Intro and Advice

Hi everyone, I’ve enjoyed reading some of the entries and I of course wanted to share my background and ask for advice. I have a BA with an undergrad gpa of 3.36. I have not yet taken the MCAT. I just graduated with a PhD in human genetics. I pursued this degree because of my underlying desire to become a doctor, but unfortunately as an undergrad I was deterred from pursing premed due to my less than stellar GPA, so this was the next best career choice. I have plenty of community service and shadowing experiences. I am working full time now and studying for the MCAT which I plan on taking the MCATs in May or June this year.

I am not really sure if the PhD will help all that much. I have not gotten a clear message from my undergrad institution. They keep coming back around to the GPA. I got all As and Bs in graduate school. Advice? Any gaping whole in my application?


I don’t know how helpful I can be as I am just starting the process of taking the prerequisite courses, so I can apply to medical school, but seeing that you had so many views with no replies I felt compelled to respond with what I have found out about the adcoms.

First off, like you, my undergraduate record was not very strong (GPA wise). However, having an advanced degree in genetics, and performing as well as you have in your graduate work, I have heard that this only further demonstrates you ability to succeed in a more challenging academic environment (e.g., medical school). That said, with you listed credentials (community service, shadowing, etc.) it seems that if you are able to do reasonably well on the MCAT you should be able to gain admission somewhere. Have you spoke with anyone who sits on the admission committee of any of the schools that you are interested in applying to? I know that I have a meeting coming up with a physician, who also happens to be a friend of the family, but he is a practicing internal medicine physician and faculty for the medical school that I am most interested in attending. In speaking to him I hope to gain better insight into what it is exactly that will make me strong candidate, or perhaps what areas I will need to improve in to better position myself for admission to the school. My point is, even if you don’t know anyone personally it doesn’t hurt to get your name out there and ask about an unofficial assessment of yourself as a candidate for their school. I don’t know…something to consider.

I wish you the best of luck, and hopefully someone with a similar background will be able to provide you with more insight into your position

I believe that you MCAT will be determinant upon your admission to med school. Regarding your PhD theoretically your grades will count as other but I think they will “see” it, that is a big intangible that somehow will weigh tons on your favor. I agree with cowboy that you must speak with admissions at the schools where you might be interested. Congratulations you have a strong proposition indeed!

I never considered talking to the admissions committees at schools where I am interested. With the number of individuals trying to get into med school I would think that they are inundated with requests. Can you give me suggestions about how the conversation could go? What should I try to learn from them? If they welcome non-trad students with graduate degrees? Thanks!

Take it from a person who has never done it and who is also in pretty much the same position that you are. If it were me,

I would prepare a short, very short, narrative on my background and would call, perhaps asking for a telephone appointment if not possible to talk to anyone of the admissions committee members and ask straight what is the admcom take as a body on a person with a PhD in Human Genetics as a possible candidate and let it roll from there.

If offered the opportunity, ask, ask, ask and ask as much as you can…

As they say somewhere in the forum: “if you don’t ask, you don’t give them the opportunity to say yes”

Call a couple of the schools where you intend to apply and schedule an appointment. Interview season is winding down, so Mar or Apr would be the ideal time to make contact. A face-to-face conversation is preferable if logistics permit, but a phone meeting will also work.

Ask about what they look for in cumulative GPA, science GPA and MCAT. Most adcoms have some leniency on the undergrad GPA, especially with regards to non-trads doing post-bacc work and/or those with advanced degrees. As has been inferred in other posts, the MCAT is the great equalizer. All things considered, it’s still the best predictor of how a student will fare academically in medical school, so understand that most schools typically do not offer interviews unless their minimum score is met (although there are exceptions to every rule).

If all else goes well, your GPA is not going to hold you back. Look around the forums and you’ll find many success stories by those of us who had less-than-stellar undergrad GPAs. There’s an especially inspiring thread going on now in the pre-med forums. Welcome to OPM!

Thanks everyone so much for the advice. I’ll let you know how it goes. Can you send me a link to the thread that you referenced? I’m still learning how to navigate and find things.

Yes, call and try to make an appointment (or if close by, go in) with either the “top” person in the admissions office, or the second in command. You want 15-20 minutes and it’s for information, not advice. (Many/most med schools will tend to shut you down if you mention that you want advising.) You just want to know what they look for in their well-qualified applicants. I think that you are in a relatively strong position with a science PhD even though you may have struggled with your ugrad gpa. Do well on the MCAT. :slight_smile: