As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/
Options

Med School - GPA, alternatives (Graduate Student)

Hello everyone,

Ive recently been considering going into med school (switch of my thought of path in life) but i am a bit of a rut. Let me explain:


I am currently in my second semester of graduate study at a US university in Biology. I am a Canadian International Student.

My undergraduate GPA is quite disappointing in terms of Med School standards, a measely 3.12. I slacked off severely during my undergraduate years. I could have easily been a 3.8+ if not for a combination of my gaming enthusiasm and apathy for school :lol:. My Graduate GPA so far is 4.0 in the first semester, and am gearing to complete my thesis before january or may of 2011. If i treat graduate courses the same as undergraduate and add them together, i get about 3.3/3.4 assuming i get 4.0 the rest of the way.

Considering everything, should i make an effort to get into med school in these next 6 months (applications start around august-october)? I am severely lacking in extracurricular studies as well. My life would be packed full, MCAT, volunteering, writing the thesis, courses.

My old goal was to complete my M.Sc and then go into a PhD program then Post-Doc, etc. But these few months in graduate school has been relatively boring and i find myself lacking the great spark of interest in the things i am doing. I personally think it is mandatory for someone to have this lust for knowledge to become a good PhD :|

anyways, any comments would be great. Thanks ahead of time for the input.

Push Button / Receive Cat on

Posts

  • Options
    TheOtherHorsemanTheOtherHorseman Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    So, there are a few things that are a big factor when it comes to getting your foot in the door at a medical school during the application/interview process.

    The first, which you've already identified as an area of concern, is GPA. While your undergraduate GPA is on the low end, you're doing well in graduate school. If you can spin that newfound success into a compelling why then this isn't the huge area of weakness you'd think it is. It is relatively common for people to bolster their med school application by going on to some other post-graduate education.

    For US and Canadian schools the next big numerical concern is the MCAT. It's a pain and a half in the ass, and the biggest standardized test in your life before the 2nd year of med school and the USMLE. Buy books to prep, buckle down, and study your goose off. Take it as early as you can in the summer so that you can start your interview season as soon as possible in the fall.

    In terms of non-numerical concerns: clinical volunteer experiences. The numbers tell the med schools whether or not you can handle the work load and master the material. The clinical volunteer experiences tell them whether or not you actually give a damn about being a doctor. Shadow physicians, volunteer at clinics, do anything you can relating to medicine. The more time you put in here, and the more kinds of experiences you have, the more appealing you'll be to an interviewer and an admissions committee.

    If, at the end of this post, you're still concerned about your ability to be competitive then you have a few options. One is to wait another year. Another is to consider applying to osteopathic medical schools. Allopathic med schools are the traditional "MD" schools. Osteopathics hand out a "DO" degree which is just as good, but since it's the newer program it's much easier to get into one of their schools than an MD one. They have some different focuses in the first couple years, but after that the differences fade away and vanish. You might have seen DO's in your life without knowing.

    TheOtherHorseman on
  • Options
    SosSos Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    As far as I understand it everyone applying to medical school shadows a doctor. To really get admission's eye you have to do something out of the ordinary, set yourself apart from the pack.

    Aside from the TheOtherHorseman has got it.

    As for your original question about your possibility of getting in I would say go for it. If you really want to be a doctor why let anything stop you? You may get turned down but it's really resiliency that gets you what you want.

    Sos on
  • Options
    edited February 2010
    from what i am currently thinking, there are two routes:

    one it to stay in my M.Sc program and to eventually go Ph.D and hope my interests increase

    the other is to try to get into Med School. At the current time frame i think it may be too late, since there is only about 6-8 months. I will most likely apply the year after, if at all. In the meantime i will stack up on extracurricular activities. I suddenly have to urge to join the UN and go around the world helping people. That would set me apart a lot, i imagine.

    Does anyone have any info on UN jobs :lol:

    Push Button / Receive Cat on
  • Options
    LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    It sounds to me that you're fishing for something to interest you, because you haven't been able to apply yourself as an undergrad, you're doing better at postgrad but have decided you're bored... now you're talking about the UN... why do you even want to go to Medical School?

    Medical School is not to be fucked with, least of which is the formidable academics. Things like the amount of time it takes, how much it costs.

    You need to think long and hard about what you really want to be doing before you sign more of your life, and finances, away.

    Lewisham on
  • Options
    GeorgeWashingtonPlunkittGeorgeWashingtonPlunkitt Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    From what I've heard UN jobs, depending on your nation, are extremely competitive. I would imagine that Canada is pretty far up there on the number of applicants vs. spots available, possibly second only to the US. I don't know much about it though, so maybe that only applies to some jobs.

    GeorgeWashingtonPlunkitt on
  • Options
    KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Yeah, it is way to late to apply to med school for the 2010/2011 school year. However, it is the right time to be starting stuff for 2011/2012 school year.

    It kinda sounds like you have no idea what you want to do.

    Kistra on
    Animal Crossing: City Folk Lissa in Filmore 3179-9580-0076
  • Options
    WalterWalter Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    If you changed your mind about med school to the UN that fast you REALLY shouldn't be applying to medical school. If you don't love what you're doing you will hate your life in medical school. An average day involves lectures from 8-3, studying from 5-10 and then about 8 hours of studying Saturday & Sunday just to catch up. That's an average week with no tests. Add in little stuff like histology labs, patient interviews, small group meetings...there is no life outside of school. You will be following this schedule day in/day out for years.

    What I've noticed is that there are two types of people at my school: Students who love what they're doing and are happy, or students who hate their lives but are trapped because they're now 100K in debt. I haven't seen a middle ground. If you're not sure you will be one of the former students, I wouldn't apply.

    Walter on
  • Options
    KetarKetar Come on upstairs we're having a partyRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Walter wrote: »
    If you changed your mind about med school to the UN that fast you REALLY shouldn't be applying to medical school. If you don't love what you're doing you will hate your life in medical school. An average day involves lectures from 8-3, studying from 5-10 and then about 8 hours of studying Saturday & Sunday just to catch up. That's an average week with no tests. Add in little stuff like histology labs, patient interviews, small group meetings...there is no life outside of school. You will be following this schedule day in/day out for years.

    What I've noticed is that there are two types of people at my school: Students who love what they're doing and are happy, or students who hate their lives but are trapped because they're now 100K in debt. I haven't seen a middle ground. If you're not sure you will be one of the former students, I wouldn't apply.

    This is a little bit overblown. For my wife, med school wasn't that much worse than college when it came to taking up all her time (outside of major exam periods). You learn pretty quickly what lectures can be skipped because they never change and you can just get the notes or slides from last year, or form study groups with friends and take turns with one person attending and taking the notes, so the "Oh god, classes for 8 hours a day" ends up getting better. She had plenty of time to spend with me, and on socializing, for most of her first two years.

    Things actually got worse once she was doing clinical rotations and taking Q4 call fairly regularly. Then residency was where she would have long periods of "no life" when she'd end up with consecutive call months. Fellowship (Pulm/Critical Care) has been brutal at times thus far (I could cheerfully kill the resident who paged her 10 times the other night), and also much worse than med school for monopolizing her time.

    I do agree though that OP needs to think long and hard about this, and really shouldn't be considering applying this year. If it still appeals a month from now, sign up for some volunteering and shadowing. If that up close and personal look at what life will be like doesn't dissuade you, then start thinking more seriously about applying.

    Ketar on
  • Options
    eatmosushieatmosushi __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2010
    I'm with Ketar, fiance' is finishing up rotations now. Luckily she's going pathology, so call isn't exactly demanding, but working 8-5 day in day out in a basement through autopsy assembly work doesn't lead to any fun in the sac. :/

    eatmosushi on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC] Spun uncontrollably skyward... Driven brutally into the ground
  • Options
    TheOtherHorsemanTheOtherHorseman Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Walter wrote: »
    If you changed your mind about med school to the UN that fast you REALLY shouldn't be applying to medical school. If you don't love what you're doing you will hate your life in medical school. An average day involves lectures from 8-3, studying from 5-10 and then about 8 hours of studying Saturday & Sunday just to catch up. That's an average week with no tests. Add in little stuff like histology labs, patient interviews, small group meetings...there is no life outside of school. You will be following this schedule day in/day out for years.

    What I've noticed is that there are two types of people at my school: Students who love what they're doing and are happy, or students who hate their lives but are trapped because they're now 100K in debt. I haven't seen a middle ground. If you're not sure you will be one of the former students, I wouldn't apply.

    This is the standard line about how hard med school is, but to be honest, getting into med school is a lot harder than being in med school. In my own experience, medical school is to college as college is to high school. It's the same old grind with a few new gizmos taped on, and you have to take your old talents and skills and hone them to a new sharpness.

    I mean, I guess it varies by institution, but I was looking for a gunner-sparse environment when I went-applyin'. I still have plenty of free time. If I were to, say, have a test in four days, I'd still be going out in about twenty minutes or so, for example. Manage your time, don't become a weird Gollum-esque shut-in, and you'll do fine if you're interested in being a doctor.

    It has the added benefit of you now learning things that will directly impact your daily life for many coming decades.

    TheOtherHorseman on
  • Options
    edited February 2010
    i think people are thinking too much on the UN thing, was just an odd bulb flickering on then off.

    gathering up my options and speaking with other ppl now confirms 2011/2012 for med school and maybe a PhD application before xmas this year :o my thoughts on ways i should go anyways. Trying to do some volunteering at a local hospital on weekends and work 8 hours weekdays in the lab. 2 targets at the same time!

    Push Button / Receive Cat on
  • Options
    No Cars GoNo Cars Go Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I'm currently a 4th year medical student in the UK, from my own experiences it's really not as hard as people make it out. I can say with some confidence that I barely worked outside lectures/group work till exam periods for the first 2 years and got by.

    Saying that, I suspect medical school is harder in the US/Canada, here the programme is 5 or 6 years so we have more time to cover the material, it's also undergraduate entry (I'll be 23 on graduation) so the general maturity of the studentbody leaves something to be desired.

    Anyway, the main point of my post is, you could always consider applying here if it's not plausible to get into an American or Canadian school. We have 4-year graduate entry programmes, and I know many Canadians who study in my undergraduate programme who did previous degrees back home. The cost is roughly £12k for the first two years, rising in 3rd-5th year to £24k by the final year for internationals. Home students pay £3.5k, so for us it's a lot cheaper, but I believe you can apply for residency in the country in the 4th year and so pay home student fees. Either way, I believe our international fees aren't much more than home fees in Canada/America?

    Hope this helps,


    good luck

    No Cars Go on
  • Options
    LeCausticLeCaustic Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I'm currently finishing a masters at Indiana with the intention of applying to Medical School this summer. I applied in 2006/2007 and was waitlisted and didn't get in. It was a good thing because it made me do things to make sure medical school was the right choice. I worked for a reputable pharmaceutical company for 2 years and now I'm doing this masters (non-thesis) while doing research in clinical pharmacology.
    I'm saying this because one thing a lot of people do is apply before trying other things like they have to get in asap or they'll...die or something. Talk to doctors and they all say to make sure it is the ONLY thing you want to do. You say that UN thing jokingly, but you need to realize that you might have regrets/be depressed specifically because you will not have tried other things to see if they'd of made you happier/was the right choice. Finish your masters and seriously consider what your aim is and WHY you want to go to medical school. I can't stress the why enough because it is something a LOT of people miss. Shadowing physicians shows the reality lots of people don't see. I can't say specifically what being a doctor is like or a medical student, but I can say that after doing pharmaceuticals/shadowing doctors and pharmacists/doing research/working as a pharmacy technician/volunteering at hospitals I can say that Medical School IS what I want. I spent 4 years after college figuring this out and I'm glad I did because I didn't want to have regrets/doubts while I'm basically accumulating debt and then working 80 hrs a week with NO time to consider alternatives.


    This brings me to my second point; you need to show that you can handle the testing/studying required. It's not impossible and the dropout rate is less than 1% so it's not like you won't make it. You will probably be somewhat miserable in medical school because you're studying (which I don't view as a bad thing). I have days when I'm depressed studying for 4 exams and I have 2 projects to finish at work and I don't have 1 hour to even take a breather. I can only imagine it'll be worse in Medical School, but I know it'll be worth it. I wouldn't be committing myself at this point if I didn't want it. I would've stuck with pharmaceuticals and netted a comfortable income if I were in it for the money.


    Also, lastly, don't let money be a factor. You could easily net 100k+ working pharmaceuticals/being a PhD in a demanding market of scientific research (ie; don't expect it with a PhD in plant biology)
    I do have to ask what research you're currently doing because it could just be the topic/area you chose that is the reason.

    LeCaustic on
    Your sig is too tall. -Thanatos
    kaustikos.png
  • Options
    LeCausticLeCaustic Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    No Cars Go wrote: »
    The cost is roughly £12k for the first two years, rising in 3rd-5th year to £24k by the final year for internationals. Home students pay £3.5k, so for us it's a lot cheaper, but I believe you can apply for residency in the country in the 4th year and so pay home student fees. Either way, I believe our international fees aren't much more than home fees in Canada/America?

    Hope this helps,


    good luck

    To put it in in perspective. The most expensive medical school here (Out of state in Colorado) is over 400,000 for med school and the cheapest is approximately 250-300k. This is on top of undergraduate school that's another 50 to 100k depending on the school. You guys have it cheaper. :mrgreen:

    LeCaustic on
    Your sig is too tall. -Thanatos
    kaustikos.png
  • Options
    spacerobotspacerobot Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    There is a med school about 5 miles down the road from me, this one: http://windsor.edu/
    I've talked to a few students from there and asked them why they chose Windsor, and most of them responded "Because I couldn't get accepted anywhere else."

    I also might expect the quality of education you would receive from Windsor is similar to the quality of their website ("Medical school oriented in guaranties a position in medical school"(sic)). But hey, it's med school in the Caribbean, right? I also think it's really cheap.

    Edit: As I look through their website, I realize that it may seem like a joke, and that the school may not exist. I assure you it is a real school, and people actually do go there.

    spacerobot on
    test.jpg
  • Options
    corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    LeCaustic wrote: »
    No Cars Go wrote: »
    The cost is roughly £12k for the first two years, rising in 3rd-5th year to £24k by the final year for internationals. Home students pay £3.5k, so for us it's a lot cheaper, but I believe you can apply for residency in the country in the 4th year and so pay home student fees. Either way, I believe our international fees aren't much more than home fees in Canada/America?

    Hope this helps,


    good luck

    To put it in in perspective. The most expensive medical school here (Out of state in Colorado) is over 400,000 for med school and the cheapest is approximately 250-300k. This is on top of undergraduate school that's another 50 to 100k depending on the school. You guys have it cheaper. :mrgreen:

    That makes ~£50k of debt on graduation in the UK look reasonable. :)

    corcorigan on
    Ad Astra Per Aspera
  • Options
    BlowfluBlowflu FloridaRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    I graduated Spring 2009 and applied for the 2009 and 2010 admission cycles (US). I've gotten on a waitlist this year and got an acceptance from a Carribean Med School last year that I deffered to this year (due to cost). I hope that I can give you some helpful advice on your way to medical school!



    Before you start the cycle of applications, I'd recommend that you make 95-100% sure this is really what you want to do. You'll have to study very hard for the MCAT and invest a great deal of time and money into the whole process. Check out some medical student blogs (I'd recommend Half-MD.com and Ah Yes, Medical School), start to shadow physicians, and volunteer in the hospitals. Take a good deal of time finding out this is what you want to do. Also, realize the fact that there is a GOOD chance you'll be making less money and working more in the near future (at least in the US if Obamacare passes).


    If you still choose medicine (and I hope that you would!) after taking a good, hard look at the field, there are a few things that should help your chances. One of the weakest parts of my application is my MCAT (28R), but I've been saved by my GPA (3.71). In your case, you need to be in the 30's to balance out a weak GPA. That number you get isn't the beginning and end of your application, but it's your way of cutting through the primary and secondary applications on the way to an interview. Be sure to study your ass off for that thing, take a prep class if you feel it would help.

    Everything you turn in or complete for your applications you want to finish as early as possible. That means taking the MCAT in the spring, having your primary application materials (Transcripts, Essay, Letters of Rec., the online form) filled out as soon as they open. Send out that primary application as soon as they let you. The same holds true for any secondary application you get back: finish as soon as possible. Admissions are on a first come, first serve basis and applying later (like I've done) will hurt your chances.

    While you're studying and keeping the grades up, you need to continue to shadow and volunteer. Any activity with patient contact or health service will greatly improve your chances. Additionally, I've found that shadowing physicians greatly improved my desire to attend medical school!

    Finally, it would help you if you finished that masters before you apply (or, apply your final year if you're sure that you'll get it). You'll have more research and classes under your belt and more time to volunteer and work on the extracurricular side of applications. Plus, you'll have a longer period of time where you can have some resemblance of a life before you give that up for medical school and residency!


    Hope this helps, good luck on whatever you decide. If I were you, I'd take a lot of comfort in the fact that you'll have a pretty good backup plan (masters/Ph.D work) if you don't decide to pursue medicine!

    Blowflu on
  • Options
    LeCausticLeCaustic Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    spacerobot wrote: »
    There is a med school about 5 miles down the road from me, this one: http://windsor.edu/
    I've talked to a few students from there and asked them why they chose Windsor, and most of them responded "Because I couldn't get accepted anywhere else."

    I also might expect the quality of education you would receive from Windsor is similar to the quality of their website ("Medical school oriented in guaranties a position in medical school"(sic)). But hey, it's med school in the Caribbean, right? I also think it's really cheap.

    Edit: As I look through their website, I realize that it may seem like a joke, and that the school may not exist. I assure you it is a real school, and people actually do go there.

    Caribbean Med school is quite possibly the WORST alternative to medical school.
    Allopathic (MD)
    Osteopathic (DO)


    Caribbean
    These schools lend too much of a burden to people who go there. You may get your MD from there, but hospitals in the US will take you as a last resort. The only way I've seen people come out of there in good standing is by destroying the USMLE Step 1 and finding some amazing 3rd and 4th year clinical rotation spots. They also use a weed out system where they accept more but people drop/fail out left and right.

    Again, DO school is not even remotely bad and is on par with Allopathic schools. You have the same opportunities as an MD and, if you play your cards right, can land you in an MD residency (which is pretty much what all hospitals care about at this point).

    LeCaustic on
    Your sig is too tall. -Thanatos
    kaustikos.png
  • Options
    edited February 2010
    long pause in reply :X

    I'm currently working on an apoptotic protein. It was observed to occur in high levels in kidneys of diabetics (hypothesis!) and during development! And of course dying tissue as well.

    How does the prestige of med school influence your future residency anyways? And the future, etc etc.

    Push Button / Receive Cat on
  • Options
    TheOtherHorsemanTheOtherHorseman Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    long pause in reply :X

    I'm currently working on an apoptotic protein. It was observed to occur in high levels in kidneys of diabetics (hypothesis!) and during development! And of course dying tissue as well.

    How does the prestige of med school influence your future residency anyways? And the future, etc etc.

    If you go to a really top-of-the-line school, you'll be able to namedrop for the rest of your life, so there's that I guess. For medical schools in the United States, I think there's just this general understanding that you're more or less getting the same information no matter where you went, so which school you go to isn't a big factor. Your residency will be mostly influenced by your USMLE score and, potentially, research you've done / are doing that is relevant to that residency. Your future is thereafter influenced by your residency.

    TheOtherHorseman on
  • Options
    WalterWalter Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    long pause in reply :X

    I'm currently working on an apoptotic protein. It was observed to occur in high levels in kidneys of diabetics (hypothesis!) and during development! And of course dying tissue as well.

    How does the prestige of med school influence your future residency anyways? And the future, etc etc.

    Outside of the top 20 it doesn't really matter. Even then its not a big deal, its all boards and then prestige of your residency after that. As mentioned before, MD gets the same education as DO but its pretty difficult for a DO to get a MD residency (which is significant if you want to specialize). MD schools also have associated hospitals while most DOs don't, so they stick you in whatever hospital will take you for rotations. International MDs are the low man on the totem pole, although if you rock the boards you're still competitive. One major problem is that there is serious talk about requiring all residencies to go to American grads first and then international students get the leftovers. This is silly as 85% of international M.D.s applying for American residencies are actually American citizens, but our Dean mentioned this as a real possibility in the next four years.

    1st year American M.D. candidate right now.

    Walter on
  • Options
    darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Well, my GF is a first year med student right now at UofC (University of Calgary)

    She is 33 (and not the oldest first year by a long shot)

    You have plenty of time to make yourself look more attractive to a school.

    My GF has a masters in Englishs and some other non science related degrees, she did her MCAT and did alright on it but nothing awesome, she also didnt get accepted on her first try, but she kept at it and got in on her 3rd attempt.

    Dont be discouraged if you dont get in right away. Med Schools take a good cross section of people with very different experiences and backgrounds.

    darkmayo on
    Switch SW-6182-1526-0041
  • Options
    KistraKistra Registered User regular
    edited February 2010
    One other note, in the US be very aware of the in-state/out of state thing. A lot of medical schools reserve a certain percentage of their seats for in-state students and the expected numbers for out-of-state students can be much much higher. This information is easy to find for some schools and very hard to find for others.

    Be sure to apply to whatever your state school is (if you have one) and then mostly private schools unless you have a pressing reason to want to go to a certain state school. Also, if you went to college in a different state than you now legally reside you may get the same consideration as a resident of that state.

    Getting into medical school is something of a numbers game, so apply to more than you think you should need.

    Kistra on
    Animal Crossing: City Folk Lissa in Filmore 3179-9580-0076
  • Options
    KetarKetar Come on upstairs we're having a partyRegistered User regular
    edited February 2010
    Walter wrote: »
    long pause in reply :X

    I'm currently working on an apoptotic protein. It was observed to occur in high levels in kidneys of diabetics (hypothesis!) and during development! And of course dying tissue as well.

    How does the prestige of med school influence your future residency anyways? And the future, etc etc.

    Outside of the top 20 it doesn't really matter. Even then its not a big deal, its all boards and then prestige of your residency after that. As mentioned before, MD gets the same education as DO but its pretty difficult for a DO to get a MD residency (which is significant if you want to specialize). MD schools also have associated hospitals while most DOs don't, so they stick you in whatever hospital will take you for rotations. International MDs are the low man on the totem pole, although if you rock the boards you're still competitive. One major problem is that there is serious talk about requiring all residencies to go to American grads first and then international students get the leftovers. This is silly as 85% of international M.D.s applying for American residencies are actually American citizens, but our Dean mentioned this as a real possibility in the next four years.

    1st year American M.D. candidate right now.


    It's not difficult at all for a DO student to get into a less popular residency like Family, or Internal Medicine. Where DO students have a harder time is the most competitive programs that most MD students would have a hard time getting accepted into as well. Also, the best DO schools provide a better education than the worst MD schools, and residency programs know that.

    The primary factor will always be boards and research, though I've seen strong recommendations from big names go a long way in getting people into unexpected programs (for example, a good friend of my wife who didn't match for fellowship ended up with a spot at a top 10 nationwide hospital system from the scramble on the basis of strong advocacy from my wife's program director and then nailing the interviews the next day).

    Ketar on
Sign In or Register to comment.