geographic limitations and your spouse's career

Has anyone had any success targeting specific med schools for admission?
My husband wants to work for the state department and recently found out he passed the foreign service written exam. Although there are still a few more hurdles to clear, it was very good news and major step on the way to his dream career. We currently live in Boston, however we will be moving to Washington, DC next May so he can complete an intership for his masters degree and then begin a position either in the state department or with some other branch of the federal government. In order for him to live his dream careerwise he needs to be in the DC area, and I like the DC area, but I worry about prospects for medical school.
It doesn’t seem very realistic to apply to 12 different schools up and down the east coast knowing he’ll be tied to the DC area. We’ve discussed spending the years apart, but separating into two households seems very extreme especially given the fact that we’ll only be a year into our marriage. That being said Georgetown and GWU are very competitive universities and my stats match their ranges. I was wondering if anyone has ever called a school, for example in my case GWU, and said ‘i need to go to your school, tell me what to do in the next year to improve my credentials’ and had it actually work out that they were accepted at that school. I was considering Georgetown’s SMP as they give some of their students spots at Georgetown, but it’s a lot of money and I’m just not sure of the right approach.
I’m sure many of you have had this issue, and sometimes not dealing just with spouses, but with kids too. How do you handled the process when you’re geographically limited? How do you both have your dream career? unsure.gif

I needed to stay in the Baltimore/DC area in order to stay co-located with my husband. I applied to 6 schools (Maryland, Hopkins, Georgetown, GWU, USUHS and Vanderbilt). Near Nashville is where my in-laws live and somelace my husband could have moved if I needed him to change positions withing his career field (which he was willing to do), so it was the the one out-of-area school I applied to.
I thought that it may have been a help when interviewing because the schools knew that I was very serious about their particular school versus them being ust one of a slew of schools on my list. Every interviewer brought up my being married and I was very upfront about the importance of being co-located with him. However, all of that said, you must still be a competetive applicant for that school.
Hope this helps,

I didn’t call GW or Georgetown ahead of time, but at my interviews I said that I needed to stay in the Washington area due to family commitments, and that I was determined to make it work. Dunno if I came off arrogant - I don’t think so. There is a little cross-town rivalry between the two schools, so when it came out in the course of my interviews that they were the only ones to which I was applying, each asked me which I’d choose if I were accepted to both. I said that honestly, I couldn’t be sure because there were strong points to each school, that I would probably come back and spend more time at each place trying to make a decision.
Both schools waitlisted me so maybe that wasn’t the best answer to that question! tongue.gif
GW’s materials say that they give a slight preference to people “from the Washington area.” I know that when I am interviewing candidates for GWU, I like to hear a lot of enthusiasm about Washington, not just typical enthusiasm for the school. (I mean, if you are not enthusiastic about the school why are you there for the interview? but that’s another subject)
Hope that helps!
Don’t discount Howard, either. I was intimidated by their strong emphasis on “underserved communities,” and as an upper-middle-class white girl, figured they wouldn’t be interested in me so I didn’t apply. I should have - despite what you’ll read on, it’s a perfectly good med school and a strong program. (Of course Natalie Belle, M.D. is a pretty good advertisement for Howard - I see this is your first post but you’ve been an OPM member for awhile; if you’re not familiar with Natalie you need to check out some of what she’s written here.)
A few more thoughts: one thing you could do is live between Washington and Baltimore, so that you could apply to U.Md. and Hopkins. I thought about this but currently live in the northwest suburbs of Washington so downtown Baltimore is over 1-1/2 hours from here, that would be nuts! I know someone who lives in Columbia, MD who’s commuting to GW.
Also in the “split the difference” category, although it’s a little more of a reach - live in the “exurbs” of Washington, say Warrenton, and your husband could commute to State and you could drive south to Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. I kinda cringe as I write that, it’s pretty far, but who knows what you’re game for? So I’ll throw it out there!
Finally, check into Virginia Commonwealth University - Medical College of Virginia. Their home base is Richmond, but they are currently placing students for clinical rotations in northern Virginia, and I’ve heard somewhere that they are looking into expanding to have a full-fledged medical campus up here. Under the current arrangement, you’d spend two years in Richmond but the remainder of the time in greater Washington. But it may be that they’ll be doing pre-clinical stuff here too, I don’t know.

You’ve already gotten some excellent replies from members in the same geographic predicament as you, so I’ll just say, “I know how you feel!”
My husband and I are currently struggling with a similar problem. You might have seen my Seattle relo’ thread. I’m applying to med school while he is getting multiple offers to come out to Seattle, is currently working in CA, and we live in Texas!
It’s quite a predicament, but one that can be handled. If DC is definitely where you have to be, apply to all schools in the area that could possibly work. There’s a chance you may have to reapply a second year if it doesn’t work the first time, but that’s a chance you need to be willing to take. Heck, there are no guaruntees in this process!
We’ll all keep a positive thought for you! Good luck!

Proceed cautiously, for there is no guarantee. When I was just at the thinking stage of this endeavor, I talked to my state school, and I also stressed that I wanted to stay in this area. I asked them what I would need to do to get into their post-bac program, never mind the medical school. They were very encouraging and I followed their advice to the T, but I still did not get in. I even applied a second time after receiving more advice from them, still rejected – and that is with a 3.8 GPA.
My premed advisor advised me to expand my horizons, and what a difference that made. Now, most schools that I applied to are in the south, and I hope to get accepted by one of them and would look forward to a move to that area where it is warmer (in many ways). Its funny, at first I would have thought that moving out of the area would be a bad thing and a huge sacrifice, but now I see it as a good thing and hope for it to happen for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes it is just looking at something a bit differently to get your bearings straight.
My wife and I have not yet decided as to living arrangements. But unlike you, we are not newly weds, so I don’t know what we would do if we were in your shoes. However, since my youngest is going into a state college this fall, my wife was thinking of staying here, perhaps for the first year until he is comfortable with being off on his own, or should I say, with her being comfortable with her baby being out on his own, oh sigh… Also, we have not yet figured out if would we loose the instate tuition if we moved out of state.
It is said that being a doctor requires a lot of sacrifices, and I can tell you that just trying to become a doctor requires a lot of sacrifices as well. The bottom line is, just how bad do you want it? Sometimes I think the powers that be put us through all this just to ensure that we think about that very question.
Anyway, good luck and welcome to the forum. Is this not a great place to hash things out or what?!?!?

Thanks for all the responses. It's so great to get some perspective from people who have been/are going through the same thing.
I'm in the process of figuring out how to best approach the situation. I've applied to med schools twice before with no luck. I have a couple of horrible science grades from my undergrad freshman year 10 years ago and I'm paying for them now (I wish grades could time out like the MCAT!). After college I went to graduate school and completed my masters' in public health in epidemiology and biostatistics. I've been working in research for the past 4 years. I love research, but I just don't see myself sitting behind a computer working out statistical issues for the rest of my life. I'd rather get my MD, have a practice and get involved with the clinical aspects of epi.
When I applied this past year I really felt like I gave it a good shot, but it now occurs to me that I have to go further. I'm very aware of the blemishes on my transcript. I have taken a few courses to improve the undergraduate GPA, but felt that my graduate GPA should speak for me to some degree (of course I now know it doesn't really work that way- although I disagree with the attitude med schools take). I'm not sure of the best approach to fixing up an old GPA- retake all the premeds- or go straight to the upper level courses? I currently taking a comparative anatomy course and I feel like it's 10x easier than anything I had to do for the MCAT so I feel ridiculuos rehashing bio 101. Has anyone had experience with this? Is worth my time and money to retake intro bio or intro to physics? How is a program like Georgetown's SMP viewed considering it is a graduate program (and thus graduate GPA) and could I even get into it?
That brings me to the lovely little monster known as the MCAT and my disappointing 26 (best of 2). I studied after work and on the weekends, but never really felt I had adequate time to devote to it. I suppose I will have to take it again- but I dread it more than anything.
It's beginning to dawn on me that this process will take a lot longer and require a lot more sacrifice than I had originally considered (naive, huh?). I don't see a way to conteract my GPA without taking many more classes than I can possibly mangage right now while working full time (demanding 50+ hour job), volunteering, and trying to establish a solid marriage with my new husband. I don't know how all of you out there with kids have managed it all.
All of my insecurity about my candidancy combined with new ideas about geographic limitation is just overwhelming! Any advice on a new approach or just how to keep from feeling too overwhelmed or hopeless about the process would be great!

Hmmmm, lots of things to think about there.
First, the grades and what to do. The problem with an MPH is that it’s “soft” science even though it’s health-related. AdComs are going to want to see some good grades in “hard science” courses. You don’t say how you did on your prereqs so it is hard to say if you should retake them… although you do allude to some ‘horrible’ science grades in your past, so if those are your prereq grades, that’s gonna hurt. Those grades are also getting a tad old - some schools don’t like that. (You should ask.) But you definitely need some recent, excellent grades in lab science. Do you need something like the SMP at Georgetown? I don’t know. It could help, perhaps. Do you need to retake the prereqs? Again, it depends on what they look like. If they’re mostly of the “horrible” variety, it would probably be good to take 'em again even if it seems they wouldn’t be very challenging at this point. (Look at it this way, it’s good MCAT review.)
Speaking of which… The MCAT. A 26 is a very respectable score - to my way of thinking, it shows that you CAN do this. I know the thought of prepping for and taking it is appalling. But if you did that well with what you consider to be a less than full-court press of studying, you’ve probably got some room to improve. (the 26 hurts you more when combined with crummy science grades. Someone with great grades has a little wiggle room on the MCAT; someone with a great MCAT has a little wiggle room on the grades. One way or another, you have to use grades and/or MCAT to show AdComs that you are capable of learning a lot of science stuff.)

It’s beginning to dawn on me that this process will take a lot longer and require a lot more sacrifice than I had originally considered

Yup. If you’ve been reading through old discussions on here, you’ve come across the statement, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Since I’m a big Lance Armstrong fan, I’ll liken it to the Tour de France. He has been training for it ALL YEAR, from diet to weight routines to warmup races to scoping out the actual route. At the beginning, it’s a goal - but then he breaks it into pieces and addresses each part of what he has to do to try and achieve his goal. Same thing goes here: Yes, it is overwhelming when taken as one big enormous horrifying entity. Right now you’re in data-gathering mode which is, by its nature, overwhelming. Before long you’ll feel a little more ready to sort through the information - advice you get here, info from schools, discussions with your husband, conversations with yourself. Then you can start putting a form, a shape to your plans, and it won’t be nearly so overwhelming. It’ll just be a pretty long list of things to do! tongue.gif
QUOTE (Mary Renard @ Jul 21 2003, 03:39 AM)
The problem with an MPH is that it's "soft" science even though it's health-related. AdComs are going to want to see some good grades in "hard science" courses.

I am also restricted to the DC are for family reasons and have a pretty bad undergraduate record form over 10 years ago( I retook all the premed courses). Next year, I'll be applying to GWU and Georgetown. While I'd like to attend Howard, I'm undecided on applying because I don't think they allow MD/PhD students to get their PhD(pathology)in a program not offered at their school.

Years ago, when I was accepted to both the MPH and MS programs at UNC-Chapel Hill I was informed by just about every medical school I talked to to get the MS in Chemistry which I did. I've also "decided" that I can't make lower than a 30 on the MCAT so when I take the April 2004 MCAT, I would have been preparing for over a year to make SURE I get that score.

I had a similar situation - I live in Houston and it was a given with my family situation that we could not relocate. If I couldn't get into one of the three schools here, I wasn't going. I was told MANY times that I did not apply to enough schools. But, I ended up getting into my 1st choice off the waitlist, so all's well that ends well.
If you need to stay in the area, then you need to stay. Applying to schools you can't attend doesn't help anything. Personally, I think being committed to the area helps your application (especially at state schools) because they like you to stay in the area after you graduate.
Now, about those grades. Unless you are failing to meet the requirements (at least a C in all required courses), then don't retake fundamentals. It won't help your GPA any more than taking a more advanced course. Plus, you'll be bored. Sounds to me like you're too busy to spend time in courses you'll be bored in. What does your GPA look like? Maybe you don't need to take any more courses at all. If GPA is decent, perhaps you should focus on the MCAT and try to bump it up to the 30 range. With a concerted effort and a prep course, do you think you could improve? Any chance you can go part time for a while or sneak in study time at work?
Also, I personally found that the schools did not hold old, bad grades against me. I only had a couple from my freshman year, but they never came up and it didn't seem that they were held against me. Your overall GPA does need to be at a certain level, but you're not going to get rejected because you got a D in organic 10 years ago.
How are your EC's? Got clinical experience? I found that just adding a shadowing experience helped my application a lot.
Numbers are important on your application, but it's about more than numbers. Maybe it's some other area of your application that was lacking before (LOR's, EC's, essay?, interview skills?). I seriously advise getting in touch with the schools you previously applied to, and asking how you can improve your application for next time. Get it straight from the horse's mouth.
Good luck!

I was searching for 'anatomy' and found this topic. It is kind of late but I thought I would comment anyway. I only applied to the two schools in the city I live in. I did feel very nervous about it but I knew given my husband's job and my one year old that moving would not be an option at least not the year that I applied. I 'targeted' the schools by volunteering at both hospitals, talking to the deans of admissions at both programs and ultimatley stressing in my personal statement and essays the aspects of myself that fit with each school's mission. This was my first attempt so I figured that if I didn't get in I would apply again and it was better to apply to other schools when I felt really committed to moving. Anyway, I did get into one of the two schools so as someone else said 'All's well that end's well'. Good luck!

I am also in the same situation, not for my kids, or my husband (who will relocate whereever I get accepted), but because I have realized I really do want to stay in the South, having lived in in North and not liking the COLD weather. The REAL thing is that I want to go to school in Arkansas, and it has only ONE school, and all of my family is there. I HAVE applied here in Texas as well, but after 4 years in Ohio and 8 years in Texas, I still think of myself as an Arkansan. There is also the issue of family support, since we have two kids still in school. It would be nice to have family or at least friends to help out.