advice re. admission for BSc honors graduate


I’d like some advice as to how to proceed re. preparing for the admission process.


I am a 37 yr old woman with a BSc degree in molecular biology, CGPA was 3.61

(finished in 2001). My degree is an honors degree(for my university) which requires more course hours and an individual research term (in which I received an A+). MCAT scores were 36Q. I also received a National Sciences and Engineering Research Grant (NSERC), did research in a lab part time for two years, and also TA’d 13 courses for the department. During this time I worked my way through school with a baby, and also supporting a husband (who could not work at the time).

I want very much to go to medical school; I tried admission in 2001 and was rejected without even an interview(in Canada); talked to the advisor and was accordingly advised that (at the least) I did not have enough volunteer experience. At that time I did not do the correct thing and keep re-applying (I became depressed from this, and quit like an idiot). Now here I am freshly turned 37 (today), and I realize that in order to be at all happy/fulfilled career-wise, I need to finally accomplish what I set out to do in the first place. (and now that my daughter is older, I can actually volunteer, but I don’t think this was necessarily the problem in the first place). I do not do this for any reason other than the fact that science, and particularly the study/practice of medicine is what I find most fulfilling and I believe that I would make a very dedicated and good doctor. (My mother is an MD and I am aware of the dedication etc. that one must have. Also, I do not care much for any other type of work.)

I know that my MCAT scores are too old (hopefully I am not?!); what else should I do to ‘upgrade’ my status? I have thought of taking a Masters or PhD, but more as a means to an end rather than for the thing itself. (I like research, but do not necessarily want to do that exclusively for the rest of my life, as a back-up plan in case, as I love the idea of a clinical focus and treating patients.)Also, this would add on even more years before I can apply.

Could someone please give me some advice?

Are you still in Canada? Applying to Canadian medical schools? I think we have a couple of Canadians in our group. Presse who has just finished his second year of med school in Quebec, and LSimpson who I think is still in the application phase. They might be able to guide you for that.

As a general response…I would definitely take the MCAT again because the other one expired…prep well and you should do well. Also, you need to concentrate on those areas that were the advisor mentioned. If volunteering was insufficient, you need to concentrate on that. By reapplying but not changing your application, it shows a lack of flexibility.

From everything that I have read, getting into a Canadian medical school is particularly hard due to a very limited number of available medical schools (at least in ocmpared to the US), and a very competitive applicant base.

Best of luck to you! And Welcome to OPM!!!

Thanks for your advice; I am definitely going to retake the MCAT (It’s strange, but I cracked the old texts yesterday night/middle of the night, and fell in love immediately again, as usual). Chasing this dragon is my dream, and I’m going to make it reality.

Thought long and hard last night; despite what I said in my post, thinking about taking a PhD (in immunology, as favorite) and maybe transferring after a few years into an MDPhD program; I know it’s harder to get into, but I think this is my best shot, especially since I am in love with the subject matter anyways!!! and will be totally miserable if I don’t get into science in some way (and am never miserable doing science). My ideal practice would be like a prof I had in a course in medical microbiology and infectious diseases; he had 1/2 clinical and 1/2 research practice (I would like to specialize anyways).

I figure you only live once, so keep chasing the dragon…never give up.

Anyone else have some advice? Please…!

I am in real need of it, I think. (Hope my first post didnot sound too obnoxious, as I read it later (looking for replies) and somehow it did, despite the fact that that is not my way, haha).

I think that is a great idea! My backup plan if I don’t get into a medical school that I plan to apply to next year, I am going to do a one-year Masters in Aging and Neuroscience, and reapply. Somehow or the other, I know that I, too, want to be involved with science, whether it is in the practicing, clinical role or in an educational role.

Best of luck!

Hi Cassa

I am a Canadian and quit work last year to go back to school to fulfill my dream of being a doctor. Like you, I tried once and did not get any interviews from Canadian schools. This was quite a while ago though when schools were reducing seats and quite frankly, my GPA / MCAT was attrocious. Yours look pretty good. Like Kriss suggested, you MCAT is probably “outdated” now so that and volunteer work will probably be your main “short term requirements”. Can you consider US schools? If so, you will need to add in some physician shadowing, which given your mum is an MD, shouldn’t be too hard.

As your degree isn’t that old and your grades are pretty good. I like your idea of a post grad degree. I would perhaps focus on a masters (shorter time line) so you apply within the next couple of years. I would also consider getting someone to advise you on the application process. I couldn’t find anyone at a university around Toronto to actually help me so I decided to invest in a professional advisor based in the US (you’ll see her post on here sometimes - Judy Colwell). It may have been that something in your previous application didn’t resonate with the admissions committees, so having someone help you put forward the best application you possibly can may be all you need (besides new MCATs and volunteering).

BTW - you’re not too old! I’m 43, Presse (who is in U of Sherbrooke med school - 3rd year) is in his 50’s, and there are many others on the boards who are in their late 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who are pursuing their dream (some further along than others).

I hope that helps.

Feel free to ask lots of questions. This is a great resource and it really helps keep your motivation up.


Hi Lynda,

Thanks! for the reply; I am so glad to have a resource to go to, where we can help each other out re. advice and such. I consider myself lucky to be a beneficiary of this site and the people involved with it.

I would consider any US school for sure (or anywhere else in the world where I can get proper accreditation), and will definitely take the advice re. volunterring and shadowing. plan is (currently):

  1. get into grad school for next Sept (2010) by being active starting right now researching labs and what topics I’d be interested in. Can either be a Masters (which may be converted into a PhD) or PhD itself. (work in the interim between now and next Sept.)

  2. Apply mid-master’s or mid-PhD. If I do not get in then, then continue with the PhD. Also investigate transferring into MDPhD program.

  3. If the above does not work, apply post-PhD.

  4. Volunteer and shadow as much as possible, and always try to get to know more people in the field (which I love to do anyway). I believe contacts can make a difference, and it’s great to know great people from your intellectual community (After all, where would science or even humanity be if we did not collaborate?).

  5. Stop beating myself up mentally, as I’ve been doing for way too long now. I’ve been the primary person getting in my own way and wasting my own time.

    Some of the stories I’ve been reading are very inspiring - thanks to you all.