Mar 26, 2012
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Hey everyone,

I was hoping you all could help me figure this out. I have not had the best luck with the medical school application process. Here's my background in a nutshell:

- Went to a top-tier undergraduate school, GPA=2.93 (BCPM=2.91). The main reason it was low was due to illness. Grades went up over the 4 years.

- After undergrad, I went on to get two masters degrees (MS in bio and MPH) from good NYC area schools. GPA >3.5 for both.

- Took the MCAT twice. My scores were 28R and 31N.

- I have extensive research experience, including several papers.

- I have done community service both in college and in the NYC area.

Despite applying twice, I only had one interview in those two years, and no acceptances. I could have applied again this cycle but chose not to, because it seemed like it would have been overkill.

I know I'll have to retake the MCAT again as a result of not applying, but what else can I possibly do? It seems as though retaking classes would not do much to make a dent in my GPA. Is it worth it? The main area of concern is chem (specifically organic chem). I've heard about SMPs, but 2 masters degrees later, should I really bother tacking on another?

Should I wait a few years and gain more "real world" experience before trying to apply again, or apply sooner?

I'm not keen on applying to the Caribbean or to DO programs at this stage, but to anyone who has gone that route, were you able to match into good residency programs? If I was intent on going the surgery route, would either option allow me to enter a good residency program?

Thanks for your help.


- neurogeek
 
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theseeker4

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Hey everyone,

I was hoping you all could help me figure this out. I have not had the best luck with the medical school application process. Here's my background in a nutshell:

- Went to a top-tier undergraduate school, GPA=2.93 (BCPM=2.91). The main reason it was low was due to illness. Grades went up over the 4 years.

- After undergrad, I went on to get two masters degrees (MS in bio and MPH) from good NYC area schools. GPA >3.5 for both.

- Took the MCAT twice. My scores were 28R and 31N.

- I have extensive research experience, including several papers.

- I have done community service both in college and in the NYC area.

Despite applying twice, I only had one interview in those two years, and no acceptances. I could have applied again this cycle but chose not to, because it seemed like it would have been overkill.

I know I'll have to retake the MCAT again as a result of not applying, but what else can I possibly do? It seems as though retaking classes would not do much to make a dent in my GPA. Is it worth it? The main area of concern is chem (specifically organic chem). I've heard about SMPs, but 2 masters degrees later, should I really bother tacking on another?

Should I wait a few years and gain more "real world" experience before trying to apply again, or apply sooner?

I'm not keen on applying to the Caribbean or to DO programs at this stage, but to anyone who has gone that route, were you able to match into good residency programs? If I was intent on going the surgery route, would either option allow me to enter a good residency program?

Thanks for your help.

- neurogeek
Have you done anything to repair your GPA? Grad programs will not improve your undergraduate GPA. With a GPA under 3.0, many schools will auto-screen you out, and many more won't take you seriously.

Why are you ignoring DO, your best option to actually become a doctor? You will still need to repair your GPA to have a chance, but it will be faster if you are willing to utilize the grade replacement option at DO schools.

Do NOT consider Caribbean. You will be lucky to be able to match anywhere if you go Caribbean. DO is much, much, much better.

Get your GPA up with a year or two of retakes and upper-level science courses, getting nothing but A's. Re-take the MCAT if it expired (not sure when you took it last) and get as high a score on it as you can. Consider DO schools, the most forgiving MD schools, and SMP's. An SMP is more a try-out for med school, not just another masters degree. The point is you take med school courses and if you do well, you will have proven you can handle it despite your low undergraduate grades.

You will have to retake classes to have a real chance at med school. Going Caribbean would probably your only way to avoid this, but that makes it very, very difficult to match compared to either US MD or US DO. I would not recommend Caribbean to anyone who wants to practice medicine in the US.
 
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Hey everyone,

I was hoping you all could help me figure this out. I have not had the best luck with the medical school application process. Here's my background in a nutshell:

- Went to a top-tier undergraduate school, GPA=2.93 (BCPM=2.91). The main reason it was low was due to illness. Grades went up over the 4 years.

- After undergrad, I went on to get two masters degrees (MS in bio and MPH) from good NYC area schools. GPA >3.5 for both.

- Took the MCAT twice. My scores were 28R and 31N.

- I have extensive research experience, including several papers.

- I have done community service both in college and in the NYC area.

Despite applying twice, I only had one interview in those two years, and no acceptances. I could have applied again this cycle but chose not to, because it seemed like it would have been overkill.

I know I'll have to retake the MCAT again as a result of not applying, but what else can I possibly do? It seems as though retaking classes would not do much to make a dent in my GPA. Is it worth it? The main area of concern is chem (specifically organic chem). I've heard about SMPs, but 2 masters degrees later, should I really bother tacking on another?

I'm not keen on applying to the Caribbean or to DO programs at this stage, but to anyone who has gone that route, were you able to match into good residency programs? If I was intent on going the surgery route, would either option allow me to enter a good residency program?
An SMP is not a traditional masters that gives you a usable degree. By completing one with a 3.7+, you have the potential that your gGPA in the program can override your undergrad GPA at some schools with just one year of coursework. You compete with current med students for top grades in a paid audition to prove you can excel in necessary science-oriented academic work.

DO or Caribbean might get you to an allopathic surgery residency, but only if you get great scores in the Step I and Step II. However, there are AOA residencies in surgery also, which only DO grads can enter, where you need not be so competitive in your test-taking skills.

Should I wait a few years and gain more "real world" experience before trying to apply again, or apply sooner?
What was your exact GPA in the Bio masters?
What were your OChem grades?
What exactly is your clinical experience? Have you shadowed?
Do you think you've hit your ceiling on the MCAT score? How soon could you be ready to retake with the goal of a higher score than a 31?
 
Mar 26, 2012
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An SMP is not a traditional masters that gives you a usable degree. By completing one with a 3.7+, you have the potential that your gGPA in the program can override your undergrad GPA at some schools with just one year of coursework. You compete with current med students for top grades in a paid audition to prove you can excel in necessary science-oriented academic work.

Do you know of any in the NYC area? I'm definitely not in a position to pick up and move out of state, financially anyways. I know Columbia has a Masters in Nutrition program that many pre-meds seem to do, but I'm not sure if that's an SMP per se.

DO or Caribbean might get you to an allopathic surgery residency, but only if you get great scores in the Step I and Step II. However, there are AOA residencies in surgery also, which only DO grads can enter, where you need not be so competitive in your test-taking skills.

Don't allopathic residencies also require that all students take the USMLE Step 1 and 2? For DOs, doesn't that mean taking COMLEX and USMLE? What is the difference between an allopathic residency and an osteopathic residency?

What was your exact GPA in the Bio masters?

3.74

What were your OChem grades?

C- for I and II, B- for the lab. This was the year I fell ill.

What exactly is your clinical experience? Have you shadowed?

My clinical experience mostly comes from doing clinical research. I haven't officially shadowed any doctors though.

Do you think you've hit your ceiling on the MCAT score? How soon could you be ready to retake with the goal of a higher score than a 31?

I'd hate to think that I hit a ceiling, I'm perhaps a little too optimistic for my own good. :) I think if I really buckled down, mid-30s isn't entirely impossible. Ideally I'd like to take a class though, so far I just made do with textbooks and borrowed prep books. When I can retake the exam is another question entirely. I am working full-time, and am paying off my loans. I'd like to have that paid off, or mostly paid off, before retaking the MCAT. At the very earliest, maybe next spring or summer?


Thanks for your help!
 

slyfox

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You are probably going to want to retake ochem I and II, those classes are prereqs for med school (both MD and DO), and every medical school I know of requires a grade of C or better in prereq classes to gain admissions. Applying with a C- would get you screened against admissions at most schools
 
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Do you know of any in the NYC area? I'm definitely not in a position to pick up and move out of state, financially anyways. I know Columbia has a Masters in Nutrition program that many pre-meds seem to do, but I'm not sure if that's an SMP per se.
There is a comprehensive list of SMPs in the Postbaccalaureate Programs Forum, attn to Dr Midlife's sticky at the top. This is not my forte, so I'll leave it to others to give specific help:
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forumdisplay.php?f=71
SMPs, searchable database: http://services.aamc.org/postbac/

Don't allopathic residencies also require that all students take the USMLE Step 1 and 2? For DOs, doesn't that mean taking COMLEX and USMLE? What is the difference between an allopathic residency and an osteopathic residency?
There are allopathic residencies that accept USMLE or COMLEX. And others where you must take the USMLEs. Allo residencies are applied to via the NRMP (and a few other smaller matches for some speciaties that I don't keep track of) and osteopathic residencies through AOA. Each type of residency has its own training requirements that must be fulfilled according to the relevant governing body.

Having a good grad GPA and gBCPM opens up another possibility, which is to apply to programs that do regard the gGPA. These programs are in the minority, but you certainly should consider targeting them (read through to the end where more are listed): http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?p=10664952&highlight=matriculant#post10664952 . If you feel any of these schools is a fit (and get some shadowing done), you could even apply this year with the current MCAT score on a limited basis, and see what shakes out.

C- for I and II, B- for the lab. This was the year I fell ill.
Consider retaking the lecture portions, or at least OChem II, unless you're sure your current grades aren't a deal killer at a school you want to target. It would help if you got an A in Biochem. The decent MCAT score helps too. But I think you need a C or C+ or better for osteopathic schools, per the AACOMAS application guidelines.

My clinical experience mostly comes from doing clinical research. I haven't officially shadowed any doctors though.
Your lack of a thorough description suggests you are confident that your exposure to sick people is adequate in duration and breadth of experience. Most med schools will expect to see shadowing, so I suggest you get some before you next apply. About 50 hours is the average listed. Some DO schools will want a DO LOR. MD schools don't care what type of doc you shadow.

I am working full-time, and am paying off my loans. I'd like to have that paid off, or mostly paid off, before retaking the MCAT. At the very earliest, maybe next spring or summer?
What you have now is fine for an SMP acceptance, but if you can muster a stronger score, obviously it would be in your best interests. If you decide to wait, try to stay involved in something clinical and something that's nonmedical community service, besides the added shadowing.
 
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Gotcha. If I'm retaking the classes, does it matter where I take them? Should I take them at a university that is similar to my undergraduate school?
 
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Thanks! This is really helpful!

One question about the MCAT though: is it valid for 3 or 4 years? The last time I took it was 2009.
 
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Definitely need to get a copy of MSAR then to see what each school's MCAT policies are. Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it!
 
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