By way of introduction, here is my winding story along with some questions for those kind enough to bear with my long story and give a reply For those of you who would rather skip to the basic info and questions without the back story, I have a paragraph at the end called “The Basics”.
I attended a competitive, liberal arts college starting nearly 20 years ago. My goal was a premed curriculum, and I declared a Bio major and assumed a psych minor would be good for working with patients. Unfortunately, I exempted Bio 101 and 102 so they put me in my first course at a 300 level bio course! At the same time, I had taken a job working with a school medical team which was supposed to be 15 hours per week but turned out to be 30+ hours. With chem and advanced bio courses and a nearly full-time job along with my regular liberal arts courses, the year did not go swimmingly. I never failed a course, but I had a few Cs and a couple of Ds in sciences and math. After I stupidly and unsuccessfully took Organic in summer school, I decided this premed major was probably a lost cause, particularly after my bio advisor told me that I didn’t have a shot at med school with my grades.
Knowing little about med school admissions besides what my advisor had told me and the few library books I could find, I decided he was right and I should end it (unfortunately, this was pre-internet). I switched bio to my minor and psych became my major. In psych, I graduated with a 3.7 mean GPA and enjoyed the scientific psych courses (experimental, learning and behavior, biopsychology, etc.). My new psych advisor suggested I go to grad school in psychology, even if my cumulative GPA wasn’t as high as it could have been given my poor freshman overall performance. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at that point, as I had planned to be a physician, so I decided to work for a bit and see if anything struck my fancy. After working for two years in a psychiatric facility (constant patient contact, tx planning, consults with docs and social workers) I decided that the human warehousing I had seen for many psychiatric patients was of little interest to me. I thought “What could I ever do to TRULY help?”. At this point, I still assumed I had to focus on psychology fields, as I presumably had “screwed up my premed curriculum”. I lived in a semi-rural area and could find no professionals with whom to discuss advanced degrees (in any non-medical fields). So, I decided to apply to grad schools in psychology (but I wasn’t keen on clinical psych) and was quickly admitted and began grad study over ten years ago now.
While studying for the psych MA, I worked in two health research CBOs which I enjoyed, but one closed and the other lost funding for the grant I was working on. Soon thereafter, I received the MA degree, and landed a job in education research from which my family and I desperately needed the reliable income. My new supervisor was a prominent figure in that field and he suggested I begin graduate study immediately in educational research (with lots of stat courses). I agreed and began a doctoral program soon thereafter, which earned me a work promotion the next year. I didn’t find the studies very interesting, but we had adopted an older child (bad timing, but due to her acute need), and I needed to keep my job. Due to familial and departmental circumstances, I didn’t finish the doctorate, but transferred my courses to the EdM degree. Overall, I worked in the field for ten years until our daughter graduated high school and went off to college (success!). The many years I spend coordinating our daughter’s medical and psychiatric issues reignited the medical spark I had suppressed for so long. I correctly diagnosed my daughter’s complex problems before any of her physicians did, and I really liked that part of the process, the history, discovery and diagnosis. So, here I stand years after my first failed attempt at a premed curriculum, ready to give it another go… but not terribly confident yet. The one benefit I have now that I didn’t have as an undergrad is a great deal more maturity.
*BS, Psychology, 3.2 UGPA, 3.7 Psych GPA, bio/chem GPA, 2.8
*MA, Psychology, 3.7 GPA (no bio/chem, only stat/psych)
*EdM, Ed. Psychology, 3.8 GPA (no bio/chem, only stat/educ./psych)
*1 year working with college student health group
*2 years experience in-patient psychiatry experience
*1 year interviewing cancer patients for research grant
*1 year interviewing HIV patients for research grant
*The remainder of my work experience is in education research.
*** My questions are as follows:
- Does this educational/career trajectory seem a bit too bizarre and ‘unexplainable’ for adcoms?
- Will my poor undergrad natural science performance be a major hindrance?
- Is there an advantage to enrolling in a formal post-bacc program that provides a certificate versus simply taking prereqs nomatriculated?
- Should I continue to work full time and attend post-bacc courses part time? I assume I’ll have to redo all the admissions pre-reqs given my mediocre prior performance, especially since I took those courses over 15 years ago (?).
- I presume that the sooner I start the better as I’ll likely not be able to apply before turning 40, and it seems some on the OPM folks believe reaching this age can be a hindrance for adcoms?
- I am afraid I’ll look like a perpetual directionless student, but I do have reasonable explanations for the “diversions” I had taken. Will my winding academic road post a serious impediment?
- I could possibly re-enroll and finish a PhD but this would likely waste at least one year of premed prep, which seems silly at this point. Why finish a PhD if it is unrelated to medicine and I have no intention of ever using it?
Thanks to readers who have indulged me in this long summary. Any thoughts, hints, or advice will be greatly appreciated.