I've been working as a Materials Scientist in fusion research, but only have a BS with a 3.13 GPA. Are my chances bad?

Basically the title… I’ve had an interesting path after college, but have been working as a materials scientist on high powered lasers for nuclear fusion at a national lab. I only have a BS (even though I work directly alongside PhD scientists), and have no published research. I can maybe get some authorship on peer-reviewed papers if I move myself into a bit of a different role, but a lot of my work currently is non-publishable.

My GPA in college was terrible - 3.13. How likely am I to get into med schools? What can I do to help myself out? I’m married and am the sole provider, making dropping my 6 figure salary for volunteering a little tough. I do need some prerequisites that’ll boost my GPA a bit (maybe up to 3.3 if I take more than just what I need and ace everything), but certainly not enough to stand next to all these ridiculous 3.8 matriculating GPAs.

How useful are post-bacc programs? If spending $40k on a program like this is what it takes, then I guess that’s what I’ll have to do. I feel like I have enough life experience that if I get an interview I can stand out, but I’m afraid my applications will just get tossed out with hardly a look due to my GPA.

Its just so hard to find info out there about non-standard applicants, I’m hoping some of you can help me out!


My first question would be why med school? secondly, why not a Ph.D program?

Short answer:
I find it super interesting and I want to get another degree anyways

Not so short answer:
When I was younger (including college) I always thought med school was this insanely unattainable thing only for smart or rich people. I didn’t have the most supportive childhood, so I never thought that was me.

As I’ve gone through my career after college I’ve increasingly wanted to do and learn more, and go back to school for my PhD, but struggled with my area of study. I have a wide variety of interests in science and really enjoy most of them. Chemistry is probably what I’m most interested in, but the pay is garbage and it’s hard to find good jobs. Materials Science bridges a gap between Engineering and Chemistry that I really enjoy, so I’ve done that. Over time I’ve just let my mind wander into various topics I find interesting, and have discovered that I really like medicine.

It’s very interesting, and useful. Like holy crap, literally the work you do in any given week can change someone’s life. I can research a coating for laser optics for 5 years to contribute to a tiny increase in an energy pulse that… idk, helps with some stuff a little bit. As I’ve delved a bit into the medical field and seen how medicines actually function to make the body do what it wants I’ve just been so enamored by the complexity. It’s really just amazing and I want to learn it… bonus points that I can make great money doing it, work anywhere I want, and see real, tangible benefits of my work on a daily basis.

Along with life as an attending, I love the idea of working in a teaching hospital and sharing that excitement with others. Even doing research in the field would be awesome. The material is so interesting, but so is the job. There are so many options for such a specialized field (which is rare outside of medicine), and I want to pursue it. As much as I would want to just magically be an attending physician without med school, I would equally want to actually just go to med school and learn everything I can.

Do you mean MD/PhD? Or PhD in something closer to what I’m doing?

MD/PhD: good question, I’m already older so that’s a lot of time. Open to it as long as the finances make sense.

PhD in related field: I could see doing Chemistry or Materials Science… becoming so specialized in either puts you in a pretty tight box and things get a bit boring to be honest. You also kind of lock yourself in to the mercy of a single job at a single location forever. There’s not many places in the world doing whatever extremely specific sub-sub-sub field of science your PhD is in.