I know I want to be a doctor, but how do I convince ADCOMS I want to be a doctor?

I know we are not supposed to focus on a certain number of shadowing and volunteering hours, but I keep listening to the Premed Q&As and they are giving me anxiety. Here’s my situation:

I am 32, have a FT career in business. I am taking 6-9 credits of science courses each semester on top of working in my career. I will complete my DIY post-bacc at the end of this fall with about 42 credits, along with my previous bachelor and masters degree in business. I then plan to study for and take my MCAT in the spring and apply to medical schools in the 2022 cycle. The downsides: my overall GPA will be poor. I’m coming to terms with this and focusing on how to strengthen my application in other areas. The upsides: my postbacc GPA is a 4.0.

I started this journey in January 2020 by officially signing up for classes and signing up as a volunteer at my local hospital. Then COVID hit and volunteering as well as shadowing was shut down. Since most clinical opportunities were off the table, I got involved as a Board member for a local NFP Hospice organization; I figured it would help me get as close to medicine/caretaking as possible given the current circumstances. I also continued to volunteer at any “one time” volunteer activities my hospital offered. And I’ve just begun getting shadowing hours.

At this point in time I would say I have about 50-75 hours of hospital volunteering, 200 hours of Hospice board volunteering, and 50 hours of shadowing. My hope is to try and get about 125 - 150 hours of shadowing by the time I apply next spring, and then I will likely continue to work after that to keep finding shadowing opportunities.

The shadowing I have done has been the most helpful in envisioning myself waking up and being a physician each and every day. The volunteering has been helpful in finding out that I like being in a hospital care setting, and the Hospice Board activity has given me an intricate sense of how things run in a care facility or service (although I would like to get out of the administrative function of it all still). At this point, I am trying to focus my shadowing more on specific specialties that interest me, and get a feel for different cultures at different offices, and to simply continue to be involved in something that I really enjoy. BUT, shadowing has not been easy to find. I’m averaging about one “yes” for every thirty clinics I call. I’m also at some point going to become constrained by the amount of PTO I have available in my career.

I know I want to be a physician. Every experience I have had thus far has only reconfirmed this desire. In addition to shadowing, I have been in familial situations as an informal caretaker for my grandfather with alzheimers, a loved one with a Schwann’s cell tumor surrounding his L3/L4 vertebrae (pre and post surgery), and another loved one who suffered third degree burns after a gas fire. I was also in a long term relationship with an ER physician and became intimately familiar with the successes and struggles of his work, the reality of being a physician rather than just any perceived “glamour” it held. However, despite all this, I am now worried that I didn’t care enough about the number of hours I got. I listened to two of the Premed Q&A podcasts recently where one girl mentioned having 3 full time months of shadowing with a rheumatologist, and another girl mentioned getting a job as a scribe 3 months before she submitted her application (if she is FT, this would give her about 120 hours of scribing pre-application) and the vibe I got from Dr. Gray in both of these situations was that this amount of shadowing was not enough. Or maybe I mistook his reaction and it was more directed towards continuity of experiences? Can anyone give their input on my situation? I feel like I have been constantly told that going down this path is possible, but now it’s feeling like unless I quit my job right now and get a FT scribing position, I’m not going to have enough hours when I go to apply (also, I even looked into PT scribing but it really did not seem like a possibility given my schedule. I would have had to work at least 2 10 hour shifts each week which would mean overnight shifts where I would then get up in the morning and go to my FT job from 8 - 6 M-F, or working every day of the week (M-F at my FT job, and Sat/Sun scribing). A part of me wouldn’t mind suffering through this, but right now my weekends and evenings are quite dedicated to another part of this journey - homework, and eventual MCAT studying).

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Thank you for taking the time to share a part of your story. I will just say that from my experience, ADCOMs will understand if there is an area where you don’t have as many hours as the other applicants. When they see that you are working full time in another career and taking classes and taking the MCAT and your other ECs, they will most likely be understanding. I am a nontrad student who works as a nurse so I have plenty of clinical hours but I only have 50 hours of volunteering and 50 hours of shadowing. I talked with an ADCOM and he said that they understand every applicant will be different in the amount of experiences that they bring to the table and that is ok. They want to see that diversity in experiences and how that can translate into the person wanting to become a doctor.

Adcoms will understand that with a FT job you aren’t going to have as many additional hours as a traditional applicant. You may want to consider getting an EMT gig. Many ambulance companies require one shift a pay period (2 weeks) or even every other pay period (once a month). Stick with IFT (interfacility transport) job applications and you should be hired without experience.