also need to be at the top of your class, and even then you might have difficulty matching.

I’m concerned that given your initial academic performance, going into a highly competitive field might not be realistic. Think about how you would feel if you spent all of this money trying to get into an MD school and didn’t when DO school was achievable with just a great mcat score.
 

TheBoneDoctah

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@TheBoneDoctah and @tantacles , thank you for this information. I need to take time to weigh out my options. Regardless of what I decide, I need to focus the majority of my time to the MCAT.


Thank you all for your input. It has helped me put this into perspective.

You got this. Good luck in your decision.


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