Is it time to walk away?

I would like to share with you my story and current academic standing in the hopes that you may guide me by offering your thoughts and insights.

I am the youngest of 4 children. I was born and raised in Lumberton North Carolina; a city just 30 minutes south of Fort Bragg Army Base. I am a Native American and a member of the Lumbee Tribe. I grew up extremely poor. My mother was a homemaker who only reached the 8th grade, yet never learned to read. My dad was born in 1928 and only obtained a 4th grade education. I remember my dad coming home from a job interview one afternoon. It was for a janitorial position at an elementary school. He was not offered the job because he lacked a high school diploma.

Throughout my childhood my family and I lived in either a trailer or the housing projects. After being several months late on rent we would just move to another trailer; I attended 8 different elementary schools before starting high school. Constant violence and drug use were all around me as a child. The closest call I had with death was when a drive-by shooting took place in front of our residence. Luckily, no one in my family was harmed, but our neighbor and my mother’s friend (an elderly lady) was struck in the chest. It was a miracle she survived.

Even as a small child I was completely aware of my poverty. I got my first job at the age of 9. I suckered tobacco. Suckering tobacco is the process of removing the flowers that grow from the stalk. With my first check (a personal check) of 17 dollars I purchased a 10 dollar bicycle from a junk yard and gave the rest to my dad to help pay our bills.

Having no primary care physician I was taken to the emergency department anytime I got sick. The doctors who cared for me amazed me so much. I admired their intelligence, how handsome/beautiful they were, and even their straight teeth. I knew nothing at the time of the process of becoming a doctor, all I knew was that if I could be like them, I would not be poor anymore.

At the age of 12 an event occurred that truly set me on the path to medicine. My father was playing outside with my older sister and suddenly fell to the ground; he was experiencing a massive stroke. He developed Parkinson’s disease several years before I was born, and by this time he was not in the best of health. I vividly remember his expressionless face with streams of tears flowing from his eyes. After he was released from the hospital we tried to take care of him. I would wake up several times a night to check to see if he was still breathing. I would stand in the doorway of his room and watch his chest rise and fall. Soon after, he developed Alzheimer’s disease and was placed in a nursing home. He passed away 5 years later from pneumonia.

Below is my current academic standing. I know I am severely below average. My high school used metal detectors, surveillance cameras in the hallways, and even had a mini-police station. I was not ready for college, especially the science courses. I was also homeless for a time during my undergraduate education. Please forgive me if it seems that I am trying to make excuses for my poor performance. I own all of my mistakes and have tirelessly worked to fix as much of them as possible.

  • sGPA 3.2
  • cGPA 3.2
  • MCAT I got a 22 so I must retake. What do you think a safe score would be? (if there’s such a thing).
  • Currently doing a Masters in Medical Science at an allopathic medical school. Will finish with a 3.1 GPA.
  • 2 MD shadow (Urologist and Pediatric Surgeon).
  • 1 DO shadow (Family Medicine). This doctor is a preceptor and teaches 2nd year OMM for ATSU. She let me attend the class, the students were amazing. She has written a LOR for me.
  • Have another DO LOR. Only a mentor, did not shadow (Retired).
  • Publication. Illustrated a chapter in a college level textbook. The chapter was on the reproductive system.
  • Publication. Psychological research concerning stress related illnesses seen in first responders. Findings presented at Utah Legislative Conference.
  • Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
  • Volunteer: Emergency Room, Boy Scouts of America Scout Master, Hurricane Katrina cleanup (slept in a tent with other individuals who were part of the cleanup team), homeless shelter, play ground construction, medical supplies drives, I teach a computer class to the elderly, and Church involvements.
  • Phlebotomist at plasma center.
  • Research Tech. for pharmaceuticals company.
  • URM Native American (Lumbee Tribe).
  • First generation high school graduate
  • 32 years old. Married with one child.

    Again, thank you for your time and help

only you can make that decision. Unlike the MD route, the DO route allows for grade replacement which will boost your GPA. Take that into consideration as well as the investment of time and money into this endeavor. It will be years before you see any rewards. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Keep that in mind.

You’re 32. You’re young! I think many admissions committees would find your history compelling. You’ve truly had many obstacles to overcome. Keep studying the MCAT and keep working away at things. You’ll get there. There are a number of allopathic schools that are also deeply interested in finding individuals who would like to work with Native Americans: University of South Dakota, University of North Dakota, University of Minnesota-Duluth, etc. So carefully look through medical schools’ websites to look at institutional missions and what they think about out of state applicants. If you have an interest in helping with the Lumbee Tribe some day, that might garner the attention of an admissions committee. Osteopathic medicine is also an excellent route.