Hello to all!
I’ve been interested in taking my life in a new direction for some time, and just recently decided to pursue the path of medicine. I’d like to give you a little background, as I definitely know this is going to be a rough process. Any advice would be much appreciated. I defintely have a few things working against me (some are self-imposed.)
First of all I’m 32 years old. I have a family with two children (youngest is almost 2.) My wife is a stay-at-home-mom.
I served in the Air Force on active duty for 6 years. My job there was in construction (carpentry, welding, etc.) I spent almost a year in Iraq, and a couple of months in the UAE. When I left the Air Force, I joined the National Guard as a Ground Radar Craftsman (electronics technician.) Currently I’m still in the Guard doing my one weekend a month. I also got a full-time job working as civil service for the Navy. This job mirrored my active duty experience and basically consisted of maintaining the base facilities. I spent about 1 1/2 years doing that. From there I moved into a job administering the Federal Workers’ Compensation program for a Veterans Affairs Hospital. I’ve been doing that for about 2 years. I’ve been progressively moving up the government career ladder. Like I said, I do work at a hospital currently and communicate with a large array of stakeholders from the hospital director all the way to claims examiners from other agencies. I also correspond with doctors for various reasons.
Now, during this work history I’ve also gone to school full-time and received a B.S. in Computer Information Systems, a B.S. in Business Management, and am two courses away from an M.S. in Project Management. This is where it kind of begins hurting though, as I don’t have the “best” GPA’s in all my coursework. For my CIS degree, my GPA was 2.79. My Business Management degree was 3.22, and my Master’s degree GPA is currently 3.66. I know these are definitely not the best GPA’s but I know I can bring the overall GPA up when taking all of my pre-med requirements, as I currently have no real science classes and will need to take everything.
Now, to summarize everything - I’m on track to receive 3 degrees all done on a full-time basis (minus maybe 2 or 3 semesters) all while working full-time on active duty and in civil service, while also working a second job in the form of the National Guard after active duty, and raising a family as the sole provider. Additionally, I deployed to Iraq and moved across the country approximately 5 times in the past 10 years. I don’t know how good that would look when actually applying to med school (if I can get my GPA up) but I’m hoping it provides some credence.
Now, the problem I’m running into is that the only way I can possibly see myself taking the prerequisite classes is if I go to a community college. I would have to go to class after I get off work, and there is only one college that holds those courses at night in my area. Well, there is a university that may have several available at night, but from what I saw it is very spotty. I think the best thing to do would be take what I can at the community college, and grab some courses at the university when possible - but I’m afraid that may not be possible.
So anyway, just wondering if anyone has any advice as far as the community college goes - would it be fruitless to take all of my coursework there? I know requirements vary from med school to med school - but I’m not sure how viable it would be to take every science class at a community college, but I’m afraid it may be my only choice. Also if anyone has any recommendations based on my “bio” those would be appreciated too - there are probably a lot of answers out there that I don’t even know the question for.
Hello to all!
Hi and welcome! Thank you for your service to our country. You have a very interesting background.
As far as CC courses, I think there may be a couple of people on the forum who were admitted with just CC pre-reqs. I would suggest that you check with the schools that you’re interested in and asked how CC classes are viewed or if they’re allowed. Even if you do take most at the CC level you could try to take some upper level courses at a university to show that you can handle a rigorous science load…
Hope this helps!
As a full time active duty guy, I ended up taking 4 classes (3 prereqs + an “upper level science”) via distance learning through Univ of New England and a local state school. Some med schools don’t take online prereqs, but there are tons that do. I focused my application on how my previous work experience/unique training taught me about myself, made me a better person, prepared me for medicine, etc. My grades were decent, but I really think it was my mil experience that bumped me up over other applicants. I applied with zero recent volunteering, minimal clinical experience (~50hrs shadow), and prereqs spaced over 13 yrs, but still got some interview invites (haven’t gone to any yet). I would leverage your experiences to compensate for grades, and really do well in the classes you have left/MCAT.
I did it backwards: Instead of researching where I wanted to go then prepping for them, I prepped and found out which schools would take people with my credentials and matched my interests. If you’re looking at USUHS, they don’t take online prereqs
Thanks for the responses. The shadowing, research, and volunteering were also aspects of the application process I am wondering about. I definitely feel as though working at the VA hospital will give me some pretty good opportunities to shadow and get clinical experience. As far as the research portion goes, I suppose I’ll have to see what my college has available, if anything, or perhaps even take initiative and do something on my own. Since my current position deals with work-related injuries, I have been thinking I could pursue something along that avenue.
Anyway it’s good to hear that you were able to procure several interviews without having a large amount of time invested in the volunteering, etc.
Oh - also, is there anyone that has experience as a military doc? I did a little bit of research into the Army’s program and it appeared as though they cover a large portion, if not all, of med school costs. Anyway just seemed like a great way to serve people in a different capacity and also not have to worry about paying off as much debt in the long-run. I’m not sure exactly how the program works or when you would actually be commisioned and start working though.
Research more into the Armed Forces Health Professional Scholarship Program. Navy, Army, and AF each participate in the program. There is an age limit (not sure what it is, 30-35ish), and you also have to pass all of the medical/physical requirements for a commission. You are initially commissioned as an O-1 (2Lt/Ensign) in the reserves and will be promoted to O-3 (Capt/LT) upon graduation from medical school. The scholarship covers tuition+some expenses+stipend (roughly $2k/mo i think). You are activated for training each summer and receive full pay during that time.
Hope that’s a start for your consideration. Residency and stuff gets a little more complicated, and I can get into what i know of that later if you’d like. Bottom line, you graduate with a job and no debt due to tuition (may need more $ to live off of). I had a doc w/wife and 3 kids that was only $30k in the hole after completing med school. It’s an option, but I wouldn’t do it just for the money…
**There is a stipulation to the age requirement that they will credit any active duty time and that time to the max age, i.e. you’re 32, served 6 years, they would basically waive you up to 38. Not sure if there’s a max to the policy.
- mastert Said:
One of OPM's longtime members (Tara Cook, username: tec) is a military doc. You might want to send her a PM ... she's wonderful!
Hope that helps.