My intro...

First and foremost, I would just like to say that I LOVE THIS WEBSITE! I have been a silent reader for the past week and finally mustered the courage to write this little introduction. What’s so compelling are the many “underdog” stories of those who gained medical school entrance regardless of their past academic performance(s). This is the sort of website that I wish I had found it earlier. I, too, am in need of support and inspiration as I start to journey on the pursuit of a medical career.
Here goes…
I am a 32 yr. old single mother of two, a boy 11 and a little girl 9 (my pride and joy and the only two things that I’ve done right so far in life). The yearning to rekindle an old flame (medicine) has surfaced once again after attempting pre-medical studies with shameful grades due to poor study habits 10+ years ago (I eventually graduated with an alternative degree, Accounting, and a less than stellar CUGPA of 2.90).
I’ve only finished a year of general biology (D) and chemistry  and a semester of organic chemistry Â, grades I’m not too proud of. The University where I am currently residing has a Medical School but it does not offer a post-bacc program. If you want to get into Medical School, you are basically on your own. I tried initiating contacts with pre-medical advisors but was sent to three different departments. Frustrated and with lack of advising, I enrolled myself in a general chem. class this past summer and didn’t do so well. Thinking that I can do it, I again enrolled myself in a general bio class and retaking the general chem. this last semester, a really bad move. I ended with Cs. I was devasted and thought to myself that perhaps I don’t have what it takes to be a physician since I have certainly jepeordized any future I have in medicine with those last three recent grades. I’m just not cut out for it. The passion and desire are certainly in me and I know I would make a wonderful physician one day but my course work tells me otherwise. Discouraged.
Where do I go from here? I’m certainly not getting any younger and the time is now or never later.
Any words of encouragement would help tremedously.

First, take my advice with a grain of salt, because I'm just starting my post-bacc, myself.
Do you know what went wrong, besides taking too much at once? Imagine yourself writing an essay for the med schools about how you turned your grades around, and how you did it.
What would be in the story? Would you talk to some of the instructors to see what you needed to change in your study habits? Maybe bring your tests if you still have them, look at the questions you got right and wrong, and see if that gives you any clues as to what you got, didn't get, how you need to approach things differently. Would you go to the campus' tutorial center to see what your learning style is to make sure you study in a way that works for you? If you look at how you studied this semester, can you see changes you should make in your habits? Were you reading the corresponding chapter BEFORE the lecture? Reviewing your notes after? Doing lots of practice problems in Chemistry? Going to see the instructor or a study group about things that were confusing? Do you need a scheduled time when you and your girls sit down and do homework together, or do you need to study at the library without distractions?
Meet with an advisor, ANY advisor, to get a grip on what you should do next. If your school has a freshman or junior division advisor, that might be fine for now because I think what you need is some help figuring out what would be a good course (maybe a more basic pre-req to bio or chem?), and what you need in order to be successful at school. You're not getting any younger, but you're younger than a lot of older premeds here, including me. I'm 39. Hang in there and see if you can figure out what's up! Think of it as diagnosis. It's way too early to decide you're not cut out for it.
And wish me luck. I haven't taken a science class in about 20 years myself.

welcome to the list - it's always good to see someone new posting -
what area of the country are you in?
- we might have some suggestions as to where to go locally for good information

samenewme, thanks for the pointers! i really dont know what went wrong. i was also under a bit of stress that semester, personal family situation. i eventually was able to find help but it came too late in the semester. i know im capable and can master the classes but probably part of the problem could be due to being too confident in myself. i get impatient and rush things. i will be meeting with the director of the minority affair office at the medical school before the winter break is over and see where i can go from there. again, thanks and i wish you much luck on your endeavor.
lisaS, thanks for the warm welcome. im located in mn, the u of mn has a great medical school but the undergrad office hasnt been much help. any suggestions?

Meeting with an advisor will be good but you need to address the issues of why your perfomance was not optimal. Once you have objectively done this, then you can tackle improving your gpa. If you think that you tend to rush things and do more than you can handle, then do not do that. Take one class at a time and get an A, once you get an A your confidence will soar and eventually will be able to take more classes. Maybe Judy Colwell will give you some insight (former adcom for Stanford).

I think folks are right to suggest that you need to do some self-appraisal. I would suggest further that you consider counseling of some kind–whether academic or psychotherapeutic–to think carefully about what is blocking your path. You also may want to consider getting tested for learning disabilities. You want to sort out whether it is psychological difficulties or some kind of processing difficulty that is making it hard to do this work. Or, alternatively, a simple lack of foundation from your earlier education, in which case you may want to take some more basic math and/or science classes to give you the base you need to re-enter the actual pre-req classes.
Psychological issues may be causing you to take on more than you can handle while doing coursework; to procrastinate; to beat yourself up more than build yourself up; etc. Most of these tendencies have their roots pretty far back (i.e., in messages we got from our childhoods), so this takes some real work to think about, reflect on, and change. Your statement that your kids are “the only things in your life you’ve done right” suggest that there are some of these issues in your life that probably affect your school work. Issues like this are hard to work out but it is not just for pre-med that they are worth considering. Make this a big priority.
Learning disabilities may be simply causing you problems learning, and once identified, they are often possible to overcome.
Finally, tied in w/ the pyschological issues: there may be some conditions in your life (stress, noise, other duties, your living situation, etc) that you are taking for granted but that are impeding your ability to study in profound ways. Related to this is the fact that you’re a mom; thinking about how to balance kids and study time is very difficult for anyone, and it is even more difficult if you’ve got some of these other issues.
Definitely spend some time sorting all of that out, because it’s true that you’ve dug yourself just a bit of a hole and you don’t want to keep digging. I think if you can get some insight and find a new way of going at this, and you can do well from here on out, you could still do this. But don’t charge back into academic work just yet.
Good luck–
sf/boston joe

Just my 2 cents, but have you ever been checked for ADD or ADHD? Not trying to give excuses but 'being too confident in myself. i get impatient and rush things.' sounds so much like what my son deals with every day.
These disorders are physiological instead of psychological. They're not considered 'learning disorders' but they really do hamper the learning process.
Most folks with ADD or ADHD (adults as well as children) use medication to 'slow down' their thinking process so they can concentrate on what they're doing. I hated having to put my son on meds but it's the only way to get him to take his time doing his school work and not rush through. We also use other positive reinforcements to make it work because he's made a habit of rushing through his work and just assuming he did well instead of rechecking his work.
It won't hurt to ask your family doctor about it…

I am also in MN. I've got three children (8,6 and 4) and am slowly hacking away at the pre-med route. I'm also looking at U MN's medical school.
Feel free to PM me…maybe we live close by?

Hello everyone and thank you for all your replies. After reading what joewright and bzmom4 had to say, I will have to agree that I have a learning disability. Initially, I was in shock because the thought of me having ADHD has never crossed my mind. Perhaps it's like the old adage, a doctor can cure all ailments but his own. However, I'm very grateful that finally someone has awaken me. I've busied myself with doing research on the internet about ADHD and learning disability. Ashamed to admit it but I have exhibited many of the symptoms of ADHD categorized by medical experts. Though I haven't been diagnosed yet I'm pretty confident that I'm ADD qualified. Reflecting back, I was often inattentive in class, always spacing out and daydreaming. I had terrible time management and PROCRASTINATOR has been written all over my forehead many times. Under all of your recommendations, I have decided to take this spring semester off and seek medical help. And I will have to say that just by admitting I need professional help I feel so much at ease, like I'm not loaded with this heaviness anymore. It's going to be a long and tough road but I know that the short time I have been here, I was inspired by many of you and I know I can always seek support from this forum.
Thank you for OPM!
Take care and I'll be back to update you all real soon.

Ashamed to admit it but I have exhibited many of the symptoms of ADHD categorized by medical experts.

There is no need to be ashamed, even though that is a common reaction. Should a woman with cerebral palsy be ashamed because she can't walk properly? It's the same thing. Since you have exhibited many of the symptoms, make that dr. appt as soon as possible. He/she should be able to refer you to a good psychologist that can test you for a learning disability and ADD/ADHD.
Please keep posting with us and reading other posts for inspiration, even while taking a break with school. In reading posts in the past, I can tell you that more than one of our members/guests have had ADD or ADHD and succeed with proper treatment (which doesn't always include the meds even though there's nothing wrong with the meds - I liken the meds to wearing a pair of glasses to help you see).
No matter the outcome, there's help. It is so much better than beating yourself up.
I'll be praying for you, your family and your future. (Group hug here)

Hello again everyone! I have good news and bad news. I just had my first session with my psychotherapist and the good news is I don't have ADD and it is very unlikely that I may have a learning disability. The bad news is I'm diagnosed with SEVERE DERESSION and that is what is hindering my ability to concentrate and stay focus. To back track and pry into my private world so you all would understand, in the spring before high school graduation, I attempted suicide. The night of the attempt, I had sneaked out with my boyfriend (now my ex-husband) knowing that my parents would get angry when they find out I'm gone. Being brought up in a strict traditional family, the feeling of guilt and shame just overwhelmed me that night. I saw no other way out. So I took a whole bottle of aspirin and dissolved it in a glass of water and drank it. The last thing I remember was me slipping under my blanket and waking up in the ER. As a result, my grades for my last semester in high school dropped dramatically and yet I was still able to graduate in the top 5% of my class of 400. So as you all read this and relate to what I wrote in my initial post, everything spiraled down hill from there until now. Well, I did go on and have a successful career in accounting. I'm not a CPA but I made a decent living. Ultimately, my depression took control of me when my ex-husband left us in September of 1999 and what was to follow are years of bad luck. I got laid off from my well paying job in June of 2000 and my father passed away in the summer of 2001 from a stroke. Also in 2002, I forced myself to give up my children (I drive to see them almost everyday, 30 miles each way, and participate in their school/afterschool activities) and house to my ex-husband due to financial distress and concentrate on my dream of going to medical school (we all know how that has ended, but I'm still HOPEFUL). And now just shortly after we entered the 2003 year, I'm manic depressive (I've always been and just didn't know it)! I can tell you, I have had my share of the bad luck streaks. What's next? Nothing that I can't battle. I'm still breathing and will breathe until I have the initials MD written after my name.
Anyway, I'm off track here. My therapist and I agreed that I go into counseling once a week and if I do choose, I can start on an antidepressant medication that will help my concentration and focus so I can become a kick-ass doctor! The only concern I have about taking medication is that I have friends on Prozac and they often times look spaced out and or not all there. What do you all think?
Gosh, it feels good to get all that out of my chest!
Please leave your comments whether they will be words of criticism or encouragement, I welcome all.

Wow, my hat’s off to you for relating that whole story and for putting one foot in front of the other each day - you know, when you are severely depressed, just getting through each day is a HUGE accomplishment. You have had to work SO hard - when you get past this depression you will be amazed to find that doing more is actually a lot less work, if that makes sense.
Please do strongly consider taking an antidepressant, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s not a sedative - I don’t know why you might have observed friends being “spacey” while taking it, but most people find that Prozac is quite energizing - in fact one of its side effects is insomnia. (with your diagnosis of manic-depression, this is something you’ll want to be vigilant about) Secondly, it will help you in your therapy work quite a bit. It is absolutely possible to recover from depression without the use of an antidepressant, but the medication can help a lot.
I do not have the long difficult history with depression that you have, but I did get depression at one point several years ago and recovered from it with both therapy and medication. I have some sense of how you feel - each day is like trying to swim through mud right now. I am so glad that you are getting help. Therapy will help you prioritize and put your meager energies where they’ll help the most - right now, that’s toward getting better, but eventually you’ll feel a lot better and have much more energy and focus. (I didn’t tell anyone this until I’d actually gotten in to medical school, but it was my psychotherapist who gave me the idea of going and encouraged me!)
I wish you all the best!

You go, girl! It's great to see fellow depressives still out there sloggin'.
Antidepressants changed my life and I could not be doing this without them. My memory and concentration have improved dramatically while on medication. That being said, it may take a few tries to find the right one for you. Some people DO get spacey on one drug and then do great on another. If you decide to go for medication, keep in touch with your doc and keep track of your symptoms until you find just the right thing for you.

Mary, thank you for your encouraging words. I'm happy to say that my Dr. put me on an antidepressant medication for a week now and definitely I have noticed improvements in my self-esteem, memory, and the ability to pay attention and stay concentrated and focused. I no longer have panic or anxiety attacks. All the above were what I was struggling with in the past and probably contributed to why I did poorly in college. I don't know why it took me this long to realize I have depression. So many good years wasted.
samenewme, as mentioned, my Dr. put me on Lexapro, a form of Celexa. Only a week on it and I have noticed improvements. The medication makes me drowsy so I take it at night. How long were you on yours? And did you have any side effects?

just thought i would share this with you all.
when i first walked into my therapist office a month and a half ago, i noticed a welting gardenia plan with flower buds but no budding flowers. we got to talking about flowers and gardening (my favorite pastimes) and she asked me what she can do to get her flowers blooming. it occured to me that her plant was in direct sunlight and her room was usually warm. i told her to move her plan from the window and lower her room temp. the next few sessions, we saw new growth in the plant in its new location. and just this past friday, i walked into her office and she pointed her finger at the corner where the plant was. There were flowers!
as i can easily relate this to my life. i started therapy like the welting buds. and today, i feel im on my way to fully realizing my potential. i may still need to take baby steps and attempt big tasks in small increments but eventually with the right nourishment, i will also bloom.
thanks for reading.