New guy here, yep...looking for advice

I’ve been listening to Dr.Gray’s Old Premed podcast and I feel like he has helped me recognize how to best redirect my path to achieve my goal. I’ve also been listening to his Specialty Stories podcast and this has really helped me to visualize the long game and see what the light at the end of the tunnel looks like! Thanks for the great Podcasts Dr.Gray!

Like the title says I’m new here after having listened to the podcast for a month or two now and I’m looking for some insight or advice from anyone that can shed a little light. Here are the facts:

I’m 29 years old. I’m currently an active duty US Army Officer. I deploy often to areas with little to no internet access making it difficult for online prereqs. I received my undergrad degree in bio with an overall GPA of 2.96 and an even worse sGPA (I know, not great). Much of my focus in college was on becoming an Army officer and so although medicine has been a passion of mine since childhood, it became more of a hobby during my undergrad years. I have not taken the MCAT and I plan to take it after completing a few courses to renew my knowledge. I have no clinical experience in the US but when I deploy I often work with foreign clinics, Non-Governmental Organizations (like WHO) and the CDC. I work closely with the Ambassador and US Embassy staff. After almost 8 years in the military and several deployments around the world my love of medicine is renewed and my focus has shifted completely to making myself more competitive for Medical School.

So here are the questions:

I’m curious if anyone here has any experience with being in the military and trying to climb out of the GPA black hole. I’ve heard its better to take higher level sciences to prove I’m capable but its been almost 10 years since I’ve taken some of the premed favorites (Chem, O Chem, Physics etc.). Additionally, does anyone have any insight into the value of military experience in the eyes of admissions committees? I have so many more questions but I think I need to just start here. Any help is greatly appreciated.

How the school views your military experience will depend on the school and how you sell it. There’s at least one school (East Tennessee) that actually looks to recruit veterans. I go to a private school and there are 6 former active duty officers in my class (navy, af, and army), but I don’t think there are any in any of the other classes (class below me has a prior enlisted marine).

How you sell it is HUGE, and I would highly recommend bouncing your application off of someone in a civilian career field (doesn’t necessarily have to be medicine) to ensure what you’re writing translates into the “real” world. Focus more on the broader aspects of your career, leading troops, working with NGOs and your role in international development, etc, versus the “i was in a fox hole in afghanistan, you want me!”. I incorporated a little bit of mission-related stuff, but moreso as an example of thinking outside the box, adapting to unforeseen circumstances, handling pressure, etc. Most of my interviewers spoke highly of their former-military colleagues, so there’s definitely a plus to it. My best interview was with a retired O6, so there may be a little networking to be had as well.

All that said, your experiences alone won’t be able to offset that GPA. The best you can hope for at this point is to take classes and do well to show massive maturity and academic ability gains. Some places will put a higher emphasis on more recent coursework since it has been so long since you graduated and you’ve lived outside of the academic environment. Other than getting a second bachelors degree, there probably aren’t enough credits in the world to pull your overall GPA up to what it would need to be coming straight out of undergrad.

If you want to talk offline, click my name then find the little “send email” button, as I don’t think you have the ability to send PMs in this forum for some reason. I was active duty air force for 11 years before starting school. There are at least a couple other former military folks in the forum who are starting med school this summer, though they’ve been pretty quiet on the boards.

Thanks, kennymac, for the reply. I definitely appreciate the advice. My biggest decision point is similar to many non-trads. Do I get out now and focus on DIY post-bacc/MCAT or do I try to balance this with work? Especially since this job requires us to be away so often…certainly a lot to think about.

I’ll try to send you an email and maybe we can discuss further. Thanks again for your advice.