I’m glad I found the forums, there are a lot of interesting people with interesting stories on here.
I am a 27 year old guy, graduated with a BA in Government and working in the legal field. I have been interested in medicine for as long as I can remember. I took a few years off after graduating to be a primary caregiver for my terminally ill mom (breast cancer that metastasized to her liver, lungs, and bones). I’d take her to appointments with her oncologist, ophthalmologist, otolaryngologist, dermatologist, and a couple trips to the ER. On multiple occasions, I did injections through her port (SASH) saline>antibiotic>s aline>heparin. With my mom’s passing this past March, I started to reevaluate my career, and my aspirations. I realized you can only ignore what you want for so long.
My undergrad performance wasn’t stellar (my degree GPA is a 2.52), but I was taking classes full time, being a primary caregiver to my mom and also on an athletic scholarship. I was coaching as well, and looking back I realize I spread myself too thin, not to mention I probably should have applied myself harder in my studies. I did take calculus (B in it), and a year of biology with lab (B+). I took calculus/biology my freshman year, so 9 years ago, so it may be a good idea to retake them to refresh those memories. Bad idea?
I talked to my aunt, who is a nurse, about my interest in medicine, as well as a friend who is a PA. My aunt suggested either physical therapy, nursing, or even PA school. My PA friend said I should do whatever I want to do, that it’s never too late to do what you’ve always wanted to do.
I guess I just wanted to introduce myself and see what advice people have. I am making a decent living, but it’s not really a calling. My job is pleasant and pays the bills, and I’m not sure if I should wait longer, do post-bacc course work at night (and risk spreading myself too thin again), or something else. I am certain it’s what I want to do (MD/DO). The other suggestion my aunt had was to volunteer or join the rescue squad as an EMT to get practical exposure before jumping in whole-heartedly.
Please accept my condolences on the passing of your mom. She was so very lucky to have such an attentive son to take care of her.
Yes, you will have a struggle with your current GPA…but struggles is what life is about, isn’t it? It is working through those struggles that shows the character of a person. Other than biology, you haven’t taken any other prereq classes, have you? (i.e. 1 yr Gen. Chem, 1 yr Organic Chem, 1 yr Physics and 1 yr Biology).
One suggestion would be to do a second bachelors degree. Knock out those prereqs and also try to take some advance courses such as genetics, biochem, etc. It’s not going to be a quick fix…probably you are looking at a minimum of two, possibly three years…but I definitely think that it is doable.
Do you just want to be a doctor (DO or MD)? or are you geared just for MD? It’ll be harder for the MD because you will really have to ace all of our classes to increase your GPA. Osteopathic schools (DO) though have more grade forgiveness. For those classes that you may really have bombed, you can take them over and that grade will be the one calculated into the GPA.
I’m sure that if you mention your reasons, especially due to you taking caring for your mom during her illness, will make for an impressive personal statement.
So, I say…GO FOR IT!
- akinetopsia Said:
You definitely SHOULD retake biology. Of all the pre-reqs, biology is the one that is changing most rapidly and the one that you should have recent coursework in. You probably don't need to retake calculus. You should, however, review and make sure you have a solid foundation in algebra and trigonometry before taking chemistry and physics. A good math background is crucial to doing well in those courses.
Good news for you - it appears that you don't have a lot of credits in math/sciences. That means that even though you will not be able to significantly raise your overall GPA no matter what you do, you can still have a great science/math GPA.
It will probably take you a minimum of two years, because of the two years of chemistry requirements. In addition to retaking biology and taking gen chem, physics, and organic chemistry, you should some other upper level science classes. Biochemistry is becoming a requirement at many medical schools, and a good background in it will be very helpful. Other helpful courses are anatomy, physiology, microbiology, immunology, and genetics. A second degree isn't necessary, but a second degree in a some sort of science certainly wouldn't hurt.
I agree with your PA friend. That being said, you should take some time and thoroughly explore all of them before making a decision. You could still start on the pre-reqs, as they will most likely count towards PA or physical therapy.
You definitely can't afford to spread yourself too thin again. You need to do very well from here on out, if medical school is what you want to do. If you need to continue to work full time, start out with no more than one course to get your feet wet.
EMS is a great experience, but may not necessarily help you clarify why you want to be a doctor vs. a nurse vs. a PA, etc. If you it interests you and you have time, it's worth considering. Since you have a history of spreading yourself too thin, you probably should do some easing in and/or exploring before going full tilt.
My two cents. Hope it helps. Good luck.
Thanks for the responses. I have looked at the EMS route, it seems like the pay is decent (and a little higher with an advanced life support certification, which I have no clue about).
I really don’t have a lot of credits in sciences/math, as you’ve pointed out. Originally math was probably my strongest subject, but I just got disinterested in 9th grade and started to coast, stopped doing extra work and was happy with Bs. I figured I wasn’t going to be an actuary, engineer or math teacher.
I broached the subject today with my siblings, they both said (paraphrase): well, our family lives into their 90s and you’re only 27, so you’re practically a teenager. You have plenty of time if working in medicine is what you want to do. I’m in no rush, and money isn’t a huge issue, at least it shouldn’t be for prerequisites or a second bachelor’s. It will be more of an issue if I am successful enough to make it to medical school.
If I did do a second bachelors, is biology a strong choice? What other choices are there, chemistry or physics? Biochemistry? I’ll have to weigh both options I assume (post-bacc plus upper division biology/chemistry versus a second baccalaureate degree). From reading other threads, I know that if I do the post-bacc route, then taking the courses at a four year institution is the way to go.
Thanks again for the guidance!
Your choice of undergraduate (or 2nd degree) major only matters for two things:
1 - availability of courses
2 - your happiness
Med schools are primarily concerned with the standard pre-reqs: 1 year each of bio, physics, chemistry, organic chemistry, and math. Some require others - biochem, molec bio, even english. Many recommend deeper coursework in genetics, biochem, etc etc.
As long as you have access to the necessary and interesting courses, it becomes a question of what will make you happiest. Would you enjoy the physical science depth of a Chemistry degree, the biotech of Molec & Microbiology, or the breadth of Psychology?
You will want to retake bio for sure, as it’s 9 years old. Calculus is more gray; technically, schools may want it within a 5-year window (or something similar), but you may find that many are willing to overlook the expiration date for that subject. You may want to call some schools you’re interested in and get their thoughts on the matter. If you don’t do that, it’s usually wise to go with what Emergency says ;).
It’s not necessary to complete an entire 2nd bachelor’s degree. At least, I hope it’s not, because I’m not planning on finishing mine . It sounds like you’ve seen this in doing your homework - just thought I’d reiterate it. In the end, find something you enjoy, and kick ass at it.
Well, I am still figuring out how to get from point A to point B. I must be telegraphing that I am thinking about something major, my boss called me into her office today to chat, i.e. “So how long are you going to be with us?”
I haven’t told anyone at work what my plans are, but a year ago I took the LSAT (scored in the 90th percentile, and I keep getting mail from law schools offering fee waivers, etc). When I applied for the job, I informed them I was studying for the LSAT and would be applying to law school in the future. In retrospect, I think I took the LSAT because like a lot of people say, it’s almost a default graduate degree option for people with a liberal arts education (or maybe I just had $100ish burning a hole in my pocket, who knows). I was honest with my boss, that I have no plans for the foreseeable future but that I am looking at professional programs.
I think I would like to go to school full-time, and to do that I will have to apply for re-admission to my undergraduate institution. Does anyone have experience with that? Considering my degree GPA was a 2.52, I wonder if I would have any difficulty getting back in. I am pretty sure the options are 1) enroll as a non-degree seeking student–and possibly get shafted on when you may schedule classes–or 2) enroll as a degree seeking student (possibly Biology). Even if I enrolled as a degree seeking student, I wouldn’t have to finish the degree, but I could do the post-bacc work required by the med schools I’m interested in. Is anyone else in a similar situation or already been through it, and what was your experience like?
For further background information, I’m single, no kids, negligible debt (car note I could pay off within a month or two), and good credit. One of my sisters also offered that I could live with her, her husband and young son when/if I pursued my second degree. I get along with them well, but the stipulation is I finish the basement (not so hard).
I re-applied for admission to my undergraduate institution for Fall 2008. I had to request transcripts from my initial university and the community college I took a few classes at outside of my program, but I should hear relatively quickly, I assume.
I applied for a BA in Biology (30 hours past what I have for my BA in Government). There is also a BS in Biology (44 hours, more requirements to complete, but an option to have a concentration in medical technology). The reason for applying as a degree-seeking student is if you are non-degree, you end up getting the shaft as far as when you are capable of scheduling classes and getting restricted for registering for certain sections. I may not finish the BA in Biology, but I could see myself finishing it as well just to rehabilitate my UGPA. I am going to take pre-calculus this summer just to kind of reboot my memory before taking calculus. The plan is something like this:
general chem I
english (advanced composition - I took it before, but it’s six or seven years old)
general chem II
upper division bio elective?
I think for the upper level electives, like the advice I have gotten I’ll try to take Immunology, Genetics, Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Histology. I’m just trying to take it one step at a time, and also would it be a good idea to take organic in the following year, or to try and start it in the spring? What about physics? Sorry about all the questions!
- akinetopsia Said:
If you start organic in the spring you would also be taking gen chem, bio and calculus? I think that's a pretty ambitious schedule and probably not a good idea. First, I found that the concepts I needed most for organic were taught towards the end of gen chem. Secondly, that gives you three lab courses (assuming that you are taking the labs at the same time). Organic lab is typically very time consuming. Gen chem lab and bio labs vary from school to school, but they can also be very time consuming.
I wouldn't worry about retaking the English course. I've never heard of anybody having to retake an English class because it's too old. The only way I would consider retaking it is if you did really poorly.
Other than that, I think the plan looks pretty decent. Good luck!
I’ll echo Emergency’s thoughts. I wouldn’t worry about the English requirements (and possibly the Calc, as well, if you have it already). Both of mine were about 8 years old, and I haven’t heard any complaints.
Definitely try to get a feel for how time-consuming the science courses will be, especially the lab sections. Are you planning on working while taking courses? Have you taken any courses recently, or is this your first step back?
FWIW, I did something that looks similar to your plan. I actually eased in first with some part time coursework, then I jumped into a solid year of hard-core prereqs. It’s doable; just be sure you’re ready for it.
How long has it been since you were in school? If it has been awhile, I would definitely suggest your taking just the chem and bio I (with the accompanying labs). You’ll want to do really good in these subjects.
Depending on your school, it may not even be a question whether you can take organic chem before finishing Chem II. Also, don’t take it over the summer…unless you are really, really strong in chemistry, wait until the fall of 2009. It seems as though organic chemistry is a real weeding-out class and getting a good grade in organic chem can really help your application.
With the support of my family I was able to go back to school full-time and not work. This was a good thing as I hadn’t been a student for over 20 years and I took physics and Ochem at the same time. I graduated in English in 1981 and was able to get A’s in my pre-reqs and I didn’t redo any of the 20 year old classes.
I took the year of Pchem in a 9 wk summer course in 2006 then last summer I took Bio that way also while applying for med school and taking the MCAT in August. It took a lot of concentration and time but was totally worth it for me as I was able to apply this cyle
However I called all of the schools that I was interested in ahead of time and heard from them that my plan would “probably” work out.
Well, as it stands, I’m probably going to quit my job in August, unless I can arrange to work part-time and retain my benefits (not likely, but worth a shot), and return to school full-time for two to three years. I’m going to take money out of my savings (not 401k, since that’s a penalty before either 59 1/2 or 65, I forget!) and pay off my car since the interest rate on the car is 2.5% higher than savings–4.1% savings, and 6.6% on the car.
I can do that now, and save more between now and August, with a raise I know I’ll be getting in April. My family has said they’ll support me if it comes down to it - I’d rather not be bailed out but I won’t let my pride come before advancing towards my goal of becoming a physician.
I’m not going to go the EMT route, and I turned in an application to volunteer at a nearby hospital. I faxed it in over a week ago, and my two references have both had their forms in for about a week, so I’m going to call and follow up. In the event they have a glut of volunteers at this particular hospital, I guess I will try another one that’s just a little farther away from home. I looked into a different hospital, where one of the questions on the volunteer application was if you preferred volunteering in a capacity with or without patient contact. Maybe that is the “I want to be a medical student” screening question.
I received my acceptance today to my undergraduate institution. Hoo-ray! It was a nice letter with a raised foil seal on it, and a deposit form to confirm my enrollment. Maybe I will have to frame it if this ends up working out, since it pretty much signifies the beginning of this journey in my life.
I just declared a BA in Biology, so I would have senior status for registration purposes. I may or may not finish the degree, but at least I won’t get the shaft trying to register for classes.
I’m pretty happy about it. I talked to my manager at work about working part-time, and it’s a no-go as far as keeping benefits, other than 401k. She said I could work some nights/weekends on special projects for them, but it would be on an as-needed basis, so not really reliable as far as I can tell.
It looks like I will be going to school full-time this fall, and I feel like I’m ready for it. I’m more mature than I used to be, and the big picture is a little bit more in focus now. Thankfully I have the means to go full-time and quit my job, so I will be able to focus my time on my studies.
If I really needed cash, I guess I could always strip, then write an Oscar-winning screenplay? Just kidding.
I wouldn’t worry about the screenplay - stripping has nicely paid my way through a post-bacc. But then, I am a beautiful man.
… just kidding. But about what part?
Well, I have transfer orientation (I’m considered a transfer at the institution even though I have a bachelor’s from said institution) on July 10th, and I’m all set to quit my job and go to school full-time. The first day of school is August 25th.
I started dating a wonderful woman, didn’t know it initially but she happens to be an ob/gyn resident - she just finished her intern year. She is pretty supportive of my plans, and very helpful. I think it’s also giving me a more realistic look at the lifestyle, at least in residency. This past month has been rough especially with her being on night float, but it’s almost over.
I’m starting to get my ducks lined up in a row, and while I haven’t completely figured out which classes I’m taking, other than the prerequisites, I know I’m also interested in taking an advanced composition class to tune up my writing, and possibly Spanish as well. I figure it can’t hurt.
Well I just thought I’d make an update - I have scheduled and paid for my classes this fall. My last day of work was Friday. I’m taking Cell Bio, General Chem, and A&P. 3 Labs, but I feel like I am ready, and won’t be dividing my attention between so many things. So it’s 12 hours, and class starts next Monday. I’m excited to get started.