Should I apply this cycle or hold off?

Hello everyone, I am new here and hoping you can give me some advice.
I am a 30-year-old non-traditional student, I have a BA in Ceramics and have taken classes sporadically over the last few years but finally made the decision to finish my pre-requisite classes and quit my job as a medical assistant in December.

I am currently enrolled in an MCAT prep course that will begin mid-May and plan to take the MCAT August 2nd.

My GPA in my undergrad was 3.1 my GPA in my science classes is currently is 3.7.
I have over 10,000 hours of clinical patient experience from working in Dermatology for the last four+ years and plan to beef up my volunteer and lab experience over the summer.

My questions are as follows:
1a. Should I be concerned that I have minimal volunteer experience? Or is the direct clinical experience sufficient? (I have other extracurriculars that I will be listing).
1b. How far back in my history should I pull from? I have volunteer experience in high school, but that feels like eons ago.

  1. Do I wait to apply until next cycle, even though I will be pushing my timeline back a full year, or do I apply to my top three schools(or all schools I am considering) even though the probability of getting an interview will be greatly reduced because the application will be submitted later in the summer/ early fall?

  2. If I do apply this cycle and then again next cycle will I ultimately be hurting my chances because I would be placed in a re-applicant pool for a few schools?

  3. In regard to school selection, I know I want to go into Dermatology, should I be looking for schools that primarily feed into the derm residencies? How would I go about doing that? Are there statistics for that?

So far the advice I have received has been to see what my scores are like on the practice MCAT and let that dictate my decision about applying this cycle. I want to be competitive and hopefully, get in on the first attempt to save resources, etc.

Thank you in advance for your knowledge and insight.

  1. Your clinical experience is excellent and understand that admission officers want to see who you truly are. So the fact that you don’t have any volunteer experience is more worrisome not because you “haven’t checked off that box” but because it shows that maybe you don’t really care about volunteering your time. Don’t worry about hours, volunteer somewhere even non-clinically and worry about quality and consistency. Show them a piece of who you are (I volunteer at an animal shelter because I love animals and am a volunteer basketball coach)

  2. This question is highly specific because we don’t know anything about you except your clinical experience and stats. Do you have an upward trend? How’s your personal statement? Your EC’s? August isn’t too bad to apply but understand that thousands of applicant have been sending in their application since June so it’s gonna bebharder.

  3. No it will not hurt your chances, the only thing that will hurt is if you have changed anything as a re-applicant

  4. Dermatology is one of the top residencies to compete for. Your entry into this competitive speciality isn’t dictated on school or just because you want it. Statistics showing a higher number of dermatology acceptances from a certain school doesn’t mean causation. It may mean that there was an awesome dermatology specialist who taught at the school so a higher number of people applied for dermatology. Remember correlation DOES NOT equal causation. Your acceptance into a residency is going to be based on your performance on Step 1 & 2 and grades on rotations, LOR’s from medical school, your residency interviews etc. It’s difficult to tell people that want to go into the competitive specialties I.e. dermatology, plastic surgery, radiology, etc. that if you don’t perform well on step 1 it’s going to be increasingly difficult. You don’t just get to choose what you want and get that specialty. There are hundreds of stories of people wanting to do competitive specialties and don’t perform wel and have to settle for something else. Be open to other specialties because everyone is going for dermatology and the students you’re competing against are the best of the best.

Thank you for your detailed response. I have decided to hold off until the next cycle to apply. I have submitted applications to take on volunteer hours at a local hospital, and love your suggestion of volunteering at an animal shelter. It seems that the overwhelming response that I have gotten is that whatever volunteer work I do, I just need to be consistent. I have recently set up teaching yoga classes to the staff at a behavioral health center nearby and I hope to open it up to their clients in the future. You are totally right (re: residency) correlation is not causation. I just need to put my head down once I get into med school to get the grades to set me apart to give myself the best chance of making it into the dermatology residency. I have also since changed the strategy for creating a school list, I am now focusing more on the education style and values that the school has.
Again I very much appreciate your insight it has been helpful.