Do I Have A Chance in Heck?


I am 26 and I graduated from undergrad with a degree in English Literature in 2006 from Brown. I came to Brown knowing I wanted to be a physician, but my fear and anxiety kept me from majoring in the Sciences.

Right now, I am working as a Research Assistant with an Attending Neonatologist and since working here, I have realized that I do want to practice medicine. However, I have a great fear of being rejected my dream.

While in undergrad, I suffered from major depression that left me in a terrible heap. I was able to get through to the other side of the Van Wickle Gates, but I was left feeling mortally wounded and feeling there was no chance of having MD suffixed behind my name.

I am thankful that despite the small number of science courses I have taken, I was able to find positions in research. I have even managed to get my name on a publication in my first research job. However, nothing changes the fact that while I did manage to have a 3.2 in English Lit courses, the 3 hard science courses I took usually wound up showing only a C-worth of effort.

Did my undergraduate underperformance completely shatter any chance of a medical school career? Will there be any chance of redeeming myself and getting an interview to explain what happened while I was at Brown? I have been putting off finishing my coursework because I am too frightened of further damaging my academic record, but if I don’t continue working towards my goal I am locked in time, still pining away and dreaming of a life as a physician.

I need words of honesty, whatever form they may take.



The real question that you should be asking yourself is will you regret not trying at all.

Each academic situation is going to be different for everyone. Some people had smoother pathways into medicine while others had mountains of varying sizes to climb. There are many members on this board who are in med school or are now practicing physicians and had to overcome a lower GPA.

You have a chance as long as you are willing to endure the sacrifice.

Thank you for your fast response! I know that I will regret never trying, and that is why I continue to seek advice from my friends, family and now, this forum. I definitely know that I don’t want the door on my medical career to be closed to me forever.

So, thanks, HugzMonster.

If it helps I have found that hard sciences are easier as an adult, as I am now willing to put in some effort that I was not at 20… I don’t drink as much for one thing. Also sometimes I go 30 or ever 40 seconds without thinking of sex, and sometimes this is enough to get a problem done!

Hey Li,

I was in a somewhat similar situation to you in my undergrad, dealing with major depression and having fairly poor science grades. The most important thing is making sure that the depression has been treated, and overcome as best as possible, before embarking on a rather tough path. To that end, I’ve found Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, to be helpful. There are a few books out by Dr. David Burns on the subject that have helped me in particular.

I’ve actually spoken with Judy on the premed topic. I’m guessing she’d have the same advice for you. As far as grades, and med school requirements go, enrolling in a former post-bac program would be the way to go. There, you’d focus on just the premed requirements, plus I hear in those programs there is additional assistance with different components of the whole process. That process takes 2 years, and showing good grades there will be a massive boost to your chances, especially if the underlying reasons for you not doing well the first go around have been resolved.

As far as non-grade stuff goes, definitely continue with the research job, the publication will help. Actually staying with them through the whole post-bac process would be good, as that length of time shows commitment. Judy also recommended to me to get a volunteering gig at a hospital, to log some hours interacting with patients, etc. Finally, she recommended to get a volunteer gig working specifically with an underserved poopulation. Stanford admissions people that I’ve spoken with seem rather interested in the last bit.

I think that’s everything I wanted to say. I know it’s a very tough thing to not worry about the future, if you’ve hurt your chances at something, etc. For me, though, I feel this topic was one of the contributing factors in my own depressed times; I’m still working on letting this worry go as much as I can, being more at peace with day-to-day life. Again my number one recommendation is to get the medical concerns ironed out, especially considering that the line of work is tough. After that, everything will fall into place much easier for you.

  • Matt

Matt is giving such good advice! :slight_smile:



Thanks so much for the words of encouragement. I have been feeling very down, not depressed, just down. All of my friends who were premeds alongside me (and some who once refused to ever consider medicine!) have either entered medical school or have graduated. I am just worried that medical school will not happen for me, and I am trying not to think like that. I want to be optimistic, but it is hard.

I have even started looking at PhD programs in Child Development and Developmental Psychology. While they are not my first choice for a career path, they do follow the path of the research I am doing, which I enjoy. However, medicine is where my heart lies. When I am in the NICU recruiting moms, I can imagine myself as the overworked resident, the tired neonatal fellow and the confident attending. Ah, why can’t we just close our eyes and awaken to find ourselves MDs, if that is our life’s calling?

However, I try to remind myself that I overcame many obstacles just to get through Brown undergrad and that despite my small number of science courses and my depression, I was able to get my RA position. I try to remind myself that anything is possible, but it gets hard to see through all the fog…

Sounds like you need a good set of (fog) headlights. :slight_smile: