Can my unusual path hurt my chances of getting accepted to medical school?

Hi Everyone,

I am an avid Medical School HQ podcast listener, but new to this forum. I’m hoping to get some feedback on my non-trad path and advice moving forward.

I have been interested in becoming a physician practically since I could pronounce the word. As such, I worked hard in school and ultimately got accepted to a pre-health high school program. Through this program I was able to focus my coursework towards my dream of medicine by taking classes such as A&P, medical terminology, and nutrition, that I was able to earn college credit for through an agreement between the high school and a local medical school. In my junior year, I participated in a clinical, where my class would visit a dementia care facility on a weekly basis (roughly 20 hours total)and talk, play games, ect. with patients. I was also involved in a number of ECs including marching band, leading a girl scout troop, and holding leadership positions in various honor societies. In addition, I was a member of the local chapters of the Health Occupations Students of America (H.O.S.A) and Skills USA, two student run organizations that host regional and national competitions in health science and premed related events, through which I placed in both state and national competitions. The HS program culminated with taking my entire senior year course load at a community college (earning a total of 35+ college credits prior to HS graduation) while participating in a 150 hour internship I completed with my own pediatrician where I shadowed, and got clinical experience taking vitals, medical history and otherwise interacting with patients, which further motivated me toward my goal.

During my senior year of high school, I sustained a traumatic brain injury, that resulted in memory and learning issues that were not determined until after I had to withdrawn from two of the college courses.

Despite the advice, from my doctors, and cognitive therapists I was determined to begin college the following fall and not delay my progress toward becoming my dream. This resulted in an undergraduate GPA with a progressively downward trend from freshman through junior year, as the classes increased in difficulty, and I struggled to figure out how to learn and retain the information, with my new challenges. I also lost all hope of getting into medical school and turned to research as a new career option. I stayed involved on campus, where I was a resident advisor and participated in a few clubs where I held leadership positions.

By senior year of undergrad I was finally able to find a new system of learning that worked and was able to do well enough to get into the masters program at my school. I completed a research project and was back to earning all As, Bs, and even a few A+s. After graduation (B.S. in Biology, M.S. Biology with a concentration in Biotech), I took a job as a associate researcher doing translational work with a major medical school in the area. Through my nearly two years of working full time in this setting, my dream of becoming a physician has now been resurrected, as I have realized that I won’t feel fulfilled without being able to interact with patients, and direct their clinical care. Having regained my self confidence and motivation, I now feel determined to pursue medical school, and ultimately become a physician who can heal patients and provide inspiration for their resilience and ability to self advocate throughout treatment.

I know that medical schools are looking for diversity in their candidates, but my concern is that my path thus far is too unusual, and that medical schools will look at me (specifically my academic history) unfavorably. I’m also uncertain of how much of my story I should include in my application and how to include these various components. I’ve taken and passed all of my pre-reqs, at either undergrad, or grad level. I have yet to take the MCAT, (January or March 2019), but am studying hard. My GPAs are as followed: BCPM Undergrad: 3.09 Cum Undergrad: 3.26, Grad BCPM & Cum 3.65. Looking only at my last 20hrs of science coursework my UG gpa is 3.57,Grad is 3.73. I’m looking to apply to both DO and MD programs during the 2019 cycle to begin school in 2020. Is my chance of getting into medical school a long shot based on my background? Any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated. Best wishes to all my fellow non-trads and thanks for the help!

I read your post and just wanted to let you know, that you are not alone. I was born with Arnold Chiari malformation which affects my memory, have same undergrad gpa,completed a relevant MS program, and still pursuing medical degree. I’ve never desired any other career but medical doctor and it sounds the same way for you as well. Don’t give up and us nontrads keep pushing! That being said the only opinion/advice I have to offer is that I explained my situation to hometown MD school and the dean of admissions flat out told me that nontrads are more likely to be accepted by a DO than an MD program.

Hi!! Dr.Gray covered this on OPM Session 147!

Thank you,