orthomyxo

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After a few years of doing other things, I've figured out that medicine is definitely what I want to do. My problem is, I'm totally lost when it comes to figuring out what aspects of my application to work on first. Apologies in advance for the forthcoming novel.

I graduated in 2013 and my cGPA is somewhere around 3.5, sGPA probably a little higher. I have a number of less than stellar grades as a result of being young and dumb, e.g. poor time management, an overloaded schedule, or a combination of both. Something like one D in a sophomore lab course and maybe 3 or 4 Cs (one junior year, a couple senior year when I was dumb enough to take 20 credits). I have no idea if I should be trying to retake courses or looking into special master's programs.

During undergrad I worked a couple part-time jobs and did some clinical volunteering at a community hospital (maybe ~100 hours, not sure). So EC-wise I'm looking pretty weak, at least at that time.

After graduating, I worked without pay for a year doing kidney research ~25 hours/wk in one of the nation's best hospitals. No publications (yet....could potentially be second author when/if my project is finished by someone else) but overall it was a good experience. At this same time I worked a night shift ~30 hours/wk at a DNA sequencing lab and also a weekend job ~16 hours/wk at a pharmacy. I did all this for a little over a year and then did in-vivo medical device research for a little over a year.

So what am I doing now? I work with a Mohs surgeon at a dermatology practice and absolutely love it. Lots of great hands-on experience taking vitals, assisting with surgeries and repairs, suture removals, etc. And I also work with a regular dermatologist in the same practice one day a week doing general medical assisting/scribing. I plan to stick around for a while and will probably have well over 2000 hours of clinical experience by the time I apply.

So I guess my question is, what should I be trying to do right now?
My job is full-time so I can't really go crazy with any one thing. Do I study for the MCAT? Do more volunteering? Retake some courses? I really have no idea. I plan to apply to DO schools unless people think I actually have a shot at MD.
 
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etp123

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You should probably retake any pre-reqs you have a C or below in. A lot of schools require you to have a C or better in basic sciences (ex. 1 yr gen chem, 1 year bio, etc...) so work on that if you need to and nail the MCAT. Your GPA doesn't rule you out from MD either, and depending on your MCAT you have a shot at MD. If you're not sure, always helpful to try and get in contact with adcoms from a few schools you're interested in to see what they think of your situation.
 
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I don't see why you can't apply to MD if your cGPA is 3.5 and sGPA is higher than that, especially your state medical school. I would focus on doing well on the MCAT and I think you are solid.
 
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orthomyxo

orthomyxo

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You should probably retake any pre-reqs you have a C or below in. A lot of schools require you to have a C or better in basic sciences (ex. 1 yr gen chem, 1 year bio, etc...) so work on that if you need to and nail the MCAT. Your GPA doesn't rule you out from MD either, and depending on your MCAT you have a shot at MD. If you're not sure, always helpful to try and get in contact with adcoms from a few schools you're interested in to see what they think of your situation.
I actually got an A or A- in most of the pre-reqs, except for I believe a C+ in organic I and B+ in organic II. One C in biochem lab and the D in microbiology lab (A- and A in the lecture portions, respectively). C+ in random elective and C in random biology course I took just for the credits. So I guess that's what has me worried. If you go by the actual number, my GPA is decent. But if you look at my actual grades it's basically lots of high ones with a small handful of low ones.

And the issue with retaking is that I have a full-time job so most likely I'd only be able to retake one course at a time. Most likely at a CC or online due to my limited availability. Working part-time is not an option at this point.
 
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Blanky

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Lots of people have worked and undergone their entire education. You need a solid MCAT and ECs.
 

esob

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With a strong MCAT you will be fine, so that should be your focus. Grades/MCAT 99%, Everything else 1%. Are you able to move anywhere for med school? You say you "can't go crazy" because you work full time but have you figured out how you will live for 4 years of medical school, because you won't be able to work during that time.
 
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orthomyxo

orthomyxo

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With a strong MCAT you will be fine, so that should be your focus. Grades/MCAT 99%, Everything else 1%. Are you able to move anywhere for med school? You say you "can't go crazy" because you work full time but have you figured out how you will live for 4 years of medical school, because you won't be able to work during that time.
I say that because I typically work 10 hours a day minimum (but potentially 12+ hours) plus ~1 hour commute, etc. so by the time I'm home I have maybe 2-3 hours of possible studying time before I need to go to bed.
 

Blanky

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4-5 days a week @10-12 hour shifts you should still have 2-3 days off
 
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orthomyxo

orthomyxo

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4-5 days a week @10-12 hour shifts you should still have 2-3 days off
Yes but it's also important to have a life outside of MCAT prep...Not to say I won't take advantage of that time but I'm not going to study for 8 hours a day on my days off.
 

esob

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Yes but it's also important to have a life outside of MCAT prep...Not to say I won't take advantage of that time but I'm not going to study for 8 hours a day on my days off.
Then hopefully you are a genius or are not interested in MD b/c you will need a high percentile to go with your GPA if you want to be competitive for MD and you won't get there without extensive study. The whole process is, at least in part, designed to weed out people who aren't willing to live like savages, at least for a period. There are ofc the few rare geniuses who can study for a few hrs per day and score high on everything but that is the exception. Browse through the MCAT forums and see the amount of prep the truly high scorers put in. All the EC's and research in the world won't replace an average MCAT and sub-average (at least for MD) GPA.
 

etp123

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I like to think of it like, if you take it seriously and work your ass off for 3 months, get a great score, it'll be worth it. What's 3 months sacrifice of time in reward for getting a great score and helping you achieve your dreams? Not saying you should completely shut yourself in, do take a day to just relax and maybe do light review, but maximize your time.

Do some review, really familiarize yourself with the test, and take a sample to see how you stand. If you're much above the average, that's awesome. But if not then it may be wise to start really dedicating more time to this very important test. If you end up needing to, maybe you could ask about cutting your hours just a tad so you can have more time for the MCAT?
 
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