New member - please help!!!

Dear all,

I am new to this website and I have to say: I am realy impressed with the little community thriving here. With that being said, let me tell you about myself.

I am a thirty-six-years-old female. I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2005 with majors in Microbiology and Molecular and Cell Biology, emphasis in Immunology. Prior to that, I attended a community college. I have to admit that it took me six years to finish school because not only did I have to work through my college years almost full time, but also had to learn English as a first generation immigrant, who came to the U.S. at the age of twenty-three (one of the best things that have ever happened to me). My cumulative GPA is 3.76; my science GPA is 3.66; my Berkeley GPA is 3.449; my community college GPA is 3.75; my MCAT score, taken in April 2005, was 28P (8 VR, 10 BIO, 10 SCI). I have volunteered in the hospital for almost a year and a half–six months in a children’s surgery center and currently in NICU–but have never shadowed a doctor. I have applied to med. schools twice–once in 2005 and the second time in 2006–no luck. It’s funny, I should probably give up on med. school, but that’s not at all the case. I want to apply this year again, but I have doubts. It’s not that I doubt myself, but I feel like my career aspiration is not on par with the reality of the world we live in from a thirty-six-year-old female.

Please help me with your advice. Should I apply; should I go for a master’s program first; do I have any chances left for me to apply to med. shcool again or am I too old as a female applicant? What should I do differently to be a successful applicant?

Thanks in advance for your answers.

  • tiha

Hi, Tiha.

First off, welcome to the community! Hopefully you will find both answers and support as you work towards your goal.

Second, you absolutely are NOT too old, male or female.

Your numbers are not terrible at all. It looks like you took a ding on verbal reasoning, which is understandable given that your first language isn’t English.

When you applied the other two times, did you get interviews but didn’t get accepted, or were you not successful in getting interviews at all?

Here are some things I’d recommend (perhaps you’ve already done these):

  1. Given the details of your grades, MCAT score, and volunteering you should not give up on your dream if it is to become a physician!

  2. Continue the volunteering in the hospital, and also consider becoming involved in community organizations in a volunteer capacity. This will show some breadth of experiences.

  3. Try to find a doctor you’ve developed a good rapport with in your volunteering experiences to shadow. This could be a great way to get a letter of recommendation! If you don’t have enough contact with the physicians to know who would be good to shadow, ask the nurses or other staff with whom you work for their recommendations. You want one that will engage you in the process and enjoy it rather than one who feels obligated.

  4. Double check on how long the MCAT is good for. You may need to retake. If you do need to retake make sure that you study hard (general info leaves our heads fast when we don’t apply it regularly!) and do as many practice questions as you can. I would also recommend trying to get your hands on every verbal passage you can to practice those skills.

  5. Try to take a real good look at your past applications to see why schools aren’t accepting you. Your numbers don’t seem to be what’s holding you back to me, but I’m not in the admissions committee’s heads! Is it that you didn’t have any volunteer or healthcare experience? Is there something else in your application that is setting off red flags? Etc.

  6. Make sure that you are applying to as wide a range of schools as you can given your circumstances. This includes geography, how they’re ranked, etc.

  7. Consider going the DO route instead of the MD if you haven’t already. Of course there is much more to the application than just grades and MCAT score, but your numbers would certainly match or exceed applicants whom DO schools generally accept. In my area of the country, DO’s are respected to the same level of MD’s and are represented in nearly all areas of medicine.

    I wish you all the luck in the world!

Hi MD2B2010,

Thank you so much for your thorough reply. You are right on on everything you said: MCAT verbal, volunteering for a doctor, volunteering for a community organization, going over my application, etc.

I will be taking the MCAT this April and am hoping to volunteer for a doctor. The nurses and a few doctors that I have had contact with love me and appreciate what I do for them, but I am–unfortunately–just so shy to ask for help. I have to get my senses together and ask one of the doctors to shadow him. As for volunteering for a community organization, collectively, I have tutored for almost 2 years: a year in the community college I went to and almost a year in a building inhabited with low-income families. Does this count? And what do med. schools consider a red flag? Could it be my letters of recommendations? I am shy and am thinking maybe my letters really don’t reflect who I am maybe because I didn’t even tell my professors about my background other than giving them my resume and my transcripts before asking them for a letter. One of my school councilors told me to make sure my recommenders reflect my disadvantaged background in their letters (sorry guys–I hope this is not a taboo on this site).

So, I guess I have to take the MCAT again, add a few things to my application packet and perhaps rethink sending the same letters in; it’s just difficult to find a professor who knows you well after leaving school for almost five years. Any advice on this … ?

Thanks a lot MD2B2010 - you inspired me.

  • tiha