Data Science to MD..starting off

Like most of you, I’m a career changer! I got my undergraduate degree in animal biology (didn’t do so well in gen chem so I convinced myself out of medical school thinking I’d never be able to compensate for the poor grade) and went into a Data Science career in silicon valley. I have my masters in statistics with a great gpa, though I’m not sure that would matter to medical schools since it’s not bio-based (although I did take bio stats and epidemiology courses!).

Since I’d like to go back and actually conquer my life long dream of becoming a family medicine or pediatrics doctor (I know, minds can change too). I’m trying to figure out where to start. I met the pre-reqs with my undergrad degree and for a brief stint taught the sciences at a small private college so I feel brushing up on the material for a year for the mcat is reasonable especially since I’m planning on still working full time because mortgage payments. I’m slightly tempted to attempt it in September since I don’t want to burn out then not do well.

It’s been awhile since I’ve volunteered at a hospital (8 years) and has been 5 since I took an EMT course. I’m planning on volunteering at the local free clinic during my off hours and try to gain enough experience to apply to schools in July 2019.

I’m wondering if this sounds like a reasonable plan, if someone has experience studying for the mcat for a year while holding a full time job and family responsibilities (how did it go, any study schedule in particular you’d recommend?), if there is anything else I should do (sign up for a biology class at the local community college?). There’s so much information out there and I feel overwhelmed with the information from the traditional pre-meds (when’s the last time I did an ec?! Can I include running my two border collies daily? hahaha). Thank you for any help and guidance!

Good for you! Awesome to hear youre pursuing what you want. Like you I’m a nontrad career changer and am still at a local community college knocking out prereqs, but I’ve done a lot of research and listened to a lot of what Dr. Gray has said so this is just my two cents. All of this stuff is indeed overwhelming at times, I totally get that, but just take things one step at a time and climb that mountain.

I can’t comment on the year of studying but 7 months is def a long enough time to study for the MCAT as I’ve been told especially since you got other things in life to take care of. Gen chem could be a class you take to show that you’re capable of acing it and shows an upward trend and any other bio class you think you could improve in would be a good idea to take, but if your cumulative and science GPA are solid then it seems best to focus on doing well on the MCAT and strengthening your EC’s, shadowing, and clinical experience. Make sure to shadow cause it’ll show the admission committees you have seen what a physician career is like and even though you work in the clinic and are probably near doctors all the time, shadowing is considered different and is necessary (I think 80 hours is the average, but there is no golden number). You don’t have to do everything and be perfect, just tack on some things you enjoy to do that involve patient care and even some other things that shows who you are. I’m trying to scribe at my hospital but I volunteer as a basketball coach and also, for a local animal shelter driving pets around to their new homes or showing them off because I love animals! Do what you’re passionate about and don’t look at these things as checkboxes (that is the biggest thing I’ve learned since joining these groups). Make sure to join the Pre Med Hangout on Facebook ran by Dr. Gray. There you’ll be able to get things answered a bit quicker, but I’m glad to see other non trads joining the path to becoming a physician.

Be careful with too long of a study period. There’s so much information to know, and there’s a good chance that you’ll start forgetting stuff that you haven’t necessarily focused on since the beginning of your studies. I think efficiency is the key, and commercial test prep is my recommendation to folks that have completed the prereqs in the more distant past or needs some quality refreshing on key points (or really to anyone that can afford it).

I had a pregnant wife (no kids at the time) and was working full time while studying for the test. I gave it about 3.5ish months of some intense studying, including most weeknights and a good chunk of hours during the weekends. That was enough for me to relearn or rote memorize most of the information I needed and short enough to retain most of it. You may need longer depending on how you can work out a study schedule, but you really should strive to find a balance between length of study and adequate comfort level with the material.

If you’ve completed prereqs more recently, then you may not need as much time to really refresh or learn new topics. For my prep for the first board exam, I had about 40 days and was about to lose my mind. I even considered moving my test up before I realized how many hundreds of dollars it would cost…