aTypical Premed

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Here are my stats right now.

I realize that there are many areas that need improvement.

I'm looking for what I can do now to improve.

Thank you.


Sophomore - do not plan on taking a year off if possible

College: Good name value in Midwest
..State: IL

Major: Chemistry/Economics minor

CGPA:3.75
BCPM GPA:3.73
Major GPA: 3.8 (almost done with organic chemistry)

MCAT: _____ (Winter or spring of next school year)

Extracurriculars:

Research: One year studying the impact of HIV in cognitive abilities

Shadowing: 20 hrs (Radiology, Cardiology, Anesthesiology)
..
Volunteering: 30 hrs in ER working with techs and interacting with patients

Two scholarships won from university for academic achievement and financial need.

Intramural basketball and hockey for 2 yrs

Committee member in my dormitory for 2 yrs.
 
The GPAs are very good. Keep them that high and you're in excellent shape.

You've made a good start in many EC areas. I'd suggest that you'll want to continue the weekly ER volunteering (or similiar) until you apply in a year as 1.5 years of this is about average. For shadowing, aim for a total of 60-80 hours. You should include a primary care doc, but otherwise you already have enough variety. A year of research is about the average. Two years would open doors to the more selective schools if you want to aim high, and a publication would help you too. The sports involvement is great to see, especially with a long duration (shows passion and dedication). A dorm committee member might be included as leadership, but is sorta weak unless you take an active leadership role and convincingly discuss your initiatives and how you carried them out by delegating tasks to others, etc. If you get a chance to tutor or TA or coach, that would be nice to list under Teaching. The main thing I'm not seeing is some sort of regular nonmedical/noncampus community service. I'd try to get something going in that arena.

Leadership and strong community service (often combined) would be golden if you aim for the highly-selective research schools who aim to train future leaders in medicine (along with more research).
 
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aTypical Premed

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Thank you for your reply. I'm actually thinking about switching to a biochemistry research, which I am more interested in.

This is just a side question, but how much research experience should I have to be competitive for MSTP?

Please do continue pointing out what areas I can improve on.

Thank you!
 

J ROD

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Thank you for your reply. I'm actually thinking about switching to a biochemistry research, which I am more interested in.

This is just a side question, but how much research experience should I have to be competitive for MSTP?

Please do continue pointing out what areas I can improve on.

Thank you!
more....and bigger and better.
 
This is just a side question, but how much research experience should I have to be competitive for MSTP?
I'd say two years is the minimum. I'm not sure what they'll think if the research is done in more than one lab though.
 
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aTypical Premed

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Is it a bad idea to switch labs in general? What if your interest changes halfway into sophomore year?
 

bravofleet4

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you can switch. just don't make the decision too lightly. in fact i think more people should due to the fact that many just signed up for a lab where publication was unlikely to begin with.
 
I was struck by a recent post where someone had worked in two labs for a year each and the PI of the most recent lab told him he could not write him a Letter of Recommendation because he hadn't been there long enough. The student plans to apply in 3 months and does not have a research letter now. Lack of such a letter is considered to be a "red flag," but imagine how much more a disaster it would be if one were applying to MD/PhD programs.
 
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aTypical Premed

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I probably could get in a summer and two school years if I take one year off after undergrad. I guess this thread has become more about MD/PhD than my chance for MD. But what kind of research accomplishments, gpa, and MCAT scores are expected for MD/PhD applicants? I'm relatively new to this topic. I apologize in advance for my blatant ignorance.
 
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aTypical Premed

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I have an update.

I have volunteered for 25 more hours (55 hrs total), won a prestigious multi-year research grant, continued working in a chemistry lab, improved my cGPA and sGPA to 3.76 and 3.74, and will spend 2 hrs/wk tutoring gifted middle school students.

I'm worried about my clinical hours (among other things such as lack of leadership positions). I do have 18 weeks of school left. I can get about 130 hrs if I keep volunteering 4 hrs/week, and I hope to be able to shadow primary care doctors for 30 more hours.

I just really feel like an average applicant as I'm looking at the posts on SDN and average GPAs for medical schools, but it's kind of frustrating because I have tried my best to reach my dream of becoming a doctor all 2.33 years of college.

I have been preparing for the MCAT with the intention to apply this cycle.
Would you recommend taking a year off? If not, how should I improve my chances?
 

dragon529

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If you score well on the MCAT (and that depends on the schools you're looking to apply to) and rack up some more clinical exposure hours, then I don't see a point in taking a year off.
 

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I was struck by a recent post where someone had worked in two labs for a year each and the PI of the most recent lab told him he could not write him a Letter of Recommendation because he hadn't been there long enough. The student plans to apply in 3 months and does not have a research letter now. Lack of such a letter is considered to be a "red flag," but imagine how much more a disaster it would be if one were applying to MD/PhD programs.
I was in an Analytical Chem lab for only a semester and quickly discovered this topic was not for me. Will such a short tenure in a lab raise a red flag when I dont have a letter from my former PI?
 
I was in an Analytical Chem lab for only a semester and quickly discovered this topic was not for me. Will such a short tenure in a lab raise a red flag when I dont have a letter from my former PI?
If that was the only research experience you intend to list by the time you apply, then you aren't likely to apply to research-intense institutions which highly value a substantive experience, so I doubt it will matter.
 
I have volunteered for 25 more hours (55 hrs total), won a prestigious multi-year research grant, continued working in a chemistry lab, improved my cGPA and sGPA to 3.76 and 3.74, and will spend 2 hrs/wk tutoring gifted middle school students.

I'm worried about my clinical hours (among other things such as lack of leadership positions). I do have 18 weeks of school left. I can get about 130 hrs if I keep volunteering 4 hrs/week, and I hope to be able to shadow primary care doctors for 30 more hours.

how should I improve my chances?
If you decide to proceed with an application cycle in June 2011, since your clinical experience will still be on the light side and your nonmedical community service newly begun, I'd suggest that you continue to engage in both activities through the application year, updating schools periodically about these important ongoing experiences to hopefully sway adcomm opinions positively.

Your shadowing will be about the average with the added planned hours. Congrats on the research grant.
 
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aTypical Premed

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Thank you Catalystik, I will definitely take your advice. I'll try to get more clinical experience although I wonder what the number of hours actually means after a certain point.
 
Thank you Catalystik, I will definitely take your advice. I'll try to get more clinical experience although I wonder what the number of hours actually means after a certain point.
It isn''t the hours; it's what you got out of it. Having your activities demonstrate a prolonged period of testing medicine as a vocation is important too. Your job as an applicant is to have your Primary appeal to as many schools as possible. That's not to say you might not get in with less at some schools than I've suggested, but unfortunately, you probably won't know what schools are satisfied with less, and which expected 500 hours of patient contact (like Colorado).
 
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aTypical Premed

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Yeah I do see that. My point is that there is a decreasing marginal benefit after a certain point. And after a certain point, there is a net loss in terms of sheer number of hours and what you could have done during the hours you spend at a hospital (not if you consider med school admission as a personal gain I suppose :p)

Catalystik, once again, your point is well taken as always. Thanks for your input.
 
My point is that there is a decreasing marginal benefit after a certain point.
Maybe you need to gain clinical experience in a second venue to broaden your experience. If you are bored where you are, you are not gaining the perspectives you'll need to answer probing questions by adcomms on your patient interactions and what you've learned.