This is my first post so I apologize about the length but I wanted to put it all out there.
I’ve always had the idea of going to med school in the back of my mind but I admit I messed up in undergrad and did not take it seriously: 2006 biology grad; cGPA 2.77
I am planning on taking the MCAT in early 2011 and hopefully applying for 2012 start. I believe I will do well on the test (what would you all say is a minimum to shoot for? – please don’t say 45)
I’m a TN (current military) and VA resident (permanent address before joining) and will likely apply to these and others (including military med school). Side question – does AMCAS allow dual residency for military?
I am very open to applying to almost any US allo school and plan on having the army pay for it and joining back up so cost of the actual med school is not a concern.
I know you are likely to say a post-bac of some sort is necessary if I don’t get in (I’d like some recommendations on which too – I glanced at EVMS maybe?) but my issue is, if were to do that, I’d have to resign my commission so before I do that I need to know if I realistically have any chance, even after that, before I put my family through that financial hardship. How much can a post-bac really help my gpa?
Some background info:
I recently completed a dual MPH/MBA (while active duty and deploying twice) with a 3.67
I am an active duty army officer currently on my second combat deployment in Afghanistan (first was Iraq). I work in the medical services as an admin/plans officer. I’ve matured a lot over the past 4 years (comes with the territory unfortunately: combat medic badge, 2x bronze stars, having friends die, etc not to mention seeing/treating all the locals in these hell holes).
I’ve volunteered almost 2,000 hours while in undergrad as EMT running hundreds of calls and am a paramedic. I plan to do more ambulance volunteering upon my return.
I did bio-chem research for 5 years and co-authored 5x nationally published manuscripts.
I’ve done hundreds of clinical hours during my training for paramedic in ERs, ORs, ICUs, etc. and shadowed the trauma center docs during deployments.
I row competitively and play with my son in my limited free time.
Medicine is all I want to do. I feel that it is my purpose and I know if I am given the chance I will succeed.
Thanks for your time
This is my first post so I apologize about the length but I wanted to put it all out there.
Wow! I just want to encourage you that medical schools do look at your “story” - that is what makes one candidate stand out next to another - and you have a stellar story. I have no doubt that you can succeed in your goal.
The question is the best route for you. Have you looked at the Uniformed Service University (I think that’s what USU stands for…)School of Medicine? Talking with someone in their admissions office might give you some helpful information.
You might look at taking some upper level science courses if not included in your MPH.
Bear in mind that in the application process, you will likely need (in lieu of a premedical committee letter), several academic letters of recommendations - at a minimum, one from a science professor, as well as one additional from a professor who can be non-science. The USU requires 2 letters from science professors and one from non-science.
Your research experience, your MPH/MBA degree with excellent GPA, your volunteer experience, your work experience, and your military background are all very strong points. I also hear in your post the passion that will help you push towards your goal.
Adding some strong grades in Organic Chemistry or upper level chemistry courses would, I suspect, help show schools that you can now excel in this area academically, if your MPH program didn’t include similar material.
Regarding what to shoot for with MCAT, I think the forum moderators could probably answer that better. I had my own goal based on MCAT score range for the schools I was going to apply to, and then did LOTS of practice tests till I was consistently scoring three points above that goal on them or more. And in fact, did score one point above my goal. That was just my strategy.
Let me wish you success in your endeavors!
Do well on the MCAT, and combined with your graduate GPA, I think you will be okay in the admissions process. Cast a wide net as Judy likes to say, meaning apply broadly.
My military background wasn’t nearly as interesting as yours (tours in Kuwait and Bosnia back in the late 90s) when I was applying to med school back in 2001 and all the admissions people wanted to talk about was my Army experiences, so I can only imagine that your interviews will be a Q&A about your military experience along with a few questions about why medicine. I didn’t find the interview process nearly as painful as a lot on traditional medical school applicants find it (such as you read over on SDN) because it was just a conversation to me.
I left the Army in 2000 to pursue medicine. I was a math major as an undergrad, so had to go back for a one year post-bacc to get the rest of the pre-reqs I needed. I also took the MCAT that year, then had a one-year “glide” year during which I applied to med school (you have to have all of your pre-reqs and MCAT prior to applying in June/July).
I applied to both civilian schools and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). Since I was an academy grad, I decided that I wanted to see how the other half (aka civilians) lived and went to a civilian school. I was also VERY limited geographically as my husband was stationed in Maryland and with his job it was the ONLY place he could be stationed to finish out his career.
I also had both the Army and Air Force Health Professions Scholarships (HPSP). I decided to go into the Air Force because I ultimately want to do aerospace medicine and will be entering active duty this summer.
I’ve thrown a lot out there. Let me know what other questions my ramblings may have prompted.
When applying to medical school your are building a picture of yourself showing how all the pieces of the application support that image. You need a concise, coherent, and compelling application narrative.
I was also reading your stuff on SDN where there was alot of negativity. Personally I agree with tec and kate429 that you make an intensely compelling candidate. Perhaps a little post bacc, but more importantly a good MCAT score and I think you will get into a decent MD school.
I also understand your reluctance to consider DO. Please give us your picture of the “bias” against in the military. Unlike SDN, I think here we can discuss this without calling in an air strike.
remember non-traditional implies atypical, and take what we have and work with it You, sir, have much to work with. Maybe unconventional warfare would be a good analogy. I think your story is an force multiplier for a medical school application.
That is all
I’d like to thank you all for the encouragement. I realized my gpa was a hindrance but I was looking for constructive ideas, not bashing my choices like SDN. I’m glad I was directed here and will be coming here for advice
I really have nothing against DO. I know plenty of DOs I would let treat me before some MDs I know. I view it just like some students prefer traditional learning, others prefer problem based. I see allopathic vs osteopathic the same way.
I did some quick checking and if I did a full year of A’s (very difficult in itself I realize), I could raise my GPA above 3.0.
I will try to contact some admission personnel to find their screen out numbers.
I suppose my next course of action is to try to find out if I’ll be allowed to take some classes full time or have to resign for 2 years (post-bac plus glide/applicant years) and look into various post-bac programs.
I wouldn’t worry so much about trying to increase your undergrad GPA. It is what it is. Show the admissions committees that you can handle upper level science courses, as your performance in those now will more likely reflect how you will do in med school. Ultimately when you do your AMCAS application, your grades will be divvied up into the bio/math/chem (science) part and the “others”.
As for resigning, I had to resign because I needed four classes that required labs and couldn’t do them with my deployment schedule. It was a calculated decision that my husband and I made (to decrease our income by over half).
- tec Said:
As for resigning, I had to resign because I needed four classes that required labs and couldn't do them with my deployment schedule. It was a calculated decision that my husband and I made (to decrease our income by over half).
I fully concur with Dr. Tec on this. Focusing on your original GPA is like trying to fight battle that you have already lost. Again, like unconventional warfare, bring the battle to them. Getting a year or two of advanced science and/or redo of pre-reqs, whether in a formal postbacc or a informal do-it-yourself would be what you need. Adcoms see post-bacc grades both separate as a line item and rolled into other grades. So the schools will see the improvement. that and a stellar MCAT and will be calling you doctor.
BTW, for all the work I have been doing with and for osteopathic admissions, I still have almost a visceral desire for MD. Must be the neurotic jewish son in me hearing my mother, may she rest in peace, saying "Osteopathy, your messhuggae"
One reason that DO is popular with the non-trads is their admissions mechanics that allow grades from repeated courses to replace the original bad grades
…and allowing graduate school grades to be averaged in with undergraduate courses in calculating overall gpa and science gpa… that helped me a LOT!
BTW, after looking at data on MD school I think they high averages are very much skewed by a declining applicant population and the perception that only the super gunners which leads to many students self-selecting out. This leads to an increasingly homogeneous applicant pool of high GPA and MCAT and really makes it seem like they don’t take anyone else. My point while it is certainly difficult to get into MD, I think it has taken on almost a mythical level of near impossible odds. The current data suggests otherwise where in terms of applicants per seat, MD had a 2.2 ratio while DO had a 2.7 ratio. Yes, it was more competitive to get into DO school last year than it was MD.
I think any non-trad candidate who can show recent soild academic work and good MCATs will get a interview and a good shot at acceptance