I wanted to see what people think is a best approach for me. I am 35 yrs, with 8 yrs of engineering work, has a bachelor from an international school (asian school) and a masters from a US school both in chem Engineering. I didn’t do all the usual prerequisites but have organic, inorganic, physics from my undergrad. I also took 1 semester of General Biology, and (Anatomy I and II, I didn’t know they don’t count at all) and got As in all 3. I talked to 3 school advisors and didn’t really get an encouraging advice. My undergrad GPA was only 2.9 total and major GPA was 3.2. My grad GPA is 3.58, they basically almost gave me the impression that admission committee don’t care much about the graduate school GPA. Is that true? In anyway, what do you see as my chances? Should I target specific schools? Should I just sign up for post bac and that should make me competitive enough? any other approach? Should I fulfill the requiremets at a community college and take higher level bio from 4yr schools so I can still manage the financials short term, Should I forget MD and focus on DO schools - which isn’t too bad, but not a preference… Please respond.
To start off with, some schools require the basic pre-requisites to be taken within a certain time frame (e.g. 7 years), so if you’ve been out of school for 8, you may want to re-think taking Gen Chem, Gen Bio, Organic, and Physics.
Since your undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0, it might be good to re-take these courses anyway and do well to show adcoms that you can handle hard courses. To that effect, it might also be a good idea to enter a post-baccalaureate program that will prepare you well for the MCAT and med school entry. You can find the different programs listed on the AAMC website, or you can do an informal one on your own and take courses that you think will help you in addition to the basic four (including Calc, A&P, Biochem, Genetics, etc.).
If you can get your GPA above 3.0 and do well on the MCAT, there’s no reason you can’t apply to both MD and DO schools, however DO schools will probably be more favorable to your application. AACOMAS allows you to factor in your best grades from retaking courses and AMCAS factors in both grades when computing GPAs to report to med schools.
Maybe others can expand on my post and if you have more specific questions we can answer those, too!
BTW, welcome to OPM! Great to have you here!
Hey Nardos. Welcome to the group! You ask a lot of excellent questions. If you do a search in the forums you will find many discussions related to your questions.
First off, don’t let the schools you talked with take you away from your dream if you are truly passionate about becoming a doctor. Your GPA, while low right now, doesn’t have to be an insurmountable obstacle. When you appy, several GPA’s will be calculated and recorded on your application, including what is referred to as BPCM (Bio, Physics, Chemistry, Math). GPA’s are also separated out by degree/level classification (i.e. bachelors, graduate, post-bacc). What schools are interested in is what you’re capable of doing now. In other words, if you are getting a 3.8-4.0 in your post-bacc classes you’re going to be looked at favorably, at least as far as GPA goes.
Meg points out the requirement that several schools have regarding the length of time since you took your prerequisites. I believe 7 years is the standard, however you should look at all the schools in which you’re interested to be sure. (The advice is always to cast your net wide when applying to medical schools–e.g. 20 schools.) Retaking courses will be a good way to “refresh” the memory, but also potentially has the added benefit of giving you confidence in returning to school since you’ll be taking courses in which you’ve already had experience and a nice start to the post-bacc GPA. Taking advanced coursework and getting A’s will really give some added meaning to your post-bacc GPA.
You also have a special case because your bachelors degree is from an Asian university. You will definitely want to discuss this with your med schools of interest. Sometimes schools require a bachelors from an American university, or require special coursework if your degree is from another country. Different schools have different policies regarding this so be sure to contact each individually, either by phone or by email. Now is a good time to do that before they get hit with the massive number of applications coming around the bend real soon. BTW, don’t give them too much information about your GPA as it stands right now–wait to give them that info when you have something to really wow them with in your post-bacc GPA.
Regarding where to take your classes…there has been much discussion on the forums regarding this. It’s definitely a personal decision. My feeling is that a person should take all classes at a 4-year university when possible simply because there is a stigma (whether it be accurate or not) attached to community college coursework. Why potentially put your application at a disadvantage? While money is an important consideration, I imagine the amount, when compared to the overall education expense you will have when considering medical school, is small. Because you want to really impress with your post-bacc GPA, it is even more important to show that you have the ability to nail a solid GPA in a rigorous academic setting.
Generally speaking, DO programs accept students with lower GPA’s and MCAT scores, however it’s not entirely that simple. There is a lot more that goes into an application and being accepted than just those numbers. Be sure that your whole application is going to stand out. This means having demonstrated interest in other people. Also, be sure that you have some experience within the medical setting so that schools can see that you’re making an informed decision. I encourage you to also spend some time talking with or shadowing a DO to see how this might fit into your perception of the kind of doctor you’d like to become. Although MD is the route I chose, I have a great respect for DO’s and could just have easily gone that route.
Oh yeah, I’m sure it goes without saying, but you really want to dominate on the MCAT as well. As they say, this is the great equalizer amongst applicants.
Best of luck to you!
OH I FORGOT ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN DO!!
If you can, I would definitely suggest getting to the OPM National Conference. I know it’s right around the corner for this year and is quite possibly not an option for you, but if you can, get there. Many of the questions you asked will be covered in depth in sessions throughout the conference. The link to this site is here.