Feel free to think I’m crazy and ignore this post. I just had to talk to someone about it.
I’m not religious (used to be, am now agnostic, but that’s another story), but for some reason, I think that something or someone is either taunting me, or trying to push me into pursuing a medical career.
It seems that, whenever I want to give up because my GPA is absolute crap and just accept that I can’t become a doctor, something happens to make me think that all is not lost.
While keeping in mind that confirmation bias is very real, I think the timing is odd. A couple of examples:
- When I first realized that I was legitimately interested in medicine, I was tempted to rule it out as being absurd due to the aforementioned GPA, but upon doing some research about options available to MD/DO-wannabes with low GPAs, I came across something about Texas’ Academic Fresh Start program. Being a Texan, and more importantly, having started college ten years ago at 17, this interested me, but then I realized that it would only address the grades that were ten years or older, which means that the more recent sucky grades would still be reported. However, it’s an option, one that I did not know existed, and that could give me a chance to prove myself.
- My mother loves to shop at thrift stores and garage sales. I’ve gotten two Coach purses from her excursions (had them verified by a friend who works at Coach). She brought us some of her finds about three weeks ago, and for some reason, picked up a blue scrub top from the pile and gave it to me. It was odd that she gave this to me on that day, because a few hours before her visit, I’d decided that there was no way I could ever get into any medical school, and was actually quite depressed at the thought. My mother and I are not close at all, and she doesn’t know about my new ambition. I previously wanted to be a lawyer, but decided against it two years ago. It’s not what I want to do, even though decent schools would take my low gpa, and I would be great at it.
- This past Saturday, I was out cruising garage sales with my grandmother (it’s in our blood, really), when I came across a textbook about emergency care. I like the idea of being an ER doc, but again, I’d been questioning my ability to actually become a physician, and was leaning toward it not being in the cards for me when I came across that book.
Maybe these are just well-timed coincidences, or just good old confirmation bias, but I thought it was interesting and wanted to share. Still, I can’t tell if it’s genuine encouragement, or if I’m being taunted over what I can’t have. I mean, how many people do you know that LOVE being in a hospital, watching the staff do their jobs? My recent hospitalization (gallstones from not eating enough) was, strangely awesome. It’s kind of depressing to think that I’ve permanently shot all my chances of working in an environment I like down the crapper.
I don’t think you’re being taunted. Perhaps the desire of your spirit for medicine is highlighting each of these occurances to keep the idea alive.
Regarding the Texas “fresh start” program - that will probably affect application to texas medical schools (your best bet anyway). Unfortunately it will not help for AMCAS or AACOMAS application because EVERY grade you ever took is reported (regardless of academic bankruptcy or academic forgiveness). On the AACOMAS application, however, only the most recent grade in a repeated course is averaged in to your grade.
Read one of the original OPM member’s diaries, OldMan Dave to see how he overcame a gpa in the 2’s to get into medical school and succeed. At least you’d have a trail blazed ahead to follow :). One thing that is necessary is to decide for certain if you have the passion to pursue this - it’s not for the faint-hearted or wavering. Start with shadowing some physicians to be sure if this is the life you want. That will either dissuade you or, perhaps, give you the momentum to overcome the obstacles.
Sounds more to me like your mind is making these connections because it’s something you truly desire.
If that’s the case, start exploring your options! As Kate mentioned, it’s been done before. AACOMAS sees all of your grades but only incorporates the re-takes into GPA calculations, and although AMCAS averages all grades, re-taking and showing a trend of academic improvement will help you even if your GPA is still on the low end overall.
Thanks for the insight, as always. Kate, my grandmother suggested that I try to get a PA position with her gyno earlier today, but I think she’s confused as to what PAs are and what kind of training they have, lol. Would it be weird if I asked him if I could shadow him for a few hours each week? I’m not in undergrad anymore, so the novelty of “oh, she’s young and wants to learn the ropes” is probably a non-factor. I’ve met him (sort of), and think he’s approachable, but, you know, I am very self-conscious. And the whole gyno thing is off-putting. No offense to anyone who wants to specialize in it gynecology and/or obstetrics, but I am so not into that. I will take whatever experience I can get, and work on it
Also, I think you’re right on the money about my needing to do some serious soul-searching and figure out if this is truly what I want, but from the experiences I’ve had over the past couple of years, I think I have it right. Are there other career choices available to me? Yes. Do I want to pursue them? Yes, but not as much as this. I know I’ve wavered and still continue to doubt myself, but it’s mostly due to my GPA woes. It’s a constant sense of, “You don’t deserve it, and you couldn’t do it if you tried”. I know it’s pathetic, but that’s how I feel a lot of the time. I’m sure it’s old hat for some OPM-ers (especially qtipp and OMD when they first started), but it’s new for me.
I’ve been thinking about what I said “it’s not for the fainthearted or wavering”…which was patently unfair. I felt VERY faint, and I wavered a great deal, especially mid first year when I was actually here! Not on whether I wanted to be a doctor, but “will anyone want me (in med school)?” and “will I pass?” and “will I survive?” (it’s pretty tiring, and only more so, I think, when one is older and out of condition). I’ve gotten tremendous inspiration and encouragement here, and great encouragement from my friends and family. So, perhaps I’ve been guilty of a little pontificating. Yes, this is new to you and no one else’s experience is going to be everything you need to know because your own experience may well be different.
If you share that you are thinking about medicine, it is on that basis that those docs who let students shadow them will accept you. Some don’t - a lot do. If gyn is not your bag, perhaps you should approach other doctors. I’d say contact the state osteopathic medical association if you want to shadow a DO as they keep a list of docs for that. Perhaps approach your family doctor. When I was first thinking about going to med school I approached my family doctor of many years. He was actually very encouraging --offered to let me shadow, offered to write a letter of recommendation, gave me lots of counsel and encouragment. I had worked with him a few years before on a patient of mine (I was a nurse midwife) whom I was doing labor support for in the hospital, whom he was delivering. So we crossed paths somewhat professionally. This was before any CNM’s had privileges in hospitals in the area. I’d say, approach any connections you have regarding getting the opportunity to shadow several different physicians.
On the plus side, being in Texas is a HUGE advantage when it comes to going to med school there. As you may know, they have their own application system (that will only look at the grades since your Fresh Start) and the schools have a mandate to ensure that 90%+ of their students are state residents (and most schools are closer to 98%.
Some disadvantages of the Fresh Start to consider: as others mentioned, this will only affect your grades for Texas schools (though having to retake many of the classes will allow the DO school grade replacement to kick in) and it does NOT reset your federal financial aid eligibility, which can be important when looking at how you are going to finance your undergrad schooling (there is a completely different set of eligibility for med school work, so it’s not really a concern there).
When you mention poor performance in the past, it is important to take a realistic look at why you got those bad grades. If it was because you partied all the time and didn’t go to class, that’s something easily corrected with maturity. If it is because you truly struggled with your courses, however, you need to take an honest look at your ability to perform in med school.
Assuming it’s immaturity that caused the low grades, how bad exactly are we talking when you mention your recent poor performance? Rough GPA/number of hours? It’s good to know so you have a clear idea of what your performance needs to be like when you return to school to perform GPA repair. Coming back from a 2.8 with 30 credit hours is obviously very different than a 2.2 with 60. ~60 credit hours of As will being the former to a ~3.6 (ie-very competitive for med school admissions), those same hours would bring the later to a ~3.1 (ie-you run a good chance of being eliminated by automatic screening processes before a human even gets a chance to read your inspiring comeback tale).
Most importantly, good luck! If you have the will, it’s definitely possible, it just might be a harder/longer road for some. But one I feel is well worth traveling (I hope I still feel the same in three years when I’m sitting down to a table full of acceptance letters trying to decide which one I want to take ).