My nontrad path to medical school

Hi everyone,

I have been following this forum and religiously listening to the podcast for quite some time now so I thought I’d try and get some direct advice.

I came to America for college (originally from Romania) on a student visa in order to pursue medicine. I majored in neuroscience and as a naive first year who just got thrown into the american college system I had no idea that it is harder for international students to get into medical school. A premed advisor quickly let me know that there is no way I will ever get accepted to med school and I should change careers. I was devastated at the time but luckily because I had already started doing research in a lab and found it fascinating I decided to pursue a phd instead. I graduated in august 2015 and have been working as a research assistant in a lab ever since. However, I have never quite gotten over the desire to pursue medicine and am even entertaining the idea of becoming a physician scientist. Because I am now older and wiser(hopefully) and after listening to the premed years and the oldpremeds podcast I decided to just go ahead and pursue my dream of becoming a physician.

During my undergrad years I prioritized working in the lab 8-10 hours a day instead of taking care of my grades and so I ended up with a 3.1 cumulative and 3.2 science gpa. I have been looking at SMP programs as well as postbac programs and I am not sure which would be better for me. Which one would help me the most for my situation? SMP sounds more interesting, but I am not sure if I would be able to get into a competitive SMP program with my grades.

I currently only have non-clinical volunteering hours and pretty much no clinical experience in the US (have shadowed extensively in high school in Romania), but I am willing to quit my research job and get a clinically relevant job in the next few months. I forgot to mention I have 3 high authorship publications in prestigious journals with 1 more on the way, but I don’t know if med schools will care very much about that. I am planning on applying in June 2018 and using the time remaining to get clinical experience and improve my application with an SMP program (or postbac). I am also planning on taking the MCAT in September 2017.

Just to reiterate from my lengthy post my main questions are:

In my situation would a postbac or would an SMP be more helpful in order for me to show that I can do well in a competitive environment?

What clinically relevant jobs (preferably full time) could I get that would provide me with maximum patient interaction? So far I have seen scribe, nurse assistant and emt thrown around, but I am not sure which would be more valuable.

Would med schools look at my application even if it’s clear my path in the past few years has been clearly towards research and not “pre-med like”?

I am still a long way from applying, but I have decided this is what I truly want to do with my life so hopefully I have the smallest chance of getting into med school. I’d love to hear other people’s opinions.

You don’t need to work clinically to get clinical experience. Volunteering in a clinical capacity at a hospital or a clinic is ‘good enough’. Frankly working clinically in those jobs you mentioned may be exciting but in terms of experience don’t really give you more than shadowing would IMO.Your research experience is very beneficial and is a huge plus. If you get paid well and you enjoy it, there’s no reason to switch to a new job when you can get clinical experience by volunteering. If you already have all the pre-reqs, a SMP is probably a better option since there’s no longer grade replacement. Unless you got C’s in pre-reqs, then it may be a better idea to retake them and have the grades average out. That also depends on how you plan on studying for the MCAT. Why don’t you reach out to a local school and ask what they would like? It’s never too early to build relationships with schools and they can give you a better idea of what they consider appropriate for applicants. Good Luck on your journey!