Pathology Assistant to Med School

Dr. Grey,
My name is Neal Hall. I’ll apologize upfront for the long post that will follow but thought putting my story out there might help some of the other students on this site as well as hopefully get a few questions answered for myself. To start with I’m a 27 year old non traditional pre med student. I’m married and have three young children ages 3.5, 2, and 2 weeks. I got a bachelors in biology and chemistry from a traditional four year university and had planned on applying to medical school but never followed through when my final undergrad gpa ended as a 2.99. My poor GPA was due to my first two years of undergrad and I had a strong positive trend in my last two years. I had taken the old MCAT in 2014 and got a 25 with a 49th percentile ranking and decided that med school was simply out of my reach and I realized that with my first child on the way I had to start making more money to provide for my family. Up to that point I had spent two years working as an ER tech as well as an ER scribe and had also done some significant shadowing in many specialties. I also had great research in microbiology which was submitted but ultimately rejected from publication. Basically I had everything but the GPA and high MCAT. I spent some time working in a pathology lab before I was trained and hired as a surgical and anatomical pathology assistant full time. My current job is a wonderful career path that many choose to stick with, the pay is good for the amount of training that is required and I get to work with complex cancer cases and make a significant impact in the medical field and on patients, albeit indirectly. I get to be first assist on autopsies and see things that many people, physicians included, never get to see. However, I realized somewhere along the way that I missed working with patients and getting to have that direct impact on them daily. I also wanted to have the ability to utilize the knowledge that I have and will have in the highest capacities. I had thought about going to physician assistant school as the training path was significantly shorter and only needed to take A&P to finish the prerequisites. The professor of my course happened to be a practicing internal medicine physician who ultimately challenged me and questioned my logic of attempting to go for the short road. With his guidance I did a self made post bach at a local college for the last two years and brought my GPA up to a 3.2 with a post bach GPA of 3.89 over 33 credit hours. I’m currently in the throws of MCAT prep and will be applying this cycle for the 2019 year. My two questions are this: seeing as I did poorly in undergrad the first time around, should I avoid a committee letter from this university and only submit letters from my most recent school even though this current school does not provide committee letters (several schools I’m intereted in require committee letters)? Secondly, I know I’ve got to get through my MCAT and the applications but with having a family moving to a new city for school is a daunting thought. There is a reputable DO school 15 minutes from my house that although I am interested in and will apply, I would prefer to attend the state MD school for multiple reasons such as cost and the fact that my great x5 or so grandfather actually co founded the school back in the day. How would you advise I approach the concept of choosing to attend a school in the same city my family and I are currently rooted in versus moving for a school I would prefer in some regards?

Neal M. Hall

(Ps. I know you keep asking for physicians to interview on your podcast and have several pathologists I work with that would make great guests if you’re interested in community anatomical and surgical pathologists for the specialty stories podcast)