Navigating post bacc, FT job, and partner who is currently a med student

Hi Everyone! First of all, I just have to say how excited I am that I found this community. I discovered this podcast during an 8-hour drive out to rural eastern Oregon and ended up listening to it the whole time. It’s really comforting to meet others out there who have/are facing similar barriers to applying to medical school, and to hear real solutions to some of these roadblocks. I am a 27-year-old female looking to apply to medical school hopefully in the year 2021 or 2022. My significant other who I have lived with for the last four years is currently a third-year medical student and will graduate in spring 2021. I would like to be starting medical school the year he starts his residency, or the year following. In a perfect world, we would go to programs in close proximity. We are very realistic that we have little control over this, but would settle for same coast/time zone at the very least. That being said, I want to take my time and do this right in order to be a competitive applicant wherever I apply.

A little background; I completed almost all my prerequisites during my four years in undergrad. I graduated in 2015 from a small private liberal arts college with a BS in biology (chem and psych minors). Like many in this forum, I did not have a strong start to college. I was unfocused, under prepared, and put too much on my plate as a collegiate athlete and a member of Greek life, as well as various clubs on campus. I finished college with a cumulative GPA of 3.012 (3.063 if you add the three post bacc classes I took at the local community college over the last year). My cumulative science GPA is 2.992. While my overall GPA is not great, I did show a strong upward trend. I went from a 2.5 GPA as a freshman to earning a 3.66 GPA in my senior year. Science GPA my senior year of college alone 3.658. Within those first two not so strong years, I had a particularly bad semester the first half of my sophomore year. That semester I earned a 1.925, further tanking my GPA. This was the result of taking intro bio, organic chem, and calculus at the same time, also during volleyball season, which I often traveled for on the weekends. My GPA that semester was only made up of 8 credits, as I decided to take a W in calculus to avoid the possibility of failing one of the classes due to stretching myself too thin. After that semester I decided to quit volleyball in order to focus on school. I still stayed involved on campus, but at a more manageable level. My biggest hurdle was learning how to study efficiently and get over my test taking anxiety. Although I got C’s in both semesters of my intro bio class, I went on to work as a lab TA and tutor for the class my junior and senior year. I received mostly A’s (a few B’s) in all my upper division biology classes.
My clinical experience over the last 5 years is strong. Two years working for a scribe company. The second year of this was as a trainer, working with different MD/DOs and other mid-level providers across 7+ outpatient specialties. In the middle of my time with the scribe company I took a two month leave of absence to complete an internship abroad in the burn unit at a children’s hospital in South Africa, a lot of this experience was shadowing, some pt interaction, and data collection on a research paper with the head of the department. I went on to work as an MA in an urgent care for a year, where I was also trained in phlebotomy. For the last two years, I have been working in a high volume orthopedic/sports medicine clinic as a certified orthopedic tech. This certification has opened many doors, functioning mostly as an MA in the clinic, but also allowing me to first assist in outpatient surgeries. Whether I am in the clinic or the OR, I am interacting with pt’s daily at my job as well as other physicians. Outside of work I have been a volunteer for the Children’s Cancer Association (CCA) for the last 3 years as a Chemo Pal Mentor. I have been matched with the same 12-year-old child this entire time, while she undergoes treatment for ALL.
The only prereq I have not taken is physics, which I plan to start this winter. I plan to take my time studying for the MCAT once I finish physics. If that timeline poorly aligns with the upcoming application cycle, I have no problem waiting for the following application cycle in order to get everything in early.
My grades are my biggest barrier, and I know that is likely where I need to spend my time improving. I feel my progress towards the end of college is promising and my clinical experience and volunteering is very strong/consistent, but is it enough?. I have an amazing, hands on, patient care job that pays well. I don’t feel leaving my job or even going part time is an option in order to take a full time post bacc or consider a special masters program, especially because I am our primary source of income, supplemented by my partners med school loans. Assuming I get an A through the physics series and score well on the MCAT, would you still suggest more post bacc classes? If so, is it going to look bad if I take the cheaper route and take these at a community college? Is it bad to only take one class a term versus showing I can handle a full load on top of a full time job? If I do take post bacc classes, do I retake some of the earlier classes I got C’s in as a 18/19 year old? Or do I take other upper division science classes I have not yet taken?

Coming up with a solid plan for the next 1-2 years has been overwhelming, I appreciate any input anyone may have!