New here. Am I delusional?

Hi everyone! I am so glad to have found this site. I apologize for starting yet another “am I out of my mind” thread, but here goes…

I am currently finishing up my PhD in social welfare at an elite private school. I will be 36 years old when I graduate. When I first embarked upon my college journey a million years ago, I was a pre-med biology major. I completed 1 year od bio and 1 semester each of gen chem and physics. I got all A’s, and I maintained a 4.0 average throughout my freshman and sophomore year.

Then tragedy struck. Here’s the short version of what happened: Due to family problems, I ended up becoming homeless. Nonetheless, I busted my ass and managed to get back into school by the following semester. Needless to say, my grades suffered a lot. As a result, I decided to abandon my dream of becoming a physician and I changed my major.

I graduated with a 3.0. Terrible, I know. I should have taken time off from school to get my act together, but at the time I felt that to withdraw from school would be tantamount to admitting defeat. So I have a number of W’s and 2 F’s on my transcripts.

I ended up getting a master’s degree in social work because my motivation to practice medicine had always been altruism, plain and simple. I worked as a social worker in child welfare for a couple of years, and then I worked as a research assistant in the psychiatry dept of a very renowned med school for 2 years. At that point, I decided to pursue a PhD because I missed being in an academic environment.

So here I am. While I love what I’m doing, the dream of becoming a physician has never completely died. I’m contemplating applying to a post-bac program after I get my PhD, but I’m afraid that my undergrad GPA will hold me back. I’ve always had an aptitude for the hard sciences, and I’m confident that I can do well in a post-bac program. However, I don’t want to waste my time if my undergrad GPA would be a fatal flaw in my application. I would definitely go the DO route, because I am interested in general pediatrics.

Other relevant issues that might impact my application: I’m Puerto Rican (I’m not trying to start a debate on affirmative action here. I just happen to be Puerto Rican, and I know that an ad comm would take this under consideration), I worked as a phlebotomist for a year, and I have an ENORMOUS amount of volunteer experience under my belt.

So am I delusional? Do I have a snowball’s chance in hell?

Welcome to OPM! If your 3.0 is largely related to your bad semester of homelessness, then you can explain it as anomalous. If you can turn in a stellar performance from here on out, you definitely have a chance. I’m in med school right now and should be studying, so I’ll leave other, wiser folks to give you more detailed advice.

But you’ve definitely come to the right place!

Hi, and welcome

I’d be careful about calling your 3.0 largely related to life stressors “terrible” - it’s a lot better than many here with fewer reasons, myself included

You’ve accomplished a lot and demonstrated a lot of character, and it sounds like you’ve frequently excelled academically as well. Were I in the position to look at your application to med school, my first question might be “Why did you want to earn a PhD and then not make use of it?” Ok, something along those lines, and I am in no way an AdCom, so take everything I say with a grain of salt

Will your undergrad GPA be considered? Sure. Will it hold you back? I don’t think so. If that’s what’s holding you back - by all means, sir, have at it

pseudo-edit: evidently, I believe that smileys make excellent puntuation for the end of paragraphs

I’ve thought a lot about how I would spin the whole PhD thing. My doctoral training has afforded me the opportunity to learn a great deal about research methodology. My research has focused on substance abuse among older adolescents in the foster care system. I think that getting a DO would allow me to expand my research into behavioral pediatrics.

Does that sound at least somewhat reasonalbe?

Thanks for the feedback everyone!

I wouldn’t limit yourself to DO schools, as some MD schools may be better suited to your PhD/MD combo and may be more interested in what you want to do with it. I also think that telling your story will help explain the GPA. Finally, doing a post-bac program or just taking post-bac courses at a good school which doesn’t have a formal program is an important step–for one thing, you’ll definitely need letters of recommendation from college science profs who know the person you are now, plus it’ll help show that your GPA is of the past.

I don’t think you should argue that you want to do research if you don’t–in which case you should think more deeply than “spin” about the real reasons you’re switching from academia to medicine. It’s actually true that the truth will generally serve you better, not only in terms of making a convincing case for yourself, but in terms of examining your own motivations and feeling resolved about the twists and tangles from which you come.

Good luck, and welcome to OPM.