New to OPM

Hello, My name is Mona. I am looking for some guidance. I am 26 years old, and have a B.S. and M.S. in clinical nutrition and dietetics from the University of Pittsburgh. I am currently a registered dietitian working with dialysis patients across 4 dialysis clinics (2 urban, 2 suburban --very diverse patient backgrounds). I have about 1 year experience working in the renal world. I love working with this patient population and would like to pursue medicine and become a nephrologist so that I can better provide care, however I have considered other specialties such as gastroenterology/cardiolo gy/endocrinology. I also worked as an RD in long-term care for a year. During the school year, I teach nutrition to nursing students at a private 4-yr university. I have a very strong extracurricular record including volunteer research experience in both nutrition and neuroscience (published co-author); multiple leadership roles at the local, state and national level for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association); and internships in quality assurance for a local grocery chain, the International Food Information Council in D.C., and my supervised practice experiences leading to registration as a dietitian.

My academic degrees were heavy in science and applied science course work, however I did enjoy taking classes such as art, music, computer programming, etc. I am not sure which classes are used in calculating a science gpa, but my overall gpa for undergrad was 3.173, master was 3.691. I received AP credit for Bio 1, and took Bio 2 (B-) with lab (B+) in college. Other basic science courses (not including those that are nutriton-related) included chem 1 (B) and 2 (B-)with labs, principles of ochem (C+), human physiology (B), clinical biochemistry ©, intro to microbiology ©, and at the master’s level: epidemiology (B), pathophysiology (A-), and pharmacology ©. As you can see mostly B and C’s - I had never really considered I would want to pursue medicine.

Currently, I am taking physics 1 and 2 this summer at community college and plan to take ochem 1 and 2 with labs during the school year. I chose to take them at community college due to cost and scheduling difficulty due to working 50+ hours a week. I have no choice at the moment to decrease my work hours due to paying down my school loans, etc. I plan to take a MCAT review course once I finish these classes. I am looking into both D.O. and M.D. schools however I do not feel my gpa is competitive enough for M.D. I plan to job shadow both an MD and DO in the field of nephrology.

Any guidance to help my situation? How do I find a pre-med advisor if my community college doesn’t have one? I have the MSAR book and have been looking at schools, but am not sure what is realistic for me. How many schools should I be consider applying to? Am I missing any steps in my preparation plan?

Thank you for your insight,


Welcome to OPM, Mona! Sounds like you have a rich background! Your plan of retaking O Chem sounds like a good one. I believe you may have to take Bio 1 with lab because AP credit can not be used for prerequisites.

When doing a DIY post-bac, you often have to do without a premed advisor. The MSAR book is a good place to look. You should be thinking of perhaps 12-20 schools as your geographic preferences, supply of schools, and money allow. Also be mindful of getting some letters of recommendation to use for your application. You will likely need two academic letters from science professors. Also a letter from a doctor you shadow. Something to bear in mind over the next year.

Best wishes!


Would I be able to obtain letters of recommendation from my program director/applied science professors or just from bio/physics/chem professors? Or the professor I worked with on research or my supervised practice preceptors at the hospital? I don’t think I even remember my bio and chem instructors.

You should definately get one from the professor you worked with on research and the supervised practice preceptors. You may need an additional academic reference --different schools have different requirements regarding LOR’s. I made a spreadsheet as I was checking out schools, used Interfolio (a letter service) for them to send the LOR to, and then could select which letters to send to which schools. But that is for when you are making the application. Just wanted to give you a heads up so, for example, if you are taking Organic Chem you could sit down front, ask questions, go to the professor’s office hours, and hopefully excel in the class and have him or her know who you are.


Mona, welcome to the forum, I am new here as well and have already begun to find many helpful folks here!

Do not be discouraged in your application to either MD schools or DO, once you make the lower end of the spectrum GPA and MCAT cutoffs I believe that most schools will look at your application in a complete approach and see your varied and extensive background. It sounds as if you will likely have great LOR’s and given the fact that you are going back for classes such as OCHEM you have the perfect opportunity to impress professors and get letters from them as well. I believe Kate is correct in that you need additional academic references and it would be nice to have a balanced professor/research professor writing those.

At this point you are in a better spot than many, so just do well on the pre-reqs you take and crush the MCAT, you will do overall!

Am I able to submit LORs with my applications in addition to the 3 required? Or do most schools only look at the ones they require? Such from instructors who have served as my academic advisor and program directors for clinical nutrition degrees as they are able to write the most quality letters on my behalf as far as my character, academic performance, clinical performance, and I have served in leadership roles with many of them as well professionally. My program director had actually sparked my interest in becoming a doctor and maintaining my RD credentials. These have been the faculty members who have inspired me and supported me the most in reaching for my dreams, so I feel some of the instructors who only see my performance in one class (i.e. physics/chem) cannot cover what they could.


I think it would behoove you to utilize one from a strickly academic professor (one who can vouch for your academic capabilities), and one from a non-classroom setting, such as your program director. Most schools have specific requirements and it would be best to seek those out. Additionally, the AMCAS or TMDSAS specific applications will have it outlined what they require vs. what is optional.