Maybe an ND instead? Any advice is appreciated.

Hi Everyone.

I am a 33 yo female. My goal was to become a psychiatrist, but I have lost my way and now am at a crossroads.

(1) CA community college, earned an AS in Biology and an AA in Liberal Arts, along with certificates in advanced labs and genomics. I worked full time, traveled with forensics, tutored, and headed a club that helped our campus become smoke free. I also did an NIH internship and worked in biotech for a summer. Graduated in '03, GPA:3.8.

(2) Transferred to UC Berkeley. Made up my own major in order to get good breadth, did an honors thesis on cultural capital and preschool. Member of Biology Scholars. Worked with underserved communities with Americorps. Graduated in '06, GPA:3.8.

(3) During my last year at Cal, I got an e-coli infection and my kidney was failing for about a year. My kidney was removed and I got depressed about falling behind. I had to catch up on my classes and did not have enough time to prepare for the MCAT.

(4) Worked as a mental health counselor, substitute special ed teacher and art therapist. I am a supervisor at a foster home with severely emotionally disturbed youth. I also volunteer at the California Academy of Sciences.

Now my pre-requisites are old and I tried studying for the MCAT, but do not remember enough to obtain a competitive score. I enrolled in Exam Krackers and dropped out, still lacking enough confidence to even take a practice exam. I feel defeated and am thinking of applying for the Naturopathic Doctor (ND) Degree, which would allow me to have a career in medicine without having to spend more time taking classes and preparing for the MCAT.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Only thing I would worry with Naturopathy is that there are a great deal of restrictions to your license. There are some states that outlaw Naturopathy. I think it is a great field, my wife saw one when we lived in AZ, but just realize that your choices will be limited.

If you want an MD, go for it! Your stats are above-average and you seem like you’ve got the heart for it.

Why not take some refresher science courses, or retake old ones? You excelled at them once, and you can master the MCAT material with enough dedication.

I agree with the idea of redoing some prerequisites. ALthough I had a good GPA and a masters degree, my prereqs were VERY old and I didn’t think I could get ready for the MCAT’s without seriously revisiting it.

Maybe enroll just in a chemistry and/or biology class and see where that takes you?


I graduated in 2003 and took gen chem in 1999. I did not retake any pre reqs but i did spend about 2 months spending every weekday afternoon and one weekend day doing nothing but MCAT prep (while working 40+ hours per week). I took a kaplan online seminar so i could get some structure. they also include 20+ practice tests (which are a key to success I think). I ended up scoreing 30 my first and only try. Taking classes are time consumeing and expensive, if you did well on them the first time it is cheaper and easier to committ to refreshing on your own (IMO). One thing I have learned being a non-trad is that if you want to be an MD/DO nothing else will satisfy you so dont do the the natropath thing just so you dont have to take the MCAT, you will regret it later! If however you would prefer the career to a more traditional physicians career than by all means dont waste time with the MCAT and do it.

First and foremost, follow the following instructions:

  1. Take a deep breath

  2. hold it

  3. release it.

  4. Relax.

    You need to take things one at a time. If you need to retake pre-reqs because of their age, there is no need to worry about the MCAT. Since by the time you are done, more than likely the score will be greater than 3 years old and you will have to retake the exam (something no one wants to do).

    You have to realize that this is a marathon. Now as far as your pre-reqs, I think you are fine, just talk to several medical schools to confirm this. So you may not even have to retake these classes and all you would need to do is take the MCAT.

    When it comes to the MCAT, the best thing to do is to have a master plan. You need to start with a baseline. It does not matter how well or how poorly you do on the first exam since you are trying to see where you are and where you need to focus on. Then you should start focusing on where you need help on. If it is any consolation, it took me 2 years to prepare for the MCAT. I had to relearn material I did not use in 10 years. You will be surprised how quickly material starts to come back to you. It is in your brain, you just need to access it.

    It may be better to take a formal prep course like Kaplan or Princeton review.

    Regarding being an ND, they are not recognized as a medical professional. You are not licensed to dispense medication, perform surgery, or even give a formal diagnosis. There are only 2 recognized doctors that can do that and they are MD and DO. If you want to become a psychiatrist than do it, but do not let fear get in the way. You will not be able to become a psychiatrist as an ND. If you would not rather do that route then you can get your PhD in Psychology and become a therapist.

    Everything will be alright, you just need a plan of attack. And some more confidence. As we always say: This is a marathon, not a sprint.