New pre-med military spouse/veteran

Hi everyone, I’m very excited to be apart of this forum! I’m just starting my medical journey, and I know I’m going to have a lot of questions, and I’m hoping this group will help

I am a 29 year old female veteran. I graduated from one of the service academies and did 6 years as an officer in the military. I got out with the expectation to land a great job in the corporate world. Looked around tried a few things and nothing was appealing. I did a long time of soul searching while trying to find the right fit, and realized that I am drawn to helping, healing and mentoring people. I’m specifically interested in functional medicine and Endocrinology.

I was a two sport NCAA D1 athlete at the academy, and my focus was definitely not on my grades. I majored in political science/international relations, to ease the course work. I missed 3 out of 5 days of school a week due to traveling with athletics. And, in those young years, I didn’t spend what little extra time I had studying. My first two years weren’t great, and junior and senior year I did better but was trying to dig myself out of the hole I got myself into from the years before. I ended with a measly 2.55 gpa.

In the military I did great and ranked at the top of my peers. I have confidence that I will be able to do well in my pre-med course. But, I’m worried that my academic history will haunt me close some doors. I know people say it’s your recent grades that count the most, but I need 65 credit hours with straight A’s to raise it to a 3.0…I did good in physics, but I have to retake chem1 and 2, and take all the other pre-med courses(ochem, biochem, bio1 bio2, and possibly some extras like physiology and anatomy).

I have been accepted to school initially as a post baccalaureate non-degree seeking student to start my pre-med courses in summer school. Are there any pros/cons with being a non-degree? The GI Bill will ony cover 2 years being a non-degree declared student…

My husband is in the military still and we are locked into a certain location for the next 1.8 years, and then we will be moving. I’m hoping to

knock out most, if not all of my pre-med courses here before we have to move to the next duty station. Anyone out there in this situation of being a military spouse through this process and have any good advice?

Also, because my husband is in the military and we will be moving in a couple years and we don’t know where we are going, I’m trying to be the most marketable to the most Medical schools as possible. Does anyone have any recommendations for that?

Thank you!!

That’s a toughie all around…

I think you’re on the right track. Take the prereqs and excel, retake what you need to and excel, and think about taking some sciences above the normal premed level to further show your academic prowess while increasing the number of credits for your “recency” of coursework. I say this for a couple of reasons. 1) It makes sense that to make yourself seem less of a gamble, you prove yourself beyond the basics. And 2) Schools definitely do gauge a lot on the most recent coursework to see how you are as a student now. This is highlighted by such policies as LSU-New Orleans’ 32 hour benchmark which you can read about on their site. It wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to think that some schools have similar unofficial policies.

That being said, you are working your way out of a hole, especially for MD schools. Granted, there are both MD and DO schools that value reinvention. As a prior academy guy myself, I get the cadet mindset of doing what is necessary to graduate because you have a guaranteed job. I think in your essays, you should highlight the amount of responsibility you had as a cadet athlete which caused you to put academics at a lower priority. However, you proved yourself to not be a slacker by being great at your job and at a level above your peers.

Your military experience will stand out on its own, though you’ll have to talk about how it made you a better person, taught you leadership, etc, and how it will make you a great doc. Since you’ll have some time out of the military, you should participate in some activities that show how you are “drawn to helping, healing, and mentoring people.” Actions say so much more than words to the admissions folks. You’ll also want to do some physician shadowing to get a better picture of what it means to be a doc (some schools actually require it, but many seem to have it as an unofficial requirement). I think that type of stuff will make you marketable to the broadest range of schools. As an aside, some schools actually give minor preference to vets.

I think the greatest worry will be to align med school with your husband’s next assignment(s). There are some schools near bases, but I couldn’t tell you many off the top of my head. The tough part about medical school is that the admissions process highly favors the schools for most applicants. You apply broadly because different schools will see you differently, and it’s hard to nail down how you’ll look to certain schools. So as an applicant, you essentially are making a dream sheet, and your “assignment” is given to you. If you’re lucky, you’ll have options. Senior year, you enter the match for residency. This is, again, like filling out a dream sheet. You’re then told where you’ll be going for your transitional year or residency. It’s not really until you’re residency complete that you gain some power into where you go next. It’s almost like you’re still a dual-mil family without the option of checking the joint-spouse block.

Feel free to PM me with any specific questions. I’m 10+ years active duty making the transition to school. While my spouse isn’t military, I think I can understand where you’re coming from.

Welcome, this a fantastic forum to begin your journey. First piece of advice, if you also visit studentdocotrforums, take their advice and criticisms with a bite of lime and shot of tequila.

I am also a married veteran, though I was enlisted, and spent less time in than you. I served as a combat medic with an infantry unit in Iraq.

My question to you would be: why do you want to be a doctor? My next question would be: have you spent time around hospital doctors, to see what it is they actually do all day? These are essential and fundamental. The “I want to help people” mantra is commendable, but you can work in statistics or environmental health in a capacity which benefits society to a great degree. I was inteterested in primary care, or at least I thought I was, until I found out that 1) it’s not exactly what I thought it was - and this is coming from a medical background wherein I worked with doctors directly, and 2) the work that it takes to get into medicine is so astronomically incredible that I am finding it not worth what I thought I wanted to do.

I do not mean to discourage you, though I understand that is the way this post comes across, but rather to encourage you to get your hands dirty with medical work before you take the plunge as it is a committment which will consume, from pre-reqs to practice, 10 years or so…ish. Again, not be discouraging, but there are plenty of routes into the world of healthcare which I now wish I would have paid more attention to on my journey here.

Best of luck to you, if you find that this is truly what you want to do, than I wish you all the best in your studies and pursuit!