Hi all,
I apologize if this is coming through twice, but I think I may have posted in the wrong forum previously.
I am about to embark on this journey, and have a lot of fears and questions, especially as it relates to my horrible undergrad past and how it will return to haunt or hinder me in this process.
To give a little history on myself, I am 31 and am currently completing my MPH. I have always wanted to attend med school, however, I passed on the dream when I realized I had less than desirable undergrad grades. I really mean less than desirable. To be totally honest, I graduated with a 2.01 undergrad G.P.A. in 1997. (My current Grad GPA is 3.1) However, now that I am older and still have that dream, I want to try again.
Beginning Winter 2005, I would like to begin taking those undergrad science courses again and maybe try for the MCAT in April 2006 (God’s willing).
Do you think, if I do exceptionally well this time around in my undergrad science courses, my past failure may be overlooked or if not totally overlooked, looked upon with less emphasis? I would like to aim for a 4.0 post-bac.
I really want to do this and have decided I have nothing to lose but to try.
Is there anyone out there who have overcome similar circumstances to reach success? Is there anyone out there, who, like me is about to begin this journey facing similar circumstances? I would love any advice/suggestions anyone out there can give to someone like me to help me to be a successful, more desirable and competitive applicant by 2006?

You recognize, correctly, that you’ve got a significant piece of baggage in that old GPA. What you haven’t done is told us what your selling points are, and that could make a difference. Why are you getting an MPH? What drives you to want to pursue medicine? What sorts of experiences have you had? All these things can have an effect on how likely it is that you can overcome that bad ol’ GPA.

My own opinion is that you WILL need to do more than just repeat your prerequisites and get all A’s, although that’s certainly where to start. How did you do on the prereqs the first time around? The problem for you is that, when you apply to medical school, you’re going to be competing against folks who got A’s in their prereqs when they first took them. (Imagine AdCom reader: “Well, OK, so she got an A in organic but she’d taken it before!”) This is one reason why I think you’re going to need to do more serious high-level science work to show that you’ve got the right stuff at this point.

Georgetown’s Masters of Physiology program is one that comes to mind, but I am sure there are others. In such a program, you take advanced-level classes - in fact, the same ones taken by first-year medical students. If you do well in it, you’ve got an excellent shot at getting into med school. Note I do NOT know what their requirements are for qualifying for entry into the program, nor do I have any idea where you are or what you might be able to do school-wise. So I’m just throwing this out there as an idea.

I’m afraid it’s only fair to warn you, too, that the B+ average in your MPH school is not impressive. In general graduate grades are expected to be “easier” than undergrad (whether that’s the student’s experience or not).

Bottom line, I think you’re looking at more courses than just prereqs to make a competitive application. There are LOTS of ways to get that additional coursework and I don’t feel I know enough about all those possibilities to suggest any one way. Hopefully others will chime in with what they’ve learned in researching these programs.

Finally, take hope! Although I know that I’m giving you pretty downer advice, there ARE people who’ve had undergrad GPAs lower than yours who, after significant, uh, rehabilitation, made it into medical school. It CAN be done: read Dave’s story, here.


Thanks Mary,
I appreciate the advice. I realize this will not be easy. However, you have given me a starting point and a lot of food for thought. - Thank You.

My question may be a bit silly for this group, but I’ll ask it anyway…
I’d like to know if many people on this list had a fear of handling needles, drawing blood, or giving injections? Generally speaking, I don’t mind seeing blood etc… I watch surgery shows for fun, but oddly enough I am uncomfortable with the idea of handling needles. Is this a common fear among healthcare students? I went into a class the other day and watched students practice their injections, and blood draws on one another. It was not easy to watch… Despite this fear I have, I am still very interested in a career in medicine, and I want to be involved in hands-on patient care. I do not want to be a doctor anymore, but I am still very interested in being a nurse practioner or a physician assistant. I would appreciate any feedback on this …
Thanks a bunch,

I’ve been a nurse for 18 years, so the thing about being afraid of needles is long gone. But let me tell you my embarrassing story. In the school I attended, you practiced things first, then would get “checked off” on the procedure with an instructor present. I had done okay, but when it was time for check off, the person I had to give the Demerol injection to was an elderly lady, very thin. I was to inject it in her thigh. How deep the IM injection actually went, I don’t know, but it felt like I hit something hard, and I yanked out the needle and yelped “I hit the BONE!!!” The instructor checked me off anyway, and fortunately the lady was not very responsive. She had already had some other medicine and they had me give this one before undergoing a procedure. I shudder to think if she’d been alert!!

Thanks for the story… it is reassuring to hear it, and it made me smile. I have been told that many people in healthcare start off with some aversion to handling needles or doing something else, but I wanted to get feedback from others here. Have you enjoyed your nursing career?

hey, I wish you luck. Don’t give up, but justt keep pushing forward. Try your very best to get your grad GPA up as high as you can. And knock the MCAT on it’s butt.
All my best

There have been good and bad in my nursing career, some related to nursing, and some related to being an LVN vs. an RN. In general, I have found most of my nurse managers want to “suck me dry” for lack of a better term, without support, praise for a job well done, etc, but can be very quick to jump on you if something goes wrong. I love the patient contact, and (immodestly to say) am usually the favorite and most requested nurse with pediatric home health patients and their families. I have enjoyed the freedom, opportunity to practice at a high level, and money that home health nursing has given me. I have worked in hospitals where when medical personnel came for a patient I had, and asked for the nurse, I would respond, only to be told, “No, I mean the RN” That was in Ohio, where I did staff relief in the hospitals, which meant giving NO meds, no charting, only emptying wastebaskets, refilling ice, etc (can you say MEDTECH!?!?!?) Compare that to Arkansas, where I gave IV push meds, hung IVs (and could start them if trained) and even mixed additives into my IVs (potassium!) at UAMS. I am really tired of the contraversy and fighting among nurses about who is “really” a nurse and who isn’t. Economics have not allowed for an all RN nursing force as much as this agenda has been pushed for the last twenty years or so, but with the continued and projected increased shortage of nurses, the only solution the larger institutions seem to have, is import nurses. During my mother’s career in the early 1970’s they were from Viet Nam, during my early career, it was the United Kingdom, and now, apparently, the Indian sucontinent. Nursing remains fragmented, jealously territorial, and with good nurses leaving the profession. There aren’t enough slots for schools to accept more students because there aren’t enough nurses with advanced degrees willing to teach nursing students. I have stayed in nursing for the intangible rewards: the smiles of the children, their hugs, the parents’ looks of relief when I arrive, and they can go to an exhausted sleep, etc. I suspect in medicine, I will still have those rewards along with a new set of headaches, such as reimbursement and fighting insurance companies. At this point (18 years as an LVN) the challenge was gone long ago. I read and do much more continuing education than necessary, I am confined to a very limited scope of practice (usually institutional policies, not state nurse practice acts), and have for some time found myself wanting to do more. I especially seem to have a knack for diagnostic skills, which isn’t allowed as a nurse.
I hope to bring all the best of what I learned from nursing into my practice as a physician and give my patients the best of both worlds. (Which people keep saying, “then why not become a NP”?) My answer is, I always wanted to be a doctor, but as I addressed in my personal statement, my parents were like, “college?! You don’t need college!” and then I was “side-tracked” by marriage and family. Now I’m finally doing what I want to, for me.
Kathy (was that a vent?!)


To be totally honest, I graduated with a 2.01 undergrad G.P.A. in 1997. (My current Grad GPA is 3.1) However, now that I am older and still have that dream, I want to try again.

I had the exact same GPA for my first undergrad degree and got accepted MD/PhD 7 years after I finished my degree.(I didn’t matriculate for personal reasons). I had also completed a second bachelor’s in chemisrty and an MS in Chemistry when I was accepted. I also found the "distance " between my undergrad and graduate grades helped a lot too.
Not to be harsh, but a 3.1 in an MPH program is well below the average GPA for grad students with the average grad GPA being 3.7. While this is subject to great debate, I think an MS in an area like Anatomy or Molecular Biology gives more mileage. Most MPH programs just don’t provide the rigourous course work needed to demostrate competence in the sciences related to medicine (I’m not bashing the MPH as I have 15 hours toward an MPH in Epidemiology myself).
Based on my experience with allopathic schools,a solid grad GPA in addition to competitive MCAT’s, EC’s ect, ect is a must for folks with poor undergrad GPA’s.