Ryan Gray, MD of Meded Media

OldPreMeds Podcast | Medical School Headquarters | Premed | MCAT

A Podcast Dedicated to Non-Traditional Premed and Medical Students
OldPreMeds Podcast | Medical School Headquarters | Premed | MCAT

Description

OldPreMeds.org is the go-to site for nontraditional premed and medical students. Now, the OldPreMeds Podcast will help these students even more as we take questions directly from the forums and answer them on the show. If you have questions, ask them in the forum at OldPreMeds.org.

Episodes

203: Do Political Social Media Posts Impact Your Application?

Nov 13, 2019 06:13

Description:

Do medical schools care about your internet presence? What if you take your strong political views to social media?

Links:

Full Episode Blog Post

Meded Media

Nontrad Premed Forum

202: How to Prepare for Postbac Program Interviews

Nov 6, 2019 07:18

Description:

Are interviews for postbac premed programs similar to medical school interviews? Here's what you need to know to prepare!

201: Volunteering in Non-medical Vs. Medical Settings

Oct 30, 2019 08:55

Description:

Session 201

What if you prefer to volunteer in a non-medical setting? Should you put medical volunteering ahead of causes that matter to you?

Your questions answered here are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, please sign up for an account for free!

Check out our other podcasts on Meded Media as well as our YouTube channel premed.tv.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

With the MCAT and application cycle drawing near, I’m debating shifting my volunteer efforts on opportunities away from medicine and instead towards low-income and/or marginalized populations in my area, such as at a food pantry, public health education foundation, or cultural office in my city.

My reasoning:

1) I’ve struggled to find open volunteer positions at the free clinics in my area, and am currently volunteering in an emergency department at a metropolitan hospital. Despite the visual learning I’ve gained here I feel somewhat redundant and believe my time could be better applied elsewhere.

2) I love serving low-income and marginalized populations, I’ve volunteered for a free clinic in the past (albeit, for less than 6 mos.), and am confident that public health service will be my focus coming out of medical school.

3) I come from a family full of healthcare professionals with whom I discuss the ins and outs of the healthcare field frequently, and so I feel I clearly understand what I’m getting myself into.

I don’t want to volunteer just to “check the box”, I’d like to impact the people I know I’ll one day be serving through medicine. 

However, my concern is that admission committees will see the choice of discontinued volunteer work in medicine in favor of general volunteer work as a loss of interest in the field altogether. Which is of course not true. 

Assuming my application shows solid Letters of Rec from docs and professors, good GPA/MCAT scores, and a commitment to serving people, no matter the arena, should I even be worried?

[Related episode: What if I Don’t Have Time for Volunteer Experiences?]

[02:59] Do Both

The heart of this question is really an either/or question when it doesn't have to be. You don't have to shift all 20 hours a week from clinical experience to doing food pantry work. I recommend you do both because that is how you maintain sanity throughout this process.

This is not an either/or game. You can do both.

You don't go all-in with the clinical experience and shadowing because that's what you think you have to do. You need to continue to do the things you want to do that bring you joy. Do things that spark that fire and drive inside of you.

It's not just about amazing stats and thousands of hours in clinical experience, shadowing, and research. That's checking the box.

[04:52] Consistency is Important

Volunteering at the food pantry is great. But don't dedicate all of your time to it. Showing that you have continued interest in these activities is important. 

You don't just say you know what it's all about having a mom and dad who are doctors. That's not what it's all about. This whole process is an exploration of you, not of them.

You need to see, hear, and feel what happens in a clinical setting. You need to go through this process. You need to experience this stuff first-hand. It's not until then that you've proven to yourself that this is what you want to do.

Continue to get these experiences and do these other things you're interested in. You don't have to do it 20 hours a week. To show consistency, you can do those 5 or 10 hours a month. And this will free up some time for you to do these other things that will give you joy.

[Related episode: The Struggle With Consistency In Shadowing And Volunteering]

[06:50] Final Thoughts

Stop going through this process trying to think about what will work best for your application and what the admissions committees want to see.

Go through this process thinking about what you want to do. But know in the back of your head that you will need some consistent experiences around shadowing and clinical experience. That's what you're trying to prove you want to go into.

Having shadowing and clinical experience from three years ago, even if it's a good chunk of hours, isn't good enough to prove that you still want to do this.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

Meded Media

premed.tv

200: Should You Introduce Yourself to a Medical School?

Oct 16, 2019 09:14

Description:

Session 200

If you have a question you want to be answered here on the podcast, register for an account at Nontrad Premed Forum. Also, be sure to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media, where we give you all the resources you need to help you along this premed path!

I'm having meetups this October including one at the UC Davis Conference. Go to premedmeetup.com for more information. Catch me at these oxther events including one at the University of Florida (November), in Chicago (November 18), in College Station, Texas for AMSA's PreMedFest (November 23), and at the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I would prefer to remain local in Chicago and would like to attend University of Illinois Medical School. I will be applying late in the application cycle due to the timing of prerequisite and MCAT completion. 

Would it benefit me to introduce myself to the medical school in advance in any way? Is there a formal/informal process for doing this? What is this process? Or is this frowned upon?”

[01:40] What to Do Pre-Application

Reach out to the schools. Don't just bother them by telling them you want to come to their school.

Try to dive in based on you and your journey in terms of what specific questions you have for that school. Maybe you're missing prereqs, especially for nontrad students. Or your prereqs are older or that your timing is a bit off.

Reach out to the schools and tell them about yourself. Ask whether you should apply for this cycle or wait until the next cycle to be more competitive. The school will hopefully let you know and give you some good feedback.

Build that relationship and connections whether you're a premed, medical student or a resident.

Really ask thoughtful questions based on your story and based on that school. Don't call every school and ask potentially the same generic question. Don't call the schools or email the schools and ask generic questions. Then the answers are just on their homepage.

[03:45] When You Think You Have Red Flags

Especially if you have red flags in your application, call and talk to the school. Most of the deans and directors for admissions of medical schools really want to get to know the students who are going to apply.

They're there to help students, maybe not directly. Schools have faculty members who have volunteered to review an application before students actually submit their application. Most schools will have some setup to do that.

A lot of nontrad students have their spouse tied to a specific location or kids in school. They don't want to displace them from their current schools and move them to a new school.

Because of this, you may want to be only in a specific school. It's really hard to do that. But if you have the right application and you're building the right connections and making the right conversations, then you can do it.

[05:05] Having Conversations with Family

You can also ask your family that if you don't get into one this cycle and then maybe you can apply more broadly. Then you can probably move as a family or you can go away for a bit to school and come home on the weekends. So these are the kinds of discussions you can have with your significant other.

[05:30] Reach Out to Schools

Reach out to schools. There is really no formal process for the schools. Make that phone call and do this pre-application.

Don't do this while you are an applicant to medical school. Once you are an applicant to medical school, the rules of engagement are different. They're less likely to talk to you or offer you any advice.

[06:06] Networking Opportunities

Go to different conferences whether locally or nationally. There are so many events happening across the country all through the year. For instance, there's the UC Davis Prehealth Conference, AAMC Minority Fair, AMSA Convention, and the AMSA PreMedFest.

A lot can happen when you go to events like these. I remember a student I've had on the Premed Years Podcast a few months ago. She wasn't getting any interview invites.

She came to UC Davis conference in October and attended the AAMC Minority Fair in November. She got some interview invites because of going to the fair and ultimately got multiple acceptances.

Had she not put herself out there, her application could have just been sitting. Standing in front of the admissions committees at a conference really does make a huge impression on people.

Links:

Meded Media

The Premed Years Podcast

Nontrad Premed Forum

UC Davis Prehealth Conference

AAMC Minority Fair

AMSA Convention

AMSA PreMedFest

premedmeetup.com

199: Visible Tattoos and Piercings at Interviews

Oct 9, 2019 11:00

Description:

Session 199

Have you ever seen a doctor with visible tattoos? They're out there. Does that mean you can have visible tattoos and piercings at your medical school interview?

Your questions answered here are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. Register for an account (if you haven’t yet) and join a collaborative community working towards the same goal. I will also be doing meetups at different events around the country. Please see below or visit premedhangout.com for more information!

Please listen to The Premed Years Podcast as well as all our other podcasts on Meded Media including The MCAT Podcast, The MCAT CARS Podcast, Ask Dr. Gray, and more! Also, check out our different episodes on YouTube including our hit series Application Renovation.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[04:06] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I was wondering if anyone out there has any experience with or advice for interviewing at med schools with tattoos/body modification? Having never personally encountered or seen an inked up physician I’m wondering how accepting the medical community is of body art. As a former hairdresser and horse trainer my previous careers were more open to tattoos and piercings then most.

I have a fair amount of art including 2 half sleeves from the elbow to wrist, a chest piece covering my sternum and collar bones, and pieces on the tops of my feet. No face, neck, or hand tattoos. 

None of my tattoos are offensive, they include things like flowers, horses, an owl, etc. I also have pretty large stretched ear lobes with 1-inch gauges. I can fully cover all of my tattoos by wearing a long-sleeved collared blouse and trousers with boots. Being a female with long hair I can also hide my stretched ears.

On one hand, I know that covering up is probably playing it safe. But on the other hand, I’ve always been one to pride myself on breaking stereotypes around tattoos and piercings and having body art is one of the many ways I identify as non-traditional. 

Would it be worthwhile to talk about this or at least not totally hide everything or should I play it safe and cover up? I am especially torn about this after having several people comment that I “need” to repair my ear lobes if I want to be a physician or have a “real” career."

[05:54] Just Play It Safe

I have three tattoos, most of them are hidden by scrubs. I have one on the inside of my right biceps. So a short-sleeved scrub would still show the tattoo but I never got any negative feedback. 

However, being in medical school is different than getting into medical school. I typically recommend that students play it safe. You don't know who's interviewing you so you don't want to allow any negative bias to enter into their subconscious. And they don't really get the opportunity to learn who you are.

You may not be authentic to yourself or you may not be telling your own story. But this is one area where you have to play it safe. You don't have to get your tattoos removed. Just put on long sleeves, wear your hair down, and just go from there.

You just don't need to add this into the mix of everything else that is going on on interview day. So it's best to play it safe. Cover it up. Talk about it if it comes up. 

Once you're in medical school, a lot of that comes down to the actual school's policies. What is there in their student code of conduct handbook? What does the school expect in terms of hair color, tattoos, stretched ear loves, etc?

[Related episode: Preparing for the Medical School Interview]

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

The Premed Years Podcast

Meded Media

The MCAT Podcast

The MCAT CARS Podcast

Ask Dr. Gray

YouTube Channel: premed.tv

Application Renovation (Apply to be featured on our second season!)

Meet Up at These Upcoming 2019 Events:

UC Davis Prehealth Conference (October 19, 2019)

University of Florida Premed AMSA Conference (November 13, 2019)

Chicago (November 18, 2019)

AMSA PremedFest at College Station, Texas (November 23-24,2019)

198: Should You Power Through the Burnout or Shift Gears?

Oct 2, 2019 07:25

Description:

Session 198

Our med school hopeful is burnt out after tons of clinical work. As they continue to take courses, is it ok to switch gears and find work in research instead?

Your questions answered here are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. And if you haven’t yet, please sign up for an account and ask away!

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[00:57] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I have been a CNA since 2013, worked plenty of overtime, and probably have 8000 ish hours of experience doing this job. I am burnt out. 

With my current stats (2.83 overall and 2.7 BCPM GPAs) I still have a couple years worth of coursework to bring my stats above 3.0 (and closer to 3.5s as long as I maintain 4.0s) and to complete a MS in Biomedical Sciences. 

I really want to move into a research position for the next couple of years at the university I am attending because I think I can make much more significant contributions as a research assistant than a CNA at this point in time and having weekends to study would be amazing. (Right now to keep my health insurance I work Saturday, Sunday, and a night shift during the week so I can go to classes M-F).

Would it look bad to admissions committees if I shift from a primarily clinical job to a research role for the next couple of years? 

I don’t want to hinder my chances of an acceptance because I didn’t just stick it out for the next two years at the hospital where I currently work. I know in the long run I want to return to this hospital as a physician and continue to serve this wonderful community.”

[02:25] CNA as Clinical Experience

This student has a ton of clinical experience as a CNA. But you don't have to have a CNA to get clinical experience. So you can definitely switch into a research role and continue to get clinical experience in a different way.

Especially that you're at the point of burnout right now, then you have to look at doing that. But why are the grades so low? Did you start off really poorly? Or are you continuing to do poorly because you were burnt out? Were you burnt out because you were working as a CNA to get things done?

[Related episode: Is Monitoring Telemetry Clinical Experience?]

[03:30] Upward Trend is Important

Make sure that you figure out your grades right now. Before you make another decision, make sure you've figured out your grades. Do not register for another class or any major.

Do not register for another degree without figuring out your grades, your study habits, and your academic abilities so that you can make sure you do get that 4.0 moving forward.

[04:15] Master's Degree

You don't need a master's in biomedical sciences as a master's degree is a separate GPA calculation on AMCAS and AACOMAS. There is a combined overall GPA on AACOMAS and some schools may calculate a combined GPA. But several schools give preference to undergraduate GPAs.

But if you want to do an MPH because you really like it and you want to integrate it into your practice in the future then go ahead. However, if you're only doing it to improve your chances of getting into medical school, think twice.

[05:22] Clinical Consistency is Key

If you decide to stop working as a CNA to do research, this is not a red flag. It just means you've found a different passion. You found something that will work with your schedule better to improve your grades.

So don't think of it in terms of medical schools being concerned that you're stopping your clinical work. Maybe pick up a per diem shift as a CNA or as a hospice volunteer doing something that will give you some clinical experience.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

197: Reapplying After Withdrawing from Medical School

Sep 25, 2019 13:34

Description:

Session 197

What if you were enrolled in a medical school, withdrew, and then reapplied? Today’s question comes from a former Caribbean medical school student.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[00:48] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

"I applied to medical school after completing my MPH, a two-year program in one year's time and did not get into any schools in the U.S. So I chose to forego reapplication and I went to Ross University in the Caribbean for medical school in the Fall of 2015. 

Long story short, I did not pass my first semester by less than 1 point. Unfortunately, that meant I had to repeat the entire first semester. I thought really long and hard and did not feel as if the environment was conducive for my learning and succeeding. 

Even considering the fact that I did not pass my first semester, added to the fact that I would be a graduate of a foreign medical school, I did not feel that my residency chances would be great. So I bailed and decided to reinvent myself – work harder, get smarter, and reapply.

So after much deliberation, I decided to reapply this coming cycle. I'm seeking some advice on my next steps. 

I am currently working as a clinical research coordinator, going on my fourth month in the Department of Family Medicine managing over 70 projects with several clinical trials and sponsored grants and other industry grant sponsors such as the NCAA and the Department of Defense. 

Following my withdrawal from Ross University, I was an adjunct professor at the largest university in Florida for the Spring of 2016 and currently studying for the MCAT everyday for 4-6 hours a day planning to take the new MCAT in March. 

I'm volunteering two days a week with a local primary school vaccination program, elementary and middle school students. I am retaking biochemistry and four math courses – Algebra, Statistics, Precalculus Algebra, and Trignometry – that were taken as dual and normal courses as a Sophomore in high school.

My current GPAs are as follows: Cumulative 3.42, Science 3.4, Non-science 3.43. After taking the five courses – Cumulative 3.53, Science 3.48, and Non-science 3.58.

The reason for not pursuing an SMP or more formal postbacs is that I do not have the time or money to be able to go without working and just accruing for their student loan debt. 

I will be set with physician shadowing, will have plenty of research experience, and volunteering. I just want the chance to get in the door. I've spoken with a few DO programs and they all state that students who are previous medical students go through a separate process for review of their applications.

My questions are:

Is it worth taking a chance in reapplying? Am I doing the right thing retaking biochemistry as my only science? What else can I do to boost my application? How do I address the Ross University situation? Should my personal statement be focused on overcoming failures or focus less on my failures and more on marketing the "new" me?” [04:22] Is it Worth Taking a Chance in Reapplying

It's not impossible. But it's really, really hard. Do you want to be a physician? Do you want to go to medical school? Then, of course, it's worth it. If you want to go to medical school and you want to be a physician, then you might as well reapply.

Whether you're going to get in, we don't know. Unfortunately, this student has proven with at least one semester, that they can't pass medical school.

[Related episode: Reapplying to Med School: What You Need to Know]

[07:00] Overcoming Failures or Marketing the New Me?

The schools are going to want to know what happened, why it happened, and what you've done to overcome. 

That's the direction you're secondary essays are going to be focused on. Your personal statement will focus a little bit on it. The goal of the personal statement is why you want to be a doctor. But in this case, you're going to need to be able to also touch on owning up to your story and here's why you're a different person now.

You have to convince the admissions committee as best you can that it's worth taking a chance on you. A lot of them won't, unfortunately, because it's not worth their time to have a potential black mark on their class. This is the battle you have to overcome because you've already proven that medical school is hard for you.

[Related episode: This Student Didn't Let Her Fears Overcome Her]

[08:43] Retaking Biochem as Your Only Science

You have proven that medical school is hard for you. Now, you're going back and retaking classes and you're avoiding the sciences except for biochemistry.

Again, this is telling the admissions committee that you're scared of science classes. You're not very good at science classes so you don't want to take any more science classes to potentially do poorly in. And that's a mistake!

[09:20] How to Boost Your Application

The general framework is consistent clinical experience, consistent shadowing, volunteering, research (if you're interested), and good grades and a good MCAT score.

[Related episode: How Can I Improve My Med School Application?]

[09:45] Addressing Caribbean School Situation

You have to talk about what happened. Why did you struggle at Ross? You have to be careful whether it's failing medical school or failing undergrad, or being arrested. You can't say that Ross set you up for failure. Whatever happens in your journey, the discussion has to be around you, and not them. You can't say that the environment at Ross wasn't exactly great.

You need to talk about what you've learned from it. Talk about how you've moved on and how you've grown. But how have you proven that you've grown if you're only taking Biochem as your only science?

You should be able to show a track record of doing well in the science to show them that you've overcome and figured out this new learning style.

[Related episode: DO vs Caribbean Medical School? What Should I Do?]

[11:00] Medical School is Much Harder, Way Harder Than Undergrad

Going full circle, medical school is much harder than undergrad classes. Retaking some math classes in undergrad is great. You can get an A in undergrad classes. But medical school is going to be a different level. And the medical schools you're applying are always going to be taking a risk with every student they accept.

Will the student do well in medical school or were they just good in undergrad? It's the analogy of being a star in college and then not doing well in the professional leagues.

[12:25] Final Thoughts

It's a hard situation but never say never. With almost every situation, build relationships. Find the medical school that you want to sink all of your efforts into and build that relationship with that school. Prove to them that you're worth the chance.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

196: EMT Certification: Are the Clinical Hours Worth the Cost?

Sep 18, 2019 07:26

Description:

Session 196

Joe is trying to decide between working as a tech in an ER or becoming an EMT to get clinical experience. What should he do?

Your questions answered here are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, please register for an account. Also, be sure to check out all of our other podcasts on Meded Media.

If you're looking for some MCAT prep, visit Next Step Test Prep. They're known for the second-best full-length exams, next to AAMC. Use the promo code MSHQ to save 10% off.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[02:15] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

"I'm trying to figure out how to categorize these experiences from medical school. The first one is a research assistant that helps build a database called Orion, that avatar program for a cancer-comprehensive hospital. 

My current role consists of reading pathology reports, shipping and sorting specimens for genomic analysis and collaborating with doctors and researchers on how to expand projects."

[02:50] What Is Considered Research Experience?

Question #1: Eventually, I would have looked into building a database with genomic analysis. Would this be considered research experience?

Answer:

If you're doing some analysis, you're looking at the data, making assumptions about the data, and talking about how to move forward based on the data, then this is considered research.

Research is how to think critically through a process. That involves having a hypothesis and testing around that hypothesis to prove whether it's wrong or right. If you're thinking through that information instead of just "doing stuff" with the information then that should be considered research.

[Related episode: Is Research More Important than Clinical Experience?]

[04:05] Clinical Experience

Question #2: I've been looking into getting more clinical experience. A couple of years ago, I used to volunteer at a hospital for 5 years, logging a thousand hours. Now, I am seeking doing something different. I'm considering doing either behavioral interventionist working with children with autism or working as an EMT as an ER tech.

My concerns for behavioral tech is that it would not be clinical experience for some medical schools. I would love working with children with autism. But I'm afraid that they will question my recent clinical experience. 

EMT would be a great clinical experience for me but the cost and time of getting a certificate and finding a job in a crowded field seems daunting to me. I'm afraid I will have a hard time finding a part-time job.

Answer:

Becoming an EMT is expensive and it takes time. So you have to think through that. Working with children with autism as a behavioral interventionist is a great clinical experience. You're working with someone in a setting trying to improve themselves.

I have worked with a lot of students coming from a therapy background and so I think that's okay. Either way, both are great clinical experiences. Becoming an EMT is more of a time and monetary investment. On the backend, it's a bit harder.

[Related episode: How Much Clinical Experience Do I Need for Med School Apps?]

[06:00] Final Thoughts

As a nontrad student, you have a lot of things open to you. Remember that you have to show consistency throughout this whole process. You don't want to just have a chunk of 1000 hours five years ago.

Links:

Meded Media

Nontrad Premed Forum

Next Step Test Prep (promo code MSHQ to save 10% off)

195: What Do AdComs Think of Online Classes?

Sep 11, 2019 06:29

Description:

Today's applicant completed most of his prerequisites online, but he's worried he made a bad decision. How do AdComs assess online coursework?

194: The Case of Multiple Withdrawals on Transcripts

Sep 4, 2019 10:15

Description:

Session 194

Today, our poster is concerned about which part of the application should they be discussing issues like assault, withdrawal, and transferring to another school.

If you have a question you want answered here on the podcast, check out Nontrad Premed Forum which you will find on the Meded Media network. If you haven’t yet, sign up for an account for free to join a collaborative community of like-minded students.

Also, check out our YouTube videos, which consist of two series: Ask Dr. Gray Premed Q&A and Application Renovation.

In Application Renovation, I meet with a student who didn't get in to medical school. I look at their application and talk to them. Then I try to offer my thoughts on why they didn't get in to medical school as well as advice on how to improve their application for the next cycle.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[02:04] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I’ve been listening to your podcast for the past two years – you’ve been a tremendous support to me and I am eternally grateful for your wisdom and guidance. 

I am a 31-year-old nontraditional student. I completed my BA in Environmental Science in 2012 and an MA in Clinical Psychology and Global Health in 2017. I am now enrolled in a DIY postbacc. program, with one more year of coursework before I take the MCAT May 2020 and apply that same cycle. My overall GPA is a 3.72 and my science GPA is a 3.89. 

I work as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault in the emergency department. I am the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships to complete independent research in refugee health disparities in my community. In addition, I also volunteer in an emergency department.

I began my undergraduate career studying film and theater at a well-known university in New York City. My grades were As with the occasional B+. Without going into much detail, Fall of my junior year, I was assaulted in my apartment by a stranger. 

After a period of emotional and psychological distress, I choose to withdraw mid-semester from my classes and leave New York City with the hope of one day returning to finish my degree. Instead, I transferred to a liberal arts college to finish my Bachelor’s.

I have been told that a semester’s worth of Ws on a past transcript is a serious red flag. This event occurred in 2009 – 10 years ago. How and where in my application should I address the reason for my abrupt withdrawal mid-semester without going into too much detail or embarrassing the admissions committee?”

[Related episode: DIY Postbac or Second Bachelor's Degree]

[04:01] Where to Bring It Up in Your Application

It sounds like you're doing amazing and I want to congratulate you on your success given the past challenges. With that said, this is something you really don't have to bring up in an application.

It would be easy to see all As in your first school and then Ws at school A, then starting at school B and finishing a degree there. It's going to be obvious to anyone looking at that application that something happened.

Withdrawing from your classes and transferring to another school is not a serious red flag. It's just something that may be asked. Instead, be prepared to talk about it. However, you don't need to bring this up in your applications.

In secondary applications, you would usually have the opportunity to chat about this. This is actually a very common secondary prompt and you can discuss that in this section. You don't have to go into painful details or specifics.

Unless it's a very strong reason as to why you wanted to become a physician then you may bring the assault up in your personal statement. But a semester-worth of Ws is not an issue. It's completely obvious.

In fact, I had a talk with an admissions committee member and said that a semester worth of withdrawals, in fact, shows a bit of wisdom. It means you owned up to the fact that something in your life is not going right so you're smart enough to know you should probably withdraw.

[Related episode: 6 Secondary Essay Mistakes and How to Avoid Them]

[09:00] FindShadowing.com

If you're currently shadowing a physician, please send them to FindShadowing.com. Whether it's a mentor, friend, a parent, or whoever it is, please let them know about this resource. We're hoping to get some physicians on board.

[Related episode: How Should I Prepare For My First Shadowing Experience?]

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

Meded Media

MSHQ YouTube videos

FindShadowing.com

193: Applying to Brand New Medical Schools

Aug 28, 2019 07:50

Description:

Session 193

New medical schools look just like more established programs on paper. How do you evaluate a brand new medical school before you apply?

Your questions are answered here on the Nontrad Premed Forum which you will find on the Meded Media network. If you haven’t yet, sign up for an account for free to join a collaborative community of like-minded students.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[00:57] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“Hi, I’m curious to know if anyone has any experience or tips for someone who’s thinking of applying to a brand-new medical school. 

My undergraduate (University of Houston) is opening its new medical school at exactly the time when I’ll be ready to apply so if I went there I’d be in the first cohort. Does anyone have any helpful advice on this? 

I know a few new schools have popped up in the last few years and would love to hear what it was like to be in one of the early classes. I imagine the school wouldn’t be completely organized and that might add some extra stress but it also seems like a neat experience.”

[02:00] Preliminary Accreditation

Now, a lot of schools are actually opening up. There are lots of demands. There's a lot of research saying we're going to have a big physician shortage. And so many schools tap into this opportunity. Hence, students are put in a situation of applying to both old and new schools.

Looking at the recent history of schools, I personally haven't seen any school that has gotten their preliminary accreditation and has graduated their first class and didn't get their full accreditation.

Schools have to get a preliminary accreditation from the AOA for DO schools or the LCME for MD schools.

The accreditation bodies give these schools permission to open up and accept applications for their first class. But they can only get their full accreditation until those schools graduate their first class in 3 or 4 years time.

[Related episode: Is There Risk in Applying to New Medical Schools?]

[03:50] Overcoming Obstacles

There could be stumbling blocks that new schools have to overcome but those things happen even at full accredited, long-standing schools as well. Those things happen everywhere.

Remember that a lot of these schools are pulling administrators from other schools. So for the most part, the people seeding these new schools are coming from other places where things have been done. They can then bring their experiences and their knowledge to the new school.

[05:05] Is There Any Risk in Applying to New School

In the grand scheme of things, there is no risk in applying to new schools. It won't hinder you in your life as a physician. There will be small obstacles here and there. But that's in every place.

Back in Episode 256 of The Premed Years Podcast, I talked with Dr. King Li, the dean of Carle Illinois College of Medicine. It's a brand new, engineering-based medical school. They're flipping the model 180 degrees in what they're doing and a lot of students actually resonated with that.

Also, check out Episode 349 where I talked with Carle's recruitment director talking about secondary applications, the fact that they don't do interviews, and so much more.

A school like that is an amazing opportunity. You want new schools that are trying to push the boundaries and really changed the way things are done. Change is good and so is pushing new boundaries.

So new schools are not a problem. It's an adventure so there’s nothing to worry about.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

Meded Media

The Premed Years Podcast Episode 256: A Look at Carle Illinois College of Medicine with Dean Li

The Premed Years Podcast Episode 349: This Recruitment Director is Revamping Secondary Apps

192: Can You Take the MCAT Before You've Completed Prereqs?

Aug 21, 2019 08:08

Description:

Our student is in the Army Reserve, applying for the HPSP, and trying to get the MCAT out of the way. Can they take the MCAT before finishing prereqs?

191: Can You Go to Med School and Support Your Family Too?

Aug 14, 2019 07:43

Description:

Session 191

Today, our poster asks about what he can do as a medical student as far as family and having life are concerned.

We take questions directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, sign up for a free account and feel free to ask a question.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[00:54] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“Hello fellow nontrads. My name is Collin I am concerned about life in medical school. Yeah, I know the workload will be grueling and I will spend a lot of time studying but I am really wondering about how families are living during medical school. 

Are most of you non traditional students families being solely supported by your significant other financially through the whole process? 

Are the schools giving out housing opportunities to families so that the student doesn’t have to worry about keeping a roof over their children’s and wife’s head? 

I am going to go through this process eventually and just would like to know if I need to wait a couple more years to just get way more financially stable. 

My wife and I are currently both working part time so we can go to the community college for undergrad. We also have a daughter and another little one coming soon. I am 24 but I am questioning if I should wait till my kids are a lot older or maybe even adults to even start medical school.”

[Related episode: How To Provide For Your Family As A Premed]

[01:55] Family-Oriented Resources

Ultimately, think about what's the right decision for you and your family? Everyone is going to tolerate different risks, different stresses, and different lifestyles.

Based on my personal experience, I went to New York Medical College. We had lots of families in our medical school class. It's one of the few medical schools in the country that have student housing right there at the campus. They had specific family housing for students with families.

Every medical school is going to be different in terms of how much they want to or how much they can accommodate families. 

But as you go through this process, part of the loans that you take out for medical school cover the cost of living as well.

Every year, medical schools will set a budget. And the budget for your class will include tuition, other fees and books, supplies, insurance, transportation, and housing in your specific area.

So if you go to a medical school in New York City, your overall budget is going to be pretty big even if tuition is not that much because the housing cost is going to be huge.

[Related episode: Can You Have Kids and Be a Good Medical Student?]

[04:15] Housing Cost When You Have a Family

The housing cost is based on typically single people. So when you have a family, you may have to appeal to them or submit something to have your specific budget changed because you have a family. Maybe you'll have to work in daycare for your kids or an increased cost of living calculation because you need a bigger place.

Every medical school will hopefully accommodate you in some way based on what you're asking for. So be sure to ask. 

This is important because your loans from the federal government are based on that budget from the school. So you can only take out a maximum budget they set. If you need housing cost of $1,500 a month but they only budgeted $1,000, you're going to be short with your student loans.

Obviously, if you can take out less loans than you need, that would be awesome. Try to save up now so you can pay for that potential cost difference with your savings. But if you need to have your loans increased or your budget increased so you can take more out from the government, then do what you can according to the process set by the school.

[06:28] Final Thoughts

If you think you're only comfortable going to medical school when your kids are older, that's okay. But know that there are plenty of people who are going to medical school now so they're out and working as their kids get older. So this is a personal decision.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

190: Is Monitoring Telemetry Clinical Experience?

Aug 7, 2019 07:36

Description:

Jeremy has worked as a CNA and cardiac monitoring technician. Does his experience in telemetry count as clinical experience for his applications?

189: Should You Address a Visible Pregnancy in Interviews?

Jul 31, 2019 06:05

Description:

Are pregnant applicants to medical school seen differently? Are there any mechanisms to protect their chances for acceptance?

188: Where to Apply When You're Applying: How to Pick?

Jul 24, 2019 11:43

Description:

Session 188

This applicant is not sure what information is significant when choosing a program. How do you pick a school when you don’t see it up-close?

Every week, questions are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you would like to ask a question and hopefully be answered here on the podcast, register for an account.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:01] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I am applying this cycle (2020) and realize that I have been putting all my energy into my personal statement and ECs and I don’t even have a definite school list yet! I’ve been avoiding it because I really don’t know how to pick schools, other than based on their location and MCAT/GPA (although I know the stats aren’t as important).

As I start to look into it more, I look at in-state vs out-of-state preference and the school’s mission statement to try and see if I fit into what they are looking for. 

Class size and curriculum is kind of a factor, but it’s not that influential in my decision because I know that I would be excited about receiving any medical education, regardless of how they frame it. 

I have a feeling that my experience is going to be about the people I meet and work with, not so much the name of the school, and that is not something I can know at this point.

So, that said, I have about 14 schools on my list (I am applying only MD), and now that I look at it, they are all relatively well-known and pretty competitive. I know ‘safety’ schools aren’t a thing according to Dr. Gray, but I think my chances are less if I don’t add some smaller, less competitive schools. 

Trying to pick more schools that I am not familiar with is so hard to do because there are SO many, and it would take hours to go to their websites and really get to know each of them.

Any advice?”

[Related episode: How Many Medical Schools Should I Apply To?]

[02:30] You HAVE to Put In HOURS

It would take hours to go to their website and really get to know each of them. If you're not willing to put in hours to do your research to figure out what school you want to go to, you might as well quit now.

You need to put in hours writing your personal statement and writing your extracurriculars. You have to put in hours to put together a school list. Your school list is important.

[Related episode: How to Choose a Medical School & Put Together a School List]

[03:22] Why Only MD?

Why only MD? Some students have a really good reason why they're only applying to MD schools.

You should apply to DO schools if you want to go to DO schools, if you want to be a doctor, if location is really important and there are DO schools in that area as well.

Between MD and DO? The difference gets smaller and smaller. The bias is getting smaller and smaller. Hence, applying to both MD and DO is what the majority of you should do.

[Related episode: MD vs DO - What are the Differences (and similarities)?]

[04:30] How to Make a School List

The majority of your effort should go into your personal statement and extracurriculars. But once you start looking at your school list, state residency is very important. 

Where are you a state resident? Are there medical schools in that state? If there aren't, are there medical schools in surrounding states that give preference to residents of your state?

If you're applying to an out-of-state school, you should have significant ties to that state. For instance, do you have family that has lived there for a long time? Do you visit there during the summers?

Location is a huge factor as well as class size and curriculum. What kind of environment do you want to be in? Do you want to be around 60 other people? Or do you want to be in a class size of 300? This is very important.

Curriculum is also important. There are schools that have a traditional curriculum. Would you want that or wouldn't it be better for you to go to a school that has a system-based curriculum? So look at the type of curriculum. Check if they have a problem-based curriculum or a flip classroom.

There are actually so many variables that go into this.

[Related episode: Should I Move States to Improve My Chances?]

[07:25] Other Factors to Consider

You also need to consider the weather as well as the closeness to friends and family. These are huge.

And it's going to take time to look at each individual school. You have to look at their mission-vision statement, facilities, curriculum, etc. Look at everything. And this is going to take time.

Also, look at their secondary essays. Find out what they're asking. Check out SecondaryApps.com to see all of the secondary essay prompts there. If you applied to a school with a secondary that has 40 pages long and you don't want to fill it out, you just wasted $40 or whatever it is. So do your research.

Additionally, we are in the process of setting up MedSchoolReviews.com so that medical students and physicians can leave reviews of their school. This will help you make a more informed decision.

[08:40] The Yield Protection

I have talked to so many students that don't get into medical school and upon looking at their school list, it's probably why they didn't get in. Their school list was just terrible.

I'm working with a student right now who crushed his MCAT and one of his top choice schools is a DO school. It's near where he lives. I told him that he would likely potentially not even get looked at by that DO school.

There is this thing called "yield protection" where a medical school wants to make sure that those they're inviting for an interview are actually going to want to come to their school.

And if this student has a high MCAT, the DO school might think this student might probably get into an MD school. So you have to think like this. They may not give that student a chance. Therefore, he needs to do a little extra work and reach out to the school.

I had the same conversation in The Premed Years podcast with a Texas resident. The student wanted to go to a Texas school so applied to TMDSAS as well as a few out-of-state schools through AMCAS.

They didn't get any interviews at the out-of-state schools. This may be because the student was a good applicant and they saw their path is in Texas. So they would assume that you're going to want to stay in Texas if that's your home state and because it's super cheap.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

SecondaryApps.com

187: The Importance of Choosing the Right Program For You

Jul 17, 2019 06:38

Description:

Session 187

Today, our poster is now questioning the decision of getting into a prestigious postbac.

Your questions are pulled directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. Register for an account for free and ask away! Also, check out all our other resources at Meded Media.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:13] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I’ve been accepted into Columbia’s program, but I have heard professors really don’t advice/help students until the end of the program, and that there isn’t a communal nature among the program.

To expand on the third problem, post-bac students don’t interact with other students outside of class, and that there is a "me" versus "everyone else" mentality among the students.

Overall, I guess the complaints can be summed up as there is a high risk of failure in the program and some isolation if you don’t know anyone else in NY. Does anyone know this program well and can address the complaints?"

[Related episode: Interview with Columbia Postbac Premed Program]

[01:55] Competitive Doesn't Equate to High Risk of Failure

Why does a competitive program mean there's a high risk of failure in the program? I wouldn't personally combine those two. You can have a no-fun, miserable, cutthroat program and still pass. It doesn't mean it has a high rate of failure.

This is probably very typical of high stature, prestigious institutions. It's the nature of the students that they unfortunately attract. Students want to be the best and do the best. And a lot of times, this is done at the sacrifice of those around them.

You don't have to go there. There's no reason to do a formal postbac. If you're already concerned about this right now and you've heard these things, then don't go there. If you know it now, nothing's going to change in the coming days or weeks or months.

[Related episode: What I Wish Every Premed Student Would Know]

[03:35] Be Self-Reliant

You, as the student, are the one that takes the test. You're the one who has to take the MCAT and write your personal statement. You need to find shadowing and clinical experience.

And to say, the professors aren't helping you, you might find the same issue everywhere. You don't need the professors to help you. They're there to teach you the material as best you can. Then you go and learn it again on your own.

There are no professors at Columbia's postbac who have the secrets to whatever they're teaching. And if you can't see yourself loving the environment, then don't go there. There are plenty of other options.

Ultimately, it sounds like you're better off doing a do-it-yourself postbac or find somewhere else to go.

Links:

Meded Media

Nontrad Premed Forum

186: What's Next In the Journey From PharmD to Premed

Jul 10, 2019 09:40

Description:

Session 186

Today, we talk about a student switching their journey from PharmD to MD (premed at this point).

Your questions are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven't yet, be sure to register for an account for free and join a collaborative community of nontrad premeds.

[01:00] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“Hi everyone, so glad to have found this site and I have been listening to a lot of the podcasts lately, which has been quite informative, but none has really been able to set me on the course to a competitive chance.

My situation is unique, in that I have a Bsc Biochem (cgpa-3.53; BCPM-3.62) from 2008 (see attachment), went on to complete a PharmD (gpa 3.14 2012).I have been working in community practice ever since.

At age 32, I have come to realize my desire to make a greater impact on humanity through the field of medicine. I have a family who is supportive of my dreams, but I'd hate to disappoint them by making the wrong choices towards my pursuit.

I believe this platform has guided people towards a path of success & hoping I can gain some insights as well. 

Here are my questions & concerns:

[02:13] Shadowing and Volunteering

Question #1: Would I need to do some more volunteering (I love tutoring) even though I did some tutoring during my undergrad days? What is more ideal for me as a candidate, Volunteering and/or shadowing. I have secured a shadowing with a psychiatrist. I may be able to also do hospice volunteering.

Answer: Shadowing is definitely important. Volunteering isn't particularly important. It basically depends on your time commitments. If you have a family and don't have time to do it all, then volunteering is typically one of the first things that get cut out.

As an admissions committee that reviews your application, they're going to see who you are and what you're time commitments are. 

[03:18] Research and Clinical Experience

Question #2: Is my community pharmacy practice sufficient as a clinical experience? As far as research is concerned, I did some independent research in the lab during undergrad (2007-2008) with no publication. Worked in a Pharmaceutical company as research associate for 1 yr before Pharmacy school. How sufficient are these even though it has been over 10 yrs?

Answer: It's not necessarily the title, but what you are doing. If you have a community pharmacy practice and you have a hypertension clinic where you're doing blood pressures and adjusting blood pressure medication in your practice, then this is clinical experience.

If you are not doing any sort of clinical interaction with the patient and you're just standing in a retail pharmacy, talking to patients, and filling bottles, it's a little less clinical. 

I would also do some hospice volunteering.  

[05:15] Studying for the MCAT

Question #3: MCAT has been my biggest concern thus far. I have bought the TBR & tried to read up on some of the courses but I am having difficulty grasping Chemistry & Physics. Most of my core prereqs were completed by 2006, which makes it difficult to recall concepts and work around mathematical formulae. 

Do I continue to relearn by combining TBR with EK and KA or Should I retake all my prereqs first (DIY postbac)? Would an online prep course (princeton|Kaplan|TestPrep etc) be adequate? I want to apply in 2020 but not sure which way to approach the MCAT.

PS: I am a Texas resident so I emailed all Med schools in Texas & they indicated that prereqs do not expire.

Answer: TBR refers to The Berkeley Review and EK is ExamKrackers and KA is Khan Academy. 

If you're having trouble grasping chemistry and physics, these are very important parts of the MCAT. You can relearn them through a course. Check out Next Step Test Prep. Go to mcatcoursereview.com to watch a review about it. Use the promo code MSHQ to save some money off the course. 

There are a couple of options here. Go ahead and sign up for a course right now then take the MCAT in March or April of next year. 

Or you could potentially take a course right now and take Chemistry or Physics, depending on where you're at. If you need to focus on concepts and mathematical formulae, you only need to relearn that quickly. You don't need a full course to do that again.

I think you can handle it without the prereqs as you did well on your science courses early on. You got your PharmD and did well out there and have been practicing as a professional. You're obviously smart enough so have faith that you can go through this MCAT journey without going and retaking your courses which may delay your application.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

Next Step Test Prep (promo code MSHQ)

mcatcoursereview.com

185: Do You Need a Bachelor's Degree For Medical School?

Jul 3, 2019 07:18

Description:

Session 185

This week, we have an interesting question from an immigrant wondering if they need to get another bachelor's degree here in the U.S. This is a common question among international students.

Your questions are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. Be sure to check it out and register for an account.

[01:00] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

I got my bachelor’s degree from another country, but I got a master’s degree from the U.S. I also took all my prerequisites from the U.S. colleges and universities.

Is it really necessary to obtain another bachelor’s degree here.? I noticed that some med schools require a bachelor’s degree, so I’m wondering whether I need to get a second bachelor’s degree.

[01:25] Call the School

The answer basically depends on the medical school. For a student in this process, someone like this student who has a bachelor's degree from another country but did their prereqs here, which is great, you have to look at each medical school and what they require of their applicants. 

[click_to_tweet tweet="'Most medical schools will typically have a list of their requirements for their applicants.' https://medicalschoolhq.net/opm-185-do-you-need-a-bachelors-degree-for-medical-school/" quote="'Most medical schools will typically have a list of their requirements for their applicants.'"]

Some schools may say they don't need a bachelor's degree and you can apply. And if you do well on the MCAT and if they like your grades, they can take you.

There are also other schools that require every single applicant to have X number of hours. 90 credit hours is a very common answer you will see. This goes out to the institutions in the U.S. and Canada.

They didn't say undergrad hours so maybe the master's hours count. The master's credit hours may not be that many, but combined with the undergrad hours, maybe this could be enough.

All those being said, we don't really know. Hence, you need to call each institution and talk about your situation. Name the credit hours. Name the schools. Tell them where you're out and see what they say.

The worst they can say is to do 90 hours total. Maybe you only need to take a few classes and you don't need to complete the second bachelor's. This is just the possibility.

[04:30] Advocate for Yourself

At this point in your journey, advocate for yourself and reach out to schools. Tell them about what you think about doing. Tell them about yourself and your current dilemma, and what they can do to help you.

Let the schools tell you what you need to do. First, you're getting them to co-sign your plan with them. Secondly, you're introducing yourself to the school so that they would already recognize you on your next interaction.

Lastly, you're getting a feel of the school and whether or not they're going to support you as a nontraditional student. A lot of schools aren't flexible at all.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

184: MCAT Timing—When is the Right Time For You?

Jun 26, 2019 07:30

Description:

The decision of when to take the MCAT is a difficult one that depends on each student. Today we look into how to determine what is the right time for you!

183: Writing Your AACOMAS Activities—What You Need To Know

Jun 19, 2019 07:04

Description:

Having different requirements for each application service is stressful. Today we discuss everything you need to know about the AACOMAS Activites Section!

182: Making the Transition From Military Back to Undergrad

Jun 12, 2019 05:02

Description:

Nick recently separated from the Navy and is now working on his undergrad. He needs some tips/tricks on how to finish and some ideas to feel less alone.

181: When Should You Consider Retaking Classes

Jun 5, 2019 11:51

Description:

Session 181

Today, we tackle whether biomedical engineering can’t be listed under the BCPM classification. Find out how you can go about this to make sure you’re able to maximize this.

Your questions are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, be sure to register for an account so you can also begin asking questions and join a community of collaborative premeds and nontrads.

[00:48] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

"I graduated with a Bachelor’s in 2016 and a Master’s in 2017 both in Biomedical Engineering.

Currently, I work full time in the medical device industry as a development engineer working on a cardiovascular device and I am planning on applying to medical school for the 2021 cycle.

I originally planned on pursuing medical school the year after my Master’s, but a move away from home and adjusting to working full time caused me to get temporarily side-tracked. I also wasn’t premed for a majority of college, but began taking the remaining pre-requisites my Junior year once I began seriously considering medicine as a career.

"Due to this, I felt very behind the experience level of traditional premed students. Many of the pre-requisites were required by my major and I took them early on in college, before I had properly learned to study. I graduated with a 3.7 from undergrad and a 4.0 from grad school.

However, my science GPA is only a 3.4 since a majority of my classes in undergrad were BME and therefore it doesn’t seem as if they’ll count towards my BCPM (although many were heavily science-based including courses such as Human Physiology and Thermodynamics).

Included in this average is a C+ in Physics I, B- in Physics II, B- in Organic II, and a C- in Calculus II. The rest of my science grades are mostly A’s (Including Orgo I and Biochem) and a B+. I also had straight A’s my junior and senior year (mostly engineering and biology coursework) including upper-level physics-based engineering courses while taking over 18 credits a semester.

My question is, should I consider retaking courses such as Physics I & II to show a higher level of competency or will my upper-level engineering courses be considered and help to compensate?

I plan on taking courses at night at a local university this year to obtain recent letters of recommendation, however I was leaning towards taking a Pyschology course (since I only have an AP Pysch (5) transfer credit and a Medical Anthropology on my record for the social sciences), a Biology course with a lab (since I transferred a 5 in AP Biology and none of my upper level Biology courses included a lab), and an Inorganic Chemistry course (since I only have one semester of Intro Chem w/ lab).

I am trying to save money where possible, but I’m willing to do what it takes to ensure I can show I am ready for medical school.

Should I also consider a postbac program so that my grades are more recent since I will be applying four years out of undergrad? Also – I am planning on taking the MCAT for the first time this coming fall so I don’t have a score to share yet.

On the experience side, I have shadowed over 200 hours of orthopedic surgery (trauma, spine, joint replacement, pediatric, etc.) and neurosurgery during graduate school. I plan on shadowing several more specialties before applying, hopefully including emergency medicine and primary care (aiming for 30-50 hours in various specialties).

I was actively involved in professional societies in undergrad that included volunteer opportunities and I was the Community Service Coordinator for the Biomedical Engineering Society my senior year. I was a TA for team-based engineering classes my sophomore, junior, and senior year of college and in grad school.

I also currently organize volunteer activities at work in the nearby community. However, none of the hours were formally tracked and the only consistent volunteer position I had was once a week for four months in an outpatient orthopedic clinic (some patient interaction including transporting patients to the x-ray room). I am actively seeking clinical experience and volunteer experience (ideally weekly).

Do you think that adding a variety of shadowing experience and a weekly clinical experience with patient interaction spanning over the next year will be enough to show how serious I am about wanting to be a physician?

I know that my lack a patient-centered clinical experience is a major weakness currently. I am also prepared to switch to a clinically related job or work part-time to have more time to volunteer and gain clinical experience, although keeping my current job would allow me to save money and I am committed to finishing a project at work for the next few months. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read this long explanation and thanks in advance for any advice you may be able to offer!"

[05:40] Listed as BCPM

If you look at the AAMC, they classify engineering and biomedical engineering specifically as an All Other – meaning nonscience. But for instance, for a class like Human Physiology, that seems pretty science-related. BCPM stands for Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math. Thermodynamics is listed under Chemistry and Physiology is listed under Biology.

So you can't say that just because they're biomedical engineering, they don't count as they're listed under All Other. You have to look at it class by class.

"If it is a science class, then use your judgment and if you think it would fall under BCPM, then list it as that."

You can call the AAMC beforehand to make sure, but personally, I would list it as that. Push that a little bit. You're the only one who has taken the class and so you know what that class was all about.

This is one of the reasons it takes time to verify classes. There are a lot of nuances with all of these courses so getting them right is important.

See what else can you pick from your classes so you can list them under the BCPM classification.

[08:15] Should You Retake Classes?

Your grades are great. I personally don't think you need to retake classes. Your grades are good enough, specifically because you had straight A's. You have a very strong upward trend.

Make sure you're prepared for the MCAT. You obviously have to do well on it.

Apart from that, you don't need to take any more classes or a postbac. You don't need to take night classes.

You don't need to take classes to get letters of recommendation. Start right now in reaching out to your old professors. They can be your master's level professors. Start building that relationship up for the next several months. When you're ready to apply, then you can get those letters.

[09:30] Clinical Experience and Volunteering

This is where the majority of your time should be spent. You already have tons of shadowing under your belt. So just keep it up. You don't need a ton more of shadowing but be consistent over the next year.

"It's going to be the clinical experience where you're actually interacting with patients."

For your clinical experience, you can do hospice or be an ER volunteer. Tell the people running the volunteer program that you want to be involved with patient care and not just stocking shelves.

You can also become a part-time scribe. There are lots of opportunities but they have to fit with your current work schedule and current life.

But you have to start doing this as soon as possible to really prove to yourself and the admissions committee that this is what you want.

Lastly, check out the AMCAS Course Classification Guide as they lay them all out for you in terms of what's considered and what's not. Remember, don't just generically say it's biomedical engineering, therefore, it's not All Others and non-BCPM. You really want to maximize that BCPM as much as possible.

"Pick and choose each class as you go through your transcripts to figure out where you can categorize each one."

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

AMCAS Course Classification Guide

180: Are Postbacs Only For Non-Science Majors?

May 29, 2019 07:45

Description:

Our student is looking into postbac programs to help raise her GPA and complete prereqs, but most programs are for non-science majors only. What should she do?

179: Switching to a Premed Student in Canada

May 22, 2019 08:55

Description:

Kathryn recently made the switch to premed, but in her province, most schools only have a minimum MCAT requirement. She isn't sure what path to take next.

178: Should You Put Global Health Experience On Your Application?

May 15, 2019 11:31

Description:

v

Session 178

Your questions are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. Be sure to register for an account if you haven't yet, and join a collaborative community of like-minded students.

This week, we tackle a question about global health and volunteering abroad.

Meanwhile, be sure to check out all our other resources on the Meded Media along with a host of podcasts to help you along your path.

[00:52] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

"I am hoping to get feedback about whether I should put my global health experience on my med school application or not.

I have what I feel is great global health experience. However, I have been getting more and more concerning feedback on what that experience will look like on my med school application.

Recently, my adviser at school told me that the experience does not count as healthcare experience, it only counts as a cultural experience.

Additionally, I have heard that some med schools are starting to reject applications with any global health experience at all to discourage students from doing short term medical “missions” that can be damaging to local communities.

Lastly, I had posted something in the Premed Hangout Facebook group about my experience and how much I enjoyed being in the OR shadowing cataract surgeries.

I posted a picture of myself with one of the ophthalmic nurses I had become friends with over the duration of my experience. I was really surprised by the amount of negative feedback I got from the Facebook group.

People began privately messaging me and commenting that what I did was unethical, I didn’t deserve to get into medical school, and making comments that it looked really bad for a white woman to go to a third world country to participate in one of these programs that takes advantage of under-served and under-represented populations.

I ended up deleting the post and leaving the Facebook group.

It was really disheartening because I had put a lot of research into making sure I chose a program that really emphasized responsible global health practices that provide long term and follow up care to patients. I am now very concerned about the experience of having a really negative impact on my application.

I have several years of experience working as an optometric technician and grew very passionate about eye care.

One day at work, a pharmaceutical rep told me about her experience volunteering abroad on an eye care trip and I thought it sounded like a great opportunity to give back to the world for something I was passionate about.

I began researching programs and learned about the differences between doing a program that focuses on providing sustainable global health and doing a short term eye care “mission” trip. After understanding that the short term trips, even if well-intended, can actually have a really negative impact on the communities they are trying to help, I found a really great program called Unite For Sight.

Unite For Sight partners with local native ophthalmologists in Ghana, India, and Honduras to provide them with funding to run outreach programs through their private clinics. With the funding from Unite For Sight, these private clinics are able to hire a local outreach team.

The outreach team has a designated region. And each day, they travel 1-4 hours to different outreach locations to provide eye screenings by local optometrists and ophthalmic nurses hired for the outreach program.

They are then able to dispense reading glasses and medications for conditions like glaucoma etc. When a patient needs surgical treatment for something like cataracts or glaucoma, arrangements are then made to transport the patient to the main clinic for further testing or treatment.

The patient usually stays near the clinic for a few days for follow up care and then the ophthalmologist will travel to designated areas to provide further follow up post-op care around the 3, 6. and 12-week mark. At the last post op, once everything is healed, they are given a new glasses prescription.

The outreach team also partners with local community leaders in the towns they travel to in order to spread awareness of the program and gain good trust with the community in addition to training local community volunteers.

What I really love about this program is that each outreach point is visited on a regular basis to provide long term and follow up care.

Patients are able to be monitored and given medication refills to last until the next visit. Where the volunteer work comes in is with assisting the outreach team with the eye screenings.

As a volunteer, you are required to go through a training program 30 days before your departure date that educates you about global health, cultural diversity and cultural competence, and of course, eye care.

Once at the location, volunteers are trained on how to check visual acuity and take patient history working with a local translator.

Volunteers also assist with cataloging data so that the program can track patient outcomes so that Unite For Sight can measure the impact they are having in each local community in order to develop the most effective practices for long term success.

Lastly, another thing that attracted me to the program was that there are over 25 medical schools. And many optometry schools who have affiliations with Unite For Sight will give their students academic credit for doing one of their clinical rotations in the program.

After finding a program that provided sustainable health care to local communities, I was excited to see the school affiliations because to me, it seemed to validate that the program was truly having a positive impact on the communities they are in.

I now feel like I am almost instantly attacked by mentioning that I did volunteer work abroad to anyone without being given a chance to explain the program that I did or why I chose it.

I truly believe that the program is having an amazing impact on underserved communities and wholeheartedly support it. However, I am concerned that by putting it on my application it will automatically give a negative view of me just by having the words “Global Health”.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? What are your thoughts or opinions? I really appreciate any and everyone who took the time to this long post! Thank you for your input and advice!"

[06:50] Global Medical Volunteerism

Global medical volunteerism has been controversial. It has been on the news, with some discussions about its impact on the communities. It sounds that Unite for Sight is an organization that is doing a lot of good.

"There are still plenty of great opportunities out there for doing it."

Where students go wrong is they find some program that was started randomly maybe at a university and they don't have the infrastructure. They don't have the support of the community where they're going. They don't have the long-lasting impact that some programs have.

And that's where a lot of the negativity comes from. They come. They do things. They leave. And then people in the community are worse-off for it.

[08:00] Where the Negativity Comes From

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of bias wherein when somebody reads the headline once, they assume all of it is bad because they read one headline. You have to completely ignore that.

"AAMC put out some information about this a couple of years ago that these medical tourism trips should be more scrutinized."

What is happening is a premed goes overseas to a third world country to assist in surgeries. They would do things to patients that they would absolutely not be able to do with patients here in the United States based on their level of training.

That's where the biggest negativity comes from. It's not the medical tourism, specifically. But it's going abroad and doing things to patients that you wouldn't be allowed to do here.

[09:15] Should You Put This on Your Application?

You have experience working as a technician in an optometry office. So you have the training and the skills to do a lot of this stuff. For you, this is less of a concern.

This depends on what you're going to be talking about in your application in terms of what you're doing to the patients. If you're just talking about interacting with the patients and doing some visual acuity and taking histories, then that's great! You're not doing anything "to" the patient.

So it's really up to you on whether you should put that on your application or not. But I don't see why you shouldn't put that on your application.

There could potentially be one person at one medical school that may see and screen that. You can't prevent that from happening.

"Use your discretion as to whether it was an impactful experience for you."

[10:42] Always Understand First

Lastly, for everyone listening to this podcast, don't attack other people for what they're doing. Try to understand first.

As a physician, a colleague, as a patient, as a friend – always come from a perspective of understanding things first before handing out advice.

And for the most part, people don't want your advice, so keep it to yourself.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

Meded Media

177: Everything You Need to Know About Resumes

May 8, 2019 05:36

Description:

Many medical schools give students the opportunity to add their CV to their application. Our student has a few questions on what to include on a resume!

176: Rejected After Interviews: Assessing What Went Wrong

May 1, 2019 15:06

Description:

Session 176

This week's question is about rejection after interviews. What could have gone wrong?

If you haven't yet, please register for an account over at the Nontrad Premed Forum, where our questions on this podcast are taken from.

Also, be sure to check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media to help you on this path towards becoming a physician.

[00:47] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I have been honored to have been offered 2 interviews: the first to a school to which I applied early decision, the second last week (obviously late in the cycle.) The outcome: I was rejected from both. Clearly, there is something wrong with the way I am presenting myself. I practiced substantially more for my second interview, doing 3 mock interviews and rehearsing. I believe I was warm and friendly (scanning what went wrong, maybe too garrulous?–especially as a female interviewing in very “red” areas? Maybe each a poor culture fit for me and the school?–there was no political commentary or political turn of question to avoid) with all staff and fellow interviewees at each event.

Knowing I will have to re-apply, I am starting my preparation for this journey. I have been listening to all of the Medical School HQ podcasts and understand that closing deficiencies ASAP is ideal, but I should not reapply too early. And frankly, call it poor self-study–but I am somewhat at a loss on where I have gone wrong.

The first order of business I can do to improve my overall competitive quality will be retesting MCAT (taken in 09/2017–it will be expiring soon anyway). My total score was like 70%ile-but I underperformed in chemistry/physics (56%ile, 128-130 on practice exams) and biology was also average (51%ile–at the time of testing, I was deficient in Molecular Biology and have since studied on my own, with friends, taken Coursera, etc attempting to close these gaps.) I have heard from an admissions committee a low biology score is a marker for those who will not perform well on boards. Obviously, I was able to be offered interviews with my rather mediocre score, but to improve overall level of competition for my application, MCAT is certainly an area I believe I am capable of making a possible 10 point improvement.

But my more pressing question is how to handle further gaps. I left my career in analytical chemistry in order to fulfill gaining clinical experience (eliminating 70% of my salary, moving home with my mother). While I love working as an ED scribe (and also now as scribe leadership in training, quality, and continuing education), I wonder if continuing in the same path after rejection would show weakness in regards to not adapting to change after rejection–begging the question “why did you continue in the same path following rejection”. Should this be a concern? One school told me I didn’t have enough shadowing–following my interview–although I now have well over 800 hours in the ED (my specific ED has a wide range of cultures which I have noted: people from the Amish community to patients from urban poverty. And also in the ED, I feel you did get exposure to the full range of people and complaints. However, after this feedback, I shadowed family at a local clinic, rheumatology, and palliative care (which is where I think I would like to land).

My other activities include: volunteering at a rape crisis center (about 12-24 hours a week on crisis hotline–also as a medical advocate), volunteering tutoring local high school students as needed (approx 3 hours a week), volunteering (just a back-up. fill in.) for delivery service for the library for community members who are home-bound, teaching 2-3 yoga classes per week as a certified instructor, and working with a local doctor on his small business (not a clinical practice, more lifestyle-related). At this point, I feel I am fully loaded as there are only so many hours in a week, and I hope all my current activities maximize my application.

On GPA, I built a spreadsheet and figured the numbers, if I did a full-time class for 2 years with all A’s, I could increase my overall GPA by only 0.7. This seems like a lot of financial commitment, time, and effort for little gain–especially after listening to so many of the HQ podcasts. However, when I look at the core competencies, I did have somewhat of a downward trend in GPA in advanced chemistry curriculum, but honestly A-‘s. (at best I had 4.0 semesters, but my worst semester was like 3.6). I do have a few community college courses including 1 B. I finished my BS in chemistry from a small liberal arts college in 2010 in 3 years. Is there a problem with how long it has been since school? I have no further research experience aside from a 6-month internship in renewable fuel when I was in chemistry a decade ago.

In an honest assessment, I think I am a good candidate and an affable and trustworthy person. However, I continue to receive rejections post interview. All clinical staff with whom I am acquainted have been thoroughly supportive of me–and seem to believe I have “what it takes”–unless they are talking through their teeth. I don’t know how to close the gap in gaining respect and trust as I do in my day to day work in a 6 hour interview day–I wonder where I am failing.

What more should I do in the meantime? I would love any ideas you guys have!

I don’t know what to modify or change up to find acceptance. Please advise.”

[06:30] Applying Early Decision

Just on a superficial level, this student is very worried about the microdetails. If you look at the AACOMAS transcript, they break down every type of science course. They show you where your weaknesses are if you're looking for them. You got some interviews. And I think the biggest issue here is that you applied early decision. I almost never recommend applying early decision.

The problem is when you apply early decision and you get rejected, you'd have to scramble at the last minute. So you hurry up to get the rest of your application in. When you apply an early decision, you are applying and saying that you are only applying to one school. It's like an all-or-none bet. And if it's none, then you can start turning in other applications but it's already very late in the cycle.

[09:37] Scribing vs. Shadowing

Right now, there are up to 2,500 hours and being a scribe is not shadowing. It's a clinical experience. Did you mislabel some experiences and confused some people? So you actually missed shadowing since scribing is not shadowing.

Your experiences actually look amazing as you're doing a lot of volunteering stuff. Scribing is great but a lot of medical schools don't actually consider it as sole clinical experience since you're really not doing a ton with the patient. Instead, maybe go out and get some hospice experience. Another great clinical experience is the rape crisis center. But this is a hotline so you're not technically interacting with the patient in person since you're on the phone with them.

[11:14] Taking Classes

The GPA doesn't seem to be an issue but it is old. Graduating in 2010 is 9 years ago as of this recording. I recommend you taking some classes to show to medical schools that you can still take classes and still do well in them.

So you can probably retake the MCAT. You don't have to change all of your extracurriculars since you're doing a ton of stuff now. You can probably add some hospice volunteering. It's a great experience since you get to be close to the patient and interact with them. Look at taking more classes. You can go to a community college and take some upper division science courses.

[12:22] Interview

Was there something during the interview that caused the rejection? Or maybe post-interview, they looked at the totality of your application along with the other students and they decided you still came up a bit too short. So it's impossible to know if your interviews caused the rejections or whether it was your application as a whole that caused it. If you applied early to the second school and you interviewed earlier, would they have accepted you? Well, that would be impossible to know. The best you can do here is to call the schools and ask for feedback on your interview to see if it was an interview issue.

Finally, remember that worrying about the microdetails is not something that's going to keep you from getting into medical school.

Links:

MedEd Media

Nontrad Premed Forum

175: Does Aging Out Exist in Medical School Admissions

Apr 24, 2019 10:53

Description:

Session 175

Our poster today is asking about aging out. Is there such a thing as being too old to go to medical school? Let’s find out!

If you haven't yet, please register for an account over at the Nontrad Premed Forum, where our questions on this podcast are taken from. Also, be sure to check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media to help you on this path towards becoming a physician.

[01:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

I am an older premed that because of my age (mid 50s), family and friends (and even I) are worried that I will “age out” of being accepted to medical school. I also worry that being older will limit my choices for a medical residency. In order to rush my application, I have been taking a heavier post-bacc course load but taking too many classes at once, volunteering, and working has made my GPA suffer. While most of my post-bacc grades have been A’s, I got some B’s. My original plan was to finsih my post-bacc next Fall, take the MCAT then, and apply for schools in June 2020. But because of these B grades and some other issues, I would like to delay my application by two years, and do the following:

Take a break from post-bacc after this quarter ends in March. Cut back on my volunteering; I already have lots of health care experience (see below). Work full-time again until Fall to pare down some post-bacc-related debt (my program is expensive and there is no financial aid) Finish my post-bacc by retaking those pre-requisite courses in which I got B’s (I want to get A’s in all the AAMC pre-requisites; yes, I know that all grades are reported and averaged). Finish the AAMC-required courses and then take more upper division science classes to further improve my GPA. Finish studying for and take the MCAT. Maybe I can do this by Fall, so if I have to re-take the MCAT again, I can do so in the Spring 2020. If I do well on the MCAT but still have a borderline GPA, apply for an SMP at a university with a medical school. This will allow me to take classes alongside medical students to show to that I can do well in medical-school classes.

I expect this plan to take 3 more years, which means that I will be in my late 50’s when I apply to medical school. Can I still get in at that age?

Already, in presenting my case to medical schools and premed advisors at premed conferences, I have gotten mixed advice. Some premed advisors have told me that being over 50 already made me too old and to not bother applying, especially because my academic record is very convoluted with some marginal grades and some W’s. One medical school told me to not to apply to them. But others, including some medical students, did not see any issue with me being older but I was in my early 50’s at that time. Furthermore, health care is not new to me. I already have significant health care experience working in health care and volunteering, including nearly 3 decades of continual health care volunteer work with the medically underserved.

Can anyone offer advice on this plan and whether delaying my application is risky or not worth it in terms of making myself even older when I apply versus having a higher more competitive GPA?”

[04:06] Pausing Your Postbac

It's pretty hard to answer this question considering there's not enough information given here in terms of the trend in Science and cumulative GPA. But just answering this based on the information given, pausing your postbac is just a bit severe. To start thinking about an SMP because you have B's is severe.

The problem with many students is they assume what the medical school admissions committee is already thinking and that you need to do this and that. Instead, just look at the application from a perspective of just doing well. If you've got good grades on your postbac, then there's no use doing an SMP. You've already shown that you can handle undergrad courses. It could have sucked sure, but that was 30+ years ago. But you're a different person now. And you want to go to medical school. You have this goal in mind and this is what you want.

[06:31] W's Don't Matter, Your Story Does

As you're going through the process, the goal is not to think about what your final GPA is. But the goal is to look at that trend. Really understand the story that the trend will tell medical schools. The goal is to consistently show medical schools that your grades are good. W's don't matter. They don't mean anything on your transcript. Instead, tell the story behind that W. As long as your W's don't show any sort of consistent pattern of you avoiding classes, there's nothing to worry about.

"Your trend is all that matters."

[08:05] Are You Too Old?

Of course, there will be medical schools that might think you're too old. But there are also schools out there that will look at your application regardless of your age. To delay your application even more, putting yourself through all this classwork and experiences at this point is not worth it. Keep pushing forward. If you have some other issues though that warrants you to delay your application, then go ahead. But from an academic standpoint, the B's aren't going to hurt you. As long as you have a majority of A's, that's great. But without us knowing the overall picture here of what the overall GPA looks like, it's pretty hard to answer this poster's question.

Again, there's no need to worry about the SMP. There's no need to worry about medical schools rejecting you. Some will and you have to understand. But there are also other medical schools that will accept you.

"Keep pushing forward if this is what you want. If you need to take a break because you have issues going on, take a break."

Links:

MedEd Media

Nontrad Premed Forum

174: How Do Admissions Committees View Audited Courses

Apr 17, 2019 08:02

Description:

Our student today wants to audit physics, so he does not hurt his GPA. How will ADCOMs view the audited physics course? Does he need to report it on AMCAS?

173: What to Do When Things Aren't Going As Planned

Apr 10, 2019 06:19

Description:

You prepared for the test, you know you want to be a physician, you have done all you can, and then things don't go as planned. What do you do next?

172: Can You Ever Be 100% Sure You Are on the Right Path?

Apr 3, 2019 09:10

Description:

Session 172

Our question today is from a student who is frustrated, feels defeated, and is seeking for some advice. The medical school journey is hard. There are hiccups along the way. Knowing how to get back up and why you’re on this journey in the first place is very – very – important.

Questions here are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. This podcast is part of the MedEd Media Network where we have a ton of shows, including a couple of them for medical students. As you go through your journey once you get into medical school, you can listen to Specialty Stories, where we interview physicians about their specialties, as well as the Board Rounds Podcast, a podcast specifically for first and second-year medical students to help them prepare for Step 1 or Level 1 board exams.

[01:30] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"It’s been a while since I have posted. I am officially full time at school this semester and I am definitely feeling it. I was able to go down to part-time at my job and keep the same hourly rate which is very, very helpful for my husband and me. I put in about 20 hours a week at work and almost all of my free time goes to studying, trying to get 8 hours of sleep and whatever is left I try to see my husband and family. Although most of my time is devoted to studying, prepping for classes, doing projects I feel like I am perpetually behind. I am taking 3 classes (Bio, Prep Chem (designed to prepare me for Gen Chem 1 & 2), and Stats, 4 if you count the Bio lab that requires weekly lab reports and quizzes on top of the lab.

Everything appeared to be going smoothly. I have been organized, eating right, 10 min meditations to get me ready for the day and to ease stress. Haven’t been struggling too much with focus while studying. My bio class is by far the hardest class I have ever taken in my life. It is unlike anything I have ever taken. My professor and TAs all warned my classmates and me that this is an extremely hard class and half the class would fail. As like many of you I am sure, I hadn’t taken a science class in over 10 years so I knew it would be an adjustment.

I thought that I was prepared and I thought that I understood the material. I had been studying since day one to prepare for the first exam, but apparently, it wasn’t enough. My first exam came back and with the curve, I got a B- my raw grade was a 66.7. I was devastated. Turns out that I still did better than 65% of the class (out of 250) according to the results they posted. I am trying very hard not to get discouraged but I can’t help but get lost in a sea of worry and feelings of failure. This class is supposed to be an “intro” class, how am I going to make it through this INCREDIBLY arduous journey."

[03:30] You Are Not Alone

Many students on this journey fail their tests. I failed a test. I failed my first medical school exam. You got a B minus on the test and 66.7 isn't that very good. But if it curved back to a B minus, that tells me that the professors are not doing their job. They had fun making it really hard and they're not doing their job of helping students understand the material.

[click_to_tweet tweet="'Medical school is hard and the premed path is hard. There will be hiccups along the way.' https://medicalschoolhq.net/opm-172-can-you-ever-be-100-sure-you-are-on-the-right-path/" quote="'Medical school is hard and the premed path is hard. There will be hiccups along the way.' "]

Students talk about it on the Facebook Premed Hangout Group where professors are getting fired for this exact reason where they just like to give hard tests and liking to see students fail. But even if you're in a class where the professor is great, you may still fail. And you may still feel defeated even with the professor you love because there will always be hiccups along the way. All you can do is to continue to go down this path if this is what you really want. Put one foot in front of the other – every single day, page after page after page, question after question after question.

You may walk out of the test feeling defeated and you may get your grade back and feel defeated. But all you need to ask yourself is what did you do wrong? How can you improve? And this is how you get better. This is how you don't get feel defeated and that's how you can conquer.

As you go through this process, expect that you're going to fall down at some point. But as soon as you figure out how to get back up and you know why you're getting back up, then you will get back up and continue on this journey.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media Network

Specialty Stories

Board Rounds Podcast

Facebook Premed Hangout Group

171: Can You Ever Be 100% Sure You Are on the Right Path?

Mar 27, 2019 08:07

Description:

Session 171

Today, we tackle a very common mistake many students make with their extracurricular activities. How recent should your shadowing, volunteering, and clinical experiences be? You need to understand that consistency is key!

All questions here are pulled from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven't yet, be sure to sign up for free so you can begin to ask away and join a collaborative community of nontrad premeds.

Thanks to Next Step Test Prep for sponsoring this episode. Check them out as they recently launched their Medical School Admissions Consulting. Aside from my independent consulting, I'm also helping them out as their Director of Curriculum for their Admissions Consulting. They're going to help you craft your story and prepare for your interviews. They're going to make sure your essays are on point. If this is something you're interested in, sign up for a free consultation with one of their academic managers.

Be sure to also check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network so you can get as many resources as you can to help you along this journey towards becoming a physician!

[02:39] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I shadowed four different physicians back in 2012 and 2015. Does shadowing have to be recent?"

[02:55] How Recent Does Anything Have to Be?

There a lot of nontrads doing some clinical experience in college and went and started a career in a nonclinical setting and trying to apply to medical school. Does that count? Yes, sure. But that's six years ago.

Look at this from the admissions committee's side of things. If you're applying to medical school and you're saying you want to be a doctor and you haven't shadowed a doctor in five to six years, how serious are they going to take you?

"Actions speak louder than words."

How can you say that you're spending the next six or seven years of your life training to be a physician when you haven't proven that you want to do that? You haven't put yourself around physicians and patients. And actions speak louder than words.

Hence, when you're applying and you haven't shadowed in years or even a year plus, you're going to have a hard time getting into medical school. It doesn't mean you won't get in, but you can have a hard time getting in. Why? Because the medical school admissions committee is not going to take you seriously. They want to make sure that this is really what you want to do. And you do that by putting yourself around doctors and patients. You have to put yourself in clinical settings to prove to yourself that this is what you want to do. So yes, you need recent shadowing, recent volunteering, and recent clinical experience. Even nonclinical volunteering can be important as well.

[05:26] Consistency is Paramount

You need consistency when it comes to applying to medical school to show this is what you really want. You have to be consistent with your shadowing, clinical experience, volunteering, etc. There are a lot of moving parts and pieces to this puzzle.

Don't look at this like you need 50 hours of shadowing and then just stop so you can focus on the other parts of your application. You need to maintain consistency and that doesn't mean 50 hours a month consistently. It just means you need consistency with all of that. The hours count but you need to show recent consistency up to and through the application. I came across a high school student once and said they're going to get their shadowing out of the way. Well, you can't do that. It's not going to work.

[06:48] Next Step Test Prep

Check out Next Step Test Prep and their new Medical School Admissions Consulting. If you're looking for some help with your application, with your essays, interviews, and general premed advice, sign up for their free admissions consultation with one of their academic managers. Mention that you heard about their service here on The OldPreMeds Podcast to save some money.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media Network

Next Step Test Prep’s Medical School Admissions Consulting

170: Don't Wait Until the Last Minute to Find Volunteering

Mar 20, 2019 06:23

Description:

Volunteer hours are a must, however, volunteer applications can take months. I will give you some tips and tricks on securing volunteering as well as a timeline!

169: How To Thoroughly Review Your Own Med School Application

Mar 13, 2019 10:25

Description:

Many people experience the frustration of not knowing what they are doing wrong. Today I'll talk about how to review your own medical school application!

168: When Do You Quit Your Current Program And Pursue Premed?

Mar 6, 2019 11:57

Description:

When you know you want to pursue medicine, but are currently in another program or job, what should you do? Quit or Keep Going?

167: Where Do You Place Clinical Research in the EC Categories?

Feb 27, 2019 09:04

Description:

 

Session 167

Today's poster is from a student with a ton of questions mostly on research, volunteering, and courses. We specifically take questions from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, please be sure to sign up for an account today so you can join a collaborative community of like-minded students gearing up on this journey towards medical school!

[01:06] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Question #1: I worked in clinical research for 6-7 years (on clinical trials). Would that count towards clinical experience or research experience? How would that be broken down? For three and a half years I approached patients in the ED for an observational study for enrollment and follow-up. We also completed Cognitive assessments on patients with potential delirium, and scored them on the CAM. I managed staff and three studies at this role as well as managing the paperwork to the IRB. I then joined another hospital where I worked for the department GI cancers and approached all new patients for consent into our sample and data collection study for GI cancers.

[02:47] Clinical or Research?

What students don't typically think about is that you can classify the same activity in two different ways. As a clinical research coordinator, you can put it as clinical experience or as shadowing or research if you are involved in the research side of things. Being an admin in the research project doesn't mean you're involved in the research. So you have to be involved in the research side of things if you want to call it research.

A lot of times, a clinical research coordinator position is really the coordination stuff so it's admin. It's a great clinical experience because you are interacting with the patients. But it's typically not research-oriented.

Nevertheless, you can break down experiences into multiple different types of experiences. So you could have it as clinical experience, or research, or even shadowing – again depending on what you're really doing for each thing.

[05:05] Chemistry or Upper-Level Biology Courses

Question #2: I started retaking chemistry this semester but I do not know if I should continue with chemistry or just take upper level biology courses. I have been listening to your podcast for old premeds and the premed podcast. I understand that it may be that I am on an upward trend since finishing college but am concerned because I took my premed courses over 10 years ago. Of the classes after college, 2 of the 5 have been at a community college. Otherwise, they have been night classes at a 4 yr institution. Now, my overall GPA is: 3.17 and a science GPA of 3.14. During college, I had difficulty deciding on English vs biology for a major. I decided on biology my junior year and then had to double/ triple on sciences with lab. That didn’t do my gpa any good but I was worried at the time because my high school did not have very rigorous science prep available. I graduated with an overall GPA of 2.99 and science GPA of 2.75 (excluding math courses). When I took chemistry, I got a B-, now, my grade is an A. I don’t know how it will look to admissions for retaking it though? Should I be doubling up with an upper level biology course along with my full time job? I took a few classes in the past but had gotten B and B+ in them because I had prioritized my work.

[06:30] Retake Your Courses

At this point, it's a good idea to think about redoing all of your courses since the premed courses were over 10 years ago. This eliminates any school from saying that your prereqs are too old. It also helps you build a solid foundation for the MCAT. It might not be what you want to hear but this will open more doors for you at medical schools that have age cutoffs or time cutoffs for prereqs. So just take as many classes as you can and do really well and keep pushing forward.

[07:42] Not Enough Time

Question #3: I have not had time with the clinical research jobs to do volunteering the past years. The jobs have generally required a 50-60 hour work week because I was an exempt employee. This year, I am in industry and now have regular hours. But I have had a family issue to deal with early in the year and now, I am back to taking classes. Will it be hard to explain why I haven’t been volunteering since I started the clinical research jobs?

The easiest answer is always the honest answer. So just explain what happened. But continue to try to do as much as possible. Tell the truth and you’ll be fine!

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

The Premed Hangout on Facebook

166: Will Competency-Based Degrees Work For Med School?

Feb 20, 2019 08:30

Description:

Our student attained a competency-based degree through a regionally accredited institution, but has taken the prereqs at a community college. Will this suffice?

165: Where to Get Letters of Recommendation As A Nontrad

Feb 13, 2019 06:12

Description:

Who should write your letters of rec as a nontrad? Your boss? Your undergrad professors? Or your prereq science professors? Here is everything you need to know!

164: How To Provide For Your Family As A Premed

Feb 6, 2019 06:23

Description:

Undergrad is costly, medical school is even more costly. How do you ensure you can provide for your family throughout this journey? Here is how to plan ahead.

163: Is Changing Careers Concerning to ADCOMS

Jan 30, 2019 08:16

Description:

Our student today is currently in a DPT program, but realized he wanted to do more for his patients. Will his 4th career change be concerning to ADCOMs?

162: Are All US Medical Schools Created Equal

Jan 23, 2019 07:50

Description:

It is known that there is a stigma surrounding going to a Caribbean Medical Schools, but our student today is wondering if all US Med Schools are respected?

161: DIY Postbac or Second Bachelor's Degree

Jan 16, 2019 06:43

Description:

Our student today is trying to decide if they should do a DIY Postbac at a CC or take loans to get a second bachelor's degree. How to decide what is right?

160: The Struggle With Consistency In Shadowing And Volunteering

Jan 9, 2019 09:31

Description:

Session 160

Consistency is key but what happens when there are areas of consistency in your application but your shadowing and clinical are not? How will this be viewed?

Watch out for our upcoming podcast Board Rounds, our new podcast for first and second year medical students to help them study for Step 1 or Level 1 exams - the first step of the boards that you'll have to take as a medical student and resident in the future.

Also check out The MCAT CARS Podcast in collaboration with Jack Westin, one of the experts in helping students prepare for the CARS section of the MCAT. We help students learn how to basically comprehend while they're reading. This is very helpful to students in every section of the MCAT. Get 100% off on the MCAT CARS course from Jack Westin by visiting medicalschoolhq.net/jackwestin.

Meanwhile, our questions on this podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. And if you haven’t yet, be sure to register for a free account to join our collaborative community as you help each other on this journey to becoming a physician.

[02:25] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I graduated from the University of Florida in 2010 with a 3.0 GPA and sGPA of 2.67. I commissioned as an Officer in the Navy and spent 6.5 years on active duty. Becoming a physician was my goal during undergrad, but I fell extremely short of living up to the standards of a premed student. During my time in the Navy, I got married and my wife was a huge proponent of me following my dreams. I knew that in order to pursue matriculation into medical school I needed to get my GPA up, so I started taking some online classes at a local state college (all science-based classes) to see if I still had the academic ability and ended up doing well. This boosted my confidence and I decided to resign my commission and pursue admittance into medical school full time. I was accepted into the University of South Florida where I recently received a second BS in Cell and Molecular Biology. Since the completion of my first BS at UF, I have completed 51 additional credit hours (all science based), received a 4.0 in all classes and have increased both my GPA and sGPA to a 3.22.

My extracurriculars are as follows:

Active Duty Naval Officer: Aug 2010-Oct2016 Navy Reserve Officer: Oct 2016-Present Physician Shadowing: Roughly 100 hours in 2009 Clinical Volunteering: 298 hours Jun-Oct 2016 Substitute Teacher in a rural county in Florida: Nov 2016-Present Take Stock in Children Mentor in a rural Florida county: May 2017-Present Research Lab Assistant: May 2017-Present

In knowing the majority of my background information, my question deals with consistency. In listening to Dr. Gray’s podcasts, I know he preaches (and have heard this from other sources as well) that consistency is key.

In regards to Med School Admissions committees, are they looking simply for consistency, because it shows that you are able to commit, or is it more specifically consistency in medical extracurriculars?

For example, all of my shadowing and clinical experiences have proven to me that medicine is where I want to be although they have been “brief”. I have shown consistency in several other areas, but not in shadowing or clinical volunteering. Unfortunately, I live in a very rural area in Florida, and finding shadowing opportunities has been extremely difficult."

[04:45] Consistency is Key!

The goal of consistency is not just consistency to show commitment. It refers to consistency in medical experiences. You need to have consistent clinical experience and shadowing. For some schools, it means volunteering and nonclinical volunteering. Consistency in medical experiences shows that admissions committees that you enjoy being around patients and you like being in a hospital/clinic setting.

"Consistency in medical experiences shows the admissions committees that you are dedicated to being a physician."

Do not base everything you're doing now on experience from ten years ago. They don't want you to make the mistake of going down this path without continuing to reassure yourself that this is what you want. So the key is consistent clinical experience and shadowing, and for some schools, consistent volunteering.

[06:20] Consistency in Spacing Throughout Application

Don't cram it all in before the application. If you had 800 hours of shadowing but it's all from April and May of the year you're applying, this would look like you crammed in shadowing so you can fluff up your application if you don't have any shadowing before that. And it would be obvious to see if this is what you're doing.

"You don't have to do it everyday, all day. It just has to be consistent."

So you need to start shadowing, even just 5 hours a week, as long as it's something you do consistently. Even if you're living in the rural part of Florida or any state, you can still travel on a weekend for a couple of hours and go get five hours in a hospital setting somewhere and then go home.

"Consistency is a huge part in the application process."

[07:39] Get Some Clinical Experience In!

If you've taken some time away from clinical experience, shadowing, or volunteering because you're probably working full time or taking care of family, work that into your comeback schedule. If you're planning on applying in 2019 but you haven't had any clinical experience in 5 years, then maybe push off a year so you can work those clinical experience, shadowing, and volunteering in so you can get back into that consistency so you can show the admissions committee that you are dedicated to this and that you know this is what you want and you have recent experience putting yourself around doctors and patients.

Links:

Board Rounds

MCAT CARS Podcast

Jack Westin

Nontrad Premed Forum

159: Former OPM to Pediatric Resident—It's Possible

Jan 2, 2019 04:06

Description:

Session 159

Today, our student is a former OPM who has matched into a pediatric residency. Just a reminder that it is completely possible, so what is stopping you?

If you haven’t yet, please register for an account at the Nontrad Premed Forum so you can join a collaborative community of students and ask away! Be sure to always check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network as we give you some resources to help you along your path towards becoming a physician.

We don't have a question today but a success story from a student sharing that he/she has successfully matched into a pediatric residency, which has always been his dream.

"My old premed story was basically that I was a super nontrad, not so much in age but my background was in arts, who started med school, DO, which I love at 30. And my graduating class there, actually quite a few students older than 30 now, and a few in their 40s and 50s. On top of all the usual med school nonsense, I actually also had a baby during my third year, which was amazing and I'm so glad I did it. I just wanted to drop by and let you know that it is possible. I was definitely not the best student. My scores were not amazing. And I had to build my science knowledge from nothing. But I've had a phenomenal experience over the past four years in med school and I am so glad I found this site all those years ago. I wish you all well as you start and continue on this journey and hope to see you all on the floors someday."

[02:14] Share Your Story with Us!

If you've had the same success, come back and share it with us so that students on the forums don't just see all the questions and struggles but also the successes. That's why we started the MedDiaries Podcast so students can share their struggles and triumphs.

Links:

MedEd Media Network

MedDiaries Podcast

Nontrad Premed Forum

158: How Does Affirmative Action Affect Medical School Admissions

Dec 26, 2018 07:53

Description:

As a Canadian & Metis woman, our student is looking for insight on being an Indigenous applicant and if there are affirmative action policies in place in the US?

157: Pastor To Aspiring Physician: Discussing Faith In Apps

Dec 19, 2018 09:50

Description:

Session 157

As a pastor, his faith which is rooted in serving others is the driving force in becoming a physician. Should you discuss your faith in applications?

If you haven't yet, be sure to register for an account over at the Nontrad Premed Forum so you can be a part of this collaborative community. Plus, you don’t want to miss all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network as you on this journey to become a physician!

[01:02] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"Hello everyone. I was hoping to get some feedback on how much my faith as a Christian should be discussed in my application process, interviews, etc. A typical applicant might not mention that type of thing as much, but I feel like I should since it has essentially shaped my life over the past few years, and in many ways led me to want to pursue medicine. Let me give a little background info.

I graduated from college with a B.S. in Kinesiology with a minor in Spanish in Spring 2015 with a GPA of 3.90. In the few years prior, I had become a Christian and knew that at some point I wanted to pursue being a minister in some way. Upon graduation, I had the opportunity to intern at a church near where I grew up. I worked that job and was soon trained up to be the student pastor, which is what I have been doing up until now. I knew the whole time that this was not something I wanted to make a career out of, but it was a good opportunity at the right time in life. My experiences working as a minister have been huge in my maturity and overall growth as a person. Not to mention my increased communication skills because of the demand of the job. Working at a church has also meant getting a lot of experience in community service and helping underserved populations.

My faith is a big driving force in wanting to become a physician as Christianity is rooted in serving others. I’ve been able to help people spiritually and emotionally as a minister, but I look forward to helping people in a tangible, physical way as a physician. I’m hoping to blend those things as a doctor one day.

During the past three years, I have also gotten married and had a child.

Back to the earlier question: Would there be any reason to shy away from talking about my faith? Would it create any negative bias or stigma on my application that might hurt my chances? Thanks for the input."

[03:00] Would Discussing Your Faith Help?

Will discussing your faith and your experiences around that hurt your application? If you want to talk about it because it's going to help with your application, then stop selling yourself to the admissions committee.

"Tell your story. Don't try to manipulate and massage everything into how it's going to help you as a physician... Stop trying to sell yourself."

The question here is how has being a minister led you to want to become a physician. Your whole story needs to surround why you need to be a physician.

[05:10] Serving Others

If you tell them you want to be a physician because you want to serve others, then you can continue being a minister and serve others. The question here instead, is where does this more tangible, physical helping come from? This is the story you need to tell in your personal statements, in your extracurriculars, and so on. Where are you getting this experience that has led you to know that you want to be a physician?

If it doesn't really have that much to do with wanting to be a physician, don't focus on how being a minister has helped your communication skills or grow as a person.

"Stay away from the sales pitch."

[06:55] Dealing with the Bias

There could be some sort of negative bias and someone reading your application may shy away from you. But you have to be true to yourself. You have to tell your story. If you really feel like you have to talk about being a minister and being a Christian in your application, go for it.

Just understand that the goal is to talk about why you want to be a physician and not try to sell yourself as to what your background has given you that you think is important to being a physician.

If you go down this route without the sales pitch, understand that there could be negative bias out there, not probably, but there could be.

[08:27] Final Words

Don't sell yourself. This process is not a sales pitch. In your personal statement, just lay out why you want to be a physician. Check out The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement as well as The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. These will help you craft your story -  without selling yourself - to help you stand out!

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media Network

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview

 

156: Attending A Premed Conference as an OldPreMed

Dec 12, 2018 11:12

Description:

Session 156

As an older applicant, are there benefits to attending a premed conference? Can you make connections with schools that will ultimately help your application?

Your questions answered here are taken from theNontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, please register for an account. It’s free! So you can join a wonderful, collaborative community of students who are on the same journey as yours. Also, be sure to check out all our other podcasts onMedEd Media Network for more resources to help you along this journey.

[00:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm curious about the soft-side values of theUC Davis Prehealth Conference specifically for an older applicant coming as a career changer. I’ve read that it is a fantastic overall pre-med conference that gives a great introduction to all the details on the basics, but I’d like to get a feel for some additional possible benefits. I can make arrangements to attend, but want to make sure that the effort is worthwhile. Reading the list of schools attending is impressive.

Do adcom attendees make note of future applicants they talk to and are interested in keeping an eye out for his/her application?

Is it an option to come in pre-interview mode, dressed business casual and have something to leave behind like a resume or CV?

Is networking possible? Can an attendee actually walk away having made a good connection with someone who has a role in admissions?

Can a line of communication be opened via a connection made at this conference? (I previously attended the much smaller conference at UCSD and have not had response to any of the “fill this out with any questions” forms, so I’m not sure if the adcoms actually have time to follow-up.)

Do the admission committee attendees/presenters find value in attending the conference? Do they “prospect” at all?

I suppose the bottom line is, if someone already has a good handle on the pre-reqs, MCAT preparation, application cycle, etc. is there additional value in attending the UC Davis pre-health conference?

[02:15] What Benefits Do You Get Out of Premed Conferences

I'm working with a student who hasn't had much luck until she went to a conference. And she did this in the middle of the application cycle. Now, if you're doing this pre-application cycle, this allows you to ask for more advice because you're not a current applicant. As a current applicant, your advice isn't as robust as it may be if you were not an applicant and you're only planning to apply the next year or the year after.

Depending on where you are on your journey, if you're a current applicant, I highly recommend you go to conferences. Aside from getting to meet me, you get to network.

[04:20] Is Networking Possible?

100% possible. The question is how much effort are you going to put into it? Are you going to go to all of the sessions? Or are you going to get up there, say hello, and shake hands? You can actually bring a resume if you're not a current applicant. Most importantly, come prepared with questions. Do your research like you're planning on applying to these schools. Do your research like you're going to talk to them why you want to their school. Don't just walk up to them and say hi and ask them to tell you everything you need to know. That's a useless conversation.

"Come in prepared with questions - that's the key thing."

If you're a current applicant, talk about the application - where you may be struggling, why you haven't gotten an interview. The student I talked about who attended the conference had a low MCAT score. And we were able to talk about that. It's her second time taking it and her score increased a ton but it's still low. So she made some good connections at the conference and weeks later, she went to theAAMC Minority Student Career Fair in Texas. She lives on the east coast so she flew out to UC Davis then went to Texas for the fair, where she got even more traction. She got a couple of the same people and got to show her face again. She also got to meet new people - one of them started interviewing her and pulled up her application. They asked her questions and she ended up getting an interview because of the connections she made. Hopefully, it leads to an acceptance. Nevertheless, she probably wouldn't have gotten that interview without showing her face at one of these conferences. You have to put yourself out there. You have to show who you are.

"You have to remove yourself from the comfort of your home and show these people that you are an actual human being and not just some numbers in a spreadsheet somewhere in their computer."

[07:00] What Value Do You Get from These Conferences?

It depends on who the school is sending as to the amount of value that you can get from each of the schools. Some of the schools will send the admissions committee members, the director or dean of admissions. Other schools would only have the marketing/PR people to bring fliers, and not necessarily the type of people you can connect with so they can take a look at your application.

"It completely depends on who the schools are sending."

[08:12] Do the Schools Really Need to Be There?

Schools are getting thousands upon thousands of applications for 100-200 seats so they don't need to be going to these conferences. They're hoping to get their name out there so the right students are applying. It makes their job much harder but they want that versus having thousands of applications and half of them are junk because they don't really match the values and the mission of the school. They're out there getting their name recognized as well as their mission and vision, so you understand who they are and what they're about. So that when you apply, you are a good fit for their school.

[09:05] Final Thoughts

Again, it depends on who these people are that are there. Can you make a connection with them? You have to try to make a connection. You have to go and network and if you're an introvert, you have to put on a smile. Go, shake hands, and ask questions. Be prepared to give them information. Be prepared to talk about some of your weaknesses if you're in the middle of the application. Even when you're not in the middle of the application, talk about your weaknesses and what you're doing to work on them. Get their buy off on it.

"Go out there and network."

You need to get out there and show your face. Additionally, you get to meet other students going through the same process. You can commiserate with them and exchange phone numbers, and maybe form a group of students who are supporting each other through this process.

Conferences are one of the best investments that you can make as a premed - even when you're in medical school, residency, or even as an attending. It's very important to collaborate with your colleagues, learn, and be there with people who understand what you're going through.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

UC Davis Prehealth Conference

AAMC Minority Student Career Fair

MedEd Media Network

155: When Should You Consider A Special Masters Program

Dec 5, 2018 07:30

Description:

Session 155

Our student is interested in pursuing an SMP to help with shadowing and research opportunities. Are SMPs worth doing even if you have good grades in prereqs?

All your questions answered here are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you don’t have one yet, do register for an account and join a collaborative community of students. Also, check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network.

[01:35] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I wanted to know if a special masters program would be unnecessary for my situation.

I’m a 29-year-old nontrad taking prereqs at a community college here in Pittsburgh, PA. Currently, I have completed a year of Bio with A’s, finishing this semester of Chem 1 and Physics 1 with A’s, taking Chem 2 and Physics 2 next semester, as well as OChem 1 and 2 in the summer. I also work full-time. I don’t have any past science courses from my UG and Grad school degree programs, so these are all fresh grades. I live within minutes of the University of Pittsburgh. Offered at UPitt is Biomedical masters program with a linkage to UPitt’s medical school (Interview only/No MCAT required). It’s a 12 month, 32-credit SMP.

The reason I am considering this program is, besides offering more advanced science courses, the program also offers research and shadowing opportunities (an aspect of this process I’m struggling to find) built into the curriculum. That’s the upside. The downside is- well, it’s a master’s program, so I’m looking at up to $30k in tuition for the year.

Getting into UPitt’s school of medicine (UPSOM) is not guaranteed at all, but if I keep this trending of A’s at the community college and take additional courses, like biochem and genetics and do well on the MCAT, should this carry enough weight in an application for me? I can’t say I’d find as much shadowing and research opportunities as I would be exposed to in the SMP, but I’m sure I can find something.”

[03:13] Should You Spend $30K to Get Some Shadowing?

A lot of students go through an SMP program because finding a physician to shadow is hard. But do you want to spend $30K to shadow? No!

"Do not do an SMP if your grades are good and you're lacking shadowing."

Go find a physician to shadow. You can find somebody. It's not that hard. You have to do some work obviously, and it's a lot of work, but it's not hard. You will get a lot of no's and rejection which people don't like but it's not hard.

Listen to our previous podcast episodes about how to find people to shadow. I've covered it a ton. Go and find the clinical experience. Those are necessary. You don't have to apply immediately as soon as you're done with your courses. You can take a year, get the clinical experience you need. And then apply. Then save the $30,000. That's a lot of money!

[05:27] The Next Bubble to Burst

Unfortunately, the government is currently giving money to students to spend at schools and they're getting hundreds of thousand dollars of debt, even before medical school. Add medical school on top of it and students are just buried in debt. And this will be the next bubble to burst. It was the housing market in 2008, and the student loan deficit is a tremendous burden on students right now.

[06:00] To Do or Not to Do an SMP

Again, do not do and SMP if you're just doing it because you're lacking some things in your application that you can take some time and fit them in and get them. Ask people. Find some shadowing, Find some research. Find some clinical experience. Do not an SMP if you have good grades.

"You don't have to prove to anybody that you can handle the coursework at medical school. That is what the SMP is for."

Sure, the linkages are nice to have. But it's not guaranteed. So don't go spend $30K to get some shadowing.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media Network

154: When and How Should I Tell My Friends and Family I'm Premed

Nov 28, 2018 08:14

Description:

Session 154

Today, our student has been keeping a secret and is wondering when he should come out to his friends and family that he may want to be a physician!

Our questions here are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven't yet, be sure to register for an account and ask away! Also, take a listen to all our other podcasts on the MedEd Media Network to help you along this journey to becoming a physician.

Be One of Our Scholars!

We are launching a quarterly essay contest. The winner will win a $2,000 scholarship (paid in cash.) Second place gets $750 and third place gets $250. Go to premedscholarship.com to find out more about it! The quarter ends on December 31, 2018. Take your time to write a great essay. The prizes will be doubled IF we can reach 10,000 followers on Instagram by Dec. 31st. As of this recording, we're at 81,000.

[02:43] OldPreMed Question of the Week:

"I’ve been keeping my desire to go to med school as a nontrad student (I’m 30) mostly to myself until I was really sure I wanted to do it. I’m feeling ready to tell my family and friends soon, but I’m weirdly nervous about it. I come from a very supportive family and know they’ll ultimately support me, but I’m curious if anyone has any advice on dos and don’ts when it comes to breaking the news to loved ones?"

[03:10] Remove the Burden

I've had a lot of premeds on The Premed Years Podcast before who openly said they wish they told people sooner. When you tell somebody, it's not a secret anymore and so it's a burden lifted off your shoulders. You're not running around in the dark, closing browser windows when someone walks in and wondering what you're looking at.

"When you tell somebody, it's not a secret anymore and so it's a burden lifted off your shoulders."

Telling your family and friends removes the secrecy from your life. Hence, it removes a huge burden and it will make you feel better just having it out there.

[04:00] Get the Support You Need

Secondly, this process is so long and grueling so you need all the support you can get. You need it all. So go to your friends and family. Let them know. Hopefully, they'll be supportive as they are and have been. And they will find ways to help support you in this journey.

[04:28] Keeping It to Yourself Until You're Sure You Wanted to Do It

Talking to friends and family will likely help somebody figure this out sooner. Now, they can talk to other people about it. They can answer questions from friends and family members who are asking why you want to do this. Talking through this with somebody else or another human will help you figure it out sooner. So not only is the burden lifted off your shoulders, but you're also going to figure this out sooner. Just tell them and ask them for help to help you figure out. Then once you get to that decision, then ask for their help to support you through this process.

"As you talk through these things, you will have a better picture of what you really want."

Whether it's your spouse or child or parent, set their expectations from the very beginning to say you're going to be super busy. You're going to be tired and grumpy, or whatever. But show them you're chasing your dream at 30. And maybe they'll want to do something similar in the future. And this could probably also encourage them to quit their job and go do something else. Ask for their support as you're going through this process because you're going to need that support structure.

"Share it with your friends and family. Ask for their help in trying to figure out if this is what you want."

Links:

Premedscholarship.com

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media Network

153: Nontraditional International Applicant Worried About Chances

Nov 21, 2018 11:06

Description:

Session 153

As an international applicant, today's student is worried about his chances of getting into medical school and even if he should apply or look at something else.

If you haven’t yet, check out the newest addition to MedEd Media Network - The MCAT CARS Podcast. This will help you score higher in every section of the MCAT. If you're looking at using Jack Westin to help you with your CARS, click on medicalschoolhq.net/jackwestin to get a $100-off coupon code.

[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I’m a 25-year-old registered dietitian who graduated with Master’s in 2017. It didn’t take me long to realize the limitation of nutrition in providing comprehensive care to patients so I have recently decided to apply to medical school.

My biggest question right now is: would applying as an international student + nontrad = 0 chance of getting in? Should I even try? Would I have a better chance for DO vs. MD?

My second question is whether most schools that accepting international students would consider me. Some basic information about myself: – GPA: 3.88 undergrad and 3.85 from grad school – EC: practicing RD in critical care settings for 1 year, many MD shadowing hours as a nutrition intern during 2 years of RD training but no other “unpaid/volunteer” experience – Pre-reqs:2 semesters bio, 2 semesters gen chem, 1 semester gen physics, 2 semesters biochem (1 at graduate level) – MCAT: plan to take it by May 2019

Final question (if I had even the slightest chance of getting in): Do I have to take 2 semesters of organic chem and additional 1 semester of physics? Are there any alternatives since I have 1 semester of graduate-level biochem?"

[02:25] Prerequisites

Go to the medical schools you're interested in applying to and look at what they require for prereqs. Then base your decision for prereqs on this. Another thing to consider is how prepared are you for the MCAT if you haven't had any organic chemistry and you only have 1 semester of Physics, which both are on the MCAT. You may be hurting yourself for some schools as you may have the prereqs necessary for some schools. But you also may be hurting your chances of doing well on the MCAT without doing a lot of self-study.

[03:15] The Chances of International Nontrads to Get Into to Medical School

Personally, I don't think being a nontrad hurts anything. In fact, it's a great benefit to be a nontraditional student. Having that experience as a registered dietitian is great. The biggest issue is being an international student.

"Most medical schools will not consider international applicants. There are just too many issues when it comes to international students."

First, who's paying for your medical school? As an international student, you don't qualify for federal loans. You won't get loans from the government to pay the schools to give you the education so you can get a job and pay back the loans.

There are schools that accept international students that have a large endowment that will give you the loan directly from them. But some don't have that so they want to see you or your family or somebody has the finances to pay for medical school out of pocket.

Second, are you going to have any visa issues to work? Once out of school and you're working as a resident, are there any visa issues? There a lot of residency programs that hesitant to accept international students because they don't want to deal with any visa issues.

[05:34] What Are Your Options?

One option to take is going to the Caribbean or any of these international medical schools. Get your degree and then come back and do your residency in the U.S. This gives you better chances to get into an international school as an international student.

Another option is to wait until you get your Green Card, your permanent residency, or your citizenship. It could take 6 months or even 6 years - it's all up to you to decide if you're willing to wait for a year or two.

[06:35] Clinical Experience and Shadowing

The student has already worked as a registered dietitian for a year in a critical care setting This is great! As to how much experience is needed, only you can answer that as to how much you're actually getting in a clinical setting.

Are you getting notes and prescribing the dietary needs of the patients? Are you having discussions with the patients, interacting with them and going around with the team to do all of this stuff? If it's the latter, that's great clinical experience. But if it's the former, then that could hurt since it's not really "clinical experience." Sure, you're working in a clinical setting, but you're not interacting with the patients.

Shadowing as an intern is good but you still need more. The key is to do this consistently.

"Consistency is the key to all of this. You need consistent shadowing hours. Keep getting clinical experience."

[09:13] The Biggest Hurdle of Getting In

The biggest hurdle of getting into medical school is not being a nontraditional international student, but it's just being an international student.

So make sure you get all the prereqs needed for the school and the MCAT. Make sure you're getting consistent shadowing experience, clinical experience, etc. And ask yourself if you're okay to wait until you're able to get your Green Card, permanent residency, or citizenship. Or are you okay, knowing the risks, of going to an international school such as the Caribbean, Australia, Isreal, etc that cater to U.S. students?

Links:

MedEd Media Network

The MCAT CARS Podcast

152: How to Improve Your Med School Application as a Reapplicant

Nov 14, 2018 10:07

Description:

Session 152

Applying to medical school is hard. Needing to reapply is even harder. Where do you start? What do you have to redo? That's what our question is today.

All your questions answered here are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. Register for an account for free. Join a collaborative community of students and ask away!

If you haven't yet, please check out our newest podcast, the MCAT CARS Podcast with Jack Westin. It's a valuable resource, especially if you haven't taken the MCAT yet. One of the biggest components of the MCAT is knowing what you're reading and doing, as well as really thinking critically through it.

[01:44] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I recently listened to an episode of the Q&A where Dr. Grey talked about needing to rewrite your personal statement when you reapply. I understand the logic behind it but it felt more applicable to the younger, traditional student. The driving point made was the student is expected to “grow” between the cycles. As far as my application is concerned, my stats are low and I see that as the primary hurdle to even being looked at. I am working on a DIY postbac and will retake the MCAT if needed. But otherwise, I’m having trouble seeing how to improve my application. I feel my personal statement is pretty good and very honest. Beyond numbers, I can’t see how to improve my chances for next year. I have one interview invite for this cycle. If I don’t get in this year, what should I do? I find hoop-jumping to be disingenuous and have done my best to approach this entire process with open eyes and honest effort. Not just tick box to make you like me."

[02:44] What Do You Need to Change?

You laid our your heart out at this point, and how will that change from year to year if you need to reapply? But how do you know what it is in your application that is causing the schools to be turned off? Is it as easy as your stats being low? A lot of times, it is. But you don't really know. And maybe they've read your personal statement and that your stats are low and your personal statement wasn't good enough to overcome and make them want to invite you for an interview. Well, this obviously worked for one school where the student has one interview invite per school for this year. But what is it about the application that made one school decide to interview her vs. other schools? That's the biggest problem when you need to reapply. So the best advice is to change as much as you can.

"The personal statement has one goal in mind, to tell, to show the admissions committee why you want to be a physician."

[04:55] An Honest Personal Statement?

The poster says she feels her personal statement is good and honest, but would you even lie in your personal statement? What are you being honest about in your personal statement? A lot of students will be honest about the troubles they have to overcome. But your personal statement is supposed to talk about why you want to be a physician, and not about the hurdles you've overcome along the way.

"There are so many variables in an application that you just don't know what it is that caused the issue for not getting an interview invite."

[05:42] What Watered the Seed?

As you're going through this process, you're still getting clinical experience and you're still shadowing. Hopefully, you're still out there doing things and gaining more experience. When it comes to writing your personal statement and rewriting your extracurriculars, you had new stories to lean on, to show the interviewer the interactions that you've had with patients and physicians to highlight why you want to be a physician.

Your beginning story is the seed as to what made you want to look into medicine, to begin with. That's not going to change. Your seed is your seed. You can't change your seed. But you can change your watering story. What watered that seed that led you to be even more convinced that being a physician is right for you.

"What watered that seed that led you to be even more convinced that being a physician is right for you?"

Hopefully, you're journalling after each of your experiences (clinical experience, volunteering, etc.) so that you have new, different stories to lean on. So you can't just look at your stats if that's good enough because you don't know. You don't know what the admissions committees are looking at. You don't know how they're reviewing and judging it and critiquing your essays. So don't try to convince yourself that they're good. They may be great. But you don't know.

[07:50] Final Words

Rework as much as you can with new stories based on new experiences that you're getting through this time. Check out The Premed Years Session 171, which is dedicated to reapplicants and one of the biggest mistakes students make when they reapply is reapplying too soon, and not being able to fix their application.

"Fix whatever it was that was wrong with the application which caused them to not get an interview or acceptance."

The number one thing that students aren't able to get into medical school the first time they apply is lack of clinical experience. But for this poster, she already has one interview invite and it only takes one. But should she need to reapply, and you need to reapply, look at tweaking your essays, your extracurriculars, and really presenting new stories to highlight your journey to why you're doing this.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MCAT CARS Podcast

PMY 171: Reapplying to Med School: What You Need to Know to Improve

151: Shadowing a Military Physician, HPSP, and More

Nov 7, 2018 15:06

Description:

Session 151

Our student today is interested in HPSP or Public Health Services but wants to know what a day in the life of a military doc is like. We answer her questions.

Your questions answered here are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you don't have an account yet, sign up for free! Join an amazing community of nontrad students. This podcast is part of the MedEd Media Network. Be sure to check out all our other podcasts as you try to move along this journey towards becoming a physician.

[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I am a non-trad, with a couple years of experience as an assistive technology entrepreneur and hospital project manager. I started a post-bac pre-med program this year and on a track to take the MCATs and apply in 2020. I have been doing more research on medical schools, trying to balance pre-requisites and work. Listening to Dr. Grey’s podcasts I have learned a lot about how to prepare for medical school and after. This podcast has brought me both a lot of peace of mind as I listen to it on my commute to class and to work. With that being said there are a few areas I have specific questions.

HPSP – I most recently learned about the Military Medicine program through the podcasts and am highly considering it. A few reasons this interests me: (a) I would love to give back through the medical work that I do, one of my interests as a designer was low-cost prosthetics and other medical devices, (b) different/lack of insurance regulations (c) opportunities to participate in medical research with the DOD and foreign governments.

I am trying to shadow at the local Navy hospital and my pre-med advisor is helping get me in contact with a recruiter. Does anyone have suggestions as to how I can learn what the day-in-the-life of a military doctor is like? What is the work-life balance like or the possibility of having a family (I am a woman and would one day want kids – I’ll be in my 30’s when I finish residency)?

Are there more opportunities to get involved with research?

What are the possibilities of getting into pediatrics or a peds specialty (like pediatric neurology) offered through military residencies? I know my interests might change in med school but from the shadowing I have done, something with peds or adolescents is interesting to me and I don’t want to close that door.

USPHS – How is this different from HPSP and what are the requirements, processes involved? Is this only for primary care?

Clinical Experience – Are there clinical experience (paid, because I need to put food on the table) opportunities as a pre-med that might be able to give me more insight to military medicine or public health service?"

[03:25] What is HPSP?

HPSP stands for the Health Professions Scholarship Program. It's the program I used to go through medical school. When I got my acceptance, I went to the Air Force and signed up for scholarship and was awarded. Then I bid my time afterward.

I'm a huge advocate and evangelist for HPSP as long as you know what the risks and benefits are. One of the risks is that you are owned by the military and they may not want you to do the specialty that you want to do. They're never going to force you to do a specialty outside of what you want to do, but they'll tell maybe tell you no to the specialty you want to do. In that case, you'll have to be a general medical officer. You'll do your internship year and be a brigade surgeon, flight surgeon, a GMO family practice doctor, or whatever that may be depending on the branch you are involved in.

On the other hand, one huge benefit of HPSP is that you won't have any debt. The average debt is $170,000 and to come out of it without any debt is great! But you shouldn't want to do it for the money.

"HPSP has a lot of risks. It has obviously a lot of upsides. You graduate medical school with basically no debt."

[04:55] How to Do Shadowing in the Military

Shadowing in the military is going to be a lot harder. Not only are you dealing with HIPAA but also the military. So being involved and getting on base, getting clearances to be on base and be in a clinic is going to be a lot harder than a normal shadowing experience with a civilian physician.

The best thing to get involved is to reach out to different clinics in your area. Try to find a physician who's willing to talk to you after hours when they're not in the hospital or clinic and learn from them what life is like.

"It's going to be pretty hard to shadow in a military setting. The military is very protective of their bases and people who have access to their bases rightfully so."

[06:00] A Day in the LIfe of a Military Doctor

Basically, it's the same as any other physician. You're there as a physician and that's your job day in and out. Your job is to go and treat patients. That's it!

That said, military physicians have other duties. As the only flight surgeon on the base, I was also the public health emergency officer and the chief of aerospace medicine. I was in charge of public health and bioenvironmental engineering. I had a lot of different things I was juggling while seeing patients. And having that sort of variety is awesome. But for a lot of primary care physicians, they're just treating patients just like "civilian" physicians would.

In terms of work-life balance, it's actually pretty good. When you're on duty, then you're on duty. And when you're not, you're okay. This depends of course on where you're at and what your duty station is like if you're in a hospital setting or outpatient clinic. If you're interested in peds, you're likely going to be in an outpatient setting so you'll see your clinic patients during the day and then you'll have the rest of the day off. It's just a normal office environment.

"The needs of the military will always come before your personal life."

Being in the military, there's the opportunity to be deployed and to be called in for whatever reasons, so you always have to balance those needs. If you have kids, you need to have a plan for childcare. Who's going to take care of the kids if you're deployed? What is that going to look like? Are you going to be okay being away from your kids for 4-6 months? There are a lot of issues to be considered. Likewise as a woman, when you have a bab, you're restricted from deployment for a while so you can breastfeed and raise the baby for a while before they ship you off. But once that time comes, it's time to be deployed.

[08:38] Chances of Getting into Pediatrics

Pediatrics is a primary care specialty so it's a little bit easier. Remember that as a military physician, your job is to take care of military members. There are bases that have pediatrics because taking care of military families involves taking care of the spouses of military members. You may also have to take care of the parents of military members if they're dependents. A lot of bases also treat retired military members but still have access to get healthcare through the military. And of course, that involves taking care of the kids as well.

While a lot of bases will take care of kids, there's not a huge need for it. So there aren't a ton of pediatricians at every base since the main population that the military takes care of is the actual warfighters themselves and not the kids and their family members.

So there are some questions as to what needs of pediatrics are. As to whether it's easy to get, it depends year to year on the what the numbers look like. But it's typically an easy one because it is primary care.

When you're starting to get into the subspecialties of pediatrics, that's where you're probably going to run into an issue. A lot of times, like pediatric neurology, for instance, the patients will be sent out to the community to civilian hospitals and physicians.

If you have an inkling that you may be interested in getting very sub-specialized, the military may not be the best for you. Because a lot of those nitty-gritty specialties, there's only a few places in the military where they may have one of those physicians. Think of the big medical centers like in San Antonio or in DC. There are a few of those places that may have these specialties. But outside of that, it's a lot of general family practice, general orthopedics, and maybe some cardiology or pulmonology. The military just doesn't need a lot of those subspecialties because that's not their main priority.

"If you know that you want to be super-specialized, I would maybe look at not joining the military because you may be limited."

[12:00] Public Health Service vs. HPSP

You can probably join Public Health Service through USUHS (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences), the military medical school. There might be students there who are going into Public Health Service afterward. (We don’t have enough information regarding that as of now, but we’ll look into this.)

[12:42] Paid Clinical Experience

There are paid jobs but most of them aren't paid very well. You can look at becoming an EMT and work as an EMT. You can work as a scribe. You might want to look into working as a scribe not through a scribe company but through the hospital itself as it may pay higher plus benefits. So try to look around hospitals instead of scribe companies and maybe you could get a better deal. Or you may also look at working as a medical assistant, but just like EMT, you need certification and training. You can also be a phlebotomist but then again you need to be certified to do that.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum Scribe America MedEd Media Network HPSP USUHS

150: Improve Your CARS Score with the MCAT CARS Podcast!

Oct 31, 2018 33:03

Description:

Jack Westin was on the Premed Years Session 259 almost one year ago. we've launched the MCAT CARS Podcast and it's going to change the way you prep for the MCAT.

149: Do LORs from Non-MD "Doctors" Still Count as Physician LORs?

Oct 24, 2018 07:46

Description:

As a nontrad student, you have had a lot of experience working in another field, like optometry. Can the Optometrists LOR count as your physician letter?

148: Should I Delay Med School Apps to Work on Extracurriculars?

Oct 17, 2018 14:35

Description:

Session 148

Our poster today is worried that she isn't doing enough shadowing or volunteering to apply next cycle and is wondering if she should take a gap year to fix it.

Have you subscribed to the Premed Diaries yet? Check out episode 2 now! Be sure to also take a listen to all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network to help you along this path to medical school, and ultimately towards becoming a physician one day!

Your questions are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven't yet, register for an account. It's free! You'll be welcomed by a collaborative community of students and ask away! Or you can also join the Premed Hangout on Facebook.

[01:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a nontraditional student who just graduated in May from a four-year college. I actually did it in five to complete premed requirements. I am currently working as a research assistant for a nuclear neurologist as I study to take my MCAT this spring, and hopefully, apply this coming cycle. 

As we're currently working on the data organizations/process for the research, I've been listening to The Premed Years Podcast as I transfer files. It's really been an engaging mental stimulator and I plan to catch up on it. Then I continued listening to other podcasts I've encountered as a result, either directly or through for the research of your podcast.

Your podcast has brought up some concerns I didn't know I had yet with my application, mainly, my medicine-related extracurriculars. I had clinical experience as a CNA/STNA but I haven't really had the chance to do much, if any volunteering or shadowing.

Some more things about me you may want to know.

I was homeschooled-there is a >10 year gap where I was not in a formal academic classroom. During that time, I pursued a career as a professional ballet dancer. This path stopped at age 21(due to an issue with my ankle which surgery could correct, but would leave me without the flexibility to do pointe work, necessary for a ballet dancer- researching my symptoms really was the catalyst that piqued my interest in medicine). I started college at age 22. While I started with the thought of going pre-med, I was highly uncertain in my ability to take on the study load required of a pre-med student(heavily science-based when I was very much arts-focused), and eventually a med student. I started with high-school level sciences at a community college, and now have a major in Cognitive Science (ok, it *technically* says Social Science Interdisciplinary on my diploma) with minors in two hard sciences (Biology & Chemistry).

I was without a car most of my undergraduate career, and public transportation is not great where I live. I worked at least 1 job throughout my education, and had a second throughout my senior year, and sporadically during other years. I still do two jobs - the research assistant position and I also teach ballet. I am in the process of trying to get volunteering & shadowing experience now that I have the transportation for it, but I am concerned as to how that’ll look to medical schools, and if I should hold off longer on applying to boost my extracurriculars? I really would prefer to get my life moving further forward towards my eventual career if possible, but I could see how a school could look at me and balk.

Oh, if it helps, my overall GPA was 3.95."

[05:10] Clinical Experience as a CNA - How Long Has It Been?

The question here is how long has it been since you've had clinical experience because that matters. Consistency is needed with this process. That includes consistency with your extracurriculars, your shadowing, MCAT prep, volunteering, and your grades obviously.

"This is where a lot of students go wrong with their extracurriculars is that they'll do something in bulk... and then stop. That stopping is a huge red flag."

This is a hard process that takes a lot of balancing. And when you need to work, how do you actually fit all of this in? Well, you can find a job that also pays (ex. scribe, ER tech, EMT, etc). If the amount of clinical experience scares you a bit, then how much do you have and how old is it? If it's not consistent, then you need more clinical experience. As to how much, there's no exact number. But what's really, really important is that you show the admissions committee you consistency in terms of your shadowing, volunteering, and clinical experience. And that consistency needs to lead up to the application through the application cycle.

Remember, when you're filling out your application, you put the stop date as the dates you're expecting to start medical school. And you can technically estimate the hours for that whole other year as well (but that can seem a little sketchy).

Again, consistency with all of those things.

[09:10] Should You Delay Your Application to Boost Your Extracurriculars?

September is in the middle of the application cycle. If you're applying right now (October) for this current cycle, the application is still open. The deadline for AMCAS is typically end of October. Sure, you could submit an application now. But I do not recommend it as you could be late in the game.

"Applying late is one of the deadly sins of the application process. Don't do it!"

Assuming you're applying for next year, June of 2019 to start medical school in 2020, then don't delay your application past June 2019 because you have many months right now to work on your extracurriculars. It could look a little funky because it's all crammed in at the end. But starting right now is better than starting in May before you apply in June.

So start getting extracurriculars.

Make sure you have consistent clinical experience, shadowing, and volunteering. Do it now. Do you need to delay? Not necessarily. It also depends on your commitment to work. How many hours do you have?

[11:37] It's Not Black and White

A lot of students see this as a black and white thing. It's 0 or 1. You're either shadowing and volunteering and getting clinical experience 30 hours a week or you don't have time for it at all. And you're not seeing you have five hours here and there everywhere. How many times were you out this week or surfing on the Internet? There's a lot of hours that are unaccounted for as you're going through this process that you can fit in 5 hours a week. And that's good enough! 5 hours a week for 5 months times 4 is 100 hours and that's a lot! So you have plenty of time to do that. So you don't have to delay past 2019 to apply even if you have a lot to do moving forward. Again remember, consistency is key!

Links:

Premed Diaries Episode 2: The Financial Pressure of a Premed Parent

MedEd Media Network

Nontrad Premed Forum

Premed Hangout on Facebook

The Premed Years Podcast

Follow us on Instagram @medicalschoolhq

147: Will My Path and Injury Prevent Keep Me From Med School?

Oct 10, 2018 12:04

Description:

Session 147

Our poster today is wondering about their journey and whether it's too long and too unusual that it may hurt their chances of getting into medical school.

Questions tackled here are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum, where you can register for free and post if you have any questions. Moreover, check out all our other podcast on MedEd Media Network to help you along this path to becoming a physician.

The Premed Years Podcast features general premed advice and discussions with admissions committee members as well as deans and directors of admissions committees. We also bring in students to share with medical school application experiences.

The MCAT Podcast is a collaboration with Next Step Test Prep providing you free MCAT prep help. We also have Specialty Stories where we feature physicians as they share why they chose their career, some things they like and don't like about it, and more.

Also, stay tuned for more podcasts coming - one for medical students and another one for those preparing for the MCAT.

[02:05] OldPreMed Question of the Week:

"I've been interested in becoming a physician, practically since I pronounced the word. As such, I worked hard in school and ultimately got accepted to a prehealth high school program. Through this program, I was able to focus my coursework towards my dream of medicine by taking classes such as Anatomy, Physiology, Medical Terminology, and Nutrition, that I was able to earn a college credit for it through an agreement between high school and a local medical school.

In my Junior year, I participated in a clinical where my class would visit a dementia care facility on a weekly basis for over 20 hours total, and talk, play games, etc. with patients. I was also involved in a number of ECs including marching band, leading a girl scout troop, and holding leadership positions in various honors societies.

In addition, I was a member of the local chapter of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) and SkillsUSA, two student organizations that host regional and national competitions in health, science, and premed related events. Through which, I placed in both state and national competitions. The high school program culminated with taking my entire senior year course load at a community college, earning a total of 35 college credits prior to high school graduation, while participating in a 150-hour internship I completed with my own pediatrician where I shadowed and got clinical experience, taking bios, medical histories, and otherwise interacting with patients, which further motivated me toward my goal.

During my senior year of high school, I sustained a traumatic brain injury that resulted in memory and learning issues that were not detrimental after I had to withdraw from two of the college courses. Despite the advice from my doctors and cognitive therapist, I was determined to be in college the following fall and not delaying my progress towards becoming my dream.

This resulted in an undergraduate GPA with a progressively downward trend from Freshman to Junior year, as the classes increased in difficulty and I struggled to figure out how to learn and retain information with my new challenges. I also lost all hope of getting into medical school and turned to research as a new career option. I stayed involved in my campus where I was a resident advisor. I participated in a few clubs where I held leadership positions. By senior year of undergrad, I was finally able to find a new system of learning that worked and I was able to do well enough to get into the master's program at my school. I completed a research project. I was back to earning all A's, B's, and even a few A+'s. After graduation, I took a job as an associate researcher, doing translational work with a major medical school in the area. Through my nearly years working full time in the setting, my dream of becoming a physician has now been resurrected. As I have realized that I won't feel fulfilled without being able to interact with the patients and direct their clinical care. Having regained my self-confidence and motivation, I now feel determined to pursue medical school and ultimately become a physician and heal patients and provide inspiration for their resilience and ability to self-advocate throughout treatment.

I know that medical schools are looking for diversity in their candidates but my concern is that my path thus far is too unusual and that medical schools will look closely at me, specifically my academic history unfavorably. I'm also uncertain of how much of my story I should include in my application and how to include these various components. I've taken and passed all of my prereqs at either undergrad or graduate level. I have yet to take the MCAT but I'm studying hard. My GPAs are as follows: Science undergrad 3.09 Cumulative 3.26. Graduate Science and Cumulative 3.65. Looking only at my last 20 hours of science coursework, my undergrad GPA is 3.57, Graduate 3.73. I'm looking to apply to both DO and MD programs during the 2019 cycle to begin school in 2020. Is my chance of getting into medical school a long shot based on my background?"

[06:40] Talking About Traumatic Brain Injury

If we were to ignore everything you said about your traumatic brain injury (TBI) and just used the words "struggled in undergrad" and finally figured out how to study and your grades improved, then you had an upward trend finishing college and a good college GPA in your grad school, then all you have to do is do well on the MCAT, find schools that are going to be okay with your GPAs, and apply. Of course, you have to do shadowing and clinical experiences and doing all those other things.

The twist here is your medical condition but ultimately, it doesn't have to do with anything. But you obviously figured out how to be a good student. So the question you have to answer when you're getting your medical licenses is: DO you have any sort of injury that is going to hinder your ability to take care of patients?

Do you have significant enough cognitive deficits that there's a question about your ability to take care of patients? You may have figured out how to do well in school, but when it comes to being sleep-deprived, not eating well, etc. - those things can exacerbate the deficits of a TBI.

If you're in medical school or in residency and you're stressed, not sleeping well and not eating right, not exercising, are your cognitive deficits going to put patients in harm's way?

"You have to be honest with yourself to know your own limitations."

[10:05] Know Your Limitations

Think about a PA versus an MD. A PA or NP has to know their own limitations when treating patients. The same thing for any physician who has any sort of deficits. You have to know your own limitations when it comes to treating patients.

If you have such a severe brain injury that you have severe cognitive deficits especially when you're sleep-deprived, stressed, not eating well, and not exercising, and your decision-making skills are decreased, should you really be taking care of patients?

It may be your dream to become a physician but you may have drawn the short straw with this TBI to realize that maybe putting someone's life in your hands is not the right choice.

This is the only concern here. Outside of that, you can go to medical school and be a physician as long as you do well on all those other things (shadowing, clinical experience, etc.) Take the brain injury out of it and you're a typical college student who struggled how to figure out to learn.

But then if you compound this with your TBI, think about the future and honestly answer this: are you going to be able to take care of your patients?

"Think about the patients. Don't do anything that's going to put them in harm's way."

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media Network

Premed Years Podcast

MCAT Podcast

Next Step Test Prep

Specialty Stories

146: Introduction to Premed Diaries: Helping Premeds with Burnout

Oct 3, 2018 20:47

Description:

Session 146

Your questions here are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. However, today, we’re playing a very special episode.

The is the very first episode of Premed Diaries, a podcast dedicated to you. With Dr. Allison Gray as the host, you are the featured guest by calling 1-833-MY-DIARY.

This is actually part of the series of podcast, called MedDiaries. The podcast played here today, is Episode 1 of the Premed Diaries. MedDiaries will have four new podcasts including the Premed Diaries, Med Student Diaries, Resident Diaries, and Physician Diaries.

Call 1-833-MY-DIARY, leave your voicemail, and share your thoughts with us for 30 minutes. Talk about your struggles and successes at any stage of your journey. We're also going to have feedback shows. Just call the toll-free number and press #5 for leaving your feedback. (1 is Premed Diaries, 2 - Med Student, 3 - Resident, 4- Physician Diaries, 5 - Feedback).

All our episodes are part of the MedEd Media Network. Be sure to take a listen to all our other podcasts.

[01:50] The Premed Diaries Episode 01

Hi! I'm Dr. Allison Gray. This is our first episode of the Premed Diaries. We created this podcast, along with the other Med Diaries podcast so physicians and physicians in training could have a place to speak their minds, vent, unload, and hear one another in support and solidarity.

The premed journey is not easy and there are many stressors, roadblocks, and frustrations. But there are also incredible joys, like that first time you got to shadow a physician or that first interview offer, or that first acceptance to medical school.

Here at Premed Diaries, we want to help you on this journey to avoid and deal with burnout - an evergrowing threat and serious problem for our physician community. And as a premed student, it's never too early to start.

In each episode, we will hear from a premed student and I'll share some of my thoughts as well. You may also hear from others who have called and left a response for the caller on a previous episode.

Today, we will hear from a premed student who is dealing with lots of stress and the feeling of needing to be his best in every endeavor and how this is very emotionally draining.

[03:00] Caller #1: Feeling the Stress and Pressure

Our student today transitioned out of the military in 2016. He went to a premed school following his transition, which he considers as an enormous blessing in his life, and one of the most convincing factors for him to pursue medicine.

Right now, he's been dealing with a lot of stress and pressure. He finds it very difficult to convey to the people in his life that things are high-stakes for him. He is working as a paramedic and since then, things feel high-stakes. He expresses the feelings of pressure to get a 4.0 and do well on the MCAT. Alongside, he's also starting his own podcast.

"It's a lot to deal with at once."

He is working in the emergency department so he gets cases that affect him from time to time. So going and bouncing back from school being so high-stakes to showing up to work and feeling like he needs to be perfect for the sake of the patients, he sees this as a very emotionally draining process.

"I feel like everything hangs on a really delicate balance, too. When I go to class, there's pressure to do the best, to be the best, and you still have to show up to work the next day and take care of patients."

Not to mention, he has to take care of his family and dealing with being a former veteran along with all the stuff that goes with that. He admits dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety on almost a daily basis. He's trying to manage all these different things at once. He feels like he never takes a break.

Fortunately, listening to The Premed Years Podcast and the OldPreMeds Podcast has been therapeutic for him, which he does on his commute to work and school. He still finds it hard for people in his life to realize this. Although he feels so blessed with the podcast they're starting and with him doing well in school, but that doesn't discount the daily grind that can really get at you.

He encourages people out there to segment your time as best as you can and take things one at a time. Just keep going and find a little bit of peace and solitude in what you're doing. It's impactful and important to the people who are affected by it. See the bigger picture and things will pan out.

"Everything is hanging in such a delicate balance that you feel like you need extra hands and another brain in order to manage it all."

Finally, our caller feels great being able to send out this recording since he was able to get all this off his chest. As his way to manage things, he has had a lot of personal growth on time management and dealing with stress, grief, etc. And he hopes all this would help him carry through to medical school and residency, and hopefully become an attending physician. All the skills he learned as a paramedic, in the military, and during training will all be a driving factor.

[10:05] Share Your Thoughts With Us!

If you also want to share your thoughts with us, call 1-833-MYDIARY and you also can do so anonymously. We would love to hear what you have to say!

[10:40] It's a High-Stakes Game

Our caller has touched on so many great things many premeds are struggling with. First, is the high-stakes game of being a premed student. There so many pressures you're all dealing with. You could be looking for someone to shadow with or that you're trying to pay your bills. Or maybe, you're changing your career and you still have to take care of your family. You may be a college student and you're also paying your bills. Many of you could probably relate to this high-stakes feeling.

"There are so many stressors out there as a premed and it feels really high-stakes because you feel like you can't really do a crappy job at any of it."

[11:30] Family and Friends Not Getting It

This is an important thing to recognize and acknowledge. Your family and your friends are your biggest fans and heroes and they're rooting for you. But the reality is that a lot of times, they really can't understand what you're experiencing. This is true as a premed student, and more so as you get into medical school and then eventually becoming a physician.

"Your family and your friends are your biggest fans and heroes and they're rooting for you. But the reality is that a lot of times, they really can't understand what you're experiencing."

Our caller is already a paramedics so he has experience working with patients and working in a very busy environment. So this already shows him how difficult it is. Seeing patients in life-threatening situations and having to be on is a hard thing to do, regardless of your role in healthcare.  This is really tough.

And trying to explain what this is like and articulating it in a way that a family member or a friend can really understand when they don't live in that world is really hard.

Fast-forward when you're on the wards. It's very hard for people not working in health care to understand the pressure you're under. These hard situations where patients are dying or dealing with incredibly difficult diagnoses.

So try as best as you can to vent and talk to your family and your friends. And if they don't get it, then they don't. Good thing you have peers you're going through things with. And they get it a lot more than others. They may not have the close relationships yet as you do with your family and friends but they do get it.

[13:22] Needing to Be Perfect

We can never be perfect. Physicians and physicians in training, we hold ourselves to this incredible expectations. We think that we really have to be perfect but the reality is that we are human. Being human means that we make mistakes. It's impossible for us to be 100% all the time. We can really only do the best we can.

"The reality is we are humans and being humans means that we do make mistakes."

That's something I have really tried to keep in the back of my mind all these years, that I'm doing the very BEST that I can. And as long as I'm doing that, then I feel ethically and morally grounded. That if it's not perfect and I make mistakes along the way, at least I'm doing the best I can. So you have to keep this in your mind as well.

[14:42] Use Your Resources and Take a Little Break

Listening to resources like podcasts such as The Premed Years Podcast and the OldPreMeds Podcast is HUGE, especially when you're feeling that you don't get a break and that you're doing so many different things. It's really important to find anything that gives you a little bit of a break, even if it's just for 20 minutes. Find a TV show you love or sing really loudly in the car. Listen to a podcast that inspires or encourages you. Go to the gym.

It's hard to make time for that but a little bit of that even if it's just for 5-10 minutes can get your mind back on task and give you that encouragement you need to keep going when you're feeling really worn out and spent. So use your resources and lean on other people as you can.

If somebody offers to make you a meal, take them up on it. If somebody offers to watch your kids, take them up on it.

"Just find a little bit of time, even for 20 minutes to get a breath of fresh air so that it can feel like you're getting at least a tiny break."

[16:10] Take Your Time and Growth Coming from Pain

With all things in general, it's okay to step back and just focus on one thing at a time. If you have kids, you can't just focus on premed stuff because they need your help or you need to make them dinner. But this is an idea in general, where if you have so many different things you're focusing on, in any one minute, try to just focus on one thing. It can help to just step back.

It's a cliche that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but that's true. There's so much growth you will see as a premed and as a med student. Your capacity to just take on will just expand. It has to. Your body and your brain just adopt as you have to take on more and more. So you grow ever more. This concept that as painful as it might be to grow from that and not letting it stop you is huge.

Lastly, encouraging your peers is huge. As what Ryan's mantra is, collaboration, not competition. So encourage your peers no matter what phase you're at.

[17:50] Get Things Off Your Chest

This is why we're here. We want to give you the freedom and encouragement to reach out and call so you can get things off your chest. I'm here to support you and offer some thoughts every week. This is a great way for us to all support one another.

[18:50] Respond to Our First Caller

Call 1-833-MYDIARY and let us know you're calling in response to this. I will play your response on subsequent episodes.

Thank you for joining us on this first episode everyone! As you move through this journey, listen to this podcast along with all out other series. Let's support one another in fighting this very scary and serious problem we have in this world of burnout.

Links:

Call 1-833-MYDIARY and share your thoughts with us!

MedDiaries.com

The Premed Years Podcast

MedEd Media Network

Nontrad Premed Forum

145: Can I Recover From a Bad GPA to Get Into Med School?

Sep 26, 2018 07:57

Description:

Session 145

This week, we have a very common dilemma for a student who struggled early but found a way to turn it around but is now wondering if she can still get in.

Every week, I take questions from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven't yet, please register for free and be part of our collaborative community. Also, check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network.

[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

"I recently graduated with a BS in Biology with a minor in Applied Statistics with a very low GPA. Honestly, I did not build up study skills that were actually helpful to me until towards the end of my undergraduate career. At some point, I became too focused on building my ECs rather than my GPA. (*This is actually one of the biggest mistakes students make.)

In terms of my GPA trend, I have an upward trend throughout my last two years of my undergraduate studies. My cumulative GPA 2.71, Science GPA 2.69. As of right now, I'm planning to take some classes at the local community college to boost up my GPA to around 2.75-2.8 to apply to a formal postbac or SMPs in 2019, looking at Anatomy, Physiology series, and any additional classes I think might be helpful.

My general plan is to take APE part 1 of 3 in Sociology, Anatomy and Physiology Part 2 of 3, Anatomy and Physiology 3 of 3, with an additional class each of those semesters; apply to postbacs in January 2019 through June 2019; work on ECs, volunteering at local clinic and community center. I'm kind of starting from scratch because I moved back home after graduation. What does that upward trend look like?

In terms of GPA, study upward trend during the last two years that went from a 2.5-2.76. That's overall GPA. Is it a discrepancy on my transcript compared to AMCAS? Because I've taken some general education classes at a local community college. During my last two quarters, I ended up with a 3.5 and a 3.9 GPA for each quarter. Can I recover from this?

[03:25] Can You Recover From This?

Of course, you can recover from this. You've already recovered as far as GPA is concerned or moving forward, taking more classes and doing well in them since you've learned how you need to study. That's the most important part of the situation.

"Understand how you study, understand how to do well."

[03:55] What's Next?

It sounds like you have a general plan in place, taking some classes at a community college. It may or may not look favorably, considering you were doing poorly at your university and you ended up taking classes at a community college. A lot of students do that and that's okay. Just understand that some schools may not really like that, but that's okay. Why? You're going to follow it up with a postbac or an SMP. I always prefer postbacs depending on the situation because it helps with your undergraduate GPA. You're going to be pretaking a lot of the classes you've taken. You're going to need to do a record-enhancing postbac for students who have taken science courses but just need to prove you can handle that coursework.

Some of those record-enhancing programs have minimum GPAs so you may need to take some of those classes at a community college to even get in. Some of those will require an MCAT score. But this poster is on the right track.

You could still potentially mess up in your postbac and have another shot later but you obviously want to do as well as you can in your postbac especially with your struggles in your undergrad classes. Now is the time to prove to medical schools that you can handle the coursework.

As long as you get a good year or two under your belt of solid classes as close to As and all of your classes as possible, you're setting yourself up for success. This is one part of your application.

[05:48] MCAT Score

Your MCAT score is going to be another part of your application as well as your extracurriculars. But what got you into trouble in the first place is getting too many extracurriculars. Those are going to be important to show consistency - with volunteering, clinical experience, and shadowing.

"Consistency is going to be very, very important as you go through this process."

[06:20] Final Thoughts

Can you recover? Absolutely. Students need to hear that they can screw up and still get into medical school. Your grades do not define you. Your grades do not define how you're going to be as a physician in the future. They're just grades and are a reflection of how prepared you were entering college and how mature you were during college - to ask for help, structure, or some guidance. At some point, you figure that out.

"Your grades do not define you. Your grades do not define how you're going to be as a physician in the future."

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

Send me an email at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net.

MedEd Media Network

144: Can I Combine Experience in my AMCAS or AACOMAS Application?

Sep 19, 2018 08:13

Description:

Session 144

Our student today wants to know about combining multiple jobs into one experience or if he should keep them all separate. What should you do on AMCAS?

The questions answered here on the podcast are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven't yet, register for an account there to join the community and ask away.

[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I had a half dozen different jobs while in college and I'm wondering if I should keep these together or separate them on AMCAS and AACOMAS. Everything from customer service to monitoring, merchandising at a warehouse store and everything in between." 

[01:40] Quality, Not Quantity

Students often think that the admissions committee should know that you've done a ton of stuff. And this is not the way to go about your application - quality, not quantity.

"The goal of your application is to show who you are and the impact that you have on what you've done."

If you've had a job, say a customer job. And you went in and clocked in and out and you didn't really have a good impact on the world or anybody in particular. You simply just do the job. You wouldn't necessarily want to put this in your application. You may fill in some gaps here and there. But it doesn't really add to your application to show who you are. It just shows that you held the job for a little while.

However, if in that customer service job, you had an amazing experience and over and over again, you impacted the customers' lives in one way or another, you can then tell that story in your description for that activity. And that shows who you are and the impact that you have on the world around you. This paints the picture of who you are. That's the important part here.

"Who are you? That's what the admissions committees want to know. They don't need to see everything you've done on your journey. Quality, not quantity." 

[03:48] Filling In the Gaps

The admissions committees want to know who you are. They need to see the impact you've had on each of these positions. If you need to fill in gaps, there are ways to combine things and massage timelines to fill it all in. But then you ignore talking about.

If, say you have a job from 2014-2018 and had six different jobs there. Instead of listing all six, you can just say you're doing various, non-clinical jobs in general. For the description, you can, for instance, say that you've held various jobs and then probably highlight one in particular that you enjoyed the most. Then tell the story about the impact you've had from that position.

"You're putting in the general timeline of all these jobs but then you're just highlighting one."

[05:15] Shadowing Experiences

You don't have to list all the shadowing you've done in separate experiences. You can combine them all. In fact, it's good that you combine the timeline as well. I know a student who put in multiple times for shadowing but the school only saw the last chunk of time that she put in, assuming she only had 9 hours of shadowing (when she actually had more than that). And she got rejected.

"Just go from when you started and when you're planning on stopping... just put one full range in there."

You don't need to go in and individually put in all those there. Just put one giant rage. Estimate the hours for all of them and then arrange in bullet points all of the shadowing experiences.

[06:40] How Impactful Was Your Job?

Therefore, if your job is not as impactful and it's just a thing you've done, then don't separate them all and just combine them. Just highlight one of them and bullet point all of the different jobs you've had. Again, the goal is to show the impact you've had on these positions.

Does that show the admissions committee member anything about you? Keep this in mind when you're filling out your applications.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media Network

143: How Can I Get Into a Postbac With a Linkage to Med School?

Sep 12, 2018 08:49

Description:

Session 143

This week, we have a question from a 34-year-old student who wants to get into a postbac program with a linkage to med school and he's wondering how to do it.

All your questions answered here are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, go register for free and ask away! Also, check out all our other podcasts on the MedEd Media Network and listen to our latest episodes!

[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a 34-year-old with a wife and 3 kids, and hoping to someday become a physician. I'm applying to some postbac programs right now and I'm interested in skipping the glide year by participating in a linkage program.

It seems like you have to be extraordinarily qualified in order to get into these programs. I just don't know if I even have a good shot at it. I have a 3.48 GPA and I'm volunteering in clinical research and nonmedical settings weekly. There isn't much information out there about the application and selection process for these programs so I'm hoping somebody here has some experience with them."

[02:00] What Are Linkage Programs?

A postbac is whatever you take after you graduate from undergrad. Once you finish undergrad and you take more classes then you're considered a postbac. You can either do it on your own as a do-it-yourself postbac at any university or community college. You can also do this online, although I wouldn't really recommend that. You may also go to a Special Master's Program (SMP), a master's level type postbac.

Now, some of these postbacs have "linkages" with medical schools, meaning if you go to that postbac and maintain some minimum standards, they will guarantee you a spot in medical school. Some are guaranteed interviews, others are guaranteed spots. This depends on how well you do.

[02:55] Get Into the Postbac First

A lot of these programs though are not "linkage" postbacs where if you get into a postbac, it's an automatic linkage. That said, most of the programs out there have a relationship with one school or more. Then you have to apply to that linkage once you're in the postbac. Hence, you need to get into the postbac first, then worry about the linkage.

[03:21] Is It Easy to Get Into a Linkage Program?

"Linkages are hard."

Oftentimes, you're applying to the linkage without much objective data from your postbac school to show to the medical school. Since you're applying so early on into your postbac program, you may not have a lot of grades back yet. You may have a semester's worth of grades and that may be enough for you.

So a lot of times, postbacs work better for career-changers because hopefully, you have a track record of good grades already. Now, you just have to continue those good grades in your science courses. So when you do a postbac and apply for a linkage spot, you have information that medical schools can look at.

That said, different medical schools have different ways in terms of admissions, the interview process, etc. Therefore, just look at different postbac programs without thinking about the linkage.

"Apply into a postbac program because it fits you. Don't look at programs strictly because of linkage or non linkage because you're limiting your options."

Moreover, there really is no guarantee, on the other end, for that linkage unless you do really well on your postbac and you're maintaining all those minimum requirements. Still, there is no guarantee.

[05:15] Avoiding the Glide Year and Competition Between Programs

The glide year is the same as the gap year, which is that extra year between when you're postbac ends and when medical school starts. In that year, you can gain more clinical experience, research, etc.

As you're looking for postbacs, understand that programs are going to be highly competitive. In fact, those that have contracts with medical schools are typically going to be the better postbacs since those medical schools have faith that the postbacs are teaching the students and preparing them properly to do well in medical school.

"Those programs that historically have that reputation are apparently going to be the harder programs to get into."

[06:53] Final Words

Ultimately, apply to whatever postbac is there. Many of them will have linkages. But then again, it's not guaranteed you get into a linkage even if you get into one of these schools. So do your homework and figure out what's best for you. Don't stress about one extra year either. Don't waste an application cycle to get into one of these programs that have a linkage.

Also, talk to the postbac programs and look at what the linkage entails. Find out if it's a guaranteed interview or a guaranteed spot. A lot of those linkage programs have really high MCAT requirements. So be realistic with where you may be in this process.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media Network

142: Will the HPSP Scholarship be Too Hard with a Family?

Sep 5, 2018 08:17

Description:

Session 142

Our poster today is an Air Force pilot who now wants to go to medical school He has three kids and a wife and is worried the HPSP scholarship won't be enough. (Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) is a scholarship program offered by the military.)

But first, be sure to check out MedEd Media for more podcasts to help you on this medical school application journey. We also have a new podcast that joined us recently, the TMDSAS Podcast. The TMDSAS stands for Texas Medical and Dental School Application Service, which is the application system for the public Texas medical schools.

And if you don’t already have an account yet, sign up so you can join the Nontrad Premed Forum and start asking some questions, which will be answered here on the podcast or by the community.

[01:43] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

"I'm an active duty Air Force officer applying to medical school this cycle. I've been in the Air Force for nine years as a pilot.  I have a wife with three kiddos. I've already been released from my career field. I just applied to USUHS (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences) and will automatically qualify for HPSP with my undergraduate GPA and MCAT scores. My wife is supportive of me going to medical school but I'm not really on board with the HPSP and the financial toll that it will have on my family - a family of five living on $30,000 a year.

What I was wondering is if anyone has had experience or knows of anyone who has gone through medical school on HPSP scholarship with a family and if they were able to secure additional loans for living expenses? After discussion with several med school financial advisors, it seemed that it would be difficult additional financial support or student loans if you're already on HPSP."

[02:45] Other Ways to Get Extra Income

A family of five living on $30,000 a year is tough, but it's doable to still go to medical school. You just have to sacrifice. There are other things that could be done, like if it's possible for your wife to get some work. Ideas would be driving Uber or Lyft or just work from home so she can still be home with the kids while working as, say, a virtual assistant.

[03:25] Loans Aside from the HPSP

Based on personal experience, you can take out loans up to the school budget. The HPSP will give you a tuition, fees, and your stipend. If the school's budget is above that then you may potentially take out more student loans. A lot depends on where you are living.

I went to a medical school in New York, specifically in one of the most expensive, richest countries in the country. I was losing money every month and was able to take out some student loans because the HPSP scholarship and the stipend were not enough to cover all of the school's budgeted expenses. So I was able to go through the regular Stafford federal loans and they provided assistance.

I had friends in Missouri who were pocketing money because the HPSP scholarship plus the stipend was more than their living expenses or more than the budget the school had set. And so, they were able to save money in medical school.

"If the school's budget is above that then you may potentially take out more student loans. A lot depends on where you are living."

[05:03] Where Are You Going?

Again, a lot will depend on where you go to medical school. Remember that no matter what, if you were taking loans from Uncle Sam without HPSP or if you were doing HPSP, at the end of the day, it's the same amount of money. You can either take out student loans to the maximum amount that the school has set for their budget. You can't take out more or they won't let you, at least federally.

So, the schools set a budget based on tuition, fees, and living expenses for just you (not a family of five). If you're doing HPSP, they're paying for your tuition, fees, and they're giving your their monthly stipend. Then you can take out loans up to the budget of that school. In the end, it's the same. There's no difference and it's just who's paying the money. Is it coming from the Department of Defense or from the Treasury and you get the bill later. Ultimately, there's no major difference.

"At the end of the day, the numbers work out to be the same whether you're doing HPSP or taking out federal loans."

[06:25] Do You Still Want to Serve?

At the end of the day, the question is do you want to continue to serve? Don't do HPSP just because you want free medical school. If you've already served nine years, are you interested in being a pilot physician? It's a great career and different. But don't just do HPSP or USUHS because it's free medical school. Do it because that's what you want to do.

"Don't just do HPSP or USUHS because it's free medical school. Do it because that's what you want to do."

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

TMDSAS Podcast

MedEd Media

HPSP

USUHS

141: Am I Doing Enough Right Now to Get Into Med School?

Aug 29, 2018 09:44

Description:

Session 141

Jay started in the workforce right after college and knew it wasn’t for him. He’s found his way to medicine but is frustrated that he can’t do more, sooner.

Your questions answered here are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you don't have an account yet, sign up and ask away.

Are you struggling with something? Or do you just want to celebrate something? Share it anonymously by calling 833-MYDIARY. And be part of our upcoming new show, MedDiaries. You have to up to 30 minutes worth of voicemail recording. Learn more about it by listening to last week's podcast.

[01:40] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

"I'm currently working on a do-it-yourself postbac and just recently, completed a full year of biology (Bio 1 and 2). I have been working full-time as an applications developer for a large corporation in Pittsburg where I was hired just after completing my CS master's program back in 2013. I started work just the Monday after graduation and go head first into the workforce only after 2-3 years, to find out that this isn't what I want.

Through many other experiences and attempts at finding a new career path while working, I've landed upon medicine for a number of reasons and I'm extremely excited to make this journey. Here's my issue:

It doesn't feel real yet and I don't feel like I'm doing enough. I've always been the type of person that likes to floor the gas pedal once I know my destination. However, I don't want to do too much and lost control and become distracted.

So I started slowly with Bio 1 and 2 at a community college here and I passed both with A's. That really boosted my confidence and I enjoyed everything about the class. Now, I want to step on the gas and go back to school full-time, start volunteering, shadowing, and working in health care. But because of bills and living expenses, I've been consciously working on paying off debt as fast as possible.

I don't feel I can leave my full-time job yet, to be a full-time student. But I am 29 and would like to get everything on track as soon as I can. I know that when I get there, I'll get there.

But I'm starting to feel like work has become a distraction now and it's starting to reflect in my performance. I think I'm just having a hard time accepting that all I can do is take one or two or three classes this semester and work. I know at some point, I will need to ramp it up but am I doing enough now? I don't want to get ahead of myself but I don't want to fall behind in any way if there's room to get ahead."

[04:10] It's Your Situation, Are You Ready to Put in the Work?

You are doing enough for what your situation is. Everybody's situation is different. You have to do what you have to do. You can't look at another classmate and think they're doing all this while you're not, so you're not doing enough. It's your situation so that's what you have to do.

"Everybody's situation is different. You have to do what you have to do."

You could figure out a different way but this is something you have to do yourself. Probably, think about moving back in with your parents. You can also consider taking a job as a scribe while taking classes.

The question is, are you willing to put in the effort and put in the work to do it?

Move into a house with five other roommates so you can split the expenses. Sell your car and take public transportation. Are you willing to do that? Most people aren't and that's okay. Again, know what you're willing to put up with.

[06:36] Should You Be Doing More?

Probably. Do you want to sacrifice your classes, coursework, and grades? You have to be very careful with those. But it's possible to do more. You also have to be careful with work. You mentioned you're performance there is quite affected. So you don't want to get into a situation where you're fired over this.

"Do some soul searching. Everybody needs to do this. How much dirt are you willing to eat?"

Links:

Share your story with us. Dial 833-MYDIARY

Session 140: Burnout in Medicine and Our Newest Project to Help With It!

Nontrad Premed Forum

140: Burnout in Medicine and Our Newest Project to Help With It!

Aug 22, 2018 19:41

Description:

Ryan is joined by Allison who has previously shared her story of burnout. They discuss burnout and they talk about MedDiaries—their newest project to help.

139: Is Working in a Physical Therapy Clinic Good for Med School?

Aug 15, 2018 07:10

Description:

Session 139

Getting clinical experience is hard. This student wants to know if working in a physical therapy clinic will help him with his medical school applications.

The questions here are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, please register for an account and join the community of people who are on the same path as you. Also, check out all our other episodes on MedEd Media Network.

[00:55] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm looking at a volunteering to work in the PT section of a hospital in an offsite facility for four hours a week during both semesters of my Senior year of college this coming school year. Here's the hospital's description of the physician - assists physical and occupational therapist with a variety of supportive duties, assists patients with activities or leaving the building and learn more about PT and OT. Would this be considered clinical experience for purposes of medical school applications?

This experience will likely be the only clinical experience I have before submitting my medical school applications next June. I do have about 60 hours of shadowing a variety of physicians and want to shadow some more this coming year to make sure I fully understand what I'm getting into. I only decided last summer that I wanted to go to medical school and had to take organic hem that summer to catch up with my premed requirements.

This summer, I'm involved in conducting clinical research for the PI and postdoc. I didn't realize until listening to the podcast that clinical experience, aside from shadowing, should take precedence over research experience. After graduating from college next May, I am taking a gap year during which I plan to obtain additional clinical experience, either volunteering or in a paid position."

[02:10] Is It Considered Clinical Experience?

Assisting a physical or occupational therapist is not a good clinical experience for your medical school applications. It is, technically, but not for medical school. The goal of the clinical experience is to get around patients. But they're physical therapy and occupational therapy patients. Those are the kinds of patients you want to be around if you want to be a physical therapist or occupational therapist.

"You want to be around sick people as a physician. Those are the kinds of patients you want to be around to prove to yourself that you like being around sick people."

How do you know you want to be a doctor if you haven't had any clinical experience to put yourself around sick people? It's hard to be sure about this. Shadowing physicians is important but this is just one side of the coin - which is the physician side. And everything looks rosy from the physician side since you're enamored with that position. You're just excited to be there to see how it's like.

But getting clinical experience puts you face to face with that patient - the smells of the patient, the anger, the crying, the screaming, dying, and death. Do you like that? That is the question you have to ask yourself and answer. And this is why you need clinical experience.

[04:50] What to Do Next

I would recommend that you take a gap year and get that clinical experience first. And then apply to medical school and you'll have one more gap year during the application year so you can continue to do more clinical experience and get more exposure. You will have time to get more shadowing and have more time to work on your volunteering and other extracurriculars. Focus on finishing college strong, get that clinical experience, and don't apply until you have a lot of clinical experience. How much is a lot? 5000 hours and more is better but at least 100 hours.

"Don't apply with a weak application because of lack of clinical experience."

Back on Session 171 of The Premed Years Podcast where I interviewed the former Dean of Admissions at UC Urvine, she said the number one reason students didn't get into their schools was lack of clinical experience. Don't let that be you!

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media Network

The Premed Years Podcast Session 171: Interview with the former Dean of Admissions at UC Urvine

138: Can I Come Back From a 2.4 or Should I Go to the Caribbean?

Aug 8, 2018 09:25

Description:

Session 138

Our poster today struggled to combine school work with being an entrepreneur. Graduating with a 2.4 GPA, he's wondering what is next to get into med school.

If you have some questions you want answered, register for an account and join the Nontrad Premed Forum and go ask your question!

[02:00] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I recently returned to school after not being in school for one and a half years. I left with six classes left to graduate because my business, that had started since my Freshmen year of high school started taking off and my grades showed it. First two semesters in college 3.75 GPA. Next three years of college were a blur. Good news, I recently cashed out of my business and found my new calling in medicine when I shadowed a local anesthesiologist. Bad news, I have to try to undo three years of trouble to get into medical school.

I major in Marketing so I'll be focusing on just finishing my degree and will be taking the science prereqs required at a local community college. I was also advised to get a job at the hospital/volunteer looking for different jobs now. I pretty much know that I'm out of the ballpark for med school in the U.S. and will have to apply in the Caribbean."

[03:00] Your Goal is All As

The good news is that you're a marketing major so the majority of your classes aren't going to be science. Doing a postbac, whether you do it at a community college or a formal postbac will show that you can hopefully handle the science prereqs. Hopefully, you have a 3.7-3.9 Science GPA to go along with that 2.0 something overall GPA and that would climb up. But having only 6 classes left to graduate, the denominator is probably going to be too big. It means there's too many credits overall.

So what's next? You don't have to apply to the Caribbean. The positive upward trend will likely be enough for a lot of schools here in the U.S., to have that story to say that you didn't focus on school since you had a successful business.

You have a story to tell. But the science GPA is going to be a huge factor in whether or not medical schools here in the U.S. will take a look at the student. Your goal is all As.

"For somebody who has a non-science degree who did poorly, when you do your postbac work, you better be prepared to get all As."

[05:25] Is a Community College Good Enough?

Sure, go ahead. But in this situation, the student struggled in college. Hence, what's in the mind of the admissions committee is they're not going to buy your GPA because it was at a community college. This is a tough situation. So should you take them at a community college?

If you have to take them at a community college, go right ahead. But be prepared to answer the questions as to why you took your classes at a community. You did poorly at a four-year university. What have you done to prove to them that you are ready for medical school?

All this being said, if you don't have to take classes at a community college, then don't. Go to your four-year university. Take some of that money you cashed out and go do a formal postbac. Do something to show a little bit more rigor in your academics to overcome the poor start.

"What have you done to prove to the admissions committee member that you are ready for medical school?"

If you're already starting out in community college and you haven't taken any classes yet, do it. If you did well in undergrad but you want to take your courses at a community college, go ahead. But the fact that you didn't do well in undergrad and now you're going to a community college, that may raise some red flags. So just be prepared for that.

[07:40] Are You Out of the Running for  U.S. Medical Schools? Or Should You Go to the Caribbean?

Absolutely not. Do well in your prereqs. Do well on your MCAT. Have solid extracurriculars. And apply broadly. And all this also goes out for everybody! You're never out of the running until you're out of the running.

Should you apply to the Caribbean the first time? No. Would it be the fastest way? Probably. But that may come with a lot of headaches. So I wouldn't really recommend this, if possible.

"You're never out of the running until you're out of the running."

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

137: Losing Confidence to Apply Even with Great Grades

Aug 1, 2018 09:06

Description:

Session 137

What happens if you screw up your undergrad GPA and lack the confidence to apply to med school, even with a great masters GPA? That's what we talk about today.

Join the community at the Nontrad Premed Forum and post your questions there as well. Also, don’t forget to check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media.

[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I wanted to get some advice about my stats for applying to medical school. I'm a 32-year-old working in a Virology lab in Boston. I received a BA in General Biology in 2008 and earned less than stellar grades. I ended up graduating with a 2.7 GPA with no real upward trend in grades. I was working and taking too many classes, and generally clueless about how to properly study, manage time, etc.

I was lucky enough to get into a Master's program immediately after graduation, in Molecular and Cell Biology thanks to good research experience. I moved away from my family, cut out distractions, quit work and did very well in the program. All graduate courses, 3.8 Science GPA, 44 total credits.

The Master's program is listed as a postbac in the AAMC directory but has no linkages to its medical school. I always had the intention to pursue medicine and kept up the volunteering and shadowing while in school.

I was very discouraged after completing the program to find out after hearing from a premed advisor in my undergraduate institution, and reading many forum posts online, that my Master's would not help me at all for applying to medical school. i.e. - "Everyone does well in grad school." "It is just a glorified extracurricular activity." I was shocked and this shook my confidence in regards to my med school dream.

I started to take some extra classes at the undergrad that following Fall but struggled to find courses that I have not taken previously since I'd taken many classes between my undergrad and grad career. I took 11 science credits so my postbac science GPA is a 3.9 and 17 total credits. This did nothing to help with my total undergrad GPA since it's now at 2.55 Science GPA and 2.82 cumulative undergrad GPA total.

After all of that, I have to put my med school dream on hold and work to pay my bills. I've been working in the same lab for several years as a researcher. I have published multiple first author manuscripts and traveled to various conferences.  I enjoy bench research on some level but in my heart, I have always wanted to be a physician. I kept up my clinical volunteering even though I wasn't sure I would even stand the chance in the application process. I feel that now is the time to apply and just bite the bullet.

Will my undergrad performance haunt me forever? Do I have to earn another bachelor's degree? I have been told that by my advisor before or do an SMP with a linkage. I'm not sure how feasible that all is since I have to support myself. Like so many others, I feel like the grades I earned at 18 should not dictate the rest of my life. I worked very hard in graduate school and feel this should be counted for something.

I know this is a major challenge and I cannot change how medical school views grad work versus undergrad work. I have colleagues who have struggled to get into medical school with multiple hard science degrees due to bad undergrad standing from over 10 years back. I have been working and practicing for the MCAT and earned a 515 on my last practice test. What else can I do?"

[04:25] Should You Apply to Med School?

This poster should have applied to medical school a long time ago. Who cares if somebody says you can't do it or that it's just glorified extracurricular activity?

"The only people that matter are the people sitting in the admissions committee. No one else matters."

Your undergrad grades will haunt you until you get into medical school. That's a fact. But you made up for it with your Master's GPA. Not everyone does well in grad school. And to listen to people saying that everyone does well in grad school means you're confidence is shaking to the core. This being said, you have to ignore what other people are saying. You have to move on and apply to medical school. Take the MCAT and do this.

[06:18] When Should You Do It?

You don't have to apply this year as it would be a little late. Depending on when you take the MCAT, the score won't come back for another month. Your secondaries have to be verified too. Applying late with that undergrad GPA is going to hurt you. You could still do it though as DO schools have a later cycle for interviews and acceptances. They're a little more lenient with the application timelines.

[07:40] Final Thoughts

Stop listening to what other people are saying. Stop listening to everybody else and apply to medical school. There are going to be plenty of people who will try to knock you down on this journey especially if you didn't do very well as you started out but then figured it out, did well and continues to do well, but is still being told no by people who don't make the decisions. So apply. Put your best foot forward. And course correct as needed.

"Let the admissions committee members tell you no because one of them may tell you yes."

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media

136: What is the Best Paid Clinical Experience for Med School?

Jul 25, 2018 06:47

Description:

Session 136

Does paid clinical experience matter for it to count in your medical school application? What kinds of activities would count as clinical or not? Listen in to find out!

If you haven't yet, please register for an account at the Nontrad Premed Forum so you can post your questions there. This podcast is part of the MedEd Media Network, host of all other podcasts such as The Premed Years Podcast, Specialty Stories, The MCAT Podcast, Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A, and more coming soon!

[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm finishing up a postbac program in the Fall and just taking a few classes. I received two job offers and I don't know which is the better choice. The first is a scribe job that play $12 an hour and requires 20-30 hours a week. The second is a surgery scheduler job that pays $16 an hour and is full time. First off, is a surgery scheduler paid clinical experience? The scribe job has a lot of intangible benefits like personal statement review and application assistance. Is paid clinical experience necessary?

I would not be able to do the direct research class if I took this scheduler job, which would lead me with zero research on my application. Just not really sure what to do."

[02:00] A Wrong Question

A student is faced with the dilemma of which clinical experience to take - research, clinical experience, volunteering, etc. And the question typically comes down to, what is going to look better on my application?

Unfortunately, this is a wrong question. When you do that, you are hurting your ability to follow your path - that which you're meant to go down or meant to be exposed to because you're following the things you're interested in.

"A student is faced with a question of what do I do... the question typically comes down to what is going to look better on my application?"

[03:20] Is Surgical Scheduler Job a Clinical Experience? What About a Scribe?

No, it isn't. Instead, it's administrative in nature. You're calling and talking to patients, calling and setting schedules. Yes, you're interacting with patients but in an administrative role. So it's not clinical experience.

A scribe job is clinical experience since you're interacting with the patients and interacting with the physicians. However, there are some schools out there that don't think scribing is not clinical. But go be a scribe since this is an amazing experience. You get to learn a ton and if fits in with the rest of the schedule, then go for it.

[04:40] Does Paid Experience Count?

No, it doesn't matter if it's paid or not. Especially if you're a nontrad and you need to make some money then paid clinical experience is just perfect. You can do some volunteer stuff on the side but if you don't have time for it, then that's part of your application. Hopefully, the admissions committee will see and understand that being a nontrad.

"If you're in a situation where you need to work and you need to make some money, then paid clinical experience is perfect."

Again, paid clinical experience is fine. It doesn't mean that volunteering is not important. It just means that it's not the most important thing. If you try to avoid getting paid because you think it's better, don't do that.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media Network

The Premed Years Podcast

Specialty Stories

The MCAT Podcast

Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A

135: Is My New Research Opportunity Worth it in the Long Run?

Jul 18, 2018 06:35

Description:

Session 135

Our student today asks the question but kind of answers it as well. With a new opportunity for research experience, he's wondering if it's worth the sacrifices.

Questions in this podcast are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven't yet, please register for an account for free and begin asking away!

[01:00] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I have heard Dr. Gray say a few times that one does not absolutely need research to get into med school. I just transferred to a four-year university and was accepted to a research program that provides mentorship and research opportunities. I am very excited about it, but the problem is I don't believe I have time to do it. By going into this new school, I'll have to start driving three hours a day. Plus I have a family, job, and volunteer at a free clinic. I was thinking of declining my acceptance to this program. But I was looking at the MSAR data and it shows that 90% plus os students admitted to medical school have research experience. I looked at Florida schools. What should I do?? I didn't want to decrease my chances this much just because of research."

[01:50] Self-Reported Data

Students look at the MSAR and they see this 90% research. But if you look at research and clinical experience, according to the MSAR, it looks like students have more research than clinical experience. How can there be a larger percentage of students having research than clinical experience? Maybe one of the problems is just self-reported data, and I've talked about this with admissions committee members.

"Anybody can mark anything as research and then it's counted as research according to the MSAR data."

I would look at that data with a grain of salt and understand that's all self-reported data. When you learn about statistics and analysis, self-reported data is one of the weakest forms of data.

[03:05] No Time for Research and What is Considered as Research

You mentioned you don't have time to do it, so why do it? Otherwise, try to find another physician near you who may be doing some clinical research and help do some data gathering and call that research.

One of the things several students don't understand is that it doesn't have to be medical research. Just the process of doing research, testing hypothesis, coming up with conclusions and formulating how research is going to be done - any of these is research.

Moreover, research doesn't have to be related to medicine. One student I know even did a research on rocks and she got into medical school. It doesn't have to be bench research. It can be clinical research which is easier to get involved in since you may only have to do chart reviews or calling patients on the phone, etc. And this could be research

"Don't be scared about research. Don't think it has to be about medicine."

[04:30] Be Careful with What You Read!

Again, if you don't have time to do it, then do it. You can't kill yourself through this process if you're working and you have a family and volunteering. You can't just "check off a box." So even if there's MSAR data out there, I don't believe it since it's only self-reported data.

I want to give you another example. I reviewed a student's application and she didn't get in. She didn't put shadowing down as an extracurricular. And data is coming from the extracurricular activities. Even if you talked about it in your personal statement, you need to mention it still in your extracurriculars. So be very careful with what you're reading. Always be skeptical about what you are looking at and try to think about maybe why the numbers don't necessarily make sense.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

134: How Do I Pay for a Postbac and Can I Repay Loans?

Jul 11, 2018 13:47

Description:

Session 134

In this episode, the poster asks about taking a postbac and worrying about having to pay a huge debt. But do you really have to take a postbac when you’ve already proven that you can actually handle coursework? Listen in to find our and learn about resources related to handling finances.

Please also do check out our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network. Right now, all of the podcasts are also available on Google Podcast, an Android app. And just to keep the hype, I will be releasing more podcasts and a whole new project in the works. So stay tuned!

The questions tackled in this podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you want to have your question answered here on the podcast, register for an account and ask away.

Also, check out The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement is available for preorder right now for its paperback version. But you can already hit them up on Kindle and other eBook platforms.

Order the paperback from Barnes before August 21 and go to submitbookreceipt.com. Submit your book receipt from Barnes and Noble to get some awesome stuff from me, valued at over $150 (including the digital version of the book and access to the personal statement course, and 5 recordings with students as part of my personal statement starter package).

[02:28] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm 30 years young and accepted to the postbac program at Mills. I have an art history undergrad, 3.8 GPA from a competitive local arts school, and received my Master's of Social Work from an Ivy at 3.9 GPA. I was a social worker at a psych ER and fell in love with medicine and decided to change my path in the hope of becoming an OB/GYN.

I'm accepted at Mills for my postbac and will start this Fall, but I have to take up private loans to fund it. I know this is the best choice for me but taking out that much in loans, I'm looking at $400,000 total. It's pretty scary and overwhelming.

This decision to pursue my passion is an emotional one but I need to take stock of all factors. I've crunched the numbers and I think I can pay everything back in five years if I live like a resident. But I'd love to hear from people and how they've paid back or plan to pay off their debt."

[03:50] Age is a Factor

30 years old is not very old. But once you start creeping into the 40- or 50-year old age range, it's not that old really. But when you look at the debt and how long you're going to be working, then the decision comes in whether it's worth it. This is where students are starting to ask themselves.

This is therefore a very heavy decision. And a lot of people try to shut off the idea of medical school right after undergrad or before medical school with so many reasons. And so they end up going to something else in health care but that little voice in the back of their head is still there. But what they do is they go out and do it anyway. So now, they have delayed to end up doing what they were supposed to be doing all along.

[06:00] Is a Postbac Necessary?

Back to the question, $400,000 is a lot of money. So here are some things to consider. Do you need to do a postbac? This is the first question. Do you have to spend for a postbac to do a formal postbac? You've already prove that you're a great student at 3.8 GPA and 3.9 GPA for Social Work. So you've proven that you can handle being a student. Sure, sciences are different and doing medical prereqs are different. This is going to affect things. But you don't have to rush straight into a formal postbac. Just maybe go to a local university and start taking some classes to dip your toes in the water. This way, you're looking at substantially less cost.

So do some soul searching and make sure that doing the postbac is the right use of your time and current and future money (with interest).

[08:10] Resources for Financial Success

I've talked about finances a lot on The Premed Years Podcast, specifically in Episode 286. I've interviewed a guy married to a physician and he was in the financial world. He realized how the student loan was so crazy so he decided to help students figure this all out as well as physicians.

Another thing to look at is the White Coat Investor. Buy the book and listen to the podcast Session 223 I did with Jim Dahle. Is it possible? 100%.

[10:15] Final Words

Private loans are the worst kind of loans since they're the least flexible. But if that's what you have to do then do it. Again, go back to the question whether you need to do a postbac. Do you need to spend 10x what you could pay being a non-degree seeking student at a four-year university or even at a community college. Again, you've proven you can handle the course work.

So just try to fin the cheaper route if possible. But if you need you have to go to a formal postbac, then do it.

Links:

The Premed Years Podcast Session 286: Common Mistakes and More About Financing Medical School

The Premed Years Podcast Session 223: Setting Yourself Up for Financial Success, Starting Now

White Coat Investor

White Coat Investor book

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement

Submitbookreceipt.com

MedEd Media Network

Nontrad Premed Forum

133: What if I Don't Have Time for Volunteer Experiences?

Jul 4, 2018 07:54

Description:

Session 133

Today, our student is worried about a secondary question asking about volunteer healthcare experiences. This nontrad works in healthcare, but is a mom and struggling to find time to "volunteer" and get the "healthcare volunteer" experiences.

If you have questions answered here on the podcast, check out the Nontrad Premed Forum and register for an account.

[01:00] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I'm a nontraditional student, married with three kids, working full time as a pathology assistant for the past three years. I have a long list of healthcare-related experiences, but all of them were "paid" employment. As I was providing for a family at a time with the exception of shadowing, which I don't count as healthcare volunteering.

I've got a secondary application from a DO school and a specific essay question asks to list and describe the significant "healthcare-related volunteer" experiences that I have. How should I go about answering this question since I technically don't have any.

Would it be wise to simply state that though I have a litany of experience in a clinical and/or hospital and healthcare setting, due to my family obligations and other responsibility, all of these were paid experiences? And as such, I don't have volunteer experience in these settings. Or should I take the approach of describing other types of volunteer experiences I have even if not clinical or medical?

Also, I applied to 46 total schools - MD, DO, and Caribbean - and I'm finding that many of the secondary questions are quite repetitive. Would I continue to keep my responses brief and to the point and simply recycle them while ensuring that I actually answer the question?"

[02:25] Healthcare Volunteering: Just Answer the Question

"If you're a nontraditional student and you need to put food on the table, then you do what you need to do."

Write your extracurriculars in your secondaries all your experiences. And the fact they're asking questions already answered in the primary application, is honestly wasted time. Nevertheless, if you're providing for your family and if you don't have time to add onto your healthcare experiences since you're already working in healthcare, then answer the question this way.

Say that as a nontraditional student, you have these experiences but you have not had the time to volunteer outside of all the other healthcare experiences you're already getting. Then explain a bit about what you are doing, preface it with you knowing that it's not volunteering but you're a nontraditional student.

Answer the question. Don't not answer the question by throwing in non healthcare-related volunteer stuff. Simply put, you can just say, that you don't have health care volunteering since you work in healthcare and you have a family to support. This said, you don't have time for extra healthcare experience. This should be completely fine.

They may look at it unsatisfactorily and throw your application out. But you don't know how they're going to look at your application. So you can't worry about it. Therefore, go right ahead and answer the question in front of you. Again, preface it by saying you don't have extra time to volunteer and just move on to the next question.

"You don't know how they're going to look at your application. So you can't worry about it."

[05:30] Writing Multiple Secondaries, Answering Repetitive Questions

After about 5 secondary applications, you're starting to get repetitive and the questions start to look the same. They seem to all ask you if you haven't taken a break or what diversity you can bring to the class. The one question they ask that's different for every school is why you want to go there. Again, answer the question.

There's a lot of cutting and pasting that goes on. Be very, very , very careful as you cut and paste to make sure that you're not cutting and pasting names of schools. So use that cautiously.

As long as the answer you have is really answering the question they're asking and the next school that asks it is asking the same question, then go ahead. However, don't just glance at the question and think it's the same one as before. The last thing you want is to find out it wasn't the real root of the question after all and you end up not answering it appropriately.

"Be very, very , very careful as you cut and paste to make sure that you're not cutting and pasting names of schools."

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

132: Should I Move to Increase My Chances of an Acceptance?

Jun 27, 2018 08:27

Description:

Session 132

Our student today is wondering if she should move to Texas to increase her chances of getting into a state school, and lesson her tuition costs? Will it work?

Questions for this podcast are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, please register to join the community of like-minded awesome students and post whatever questions you may have to help you along this journey.

[01:36] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a Virginia resident with the average stats of around 3.7 and 511 MCAT. I started premed requirements two years after getting a degree in Economics after enjoying volunteering as an EMT. I plan on taking a gap year when I finish classes next Spring to ensure I'm fully prepared for the application process.

During this time, I plan on working as a scribe and/or doing research. Since I'll be working for a year before applying, I began to consider establishing residency in a better state for medical school applicant. Texas, in particular, stands out to me due to their lower tuition and number of students with average stats that are admitted. My brother lives in Texas and I could stay with him while looking for work. But other than that, I have no ties to the region. I have visited Houston, Dallas, and Austin several times each, and could see myself living and practicing there. But it's far from most of my family. I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on this matter.

My concern would be that I move there, the admissions committees see that I don't have ties to the state which raises a red flag and I don't get in. But at the same time, I've heard from people applying to schools in my state, which makes me believe that I'd be just as much of a toss up if I don't get in anywhere in state here. So I don't know what to do. I'll apply broadly to MD and DO, regardless, but I want to put myself in the best position for tuition and admittance purposes if I can."

[03:15] The Risk of Moving

Moving to establish residency is a risk. You move and what if you have to move again if you don't get in? That's always the risk, but it's not a huge risk. It just means you're moving. It's sometimes expensive and just a pain. But moving doesn't guarantee admission. It's something you have to be careful of. If you're moving with the thought of going to get into a Texas school and because you're only applying to Texas schools, then that's where you risk everything. So you still need to apply broadly.

"Moving doesn't guarantee admission. It's something you have to be careful of. "

[04:00] The Risks of Moving to Texas

You have to understand the risks of moving to Texas. First, you lose your state residency for Virginia, which only have two medical schools. So just moving to Texas increases you chances, since there are 10 schools in Texas or maybe more at this point. Baylor University is outside of the TMDSAS, while there are about 9 public schools including DO schools as your options. Tuitions is lower. The application process is cheaper and it starts a little bit earlier. As long as you're okay with the chances of moving to Texas and then getting in somewhere else outside of Texas and being okay with moving, then go for it.

"The application process in Texas is a little bit weird because it's a match process. It's not the same as AMCAS or AACOMAS."

[05:00] Not Having Ties

About not having ties, they don't care as long as you're a resident. If you're a non-resident, then ties to the state matter. If your brother lives there, do you visit him? Do you have other family in the state? So those ties matter much more when you are a non-resident. But if you move there, you establish residency. Also, be careful with living at your brother's house. Check with the state what their rules are. This means you have to check with each state to determine what the residency requirements are. You may need to pay for his cable or his electric or put one of those bills in your name to set up residency status and meet the residency requirements for that state. Every state is different with how that works.

"Ties matter much more when you are a non-resident. But if you move there, you establish residency."

It's okay to call the schools and ask about residency status or look at the state website to look it up. But then again, if you're a resident, they're not going to ask you about your ties to the state.

[06:18] Call the Schools

I'm working with students who moved to Texas. One of them was from Kentucky and moved to Texas. Her boyfriend moved there so they wanted to go there. And she got into a Kentucky school. I have another student who is moving to Oregon. She called the school and they told her if she moved to the state before the application process, you'd have to establish residency at some point. So before you matriculate, you are considered an in-state applicant for the application cycle. She's not even a resident before the application cycle and they're going to consider her as an in-state applicant. Again, call the schools and check with the states and see what they say.

All this being said, there's really no risk, other than you're losing the residency of the state you're moving from and you're setting up in a new place. Don't move during the application cycle otherwise this may raise a red flag. But moving a year before for a gap year is fine.

"I would caution moving during the application cycle. That's where there are some red flags that may come up."

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

131: Should I Mention Kids in my Med School Application?

Jun 20, 2018 07:12

Description:

Session 131

Are you in the market for some MCAT test prep? Text the message, MCAT100 to 44222 to enter and win a giveaway of an MCAT course from Next Step Test Prep.

As a nontraditional student, you may have kids in tow when you head to medical school. Is that a red flag to medical school? Should you mention your kids?

[01:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"Did any of you mention your children in your application especially if it adds to your narrative of why you wanted to become a doctor?"

[02:02] It's Okay to Mention You Have Kids (Only When It Fits)

If it's part of why you wanted to become a doctor, of course mention it. One of the students I've worked with, mentioned that it was the birth of his child that led him to want to become a physician. It was that spark for him to do this thing. But if you're just throwing it out there that you have kids and a dog and why you wanted to be a doctor, which is something different, then it won't fit the narrative of why you want to be a physician. So there's no need to bring them up.

A lot of students are scared that if they bring up kids, it may be a red flag to the admissions committee. But don't think of it that way. Being a nontraditional student, having kids, gives you a different point of view, it gives you a different perspective on life. Unlike what most students think that diversity is only limited to race, color, gender, etc, understand that being a parent is part of that diversity. And this is what the admissions committees are trying to do - build a community of students that are putting together a very diverse class of students who are going to work well together.

"Being a parent is diversity and that diversity can help add to the medical school class."

[04:57] Being a Nontrad Student is a Huge Asset

Being a parent, you have experiences that a lot of other students may not have. So they may look at that and think it's an asset and not a black mark on your application. It's a huge asset to have that actually. So stop thinking that.

"A lot of you think that being a nontraditional student is going to hurt you. But it's completely the opposite in most circumstances."

Stop thinking that being a nontraditional student is going to hurt you. But it's completely the opposite in most circumstances. So stop mentioning how your kids are going to hurt you. Again, bring it up if fits into the narrative of why you want to be a physician. There's no use of hiding your family and trying to avoid talking about them. They're a part of your story. But just don't squeeze them into weird places just because you think you need to mention them along the way.

Stop worrying about your kids, your family, being married, as a disability in the application process and start looking at it from the standpoint of it being an asset that you can add to the diversity of the class. Because you're going to have skills necessary to help the class along.

"Start looking at it from the standpoint of it being an asset that you can add to the diversity of the class. Because you're going to have skills necessary to help the class along."

Episode Resources:

Next Step Test Prep

130: I Didn't Get into Medical School. What Should I Do Next?

Jun 13, 2018 12:59

Description:

Session 130

When you don't get into medical school, you may feel like your journey is over. It's not. The question is what to do next and that's what we talk about today.

Our questions are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you have any questions, register for an account and ask away.

The OldPreMeds Podcast is part of the MedEd Media Network, which includes The Premed Years, The MCAT Podcast, Specialty Stories, Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A, as well as The Short Coat Podcast, a production of the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa.

[01:58] Old PreMeds Question of the Week:

"I applied to med school last cycle and got rejected by all of the schools that I applied to. When I asked the schools directly how to improve my app for next time I apply, I was given generic information. I visited a premed advisor from my alumni and I was suggested to either apply to Caribbean schools or choose another path. The problem with my app is the averaging of my grades made my GPA low for the app report when it calculates my undergrad in graduate GPAs. So the med schools would screen me out because they cannot see that my current GPA for grad school is a lot better than the past. I cannot go to the Caribbean because it does not line up with my plan to join the military to help pay for school as I'm financially responsible for my mother who is disabled. I do not want to choose another path either. I've come too far.

I graduated undergrad with a 3.0 GPA, went to grad school and didn't do well due to family issues at home. I re-enrolled in a different grad school and now have a 3.8 GPA. I should not be judged by my mistakes in the past. That's what I feel is happening with my app. I've done volunteer work, worked in a hospital, took a course to get a license as an EMT, and have even done medical scribing and shadowing. I'm getting information on how to become an RN and medical assistant in the meantime. However, I do not want to give up my dream of being a doctor. That is the end goal. I'm not sure what else to do to make my app stand out. The premed advisors stated to me that retaking any courses from the past from undergrad is just a waste of money that would not help much with my app. So any advice on how to improve would be greatly appreciated.

I should add to my prior post that I had already applied to a postbac program and another master's program that has a linkage with med schools that if you do well in the program, you're guaranteed an interview. I'm currently waiting for a news of acceptance along with registering for a few courses to apply for the accelerated PSM program near me. I'm also considering to retake my core BCPM classes from ten years ago. However, I have to look at my financials and see what I'm able to do."

[04:38] Should You Be Taking More Classes?

If you've had issues in the past, then it just makes sense to take more classes to show that you've overcome those issues and to show to the admissions committee that you can handle the coursework.

For your premed advisors to tell you not to take any more classes, doesn't logically make sense. Because there's no other way to show to the admissions committee that you're not what you used to be.

[06:11] Undergrad vs. Graduate GPAs and Master's Degree

A 3.0 GPA is not terrible. But try to look at the trend because this is important. What is the science GPA?

Then grad school was mentioned. Was this immediately after undergrad or five years after undergrad? How did "starting poorly" look like? How long was the process? The norm is that most schools are going to look at your undergrad and graduate grades separately. The assumption is you're doing a master's program for a reason, whether you're just passionate about the subjects or you're trying to fix your past mistakes. And these are going to be looked at differently. To not be judged for past mistakes, that's what grad school is for. But you also stumbled in grad school, so how do you overcome that?

"In the application, typically how schools will see the grades is your undergrad grades and your graduate grades, separate."

Another thing to factor in here is what your graduate degree is.  If you have a poor science GPA and you're doing a graduate level coursework to show them you could do it. And then you go out and get a master's in public health, that's not proving to them that you can handle the hard sciences.

"You need to take hard sciences."

[09:50] Undergrad Classes from 10 Years Ago

Remember you're not just one part of your application. You're not just your GPA. You're not just your MCAT score. You're not your GPA and your MCAT score. Your application has to be complete. Maybe your essays were bad or you had a bad interview, assuming you got to that point. So there's so many other factors.

However at this point, the discussion has to be around redoing the coursework, whether that's a formal postbac or a do-it-yourself postbac. Get that positive trend to show to the admissions committees that you can handle the coursework. As you go through this process, there should be a time that you're getting less than a 4.0 from this point forward. If you've applied and you didn't get in, if grades are your issue, you need to be getting as close as you can to a 4.0. That doesn't mean that if you slip, you will never be able to get in. But you should be shooting for that grade.

"You're not just one part of your application. You're not just your GPA. You're not just your MCAT score. You're not your GPA and your MCAT score."

Lastly, the only way to move forward is taking more classes to prove to yourself, to the admissions committee that you can still handle the coursework for this process.

Follow me on Instagram @medicalschoolhq and stay tuned as we prepare for the launch of The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement and we’re celebrating our 100th episode on The MCAT Podcast, and so many other awesome things! Also, be a part of our Hangout Group on Facebook!

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media

@medicalschoolhq

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement

The MCAT Podcast

Hangout Group on Facebook

129: Should I Drop Out of My DNP Program to Go to Med School?

Jun 6, 2018 09:39

Description:

Session 129

If you're in the middle of a DNP program but want to be a physician, what would you do? I'd drop out and start working on medical school, that's what I'd do!

Do you have any questions? Register for free and join our community at the Nontrad Premed Forum. We also have another amazing community on Facebook at the Premed Hangout, with over 250-300 students collaborating and encouraging each other.

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement, is now available for preorder on Barnes and Noble. Save the receipt and get the chance to get some fun, free goodies.

[02:08] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I've been lurking here and occasionally posting for the past 8 years or so. In that time, I've become a nurse and I'm now working on my DNP (Doctor of Nurse Practitioner). But I want to be a doctor (physician).

The thing that keeps me bak is the reality of the debt, the time away from my kids, the realization that I won't be able to work while I'm in med school, but I can while I'm in DNP school. But I want to be a doctor. I have one more year of prereqs if I do the bare minimum of those. I'm seriously considering dropping out of DNP school. I'm only a year into a six-year program and enrolling in the final classes that I need for med school this Fall instead. All my reasons for not doing it are valid. But I keep coming back to this desire to be a doctor. I'm wondering if I should put it to bed once and for all or if I should try to figure it out. If it matters, I'm 36. So I wouldn't even be in medical school until I was 38 at the earliest."

[03:25] The Debt Issue

So you're worried about three things - debt, time away from kids, and not being to work in medical school. Now for debt, every student worries about that. Read the White Coat Investor if you're worried about medicine and money. Google around. Listen to a previous podcast back episode 286 on The Premed Years, where we brought in a financial advisor who works with physicians.

Paying back loans is possible and can be relatively easy if it's something you focus on, plan, and do right.

"Every student who graduates medical school deals with debt."

[04:33] Time Away from Kids

This can be a concern depending on their age. But sometimes, it's about showing your kids that if you want something, you go and do it. Yes, there's going to be sacrifice along the way. But what that life lesson will teach them is completely invaluable.

"It's so valuable of a lesson to teach your kids that no matter what you want in this life, you go out and do it."

I'm a parent with a second kid on the way and I would sacrifice. There is that sacrifice of going to medical school and the sacrifice of being away from the family. And the spouse have to be okay with that. This can cause a lot of conflict so there has to be lots of communication. But the lesson to your kids would be huge.

[06:05] Working While in Medical School

Personally, it was a mistake for me. You shouldn't work in medical school because you don't have time to. I thought I did and my grades suffered because of that. Yes, you can work in DNP school. But they are completely different schools.

A Doctor of Nursing Practice is not a clinical degree, but more of an administrative degree. So you can't be a nurse and a doctor. In fact, if you like the clinical side of things, being an NP is better than being a DNP. But the DNP world came about because there needed to be a higher ceiling for nurses. So they created a new degree so that nurse administrators could go with this DNP degree and move up the ladder in the hospitals.

"A DNP is not a clinical degree. It's not comparable to being a physician at all. And being a nurse practitioner is more comparable to being a physician than a DNP is."

[07:20] I Want to Be a Doctor!

If you know in your heart that you want to be a physician, go and do it. It's that easy. If this is what you want, drop out of your DNP program today. Register for classes today. And start your journey to medical school. It's that easy.

But will it be easy in the future? No. But it's that easy to start. Right now. Medical school is tough. Residency is tough. But if you've done your soul searching and been lurking around the OldPreMeds community now for 8 years, if this is what you want, then do it!

Stop waiting for something to change or for that world to finally catch up to you to the point of telling yourself you're okay in your DNP program. But what you're waiting for is never going to come.

Again, if this is something that you really want, drop out of your program. Register for classes. Communicate with your spouse and your kids. Go and live your dream!

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

Premed Hangout

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement

The White Coat Investor

The Premed Years Session 286: Common Mistakes and More About Financing Medical School

 

128: How Do I Transition from the Military to Being a Premed?

May 30, 2018 09:22

Description:

Session 128

After a significant life event with his daughter being born with a rare congenital disorder, our poster today wants to get out of the military and go to medical school. If you’re a career-changer, this is a must-listen episode!

The questions in this podcast are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven't yet, just register for an account and ask away!

[01:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

"Due to a recent life circumstance, I have decided to pursue a career in medicine. My daughter was born with a rare congenital brain disorder, amongst many health issues that have accompanied her situation. The amount of time spent in the NICU and PICU, medical appointments and researching her condition have led me to a burning desire to be a physician. She's almost 2 and somewhat stable enough for me to focus on school again. I'm graduating in Spring with a degree in Business Administration from University of Maryland. This is not ideal as it's an online college and a business degree. It doesn't do much for me in terms of prereqs for medical school.

My GPA is also below where I'd like it to be. I'll be graduating with a 3.1. Overseas deployments and high ops tempo played a role in my lack of dedication during tough times. And my grades suffered because of it.

So my dilemma - I am ten years into an army career as an intel officer and I'm confused as to the best way to get into medical school. I read up on postbacs, Master's in Biomed and just taking classes individually that will help me with the MCAT and for medical school."

[03:40] Having a Business Degree

As a nontrad student, this is actually a very common scenario. You have an unique situation, but overall, it's similar to so many other students. If you're a career-changer, you must continue on and listen to this!

First off, you have a degree that doesn't help you but that's okay as it actually helps to have a business degree. As you take your science prereqs and assuming you do well, your science GPA will hopefully be great. So your prior 3.1 GPA will show up in your transcript and it will bring down your overall, cumulative GPA. But your BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and math) GPA will only be what you take now, for the most part. So you should go in with the expectation that you're going to do well as you can.

"It actually helps to have a business degree."

[04:40] Undergrad Formal Postbac

So you have a couple of options here. You can do a formal postbac where all the classes you take are going to count as undergrad classes. So they will affect your 3.1 GPA. It may not move the needle very much but from an undergrad science GPA standpoint, you're going to have a great science GPA, assuming you do well.

"How you get those grades is completely up to you."

[05:25] Do It Yourself Postbac

Just go to the local college where you're at and just take the science classes you need. You may need to register as a non degree seeking student or you may need to fake it and get a degree in Biology and just don't finish. That way, you can register for the classes that you need.

There is no right or wrong way here. Students go this route considering that formal postbacs are expensive. And not every student needs them. Some students like them though. They want that formality and the built-in support structure. Not every student wants to get into debt for it.

"Formal postbacs are expensive. And not every student needs them. Some students like them. They want that formality and the built-in support structure."

[06:11] Special Master's Program

A special master's program is a master's level course work so it's not going to affect the undergrad GPA. It will only affect your Master's, this is your graduate level course work so it's a separate line item in the application. It will still show up as BCPM, hopefully, you get a great Master's level GPA. Usually, if you're coming from a non science related undergrad degree, most students don't need to jump right to the Special Master's Program.

So I would recommend you do either a formal postbac which is expensive, or a do-it-yourself postbac, which may not be as costly since you're not paying for the formal "support" around you during that time.

"Figure out what's right for you and move forward."

[07:12] Don't Forget the MCAT

The MCAT is another big thing you need to study for. But you're in the right situation and you're starting from a good spot coming from a non science major and classes. Hopefully, you're not going to screw up your GPA moving forward. Your overall GPA is going to be a bit lower but you will be good.

[08:15] Check Out Next Step Test Prep for Your MCAT Prep

If you're in the market for full-length MCAT practice tests, check out Next Step Test Prep. Use the promo code MSHQ to save 10% off their practice tests. They have ten full-length tests that you can buy and take advantage of.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

Next Step Test Prep

127: Can I Get Into a Good Medical School with my Past Grades?

May 23, 2018 08:09

Description:

Session 127

Our poster today is wondering about his past IVY league undergrad GPA and MBA GPA, and if he has a chance to get into a “good” medical school.

Do you have any questions? Register for free and join our community at the Nontrad Premed Forum. We also have another amazing community on Facebook at the Premed Hangout, with over 250-300 students collaborating and encouraging each other.

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT is finally available in Paperback ($9.99) and in Kindle ($4.99) formats. Also, stay tuned for The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement, coming out soon!

[02:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Low GPA, Ivy Undergrad, Top 5 GPA, Ivy MBA, 4 Years Top Management Consulting Firm

"I have a 3.1 GPA at Cornell, Economics, Bachelor's of Science, 5 years in corporate business roles, 3.99 GPA Columbia University in the Master's of Business, 4 years at Mckenzie, a highly selective premiere consulting firm, age 31.

Reason I'm interested is I spent four years at McKenzie working at hospitals and health insurance companies across all functions. As I learned more and more, I became more and more interested in a career in medicine. Do I have any shot at a "good" medical school?

[03:05] What is a Good Medical School?

This might be hard for a student who went to Cornell and then went to Columbia as they may have a skewed perspective on what a "good" medical school is. Do you need to go an Ivy medical school to get a good residency and have an amazing career as a physician? Absolutely, not.

"The business world is different than the medical world. The law school world is different than the medical world."

While it matters where you go to law school, it doesn't matter in medical school. Sure, it's great to Stanford or Harvard, but what matters more is YOU. It's your performance in medical school and your performance on your boards and your elective rotations as you're going through and auditioning for different residencies and programs. You are what matters as well as your interview at those residency programs and much more.

The name on the diploma is one of the lower ranked indicators for program directors in residencies. Residency program directors are pooled every often and that is what shows up lower on the list as to where you went to school. It's not that big of a deal.

Personally, a good school is one that accepts you. So yes, you have a shot at a good school. But below are some indicators whether or not you really have a good shot at get into a "good," much less any, medical school.

[04:55] Shadowing and Clinical Experience

There are many things that you need to do if you're coming coming from the business world. First, you need to shadow. Just because you spent time working at hospitals and health insurance companies, advising them and consulting for them or running their numbers, this doesn't mean that you like being around patients. It doesn't mean you like the ins and outs of the day to day life of being a physician.

"Just because you spent time working at hospitals and health insurance companies... doesn't mean that you like being around patients."

Therefore, it's important that you shadow and you get clinical experience. You put yourself around sick people to make sure you like that aspect of medicine, and not just the admin side of things. You make sure you like the clinical side of things because that's what is going to drive you through the hard times of medical school and residency and being an attending. Make sure that you like that before you go and drop everything and apply to medical school.

"Make sure you like the clinical side of things because that's what is going to drive you through the hard times of medical school and residency and being an attending."

[05:55] Prereqs and MCAT

There are some things you need to do first since you have an Economics, MBA degree. You have to do your prerequisites too. How you perform in your prereqs is going to be a bigger indicator than your economics GPA or your MBA GPA. How you do in your sciences or BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math), are what is going to dictate a lot of how you are viewed when it comes to applying to medical school.

Another big elephant in the room is your MCAT. You have to take the MCAT and get a good score. This is another huge indicator on how good of a student you are to these "good" medical schools.

Again, you have a good shot. Do well in your BCPM. Do well in your MCAT. Get that shadowing. Get that clinical experience and you'll be fine. Apply to a broad number of schools and you'll be okay.

"Do well in your BCPM. Do well in your MCAT. Get that shadowing. Get that clinical experience and you'll be fine. Apply to a broad number of schools and you'll be okay."

Ultimately, go to ANY medical school, Work your butt off. Do well on the boards. Do your butt off in your audition rotations and you'll be golden!

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

Facebook Premed Hangout

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement

126: Should I Retake Core Classes From 10 Years Ago with C's?

May 16, 2018 09:25

Description:

Session 126

If you've taken your med school prereqs a long time ago and you did poorly in them, should you retake them or take higher level courses? What about the MCAT?

First off, The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT is now available on Amazon, Kindle, and Paperback. Just a reminder, you don't have to have a Kindle device to read a Kindle eBook. You can use a Kindle app on every device you have. It's $4.99 for the Kindle at this point and $9.99 for Paperback.

In this podcast, we take your questions directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum and answer them here on the podcast. Don't forget to also check out all our podcasts on MedEd Media.

[01:55] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I have these core classes that I took ten years ago and I did not do well. These courses, I've taken back 2008-2009 at community college. They include Gen Chem 1, Gen Chem 2, Calc, General Bio - all C's. General Bio 2, a D. Physics 1-3 - C's, and Genetics - D. Recently, at a university, Organic Chemistry 1 - B, Organic Chemistry 2 - C+, Biochemistry - C+. 

Would it be more beneficial to retake all these core classes again especially for the MCAT? Or take upper division science classes like Biology? My science GPA is low, around a 2.5. And I would want to demonstrate to the admissions committees that I was not the same student I was before. I can't get any SMP or formal postbac at the moment.

I'm trying to do a two-step process, which is postbac and academic enhancer, then an SMP. My end goal is MD or DO. What else can I do to show reinvention?"

[03:15] Stop!

At this stage, if you're not getting A's, stop. Stop right now. Don't take any more classes. If you're in classes right now, withdraw from them. Figure out why you're not getting A's.

Go and listen to The Premed Years Podcast session 188. It's a must-listen to for any student struggling in their classes. Find out ways you can do to try to improve your grades. Right now, you're not doing that. You're just digging yourself a deeper and deeper hole.

[04:55] Postbac vs. SMP

You do not and should not shoot to do both a postbac and an SMP. Nobody has to do a postbac and then an SMP. They should be doing the same thing for you. An academic enhancer postbac is proving to the admissions committee that you can handle the coursework. The same is said for an SMP. So you don't need to do both.

"Nobody has to do a postbac and then an SMP. They should be doing the same thing for you."

Some students though need to do both a postbac and an SMP because they're doing what you're doing - taking classes and not getting good grades. This is the case of Chad. He finished his undergrad, didn't have good grades. He did a postbac and didn't have good grades. He had to figure out how to fix that. He did an SMP. He got good grades. And now, he's a medical student. So do not shoot or plan to do both a postbac or an SMP. That is not necessary.

[06:05] Retake Your Classes

Retake your classes. Since you've taken those classes from ten years ago and you got C's and D's, retake those classes.

They're probably not going to help your GPA a ton since all the grades would be included. It doesn't matter if you retake the same classes or take different ones and get A's. The GPA is all going to be the same because every grade is included in your GPA calculation. So the grades don't matter.

It won't be a surprise if you continue to get bad grades because you don't have a solid science foundation from ten years ago based on poor grades. So retake your courses, (1) to give yourself that foundation, (2) to prove to yourself and to the admissions committee that you can handle the coursework with a strong upward trends, and (3) to prepare for the MCAT.

"The best way to prepare for the MCAT is to do well in your foundational science classes."

Retake all the classes. Get A's in them. Take the MCAT. If you need to continue to take some higher level courses as you go through this process, do that. If you need to do a formal postbac at that point still, maybe do that. But don't plan on doing a postbac and an SMP. Either do a postbac or an SMP.

[08:10] Sign Up for an Account!

If you have a question you want asked, go to the Nontrad Premed Forum and sign up for an account. Then ask away!

Also, check out my other books The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. And soon, we will be releasing The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement.

Links:

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT

The Premed Years Podcast Session 188

The Premed Years Podcast Session 230

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview

125: Should I Take the C or Withdraw From My Class?

May 9, 2018 09:17

Description:

Session 125

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT (Kindler version) is available on Amazon. You don't have to have a Kindle to read Kindle books. If you have an iOS or Android device, Amazon makes that Kindle app for your device. Go ahead and buy the book right now for only $4.99.

The paperback version will be released soon so stay tuned! This is not a content knowledge book. But it's going to give you the information you need to know so you can better understand everything about the MCAT - when to register, how to register, getting fee assistance, how to best study for it, etc.

Questions are taken each week from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, register to join in and ask away! Meanwhile, check out all our other awesome episodes on MedEd Media.

[02:00] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a 30-year-old community college student who's planning to transfer to UCSD (University of California San Diego). However, I'm currently doing really bad in my Calculus course, might not even pass. One option is to maybe get by with a C. Another option is to drop it and to take the W and talk to the University of California San Diego and see if they'll give me an extension. And the other option I can think of is to stay at my community college and get an A. I know I can get an A because the concepts aren't really that hard.

The reason I'm doing so poorly is that my mother just passed away and I'm taking it really hard and having trouble focusing. What should I do?"

[02:50] Take a W

Any parent passing is really hard. And I recommend that you withdraw right now. Give yourself a pass on this semester or whatever classes you're taking. Regroup, grieve, do whatever you need to do to get re-focused, however long that's going to take after your mom's passing.

With that being said, it looks like UCSD is requiring the Calculus course to transfer to UCSD. In that case, talk to them and lay everything out on the table. Then ask how they can help you. This is probably the best way to move forward with this.

"There are lots of possible options but until you figure out and talk to them what options are available, then you don't know what is."

[04:35] Getting By with a C is a Risk

Getting by with a C is just too much of a risk. If you get a D or F, that's going to hurt a lot. And UCSD might even decline you for those poor grades. So take the W. Don't worry about pushing for that C. Grieve and make sure you're okay moving forward. Make some phone calls. Talk to UCSD. Talk to the community college. Find out what your options are and move on from there.

If you're in the same situation as this student and on the verge of getting a C, D, or F, the W is always better than a very, very bad grade. One to three C's can be okay. But ideally, stay away from them. But if you have them already, it is what it is and move forward. Just try not to get it anymore.

"The W is always better than a very, very bad grade."

[05:50] When Taking a W is Good - and Bad

But if you have the option and in the middle of the course and it looks like you are going to struggle, if you have to get perfect test scores from here on out just to get a C, the most realistic scenario is you won't get perfect scores and you're not going to get that C, you're going to get a D or F. Take the W.

"Having withdrawals in your application is not a huge red flag for admissions committees."

But if you have weird withdrawals like you have a W from Organic Chemistry from your four-year university, then you take Organic Chemistry at a community college. Then you withdraw from Physics 2 from your four-year university and get Physics 2 at you community college. Then you withdraw from Biochem and so on.

So you see, if you have this pattern of withdrawing from your four-year university which medical school still considers the harder class and then you take it at an "easier' school, the community college, that is going to be questioned.

If you're home for the summer and you're taking community college courses, then that's not a problem. So take the W. It's worth it.

[07:20] Need Help with MCAT?

Again, The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT is available now. This is co-written with Next Step Test Prep. And if you're looking for MCAT full-length practice exams, Next Step Test Prep is where you want to go. I've gotten feedback from students that they're the best exams after the AAMC exams. They have 10 scored exams and use the promo code MSHQ to save 10% off your full-length purchase from Next Step.

Links:

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT

Next Step Test Prep

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media

124: How Can I Study for the MCAT if I have Chronic Pain?

May 2, 2018 10:44

Description:

Living with chronic pain is hard. Living with chronic pain as a premed might be impossible. Our question today is from a premed struggling with a new diagnosis.

123: Should I Move States to Improve My Chances?

Apr 25, 2018 09:55

Description:

Session 123

If you're a nontrad student looking at potential medical school, you may realize that your dream school is in another state. What do you do now?

This year, we are releasing the second published book in the series called, The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT. Visit the MCATbook.com to get notified. This is the book for you if you're getting ready to start learning about what the MCAT is. It's not going to prepare you for the content review for the most part. But this is the book that's going to tell you about the MCAT - what it is, when to take it, some strategies, and how to prepare for it, and more.

[01:55] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm thinking about moving to another state a year plus in advance to applying to medical school in order to establish in-state residency and increase my chances of getting accepted. What are your thoughts? What factors should I weigh when making this kind of decision?"

"I had to break up, miserable in the southern city and virtually no local support within a day's drive. I have no interest in staying in the state or attending the in-state medical schools here."

"If money wasn't an issue, I'd move either to LA where I have a number of close friends and a ton of acquaintances os to somewhere in New York state where I have both family and friends. Obviously though, money is a factor. Moving to another state expensive and the cost of living will be higher especially in LA. I've considered selling my condo but since I haven't lived here for to years yet, I'll deal with a lot of taxes to the tune of a year's worth of tuition. If I kept in and rented it out, my property taxes would go up substantially and the rental income wouldn't cover my rent in a lot of other cities.

For my circumstances, it comes down to whether a year of improved mental, social support, and increased chances of getting into my dream school are worth somewhere around $40,000 -  $50,000. My pre-health advisor recommends doing the whole process prereqs and medical school itself as cheaply as possible. People I know who are in medical school say it's probably worth being out that much money to attend a better school in a city that's a good culture fit for me where I'd have a lot of local support. How should I weight these substantial opportunity cost?"

[04:00] Should You Move to Another State to Get Residency in that State?

Money being the biggest factor for this student, moving to another state is expensive. You have to find another place to live and you might have to sell your house. If you're not a homeowner and you don't know the rules, you have to live in your house for two years or else you have to pay some gains and taxes.

Now, if you're weighing the options to have an increased chances of going to a dream school. Sure you can move, but there are no guarantees in this process. There are a lot of things you need consider. If there are several medical schools in the state you want to move to, then that increases your chance. So a lot depends on where you're planning on moving and how rigid you are with where you are applying.

"There are no guarantees in this process."

All this being said, if you're planning on moving to another state with your hopes of going to one specific school, my advice is not to move. More likely than not, you're going to probably get in somewhere else and then you'd have to move again. It's just a huge pain in the butt.

Of course, it's not fun to be in a place you don't want to be. Nor is it fun to live in a place where the residency options aren't good. But a lot of students live in those states and apply to out of state schools and get into out of state schools.

[07:35] What Are Your Chances?

It may potentially lessen your chances at a public out of state school. But there are plenty of them that accept 35% - 40% of out of state applicants. So it all again depends on what state you're planning on moving to. In California, that would be super hard as it's super competitive to get into, as well as the schools in New York.

So don't move. Work it out for the amount of time you have left. Apply to medical schools and get out of there as fast as you can after you know where you're going to reduce the amount of movement of pain and everything else that comes along with it. And $40,000 - $50,000 is a ton of money.

If you, too, are in a situation where you're thinking about moving either pre-application or  during the application, just be aware of some of the complications that may arise from this.

If you're thinking about moving near an application, do yourself a favor and contact the schools in the state where you're moving to and find out what they will consider you as if you're moving too close to the application date. They may not consider you an in-state applicant and you want to be. If you're leaving a state and applying to schools in that state, they may not consider you an in-state applicant anymore. So there are a lot of things to consider and figure out in that process.

Links:

MCATbook.com

Nontrad Premed Forum

122: How Can I Get Shadowing Experience in Canada?

Apr 18, 2018 05:53

Description:

Session 122

Canadians think they have it much harder than their US counterparts when it comes to getting shadowing and clinical experience. It's just not the case.

In this podcast, we take questions directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum. Feel free to drop by and register (if you haven't yet) to be a part of a collaborative community, helping each other on this journey to medical school. Also, take time to listen to all out other podcasts on MedEd Media. Also, join our growing Facebook community on The Premed Hangout.

[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"As a Canadian, I find it hard to relate to most of the premeds here because they're all about shadowing MDs and DOs to get clinical experience. However, due to Canada's patient privacy/ protection laws, it's nearly impossible to get the same types of experience. The most we can do is volunteer but that usually involves holding doors, co-checks, or directing patients to places and that sort of thing.

I want to apply to Canadian and American MD schools but I feel like I won't be competitive with US applicants because I lack the same shadowing experience. I'm open to hearing ideas."

[01:50] Case Study: Canadian Applicant

This is actually a common thing that comes up from students in Canada. But I find this an excuse, which doesn't hold a lot of weight.

I have helped Canadian students get into medical school. So I pulled up somebody's application here to show the type of clinical experience that this student got before she applied to both Canadian and US medical schools. And apparently, she got into US medical schools.

This applicant volunteered at a stroke unit, comforting patients, recognizing signs of delirium, greeting patients, and talking to them. This is great clinical experience, more than just co-checks. As well, she volunteered as a research assistant for clinical research, conducting structured and semi-structured clinical interviews. She also puts medical observership, which means shadowing, which she did 20 hours a week for 14 weeks.

"There are plenty of things that you can do to get clinical experience."

[03:15] Can't You Shadow in Canada?

Students in Canada always say they can't shadow in Canada because of the laws. But this is nothing new in the US either, which has Hippo laws with protect patients. Physicians use that excuse a lot as well as clinics and hospitals for students here in the US. So it's not really a US versus Canada thing.

Instead, you haven't tried hard enough to find something that would work. This can be solved if you make enough phone calls and if you send enough emails. If you try to connect with enough people, you will find a physician that will want to help you and allow you to shadow them.

"You just need to go out and talk to the right people, talk to more people. Get more no's and somebody will say yes!"

So don't blame the Canadian system on the lack of experience. I've talked to plenty of students who have gotten plenty of experience. They've just connected with the right people. They've made enough phone calls. They've done enough networking.

Again, send emails. Make phone calls. Get out there. And show your face. That's how you get experience even in Canada, where supposedly it's harder, but it's not. It's just different.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media

The Premed Hangout

121: How Much Clinical Experience Do I Need for Med School Apps?

Apr 11, 2018 08:55

Description:

As you start to look at your extracurriculars for medical school, you may start worrying that you don't have enough clinical experience. How much is enough?

120: Is There Risk in Applying to New Medical Schools?

Apr 4, 2018 11:59

Description:

Session 120

As you build your school list, you may find that there are new medical schools opening when you are applying. Is it a good idea to apply to those schools?

This is a question that has been coming up more often since more and more new medical schools are opening.

If you have questions you want answered here, go to the Nontrad Premed Forum to ask away and hopefully it would be answered here on this podcast.

[01:13] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm curious to know if anyone has any experience or tips for someone who's thinking of applying to a brand new medical school? My undergraduate school, University of Houston, is opening its new medical school at exactly the time when I'll be ready to apply. So if I went there, I'd be in the first cohort. Does anyone have any helpful advice on this?

I know new few schools have popped up in the last few years and would love to hear what it was like to be in one of the early classes. I imagined a school wouldn't be completely organized and that might add some extra stress but it also seems like a neat experience."

[01:55] The Risks of Applying to a New School

When you look at LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education) that does the accreditation for MD medical schools and COCA (The AOA Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation) for DO schools, they go through this whole process.

As soon as a school says about starting a new school in the city and who's going to run it, all of these conversations will take place with the accreditation bodies.

"A school can't start accepting students until they get the preliminary accreditation through these bodies."

This means that the school will have to get a preliminary accreditation through these bodies. And in order for the school to get to that point, they'd have to have shown a lot of things. They have to show their curriculum or the administrative structure and facilities in place. So there's a lot that they have to do to get to this point.

All this being said, you're not going to show up to a school that doesn't have a building or a faculty or leadership or administration set up. All that has been going on for years prior to the school accepting their fires class.

[03:47] Help with the Boards

A lot of students are worried about curriculum when it comes to new schools. "Is the school going to prepare me for the boards?" And as I've said, the school doesn't help you score well on your board exams. Only you do that. Yes, they may have resources and they may buy you access to certain test prep materials. But it's you that puts in the effort day in and day out to make sure that you score the best you can do on your board exams.

"The school doesn't help you score well on your board exams, only you do that."

You shouldn't be worried about the school preparing your for the boards. The boards is an open book test for you and medical schools. You know what's going to be on the boards. You know how you have to prepare. If the school isn't providing that, you have to go out and seek out the resources necessary for you. Even if the school does provide those resources, if they're not providing them in a way that you learn the best, then you're likely to go out and seek out other materials or resources where you can learn better.

So from a curriculum and a boards preparation standpoint, don't worry about whether or not the school is prepared to help you on those tests. Again, through the accreditation process, the curriculum is evaluated. Then the accreditation bodies make sure that you are as prepared as possible to get you the information that you need to succeed.

[06:06] Concern with Residency Programs

Program directors know that students coming from these universities, they've been able to judge those students over the years as to how prepared they are to come out. However, the preparation is not necessarily the school, but the clinical rotations. What is expected of you in those clinical rotations? What responsibilities do you have in those clinical rotations? What sort of exposure to different environments do you have in your clinical rotations?

Going through third and fourth year through your clinical rotations is going to help set you up for success during your internship and the rest of your residency. That part of a medical school helps program directors figure out who you are.They don't care you had a certain way of learning Biochemistry or Pathology. But it's how ready are you to be on the floors in the hospitals when it comes to residencies. And that's through your clinical years.

Depending on the locations, maybe a new medical school is setting up a new teaching hospital as well. So this is another thing to think about. How prepared is the hospital to be training medical students? Or has the hospital had medical students before from another medical school and they're just adding you?

"It's how ready are you to be on the floors in the hospitals when it comes to residencies. And that's through your clinical years."

Where are the clinical rotations? Are they an established teaching hospital that is used to medical students and residents? How are the staff there, the physicians and ancillary staff, how are they going to treat this new influx of medical students into their system?

[08:36] Going Through the HPSP Scholarship

Although I haven't enough info on this, but if you're thinking about an HPSP scholarship through army, navy, or air force, you have to get to a fully accredited university/medical school to get the scholarship.

And because new medical schools only have their prelim accreditation since they don't get fully accredited until that first cohort graduates, I'm not really sure if you can go through the HPSP scholarship at these new medical schools. However, take this info with a grain of salt. To be sure, ask a recruiter and find out.

[09:35] Should You Go to a New Medical School or Not?

At the end of the day, a new medical school does offer some excitement. Everybody is there and everybody is learning from each other above and beyond a normal medical school class. Everybody is doing things for the first time. A lot of times, faculty and the leadership of a new medical school is coming from another medical school. So it's not their first rodeo. But it's their first time in this new environment and new faculty and new admins. It's their first cohort. They have new facilities. So you're all there experiencing it together for the first time. And this can be exciting for some people. That, on the other hand, may be too stressful for you.

"At the end of the day, a new medical school does offer some excitement. Everybody is there and everybody is learning from each other."

So you have to look at who you are as a person. What stresses you out? What gives you anxiety? And if a new medical school and all those adventures give you too much anxiety, don't do it. But if you're ready for the ride and the adventure, go ahead and take a look at it.

As long as it's not affecting you personally from an anxiety or stress standpoint, going to a new medical school won't have any big repercussions on the rest of your career. It's all about who you are as a student, the effort that you put into things. It's about the grades and scores you get. But, you have to consider the clinical rotations. What do teaching hospitals look like?

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

HPSP scholarship

 

119: How Important is Volunteering as a Nontrad Premed?

Mar 28, 2018 09:20

Description:

Session 119

When you’re a nontraditional premed student working full-time and going to school doing a DIY postbac, should you be concerned about volunteering and other ECs?

Remember that extracurricular activities as a nontraditional student are hard but they're still important!

If you want a question answered here, go to Nontrad Premed Forum. Meanwhile, if you're considering working with me for personal statements and extracurriculars editing, you can save 15% using the coupon code MARCH2018. And even if you're not applying now, you can still buy this now and save it for later.

[01:17] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a nontrad student who just graduated a few years ago. I've taken two gap years as of right now and I'm currently focusing on taking classes in a DIY postbac and sustaining a full time job. With these two activities, it takes the majority of my time during the week.

However, I understand that medical schools are looking for sustained direct patient interaction throughout the gap year. The issues that with working and schooling, how would it be possible volunteering or getting another job to demonstrate that I really want to be a doctor.

I volunteered at a local hospital for six years and left a couple of years ago to focus on school and work. Now, after listening to the podcast, the AdCom wants continuous direct patient care. I was wondering if I should focus on direct patient care such as getting an EMT job on top of the full time job and postbac. I canot quit my full time job as that job is keeping me afloat for rent, bills, etc.

Should I put more focus on getting these direct patient interaction activities or getting into a part time research assistant physician as possible? How do people here do it?"

[02:34] First, What Do They Mean by "Sustained"?

At a recent premed conference I was at, the Dean of Admissions stated that the two things they're looking for are sustained volunteering and sustained clinical experience.

When the word sustained is used, students freak out and say their job isn't in patient care or some volunteering, or a setting that shows their doing the thing the medical schools want. So they think they need to quit their job or be an EMT or a medical assistant.

But that's not the take home message. "Sustained" may mean for you, five hours a month. It may be ten hours a month. It could be two hours a week. Sustained doesn't mean all consuming of your time. Don't think that's what you have to do all the time. Of course, you need shadowing and clinical experience. And it would be nice if you did some volunteering on the side just to show you're a good person.

"Sustained doesn't mean all consuming of your time. So when you hear sustained, don't freak out and think that's what you have to do all the time."

[04:08] Nontrads Have a Lot on Their Plate

"But as a nontrad student, you typically have other commitments. And that is okay."

Admissions committees understand that. They know that you're working a full time job to put a roof over your head, to put food on the table. They understand that your time commitments are different than a traditional student who's going to school full time, who maybe on scholarship, maybe have student loans, maybe have their parents' bank for their undergrad school. And they have more time for volunteering.

In fact, volunteering is oftentimes built into an undergrad environment or activities as you're a student as part of your fraternity or sorority or a premed club. It's much easier. And the heads of admissions committees and deans of admissions understand what your position is and what your restrictions are as far as time.

If you're working full time, going to school full-time, then doesn't leave a lot of time for other things. But that does that mean you don't do anything? Of course, no. But it just means you do what you can. Don't kill yourself.

So sustained could mean a couple of hours every a couple of weeks. It doesn't mean you get a full time job as an EMT on top of your already full time job. So don't think about that sustained part and think that you have to fill every waking moment with something else. Otherwise, something is going to give - your health, your grades, MCAT prep, etc. Something is going to give.

[06:07] Sustained Means Consistency

When you hear sustained, as a nontrad student, if you're working full time, great. If you can work full time in the medical field and get paid what you need to earn to make a living, great. Do that and get that experience. You don't have to. It would be nice. But don't think you have to surround yourself and engulf yourself in the medical field to show that this is what you want to do.

Again, by sustained, it may mean doing it a couple of hours every couple of weeks or a handful of hours every month. Do that consistently. That's the sustained part. It's consistent, not all-consuming.

"Don't think you have to surround yourself and engulf yourself in the medical field to show that this is what you want to do."

[07:15] Medical School Admissions Understand

Especially that you're a nontrad student, they understand what your commitments are and they understand that you're limiting in what you can do outside the rest of your commitment. They need to understand that if you're doing a good job with your extracurriculars in your application. You're showing to them how busy you are. You're showing all the classes you're taking and the job you have. You're showing everything else that you're cramming into your days. And they will be able to see that. They see the commitment and understand who you are while you're painting that picture.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

personal statements and extracurriculars editing

118: Should I Postpone my MCAT Based on Low Practice Exams?

Mar 21, 2018 10:30

Description:

Today we have a nontrad student working full-time who hasn't taken the prereqs in over a decade not scoring well on his full-length exams. What should he do?

117: Does it Matter if I Don't Finish My Second Degree?

Mar 14, 2018 07:07

Description:

Session 117

Our poster today has already completed one degree and is going back for a DIY postbac and is wondering if leaving her second degree early will be a problem.

If you're a nontrad student, a student who has not gone the normal path of high school to undergrad to medical school. Maybe you started another career, or maybe you started undergrad as a premed student, did poorly, and now want to go back and try to fix what you did wrong, and go to medical school now. Maybe you're a banker or lawyer and you realize that medicine is really your calling. If you have questions, simply go to the Nontrad Premed Forum. That's where we take questions for this podcast.

Our poster today is a student who is asking about completing a second degree. She's already a licensed clinical social worker, and graduated in 2012 with a Master's in Social Work. Now, she wants to be a physician. She's doing her prereqs DIY (Do It Yourself). And she's having an issue with taking those classes as a non-degree seeking student. So should she get a degree or not?

[01:29] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm currently a licensed clinical social worker. I graduated in 2012 with my Master's in Social Work. I have decided to go back to school to be a physician and I'm so excited. I have basically zero science credits in my undergrad and Master's so I'm back in school taking my prerequisites DIY.

A problem I keep running into is being capped on credit hours as a nondegree seeking student. I was thinking of registering as a degree-seeking student so I'm not limited to under nine hours. But I'm nervous it will look bad when I go to apply to medical school if I didn't actually complete the degree. Has anyone else gone this route or does anyone have any insight?"

[02:37] Non-Degree versus Degree Seeking Student: The Pros and Cons

If she continues down her current path, is going to run into this issue with limiting credit hours, then she's going to keep running into a cap. And the school is going to tell you that you can't take any more classes there.

Potentially, you will also run into the problem of financial aid. As a non-degree seeking student, a lot of times, you have to wait until the degree-seeking students register for their classes before you can register for your classes. There are lots of pros and cons to both sides.

"As a non-degree seeking student, you're typically not eligible for financial aid. As a degree-seeking student, you are."

But one of the biggest pros to registering as a degree-seeking student is access to financial aid if you need it. You also have access to registering for classes before everybody else. You're not going to get hit with this cap. Potentially, you get access to advisors.

[03:40] What If You Don't Complete the Degree?

So will it it hurt if you don't go and actually complete the degree? No. You can leave. You already have a degree. You have your Master's, your Bachelor's. You can leave. Do your prereqs and get out.

Where there may be some hiccups is if the school will limit which classes you have to take or which classes you can take. And will they make you take extra classes for your degree?

For instance, before you take a higher level (ex. organic chemistry or biochemistry), are they going to make you take some other general education requirements before you're allowed to take the science classes that you want and need?

"That is where a big hiccup comes. Will they require more classes from you before you can actually take the classes that you want and the classes that you need?"

Outside of this, there really isn't any negative feedback telling that this is a problem. Not finishing a degree if you already have one is not a problem. So take your classes. Get your grades and put them on your transcript and they won't care that it's not part of a completed degree or not. They'd just care that you've taken the classes that show you've done your work and that you're ready to go to medical school. Of course, make sure you've got good grades, MCAT score, etc. Put together a good application and on time. Put together your secondaries on time. there are so many different aspects.

Although the school may not like it, but hey, there are plenty of students dropping out all the time. So what's the difference if you do it? They're getting their money and filling their classes. In the end, it benefits you. So why not do it?

[05:52] What Are Your Thoughts?

If you have questions on you nontraditional journey to becoming a physician, and you want something a little bit more one-on-one than just asking question on the forum, I do 45-minute one-on-one calls with students and get premed advising to learn how to get started there.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

One-on-One Premed Advising

116: Can I Take the MCAT and Apply to Med School with Prereqs?

Mar 7, 2018 10:10

Description:

Session 116

Our question today is from a paramedic firefighter who is now interested in going to medical school but doesn't necessarily want to take the prereqs. Can they?

We take questions directly from the Non Traditional Premed Forum, which you should check out, if you haven't yet so you too can ask whatever questions you might have.

By the way, The OldPreMeds Podcast was mentioned by the AAMC as one of five podcasts to listen to for premeds. The Short Coat Podcast, by the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, has also been mentioned as one of those. Make sure to check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media.com.

[01:23] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I recently had a big wake up call on what I'd like to do as a career. I'm 24 years old and I'm about to finish my undergrad in Emergency Services Administration. I graduate in about two months and realized a few weeks ago that being a firefighter paramedic isn't what I want to do for the rest of my life. I've pretty much spent every free moment I've had in the last two weeks trying to figure out if I'd be able to apply to medical school anytime soon.

I pretty much don't have any of the science prerequisites like a year of biochem, o chem, or physics. I have basic physical science in biology prerequisites along with anatomy and physiology. But that's about it. I'm a paramedic and I've had some really awesome experiences from them.

I've also gotten a good look into the medical field which has sparked my interest in going to medical school and becoming a doctor. I never ever thought about becoming a physician until recently. And I'm pretty far behind because of that. I have a 3.8 GPA and I'm pretty confident I could get a good MCAT score if I put my mind to it. I just don't really know how to perceive from here and if this means I have to do another year or two of school after graduating this semester. Is there any way I can work on getting a good MCAT score and not have to do anymore schooling? Or am I out of luck?"

[02:42] Prereqs and MCAT

Do you have to do the prereqs? Now, you may just be in luck since a lot of medical schools are starting to move away from having required courses for admission to the medical school. But "a lot" is still not a lot. The majority of schools out there still have required coursework to be able to matriculate into medical school.

The required coursework also helps give you a foundational knowledge for the MCAT. You may not know a lot about the MCAT, saying you're confident you can get a good MCAT score if you put your mind to it. Nevertheless, I have seen students walk into the MCAT practice tests without much prep and do very well. And you could be one of them. All this being said, you may not need all of the prereqs needed to do well on the MCAT as long as you prep for it appropriately.

"A lot of medical schools are starting to move away from having required courses for admission to the medical school."

[04:08] Reaching Out to Medical Schools

The biggest thing you need to do here is to reach out to some medical schools you're interested in applying to. Reach out and tell them your story. And then ask them what they think you should do. Ask them whether they have requirements for classes to get into medical school. You could either get on their website and call. Or you can get access to the MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements), which costs about $30 to get access to it for the year. Browse through the website to see if this is something appropriate to you. At the end of the day, the fastest path forward is to take the MCAT.

"Look at the schools that don't have required courses and see if you can plan a course of action from that information."

[05:34] Where Prereqs Can Help You

Prereqs don't help you in medical school. But they can definitely help you on the MCAT. You may not need the help but they can help you. The majority of schools out there still are going to require courses. So the best chances of getting into medical school will mean going and doing some of these prereqs. This could mean doing just a year of prereqs. You could go start school as soon as possible. Take a year's worth of prereqs. Take the MCAT next March-May. Apply to medical school in 2019 to start in 2020. Then work on the rest of the prereqs in between applying and actually matriculating. Again, you don't have to have all of the prereqs before you apply.

"Most medical schools do not require you have your prereqs done before you apply, only before you matriculate - before you start medical school and after you've been accepted."

This is the course I would recommend since those courses are going to help you on the MCAT. There may be some help in medical school but at the core of it, the help it does in medical school is just that it allows you to learn how to be a student in some of those harder science courses. Then once you get to medical school, you realize that you really didn't study that hard because medical school is just a whole nother level.

[07:33] Final Recommendations

Start to take some of the prereqs. Plan on taking the MCAT earlier in 2019. Apply in June of 2019 and start medical school in 2020. It may put a little delay on things. But start this very minute.

A lot of schools are starting to move away from those prereqs. But they're helping you with the MCAT. They help you learn how to be a good student, which you need to do in medical school obviously. You may not be able to use the materials again, but the study habits and the skills you learned from that are going to be invaluable once you start medical school.

Moreover, you have to study and adjust to the pace of medical school. But your skills will still come in handy,

Links:

MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements)

The Short Coat Podcast

MedEd Media.com

Non Traditional Premed Foru

115: Can I Take Classes at Another School While in a Postbac?

Feb 28, 2018 07:38

Description:

Session 115

Today we have an interesting question from a student who is in a postbac but is looking at taking a class during the summer at another school. Is it possible?

This is actually a very common problem that both traditional and nontraditional students have.

Also, check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media to help you on your premed and medical school journey.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask on the OldPreMeds Forum. Visit our Facebook group at The Premed Hangout and join an amazing group of almost 4,500 students.

[01:45] The OldPreMeds Question of the Week

"Wanting to know if I'll look poorly if I'm enrolled in a postbac program which offers limited courses in the summer but does offer Gen Chem 1 and 2, which I need to take. However, I commute one and half hours to my postbac program and was wondering if this summer, I take the Chem courses and another course at a college closer to my home, not a community college. Would this look bad to medical schools in the future. I also have three other transcripts from my undergrad and move often during undergrad. So I'm trying to avoid more transcripts, if necessary, in case this looks poor on my application. Any ideas?

It would be cheaper to take the courses at a school near me this summer and I could possible take more than one, which would help me get more prereqs done faster."

[02:35] Do It Yourself Postbacs

So this student is doing a postbac at a school which offers the classes that he needs to take. But he cannot commute one and a half hours to the postbac and take the courses closer at his college. But he already has three other transcripts from undergrad. So, why would you do a postbac that's far away when you have a college next to you?

This is a dilemma for a lot of postbacs. A lot of the students will look at a formal postbac and think it's better. There are some reasons to do formal postbacs and there are some reasons not to do them.

If you have a college right next to you that has all the courses that you need to take and it's easy enough for you to take them there, take them there. This is called the Do-It-Yourself postbac. You just need to take the classes at a university. If you need the structure and premed advising and MCAT prep that a formal postbac may offer you, then check and do it. It's going to cost a lot more money, but check it out and do it.

"If you need the structure and premed advising and MCAT prep that a formal postbac may offer you, then check and do it. It's going to cost a lot more money, but check it out and do it."

[03:44] Too Many Transcripts

This student already has a lot of transcripts that may be a concern in the future. There may be one dean or director of admissions out there who looks at that and would question the number of transcripts. Why did this student move so much from school to school?

Do all transcripts look good? Are the grades good? I assume no, otherwise you won't be doing a postbac unless you're a non-science major going through undergrad.

"If the grades are bad and you're moving a lot, there are some questions that pop up."

If your grades are bad and moving a lot, that could lead to some questions popping up. It may not prevent you from getting interviews but you better be prepared to talk about it. You have to be prepared at talking about anything in your application.

[04:50] Taking Courses at a Different College

So if you want to take courses at a college closest to your home, then do it. Just make sure though that you have a solid reason for doing it and if it comes up, go ahead. The core of everything you do in this process is if you can explain it, go ahead. If you are okay with the fact that there may be somebody out there who scratches their head and says why you're taking postbac at this school when they know the program near your school also offers the same class.

It will look different if you took the chemistry courses at your postbac and got Ds and then you went to college and you got As. That actually raises more red flags, thinking you couldn't handle the curriculum in one spot. You probably went to a different school where you knew somebody and you got As. Just saying that this may raise more concern.

"But if you're getting As everywhere you're going, then keep getting As. It's the GPA that's going to matter."

The scrutiny of class by class and transcript by transcript and college by college is going to be likely minimal. They could ask you about it.But the fact you're going to a four-year university and not a community college does help.

Links:

MedEd Media

OldPreMeds Forum

The Premed Hangout

114: Changing Careers with ADHD, Focusing on GPA and More

Feb 21, 2018 09:43

Description:

Session 114

Our student today is changing careers and has some very specific questions about whether he should put ADHD in his application and what he should focus on.

Questions in this podcast are taken from the OldPreMeds Forum. Register to join a collaborative community of old premeds. Also, check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media as we hope to help you on this journey to medicine.

[01:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm 25. I started college out of high school and went one year. I then did a two-year church service mission. When I returned home, I started real estate and worked as a realtor for a year and a half. I got married. I decided that real estate wasn't for me and went back to school. I went for another year. Those two years were not good. Some of it was online. Some in person. Two full semesters, I gave up on. I completely failed. The in-person semesters, I did okay, getting a mix of A's, B's and C's. Around that time, my daughter was born. I like working with people so I started looking for a way to provide for my family while working. I got a job at a youth correctional facility. I worked in corrections for two years. I felt strongly that I should be doing more. I felt strongly about becoming a doctor.

So while I worked in youth corrections, I began online schooling once again. This time, only taking as many classes as I could handle and seeing a psychiatrist for ADHD. Being diagnosed with ADHD and medicated has changed a ton for me. I attended another semester online. Both semesters, I did well. So I sat down with my wife and concocted a plan. My wife is incredible and super supportive.

In carrying out this plan, I did one more semester online and saving money. We've put our house up for sale and moved to a little apartment to attend my university full time. Here's where I am right now. I'm currently in my first semester back into school. My previous earned semester credits were 52, with only a few of those being science GPA. I am an interdisciplinary studies, biochemistry major. I chose this because correlates with most prereqs and gives me the fluidity. I'm almost to the halfway point next week of this semester. I'm doing 14 credits and doing well. I also feel very confident. My medication helps and the application of daily planning and setting small, achievable goals is helpful. I will graduate in two years and take the MCAT in 2020. I am confident that I can salvage my cumulative GPA to get it above a 3.0. And there's no reason I shouldn't be able to do better than a 3.5 in the sciences, seeing as I haven't hardly taken any.

I have submitted applications over the past few days for volunteering at my local hospital to be a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for the local county. And then to the local nursing facility for acute care. I'm not looking to do all of these at once but I'm trying to cast a wide net.

As part of my upper trend and nontrad status, at application, should I explain my ADHD diagnosis, and improvement, medications. I want to go into Family Medicine. Tons of rural areas need physicians. So I know this is a strength. How do I use that to my advantage?

I worked in a youth correctional facility for two years. Approximately 4500 hours. I administered meds daily and my interactions with the incarcerated individuals were all treatment-focused, working on anger management, addiction recovery, and cognitive behavioral therapy. We were way more than just prison guards. We were directly involved in treatment programs. How do I best frame that on the applications?

How much should I focus on the extracurriculars? Or should I just focus on repairing my cumulative GPA and killing my science GPA?"

[05:00] Mentioning Your Health Condition on Application

Personally, I wouldn't mention it for the reason that there are many reasons to not have good grades and to have good grades. Focus on the now, that you realized you want to be a physician. You're now more focused because you have a goal.

"You have a plan now to be a physician. And with that plan, comes focus. With that focus, comes better grades."

[06:00] Choosing Family Medicine in a Rural Setting

The question is, are you in a rural area now? Many students will try to pitch the fact that they want to serve the underserved, without any examples of that in their application. So if you're from a rural area and you're saying you want to go back to a rural area, then that makes sense. If you are not from a rural area, and you're saying you want to work in a rural area, then that doesn't really make sense. Especially, if you don't have any extracurriculars that show that you like being in rural areas.

With the personal statement, you talk about why you want to be a doctor, and not necessarily what you want to do as a physician. But if you can include something at the end about what you hope to accomplish as a physician, then there's some room in there. And the rest of application should also look like that. There has to be some volunteering that shows you've been involved in rural areas. You can also have that in your extracurriculars. So there are ways to add it without overdoing it in your personal statement.

[07:18] Clinical Experience Working in a Youth Correctional Facility

Working in a youth correctional facility and working on anger management, addiction recovery, etc. are great examples of clinical experience. You can divide it up and say half of your time was spent more on prison guard roles and half of your time spent in more addiction recovery and direct patient care, etc. So you can have the same activity in multiple spots and categorize it as different things. It's great clinical experience and you can talk about this in your application.

[08:05] How Much Should You Focus on Extracurriculars?

Right now, your goal is to focus on GPA. If you feel like you have time to add something in, what you should be continually doing over the course of time is consistent shadowing and consistent volunteering. You don't have to do a ton, but show consistency.

"Be involved in healthcare. Be involved in your community. that consistency is something that's very important to admissions committees."

Links:

OldPreMeds Forum

MedEd Media

113: How Do I Choose a Major as a Nontraditional Premed Student?

Feb 14, 2018 11:24

Description:

Session 113

How should you choose your degree? What if you aren't sure you're 100% committed to becoming a physician? What if you doubt yourself? What should you do?

By the way, I have a new book coming out called The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement. You can preorder it now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Also, check out Next Step Test Prep if you need some MCAT prep help. Use the promo code MSHQ to save 10% from their services.

Questions being answered here on this podcast are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum.

[01:40] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"How do you finally come upon choosing a major? My main plan as of now is to apply to medical school. But I'm still early on and knocking out my prereqs at a community college in California. I understand that I can major in anything I want and to choose what I am passionate about. But I'm asking more about realistic logistics than just passion, as I am passionate in many things.

I am somebody who tends to want to do it all and not be pigeon-holed. So choosing a major for me is difficult. Shadowing is something I have done. And being a physician is amazing. But I also want to keep my options open.

A part of me wants to major in Kinesiology, Exercise Science as it sounds the most interesting to me. And it will allow me to do physical therapy or PA if those end up being more appealing to me in the next couple of years. The Kinesiology major prereqs involve Microbiology, Anatomy, Physiology, etc. But that's also a lot more classes I have to do. I've been considering nursing recently as a major as that would allow me to have an employable job for a year until I reapply, in case I don't get into medical school whereas Kinesiology may not.

If medical school is the ultimate goal, a part of me says why take all the extra classes in a Kinesiology major? Instead, do something in a Human Biology major that will get me to my ultimate destination faster. Every school and every major has different classes required so I'm becoming extremely anxious. I'm just sick and tired having to try to line up all my ducks in a row to be able to choose from different majors."

[03:45] Is This is Really Right for You?

Just based on the post here, the student doesn't really know whether they want to be a physician. That's why they're trying to leave open as many doors as possible. Or they could be scared they won't get into medical school so they therefore need a fallback plan.

So two options here: either they don't know medicine is right for them or they lack the confidence to know that this is what they want and it will happen.

"If you're not sure if this is right for you, take the time to shadow nurses, PA's, physical therapists. You need to figure out what you want."

[05:30] Anybody Has a Shot!

Now if you're restricting your forward movement because you're unsure if you're able to get into medical school, then stop it right now. Anybody, almost, has a chance to get into medical school.

"The only people who do not get into medical schools are the ones who stop trying."

If this is what you want to do, then figure out a way to do it. If this is what you want to do, there is no backup plan. There is no "realistic logistics." Again, I am big on not having a plan B. Specifically for this, when you are going down this path.

Nevertheless, if you are undecided if this is what you want to do, then figure it out. And once you've figured it out, go towards that 100%.

"Do not have a Plan B if this is what you want to do."

[07:00] Choosing a Major and Choosing Schools

Major in whatever you want. Don't major in Nursing unless you know you want to be a nurse. The goal of this process is to figure out that this is what you want to do. And then go full steam ahead.

Medical schools have different requirements. But the majority of schools are all the same. If you highlight the fundamentals, they're basically the same. Other schools may have some random ones, but it shouldn't be that hard. And it shouldn't be causing you that much stress.

Again, the stress is coming from not knowing what you want to do, or you lack the confidence in that. Lastly, commit to doing it before moving on.

"You don't have to be a genius to get into medical school. You just need to work hard. Put your mind to it everyday and work hard."

Links:

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement. You can preorder it now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Nontrad Premed Forum

Next Step Test Prep

112: Can I Get into Med School With a Low GPA?

Feb 7, 2018 09:08

Description:

Session 112

Our poster today is wondering if she can get into medical school after starting her undergrad poorly. What should you do if you have a low science GPA?

Questions answered here on this podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forums over at Medical School HQ. Check it to join our collaborative community and ask away!

[01:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

"I'm a 35-year-old other stay-at-home mother of three who has recently developed an interest in becoming a doctor. Health has always been an interest of mine and over the last year, I've been working to start a health ministry at my husband's church. He's a pastor.

As I've worked on the health ministry project, I've been frustrated about the limitations of the enterprise. While I understand the liability issues that limit a health ministry, I personally want to do more than encourage people to take their health seriously and visit their doctors. When I thought about what I really wanted to do, I realized it sounds like a doctor. I want to do family practice and psychiatry and work in an underserved rural area. My husband is from Appalachia, and wants to continue serving here. So our interest mesh well.

My husband is supportive because the truth is I'm really not happy being a stay-at-home mom. I thought that is what I wanted but I'm really bored and feel like I'm doing it for the wrong reasons. The problem is my really low science GPA from undergrad, like less than a 2.0. I went to a college known for difficult grading while having undiagnosed ADHD, no stay skills, little direction, and crippling depression and social anxiety. After that first bad semester, I just kind of spiraled and never recovered enough to complete my bio major.

Not premed, I wanted to be an ecologist. I switched to History and graduated with a 2.77 GPA. I also have a Master's in Applied Linguistics with a 3.86 GPA. But from what I've read, that won't count too much.

I live really close to an affordable state college and have my mother-in-law at the ready for child care if I choose to go back for a do-it-yourself postbac. I'm registered for a freshman bio course this Spring and plan to ask my family physician if I can shadow him for a day once I can get the baby on a bottle.

I want to make sure that I'm not romanticizing the profession and that is something that I can really see myself doing when i embark on more education. I'm just worried that my undergraduate performance is so bad that there's no redeeming it."

[03:20] Redeeming Yourself!

Yes, you can redeem yourself. But having graduated from History, that may mean you didn't have that much science credits. Looking at that, it's not a lot so if you were to do a do-it-yourself postbac or a formal postbac, you're strictly going to take science classes. That's the whole point - to show that you can handle science.

When you take those science courses, your denominator is going to grow. Hopefully, you're getting great grades so your credits and the score you get from those credits are going to go up as well.

"You can move the needle a ton when you are starting out with a little bit of science credits."

This is very different than a student who completed a biology degree with a 2.0. A lot of their classes are going to count towards their science GPA. And it's going to take much more work to move the needle for that science GPA.

[05:10] Looking at an Upward Trend

You started off poorly with a science GPA and then you finish as high as possible with a 4.0 GPA. That strong upward trend is very powerful. There are some schools that said they look at the last 20 hours of science to see if they're academically qualified to come to their medical school.

So if you take 20 hours of science credits and you get a 4.0, that one medical school now sees you as a 4.0 student.

Again, it's redeemable 100%. I've talked with Chad on The Premed Years Podcast. He's a student who did poorly in undergrad and in a postbac. Finally, he realized what was causing his problems and then went to a special master's program and crushed it. He's now a medical student.

So anything is redeemable. I also talked Cain on The Premed Years Podcast. He started off school with a low GPA and was academically dismissed from his undergrad. Several years later, he realized he wanted to go to medical school. He started again at a community college and worked his way up to a four-year university. And he is now a medical student.

[06:50] Is Medicine Right for You?

The fact you're asking that question and shadowing a physician to see if you're romanticizing this is huge. Some students do this sort of inquiry and reflection. They think it's cool and they jump head in first.

"The fact you're seeking that out to determine if this is what you want to do is phenomenal."

Moving forward, your goal is to get as much support as you can from the in-laws, from your husband. Go back to school and get A's. Get some shadowing and clinical experience. Get A's. Do well on the MCAT. Get A's. Then apply to medical school. Put your story together and a great personal statement.

Check out personalstatementbook.com which is available for preorder and it will be released in August 2018. The eBook should be out in April 2018. Check out the site to get notified as to when it's ready for sale.

Again, get the right extracurriculars. Interview well. This is very doable. If this is what you want, just put your mind to it.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

Interview with Chad on The Premed Years Podcast

Interview with Cain on The Premed Years Podcast

111: Should I Delay My Application Another Year?

Jan 31, 2018 08:38

Description:

Session 111

When you decide to go to med school a little later, you may not have the shadowing and clinical experience you want, should you delay your application?

Please check out all our other weekly podcasts on the MedEd Media Network. The MCAT Podcast is in collaboration with Next Step Test Prep. The Premed Years Podcast shares general premed advice. Specialty Stories features physicians and why they chose their specialty, what they like, don't like, their typical days, etc.

In case you don't know, OldPreMeds is a community. The Nontrad Premed Forum is where we take questions for this podcast. If you have questions you want answered, drop them over at the forums and ask away!

[01:45] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I decided to delay med school for a bit because I didn't really know if it's truly what I wanted. Through some hard thought and introspection, I've decided to pursue medical school. My situation as it stands: I graduated in 2016 with a BS in Molecular Biology, 3.55 GPA, with a C in OChem, with a focus on Microbiology, minors in Bioengineering, Chemistry, and full prereqs.

I've been working full time for the past year in a clinical diagnostic lab as a tech of rare genetic disorders. I signed up to take the MCAT in May of this year However, I'm not sure if I can garner the clinical experience necessary to be a competitive applicant this cycle. Applying in 2018 to start in 2019. As it stands, I have about 35 hours of volunteering in an ER and 8 hours of shadowing and some medically related extracurriculars. I really believe in the next year or so, I can get more clinical experience through my shadowing at community outreach programs, clinics, and maybe volunteering at a hospice center while also working full time.

I have four solid months to study for the MCAT and get some more shadowing and volunteer experience. But I'm really confused on whether or not this next year can make me even more competitive of an applicant.

I just don't know if waiting another year will hurt or help me. The physician I shadowed mentioned that waiting to apply never helps and that clinical exposure is absolutely a key for a strong application, alongside a great MCAT. I'm really at a crossroads, and heavily considering delaying my MCAT day so I can study more."

[03:40] Not Prepared for the MCAT

First of all, everybody likes to think that a C in OChem or Biochem or Chemistry or whatever is the death. Know that this is not going to hurt you. You have a great GPA at 3.55.

So the whole questions is whether to wait another year because you don't have enough shadowing and volunteering experience.

Where this fear is coming from is not being prepared for the MCAT. And guess what. Nobody actually feels prepared for the MCAT. A solid four months is plenty for most people studying for the MCAT as long as you're efficient with your time. So you should be able to do it.

"Nobody feels prepared for the MCAT."

[05:25] Clinical Experience and Shadowing

Do you have enough clinical experience and shadowing? If you were to apply right this minute, with the hours you have, the answer is no. You don't have enough time.

"Lack of clinical experience can be a big killer in applications."

Additionally, when shadowing or volunteering in an ER, is it truly clinical experience? Make sure you're spending your time wisely there.

So before you submit your applications, you actually have a lot of time where you can get 4-5 hours every week or two to start adding hours into your application, and into your bottom line hours.

[06:22] Don't Wait to Apply

There's a lot that needs to be done in this period of time - personal statements, ECs, letters of recommendation, studying for the MCAT, working full time, and spending some hours every week or two to get that clinical experience and shadowing. You need to have those hours.

Now, if you were to apply right now, RIGHT NOW is not enough. But by the time you apply early June 2018, you will have enough hours. So don't delay your application. Study for the MCAT. Take it. Do well on it. Apply early. Get those hours and move forward.

Don't delay because your not ready for the MCAT. If you're not planning to take the MCAT until May or whenever  and it's four months before that date, of course you don't feel ready. You're scared to take the MCAT.

"You'll never be 100% ready. But through a solid plan, you can become prepared."

Figure out a road map to doing well on the MCAT. Plan out clinical experience and shadowing that you can go do right now. Build up those hours. And apply and be successful.

Links:

MedEd Media

Next Step Test Prep

The Premed Years Podcast

Specialty Stories

Nontrad Premed Forum

110: Should I Get a Second Degree or Just Take More Classes?

Jan 24, 2018 06:42

Description:

Session 110

Our student this week is questioning if she should delay graduation vs studying for another degree. She's trying to raise her GPA to be more competitive.

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement will be out in 2018. Go to personalstatementbook.com and sign up to be notified when it comes out!

We take questions from the Nontrad Premed Forum and answer them here. Go over to our forums page and sign up to be part of our community.

Our poster for today is asking whether or not they should apply to a second degree or just stay in school longer.

This is actually a very common questions that comes up among nontrads, especially for someone who is pseudo-nontrad - still in school but made a last second decision to enter medical school.

[01:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

"I'm currently in my last year of Biology and have recently decided to apply to medical school. My GPA is not as high as I want to be. When applying to the school I'm in right now, I had one year worth of transfer credits. So I entered basically in the second year of my program and spent four years in this program, pursuing prerequisites to graduate from the Biology program as well as pursuing many psychology courses due to personal interest.

I decided a couple of weeks ago to apply for a second Bachelor's Degree to both increase my GPA and to pursue my interest. This way, if I stay longer as an undergraduate, I can explain it to the medical school committee that I was pursuing two degrees. Rather than staying longer in my current program of five plus years to take more courses to increase my GPA. I have contacted a couple of schools. Some of them say that they count all undergraduate course grades into account when calculating cumulative GPA. Some say they only take into account grades from one degree.

I don't know what to do after finding this out. Should I still pursue the Psych degree or should I graduate later with only one bachelor's degree?"

[03:05] Do Schools Only Look at One Degree?

When you enter the information into the application services, every grade goes in. It's not separated by degree or anything else. Credits are put in there. Fails, pass/fails, withdrawals, etc. Everything goes in.

"Whether or not you get a second degree, it doesn't matter."

It sounds you're taking the second degree to avoid the question of why it took you so log to graduate. And that's not a problem either. You could technically graduate now and just take more classes afterwards. This is considered a postbac. And you can do this after already getting your first degree.

[04:20] Doing a DIY Postbac

As a non-degree-seeking postbac student at a large university, this could pose a challenge for you since schools will usually give preference to degree-seeking students. That said, there are ways around this by claiming that you're going to get a second degree, then you drop out afterwards. So it's a cat and mouse game as a do-it-yourself postbac.

"Usually there are bigger hurdles as a non-degree seeking postbac student at a large university because they will give preference to the degree-seeking students."

[04:45] Prepare Well

At the end of the day it doesn't really matter. Take the classes you need. Raise your GPA as much as you want. Do well on the MCAT. And apply to medical school. Write your personal statement. Check out Ryan's personal statement book and get notified when it comes up.

Prepare for interviews. And also check out The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. Know how to impress medical school admissions committee for you to get in.

[05:15] Get Your GPA Up

After four years of school, that denominator is so big. You have so many credits that they needle doesn't move much when you take more classes. If you're at a 3.3, trying to get at a 3.4, it's probably not worth it. Check if you have a strong upward trend. If so, you might not really need more classes.

Lastly, if you have questions about your nontraditional journey to medical school, go to the Medical School HQ Forums. And if you're a nontrad premed, go check out its Nontrad Premed Forum. Join the community and ask a questions. Collaborate, not compete.

Links:

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview

Nontrad Premed Forum

Medical School HQ Forums

ryan@medicalschoolhq.net

 

109: What Kind of Job Should I Get Before Applying to Med School?

Jan 17, 2018 10:42

Description:

Session 109

With a current full-time job, kids, and a roof to put over her family's head, this nontrad premed is wondering what she can do to get more exposure to medicine.

Also check out all our other podcasts on the MedEd Media Network including The MCAT Podcast, Specialty Stories, The Premed Years, and Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A. Today, we're taking a question directly from the OldPreMeds forum. Check out all our other forums on the site if you want to ask some questions as well answer some of them. Join the community!

[01:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Our poster today is a question from a 30-year-old married mom. She has worked in various non health office jobs over the last several years and is looking to go back to medical school. She says,

"Since it will take me several semesters to complete all of those necessary chemistry classes in succession, I'm looking for some advice on non prerequisite steps to take between now and applying to medical school.

My current full time employment is an office job in digital marketing with no seniority but some scheduling flexibility. I would love to get a headstar  t on gaining health care experience outside of volunteering. But I'm unsure of what would make the most sense. Maximizing present income is a not a huge priority. As a parent of young children, my time is in short supply. I also do not think I currently have the qualifications or relevant experience that medical scribing, admin assisting, etc. roles would require.

Would it be worthwhile to seek additional training in online programs such as a certified medical admin assistant course? I am intrigued by the idea of working as a medical scribe while completing my prerequisites. But I don't know what I can do to make myself an attractive candidate for such a position at this point. Should I even try to get such a job."

[03:35] What Job Should You Take During Your Interim Year?

First, listen to this podcast. Second, join a great community at OldPreMeds and join the forums there. The community is there for you to ask questions as well as to learn and collaborate.

So what can you do during your gap year?

Look at something where you're doing something fun, say 10-20 hours a week. Then you're doing also something medically-related and research- and clinical experience-related for the other 20 hours a week or more. It doesn't have to be an all or none game.

"It's not a binary choice. There are a lot of in-between options that don't require making a sacrifice to cut one thing out to only do something else."

[05:34] Jobs for Premeds

Medical scribing is a premed job. That said, you don't need any experience to get a job as a medical scribe. The scribe company will train you. They'll give you information about medical terminology or how to take notes and listen to physicians, and translate what they're saying so you can put in the notes. You will be trained to do all this.

"Medical scribing is great. It's a minimum wage job. If you're able to work part-time in your current office job and part-time as a medical scribe, that's a win-win."

Medical admin is a non clinical position. Don't even bother doing it. Medical assistant is an amazing job since it's a great clinical experience. Again, it's a lower wage position. Typically, you need training to do it. For online courses, just look around and see how much the courses cost and how long they take to complete. But first, look at potential employers and ask them. Tell them you're interested in being a medical assistant (not a medical student, otherwise this will send a red flag to them that you're leaving soon so they might not hire you). Ask those questions and get to the answers so you will have the confidence to move forward in an online program.

You can also become an EMT. This is one of those things that require training so you need to take a course to become an EMT. It usually takes 200-250 hours to get the course. It's a great clinical experience though.

[08:00] Is a Clinical Job Required?

"You don't have to do a clinical job before you start medical school."

If you're enjoying your job in digital marketing and you have a flexible schedule that works for you, that's okay. Just make sure you're also doing things like shadowing, clinical experience, etc. Again, no need to do this full-time. Do it once a week or every other week. Get a day's worth of hours and that's already a lot of time which would add up over the course of 1-2 years.

However, there are some schools that might look at you not leaving your job as your non-commitment to medicine or you would have otherwise left your job. Sure, there are some people on the admissions committee that may think that. But do what you think is right for you, your family, and your specific situation.

Lastly, listen to this week's episode on The Premed Years where we talk about the Impostor Syndrome, something that is common in the premed world.

Links:

MedEd Media Network

Nontrad Premed Forum

108: Should I Change My Major to Something More 'Premed'?

Jan 10, 2018 10:14

Description:

Session 108

Today, we have a student who is worried that her current major isn't preparing herself for medical school and is wondering if she should change majors.

The questions on this podcast are taken directly from the OldPreMeds forums. If you haven't yet, check it out and join the community. Ask your questions. Collaborate with each other and have a good time! Also check out our whole host of other podcasts on the MedEd Media Network.

[01:58] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a Texas resident. I will be applying in-state. I recently spoke to my premed advisor, a very stand up guy who genuinely wants his student to pursue medical school. He informed me that the school is rolling out a new BS Biochemistry degree that is tailored to premeds in Fall 2018. But that I could switch to it now in the Spring of 2018. And my graduation target which follows the Spring 2019 would not be delayed.

My predicament:

I'm currently enrolled as a bio major. Unfortunately, this degree plan at my school offers very little in the way of preparing a student for the MCAT, much less a future as a physician. Physiology, immunology, and microbiology are considered majors electives and are not required for the degree. Often, these classes are only offered once a year and fill up within five minutes of the Seniors being given priority signup. Essentially, I'm in a degree that offers classes such as biogeography, bioevolution, vertebrate history, plant taxonomy, and almost no human biology classes to speak of. Even my gen bio classes taught me little more than the basic dichotomous keys and cladograms. This is very disheartening as these classes do not pertain, in the least, to what I wish to accomplish as I complete my bachelor's degree. I have no interest in these classes other than the relatively easily obtained high GPA they offer.

The bio department here is much more focused on their grad students. I think research would be better found as a biochem student. These classes are "easy" relative to me when compared to the classes in the biochemistry degree. I've taken OChem so far and loved it. I am strong when it comes to concepts but mathematically, I probably have a mild form of dyscalculia. So the idea of of taking heavy math classes concerns me. However, the idea of taking classes that pertain to the area of science that actually interests me is exciting.

My question: do I risk a hit in GPA from PChem, Calc2, etc. for classes that interest me and might/will be useful on the MCAT and make a future as a physician? Or do I stay in biology memorizing the taxonomy of the xyz and his many cousins?"

[05:01] Is It Preparing Your for Medical School? for the MCAT?

None of the classes you're taking are going to prepare you for medical school. None of the classes are going to prepare you for life as a physician. These classes are just there to prepare you to take the MCAT.

Things like anatomy and physiology will help you obviously. But biochemistry in medical school is so much more in depth that biochemistry in undergrad.

So don't think from a standpoint of whether this is going to prepare you for medical school.

There are a lot of students out there who take Humanities as a major. And they take the prereqs and they do great on the MCAT.

"You don't need the hard sciences that are all around the human body to do well on the MCAT. It's not necessary."

[06:24] What Do You Want?

Ultimately, the question is what do you want? Don't worry about MCAT prep. You can take the prereqs to do well on the MCAT. Don't worry about how it's going to prepare you for medical school. Don't worry how it's going to prepare you for being a physician.

What do you want? Are you interested in biochemistry? Is that fun for you? Are you going to be excited to get up and study that? It may be harder so are you going to be okay with that? Are you up for the challenge? If yes, go for it. It may take a hit on your GPA or it may not because you like it so much so you put in the extra effort and do great.

At the end of the day, the question is - what do you want?  And not how it's going to prepare you or help you on the MCAT.

The same goes for almost every choice along this journey. When it comes to research, what do you want? Don't think about whether it's going to prepare you for medical school or if it's going to help you get into medical school. Go ahead and try it to see if it's interesting for you. If you're not interested, don't do it. So it's not that big of a deal. Although there are a few schools that "require" it (University of Utah for instance), out side of that, don't worry about it.

"There are plenty of students out there who apply and don't have research and doing well."

[08:20] To Change Majors or Not?

At the end of the day, understand that the decisions you're making most of the time aren't going to have any big effect on your ability to get into medical school or to be a good medical student, or to be a great physician. The decisions that most students worry about don't matter. And they focus too much on them and they stop focusing on the big picture. And this is one of those questions.

"The decisions that most students worry about don't matter. And they focus too much on them and they stop focusing on the big picture."

Links:

www.medicalschoolhq.net/forums

MedEd Media Network

107: Should I Apply to Medical School This Year or Wait?

Jan 3, 2018 08:44

Description:

Session 107

Our poster today is trying to figure out what schedule will work best for them. Should they apply this year or next based on the prereqs they have remaining?

OldPreMeds.org has now been moved to MedicalSchoolHQ.net, but the community is still here and thriving.

You are not alone in this journey!

Ryan answers questions directly from the forums at MedicalSchoolHQ.net, specifically for nontrads. If you happen to be a traditional student, go check out the Premed Forum as well.

[02:47] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm three classes away from meeting the requirement of pre-requisite classes - OChem 1. OChem 2, and BioChem. I'm contemplating applying to medical school in June of 2018. OChem 1 in the Spring of 2018, OChem 2 in the Summer of 2018, and BioChem in the Fall of 2018.

I'm planning on applying in June of 2018, possibly, which means I have to take the MCAT in the Spring of 2018. I know I'll be lacking the foundational knowledge for the MCAT without these three courses. So I'm thinking about taking an MCAT prep course in the Spring. Is it premature to apply in 2018? Should I wait another year to apply? What are the pros and cons of each decision?"

[03:40] Let's Start with the Fundamentals: Taking Your Prereqs

A common misconception about applying to medical school is having all of your prereqs before applying to medical school. You don't have to. rather, you need to have all of you prereqs done before matriculating into medical school. This means before starting medical school.

"You don't have to have all of your prereqs before applying to medical school. You need to have all of your prereqs done before matriculating into medical school."

[04:15] Should You Take the MCAT Without Prereqs?

Nor do you need to have all of your prereqs done before taking the MCAT obviously. Take a good listen to The MCAT Podcast for more MCAT prep tips. But in the podcast, Ryan and Bryan from Next Step Test Prep always advise students to only try to self-study one subject as you're preparing for the MCAT. This includes whether or not you're taking a prep course.

You're still going to have to learn all of the foundational knowledge. The MCAT prep course can help organize it for you. But you can do it on your own using study tools and books for the MCAT. So that is not the biggest problem.

The biggest problem, however, is that when you're preparing for the MCAT, you need to have this foundational knowledge to make the best of the MCAT. But if you're missing three of them, then it might be hard to do well on the MCAT.

"The best way to prepare for the MCAT is to do well in you prereq classes."

It's possible to do well. And you'll be taking a risk. So Ryan's best advice is to delay the MCAT until the Spring of 2019. Take the classes. Start preparing for the MCAT. Make sure you're doing your extracurriculars and doing things like shadowing and clinical experience. Then apply to medical school in June of 2019.

[06:30] No Cramming! Take Your Time

Don't try to cram it all in and force yourself to self-study all of these classes while still taking your prereqs. The goal is still to do well in your prereqs. And if you're cramming everything into the short period of time, something is likely going to give. It could be your application quality or your GPA because your grades are going to slip. Or it can be your MCAT score since you're not well-prepared for it. The safest bet is to wait.

Wait a year. Take the MCAT in a year. Take your classes. Make sure you're set up for those. Take the time to do some shadowing and clinical experience. And wait a year to apply.

Again, don't try to cram everything in "just because." In an ideal world, you don't have a gap year. But this is not an ideal situation to take the MCAT and still missing three courses. Take your time. Relax and prepare for 2019.

"Don't try to cram everything in just because. In an ideal world, you don't have a gap year. But this is not an ideal situation to take the MCAT."

Links:

OldPreMed forums at MedicalSchoolHQ.net

Premed Forum

The MCAT Podcast

Next Step Test Prep

106: Should I Take an MCAT Prep Course?

Dec 27, 2017 10:51

Description:

Session 106

The MCAT is one of the biggest beasts on the premed path. Our poster today is questioning if they should take a prep course to help them with their score.

[02:24] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I just finished up my prereqs, or most anyway, going into study for Spring (April/May) MCAT while working full-time. I'm pretty overwhelmed with the course options out there and would love to hear feedback on what to invest in time and money-wise. Courses I've taken: Bio 1 and 2, Gen Chem 1 and 2, Physics 1 and 2, OChem 1 and 2, Biochem 1 semester, Cell and Molecular Bio 1 semester.”

Note: One thing that I noticed missing right off the bat is Psychology and Sociology.

"I would be interested in a live online course or self-paced course. But my hesitation is the course alone will take 6-9 hours of study time out of my week, which is significant given my work and commute schedule. However, I don't know where to start making my won schedule."

[04:10] Study Time

A good course will give you the structure, the schedule, to make sure you're prepared for your test. That said, there are a couple ways to go.

First, listen to The MCAT Podcast. In one of the episodes, we covered things like you should take the course or not. We also covered study groups and how good they can be. Maybe you can find a study group to help you without a course.

"At the end of the day, a course is only as good as the time and effort that you put into it."

The comment this poster made, specifically, "my hesitation is the course alone will take 6-9 hours of study time out of my week," seems like if you invested in a course, you're not going to really invest your time in the course because you're going to be worried about something else.

[05:10] Next Step Test Prep MCAT Course

Nevertheless, a course is a great investment if you are going to work with a course. Plan a work, work a plan. Recently, Ryan did a review of the Next Step MCAT Course, which I think is the best course available out there.

Having had a great relationship with them for the longest time, Ryan has found feedback to be overwhelmingly positive, except for their their books. Comments include typo errors and they're not very good. But they've also just updated their book. So this should no longer be a problem moving forward.

[06:10] A Study Schedule Planning Tool

Next Step Test Prep has built into their course a study schedule planning tool. Simply log in when you want to start studying for the MCAT and which days you can't study for the MCAT. You may also indicate the days you want to take your practice tests. This is the amount of time you have to study each day. And all this will allow you to generate a study schedule that you can follow.

If you fall behind one day, simply click and drag the assignment you can't complete to the next day. Then go on from there.

[07:02] Other Amazing Things You Get from Next Step's Online Course

With Next Step's online course, you also get a 100+ hours of recorded videos. You also get access to all the AAMC materials as well as Next Step's books and practice tests.

"Student's feedback to me is their practice test are the best outside of the AAMC for how accurate their exams are, as far as difficulty and score reporting."

Plus, you get access to two hours of live office hours, five days a week. They will usually cover a particular subject. Sometimes it's just open Q&A and you get to ask questions. Get the benefit of having a tutor there, five days a week, two-hours blocks, everyday. Not only will you get access, but it's also a self-paced course. Hence, you get the best of both worlds.

It's also cheaper than any of the other companies. It costs $1599. Comparing it to other courses, Kaplan for instance, their base-level course is almost $2500. What's more, you get $50 off by using the promo code MSHQ.

"You get that access, but it's also a self-paced course. So it's the best of both worlds."

[09:25] Final Thoughts

It sounds like this poster's plan is good. April/May for the MCAT is great. Working full-time is going to be hard. Just understand that during these several months, you're going to also need to write your personal statement, extracurriculars. You need to get your letters of recommendation done. So make sure you carve out some time for that.

If you have questions related to the MCAT or your old premed journey to becoming a physician, go to OldPreMeds.org forums. And ask away!

Links:

The MCAT Podcast

Next Step Test Prep (Use the promo code MSHQ to get $50 off.)

OldPreMeds.org forums

 

105: How Much Shadowing Do I Need for Medical School?

Dec 20, 2017 08:06

Description:

Session 105

The shadowing vs clinical experience debate rages on in this post. This nontrad student wants to know how many hours of shadowing she needs for her apps.

This podcast is part of the MedEd Media Network. Also check out our daily podcast called Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A where Ryan goes on Facebook live and answers questions. Visit our Facebook page and watch our Facebook Live around 3pm Eastern, almost everyday.

Take a listen to all other podcasts including The MCAT Podcast, The Premed Years, and Specialty Stories.

Special Announcement:

As of this posting, OldPreMeds.org is now living on MedicalSchoolHQ.net/forums. In there, you will also see other forums including a general premed discussion for students who have questions. And if you're a nontrad with specific questions, go to the nontrad premed forum.

Back to the episode today, Ryan gives his insights into a question about shadowing hours.

[03:28] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"How many shadowing hours I should have if I already have a lot of clinical hours? I have a 124 hours volunteering at a hospital, maternity and emergency. As well as more than 1500 hours working in a memory care facility. I'm moving and I'm hoping to get a job as a scribe for the Spring. But that's not determined yet."

[03:55] Clinical Experience vs. Shadowing

The first question is, is that clinical experience? Understand that not all volunteering at a hospital is. But let's assume this poster has all clinical experience.

"Just be careful with how you express what those experiences are and try to relate them to clinical as much as possible."

Shadowing is a different thing. It's a very passive experience. You are standing behind the physician. You're standing in the corner of the room and somewhere not directly involved with the patient. And you're observing. It's very passive. In some instances, the physician may ask you questions or may allow you to do exam if the patient allows you to.

"The definition of shadowing is that you observe. You are their shadow."

On the other hand, clinical experience entails directly interacting with the patient. You are doing things for the patient. You are doing things with the patient. You are there for the patient.

These are two very different experiences. Clinical experience is very important and a lot of students skip on that because they think they need more shadowing. Clinical experience is typically more important than shadowing. But a lot of students think that since they have a lot of clinical experience, they no longer need shadowing.

There is a huge difference between clinical experience and being around the patient and watching what the physician is doing. Just like being a scribe, you're interacting with the patient and with the physician. You're in the exam room filling out the charts. But you're not seeing the day to day life of a physician outside of that exam room. That's where shadowing comes into play.

"You need to shadow, to follow around these physicians to see what they're doing outside of the exam rooms to get a full picture of the life of a physician."

[06:35] How Many Hours Are Required

So you need to shadow and you need to do clinical experience. How much? There's no number set in stone.

Ryan recommends shooting for around 40 or 50 hours of shadowing and then more clinical experience. That's not a hard number though. It's not set in stone. Some schools though will state it in their website. Some say 100 hours. For instance, University of Utah would require around 12-24 hours. So it varies.

Since nothing is set in stone, just get as much as you can. Don't get crazy and do thousands of hours like you see on some forums. But just get some hours.

[07:23] Join Us in Our Forums

Join our new forums at MedicalSchoolHQ.net/forums. There's still the nontrad premed section in there to get help from other nontrads. But if you want to join in a larger discussion, you can also do that.

Links:

MedEd Media Network

Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A

Visit our Facebook page www.facebook.com/medicalschoolhq

MedicalSchoolHQ.net/forums

The MCAT Podcast

The Premed Years

Specialty Stories

104: Am I Too Old to go to Med School and be a Surgeon?

Dec 13, 2017 08:41

Description:

Session 104

If you're thinking about going to medical school and being a surgeon, but worried about how old you are, check out our latest episode! (Hint: Age doesn't matter)

Just an announcement: We're moving everything over to MedicalSchoolHQ.net. Stay tuned for that big switch. In the meantime, listen in to this awesome episode.

[01:17] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a 32-year-old mother of two and recently allowed myself to actually entertain the idea of becoming a doctor. I didn't think it was possible financially. But my husband is super excited about having me do this. He thinks we should be willing to do whatever it takes. The idea of becoming a physician is the first career that I've considered that actually makes sense, that I can actually see myself enjoy doing it. I like to work with my hands. And the idea of literally healing people with them is the most exciting thing about this prospect.

But I'm worried no one would hire me because of my age. The residency program I have my eye on is 6-8 years long. I was not bothered by the length of time it would take to become an attending surgeon. Until I started looking into a formal postbac program. It is three years long. I saw the year left of my undergrad. So the thought of having to wait closer to four or five years before going to med school instead of two or three is a real downer. I know some do a do-it-yourself postbac.

I'm concerned that the lack of extra bio courses could put me at a disadvantage academically. Would it be wise to take those classes during my glide year? Another thing that is annoying is that I have already completed a year in physics and chemistry. But the courses were taken so long ago. I'm not sure they would count, about ten years ago by the time I applied for med school. I know there are other old premeds older than I, but any of them go into surgery. Or is it just a pipe dream? Hope I'm just over-reacting. I just need some encouragement or perspective."

[03:00] Are You Too Old to Become a Surgeon?

At 32 years old, if you look at how long it's going to take to finish medical school, that's 36. Add a couple of years for the postback, you'd be 38 or 39. No, it's not too old to be a surgeon. But, maybe. There are going to be programs out there that will look at your age and think you're not going to be able to hang. Or that you've got kids already so you won't be able to hang.

My advice is to start building a relationship with a program out there. During medical school, do your elective rotations at some of these programs and kick butt. Show them that you can hang and get a spot there.

Surgical residencies are hard. They're very time-consuming. They're very emotionally and physically draining. They are academically hard to get into. There are a lot of things that need to line up properly to get into this. But is your age going to hold you back? No, it won't.

"The only thing that's going to hold you back is you."

You need to sacrifice your family more than anything else. Your husband is going to have to be okay with this idea. He has to be okay with you working 80 or 100 hours a week in the hospital. He has to be okay being a single dad for the 6-8 years of your residency. He has to understand what he's getting into.

There are going to be program directors out there that will not look at you because of your age. And that's just the fact. But there are plenty of other programs out there that don't care. So as long as you're flexible with where you want to go with programs you're applying to, then do it.

[05:40] A Three-Year Formal Postbac

A three-year formal postbac is really long. Most postbacs are a year or two. So three years is really, really long.

For the most part, Physics being ten years ago is not a problem. But it may be a problem when you're studying for the MCAT. You can self-teach it. But you don't have to retake it just because it's old. Do some soul-searching to figure out if you can study Physics on its own, as you're doing the rest of your classes, as you're preparing for the MCAT.

But three years for a formal postbac is really long. So dig around and look at other postbacs. Look at doing a do-it-yourself postbac. Take the prereqs that you need. Ace your MCAT. Ace your classes. Get into med school. And as you're going through the process, figure it out.

[06:40] Other Fields than Surgery

You mentioned using your hands and healing somebody. You can do that in a lot of different fields other than surgery. Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation is a good example. You do a lot of procedures, injections, and more to help people. And it's not a surgical specialty.

"Don't think that you have to be a surgeon to use your hands as a physician."

So as you're going through this process, keep an open mind. Find those specialties where you're using your hands. Listen to the Specialty Stories Podcast where you can hear physicians talking about what they're doing day in and day out. Then figure things out.

It will be challenging, but it's not a pipe dream. Surgery for anybody is challenging. You just have a little bit of a bigger hurdle with your age and finding a program that will be okay with that.

Links:

MedEd Media

Specialty Stories Podcast

MedicalSchoolHQ.net

103: Postbac Interview Questions and Resumes for Med School

Dec 6, 2017 04:00

Description:

What types of questions will postbac programs ask during your interview and how should you format your resume? Those are the questions we cover today.

102: Should I Take Science Prereqs at the Same School?

Nov 29, 2017 05:58

Description:

Session 102

If you've taken some science med school prereqs at one school, how important is it to take the rest at the same school? That is what we're covering this week.

We take questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums and answer them here on the podcast. Sign up and register so you can be part of this collaborative community.

[01:00] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Our poster today, Sarah, is wondering how important it is to take his science series at the same school. She took Bio 1 and many years have come and gone. As an army medic her advisor told her to skip all the other prereqs and take cell and molecular biology without chemistry.

Having not taken a science class in many years, the poster thought this was a mistake. She had to drop the class with a W and going back to take the prereqs.

The poster is now in Chem 1 and will take Chem 2 in the Spring. And is bound about Bio. She's thinking of skipping retaking Bio 1 and just take Bio 2. But she's now wondering if medical schools hate seeing that.

She goes on saying, "Even if I go back and take other high level bio courses, I'm hoping to come back and retake the cell and molecular bio course when I'm better prepared for it."

This poster is hoping to take organic chemistry in the summer and now has to take Bio 2. So she's asking for some advice.

[02:06] Do Schools Care?

Maybe yes or not. That's an impossible question to answer whether schools care if you take them at different schools. This is a very micro question and I like to advise students in the macro side of things. Think of the big picture. What do your grades look like (big picture)? Are there any scary trends (big picture)?

"Every school is going to be different with how they look at this stuff."

At a micro level, it's typically not going to affect anything when it comes to medical school admissions. Having a W is okay. Those are wrenching your plans and you're hoping to finish everything. But that happens.

It doesn't make sense that your advisor told you to skip all the other prereqs. You need prereqs to apply to medical school. So skipping those didn't really make sense in the long run.

[03:15] What Looks Fishy

That being said, don't worry about taking taking different classes in different places. What looks fishy, sometimes, is if you take your cell and molecular bio at one school. Withdraw. Take it again at a community college or a different school and get an A. Then take O Chem and withdraw. Then go take it at a community college and get an A. You go back to your four year school and take Bio 2. Withdraw. Go to your Community college and get an A. This looks fishy.

"Not being able to do well and withdrawing all the time from a four-year university and then going to another school or community college for the A's - that looks fishy."

But if you have classes in different places, it happens all the time. Students go home for the summer and they will take summer school classes at home. Then they go back to their regular four-year university when Spring rolls around. So it all depends on what's going on in your life and where you need to take the classes.

[04:30] Need Help With Your Application?

I help students with their applications, personal statements, writing secondaries, etc on a month-to-month basis or application-long basis. Whatever you need, I'm there for you to help make sure you put together the best application possible so you hopefully need to apply once. There is never any guarantee in this business but the last time I calculated, the acceptance rate for students I worked with last year was 85%. Two years ago, I worked with fourteen students and last year, I worked with 20 students.

If you'd like some help, let me know how I can help you on your journey by checking out our services.

Links:

OldPreMeds.org forums

Medical School HQ Services

101: Will Having My Prereqs Done After Apps Hurt Me?

Nov 22, 2017 07:20

Description:

Session 101

Our poster today is looking at his med school application timeline and wondering if completing his prereqs after he applies will hurt his application.

Check out all of our other podcasts on MedEd Media. We take questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums and answer them here on the podcast. If you haven't yet, go sign up for a free account and ask away.

[01:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster is saying he has four more labs, bio and organic labs, to complete tentatively in Summer 2018 and Fall 2018. He plans to spend Spring 2018 to prepare for the MCAT (No classes). The poster is working 60 hours a week so he's working full time and studying full time as well. He's planning to take the MCAT in 2018. He goes on saying, "I noticed from the MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements) website that most of the schools close their primary application by November to early December."

This is a very important point. Medical schools have their deadline end of November, early December, depending on the school.

"Those are deadlines which should be ignored. You need to apply as early as possible, as close to June as possible."

If you're applying in November or December, you are not going to get into medical school. The majority of schools have already sent out all of their interview invites. They have already set aside a lot of acceptances for their next class. And so if you're applying that late, you're not likely going to get an interview. You're not likely going to get into medical school.

Going back to the poster's question, he says his final prereqs will be completed in the Fall of 2018. So his question is whether he would be at a disadvantage for the 2019 application cycle. He has read in the forums that he could still apply by June 1st, even without all his prerequisites.

[03:22] Doing Prereqs Before Application

The poster wants to apply in June of 2018 to start medical school in June 2019. So he wants to know that if he finishes his prereqs in the Fall of 2018 (Sept-Dec), would this put him at a disadvantage to apply in June of 2018.

The answer is no. You do not need to have your prereqs done before you apply to medical school. You only need to have your prereqs done before you matriculate into medical school. Before that, it doesn't matter.

They won't see the grades. So if you're struggling with your GPA, those grades might help. They might help give you a good excuse to send an update letter later.

[04:48] Taking the MCAT

What might hurt you is if you're taking the MCAT without those prereqs in the sense that it might hurt not to have that foundational knowledge for the MCAT. But understand that most students will take the MCAT before all of their prereqs are done. Because that's just the normal timeline of undergrad classes, the MCAT, and applying to medical school.

"This is why I see more and more students taking a purposeful gap year to study for the MCAT after all their classes are done."

Students who take a gap year to study for the MCAT think they don't want to cram everything in together. So they decide on doing all their classes first and graduate. Then they're going to take the MCAT. But if you're a strong enough student and you think you can fit it all in, then go ahead and do it.

Again, the answer is no, it doesn't hurt if your prereqs are not done prior to submitting your application. But remember that you need to submit as early as possible in the cycle.

[05:55] Tell a Friend, Share This Podcast

If you have a friend who is going through this process, grab their phone and subscribe to this podcast.

Also, I'm available to help you through this process. I help students with their personal statements and interview preps. We work on a complete application prep where we work from January to December through the application cycle. I will help you write your personal statements, secondaries, update letters, and prepare for your interviews.

I will help you with everything and anything you need to successfully get into medical school.

Links:

MedEd Media

MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements)

OldPreMeds.org forums

100: Should I Leave the Military to Go Back to School Full-time?

Nov 15, 2017 10:11

Description:

Session 100

The military, like the any job, can get in the way of you achieving your goal of becoming a physician. Our question today revolves around what to do to make it work.

I take questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums and answer them here on this podcast. But soon OldPreMeds will be moving to its new home site MedicalSchoolHQ.net, which is also home to all our other podcasts including The Premed Years Podcast.

If you have any questions, register for an account at the OldPreMeds.org forum and ask away!

[02:06] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Sanity Check Needed

"Looking for sanity check because I’ve almost convinced myself to take the plunge and start attending school again full-time.

I’m 30 years old and been in the Marine Corps for about eight years and I’m currently a Captain. I graduated in 2009 with a Degree in Criminology from a state college with a 2.7 cumulative undergrad GPA. I only took a few science and math courses. But that GPA is 3.65. I did the math and if I get all A's in my prereq courses, it will be a 3.89. I also have a negative trend GPA during my undergrad years with my freshman, sophomore years being my best.

Grades were not a priority for me at that time and I did not have any aspirations of doing any postgraduate work. I knew I was going to join the Marine Corps after my junior year. I always was going to join the military. So my senior year grades went out the window.

Fast-forward eight years from my undergrad and I just finished the Master's Program at Marshall University where I got an MA in Leadership Studies. Some credits from a year-long military school where I applied to the program but I took six classes and finished the program with a 4.0 GPA.

I realized that this program does not carry much weight. I have also taken some prereqs at a local community college and I've received A's in Gen. Bio 1 and 2 and Gen. Chem 1. I definitely had the ability to earn these grades the first time around but lacked the motivation and passion.

My end goal is to get accepted into the Uniformed Services University or receive an HPSP scholarship. I would like to retire from the military. I can discuss why I'm interested in switching careers in another post, if anyone's interested. But had a very inspirational medical situation that happened to me a few years ago that completely changed my life.

From here, I see a few paths that I could take and would appreciate some honest feedback:

The first one is whether I should take the plunge and get out of the Marine Corps to start attending school full-time. I'm applying to postbac programs in my area but think it is a long shot because my GPA is under the recommended minimums. If I got into a postbac program, I would definitely leap at the opportunity.

The second one that I am a little more hesitant on is whether or not to go back to school full-time and earn a second Bachelor's Degree, likely major in Biology. The good thing is that the GI bill pays for both of these options.

Path three is to stay in the military and continue taking prereq courses at a local community college. I am coming up on a PCS (Permanent Change in Station) next summer. So I need to either get out Summer 2018 or I'll be transferring to a new area. the problems I see with community college are that they aren't looked at as competitively as four-year schools. But they are truly my only option at this point in my career with work.

I have to take classes on the weekends because of work. And I'm worried about information retention for the MCAT and actually being able to finish in a reasonable amount of time. I already had to drop a semester in Summer of 2017 due to exercises and training. I know that I need to go to school full-time to really make this happen but my wife thinks that I'm not being realistic about my actual chances of getting into the Uniformed Services University or getting and HPSP scholarship or even getting into medical school.

As a side note, she's supportive and can financially sustain us so that isn't an issue. I would be giving up a very promising military career so I'm not taking this decision lightly so please give it to me straight. Thanks for reading."

[05:56] Join the Reserves and Do a DIY Postbac

If you really want to be a physician and if this is what you want to do, I would seriously think about getting out of the marines. Maybe go and join the Reserves so you don't have a gap in your service.

"Go join the Reserves and go to school. Get what you need done and then apply to medical school."

Your grades are not going to hold you back. Cumulative 2.7 GPA is not great. But you can go back to school and get a postbac, even a DIY postbac. You don't need to spend $60 on a formal postbac. Go and do a DIY postbac. Register as a degree-seeking student. But don't actually finish the degree. Take the classes that you need and do well in them. Continue this trend of a 4.0 GPA. And you're not going to have an issue getting into school.

[07:01] Getting into USUHS or HPSP

It's not the end of the line if you don't get into USUHS (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. It's not the end of the line if you don't get an HPSP scholarship. You can always join after. So not getting your training through those services isn't a bad thing. In USUHS, you get paid and that's great and it counts towards retirement. But one of the best things is that with all of your past experience, you're going to be looked at favorably.

This year, I helped a student get an acceptance to USUHS. He's a former army medic and wanted to go to USUHS and so he got in. He had a similar story. He wasn't a great student and went off to the military. He had some life-altering experiences and decided to go to medical school. He's going to start there in August of 2018.

[08:07] My Recommendations

"Your chances of getting into medical school are just as good as anybody else."

You have to ignore your original GPA. Yes, it's there. Yes, it’s going to bring you down. But you have to look at where you are now moving forward. Get that grade upward trend coming back. Finish off if you can with a 4.0 GPA. Get a great MCAT score. Go do your shadowing and volunteering and all of that fun stuff.

You are a huge asset because of your military career. With your background, you're going to be looked at very favorably for many schools.

So if this is what you really want, I recommend getting out. Do not a formal postbac unless you really want to, but it's going to be more expensive. I recommend doing a DIY (do it yourself) postbac at a four-year school where you register as a degree-seeking student. But you don't actually need to do all four years and get a degree. Just take the classes you need. Take a little of the extra classes to boost your GPA as much as you can and go from there.

Links:

OldPreMeds.org

USUHS

HPSP

MedicalSchoolHQ.net

The Premed Years Podcast

99: How Soon Can I Ask for a Letter of Recommendation?

Nov 8, 2017 09:39

Description:

Session 99

Session 99

If you're like most nontraditional premeds, you probably don't have a lot of time to shadow. If you can't build great relationships for LORs, what do you do?

Check all our other podcasts on MedEd Media: The Premed Years Podcast, The MCAT Podcast, Specialty Stories, and our newest, Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A.

Special Announcement: OldPreMeds.org will soon send you to MedicalSchoolHQ.net. We still have the forums and expand them to allow traditional students to participate as well. Nonetheless, it's still going to be an awesome community of like-minded students who are there to collaborate, not compete.

[02:38] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a nontraditional premed student preparing to apply in the early summer for matriculation in Fall 2019. I've currently shadowed three physicians and have received letters of recommendation from them. However, these were friends that knew me for years and so we're practically prepared to write me a letter of recommendation before I ever stepped foot in their offices. They were also all MDs.

For various reasons while I'm applying to allopathic schools, I have a much better chance at entering an osteopathic medical school. The DO schools I'm applying to, however, require at least one letter of recommendation from a DO.

As a side note, I work full time for a shift to support my family so I'll only be able to work with a physician either a day or two using vacation time or outside of your typical 9-5 Monday through Friday schedule. My current job explicitly is not supportive of me leaving them and so will not work with me on this.

All this to ask, when is it reasonable to ask a physician you never met until shadowing them for a letter of recommendation?

I assume I'm correct that one or two days of shadowing them is insufficient. But then again, many people are not hired for jobs based on the impression they make on an interviewer in a one-hour conversation. Maybe this is similar. I simply don't want to make myself look stupid by asking far too early or unnecessarily use up valuable time that I could spend elsewhere. Any help is appreciated."

[04:18] How Soon Is Too Soon to Ask for LORs?

First, understand that a letter of recommendation is supposed to convey to the admissions committee who you are. And this position is putting their reputation on the line for you. So how long does it take for them to get to know you to write a strong letter of recommendation?

This student has friends who are physicians. Those are going to be very strong letters of recommendation. And yes, it's okay to get a letter of recommendation from a friend. Also, it should explicitly say in that letter that they've known you for x number of years.

For somebody you're shadowing for a couple of days or hours, it's going to be harder. But it's not out of the ordinary in this situation.

Introduce yourself to the doctor and tell them you'd love to shadow them being an osteopathic physician. Tell them you want to apply to an osteopathic school and you need a letter of recommendation. Tell them that you need to shadow and that you want to make sure you understand what osteopathic medicine is all about. Ask if you could shadow them and that hopefully they could get to know you. Tell them you'd like to know osteopathic medicine. And ask if you could get a letter of recommendation from them if they're willing to. Then, ask how long does it normally take for them to write a strong letter of recommendation. Ask that question. Don't go in blindly.

Ask the question and set up the expectation. A lot of students miss that part of the conversation. They tiptoe around at the very end of the very first day of shadowing and awkwardly ask for an LOR. Now the physician thinks you're making them do work.

So set up that expectation from the beginning. This way they understand what questions they want to ask you during the day. They'd know what they need from you before you start shadowing or as you're shadowing. They may want your resume or your list of extracurriculars or your personal statement.

Finally, there's no such thing as how long or how short. Set up the expectation. Ask the questions and let them tell you how long it's going to take.

[08:00] Final Thoughts

Letters of recommendation are a huge stress point for traditional and nontraditional students. They typical Type A personalities don't like relying on other people. But for a letter of recommendation, you have to rely on somebody else to get something done for you. So be prepared.

Don't miss out on our new show, Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A. They're actually recordings of the Facebook Live that I do everyday when I'm home in my studio. I jump on 3 o'clock Eastern and do a Facebook Live where I answer questions from there and interact with people. Subscribe to the podcast and join me on Facebook.

Links:

MedEd Media

Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A

Facebook Live

98: If I Can't Get a 3.0 GPA, What Should I Do Next?

Nov 1, 2017 09:46

Description:

If you needed an extra 4-5 years to get above a 3.0 GPA, what would you do? That's what our nontrad premed student is asking on today's podcast episode.

97: Should I Quit My Job and Focus 100% on Being Premed?

Oct 25, 2017 08:02

Description:

Session 97

Session 97

Our poster today is a working professional but wants to now go to medical school. He's caught in the dilemma of continuing to work or quit the job to be premed.

For more resources to help you on your path to medicine, check out MedEd Media Network.

[01:18] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a 30-year-old male, who after years of working in journalism and media, has decided to pursue a lifelong passion for medicine, a field that merges my calling to care for others and my interest in science. I come from a family of medical professionals. So to an extent, I feel that it is in my blood. But I always viewed myself as not smart enough to make it in medicine.

But now at age 30, with a better sense of self and courage, despite the potential for failure, I feel I have to go after my dream. I've been researching and conferring with advisers, professionals, etc. on the viability of this big pivot. They tell me that it was doable, as has been affirmed by all the hardworking people in this community.

I'm trying to map out a path to do it and would love input from others on how best to work toward my goal. I have a long way to go. I've just started taking prerequisite courses at community colleges as my earlier BS did not involve chemistry and biology as is commonly required by medical schools. Thus, even MCAT is a ways off. I am currently working full-time at a healthcare organization but in administrative respects. It's been a great opportunity to learn more about the industry of medicine.

However, it does take up a lot of my time, restricting when I can schedule classes and how much attention I can give to the curriculum. I would be learning a lot more, if I had more time to allocate to my studies. I have wondered if this is the best approach - trying to juggle work and school at the same time. Or if I'm truly serious about medicine. I am. Do I stop working full-time and focus on school? If I did this, I suspect I'll be more prepared in a shorter amount of time to apply to medical schools. The trade-off is the loss of income and the pressure that comes with living in an area with a high cost of living.

If there are any other circumstances that I should share, please let me know. I would be immensely grateful for any shared experiences or advice."

[03:30] Studying at a Community College: How the Admissions Committees View It

I actually had a recent experience with a nontraditional student who I've been working with. He was recently accepted to medical school but had very similar story as to you. He was working full-time. He went to community colleges at night. And when he could fit it in, he volunteered and did all the other stuff. His work was in a way, healthcare-related. But it wasn't clinically related. He was a computer science engineer, writing codes and programming for electronic medical records. He didn't quit work to go to try and find a scribe job or something else.

He was on his interview trail, seven in total. And during his interviews, he said that all but one interviewer grilled him on why he was taking classes at community college.

Some schools didn't invite him for an interview. And our hunch was that because he didn't quit his job and he didn't focus full-time on being a student. He didn't go to a four-year university He didn't show his determination to be a physician by entering a clinical career.

So there are admissions committee members out there who are really going to question why you went to a community college and why you didn't quite your job.

Now this student did get an acceptance. He also got multiple interviews. But he was grilled with "why" at those interviews. He did well enough apparently and had one or two acceptances.

[05:52] My Best Advice

So this student said that if he had to do it all over again, he would go to a four-year university. He wouldn't go to a community college knowing that the schools are looking at it that closely.

But for now, my best advice is to figure out what you need to do to take classes as full-time as possible at a four-year university. And keep a roof over your head and food on the table and bills paid. And that means selling your car or moving in with your parents or a roommate, whatever that looks like.

It happens faster. You'll get to the MCAT faster. You get to the application faster. But it also shows the schools that you're dedicated to do this. It shows a different level of dedication to this path.

[07:22] Final Thoughts

Any questions? Shoot me an email at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net. Or post them on OldPreMeds.org forums.

96: Should I Choose a Postbac Based on a Certificate?

Oct 18, 2017 05:18

Description:

Session 96

Session 96

Some postbac programs market themselves as offering a certificate of completion. Does this certificate mean anything when it comes to med school applications? Which holds more weight, a postbac certificate or a committee letter?

We take questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums and answer them here on the podcast. OldPreMeds is the short name for the National Society for Nontraditional, Premedical, and Medical Students.

[01:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I am 30 years old and I've just started, well, re-started down this premed path. I took some prereqs during undergrad, a year each of chem and bio, but did poorly. In a year since then, I've been working in marketing and have not really been in touch with my science interest for some time.

Once I began my research in how to make my plan of becoming a physician in reality, I saw that postbacs are a good way for "career changers" to get those prereqs done. I'm pretty sure I fall into that category because I did not complete my prereqs in undergrad and have not worked in the medical field. I'm currently retaking chem and doing a lot better so far at a four-year local university.

My plan is to take another semester at the same school and then up my course load by starting a postbac at another university. I think the dedicated advisers could be a real asset. However, there are three postbac programs that I know of in the Chicago area. They all seem to offer committee letters but at least one does not offer a certificate. Is the certificate important? Should that affect where I choose to apply?"

[02:25] Reach Out to the School

If you are a student who has taken some science courses, reach out to those Career Changer programs in your area. Find out if you qualify for their programs. Some may say you won't because you've taken sciences. It doesn't matter that you haven't worked in the medical field. It doesn't matter that you've completed all of your prereqs. While other career changer programs might say that's okay. So just reach out to make sure.

[03:14] Two Types of Postbac Programs

There are typically two types of postbac programs. Career changer programs are for students who have not taken any sciences. The other is Grade or Academic Enhancer programs for students who did take sciences but need to improve their grades. The purpose of this is to show medical schools that they can handle the coursework.

[03:40] Does a Certificate Matter?

The simple answer is no. The certificate does not matter. It's not important for anything. Maybe it's the trophy society we live in that everybody gets a certificate. But the certificate  does not matter at all when you're looking at a postbac program. It doesn't matter when you're applying to medical schools that it's a certificate program or a non-certificate program.

[04:25] Find a Postbac Program in Your Area

To view a list of postbac programs, go check out the AAMC postbac directory. Find a program in your area. Reach out to them. Let them know who you are and that you're planning on applying. Ask them questions directly. It's the best way to get the best information directly from those programs.

Also, post any questions you might have on the OldPreMeds.org forums. If you haven't yet, register to join this collaborative community.

Links:

OldPreMeds.org forums

95: How Should I Prepare for my Postbac Interview?

Oct 11, 2017 05:04

Description:

Session 94

Session 95

The postbac interview is very similar to the med school interview. They want to know your motivations behind the change. Check out how to prepare for it.

Meanwhile, check out all out our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network.

[01:20] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a nontraditional applicant applying for postbac programs. I was wondering if anybody could share interview questions they received during the postbac interview. Additionally, coming from a different industry, how should my resume be formatted? Should it be one page? Focused on health care? Medical related experience? How much space should my unrelated experiences take? I've been successful in my field which requires dedication and hard work. So I'm just wondering how people approach this."

[01:55] Step 1 - The Premed Years Podcast

I recommend going and checking out an interview I did with Bryn Mawr's postbac director. Bryn Mawr College is a well-known postbac program situated right outside of Philadelphia. Dr. Glenn Cummings came on The Premed Years Podcast Episode 253 where he shared about postbac programs and what students should be looking at and so much more.

[02:28] Step 2 - Interview Questions

Postbac interviews are going to be very similar to medical school interviews. They want to make sure you're in this for the right motivations. They want students who are going to come in be successful postbac students and then go on to be successful medical students. It would hurt their stats that they can publicize and market to other students when a postbac graduate can't get into medical school because they were going into medicine for the wrong intentions or wrong reasons. Maybe they were great students but went in for the wrong reasons.

Since postbac interview questions are very similar to medical school interview, I recommend the book called The Premed Playbook: Guide to Medical School Interview.

[03:50] Step 3: Resume

Don't worry about the resume. You can do a standard resume. No need to be fancy. One page is hard when you're trying to fit in all of your extracurricular activities and other things. But don't worry about fitting it into one page. Just make it look nice. Nothing too fancy, nothing too crazy. And you'll be fine.

[04:10] Final Thoughts

Again, go check out The Premed Playbook: Guide to Medical School Interview. I'm working on my second book right now. Hopefully, this gets released in the beginning of second quarter of 2018. It's a book all about writing a personal statement.

If you want a question answered here on the podcast, ask away at our OldPreMeds.org forums.

Links:

The Premed Playbook: Guide to Medical School Interview by Dr. Ryan Gray

PMY 253: Almost Everything You Need to Know About Postbac Programs

MedEd Media Network

94: Should I Skip the Research and Start a Postbac Now?

Oct 4, 2017 09:18

Description:

Session 94

Session 94

When you’re faced with a decision about leaving a valuable learning opportunity with research to start a postbac to increase your GPA, what do you do?

Here at MedEd Media, we do more than just podcast. We help students get into medical school. We help them with their applications, personal statements, and even preparing for their interviews. If this is something you're interested in, check out our services. And we'll show you everything you can do to help you get into medical school.

[01:22] About OldPreMeds

We take questions from the OldPreMeds.org forums and answer them here on the podcast. OldPreMeds is short for the National Society for Nontraditional Premedical and Medical Students. You don't have to be old to be an old premed, but you just have to be nontraditional - whatever that means to you.

I was a nontraditional student. I didn't get into medical school the first time. I took a three-year hiatus. I worked in the gym and managed some personal trainors. I was a personal trainor myself. And then I went back to medical school.

The nontraditional student is now becoming the "traditional" student. And you are here on this journey with a lot of other students. Check out OldPreMeds.org. Sign up for an account and ask away!

[02:20] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I graduated in 2015 from UC Berkeley. My science GPA is 2.87 and my cumulative with all others is 3.33. The reason why my BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math - the science courses that make up the science GPA for the AMCAS application) is so low is because I failed Math in my sophomore year. During this year, I was severely depressed and affected by matters back home. At the same time, my learning disability was really getting the best of me give the more challenging environment. I retook the class and got a B+. However, this F is still being accounted for.

I got a job after college to help my family. I work at an ophthalmic research center as a lead ocular disease evaluator. And I volunteered at a needle exchange clinic on the weekends.

Recently, I applied to a postbac program that would start in January of 2018. However, I've been paired up with a fellow to write an abstract for conference submission. The only I can be sponsored for this conference is if I remain an employee until the conference date which is late April or early May. What do I do?

I know my GPA is what deters me from applying to medical school, thus my urgency to get into a postbac program is very much real. But this conference is a big deal and I've been chosen due to my knowledge and experience. I have not taken the MCAT yet and I was planning on self-studying. Should I study and take the MCAT and just apply for the next cycle of postbac so I may attend this conference? I've just been feeling like I'm constantly postponing my future."

[04:15] Looking at the Bigger Picture

Let me cite a number of moving parts here - poor science GPA, including an F in math. I would have to see all the grades in front of me. It's hard to imagine how one F can bring the GPA down that much. But I guess it can. So I'd be interested to see what the rest of the transcript looks like for this student.

The poster is doing this research and to be sponsored to go to the conference, she needs to remain an employee. Here's the question:

What is more important, going to a conference or getting into medical school (this year or next year)? Or getting into a postbac this year or next year?

This is your decision point.

Should you decide to take a pause with your medical school application and decide to push through with the conference, that puts you to pushing back until 2020 based on the timeline you gave. If that is okay with you then do it.

When you look at the big picture of everything, it's really not a lot of time. So don't worry about it. If you're really into this research, go do the research. Go to the conference. Delay everything.

[06:50] For DO Applications

For the DO application, Math does not count as a science. So if you dropped your math, your GPA would probably be very similar to what your total GPA is. Is that still strong enough?

It depends if you have a great upward trend. But I'm just seeing this one little snapshot at the end. That said, there are a lot of other things to think about on your journey.

Are you okay just doing research for a year? Are you okay with postponing postbac and delaying gratification and just enjoying your life for now? Or is time of the essence and you need to get into medical school or postbac right this minute so you can apply to medical school ASAP and graduate and start working as soon as possible?

Links:

MedEd Media Network

OldPreMeds.org forums

check out our services

93: Should I Take Med School Prereqs Before Applying for an SMP?

Sep 27, 2017 06:19

Description:

Session 93

Session 93

Our poster is a 29-year-old and has a cumulative 2.5 GPA and he is wondering what he can do to prepare for a successful application to medical school.

Also, check out our other podcasts on MedEd Media to help you on your premed and medical school journey.

[01:12] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"Short story: Community college for five years with a 2.4 cumulative GPA, 2.2 Science GPA. University for three years with a 2.8 cumulative GPA, 2.7 Science GPA. Overall - 2.5 GPA, 2.4 Science GPA.

Unfortunately, I did not do well in my lower division prereq classes as I got a C for all of the courses (and some D's as well). All of these courses were taken at community college.

When I was at a university as a chemistry major, I did better with upper chemistry class as I got B's and C's for the courses which equate to 2.7 Science GPA. However, that is still very short of my expectations. I'm trying to get majority of A's.

I've taken a break from school for about a year trying to get my act together. In the meantime, I work as an EMT currently. I would like to continue following my dreaming in becoming a physician. I feel a lot more refreshed and I've thought a lot about my past mistakes and learned how to overcome it.

So now I'm thinking about doing postbac. I'm planning to retake all of my prereqs courses at UCLA Extension for two years. And then apply for SMP in the following year. Do you think that would be the best idea to approach it? Or should I approach this differently?”

[02:50] Course Correction

There's something in there that this student was not course-correcting. I have emphasized this several times during my previous podcasts. If something isn't going right, you figure it out and course-correct.

This student spent three years in the university with 2.8 cumulative GPA and 2.7 GPA.

[03:45] Expectation of Majority of A's

This is a wish but not a goal. They didn't put any effort to getting the A's. There was something there. There was never any course correction done. They probably didn't think about what they could have done differently this time.

[04:06] The Biggest Question

It's good that the poster is taking a break. But the question is what are you going to do differently next time?

If you don't know the question to this then don't even try. If you keep doing poorly, your chances are going to get worse and worse. You need to figure out what went wrong with those courses. You need to figure out why you're motivated to be a physician. Use that motivation to drive you in your courses. Get A's. You have to. From here on out, you need A's.

[04:53] Taking Prereqs Courses

I would question doing prereqs at UCLA extension for two years and then applying for an SMP. Look at an SMP. Figure out what the minimums are and try to get into an SMP as fast as possible. You don't need to retake all of your courses and then do the SMP. Reach out to SMP's. Figure out what you need to do to be eligible to get into one. They have minimum requirements and you probably don't need them at this point. But you 'll never know. Talk to them. See what you need to do to get into the SMP. Don't just blindly retake all of your prereqs and then go to the SMP.

[05:48] Final Thoughts

If you have any questions you want answered here on the podcast, please sign up for an account in the OldPreMeds.org forums and ask away!

Links:

OldPreMeds.org forums

MedEd Media

92: Studying Prereqs in a Postbac And Studying for the MCAT

Sep 20, 2017 06:13

Description:

Session 92

Session 92

How do you study for your prereqs in a postbac, do well in them, and prepare to be successful on the MCAT? That’s what we’ll talk about today!

This question was taken from the OldPreMeds.org forums. If you have any questions you want answered here or by the community, visit us. Sign up for an account and get involved in the community.

Check out The MCAT Podcast which you can add to your MCAT prep to help support you. Also, listen to our other amazing podcasts on MedEd Media.

[01:20] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a 26-year-old, former athlete with a stereotypical athlete GPA that needs repairing but little to no science courses. Just trying to get ahead of the curve with a little advice from the OPM season bets. I will be applying to a postbac this semester an wanting to know how I should approach my soon-to-be taken prereqs while still keeping the MCAT in mind. Any study tips or advice would be appreciated more than you know. "

[01:55] Career Changer Postbac

So this person is looking for a career changer postbac. It's different than an academic enhancer postbac.

Considering there's "little to no science" courses, I'm assuming you're going to take a career changer postbac. This is a postbac for students who haven't taken the science prereqs. These courses are geared towards preparing you, not only for medical school, but for the MCAT. They start around the summer and fall. They typically run for one to two years.

[02:43] Taking a Glide Year

Most postbac students are going to go into a postbac and take a glide year between their application and when they start medical school. It's not a gap year, but a glide year. It's the same thing as a gap year but not really a gap year.

You apply in June of the year before you want to start medical school. For example, you're starting postbac in August of 2020. You're going to apply to medical school in June of 2021 and start medical school in August of 2022. So there's that gap year in there of when you're applying and when you start medical school. In the postbac world, they call this the glide year.

[03:50] Taking the MCAT

So you're going to need to take the MCAT in March or April of the year you're applying. So if you're starting in 2020 and apply in June of 2021, you're going to need to take the MCAT in March or April of 2021.

They will specifically say that you have to take the MCAT in April and that's it. You start in July or August or September. And you're going to take the MCAT in less than a year. This could be six or seven months depending on when you start.

[04:38] Doable But a Lot of Work

And three or four of those months are very much MCAT prep but you're also still taking the prereqs for the classes. It is a lot of work.

Postbacs are not easy, So while it's doable, know that it's going to be a lot of work. That's how these postbacs are built. They're built to give you all of those science courses in one lump sum. And you just crank them out. You also prep for the MCAT. And you also start to get your applications in order.

Don't expect to have a lot of free time. You have to tell your friends you're not going to be around. Tell your spouse that they may not be the priority at that moment. The priority is doing well on your postbac and on the MCAT

Links:

The MCAT Podcast

MedEd Media

91: Don't Keep Your Aspirations of Becoming a Physician a Secret

Sep 13, 2017 06:05

Description:

Session 91

When you decided to pursue this path, who did you tell? Maybe you kept it a secret and I'll tell you why you shouldn't in today's podcast episode.

And if you haven't yet, go ahead and check out our other amazing podcasts on the MedEd Media Network including The Premed Years Podcast, Specialty Stories, and The MCAT Podcast. Also listen to The Short Coat Podcast, hosted by Dave Adler at the Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

[01:28] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I haven't told anyone except to my spouse and a few very close friends that I'm even considering this. Currently, I'm a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom of five. Two years ago, I went back to school with a nursing degree. Sometime in the last twelve months as I aced Science and Math prereqs without really trying. I began to let that old childhood cream of being a doctor flicker awake. I'm just finishing micro and planning to enter my second semester of nursing school. I have requested information about completing a human bio degree at my local four-year university hoping to be able to complete the ADN so I can pay for more school. I'm feeling apprehensive and excited and just a little crazy. Anyway, I'm glad I'm not the only nontrad working towards a dream."

[02:26] A Personal Experience

I want to share with you my journey. After the first time I didn't get into medical school, I was working in Boston. I was a fitness program manager at a gym. It was me and the general manager running the gym. I was applying to medical school but I didn't tell her. I thought I was being sneaky. I didn't want to hurt my chances of promotion or anything in the company just in case.

Eventually, I got in. I took some time off. I traveled for the one interview that I got that cycle. And got into New York Medical College. I got my acceptance. And I told her that I got into medical school and I'm quitting in a few months to start medical school. And she asked why I didn't tell her I was applying to medical school. Because her dad is a faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis.

[03:40] Put It Out in the Universe

Put it out in the universe that this is what you want. Don't be scared that your coworkers or your boss or whoever it is, is going to reject you for pursuing this. There are some caveats obviously.

If you know 100% that if you're distracted from work because you're chasing this dream and you're boss is going to say no and you're going to be fired. But you need that income. In this case, keep it from him or her.

But put it out in the universe!

[04:21] Success the Second Time Around

Two cycles ago, I worked with a student who applied and didn't get in. The next cycle, she applied and got in. She was working as a pathology assistant. And she was working at the big academic medical center to the school she wanted to go to. But she didn't tell anybody about it.

The first thing that I helped her with when we started working together was to tell anyone she worked that she wanted to go to medical school. So she applied to two schools and got into her dream school.

She put it out there. She let people help her. She let those connections drive her, motivate her, connect her with people she needed to know. And it went back and helped her.

So if you're on this journey, don't hide it from people. Let people know what you need and what you want. You'd be very surprised at the connections that people have.

[05:28] Final Thoughts

Visit our Hangout Group at or go on Twitter @medicalschoolhq and let me know who you told right now, that you're planning to apply to medical school, because of this podcast.

Links:

The Premed Years Podcast

Specialty Stories

The MCAT Podcast

The Short Coat Podcast

Hangout Group

@medicalschoolhq

90: How Can I Get More Clinical Experience Working Full-time?

Sep 6, 2017 10:20

Description:

Session 90

How can an Army Lieutenant premed student get more clinical experience and not just stock shelves and make make beds? That's the question we cover this week.

Questions are pulled out of the forums over at the OldPreMeds.org. If you don't have an account yet, please sign up and ask away. Please also check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media.

[01:23] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a 24-year-old lieutenant in the army serving as a platoon leader for a combat engineer platoon. I'm hoping to apply during the 2019 cycle. I have 28 months left in the army and hope to transition directly into medical school. Here's what my application looks like right now - a degree in Biology with 3.6 cumulative and science GPA, 250 hours of volunteering in a free clinic in 2012-2013, 250 hours of research experience in 2013, 100 hours of shadowing experience in 2014, working part-time throughout college as ROTC. Currently stationed in Texas, we'll be applying to Texas Medical Schools."

Note: GPA will be slightly higher because in the Texas application, they don't count pluses or minuses. So if you get an A minus or B plus, that equals an A and a B.

"I'll be taking stats and two upper level bio classes in the Fall 2018 to fulfill Texas medical school requirements and get letters of recommendations. Taking the MCAT in June of 2018. Currently, I'm looking for volunteer opportunities to gain more clinical experience. I volunteered at a hospital in the past. But the volunteers were delegated housekeeping roles and not put into patient care experiences.

I recently have been looking for volunteer opportunities and would very much like to experience how an emergency room operates. I'm worried I will end up simply restocking bedding and copying paperwork again. Is this just the experience I should expect from volunteering? How does one gain meaningful clinical experience form stocking shelves or manning an information desk. I understand showing my curiosity about the medical professions with those around me will allow more insight into the minutia of working in healthcare. But that still seems far removed from the clinical experience that is so necessary to really understanding what being a physician is about.

What should I be looking for when trying to find volunteering opportunities that allow me clinical experience?

Are shadowing hours considered different than clinical hours?

And is my lack of volunteering non healthcare related settings a major flaw in my application?"

[04:00] Taking The MCAT Too Early

You're hoping to apply during the 2019 cycle but you're taking the MCAT in June 2018. That's very early. Don't rush taking the MCAT. If you're not applying to June 2019, there's no need to take it in June 2018. What I always recommend is take it at the latest March or April of the year you're applying. So if you're applying in 2019 then take it March or April of 2019. You can take it earlier, like January of 2019. But there's really no reason to rush it.

[05:06] Where to Get Clinical Experience

One of my favorite things for clinical experience is hospice. But not every hospice organization will allow you direct patient care. Not every medical school considers hospice clinical experience. It's a catch-22 there.

I would also suggest leaning on your connections. A a platoon leader in the army, go find some platoon surgeon or some flight surgeons. Tell them you're applying to medical school and you need some experience. Ask if they could help you out with it. I have worked with a lieutenant in the Air Force this year and I suggested that she did the same thing. So go talk the chief medical person in the clinic and lay out your cards. As a result, that student was able to take vitals of patients coming in and take some histories. She got to do some other things in the military medical clinic. So use that connection you have with the military and go to the army clinic if there's one on base or wherever you're at. Then try to build those connections there.

Moreover you can go to emergency rooms and get good clinical experience. But you need to set those expectations upfront to let them know what you're looking for. And if what they're providing doesn't match that, then say thanks but no thanks. Then go and try to find another place. There are other opportunities inside of hospitals outside of the emergency department. They allow a little bit clinical experience as well.

Another amazing clinical experience is scribing. It does take time and it's a job. And obviously, being in the military, you'll probably need some clearance to allow you to work another job. But this is something else to think about.

[07:30] Shadowing versus Clinical Experience

Shadowing is different than clinical experience. In clinical experience, you're interacting with patients. A fun term we like to use in the advising world is "close enough to smell the patients." Every physician does it a little bit differently but the standard of shadowing is very passive. So it's very different and you need both. It's important to have clinical and shadowing.

For this student, his shadowing and volunteering in a free clinic are old. That's going to be a red flag for medical schools. If you apply and your experiences are that old, they're going to question whether or not this is truly what you want to do. Why have you taken so much time to put yourself around patients again? So I would highly recommend that. Even you've had a hundred hours of shadowing which is perfect but it's from 2014. It's been three years. So I recommend you continue and get more shadowing experience. And get that clinical experience.

[09:04] Volunteering in a Non Healthcare Related Setting

Your lack of volunteering in non healthcare related settings is not a major flaw. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. But you, being a lieutenant in the army, trumps everything else. That experience or background is perfect. So don't worry about trying to pile in a ton of other non healthcare related volunteering as well.

[09:37] Final Thoughts

If you have questions, I'd love for you to check out OldPreMeds.org. Sign up for an account. Ask questions. Let the community help and let me help you here on the podcast. Next week, we talk about whether or not you should tell other people that you're on this journey.

Links:

OldPreMeds.org forums

MedEd Media

89: Do I Have Enough Time to be a Premed and a Mom?

Aug 30, 2017 11:02

Description:

Session 89

Our poster this week is worried about what being a premed and medical student will do to her relationship with her children and if it gets any better.

Check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media including The Premed Years Podcast, The MCAT Podcast, and Specialty Stories. We also have the upcoming Ask Dr. Gray, Premed Q&A. I'm taking our Facebook Live videos and convert them into podcasts. We have an amazing Facebook group of over 3,000 students or simply visit our Facebook page. I cover questions you send in or something that comes up during coaching calls with students earlier in the day or the day before.

Back to our episode today, we have an interesting story from a 39-year-old mother who is deciding to choose to pursue medicine.

[02:13] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a 39-year-old mother of three - five, seven, and nine years old, in Canada. And I'm very seriously considering finally applying to medical school next summer for the July 2019 start. I graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing degree in 2001 and worked as an RN for thirteen years in pediatric oncology and I loved it. I've been at home with my children for the past five years now. But my littlest is entering kindergarten and I found  myself wondering if pursuing medicine is actually a realistic call.

I've wanted to be a doctor since I was nine. I talked myself out of it in university. I wasn't smart enough, didn't have what it takes, etc. But it's always been there in the back of my mind. My life took a heartbreaking turn two years ago when I was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease with pulmonary fibrosis. I'm stable now and I've been for a while. My pulmonologist knows my med school dreams and she fully supports me in this endeavor. At this point, we don't really know if I have ten years left until my disease progresses or five or forty. To which I say, no one really knows how much time they have left. You or I could be hit by a truck tomorrow. And I'll be darn if I'm just going to sit here and let this disease dictate my life. I wouldn't even mention my pulmonary fibrosis. If it weren't for the fact that being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening lung disease. And having to navigate the medical system as a patient for the past years was the catalyst for me in deciding that I could really affect some change as a physician. I think I could truly help my patients.

I need to do a year of some basic sciences and MCAT prep. And it does need to be full-time study or it doesn't count towards my GPA, which was 3.1 for my nursing degree. Suffice it to say, I'd make a much better student now than I was when I was 20. So this next year will be a lot of work and cost a lot of money with of course no guarantee that I would be accepted. I guess my hesitation isn't so much the next year or two of premed work where there isn't any actual premed or even postbac streams at my university where we live. And there's zero chance we could relocate due to my husband's job here.

Work doesn't scare me. I know I can do it. My hesitation is around what it will cost my children. I'm afraid of how much less time I will have with them. I'm afraid that I won't be there when they need me the most. I feel like children need their mothers close by in the teen years maybe even more than in their early years. Of course I know that it will teach them loads about perseverance and strength and determination. But will that be enough to offset not having me around as much? I so badly wish I had a crystal ball so I could see into the future and know if it was the right decision.

For those of you who are further down the path, at what point do you feel that you got your life back a little bit again? Do you feel like the sacrifices that took for you to become a doctor were worth it in the end? And any Canadians up in here?”

[05:32] What Could Affect You More

This is an interesting story of a nurse who has been a stay-at-home mom for the last five years. She has three kids and has a potentially devastating diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis. But is now making the leap. It doesn't sound she's a hundred percent there. But she's on board potentially maybe with being premed, going that route, and applying to medical school soon in the next year.

Obviously, I've been through the process. I went to medical school and did my internship year. My wife was going through residency. We didn't have kids during that process. And it was kind of a choice that we made to wait until Allison was out of her residency before we had our first child.

If you haven't listened to The Premed Years Podcast, there are a lot of podcasts in there where I talked to moms who are going through medical school with their kids and how they make it happen. This may come off bad or that I'm a man and you're the mom. But here's where I think your attention should be. I think that you shouldn't worry about how it's going to affect your kids. Because not doing something and having it affect you is going to affect your kids more than how life is going to change with you being busy.

This is something you've wanted since you were nine years old. If you don't do this, it will affect you. It has affected you. It's obviously affected you to a point where it's finally coming to a boiling point here after a potentially devastating diagnosis. It's finally coming out and saying you might need to do this. If you don't do it, that will affect your kids physically, mentally, etc. That will affect your kids more than doing it and having less time with them. It just will.

[08:15] Make it Work

The time you will have with them will be super high quality time. It will be scheduled. Mommy studying from these hours to these hours. Dinner, movie... It's going to be a lot more structured. Your kids are old enough to handle that though. They're old enough to understand what you're doing and why you're doing it. They are old enough to appreciate it. And you mentioned it at the bottom that they're going to learn about the perseverance, strength, and determination. They're going to learn about chasing dreams. They're going to learn about struggling with self-doubt which you had before and overcoming that which you have now. You need to not worry about how it's going to affect them.

You make it work. It will work. Don't worry about them as a potential roadblock on this journey. Just use them as your strength to get through everything that you need to get through. Lean on them. Have them support you. Have them cheer for you and go from there.

[09:35] Join Our Community

Again, listen to The Premed Years Podcast. I have interviewed moms going through the process and what they've done to successfully navigate that process. Join our amazing Facebook group. Try to tag Sylvia in the group. She's a third year medical student now and she has two or three kids and a husband at home. She talks about her journey and everything that's happening now. If you need a little bit more support, go check out the Facebook group as well.

Links:

MedEd Media

The Premed Years Podcast

The MCAT Podcast

Specialty Stories

Hangout Group

MSHQ Facebook page

88: Do I Really Need to do Research as a Nontrad Premed?

Aug 23, 2017 07:53

Description:

Session 88

This week, our poster wants to know how important research is if he’s only applying to state schools that aren’t research-heavy medical schools.

We take questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums. If you haven't yet, join our collaborative community and ask away! Also, please check out all our other podcasts at MedEd Media Network.

[01:22] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm 29. I graduated in 2014 with my degree and I'm finishing up the prerequisite work. My GPA is very, very strong. So I'm not worried about the GPA/MCAT part of the application. I have a decade of work experience as a consultant doing business and finance management for small to medium sized businesses including medical offices. I will start doing some shadowing, clinical experience, and more recent, volunteering this fall. In general, what are medical schools looking for when they ask about extracurriculars? I know the extracurriculars are going to look different for someone like us who may have a decade or more in full time work experience. For the past year and a half, I have been repeatedly asked to assist tutor or TA for past professors. I have three semesters of TA-ing back when I did my degree. And I helped revise a textbook. I was added to the authorship. So I am not sure more of what would help. I keep being told I need to do research. But I'm trying to apply to mostly state schools and the ones I'm looking at do not list research as a requirement. Any suggestions from your experience?"

[02:45] Apples and Oranges

This is a very common question a lot of students struggle with, especially nontrads who don't have a lot of extra time. I spoke with the Dean of Admissions at the University of Central Florida. We were talking about nontrads and how they loved nontrads. He specifically said that they understand nontrads have other requirements. They're taking care of family. They're working full time.

So it's not all apples to apples. As a nontrad, you are the orange. Your experiences are not going to be looked at the same as a traditional student.

[04:12] Research, Shadowing, and Clinical Experience

Research is not that important. It's good if you can get some, get your toes wet, and see if you like it. But it's not a requirement. What is required is that you get experience in a healthcare setting. Put yourself around patients. Show the admissions committee that you understand what it's like to be around sick people. See if you're ready to devote your life to being around sick people. And this can come in many forms.

Many people think this is shadowing but it's different. Shadowing shows you what the life of a doctor is. It shows you that it's not Grey's Anatomy or Scrubs. Shadowing is important. You don't need hundreds of hours of shadowing. It's not necessary for the majority of schools out there.

What you need a substantial number of hours in is clinical experience. It means being around and interacting with physicians. In shadowing, you're not interacting with people. You are literally a shadow. But with clinical volunteering and experience, you are putting yourself around the patient, close enough to smell the patient. That's the importance of a clinical experience. See if you enjoy and you don't get turned off by being around sick people.

This poster mentioned being a TA and helping out in authoring a book. That's great. But you're entering medicine. Again, put yourself around patients. This is what's missing in this person's application. It's a very common thing to miss. Go back and listen to Episode 171 of The Premed Years Podcast. According to the former Dean of Admissions at UC Irvine Medical School, the number one reason that students were not admitted was lack of clinical experience. I can't stress how important clinical experience is.

[06:50] Final Thoughts

Share this podcast to your family, friends, mentors, advisors, etc. If you're in a postbac program, make sure your premed advisor knows about OldPreMeds. It should be a resource that every nontrad person knows about.

Links:

MedEd Media

OldPreMeds.org

The Premed Years Podcast Episode 171: Reapplying to Med School - What You Need to Know to Improve

87: Will Being a Dispatcher Count As Clinical Experience?

Aug 16, 2017 08:07

Description:

Session 87

Our poster this week wants to know if working as a volunteer dispatcher for EMS will count towards clinical experience for his applications to medical school.

Check out everything we do on the MedEd Media Network. Our newest podcast is called Ask Dr. Gray Premed Q&A. It's very similar to this podcast where I take questions from the OldPreMeds.org forums. On the Ask Dr. Gray show, I actually live stream Facebook, take the audio from that, and turn it into a podcast. Most are my thoughts coming out throughout the day as I work with students on their personal statements, essays, mock interviews, etc. If you're interested in working with me just go to the Services menu on OldPreMeds.org.

A couple of quick announcements - On August 21, I will be in Anaheim doing a meetup. Go to our Premed Hangout Group to find out more about it. On August 23, The Premed Years Podcast has been nominated for a science and medicine award for the Academy of Podcasters. The award ceremony that night is free for everybody. I'll be in town for the conference so if you would like to go to the award ceremony, shoot me an email at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net.

November 4-5, 2017 is AMSA PremedFest in Tampa, Florida at USF. I will be there and speak about the interview process. I'll have a table set up. Come by and say hi. Use the promo code MSHQ17 to save some money off the registration.

[02:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I am an old premed, got all my prereqs and currently working on preparing for the MCAT. But one of my biggest gaps is not having clinical or patient contact experience. I have done plenty of basic lab research but not in a clinical setting. I work full-time and therefore finding experience could be challenging. I recently came across this organization that runs a volunteer ambulance site and they need volunteers. The entry level volunteer is a dispatcher which requires four to six weeks of training. I would like to volunteer because obviously I'm counting this as "clinical patient experience" for my application.

But my question is would this type of experience being a dispatcher at a volunteer ambulance organization count at all? The website also says that once dispatcher training is completed, the person may ride in the ambulance as an EMS attendant and also get CPR and first aid training which I would definitely do. Of course,I would do this during the weekends since I work full-time. Any thoughts or anyone with similar experience? I don't want to submit an application without being sure this will count for clinical or patient experience.”

[03:59] Does Dispatching Count as Clinical Experience?

I'm glad you're looking into this because not having any clinical experience, any patient exposure is not good for the application. The fact that you're thinking about it now is great.

There's a saying in the premed advising world and the medical school admissions world that you have to be close enough to smell the patient for clinical experience. As a dispatcher, it would not be clinical experience. You're not interacting with the patients in any way other than the phone call. You're just gathering information and dispatching people.

Once you get through your training, the ability to do a ride along and CPR and first aid and all of that other stuff is great. That's great experience.

Being strapped for time and working full-time, is not an excuse to not get anything done. I've worked with plenty of students who work multiple jobs and they're still preparing for the MCAT. They're still getting clinical experience and doing other things. Life can get busy. But if you plan and schedule things at night, maybe get one hour less of sleep, and you don't play video games or watch TV, there's plenty of time in the day to do that.

[06:14] Call Your Local Hospice

I highly recommend calling your local hospice organization. Get involved with them. It doesn't need any long term training or certifications. Introduce yourself as a premed student. Tell them you've heard amazing things about hospice so you want to get involved, contribute, and help patients. Hospice is an amazing organization with an amazing mission. The ability to care for patients as they transition out of this life is phenomenal and great clinical experience. Hospice is what I typically recommend to students looking for clinical experience who can't find it anywhere else. So go check out a hospice in your area.

[07:05] Final Quick Announcements

November 4-5, 2017 - The AMSA PremedFest in Tampa at USF. Use the promo code MSHQ17 to save some money off your registration by October 25, 2017.

August 21 -  Dinner meetup at Anaheim

August 23 - Academy of Podcasters Awards Ceremony (If you want to attend that, shoot me an email at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net)

Links:

The MCAT Podcast

The Premed Years Podcast

Specialty Stories www.medicalschoolhq.net/group

ryan@medicalschoolhq.net

AMSA PremedFest (Use the promo code MSHQ17 to save some money off the registration)

86: Katherine Overcame Her Fears and Is Going for it!

Aug 9, 2017 10:11

Description:

Session 86

Katherine posted in the forums that an NPR story about tuition assistance finally gave her the push to pursue a career as a physician.

Also listen to our many other premed podcasts including The MCAT Podcast, The Premed Years Podcast, Specialty Stories. Our newest one in the mix is Ask Dr. Gray Premed Q&A, where I take my daily live streams from Facebook and turn them into podcast episodes. So I'm answering questions and I dish out my thoughts when I'm talking to students I'm working with. I go on Facebook for about 20-30 minutes everyday and talk about it.

A couple of quick announcements - On August 21, I will be in Anaheim doing a meetup. Go to our Premed Hangout Group to find out more about it. On August 23, The Premed Years Podcast has been nominated for a science and medicine award for the Academy of Podcasters. The award ceremony that night is free for everybody. I'll be in town for the conference so if you would like to go to the award ceremony, shoot me an email at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net.

November 4-5, 2017 is AMSA PremedFest in Tampa, Florida at USF. I will be there and speak about the interview process. I'll have a table set up. Come by and say hi. Use the promo code MSHQ17 to save some money off the registration.

Back to our episode today, we take questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums and answer them here on the podcast. If you don't already have one, register for an account. Ask questions. Let the community help you and I will also try to help you here on the podcast.

[03:08] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I heard an NPR segment a few months ago about the rural health scholarship and it motivated me to look at what exactly is available for tuition assistance. The last mental barrier to pursuing my MD was removed. I've dance around the decision my entire life. I went to school to be a dietitian. I worked for in-home care. I currently work as an insurance specialist doing medical billing. But I had a huge mental block to making the final step. What if I can't make it? What if I do make it and can't pay for it? What do I do if I make it, can pay for it, but my other obligations are just too much for me to concentrate on my coursework?

The ultimate caveat to all of this this, I'm a single parent to a son with a mental disability. His father took off when he was diagnosed. I've spent the past six years teaching him skills that comes naturally to most children. But after all this time, he is as functional and mature as one could expect from a nine-year-old. I've taken stock of my chances and made a plan. I have a 3.3 GPA which I acquired working full-time, raising him on my own. And I'm going to spend the next year working and self-studying while saving money and paying off things like my car so my expenses will be low. The next year, I can continue to work while going back for the last two recommended classes then take the MCAT. Giving myself a couple of years to study has take a lot of the pressure off. It also gives me and my son time to acclimate to another schedule and a new set of responsibilities. His maturity level at thirteen by the time I'm in my third year should be high enough to handle me not being as available.

I want to be a family physician in an underserved area. I want it very badly. I study everyday and listen to podcasts for about six hours every week day including the OldPreMeds. This podcast and community have answered so many questions and given me access to so many resources. They've generally given me hope for my path. Thank you so much for being available to us nontrads."

[05:38] Paying Back Loans

This is a great story of overcoming a ton to be where you're at to start mining up everything. I've talked a lot with financial advisors on The Premed Years Podcast about paying back loans. When you're a physician, you're going to have debt and it's okay. You will pay them back. 

It sounds weird but it shouldn't be a factor going $100 to $200k in debt to get this education. It should not be a factor in determining whether or not you go to medical school.

If you're not sure that you want to have that much debt, then you're not sure if you want to be a doctor. If you want to be a doctor, you will make it happen. You take out the student loans. And you pay them back as soon as you can, as often as you can, when you can. 

[07:00] Getting the Support Structure

It's great that Katherine figured out for herself here finally after this NPR piece. She will have a lot of difficulties being a single mom, more so of a child with mental disabilities. And that's okay. You will figure out for yourself the support structure you're going to need. Hopefully you have some family around where you go to school. You have a nanny or whatever the school offers you for whatever condition your son has. There are tons of things to think about but as long as you think about them then you're on the right path. If this is what you want then you do it. If you want to be a physician, you figure out a way to do it.

[08:00] Be Careful with Loan Forgiveness

Again, listen in to episode 44 of The Premed Years on the different ways to payback student loans. There's the National Health Service Corps, the loan forgiveness stuff for rural medicine. But you always have to be careful on these things. There's been some talk in our current government that they're going to take away that loan forgiveness aspect. So a lot of physicians are very worried. They've been working in the public sector making less than they probably could somewhere else. They're hoping to hit that ten-year mark and have the rest of their loans forgiven. But now there's talk that option is going away. So you always have to be prepared to pay back all of your loans. And if some of that is forgiven then great.

[09:10] Final Quick Announcements

November 4-5, 2017 - The AMSA PremedFest in Tampa at USF. Use the promo code MSHQ17 to save some money off your registration by October 25, 2017.

August 21 -  Dinner meetup at Anaheim

August 23 - Academy of Podcasters Awards Ceremony (If you want to attend that, shoot me an email at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net)

Links:

The MCAT Podcast

The Premed Years Podcast

Specialty Stories

www.medicalschoolhq.net/group

ryan@medicalschoolhq.net

AMSA PremedFest (Use the promo code MSHQ17 to save some money off the registration)

PMY 44: How to Pay Back Your Medical School Loans

Academy of Podcasters Awards Ceremony

85: My Initial GPA was a 1.8. Can I Still Get into Med School?

Aug 2, 2017 10:10

Description:

This week, our poster is worried about her first stint in college and a very poor GPA. She's wondering about a postbac or just jumping into apps.

84: I'm Worried About my GPA & Online Courses, What Can I Do?

Jul 26, 2017 08:41

Description:

Session 84

Session 84

Our poster today is an Active Duty Navy sailor and is worried about his GPA and taking online courses and how that will affect him.

Check out our whole network of podcast at MedEd Media including one of our newest podcasts, The Short Coat Podcast put on by the Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Their newest episode talks all about why you should not sacrifice everything as a medical student.

We take questions directly from the forums over at OldPreMeds.org. If you haven't already, please sign up for an account there and ask away.

[01:46] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I've been a lurker for a long time and I always enjoy listening to the podcast. I felt like I should finally introduce myself and ask for some advice. I graduated with a Bachelor's in Health Sciences in 2012. I spent some time working as a personal trainor until I joined the Navy in 2015. My service has opened my eyes and showed me that I want to become a physician and serve others. I am hoping to get some advice from you guys.

I have three years left on my enlistment. I have completed most of the prerequisites when I completed my degree in 2012. The classes are almost five years old. I still need to take organic chemistry and physics. My GPA is 2.96 from undergrad and my science GPA is 2.7. I also have an associates for my medical lab tech that I received for my training in Navy. My GPA for that is 3.3. I received this from George Washington University. I haven't taken the MCAT yet but I'm planning on taking it in the next year and a half after studying and preparing for it correctly. I know some people have gotten into med school have grades that are much older than mine according to the podcast. Since I already have a Bachelor's, I won't be able to get tuition assistance to pay for the classes I need so I will be using the GI Bill or taking our private loans. My question is, should I just take OChem and Physics and apply if I do well in those classes and get A's. My Science GPA should rise to a 3.1. As long as I do well on the MCAT, do you guys think I have a good chance of getting in? Or should I just start retaking all the prereqs again? I know the update of grade replacement for AACOMAS won't help me much. I was hoping to use the GI Bill towards medical school doing HPSP/USCIS. My current work schedule doesn't allow me more time to take classes so I was looking at UNE Online but that wouldn't allow me to USCIS.

I've spoken to about fifteen schools that say they would accept the online prerequisites if I took them that way. I'm not ruling out my classes either but that would be very difficult because the nearer school's about an hour drive from my location. If you guys need more info, let me know. Any advice will help."

Here are my thoughts: [04:00] Retaking Courses

With a GPA of 2.96 overall and a science GPA of 2.7 and if you can get A's for O chem and physics and get up to a 3.1 for science, I don't know how that works math-wise. I would double check the math on that unless some of your medical lab tech classes are counting towards that science GPA as well.

Whether to just take O chem and physics or retake a lot of those prereqs, I would probably go somewhere in between.

"My goal would be to get as high of a GPA as possible."

Take O chem and physics and more prereqs that you can get to raise the GPA and to start prepping for the MCAT. Retake those classes, Do well in those and this is going to provide you with a solid foundation for your MCAT prep.

[05:25] Taking Online Classes

If taking the online credits is the best option for you at this moment, look at that. There are a couple different options you could do. You can do the online option and apply to those fifteen schools or so that are okay with online classes. I would dig in and look around for more schools that are going to accept online courses. And for those schools where their public stance is to not accept online courses, email them and talk to them about your situation.

"It never hurts to ask. Go a little bit deeper than what you can find online."

Another option is to just wait until you get out of your Active Duty commitment and then take your courses whenever you want. Do whatever you want and then apply to medical school. It will delay things a little bit but that is another option.

[06:43] Chances of Getting In

Can you get in with a 3.1 GPA? Of course, you can. Do well on the MCAT. Have great letters of recommendations. Write a killer personal statement. Have good extracurricular activities.

I actually got an email today from the wife of a former service member who was taking classes. He got out and applied to medical school with a 3.0 GPA. He had a good MCAT score. And he got two acceptances to medical school. So of course you can get in with a lower GPA.

"Your application is more than just your MCAT and GPA. So you need everything else as well."

Being a former service member or current at this point (but former when you start medical school) can give you a leg up on the competition. Having that military background gives you a ton of experiences that 99% of the population don't have.

Links:

MedEd Media

The Short Coat Podcast

UNE Online

AACOMAS

HPSP/USCIS

83: Where Can I Find Clinical Research as a Nontrad?

Jul 19, 2017 06:12

Description:

Session 83

Session 83

Clinical research opportunities are easier to come by as an undergrad student. But what about for nontrads? Check out the advice in today’s podcast.

[00:56] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I have come across great programs for college students to find research internships during the summer. However, I'me having a hard time finding volunteer clinical research opportunities for those out of college and currently working full-time. Living in a city where healthcare is the backbone of the economy, there must be opportunities out there. Does anyone know where to look?"

Here are my thoughts: [01:27] Google It!

Upon seeing this question, I was thinking about where to start. Having gone through the process, I know a little bit more but not a lot more than anybody else trying to find clinical research opportunities because I personally didn't participate in a lot of clinical research opportunities outside of some of the things I did while in medical school.

There are definitely programs out there for premed students where they're paired off with research opportunities to help them get that experience. That said, it doesn't mean there aren't plenty of opportunities for a student to get involved in research.

Let's assume you're in Boston since it has a huge number of academic hospitals in the area such as BU, MIT, and Tufts where they have big academic centers and big hospitals, large of research going on, and huge pharmaceutical industry. The first step is to look up on Google and search MGH (Massachusetts General Hospital) research and whatever specialty then you will get a list of physicians who are doing research in the neurology department. There you will find their email address and then email them. Introduce yourself to them and what you want to do and ask for help. And do the same thing to the next person. Send maybe about five emails and then after a couple of days, send five more, and send a hundred.

[04:05] The Pharmaceutical Industry

Again assuming this is in Boston where the pharmaceutical industry is huge, reach out to them and find out about research opportunities they offer. Typically, these people are working closely with physicians in the hospitals and clinics doing clinical research. So there may be opportunities at the pharmaceutical company or they can put you in contact with the physicians actually doing the research in the hospitals and clinics.

[04:42] Final Thoughts

The programs are going to be frustrating because they're going to be limited to actual premed students and not to nontraditional students. But then again, keep searching, Use Google and search for "name of hospital" research + type of specialty. Look at the physicians and reach out to the through emails or phone calls. Let them know who you are and see what they have to offer you.

Links:

MedEd Media Network

82: Can't Find Volunteering that Works with Working Full-time!

Jul 12, 2017 11:01

Description:

Session 81

Session 82

Our question this week is from a nontrad looking at making a switch to medicine. He is working full-time and he can't find any clinical volunteering experiences.

[01:35] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a 26-year-old RF design engineer interested in pursuing medicine. I graduated with a  degree in electrical engineering and a minor in web technologies. In college, I worked for a startup as a front-end web developer. I didn't think the startup was the right decision for my career and left when I got an offer for my current job. I've been with the same company since 2014 and although I don't hate my job, I just can't picture myself doing it in the long run. I don't feel like I'm really making a significant impact in people's lives and the world. I want to do something where the work that I'd be doing would be helping someone directly. It's something that I think I've always wanted to do but was steered in a different direction because of what I thought was more practical for me.

My Plans

I made a decision to pursue medicine just a few months ago in April. Ever since then, I've mainly just planning things out, gathering information and looking for volunteer work. Here's what I have so far at a high level:

Get some clinical experience in a hospital/free clinic. Participate in community service projects and events. Get into a formal postbac program where I'll participate in research. I'm planning to apply for Fall 2008 semester, medical school, residency, etc.

My Concerns

My biggest concern right now is actually getting clinical volunteering experience. The postbac program I want to get into seems to favor applicants that have some clinical experience. It makes sense. But everywhere I go, it seems that they don't take any volunteers or they already have too many volunteers. I applied for the COPE Health Scholars Program and didn't even get a response. I have a list of about 20 free clinics that I've called and so far none are taking any volunteers. Is there a better way to approach this? I'm thinking of signing up for hospital volunteering. Without having any such experience may be a factor in all this so I decided to take a CPR AED First Aid Certification Course to get some training and hopefully, network through the class as well. Has anyone else struggled with this? I also wanted to ask for those of you that have full-time jobs, when you made your decision, when did you actually quit? A big reason why I can't get any volunteering positions is because of my full-time job. I was thinking of quitting to free up my schedule but it is very scary."

Here are my thoughts: [04:20] Telling Your Boss

This is a struggle many nontraditional students have. A lot of you are typically working full-time in order to be able to put food on the table while you're in this crisis of trying to change careers and check all these boxes of experiences you need for medical school. But you keep hitting the wall because you're so busy with everything else that life has turned at you. The biggest question is how practical is it to quit the job? How soon can you make that happen? And how much can you cut down in your hours to free up more time elsewhere? First of all, have you talked with your boss about your new life plans?

I did the same exact thing. I was working at a gym and was one of the managers. I applied to medical school without telling the general manager that I was applying until I actually had my acceptance letter. She asked my why I didn't tell her when I could have had a connection there since her dad is a pulmonologist at Washington University which is one of the best medical schools in the country. You never know the connections that people have. More so, you can't underestimate the support that somebody is going to give you. If they're going to give you a hard time then go find a temporary job elsewhere as you make this transition.

Hence, be honest with your boss, your co-workers and let them know your plans. Have them there for support and figure it out.

[07:35] Finding Volunteering Experiences

The way to find volunteering experiences is to just go find them. It sounds like this student is doing all the right things, calling places, making a list of free clinics, and calling hospitals. Do all of that and just keep calling.

[07:50] When to Quit Your Job

I was just wondering if looking for volunteering opportunities is really as hard as you're making it out to be or if it's just the schedule that's the problem. I talked to Kain back on The Premed Years Podcast 174. He was a nontrad and now at University of Central Florida and his piece of advice that he'd give nontraditional students is:

I would recommend the same. Finances are obviously a huge part of this decision so make sure you stack-pile some money. Figure it out. Move back in with mom. Do whatever you need to do to make this happen. Keep calling places and try to keep figuring out where to go.

[08:58] Make Sure Medicine Is For You

Lastly, this student specifically mentioned his "desire to make a significant impact in people's lives in the world and something he could do to help somebody directly." Let these words sink into you. Read this whole post again and notice that nowhere in there did he talk about healthcare or patient care.

It's good that you're going to get that experience to make sure this is really the medium that it's going to take to have that desire of having impact on people's lives.

Links:

The Premed Years Podcast Episode 174: Interview with Kain

81: Will B's in my Orgo and Biochem Classes Hurt My Chances?

Jul 5, 2017 10:41

Description:

Our student this week is worried about a few B grades in Orgo and Biochem during his postbac and is wondering how it will affect his chances for medical school.

80: Can You Have Kids and Be a Good Medical Student?

Jun 28, 2017 08:43

Description:

Session 80

Session 80

This week, we're answering a question that comes up a lot, usually from females, which is whether or not a medical student can have a family while in med school. This episode will help you especially if you're a female or even if you're a male and getting ready to be married or you have a relationship with somebody and you're thinking about having kids.

This is not the same situation as wanting your cake and eating it too. It's a situation where you want to be a premed, a medical student, or a physician, and you want to have a family at the same time. Reality is women enter medical school and residency every year and they have kids. It's a wonderful biological process of having babies. It's natural and it doesn't get put on hold unless you want it to.

[02:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a 35-year- old woman turning 36 tomorrow and after a major life event last year, I have felt that my true calling is being a physician. I have a couple science prereqs left to take i the MCAT and some great docs lined up to shadow over the next few months to confirm my desire to be a doctor. If I stay with this track, I'll apply next year for a 2019 start. By then I'll be 38 and my boyfriend is super supportive of me becoming a doc but we are also getting serious about getting married and having kids. I'm wondering what you all think about starting med school and having babies in the same few years? Anybody have young ones or planning to at the same time as medical school? Yes, I know, it may be crazy but is it still doable?"

[03:50] Here are my thoughts:

Yes! It's definitely doable. If you're not part of the Hangout Group on Facebook, go there and type a message. Try to tag Jessica White. Jessica was a student of mine and she was on The Premed Years podcast several months ago back on Episode 168. She got into medical school, in fat ten medical schools actually. She got married, started medical school, and she had a baby on the first year. Is it easy? Heck no! Having a baby is not easy. Having a baby in medical school is even less easy but it's doable.

I teach a little bit at a medical school here in Colorado and one of the students that was teaching with me was a fourth year student who had two kids during medical school and she took off a year for each kid. The school obviously had to grant her that and she made it work. Although it took her longer to finish medical school, she felt it was the right decision for her and her family to have the baby and stay home and raise the infant until she was ready to go back to school and reintegrate herself into medical school and then do it all over again with a second kid. Now, she matched in Psychiatry and she's going into residency.

Again, it's doable. Easy? No. But then again, having babies isn't really easy. It's just one of those things where you're going to have to prioritize your time. You're going to have to be very good at time management and be very efficient with studying. Have a great support system around you. Lastly, you're just going to have to deal with being crazy for a while. But it's doable without a doubt.

[06:24] Physician Moms Group

This is a very common question that comes up, usually, from women who are interested in going to medical school, being premed, being a physician. They have that lingering question of what if they want to be a mom too.

Although I'm not sure if they allow premed students at this time, but I highly recommend Physician Moms Group (PMG) on Facebook or on their website. They have almost 70,000 members in it. Their founder is Dr. Hala Sabry, an ER doc with three kids. She was also on The Premed Years podcast back in Episode 201. This is a huge resource for students thinking about going to medical school and being a mom. It's a big support group for women physician moms.

[07:32] Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this episode was helpful to you. Please share this podcast with somebody you think would benefit from this. If you're in a postbac program or an extension program, wherever you are, please go and share this with your classmate or advisor.

Links:

MedEd Media Network

Facebook Hangout Group

The Premed Years Podcast Session 168: Interview with Jessica

Physician Moms Group (PMG)

Physician Moms Group on Facebook

The Premed Years Podcast Session 201: Interview with Dr. Hala Sabry

79: MD or DO vs PA? How Should I Decide Which is Best?

Jun 21, 2017 12:05

Description:

Session 79

Session 79

A common question among stressed out premeds – which do I choose, physician or PA? In this episode, I am sharing some insights into the differences between a physician and a PA as well as how to best choose between the two.

[01:18] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a new OPM (old premed), 31-year-old single, no kids. After taking a detour from the very traditional path, during my original undergrad 3.47 GPA in Biology, never took the MCAT, I figured out that I wasn't ready for medical school and started pursuing other interests outside of health care."

* As a nontraditional student, you're allowed to go pursue other things. If you think you're not ready, maybe you're a little burnt out from the premed path (all of us are a little bit), go and explore some other interests which is what this person did.

"Nearly a decade later, I am more convinced than ever that becoming a health care provider is the right career for me but I'm struggling with the decision of MD/DO versus PA. I don't have the requisite health care experience that would make me competitive for most PA programs but I'm going to have to spend one to two years full-time refreshing postbac coursework, taking the MCAT, etc. to go to medical school. So I could just easily spend the time working full-time as an EMT, CNA, or whatever. the problem is can't do both so I need to figure out which path I want to pursue sooner rather than later.

I've read some compelling statistics about PA that appeal me - 90% job satisfaction, two times the patient interaction time, 42-hour work week, etc. But those tend to come from sources that seem incredibly biased towards PA over MD. Furthermore, I am not 100% sure I'd be happy long term with the relatively diminished status of PA and/or whether I could do the type of international work as part of my life plan. Any thoughts, feedback, etc. from the OPM community especially from those who have explored decision for themselves would be most appreciated."

Here are my thoughts: [03:50] Don't Base It on Job Satisfaction or Work Hours!

Deciding between being a physician and a PA -  the problem with this at that high level where you're just comparing work hours and patient interaction time and job satisfaction, that means nothing. Go look at somebody who has the best job satisfaction who's only working 40 hours a week and has great interaction with their clients. You can't choose your career based on job satisfaction, ratings, work hours per week, or patient interaction. If that's how you're going to choose your career then you're not going to be happy in the long run depending on if you made the right choice or not.

[05:15] A Huge Difference Between PA and Physician

Unfortunately, it's not talked about enough but there's a huge difference between being a physician and being a PA. The PA world will tell you there's not that big of a difference and the physician world will say there is. I am a little biased as I'm a physician. But in practice, depending on what you're doing and on what state you're in considering states have different laws regarding PA's, the work around what a PA can do can vary drastically.

I've talked to PA's who want to go on to medical school and I've helped some of them get into medical school and the reason always comes back to not having enough knowledge to be able to treat the patients they want to treat. The physicians would usually tell PA's it's the doctor's job while they go take care of the minor stuff. So there's a huge difference in the types of patients you'll be able to see because your knowledge base is limited, your scope of practice is limited. The role of the PA was created to fill in more of the mundane, easier things that could be algorithmically handed over to a "mid-level" provider. There's a lot of rate around the term "mid-level' but we'll just call it that because that's the terms that's been thrown around for a long time and that's the term that I always use.

The PA and NP are trained to take care of easier things. You can't go through PA or NP school and have the same depth of knowledge as a physician to be able to treat the sort of diseases that you would see that a physician treats. You can't. So if you are okay regardless of job satisfaction, hours per week, or any of that stuff, get rid of that. If you are okay working and treating patients who have the sniffles or aches and pains, it's going to be a lot of repetitive things. Medicine in general is repetitive even for physicians. But if you're okay with treating some of the lower acuity things then great, go be a PA. If you're okay not having the full knowledge base to be able to take care of your patients then be a PA.

[08:17] How Should You Choose Between a Physician and PA

We need PA's and there are plenty of people out there that want to be PA's. They have that mentality, personality, and goals in life that fit with being a PA. But my point here is do not choose physician versus PA based on job satisfaction, patient interaction, and hours per week. Don't base it on years of schooling. Choose physician or PA based on the scope of practice you want and the level of knowledge you want and go from there. The only way you're going to find our is by shadowing a physician or shadowing a PA. Shadow many physicians in different specialties in different areas or shadow PA's in different specialties in different areas and talk to a lot of people. Find out what they like and what they don't like about their job. This is the best way to go about it.

[09:23] International Work

I'm going to assume that a PA degree is not recognized throughout the whole world. If you're interested in doing international work as a PA, you may want to look into this. For instance, DO or the osteopathic medicine degree started here in the U.S. and it's most recognized here in the U.S. Now the American Osteopathic Association is working on getting more countries to recognize the DO degree and they're doing well. So now as a DO, you can practice in more and more countries but there is a limitation there. Whereas an MD can practice everywhere. So if you are truly interested in international work then really look into the recognition of a PA degree and what privileges and credentials you would have in another setting.

[10:36] Final Thoughts

Don't look at hours of work or patient interaction or at job satisfaction. Find out what you want based on the depth of knowledge, the skills you learn as a physician versus a PA. Look at everything else in there and you can only do that by shadowing enough. That's how you should choose between a physician or a PA.

Links:

MedEd Media Network

78: What Happens If I'm Worried About Failing?

Jun 14, 2017 10:08

Description:

Session 78

Session 78

This week, our poster is worried about that little voice in his head that is telling him he may fail at this whole "med school" thing. Listen to my response.

If you have any questions, please register at the OldPreMeds.org forums for free and ask away to get some awesome answers from the community.

[01:08] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I've taken Ryan's advice to heart and believe that a backup plan will hurt my chances."

*Listen to The Premed Years Podcast Episode 213 where I talked about not having a plan B. Some people agreed with it and others but if you have a backup plan of being a nurse, PA, or NP, the psychology is that you are less likely to achieve your goal of becoming a physician because you're able to have that safety valve there.

"Not begrudgingly either, I was already convinced of this myself before I heard him say it several months ago so it was great to hear my instincts confirmed. As a 35-year-old nontraditional, convinced that I'm called to serve others as a physician. I eat, sleep, and breathe this journey every second of every day. Yet there are those moments when the still small voice of doubt whispers in my ear a little louder than usual. What if I fail?"

"This is a second trip through undergrad to earn my prereqs and at the end of the summer semester, my federal student loan eligibility will be cut off factoring in that they've reached the cap. I've needed to give up my full-time job so I can go to school full time as well as shadow, volunteer, and scribe and then supporting myself almost entirely on private loans. I have a solid two years remaining before I can take the MCAT and by the time I enter med school, I will be on the hook for $100,000 in additional private loan debt to cover tuition and living expenses before I even start medical school.

I have no qualms whatsoever about taking on this step because I know this is what I'm supposed to do. But the naysayer voice within that says I can't do this, that tells me just to give up after another sleepless night, simply will not stop asking what if I fail? I exercise regularly trying to limit caffeine and eat healthy. I was a personal trainer for years so I do all that I can to alleviate stress. What other suggestions do you have to shut up this voice?"

Here are my thoughts: [03:57] What If I Fail?

That inner voice inside you is your guiding light. It's most likely your limbic system saying, "Stop, this is scary. We don't want to do this." Unfortunately, it's not very smart for the age we live in today.

That little voice in the back of your head used to be able to tell us, don't go out there. There's a saber-toothed tiger out there that's going to eat you. That was a great little voice to have in the back of your head a hundred thousand years ago. But in today's day and age, that little voice in your head always rears up when you're on the verge of something great or in the face of something tough. It's never there when you're sitting on the couch playing video games or when you're ordering pizza on the phone or when life is easy. It's always there when life is hard, when you're making decisions that have the potential to affect you and everybody else in your life as well as your future.

If your little voice is popping up and saying what if you fail, it means you're doing the right thing because it should be hard. That same question, "What if I fail?" can be asked by every student and it has nothing to do with you being a nontrad or all the loans you have. That voice is normal and everybody asks that everyday. Personally, when I release a new podcast and I have four already. What if I fail? What if this new one isn't popular? What if it's not good? This tells me to push forward.

[06:13] How You Define Failure

In your case, "what if I fail?" should be telling you to keep going. As you're going on your premed journey, define failure. Failure, to me, is giving up.

To you this could mean applying to medical school a couple of times and not getting in or going to a Caribbean medical school. But failure, to me, is just giving up even though you know this is still your dream and even if in two years down the line, you still wanted to become a doctor but you can't take it anymore. That, to me, is failure.

Failure is not a rejection from medical school. I was rejected from medical school and it wasn't failure. I was just told not yet.

[07:05] Change That Voice

Instead, change that saying of "What if I fail?" to "What if I succeed?" What would that look like? That would be awesome, wouldn't it? That you're in medical school and you're a medical student. Listen to that voice in your head because when it talks and speaks up, that means you're doing something right. So don't be afraid of it.

I know this is a very different show than usual but I like the psychology of thinking. A good writer, Seth Godin, talks about lizard brain which is that little voice in your head, the deepest and oldest part of our brain that told us to stay away from saber-toothed tigers and that's what's telling you "What if I fail?"

[08:05] Loans and Timeline

On a side note, be very careful with private student loans because they are much, much, much more strict than the federal student loans.

I also want to question what's taking you so long? Giving up a full-time job to shadow and everything else and it's still going to take two more years? This timeline seems to be off. I recommend you reach out to somebody or to an advisor. Shoot me an email. But I really think your timeline seems off in this whole thing. Lastly, to your question of "what if I fail?" it depends on what your definition of failure is.

[09:10] Final Thoughts

Join the collaborative community at OldPreMeds.org and ask a question. If you don't already, subscribe in your favorite podcast app. I actually created a video to show you how to do this. Check it out on www.medicalschoolhq.net/howtosubscribe  

Links:

The Premed Years Podcast Episode 213: Stop Looking for a Backup Plan, It's Hurting Your Chances

www.medicalschoolhq.net/howtosubscribe

MedEd Media Network

OldPreMeds.org

77: Should I Do a Postbac for My Postbac? Applying to 1 School!

Jun 7, 2017 14:12

Description:

Session 77

Session 77

Today's question taken directly from the OldPreMeds.org forum is from a female nontrad student who is looking to possibly restart her postbac after starting it poorly about 5 years ago. She’s also thinking about applying to just 1 school.

[01:35] OldPreMeds Question of the Week: Her Backstory

"I obtained my B.A. in Anthropology in the Midwest many moons ago, worked as an on-camera model/actress to pay rent in my undergrad. Upon graduating, my agent sent me to LA where I worked for three years as a model and actress.

I moved back to the Midwest to begin my nontrad premed journey as a single gal when I was about 28 years old at the same school from where I obtained my BA."

[02:02] Similar to Jessica's Story

This is similar to Jessica's story back on The Premed Years Podcast Session 168. She was a former actress and did her Bachelor of Arts at NYU, lived in L.A. as an actress, and then she decided she wanted to be a doctor and then got ten acceptances.

[02:27] Suffering Grades

"It is a large university with a medical campus, undergraduate campus, and teaching and research hospital. I was so eager and motivated to be involved in all things medicine that I began working, or shall I say, living in a laboratory for a cardiologist. I literally craved to be there. I would beg my mentor to let me hop on rounds with him. I was eager to be in the lab to perform science to think to shadow and was ferociously stubborn about my goals. However, my tenacity for the hands-on work at the labs/hospital caused my postbac grade to suffer. Nothing too horrible but a few C's and mostly B's."

[03:06] Too Much on Your Plate

Postbac and C's and B's, that is kind of horrible. It is not very good for a postbac. When you're doing a postbac, the assumption is you've got to shoot for a 4.0. Obviously, you don't have to be perfect. But your goal is a 4.0 especially for nontrads who are trying to fix early grades.

As I've discussed before, one of the greatest mistakes premeds make is having too much on your plate that your grades suffer. You can hardly fix grades which means you can fix your grades but with more classes. But it's always average so you can't just replace anymore. Research and clinical experience can always be added.

[04:18] Poster's Questions

"Fast-forward a few years at 30 years old. After publishing much of my research, I met my husband. He plays in the NFL in our home city and has been for nine years now. His job is anything but traditional and the schedule in life is nothing short of hectic. These past few years, we have been married, traveled, settled into a home, and are thinking about a family soon. Even with all of this, I still have the itch. I am now 33 and wish to continue my journey. I'm so thankful for this website.

Should I do a postbac for my postbac? My grades were average at best, relatively speaking, but since so much had passed and I wish to perform well on the MCAT. Should I simply start over? My AMCAS GPA isn't the greatest, around 3.3 cumulative, 3.2 BCPM. I've not taken Orgo or Biochem. The classes were upwards of five years ago. So part of me wishes to start fresh for the MCAT and so admissions committees can see me ace these classes now. Or should I redo only the classes in which I didn't do well, continue to take o-chem and biochem and attack on some more upper levels?"

[05:33] Start Fresh

You can't really start fresh because those grades are going to be there. You're going to have to report those. Any classes you're going to retake are going to be averaged in. Yes, you can redo some of the classes you didn't do well in and hopefully you get better grades in those and it's still going to be averaged. The only difference is you're not repeating all of the courses.

It depends on whether you're talking about a formal postbac or do-it-yourself. If you're referring to a do-it-yourself, I probably wouldn't go back and repeat everything. Definitely repeat those with C's to try to get those up.

Could you repeat everything and start fresh and hope for a 4.0? Sure, that's going to take a little longer and it's going to be more expensive although it may not be a problem for you financially having a husband who plays in the NFL. So it's awesome to have that financial stability.

[06:57] Retake Classes

Contact the school that you're applying to or interested in applying to. If you're applying to several medical schools, figure out if they're okay with older grades. I've talked to a lot of nontrads who have 10-year old and 20-year old grades. Some say it's not a problem and not to worry about it while others want something within five years.

Moreover, retaking your classes would help you on the MCAT. The best way to start preparing for the MCAT is to do well in your undergrad, your core science courses. So if you retake those with a better foundation, better study habits, less time commitment, you will obviously do better.

I don't know if I'd repeat them all. Repeat those C's of course and then figure everything else out. Keep that AMCAS calculator open to see how it's affecting your GPA.

[08:18] Geographical Restriction

"I'm terrified. My husband's career could be seen as a silent blessing for my journey because we have the financial security to support a family and allow me time for my studies without worry. However, there is one medical school in our city and is my first and foremost choice to attend because our families are here and we wish to continue to settle here. The risk is great for limiting myself to one school. And to be clear, it isn't just the geographical location of the school that makes it number one on my list. It is my top choice for many reasons. I'll save those for another post to reapplying year after year however. So if there is anyone out there who has advice on a perplexing situation such as mine, it would be helpful."

[09:10] Applying to One School is Very Risky

This is a unique situation with the poster's husband being in NFL and being in the city he is in now. Some of you may have that same situation since I've talked to spouses whose husbands and wives are in the military. You're in once city. But are you still going to be in that same city in two years?

For this student, her husband in the NFL and they have trades in the NFL and cuts. Keep in mind that the limitation to one school is understandable to some extent but you're putting all your eggs in one basket.

With the off-chance that your husband gets traded or let go or cut, whatever, immediately after you applied to that one school, what happens next? You move to another city and maintain your current residence in your current city. How does that work? Think about that as well. Applying to one school is very, very risky.

[10:35] Talk to the Admissions Committee

I helped a student this year who applied to two school. Last year, she applied to one and didn't get in. This year, she applied to two and she got into the original she wanted to go to. We made it work.

So what I had her do is to go and talk to people. This poster talked about doing research for the cardiologist and doing tons of stuff. So go and talk to those people and let them know you're applying. Ask them who they know and who can you talk to. Go to the admissions committee. Talk to them and tell them why you want to come to that school and ask them what you need to do.

They're going to be somewhat restrictive in what they can tell you. They can never guarantee you an acceptance but they can help guide you. They are there to help you. They want the best students to apply to their school and if they can help form that best student in you, why not? When you are going to a limited number of schools for whatever reasons, go and get to know the school as much as possible.

[12:12] Form Great Connections

Back in The Premed Years Podcast Episode 74, I talked with Carie, a nontrad premed. Her husband was a helicopter pilot for the army and contractor. So he was always being deployed and Carie was very limited taking care of family and working. She was very limited of what she could do. She also had some geographic restrictions and some issues with taking classes only at a community college.

What she did was she formed great relationships with the admissions committees at a few school she was willing to apply to and told them who she was and what she was doing and asked for their feedback and she kept checking in with them semester after semester after semester and eventually she gained her acceptance into medical school. So go and form those connections because they're very important.

Links:

The Premed Years Podcast Session 168

The Premed Years Podcast Episode 74

MedEd Media Network

The Premed Years Podcast

The MCAT Podcast

Specialty Stories

76: How Will Being a Nurse Affect My Application to Med School?

May 31, 2017 13:07

Description:

Like some nurses, our poster this week has realized he wants more impact in healthcare. How will that affect applications, colleagues and more?

75: Concerns and Questions About Transitioning from PA to MD/DO

May 24, 2017 08:44

Description:

Session 75

Session 75

This week’s poster is a practicing PA who has some questions about transitioning from being a PA to starting medical school. These are great questions commonly asked not only by PA’s, but also, by NPs and other nontrads who are in a healthcare-related field and would want to make that switch.

[00:56] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"Just stumbled across this forum. Happy to see there are other nontrads getting back on the horse too. I have a few logistical questions I hope you all could help me with.

Background:

I'm currently a practicing PA in Emergency Medicine in the ICU for around four years, looking to make the switch to medical school for a number of reasons, which I'm happy to elaborate on if needed. Three kids with a work from home husband, undergrad major of chemistry with cumulative GPA of 4.0 and a PA grad school GPA also 4.0. All med school prereqs essentially met via PA school prereqs. Haven't taken the MCAT yet but started studying and plan to take in the next one to two years.

Questions:

Would it be more financially wise for me to work an extra three to four years, pay off debt, and save up for cost of living with my PA salary before applying to and starting medical school? Or would it be better to start sooner rather than later, let the debt build on holy amounts of interest throughout med school and residency and have med school debt added on top of that knowing that I'll be making more money sooner? Are there any legal issues or conflicts of interest against me picking up shifts as a PA while in medical school or working during med school in general? Do people do this? Do I really need to obtain shadowing hours given my experience practicing medicine everyday? Should I be going back to school just so I can get science LORs (Letters of Recommendation) or would it be sufficient to obtain letters of recommendation from my physician colleagues and PA faculty members?"

These are great questions that a lot of students switching from a career from another healthcare-related field like a Physician Assistant or a nurse have. Let's dig into each of the questions and discuss them.

[03:14] Making a Financial Decision

Is it financially wise to wait a couple years or do you start sooner rather than later? Yes, it would be more financially wise to pay off the debt before actually accruing more debt. This is a personal question that's hard to answer since you really need to sit down with a financial advisor and look at the lost income from giving up your PA work while attending medical school and the income you'll be making as a resident (which is most likely going to be a lot less than working as a PA) and finally, your work as an attending. What would it take to break even and pay off all of that debt and what that would look like. Be able to work out some different scenarios.

Therefore, it seems more financially sound and wise to wait a couple of years. Whether or not it's right for you, it's a personal question that only you can answer. Do you enjoy your job well enough now to give it a couple of years? Are you dead set on going to medical school? If you wait a couple of years, are you going to question that decision? Or should you just jump in now with both feet while you're ready and your husband supports you? These are some things to think about.

[04:40] Legal Issues and Conflicts of Interest

Are there any legal issues or conflicts of interest against picking up shifts as a PA while in medical school or working during med school in general? Yes, people do this.

I recommend that you talk with the medical school as you are accepted and you go through that process. Make sure you're accepted first and then go through the process telling them about you going to medical school and whether you could pick up some shifts. Your ability to pick up shifts is going to be few and far between since medical school is going to be rigorous so being able to work is going to be hard. But it is possible. Your credentials, certifications, and schooling as a PA are fine. If you need to change state, you're going to need to re-license yourself and all of that stuff that goes with moving to a new state. But you should be able to work as a PA. However, be careful with the clear delineations of what you're doing and what scope of practice you're practicing under.

Back in Episode 170 of The Premed Years Podcast, I talked with Brad who turned from PA to medical student and he shared his journey, why he was doing it, as well as practicing as a PA during medical school.

[06:10] Shadowing Hours

Do you need to obtain shadowing hours? Yes. Working as a PA side-by-side with physicians is not "shadowing" a physician. What you see working as a physician's assistant while 99.9% of it is going to be the same, go shadow for 10 or 20 hours. You don't actually need a ton of hours. Just go shadow and see what life is like when you're not working and you're able to just observe and take it all in. You've gotten through your education, PA's work side by side with physicians and even as you're practicing, so you understand it. Still, go get some shadowing hours so you can put it down on your extracurriculars.

[06:57] Letters of Recommendation

Do you need to go to school just to get science LORs? No, you don't. Most medical schools are going to recognize the fact that you're a nontraditional student. If you ask them, they will say they won't need those science LORs so go ahead and use a supervisor and anybody else who will write a great letter of recommendation for you.

[07:26] Final Thoughts

These are great questions a lot of nontrads have not just for PA's but those who are also in the medical field. If you have any questions you want answered here, go to www.OldPreMeds.org and register for a free account.

Links:

PMY 170: PA Turned MD Talks About Why He Made the Shift

74: Should I Apply to Med School this Cycle With My Grades?

May 17, 2017 07:50

Description:

Session 74

Session 74

Our poster this week is questioning whether or not he should apply this cycle with low grades and not a lot of extracurriculars. He is getting very nervous about applying and getting some cold feet.

If you have any questions, sign up for a free account at the OldPreMeds.org and join a collaborative community of like-minded students.

[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm two years out of college with the hopes that I would have applied to medical last cycle (2016) to start in 2017. However, when the time came to send out my primary, I couldn't bring myself to do it. With a very low cumulative GPA of 3.05 and a science GPA of 3.25, a 502 MCAT and very, very few extracurriculars, I decided to wait a year and better my application. A year has come and gone and yet I still feel hesitant to apply. I have been working a job as an Emergency Room technician, volunteering in a hospital, and again preparing to take the MCAT. Even if I get an outstanding score on the MCAT, I feel that it will not be enough to get in. What is your advice? Do I apply anyways? Or do I spend another year in limbo and get a Master's or postbac while gaining more ECs (extracurriculars)?"

[02:10] Your Numbers Are Just a Portion of Your Application

This student is nervous about spending the money to apply to medical school without getting in. It's a legitimate concern, especially given the GPAs for this student which aren't great. Then a 502 MCAT with that MCAT isn't great. However, as I've mentioned in the past, the MCAT and GPA are just a portion of your application. So you can't only go on that.

[03:00] Clinical Experience & Extracurriculars

Episode 171 of The Premed Years Podcast, I had a discussion with a former Dean of Admissions at UC Irvine where she talked about a lack of clinical experience being one of the big reasons to not get into medical school.

This poster obviously recognizes the fact that they lack some extracurriculars and got a job as an emergency room technician. Does this mean you're interacting with patients? If that's what you're doing then great. Taking the MCAT again is also great and you have to do well.

[03:45] Taking Postbac Classes

What I would have liked to see over the past year is you taking postbac classes. It doesn't have to be a formal postbac but doing ore classes to bring up your GPA from a 3.05 and get a cumulative up to 3.2 or 3.3 and your science GPA up higher around to 3.5. This would be fantastic and it would make an admissions committee think twice about that application.

I had a great discussion with the Dean of Admissions at the University of Central Florida where we talked about nontraditional students who have done poorly in the past. He discussed how he looks at applications. He looks at the last 20 hours of science coursework and if you've done well in those last 20 hours, his assumption is you'll be fine in medical school.

The poster did not give any trends on their grades. They may have an amazing upward trend but their cumulative GPA and science GPA are still lower. A lot more information would be helpful here but if you were able to take the MCAT and get a great score, apply. The only worst thing that could happen is them telling you no.

Assume that your GPA is going to hold you back so start taking some classes and do that now. And get ready to apply again. The safer bet that a lot of students don't like to be classified as a reapplicant is usually an unfounded fear. Being a reapplicant doesn't hurt you. But on the safe side, you can continue working as an EMT in the hospital, take classes, and improve your GPA. Take the MCAT, do well on it and apply next year.

[05:55] Final Thoughts

There are so many variables that go into a good medical school application that can get overwhelming. What happened to this student is a common thing where you get shy about pulling a trigger and then you don't apply because you feel you're not good enough. Then a year goes by and you really didn't do much to adjust that so you're still not good enough and this becomes a cascading problem of never being good enough. So take those next steps. Figure out where you need to go and pull the trigger. Take some classes. Do whatever you need to do to improve that MCAT score and hopefully, you will put together successful application. Obviously, personal statement, extracurriculars, secondary essays, and interview prep all go into a great medical school application.

Links:

MedEd Media Network

The Premed Years Podcast Episode 171: Reapplying to Medical School - What You Need to Know to Improve

The Premed Years Podcast Episode 013: Interview with Dean of UCF College of Medicine

UC Irvine School of Medicine

University of Central Florida - College of Medicine

73: Will My Medical History Affect My Chances at Med School?

May 11, 2017 11:43

Description:

Session 73

Session 73

The paperback version of The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview is set to be released in June. In celebration of that launch, simply preorder it from Barnes and Noble before June 06, 2017 and get almost $100 worth of giveaways including a brand new, amazing mock interview platform which is only available right now to those who preorder the book. This platform will enable you to practice your interview skills anytime you want and even share video recordings of your interviews with mentors, advisors, friends, and family. Access to this platform is worth $47 a month but you get a free month if you preorder the paperback copy of the book from Barnes and Noble.

You will also get access to my 13 video series of which are courses I've done on the medical school interview (regular price is $47). To know more, text PREORDER to 44222 and you will get instructions on how to buy the book and how to submit your receipt to get access to this free gift.

Today's question is about whether an applicant's medical history would affect their application to medical school, which is a common question we get. Do you need to mention it in your personal statement? If so, how will this affect your application?

[04:00] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I am currently back in school working on completing course prereqs for medical school. I'm just wondering, is a medical history taken into account when applying to medical school especially mental health?

In 2016, undiagnosed OCD led me to develop an eating disorder for which I'm currently in recovering as well as chronic depression. I'm wondering if these life events could affect my medical school application. Aside from my mental health history, I am working towards a strong application (knock on wood). My undergrad GPA is 3.9. My current science and math GPA is 4.0. I'm about to begin volunteering at a hospital and I work 24+ hours a week in an advanced stage dementia nursing home, basically, as a CNA. I serve as a peace corps volunteer and I'm nearly fluent in Spanish.”

Here are my thoughts: [05:00] Medical School Application

Luckily, for this student, their mental health has obviously not affected their grades. Ultimately, what the question comes down to is, what do I have to tell the medical schools?

The plain answer is nothing. There is nothing on the application that asks about your health. What could come up is if you had any significant gaps in education and you have to explain those. And even if you do have those gaps in your education, you don't have to explain those by saying you've had chronic depression, OCD, or an eating disorder. Instead, be very generic and say you've been dealing with some health issues that have gotten under control and since coming back to school, you've been fantastic. And it shows!

[06:34] Medical License Application

When you go for your medical license, you will be asked a question about any health issues that are going to prevent you from taking care of patients. It doesn't sound like this poster has anything that would prevent them from taking care of patients so this is not something to worry about.

However, this comes into play if you have brain tumor and it's affecting your cognition and your ability to think and control impulses. Then you're starting to deal with some questionable issues. If you have a vision problem or severe carpal tunnel, for instance, and you're a surgeon then maybe that's a problem. You're going to have to disclose that on your applications for your medical license as well as your credentials at the hospital.

[07:33] A Red Flag

Whatever you have is none of the medical school's business. I highly recommend that even if this has motivated you to go into medicine, be very careful about talking about those things on your application and in your personal statement. This could pose a big red flag.

Medical schools are looking at thousands of medical schools so why would they take a chance on you when they can just put you aside and look at somebody else, just as qualified as you are, that doesn't have any red flags?

Back in Episode 194 of The Premed Years podcast, I talked to a student who is legally blind from a condition and he applied to a medical school. His personal statement was all about his blindness and how that's motivating to continue. However, he didn't get into medical school and thought maybe he shouldn't have done that. The next time he applied, he didn't mention anything about his blindness. He was able to hide it to a certain extent, like if it was bright out, he was able to see well enough that he didn't need a walking stick. Then he got accepted to medical school and the packages that came after his acceptance asked him about whether he needed accommodations and that's when he said he's legally blind. Currently, he is residency and is doing very well.

[09:46] Final Thoughts

As you are struggling with mental health issues or whatever you're dealing with, guess what? We are all dealing with something.

One of the reasons I left the Air Force and I'm doing the podcasts full time now and I don't practice medicine anymore is I was diagnosed with MS (which was also one of the reasons I got into the Air Force instead of doing Orthopedic Surgery which was what I really loved to do but it could have made my disease worse but it wasn't worth it). Hopefully, this discussion has helped you figure out whether this is something that's going to affect you. Usually, it doesn't. We have our own concerns like how the admissions committee members are going to look at you. But for the most part, your business is not the medical school's. Keep it to yourself and keep taking care of yourself on your journey. Hopefully, you will do very well.

72: Is All Hope Lost for this Discouraged Postbac Student?

May 3, 2017 07:30

Description:

Session 72

Session 72

The premed path is long and daunting. But what should you do if you’re so committed to becoming a doctor and yet you’re not able to translate that into having good grades? Our poster this week has struggled big time. Unfortunately, he still hasn't found a way to straighten out their grades.

If you haven't already, please sign up for an account at the OldPreMeds.org and feel free to post some questions so we can have them answered here on the podcast.

[01:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

"I'm currently in a postbac program as my 'second chance' attempt. I graduated from my undergraduate program with a Biology degree but did horrible. I was not focused and my extra curricular activities were my priority. I ended up graduating with a 2.6 GPA.

I know it would be a good idea for me to apply to a postbac program to show med schools that I actually can succeed in higher level science classes. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

I always have something going on at home with family or I'm working a lot. I think I've been living where I am for so long that I just need a fresh start somewhere else with no distractions. And I only work because it's the only way I can provide for myself but it definitely takes away from my studies. I feel like I'm just a complete failure once again. I earned three C's, a D in the postbac program, which I know looks bad on my transcript but I'm taking the class over I got a D in. I'm most likely not even going to boost my undergraduate GPA over a 3.0 like I thought it would. I've faced the facts that my undergrad GPA will just not be competitive.

Being a doctor is still my dream and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get there even if I have to take a billion more steps than the average but is all hope lost for me? If not, what next steps could I take. Would doing a Master's program be smart? I know it will be difficult convincing any school of my capabilities but I'm ready to put in the work. Any suggestions would be amazing."

Here Are My Thoughts: [02:57] Special Master’s Program

Let's face the facts here. You have shown time and time again that you were not a good student. I'm not sure if taking a Master's coursework is going to fix that for you. What you need to fix is yourself.

As you've mentioned, maybe you just need a fresh start somewhere and get rid of distractions. But you have to really ask yourself if that's going to give you the fresh start. Listen to Episode 230 of The Premed Years Podcast where I talked with Chad who was recently accepted to two medical schools. He was a lot like you who always had something going on and was never able to focus on coursework. He did terrible and didn't do well in his undergrad. He didn't do well in postbac and he got rejected from Caribbean medical schools. I even joked in that podcast that I didn't even know Caribbean schools rejected people but apparently, they do. Chad eventually went on to do a Special Master's Program (SMP), which is basically a Master's postbac. He did well and was accepted to the medical school associated with that SMP and was also accepted at another school.

You could look into something like an SMP. But based on your track record, I’m not sure what's going to change. Perhaps you need to continue taking some undergraduate classes and make sure you're ready to commit to an SMP, which is going to be another $20,000 to $40,000. Don't take that next step unless you know you're ready and unless you have fixed yourself.

[05:14] Focus on Being a Student

In Episode 230 of The Premed Years Podcast, Chad said that he had to quit working then he actually found work that was flexible enough for him to go and do what he needed to do. But for the most part, he got rid of all his commitments and focused on being a student. He lived on food stamps and on different public assistance programs. And this is something for you to think about. What lengths can you go to so you can make sure you have food and shelter but also have time to study?

[06:00] Final Words

Fix those things. Make sure you're dedicated to being a student. Make sure you're just not a bad student and are making other excuses. Get rid of distractions. Take some classes. Do well in them and prove to yourself that you're ready for that next step. Then take that next step. Lastly, look into a Special Master's Program (SMP) which is the only Master's program I would look out for you. Do not do MPH and any other Master's program. Just go to an SMP if you can get into one.

Links:

OldPreMeds.org

MedEd Media Network

Premed Years Podcast Session 230: Rejected from the Caribbean! Now with a US Acceptance!

71: Should I Give Up On MD Dream If I Apply Late in the Cycle?

Apr 26, 2017 10:07

Description:

Session 71

Session 71

Our poster this week is wondering if applying late is going to hurt his chances of getting into an MD school and if he should just focus on DO schools. Should you “give up” applying to MD schools just because you’re taking the MCAT at a later date?

[01:15] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm beginning to realize that I might have to give up on MD and focus on DO only. I'm taking O. Chem 2 and Philosophy this summer and will have all prereqs completed except the Biochem and Bio3 for those schools that require it. Although I wanted to take O. Chem at another place, I had to take it at this community college because of timing. The problem is that this community college is one of those "Harvard on a hill" types. Science classes and labs are loaded up with busy work and homework. I'm starting to realize that the bulk of my MCAT prep will have to happen after the semester ends, which means June and July and MCAT July 28. That would push my application into mid-September and my understanding from that other site (SDN) is that mid-September is quite late for MD but on time for DO. So what to do? Give up hopes of MD, stick with the DO cycle only? Apply MD and hope for a miracle? I don't have a problem with DO per se as my ultimate goal is Family Medicine or Internal Medicine.

The only issue I have with DO is that most schools have you move after second year and then again after third year. There are few schools that allow both clinical years that would be completed in the same town and those would be the ones I would target. I would not want to apply to schools such as PNWU (Pacific Northwestern University). I don't want to be moving between Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho every three months for rotations. My number one choice is UC San Diego but that's going to be a tough one unless my MCAT score rocks. My estimated Science GPA is 3.63. I am an over-represented minority, will have mediocre ECs and LORs., and don't have any kind of amazing life story.”

[03:29] Is August Too Late to Apply?

The poster here is an over-represented minority and interested in UC San Diego but is taking a late MCAT. July 28 MCAT is late and it's not terrible. Well, it's kind of bad. Looking at the date, you're going to get the score back or the school is going to get the score back on Tuesday, August 29. That would be end of August which means it's going to be a late August date.

I recently talked to a premed advisor at a local school who reached out to fifteen medical schools talking about sending committee letters and if a late August committee letter would still be okay. Out of the 15 schools, 12-13 said it was okay and they'd still consider it early while 2-3 of them preferred mid-August. Although this is a small sample size, it goes to show you that a lot of schools out there are still ramping up their admissions in August and September.

[05:05] The Normal Application Time Frame

Remember the normal time frame is to submit in June. Schools get your primary application. For AACOMAS application, schools will start to get it early June this year, while AMCAS application will not get it until late June. They send you secondaries and you fill those out, assuming that schools start to receive secondary applications starting mid-July. Applications start to get looked at and then interview invites start to go out. Following that, they would start accepting people after the interviews.

[05:50] Early Application and Rolling Admissions

Think about where you are in line. If you're going to take a late MCAT, you still need to apply early. Have those transcripts verified early because the biggest hangup in the application is this manual process done by people. So you need to get in line to get your transcripts verified. Get those applications out and start to fill out those secondaries and have the MCAT as the only thing that the school is waiting for.

Hence, there is no reason to "give up" on MD. Just apply and see. I wouldn't NOT apply to MD schools just because it's later in the application cycle. I also disagree with the fact that it's still "on time" for DO considering that the DO application starts to go out before MD applications.

So don't have that mindset of giving up MD just because it's a later application. A lot of people get accepted to MD and DO schools that apply late. Of course, you need good scores and stats to bring you over the hurdle considering it's a rolling admissions process. This is another reason I don't agree with being "on time" for DO because most schools have a rolling admissions process. Either way, if you're applying late to either application cycle, you're still going to be later in the cycle for everybody. This means less interview spots available and if you get one and are interviewed, it's going to be a little bit later. Typically, there are less acceptances to hand out because it's a rolling admissions process.

[08:16] Final Thoughts

Don't give up on MD. Apply to both MD and DO and do your best. Give it your best shot. Ideally, you're taking the MCAT earlier but it is what it is. I hope you understand the importance of taking it earlier in the application cycle. As I'm recording this in 2017, the latest that I'm pushing students back to is mid-June because then if you get your score back in mid-July (the date secondaries are coming back if you're up-to-date) and so it's not delaying the application a lot, if at all. Ideally, take the MCAT in March or April but if you need to take it a little bit later, then do it. You obviously want to take it when you're prepared. Do not take it early just because you have to. There's a big difference there.

Links:

MedEd Media Network

AMCAS

AACOMAS

70: Should You Quit Your job to Study for the MCAT Full-Time?

Apr 19, 2017 09:45

Description:

Session 70

Session 70

The MCAT is hard. Being a nontrad and studying for the MCAT can seem impossible. Should you quit your job to study for the MCAT full-time? That is the question.

We take your questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums and answer them here on the podcast. If you haven't yet, sign up for an account and join this awesome community.

[01:20] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm debating whether I should resign from my job or not. I graduated last year and have been balancing working a very full-time job, 40-50 hours a week, and MCAT studying. I've taken the old MCAT before the change happened in January and scored a 20 literally but I'm a very good student with a 3.97 GPA. I was taking a Kaplan course at that time while taking three science courses and thesis and cram-studied for 18 days. In retrospect, I needed to strategize and needed more time."

Note: This student was obviously taking the January 2015 test and I'm assuming they cram-studied because they were trying to take the test prior to the change to the new MCAT.

"I'm aiming to take the exam in January of 2017. I already unofficially pushed back the exam twice due to events at work and feel like I need to study head-on but I haven't seen much improvement despite on and off studying since last October. My biggest fear is quitting and not doing as well on the exam as I've hoped. But I'm also so tired when I come home from work and I know that something needs to change at work. Financially, I have about three months worth of rent for New York City and I;m concerned about finding a job to sustain me after my exam.

But my main focus at this point is to do well on the exam and I don't want delay taking this exam anymore. I'm going to ask my employer if I can take a one-month leave of absence from late December to my January exam date and somehow find a way to use my vacation days so I can work three to four days a week. Would this be enough time to improve my score to 510+? My first Kaplan practice test score was 491. I'm determined to do well but for some reason, I'm not making much progress on this exam. Or is quitting your job for the exam worth it for the exam? Would med schools look unfavorably if I were to study for the MCAT head-on?”

Here are my thoughts: [03:50] The MCAT is Like No Other

I don't think med schools care if you quit your job and only studied for the MCAT. They just want to see you have a good grade. So you don't really want to worry about that.

This student was good in school but bombed the MCAT, studying for 18 days and trying to cram in one of those last test dates in January 15, like every other student was trying to do and didn't do well with a 20.

My first point is that the MCAT is not like any other test you're going to see in your life through your undergrad years or your postbac years. It doesn't care if you have a 3.97 GPA. All it cares about is how well you're going to do on the MCAT. So you need to well on the MCAT which means studying specifically for the MCAT and that also means studying for more than 18 days.

[05:30] Take Many Practice Tests

This was actually posted in August and the poster was looking at taking it in January and possibly taking a one month leave of absence to cram for the MCAT. I still consider one month as cramming for the MCAT. The goal is to take many practice tests. Go and listen to The MCAT Podcast, if you don't already, where you we cover topics like how long to study for the MCAT or how many practices tests should you take, and all of these types of questions.

[06:18] Should You Quit Your Job?

Every job is different. There is a difference between a librarian job which is relatively easy compared to this job that this poster has, working 40-50 hours a week and coming home too tired to study. That's a huge difference! Therefore, you need to take into account what your life is, your job life, and the amount of energy you have to give to prepare for the MCAT. Your priority would be MCAT but you obviously have to sustain yourself financially with living, food, and everything else. But this poster only has their three months worth of rent. So could you take on a room mate? Or go and live in with somebody? Adjust your lifestyle to make it a priority to study for the MCAT.

[07:33] The Best Case Scenario

The best case scenario is always studying full-time for the MCAT. But that is not reasonable for everyone and not a doable thing. So you need to be able to study as much as possible and that means you may have to adjust some things like going down to doing part-time, or going down to three or four days a week, or to four or five hours a day instead of 40-50 hours a week.

[08:03] My Final Thoughts

Again, the MCAT comes first. It doesn't matter if you quit your job and study full-time. The medical schools are not going to look at that negatively. One month is not enough time to study for the MCAT for most people. If you think about a normal study schedule, you're taking the unscored AAMC MCAT a week before your exam, you're taking one of their scored two weeks before the exam, you're taking one of their scored three weeks before the exam, and then you're taking four or five or six other full-length practice exams for the month before that. So you're looking at about two months minimum to start fitting in practice exams and doing everything else. As you can see, it takes some time so you need to plan it.

Links:

MedEdMedia Network

The MCAT Podcast

AAMC practice tests

The MCAT Podcast 34: How Many MCAT Practice Tests Should I Take?

The MCAT Podcast 37: How Do I Know If I’m Ready to Take the MCAT

69: How Do I Know if Medicine Is Right For Me?

Apr 12, 2017 08:56

Description:

Session 69

Session 69

Taken directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums, today's question comes from Kyle, a student who's not really sure if he's interested in medicine. If you think you’re on the same boat as Kyle then all the more reason you should listen to this episode.

This question basically relates a little bit to The Premed Years Session 229, where I spoke with Renee, a 54-year-old medical student. She was actually 53 when she reapplied to medical school. She was a former nurse turned nurse practitioner turned nurse educator and had a very successful career. But at the back of her mind, she has always wanted to be a physician. Through the encouragement of her kids, she actually went back and finally made a leap. Listen to her story about how she took the MCAT five times and had to reapply to medical school but was finally successful and is now a medical student.

By the way, we have a new podcast coming up where we will be covering USMLE Step 1 and COMLEX Level 1, the first part of the board exams that you take as a medical student. Stay tuned as it will be out in a couple of weeks.

[03:25] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

" I really need some objectivity right now. Up and down academic trend maybe 3.0 Science GPA, maybe a 3.1, graduated with a Allied Health degree, not strong GPA throughout program, finally picked it up final semester of my degree. Prereqs General Biology 1 - 3.7 after retake. General Biology 2 - 3.0. Postback, informal, very slow-paced right now. Chem 1 retake -4.0, Genetic - 4.0, Chem 2 - currently taking.

 Here's the deal. I'm just not sure I really want to be a physician. There's a lot that goes into this thinking but fundamentally, I'm not sure I want to do what a doctor does. I've done volunteering, shadowing, etc. I like the science side of it and not really dealing with treating or caring for people. I've gone from pre-nursing, pre-pharm, to premed throughout my academic career and currently in a health profession that is none of those but I'm enjoying my job. Who else out there is struggling with this doubt? But it's not just doubt in my abilities, work ethic, time to do this while working full time. But like I said, fundamentally, I don't think I want that role like I once did. If someone was there before, what brought you back to pursue medicine? You hear that cliche that if you can see yourself doing something other than being a doctor, then don't become a doctor. This has been an ongoing multi-year, multi-seasoned fight and I just don't know if I have what it takes nor if I really want this."

[05:07] Here are my thoughts:

The short answer is go find something else to do. It's as simple as that. The role of a physician is very much ingrained in patient care. When you say you're not sure you want to do what a doctor does and that you really don't like dealing with treating or caring for people, that right there tells me that you should not be a doctor. And that's is truly okay.

I talk about it on The Premed Years Podcast all the time that it is great to realize that you don't want to be a doctor because it's a long, hard, and expensive process. Then in the end, a lot of physicians actually question whether it was all worth it and a lot of physicians do not like being a doctor anymore. So for you to find this out now is great! Go find something else that you love to do. It doesn't even have to be in health care. You've talked about going from pre-nursing to pre-pharm to premed. Get out of medicine altogether and find something else that you really love.

[06:35] A Farewell to Being Premed

If you're struggling with similar things as Kyle is, I highly recommend you listen to Session 29 of The OldPreMeds Podcast where I read a post from somebody who wrote a farewell letter to being a premed. It's a great post from somebody who realized that it wasn't just what they wanted anymore. And that's okay.

Going back to Kyle, congratulations for figuring this out. Go enjoy whatever it is that you're meant to do. Go find it.

Links:

OldPreMeds.org

The Premed Years Podcast Specialty Stories Podcast

The Premed Years Podcast Session 229: 54-Year-Old Med Student Overcame 5 MCAT s, Rejection, and More

The OldPreMeds Podcast Session 29: A Farewell Letter to Being Premed

68: Which Postbac Should I Choose? Does Prestige Matter?

Apr 5, 2017 07:38

Description:

Session 68

Session 68

Our poster this week is trying to decide between two postbac programs in New York and is worried about picking one that may be looked less upon based on the name.

We take questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums and answer them here on the podcast. "Old premed” is a relative term as you could be a 23-year-old “old premed” or be a 40, 50, or even 60-year-old “old premed.” In this case, an old premed refers to a nontraditional premed student. So if you consider yourself one (or even if you're a traditional student), you are welcome to be a part of our community and we'll be happy to answer any questions from you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm having a hard time deciding between Fordham or Hunter for my postbac. While Hunter is cheaper, I do not want to get caught up in their bad bureaucracy or have to take an extra semester because I couldn't get a class seat. Additionally, I cannot apply to Hunter until January versus my Fordham admissions rep saying he would process my application in two weeks and I can start this summer. It's more risky applying to Hunter and I don't want to delay my goals for a year on the chance I might not get in.

Fordham's night and weekend classes would usually free up my schedule for shadowing and volunteering while letting me study during my peak hours as a morning person. Hunter seems to offer more resources, guest lectures, advising. Both programs offer committee letters. My biggest fear is Fordham won't be prestigious enough and harm my application. Is my final GPA truly what med schools care most about?"

Here are my insights: [03:06] Is It Good Enough?

This comes up a lot when parents and students try to decide which institution to go to for undergrad, for postbac, or for medical school because you're worrying about the name of the school and how it will affect your application to medical school or residency. "Is it good enough?" That is the never-ending cycle of question.

My simple answer is - Yes. It is good enough.

Schools are accepting students from all over the country and the world. They are taking students from community colleges or rural liberal arts schools. They are also taking students from the big names like Harvard. And it's based on numbers.

My alma mater, the University of Florida, has one of the largest state schools in the country and they typically produce the most medical school matriculants every year. It's a huge, well-known state school and it's not known for the academics, in fact, it's one of the top party schools. But it's still a great school that produces a lot of students. Hence, it's not the name of the institution that you will be judged upon by medical schools.

[05:06] How to Choose Your School

Sure, there are medical schools that would look at an institution’s name and some admissions committee members may have their biases. But this should not be the driving factor in your decision, but rather, everything else that you talked about in terms of how it works with your schedule, how it fits with your internal clock as a morning person, etc. This is how you should be judging these things and not based on the institution's prestige. On The Premed Years Podcast, I talk a lot about choosing a school that will make you great, not choosing a great school. Just because a certain school has a great name attached to it doesn't mean you will flourish there. You need to choose a school that will help you be great and will let you shine.

Links:

OldPreMeds.org

The Premed Years Podcast

University of Florida

Fordham University

Hunter University

 

67: How Should I Prepare For My First Shadowing Experience?

Mar 29, 2017 08:24

Description:

Session 67

Session 67

This week’s question is all about shadowing, basically some do’s and don’ts to make sure you get the most out of your shadowing experience.

We take questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums. If you haven't yet, go register for an account. It's free and easy. Feel free to ask questions.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

From Lydia:

"I'm preparing for my first shadowing experience. I'll be shadowing a heme/oncologist MD. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to make the most of my experience. I'm planning on bringing a notebook and some good questions. Any other ideas or suggestions or must-ask questions? Thanks!"

Here are my insights: [01:34] Shadowing and Clinical Experience

Shadowing is so important in the game of premed life in order for you to understand what medicine is like. However, please note that shadowing and clinical experience are two different things.

Clinical experience involves hands-on interaction with patients where you help them do things and talk to them. Hence, you are really interacting with them.

Shadowing, on the other hand, is supposed to be a very passive experience where you're literally a shadow because you're there standing in a corner or behind the physician or beside the physician to just watch and observe. You're not there to ask questions during the patient interaction. You're not there to talk to the patients. Some physicians, however, are okay with students who shadow to do exams on the patient, if the patient allows it obviously.

Some physicians will ask your thoughts during an exam or during taking a patient's history.  Basically, every physician is different.

So just go in with the assumption that you're only going to stand there, watch, and be silent. Your opportunity to ask questions to the physician happens afters the patient encounter  but only if they allow you to. Some physicians won't give you any time to ask questions while other physicians will let you ask questions in between every patients. But just go in with the assumption that you won't be able to ask questions or interact in any way and that you're just going to be following the physician around. Anything else that is above and beyond that assumption is great.

[03:57] What to Bring

Don't go in with anything (notebook, pens, paper, etc.) unless it's a tiny book that will fit in your pocket. You're going in dressed up in business casual unless you're told something else by the physician or the clinic where you're shadowing. Go in with as little as possible so that you are not burdening the clinic with needing to store your stuff. Leave your backpack or purse in the car. Go in with nothing. The less you have, the better.

[05:05] Questions to Ask

Let the questions come to you naturally as you leave. Don't go in with a list of questions with what medicine is like and what life is like. Just ask questions at the end of the day about what you saw that day or the process  you saw during that day. As you build that relationship, more and more of these questions can come. Ask questions about the patient at the end of the day. Do not ask a generic list of questions because that is not necessary.

[05:50] Taking Notes

As you're done for the day, you may now get your notebook out and start journaling -physician's name, dates and times, what you saw, what left an impression on you, what made an impact on you, diseases you've seen, the kind of patient interaction the physician had, what you liked or not liked about what you saw that day, what could have been done better or different. Write those things down and be sure to keep a journal of all your interactions of shadowing, volunteering  (even including the non-medical stuff). Keep a journal of all your experiences because this can help you with filling out your AMCAS application, AACOMAS application, or the Texas Medical and Dental Application Service in that you have these memories and notes to go back to.

Links:

OldPreMeds.org

The Premed Years Podcast

MedEd Media Network

AMCAS application

ACOMAS application

Texas Medical and Dental Application Serviced Media Network

66: Should I Take Online Courses to Prepare for the MCAT?

Mar 23, 2017 08:58

Description:

Session 66

Session 66

This week, a student asked about retaking old prerequisite classes that they previously did well in, hoping to better prepare for the MCAT. The classes that the poster has been considering to take, however, are online. What are the options?

If you have any questions, register for an account at OldPreMeds.org and join the collaborative community there.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I am 'stuffling' (I wasn’t really sure what the poster meant by this word) in deciding whether or not to retake my science courses online. I took most classes, bio and general chem, about ten years ago and recently took some courses to prep for the MCAT. I took the MCAT two years ago and scored a 500.

I want to retake all science classes to help me prepare better for the MCAT. Unfortunately, I can't do daytime classes because I work and I have a family to support and the schools where I live do not offer these classes in the evening. Will it be okay if I took these classes online? Will medical schools accept them or am I better off not retaking these courses. My science GPA is 3.7 and my overall is 3.9.  I really want to apply to medical school as soon as possible as I'm 31. But I really need a bit more review on physics because that is my weakest point. Any advice would be helpful."

Here are my thoughts: [03:00] Prerequisite Classes

Retaking the MCAT is obviously a huge endeavor. 500 is not a great score but it's a score and a 3.7/3.9 is a great GPA. Interestingly, you only mentioned Bio and General chemistry so I'm wondering if you really understand all the prereqs for medical school. Now with the new MCAT, it's not just Biology but also, Psychology, Sociology, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry. Some of the medical schools are adding some of those Psychology and Sociology classes to their prereqs so that's something to look into.

[04:00] Taking Online Prereqs

If you go back to OPM Session 18, it talks about online degrees. But the person here is just taking online courses to supplement her previous courses in order to give her a better foundation for the MCAT.

My biggest piece of advice is to look into the MSAR (for MD schools) and look at the requirements for each of the schools since they will tell you whether or not they accept online courses.

In this situation, you did well in your courses to begin with (assuming you did all of the prereqs) so let's say you're taking these online courses not to boost your GPA but as a refresher. This is something you have to ask the medical about. Reach out to the school and present your situation telling them you did well in your previous classes. Since they're older, are they going to take these older classes? And would it be okay if you took these online courses now not for boosting your GPA but really just to prepare for the MCAT.

[05:52] MCAT Prep Course

Another option is just to apply and see what happens. 500 is not a great score but it's the average MCAT score so it will limit what schools will look at you.

The last options is spend the money on a MCAT prep course instead of online courses and use the MCAT prep course materials to relearn the information you need to learn. Personally, this would be the route I would take. I would self-teach myself, use Khan Academy videos online, and take a look at the Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) from Stanford University for example and see if they have any Physics courses online for free. I'd take a look at whatever online resources are out there and self-teach myself through those online resources and through the study material from these courses. Check out Next Step Test Prep, specifically their new MCAT class where they teach you the material online and at your own pace. They also have online office hours five days a week to have your questions answered. Compared to other big-named companies, they have more materials and they're much cheaper. Save some money by using the code MSHQ.

Links:

Next Step Test Prep

OPM Session 18

MSAR

Khan Academy

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs)

MedEd Media Network

OldPreMeds.org

The Premed Years Podcast

The MCAT Podcast

Specialty Stories Podcast

The Short Coat Podcast

65: Can I See Your Stats to See How Competitive I Am?

Mar 15, 2017 09:55

Description:

Session 65

Session 65

Our poster today is a working mom who fell into a very common premed trap of trying to compare her stats to those of others students. The problem is, it doesn’t work that way!

If you have any questions that you would like answered here on The OldPreMeds Podcast, go to the OldPremeds.org, sign up for an account and join in their collaborative environment.

[01:23] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"First off, I am so happy to have found this site. I found my way here, thanks to The Premed Years Podcast. I am a 29-year-old working mom, I have two young children and who has been in the environmental health and safety industry mainly for manufacturing companies for about six years.

I originally applied to medical school in 2008 but I call it a wimpy effort at best. By the time I finished my undergrad, I was not very confident in my dreams or my commitment to four plus additional years in school, and ended up taking my backup plan (Kindly listen to The Premed Years Podcast to know my thoughts on having a backup plan). I got my Master’s in Environmental Talks and immediately started working after graduation. Over the years, the realization that medicine was in fact my dream has become a lot more obvious, but I have never felt like there was a good time to transition.

About six months ago, I bit the bullet and signed up to retake the MCAT. I took it January 28th so I’ll be receiving my scores at the end of February. My plan is to apply early for the 2018 cycle. My stats are potentially competitive, 3.9 undergrad GPA and 3.6 graduate, along with a good community service history and participation in undergrad grad research and shadowing.

I’m not super confident that I did well on the MCAT and I am trying to gauge the point at which I decide that I will not submit an application. I’m applying to an allopathic program if that makes any difference. Does anyone mind sharing their own stats and/or opinion of a threshold MCAT score for applying?"

Here are my insights: [3:10] Trust Yourself, Trust Your Stats

It does not matter what other people’s stats are. The only person you're competing against to get into medical school is yourself. You need to trust yourself. You need to trust your stats and know that stats are only part of the application.

A 3.9 undergrad GPA is great. A 3.6 graduate GPA is good. An MCAT score is one part of a puzzle for a full application. A 29-year-old working mom will have a great story to tell if she tells it properly.

Here’s the biggest part of the application that people miss. You have to tell that story about the nontraditional journey that you have been on that separates you from everybody else. What makes you special? It’s not your MCAT score. But it’s your story, your journey, your path. That’s the story that you need to tell. It doesn’t matter what your MCAT score is.

[4:39] Applying to Only One School Might Hurt Your Chances

One thing that stood out in this question. This student said that she was applying to an allopathic program. One program.

This is a huge mistake. I understand that students, especially nontraditional students, have challenges such as location restrictions. And if you're a working mom, you're married, and your husband has a job and can’t relocate and the kids are firmly integrated in the schools and cannot relocate, then applying to one school is going to be a huge, HUGE risk. If I were that mom, I would then have serious conversations with my husband and with the kids, and clearly explain to them that I may have to move alone for a little while or all of us may have to move and start afresh so I can fulfill my dream of becoming a physician.

It is a huge challenge, a huge risk to apply to only one medical school. The average number of applications for MD schools is 14 to 15 as well for DO schools. Assuming most students apply to both MD and DO schools then that would mean applying to thirty schools.

[06:27] Applying Broadly and Other Things to Consider

It’s a lot of schools. It’s a lot of money. But every school is looking for something different. Every school is looking for a part of the community that they’re trying to build. As a 29-year-old working mom, the student who posted this question may fit in great at one school (regardless of her stats) because of her background as a working mom and her life experience. But it might be a school that’s two states away and this is also something you need to take into account when applying to medical school.

As a nontraditional applicant, it’s hard to think about applying broadly when you have a husband, or a wife, or other significant others and kids, and you're thinking about moving them. And so there are lots of things to think about when it comes to that.

[07:22] My Final Thoughts

Other people’s stats absolutely do not matter. Your 3.9 and 3.6 are not my 3.9 and 3.6 and 510 on the MCAT. If you've got a 510 on the MCAT and we had the same exact stats, it does not matter because your story is different than mine.

Stop trying to compare yourself or compare your stats to other students. They don’t compute. There is no correlation between your stats and somebody else’s stats. Just stop it.

Links and Other Resources:

MedEd Media Network

OldPreMeds.org

The Premed Years Podcast

Next Step Test Prep (Use the code MSHQ to save some money on full-length practice exams, their online courses, and their one-on-one tutoring.)

The Premed Years Podcast Session 213: Stop Looking for a Backup Plan, It's Hurting Your Chances

64: Are There Ways to Go to Med School Without Taking the MCAT?

Mar 8, 2017 08:53

Description:

Session 64

Session 64

We take questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forum and deliver the answers right here to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm about to graduate from college this upcoming May and would like to apply to medical schools. I wanted to apply to linkage programs so I can get into medical school without having to take the MCAT. I still have not taken the MCAT.

However, I cannot apply to postbac programs because I've taken all the premed courses and have done very well in them. So that eliminates any postbac linkage programs.

I know there are tons of linkage programs for undergrad sophomores and juniors but since I'm no longer a sophomore or junior, what other options do I have besides applying to medical school the regular way?"

Here are my insights: [02:45] Thinking Outside the Box

The MCAT is a beast of its own and that's why you have resources like The MCAT Podcast to help make taking the MCAT easier for you. If you haven't yet, go check it out. It's a podcast I do with Next Step Test Prep, a test prep company that offers one-on-one tutoring as well as 10 full-length practice tests for the new MCAT. They also have a brand new course which they've set out. (Use the code MSHQ to save some money on their products and services).

[03:35] Ways to Get Into Medical School

There are a couple of ways to get into medical school. First is the traditional route which involves applying at the end of your junior year or beginning of your senior year for entrance the following year. So there's no break between undergrad and medical school except for a summer off. Within that normal route, you will have take the MCAT.

[04:03] Early Acceptance Programs

Perhaps the more appropriate term to use rather than a linkage program is "early acceptance." For most of these programs you apply during your sophomore or junior year. For some schools, you don't have to take the MCAT. While for others, you still have to take the MCAT provided that you have a minimum score to still be accepted into medical school.

My undergrad institution, University of Florida has the Junior Honors Medical Program where you apply as a sophomore and they look at your SAT score and the first couple years of your undergrad classes. I think you have to take the MCAT on that one.

[4:53] Programs without MCAT Requirement

There are programs out there where you don't have to take the MCAT.  I recently helped a student get into A.T. Still University where they have an early acceptance program and she no longer has to take the MCAT and got her early acceptance.

[5:05] What Are the Options for Nontraditional Students?

If you're listening to this as a nontraditional student, those options are probably not going to be available for you. Instead, you can look into postbac programs, which are there to help increase your grades if you started off poorly and then you've decided to come back and work harder. These are grade-enhancing programs that allow you to go back and take these prerequisite courses over again. Some of those programs will have linkages to medical schools.

There are also Special Master’s Programs that have linkages to medical schools. These are master degree programs to help you improve your grades so you can prove to medical schools that you can handle the curriculum. I really wouldn’t recommend taking it as these programs can be very expensive. Also, in a lot of these programs, you will have to take some classes with the first year medical students.

[6:45] Take the MCAT. Take a Prep Course.

If you've done well in your classes, there is no reason to avoid taking the MCAT. Bite the bullet. MCAT is a necessary evil. If you've done well in your undergrad classes, that is the number one way to prepare for the MCAT. So go back and relearn that material. Take a prep course such as Next Step Test Prep and use the code MSHQ. Just take the MCAT and you will be fine.

Links and Other Resources:

OldPreMed.org

MedEd Media Network

The Premed Years

The MCAT Podcast

Specialty Stories Podcast

Next Step Test Prep (Use the code MSHQ to save money off their offerings.)

University of Florida - Junior Honors Medical Program

If you're on any social media platform, use #tripod and let people know all about The OldPreMeds Podcast.

63: I'm Switching From Optometry, What Do I Do Now?

Mar 1, 2017 09:22

Description:

Session 63

Session 63

Our poster today is a former student interested in optometry but is now trying to pursue medicine. A poor MCAT score is holding him back though plus his premed advisor told him he had zero percent chance of getting into medical school due to lack of research experience. Is research really necessary? How else can you improve your application given these circumstances?

The OldPreMeds community has been around for a long time helping nontraditional students like yourself on their journey to and through medical school. If you haven’t yet, sign up for an account today and if you have any questions, ask away.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Today’s post is one from Louis Gonzalez.

"I am 27 years old. I have put off going to medical school for the last five years due to personal and family reasons. I’ve been taking care of my sister who developed a form of psychosis back in the spring of 2013 and I was my grandmother’s caretaker during her fatal bout with liver cancer in 2014.

I was trying for optometry school but after shadowing several optometrists, I just don’t think that it was the correct field for me. I graduated in 2011 with a 3.4 science GPA and a 3.7 accumulative GPA. I, at this time, only have 450 hours of volunteering and three years worth of science tutoring biology, microbiology, chemistry and organic chemistry.

Tutoring at the local community college near my home, I can’t travel that far due to my sister’s health. I did have shadowing experience but the doctor I shadowed back in 2011 doesn’t have an office in this state anymore. I know I’ll have to start shadowing and taking my MCAT. I got 23 on the 2012 MCAT, but what else should I do to prepare my application? I’m taking my MCAT in mid-August. So is it a good idea to get letters of recommendation right now and apply late? Or wait until next year and ask those professors in early 2018 to write letters of recommendation?

Also, is research necessary? I went back to talk to an advisor at my university about applying to medical school in December, but she told me that I had a 0% chance of getting into medical school at this point due to my lack of research. Overall,any advice would be most helpful."

Here are my insights: [03:15] Zero Percent Chance and Research Experience

First of all, as much as I love premed advisors, I just have to disagree with "0% chance" of getting into medical school because zero percent chance is never the answer.

Anyway, do you have to have research? No. It’s a tricky thing because when you’re applying to medical schools and you’re looking at the MSAR and the College Information Book, you'd see various breakdowns of students that were accepted including what percentage of them had research. And it’s a large majority. But the bottom line is that you do not have to have research.

If you’re interested in research, great and go seek it out. I highly recommend you go and get research because it’s interesting and just to see if you might like it or not. It's very easy just like any other experience of shadowing or getting clinical experience.You could either do laboratory research or clinical research wherein you’re helping a physician do some data analysis on their patients. Again, you don’t have to have research but I would recommend you get it or at least "dip your toes" in it for a little bit to see if you like it.

[04:45] Older Prereqs and Preparing for the MCAT

Your GPA scores, volunteering experience, and science tutoring are great. Your prerequisites are a little bit older (take a listen to OPM 62) but it's probably still okay. I recommend you check in with each of the schools you're interested in applying to just to make sure they're okay with having some older prereqs.

Just as I talked about last week, you got a 23 on the MCAT so it may help you on the new MCAT to take some more courses to help solidify your knowledge of the sciences that are going to be tested on the MCAT. But it comes down to you just not understanding what the MCAT is all about. For this reason, I would highly recommend looking into a Next Step Test Prep or another one-on-one tutoring company. If you decide to go with Next Step Test Prep, use the code MSHQ to save some money on their tutoring programs. You really need to understand how to take the MCAT to do well on it.

[06:02] Application Timeline & Letters of Recommendation

If you plan to apply this year (2017) and take the test in August, I would recommend that you don't apply this year. August is too late to apply this year. It’s not a 0% chance but I would never recommend to anybody that’s applying in 2017 to take the MCAT in August of 2017 because your application is not going to be complete until a month after that. By that time, you’re several months behind and most medical schools are going to have the people they want to interview already lined up and ready to go. They're just waiting for those last few really top notch applications to come through before the deadline, which is usually at the end of October. So if you have to take the MCAT in August or mid-August, I would delay applying until 2018.

Regarding letters of recommendation, start asking for them around February and have your letter writers submit their letters for 2018, applying in June of 2018.

[07:22] Shadowing and Clinical Experience

Look into some more shadowing and more clinical experience since admissions committees want to see sustained engagement in the medical field. While you had a volunteering a while ago, you didn't mention what type of volunteering it is so I'm going to assume it's not medically related. Get some clinical experience being around patients just to make sure this is really what you want to do.

Lastly, I'm glad that you pointed out that you decided not to apply for optometry after shadowing optometrists. This is the very reason medical schools want to see some shadowing experience from students in order to get that same feel and that gut feeling whether to go for it or not.

Links:

The Short Coat Podcast

MedEd Media Network

MSAR

College Information Book

OPM 62: What Should I Focus on With Old Prereqs and ECs?

Next Step Test Prep (Use the code MSHQ to save some money on their tutoring programs.)

62: What Should I Focus on with Old Prereqs and ECs?

Feb 22, 2017 10:48

Description:

Session 62

Session 62

My name is Dr. Ryan Gray and I am the Director of the National Society for Nontraditional Premedical and Medical Students, also known as OldPreMeds.

Taken directly from the forums at OldPreMeds.org, our question this week comes from a nontraditional student who took a lot of classes many years ago and is wondering what's the best route to take to get back into the premed game.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I’m new here and so glad to have found this site. I graduated with a science degree in 2000 at a competitive school, and while I was interested in medicine and took all the premed required courses and had around a 3.5 GPA, I wasn’t sure about my passion for it, and frankly not mature enough for that commitment. Instead, I got an MPH in Health Management and have been in the field ever since working in health IT, management consulting, and currently working at a hospital managing a department.

But after seventeen years of working in healthcare, I want to move from being in the support services and management to being a care provider, and looking to explore getting an MD or a DO. I should also mention that I’m married and have two young kids, so certainly this is a decision that would disrupt all our lives. I know my coursework is outdated but what options should I pursue?

I contacted one postbac program near me and they said I would qualify for their two-year-career changer program and would have to retake all my old courses, and that a lot of schools want to see all course requirements done within the last five years. I really don’t want to take two years to retake coursework and have been reading about do-it-yourself postbacs, but I am unclear on how many courses to take and what courses to take for that matter to make me a more attractive candidate.

I’m looking at the websites of schools near me, I live in southern California, but it seems unclear. Also would I need to take any extracurriculars? I work in healthcare, and while I’m not a provider, I know a lot of the ins and outs, sacrifices and dedication needed. It’s been a long while but in the past, pre-marriage and pre-kids, I volunteered for hospice and enjoyed it. Extracurriculars would be tough with kids so I’m hoping to avoid it if possible. I’m just starting this process so any advice is welcome."

Here are my insights:

This is an example of someone who has been having that itch of getting into medical school that has never really gone away, which is common to a lot of nontraditional premed students.

[3:40] Taking Postbacs & Working Full-Time or Part-Time

Now that you have your wife and kids, the question is, can you afford to stop working to take classes full-time?

When I recently attended University of Central Florida's Medical School Admissions Symposium, I had dinner with a bunch of premeds and nontrad premeds and talked with Cain (listen to his journey on The Premed Years Podcast Session 174). Now a first year medical student, Cain was also a nontrad premed who was working full time. At dinner, he mentioned that he wished he would have been more intentional and that he should have pulled that trigger a little bit sooner to stop working full time and jump back into his courses.

So this is something you need to think about whether you really want to commit and reduce your workload and go part time (if you can), or quit altogether and rely on your spouse's income (if possible).

[05:45] Retaking Coursework

The fact that your prereqs are 17 years old, that can and will play a role in many schools accepting you. While I agree that schools like to see coursework done within five years, I don't know if I would say “a lot of schools.” I’d say, there are some schools out there that would want to see newer coursework.

Newer coursework is going to help prepare for the MCAT as this is going to be the big hurdle. Hence, retaking the coursework to prepare for the MCAT is something you might want to think about.

[06: 25] Extracurriculars

If location is an issue and you can only go to a handful medical schools then start to get to know them and reach out to them. Explain to medical schools your situation and ask them.

I've talked with the Dean of Admissions at UCF when I was there for the symposium and he mentioned that they love nontraditional students because they add so much to the class. He also said that when they're looking at an application, they do look at what your responsibilities are as you're going through these process. So if you have a family and a job, they're not going to assume you have all extra time to go and do all these crazy extracurriculars.

So think about how much time have you got for all of this stuff. Are you able to quit your job? Or call these schools to see what they say. Medical schools have different ways of looking at students so reach out to them and find out.

Even if you have healthcare work experience, it doesn't mean you fully understand what it's like to be a physician. So you need to shadow some physicians to get that experience of what it's like to be one. As a healthcare administrator, you're probably not around with patients a lot so you need to put yourself in clinical situations. Try to put yourself around as many patients as you can and get that experience of being around sick people again to make sure you enjoy it.

[08:45] Retaking Classes to Prepare for the MCAT

You have a couple options to take. You can go to a formal do-it-yourself postbac which can be very costly and can take you a year or two to do it. You can also take a do-it-yourself postbac and pick and choose the classes you want to retake.

But do this only after making sure that it's okay with them that you're not retaking all of your prereqs (because maybe they just want to see whether you've still got science under your belt and prove to them that you can handle the load and coursework.)

As I’ve already mentioned, the first step is to reach out to the schools you’re interested in applying to and ask them. Tell them your situation and go from there.

Links:

MedEd Media Network

University of Central Florida - Medical School Admissions Symposium

The Premed Years Podcast Session 174: Academically Dismissed to Medical Acceptance (My interview with Cain)

61: How Does it Look to Adcoms as a 50 Year Old Applying?

Feb 15, 2017 09:09

Description:

Session 61

Session 61

Our question this week comes directly from OldPreMeds forums. Our poster wants to know how adcoms will view his or her application as a 50-year-old.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I am 50+ years old and I have a deep desire to apply to medical school. Although I majored in biology and acquired a Master's in biology over 20 years ago, I have done so to pursue clinical research and biotechnology. However, I recently completed a Master's in Health Technology and the new medical initiatives in reform of Medical Care through the ACA has really sparked my interest to serve as a physician, making healthcare accessible to all. Is it practical for one over 50 to apply to medical school? How favorable does the admissions committee look at older medical applicants?"

Here are my insights: [01:45] Health Care Access to All

Making healthcare accessible to all is a great desire but a physician has a small part in that. It's good for a policy maker like getting involved through an MPH in making policy and figuring out how to better help the community access healthcare.

A physician, however, has a very small role in making healthcare accessible to all. You can actually make it accessible to a small percentage of patients you see. While you may be serving those underserved, it is still a small portion of the total population.

Think about your desires and what it is that you truly want to do.Figure out if it really is being a physician that will make that difference. Being a physician, you only get to take care of one patient at a time so making health care "accessible to all" doesn't really fit into that. If you truly want to be a physician then great but I would question your motives to be a physician if your desire is to make healthcare accessible to all. Think through that.

[03:22] Health Care Reform

This post was posted on December 2016 after Donald Trump had won the election before he had taken the oath and became President and had signed the Executive Orders to start dismantling the Affordable Care Act. If you're interested in medicine because of what the ACA has done, realize that it's going to look totally different by the time you become a doctor.

I have to warn you based on your current ideas and thoughts because if you're applying because you love the ACA and you want to make healthcare accessible to all, medicine is going to look completely different by the time you apply to medical school as well as by the time you get out and start practicing and go through residency and so on.

You really have to do this for the right reason, which is usually to take care of patients one at a time regardless of how the healthcare system looks.

[04:50] Question on Age

Your age is going to raise some yellow flags, which means people are going to question your desires because they want to make sure you're doing this for the right reasons. Some medical schools will be biased and would not want to accept you due to your age. Why give a spot to a 50 years old when they can give it to a 20+ years old that's going to have 30 years more work than you may have? So there will be this kind of thoughts out there. But every year, we hear stories of 50-year-old's or even 60-year-old's starting medical school. So it is possible.

Go back and listen to The Premed Years Podcast Session 11, where I interviewed Kate, a 56-year-old third year medical student so she started medical school at 53.

[06:15] My Final Thoughts

I encourage you to continue on exploring why you want to go through this and if this is what you really want then push full steam ahead. Some school might frown upon it, other schools are going to look highly upon it. But it only takes one school to say yes. So keep digging and keep pushing forward if that is what you're really interested in.

[07:07] MCAT Prep Help

If you need help with MCAT prep, I highly recommend Next Step Test Prep. They are known for their one-on-one tutoring, which is what I would have gone through for MCAT prep if I had to do it all over again. With basically the same price as an in-person Kaplan or Princeton review, Next Step can give you a one-on-one tutor to help you figure out how to take the MCAT. Use the code MSHQ to save some money on their tutoring, full-length practice tests, and their new online course. Plus you get live office hours with the people that wrote that test.

Links:

OldPreMeds Next Step Test Prep (Use the code MSHQ to save money)

The Premed Years Podcast Session 11: Interview with a 56-Year-Old Medical Student

Affordable Care Act

The Premed Years Podcast

The MCAT Podcast

Specialty Stories Podcast

MedEd Media Network

ryan@medicalschoolhq.net

60: Deciding if Medicine Is Right For Me at 30 Years Old

Feb 8, 2017 07:46

Description:

Session 60

Session 60

Taken directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums, today's question comes from a 30-year-old nontraditional student with a professional background in pharmaceuticals and now she's looking at changing her career and committing to medical oncology.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I am so happy to have found this community. I am 30 years old with a professional background in pharmaceuticals, formerly a QC Chemist, and currently an oncology R&D project manager, and an academic background in microbiology, a B.S. with a GPA 3.3/4.0, and business MBA 3.8/4.0.

Fairly recently, difficult life experiences have helped align my priorities and have increased my desire to help people who are suffering. Because of my interest in solving complex problems, my desire to aid people in life and death situations and my passion to contribute to a relatively nascent scientific field, I believe that I can best serve patients as a medical oncologist.

Although I really enjoy my current job, I feel a strong urge to contribute to the enrichment of patient's well-being on a more intimate level. My goal is to decide whether or not to commit to the medical school route by the end of February. To aid in this decision, I have spoken to a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) resident and an Oncology Fellow, and am setting up time to shadow physicians.

I am also trying to better understand what would be required for me to be a strong medical school candidate. I would apply in 2018. Does anyone have suggestions they’d like to share? I believe I’d need to take some classes to boost my undergraduate GPA and would need to attain a very strong MCAT score, and would need to start volunteering in a clinic. I want to be sure that if I applied to medical school in 2018 I will be seriously considered so I can start my training as soon as possible."

Here are my insights: [03:10] Shadowing, Volunteering, and Clinical Experience

The poster has a great background for wanting to enter medicine. She has been exposed to one side of medicine but found a passion to work closer with patients.

I would be wary of talking to residents and fellows and medical students about their experiences because you're practically talking to them at the worst possible times in their life. A fellow is probably a little bit less stressed out but the resident is going to be super stressed out so they may not have the best advice for you. Medical students are also going through a tough time in their life. Hence, I am here to give you an advice, who is on the other side where things have already calmed down and you’re done with training.

If you're interested in that, the best thing to do is to start shadowing physicians so you can get one-off experiences and their points of view. The best way to tell you if you're going to like the life of a physician is to experience it yourself though shadowing, seeing, and observing in the sense of what it's like to interact with patients. Volunteering is important as well as getting that clinical experience, being around patients and interacting with them. Making sure that you like being around sick people is very important.

[05:15] MCAT and Coursework

You're going to need a good MCAT score. Your GPA is okay. Having a Microbiology degree, 3.3 is not a great GPA so retaking some of your courses will help boost your GPA assuming you do well in those classes.

Do what is easiest for you. Taking them at a community college is fine especially when you're working full time. Taking night classes offered at your local four-year university is fine too. Taking those classes will help prepare you for the MCAT which is going to be the biggest hurdle for you.

[06:00] Final Thoughts

Shadow. Make sure this is right for you. It's not the end of the world if you don't get in considering that it sounds like you like your current job. But if you truly want to go down this path and really decide to be a physician, then even if you don't get in your first year, figure out why and reapply.

Links:

OldPreMeds.org

MedEd Media Network

Shoot me an email at ryan@medicalschoohq.net

59: Should I Look at Residency Rates When Looking at Schools?

Feb 1, 2017 13:17

Description:

Our question today is from someone looking at residency match rates for both MD and DO medical schools and wants to know how to evaluate them.

58: Show I Focus on the MCAT and Ignore Extracurriculars?

Jan 25, 2017 08:58

Description:

session 58

Session 58

If you are not a traditional student entering the medical field on your terms, you may have had some hiccups along the way but now you’re ready to change course and serve others as a physician. This podcast is here to help answer your questions and help educate you on your non-traditional journey to becoming a physician.

In this episode, Ryan takes a question directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums and delivers the answer right here to you. Today’s question comes from a  student looking to figure out if he needs to do some extracurricular activities while studying for the MCAT as well.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I’m currently studying for the MCAT. I graduated two years ago in 2015 and after working in the emergency room as a medical scribe this past year, I realized becoming a physician was my calling. I stopped working as a scribe in August 2016 and returned back to school in September 2016, taking a few courses that I thought would help me with the MCAT. I also took the MCAT prep course which began in October and I had hopes of taking the MCAT in January. But unfortunately my scores are not where they need to be. As a result, I pushed my MCAT back to the end of March.

With that being said, I was planning on taking it in January and have other things lined up between now and March, such as a part-time job and volunteer work.

I am concerned about putting more things on my plate while approaching the MCAT and I am wondering what would be the best course of action. I could either continue studying for the MCAT for another two months with little else to show on my resume besides that (i.e. any extracurricular activities for six months and just studying for the MCAT). Or I could take on those extracurricular activities , such as volunteering and the part time job and try to balance it all out while studying for the MCAT. I feel like focusing on the MCAT is the best course of action and not getting bogged down with other activities but I am worried that med schools will look at this six-month time period and wonder -- ‘what else were you doing during this time period’?-- as if studying for the MCAT was not enough and I should have been doing extracurricular activities as well.

Any advice would be great. Thank you!”

--- Jacob

Here are my insights: (4:10) You shouldn’t worry about what medical schools are going to think.

If you are new to this podcast, I encourage you to go back and look at the forums at OldPreMeds.org. The first person who commented on the forum basically said the same thing; you shouldn’t worry about what medical schools are going to think. However, there is one caveat: med schools will see this break and wonder why there was this break, if you really wanted to become a physician.

I would say, though, that six months is okay only if as soon as you take the MCAT, you pick it right back up so that while there is this break, you are continuing to do it. Don’t drop it completely and then apply and then have this break that ended a year from when you actually submit your applications.

(5:12) Doing some extracurricular activities MAY help your MCAT score.

If you can step away from the books a bit and clear your mind, you give yourself a “brain break”. It will also help during those times when you are bogged down studying for an eight hour practice test, frustrated that you didn’t achieve the score you wanted and you are ready to give up; doing those extracurriculars and being around physicians is going to shine some light on why you are going through the journey in the first place!

Having some variety will be good for you and allow to break the monotony of just studying for the MCAT. You will come back refreshed, ready to learn and perform better.

(6:15) If your practice test grades are not increasing, go check out Next Step Test Prep.

Their job is to figure out why you’re not doing well on the test. Their tutors are not there to help you learn the content; rather, their job is to help you with the test. Kaplan, Princeton Review , etc are great for teaching you content but Next Step Test Prep tutors are there to help you overcome your brain block on doing well when it’s time to take the test.

Links and Other Resources:

http://www.oldpremeds.org

Next Step Test Prep

** Use the promo code: MSHQ for savings on tutoring

57: Rejected at 32 - What Should I Do Now?

Jan 18, 2017 09:22

Description:

session 57

Session 57

In this episode, Ryan takes a question directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums and delivers the answer right here to you. Today's scenario is a perfect example of why grades can't get you an acceptance to medical school.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster is 32 years old dropped out of high school when he was 18; developed weird health issues in his 20's that got him obsessed with biochemistry and medicine; went back to school at 26 and graduated from a community college with 4.0 GPA.; about to graduate from the University of Michigan with BS in Biochemistry with 3.97 GPA.

The poster originally wanted to get a PhD in Biochemistry but decided to go for an MD. He spent the summer studying for the MCAT and took it on August 20 and got a 515. His biggest issue is his extracurricular with not a lot of volunteer experience but did quite a bit for a nonprofit donating free pet food to animal rescue groups, zero research experience, and very few shadowing hours.

He has not been rejected from all of the schools he applied to but in the event he gets rejected, what should be done? Poster is afraid he'll be too old to make medical school financially worth it.

Here are the insights from Ryan: From PhD to MD:

Why? You have to figure out a story about why the shift from wanting to be a PhD to an MD.

Taking the MCAT on August 20:

This is a big red flag because this means you didn't get your score back until late September. 515 is a great score but not getting your MCAT in until late September would mean your application was not complete until that time.

By that point, several schools have already looked at all the applications and saving a few spots for the last few that come in which are stellar applications.

Extracurriculars:

One of the major reasons students are rejected is the lack of clinical experience.

When you combine this lack of clinical experience with not telling your story well enough about why you just randomly decided to switch to an MD, schools may be concerned about your desires and motives to be a physician.

Major takeaway from this episode:

You need to do a better job at telling your story. You need to get more clinical experience and be around sick patients. They need to truly understand why you switched from wanting to get a PhD to an MD. Tell that story. Get that experience. Then reapply next year. Your MCAT score will still be good and you won't be as old.

Links and Other Resources:

The Premed Years Podcast Session 171: Reapplying to Med School - What You Need to Know to Improve

The Premed Years Podcast Session 217

www.medicalschoolhq.net

56: Huge News for Nontrads - No More Grade Replacement

Jan 11, 2017 11:25

Description:

session 56

Session 56

In this episode, Ryan breaks from what he usually does here on the podcast where he pulls up a questions directly from OldPreMeds.org forum as he talks about this HUGE announcement this past week from the AACOM that affects nontraditional students more than traditional students.

Osteopathic medical schools are more favorable to non-traditional students, You may have struggled in the past, did poorly in undergrad or at a community college, gave up on your dream, only to find that passion again and want to try to fulfill that dream and become a physician. You've probably heard that as a nontrad applicant with poor grades in the past, applying to DO schools would be beneficial to you. Historically, that has been the case.

NO MORE GRADE REPLACEMENT

AACOMAS Application had a grade replacement policy for repeat coursework. However. effective May 1, 2017 (applying in 2017 to start school in 2018), AACOMAS will no longer replace your old grade with your new grade.

As per AACOM.org:

"Effective May 1, 2017, AACOMAS will include all course attempts in the GPA calculation. This change applies to students matriculating into the 2018-2019 academic year. In the event of multiple attempts of the same course, AACOMAS will no longer drop initial course attempts from the GPA calculation." Read full notice on AACOM.org

Here are the insights from Ryan:

This will affect a lot of you who are currently in school retaking classes because you were going to rely on this grade replacement policy.

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) did you wrong. If they were planning this policy change, they should have given you a transition period so students currently in school and in the process of repeating classes would have 2-3 years to apply to use the grade replacement policy before it changed.

If you applied in 2016 to start in 2017 but you didn't get into medical school, when you reapply this year, your GPA will change according to the new policy assuming you had repeated coursework.

The Silver Lining

Osteopathic medical schools may continue recalculating weighing your GPA per established admissions practices.

Problem: This puts the work onto each of the medical schools which have a lot of work to do to begin with. They usually have filters in place where they can filter out based on a GPA cutoff or MCAT cutoff. If you're a student where your GPA is going to drop from, say 3.6 to 2.6, guaranteed, your 2.6 is going to be filtered out.

Solution: Advocate for yourself and speak out to the medical school and ask them to consider taking a look into your application.

Major takeaway from this episode:

If this is affecting you, keep your head up. Just keep doing well. Advocate for yourself. If this is truly what you want to do, you'll make it work.

Links and Other Resources:

Read the actual notice from AACOM.

Check out the Specialty Stories podcast on www.medicalschoolhq.net

55: Reapplying to Medical School, Retaking Classes and the MCAT

Jan 4, 2017 12:42

Description:

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Session 55

In this episode, Ryan talks about whether or not your chances of getting into medical school will get slimmer if you’re retaking the MCAT for the third time and whether taking a Master’s in a tech science-related course affect your application.

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan again dives into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where he pulls a question and delivers the answers right on to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster is 25 years old and working in the industry for the last 2.5 years. He/she is currently studying for a Master's in software engineering and graduating in Spring '18. Despite that, he/she is considering applying for medical school after listening the OldPreMeds podcast. While taking undergrad in electrical engineering, he/she did premed simultaneously for Texas Medical Schools with a 3.6 GPA.

Poster applied in 2015 but screened away; taken MCAT twice (1st-27 and 2nd-29). Poster is looking to apply in 2018 and planning to take Kaplan to prep for the MCAT in 2017. Poster is also looking at volunteering and shadowing experiences next year. Poster is close at finishing Master's in software engineering where the company pays for it.

Since this is the third time of taking the MCAT, are the chances of getting in slimmer? Is everything riding on the next MCAT score?

Here are the insights from Ryan: Your chances of getting to medical school (in terms of the admissions side) have nothing to do with your MCAT score or how many times you take your MCAT score. However, there are some restrictions in how many times you can take the MCAT. 3x in a single testing year 4x during two consecutive periods 7x in a lifetime. For somebody taking it 4-7 times, there's a reason there's a need to take it so many times. How did you prepare for the MCAT the first two times? And why are you doing Kaplan this time? About test prep courses

Things being third time taking the test, consider taking Next Step Test Prep because they offer one-on-one tutoring although they also have an online course now.

Is everything riding on your next MCAT score?

Everything is not riding on your next MCAT score but you should do well on it. Find out why you're not doing well. There should be a reason why and hopefully, Next Step can figure that out for you.

Should you be taking any courses or a postbac?

No, you have a good GPA. You took the required classes in school. The only question is - do you think you're prepared enough for the MCAT with having your premed classes a number of years ago? Or can you self-study and re-learn the foundational content for the MCAT so you can use that information.

The MCAT is not a content-heavy test but it focuses more on critical thinking and analysis.

Does completing a Master's in software engineering help or hurt your chances?

Software engineering is tech science-related so it doesn't help you or it doesn't necessarily hurt you. It can only hurt you if it takes you concentration away as well as your time for doing other things like shadowing and getting in extracurricular activities and studying for the MCAT.

Can you still submit your application in 2017?

You have 6 months to apply at the very start of June 2017. Theoretically, you could take the MCAT in June but it's still doable to submit your applications early, get you secondaries back and by the time you submitted those, your MCAT score is back. This will not delay your application but the problem is that you won't know your score when you submit your application.

Look at taking the MCAT in June, working with a test prep company up until then and take the practice tests. If you're not doing well in the practice test, then don't apply until next year so you can figure out how to improve.

Another key point:

Make sure your shadowing and clinical experiences are up-to-date. Medical school want to see that you continue to be involved in medicine throughout this whole time.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Yes, you have a good shot at getting in but you just need to work on your MCAT score and figure out why you're not doing well on it.

Links and Other Resources:

Next Step Test Prep - Use the code MSHQ and save some money www.mededmedia.com

OldPreMeds.org

Leave us a rating and review at www.oldpremeds.org/itunes

www.teepublic.com and search for “premed”

54: How Can I Improve My Med School Application?

Dec 28, 2016 10:33

Description:

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Session 54

In this episode, Ryan talks about how you can improve your medical school application where he touches on some points such as postbac courses, clinical experience, and international clinical volunteering.

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan again dives into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where you can ask questions, get answers, and participate with other students.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster has the following credentials:

3.0 undergrad GPA 3.8 Master's GPA in Health Administration 28 on old MCAT (now studying for a year and hopes to get a 510+ on the new one 3+ years of research experience as a lab technician for a medical school but they have a 3.25 undergrad GPA cutoff 2 shadowing experiences Clinical volunteering with 3-week international trip and 25 hours in emergency department

This student is taking some postbac courses this upcoming semester including advanced biochem and advanced genetics and maybe an O chem retake.

How can you best utilize my time to improve my application when you work full time and you're planning to apply this upcoming cycle entering 2018 class?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

Master's degrees don't really have a huge effect on your application especially Health Administration GPA because it's not a "hard sciences."

More postbac classes, better undergrad GPA

Look into taking more postbac classes to help boost your undergrad GPA. Remember, postbac classes are undergrad GPA courses so they would affect your undergrad GPA. These would be listed separately in the application but they will be combined into your compete undergrad GPA.

Shadowing experiences and clinical volunteering

Two shadowing experiences wouldn't be a lot unless they are long term. You need a good 25-30 hours of shadowing or a little bit more as a minimum.

International trip is okay although a lot of medical schools don't really like international clinical volunteering. It's actually debatable whether it helps your application or not because it's seen as unnecessary.

More than your stats

Your application is much more than just your stats since it includes everything about you.. Your personal statement is huge as well as your extracurriculars and how you described them.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Get enough clinical experience. Get a great MCAT score. Think about some more classes to bump up your undergrad GPA.

Links and Other Resources:

The Premed Years Session 171: Reapplying to Med School - What You Need to Know to Improve

OldPreMeds.org

53: Can I Use Military Medic Experience in Place of Shadowing?

Dec 21, 2016 07:40

Description:

session-53

Session 53

In this episode, Ryan talks about a question from a former Air Force medic who is now working towards applying to medical school. Would it suffice if the time since your last clinical experience was almost 2 years ago? Or should you get more?

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan again dives into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Today's poster is a former Air Force medic and worked as a public health technician while in the Air Force. He was into it for a total of 8 years and is now in college working towards becoming a doctor. His current main focus is earning great GPA and studying for the MCAT.

Because he has spent 8 years working in a hospital (close to doctors and working one-on-one on multiple occasions), can this experience be used as a shadowing experience? (He's applying to medical school in 2018 and the last time he would have worked with a doctor would be November 2016) Should more shadowing be done?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

Medical schools want to see that you have sustained commitment to medicine as a whole.

If your last exposure was close to 2 years since, it's going to look bad on your application and they'll wonder why you didn't continue to expose yourself to medicine. Not surrounding yourself with medicine for two years is questionable.

Being a military medic or being around military medicine is completely different than it is for civilian medicine in terms of the environment and how things are paid for and done.

You would be better served by getting more clinical experience and shadowing more physicians. If you have two years until you're applying, start shadowing once every other week for an hour or two. You don't have to do a ton of stuff.

Being a former Air Force medic, you're close to getting your EMT certificate or license to be able to go and get more clinical experience as a civilian.

Major takeaway from this episode:

All your experience plays a huge role in your application but 2 years is too long ago to not continue to do something now.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

52: The Specialty Stories Podcast is Live!

Dec 14, 2016 39:26

Description:

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Session 52

This is a full recording of the first episode of the Specialist Stories podcast, which is another addition to the MedEd Media Network. The idea of this podcast was actually born out of The Academy where Ryan had several interviews with different specialists to help students get an understanding of what each specialty was like as well as their pros and cons.

Through the Specialist Stories podcast, Ryan interviews different physicians from various specialties to help medical students and premedical students get different perspectives on what led them to their career path. Guests will be sharing with you stories of specialists from every field to give you the information you need to make sure you make the most informed decision possible when it comes to choosing your specialty.

In this week's episode, Ryan talks with Dr. Michelle Hure, a dermatopathologist who has her own solo practice in her community.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Dr. Hure: When Michelle knew she wanted to be a dermatologist: From an interest in trauma surgery to dermatopathology Realizing the need for work-life balance Coming to a point of not wanting to do until her 4th years during rotation What she likes about her specialty: Changing people's lives and curing cancer Getting to do surgery Being able to get home at 5 Making use of her brain everyday What a dermatopathologist does:

Two routes:

Dermatology residency Pathology residency As a pathologist, it involves diagnosing conditions or interpreting biopsies that is key to a patient's treatment plan. You are the doctor's doctor Can do both clinical and pathology A day in the life of Michelle: Reading slides of biopsies she has taken personally or those from other doctors Seeing patients at 10 am Traits that lead to being a good dermatopathologist: Open mindedness: Being able to think of different possibilities and looking at slides without any biases Knowledge of clinical history and clinical medicine Curiosity Openness to different differential diagnosis A lot of thinking and investigation What makes a competitive applicant to dermatology and dermatopathology: Dermatopathology is very tough to get into since there aren't many programs so programs available are highly competitive. Be always in your game. Walk the extra mile. Do rotations in a place you're really interested in doing your residency as well as your fellowships. Be willing to take initiative. What residency was like for her: Collaboration as an important piece Pick a residency at the particular institution where that fellowship is to have a higher chance of getting in. What she wished she knew going into dermatology/dermatopathology: It's possible to have a family early on. Family comes first, residency and fellowship come second What she wished primary care providers knew more about dermatopathology:

Training in dermatology and pathology

What Michelle likes most about being a dermatopathologist: Intellectual stimulation Patient interaction Surgery Being able to cure cancer What she likes the least about her practice:

Dealing with insurance companies

If she had to do it all over again, would she choose another specialty?

No, not at all.

What is the future of dermatopathology? The pressure of being more noticeable to people so that biopsies must be done by experts in the field and not just "general" pathologists - It's not about money, it's about patient care! The saturation of the field Some pieces of advice to those wanting to be a dermatopathologist:

Look for work-life balance. You have to be happy with the specialty you pick. In dermatology or pathology, you will do well money-wise, but you're also going to have a good work-life balance, which is one of the most important things you need to consider in going to a particular field. Pick a specialty that you're going to do well in and you're going to be happy with.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

Email Ryan at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net

Specialist Stories Podcast

The Premed Years Podcast

The MCAT Podcast

51: What is the Best Way to Learn MCAT Testing Strategy?

Dec 7, 2016 07:42

Description:

session-51

Session 51

In this episode, Ryan talks about the best ways to learn about MCAT strategies. The MCAT is a test that focuses less on content and more on critical thinking as you break down the passages, the questions and the answers. You can spend all the time reading books to learn the MCAT but if you don't learn the strategies, then you've failed in your MCAT prep.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster is preparing for the MCAT with Khan Academy videos and the Kaplan 7-book set and has learned concepts as well as when you pay for a $2500-prep course but not the exam strategy as much. Is there any other way to learn exam strategy (i.e. YouTube, website, or practice) or is the only real way to enroll in a prep course?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

The number one way to learn MCAT strategy is to learn from an instructor.

The best way to practice taking the MCAT is to take practice tests. But the best way to learn strategies is by watching and learning from an MCAT tutor and instructor.

Other ways of learning MCAT strategies for free:

Listen to the MCAT Podcast

There are also YouTube videos but be careful though because most of the stuff you will find may not be of the best quality.

Buy a set of practice tests.

Start with AAMC practice tests (2 scored and 1 is not)

Ryan recommends Next Step Test Prep and use the code MSHQ to save some money on that.

About Next Step Test Prep:

They are known for their one-on-one tutoring but they now also offer an MCAT Prep Course at $1,250 with a discount using the MSHQ code. Next Step Test Prep gives you access to live office hours with their course.

Links and Other Resources:

www.oldpremeds.org

The Premed Years Podcast

The MCAT Podcast

Next Step Test Prep (Use the code MSHQ to get a discount off their materials and services)

AAMC practice tests

Khan Academy - MCAT

50: Should I Apply to an Out of State Medical School?

Nov 30, 2016 08:37

Description:

session-50

Session 50

In this episode, Ryan basically talks about picking medical schools to apply to and whether you should apply to out-of-state public schools. This is another question pulled out from the forums over at the OldPreMeds.org which you should check out, if you haven't yet, so you too can start joining the discussions or post any questions that you have related to your medical school replication.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster is talking about applying in the upcoming cycle and curious about how to go contacting admissions at a state school which generally offers an extremely low number of interviews to out-of-state (OOS) applicants. Poster lived in this state for less than a year in the last five years with immediate family in the vicinity of the school. Poster is drawn by the school's commitment to service in the community and its leadership in the field of medicine and its proximity to family. Who do you contact at the medical school with the application season coming up? And what should you say considering a complicated residential history?

Here are the insights from Ryan: Where do you want to go to school?

State schools in other states

Dig into the state schools that you're looking at in other states because there is a high likelihood that they give extreme preference to in-state applicants. State medical schools are funded by the state and are there to train students who hopefully stay and work in that state.

Private schools

Majority of private schools don't give any preferential treatment to in-state applicants.

What are your chances?

To not apply to a public out-of-state school because your premed advisor told you not to is silly. There is always a chance. But you should have a good reason why you want to go to that public OOS school.

What are your ties to the state?

Having family in that area is the perfect reason why you want to go to that school so you can have that support structure. Talk more about the living in the area and staying there and the more likely you're getting an interview. It boils down to having ties to the state so you can sell yourself to the admissions committee.

How do you reach out to the school?

There is really no need to reach out to the school. Instead, just put together a well-thought out personal statement and talk about your reasons for applying there. They're going to ask about it on your secondaries so be prepared as well.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

The Premed Years Podcast www.medicalschoolhq.net

49 : Do I Need to do a Masters to Get Into a Postbac Program?

Nov 23, 2016 10:32

Description:

session-49

Session 49

In this week's episode, Ryan gives his take on whether you should do a masters program prior to taking a postbac program and he also sheds some light to the confusion around undergrad, postbac, and graduate GPAs.

If you haven’t yet, register at OldPreMeds.org so you can post your first question right here on the podcast.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster is a true nontraditional student who didn't want to go to medicine until after graduating college. They decided to pursue a medical career after graduating from a public university with very good standing but didn't do so well with their freshmen and junior year where and ended up graduating with a 2.8 GPA with English, Sociology, Psychology, and Calc1 prereq in 2015. Since then, they've been working full time and part time. Now she has decided to pursue medicine, got her CPR card, and looking into applying to postbac programs but not sure whether they have the academic potential to apply to postbac programs.

Some have said that instead of going straight to a postbac premed program, they should instead get their master's degree and along with good postbac GPA overall, they should then apply to a postbac premed program, then medical school.

Do you need to do a Masters to get into a postbac program?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

On your applications, your GPA is broken down in a couple different ways:

Undergrad GPA Postbac GPA - while listed separately, is counted as an undergrad GPA Graduate GPA

If you get a Master’s GPA, that's only affecting your graduate GPA, and not your postbac GPA or your undergrad GPA.

A postbac doesn't necessarily have to be a postbac-specific program, but any undergrad classes that you were taking after you get your degree.

Ryan recommends:

Unless you really want a masters in whatever you're planning on studying, a masters degree for the sake of boosting your GPA for medical schools or postbac programs is a waste of time.

This poster's GPA might not be competitive enough for formal postbac programs so he/she will have to look around and use the AAMC postbac database and look for the Career Changer Postbac Programs and reach out to them.

Here are your possible options:

You can take the prereqs as a non degree-seeking undergrad student (so this would be a DIY postbac and this would be your postbac GPA) at a four-year university The only differences between a formal postbac and a do-it-yourself postbac are the level of support and the cost. Formal postbacs are more expensive because they are like mini-universities within a university which have separate advising setup specifically for postbac programs (Also included are shadowing experiences, clinical experiences. MCAT prep, etc.) However, there is no difference between getting 4.0 in a formal postbac and getting a 4.0 in a DIY postbac program as a non degree seeking student on your applications. Either of both will be your postbac GPA which will be factored into your undergrad GPA. Major takeaway from this episode:

Do well as a non degree seeking student. Do well in a formal postbac. But the master's degree is a waste of time.

Links and Other Resources:

AAMC postbac database - Career Changer Postbac Programs

www.oldpremeds.org

48 : What Are My Chances After Dropping Out at a Caribbean School?

Nov 16, 2016 12:09

Description:

session-48

Session 48

In today's episode, Ryan sheds light on a question related to getting into a US-based medical school when you previously went to a Caribbean school, failed the first semester, and then dropped out. What are the chances?

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan and Rich again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you. Sign up for an account to join the collaborative community of students.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster applied to medical school after completing an MPH and didn't get into any US medical school. He then decided to forego reapplication and went to a Caribbean medical school; didn't pass the first semester and had to repeat the entire first semester but thinking through, found that they're not in a conducive environment for studying plus residency chances in the US wouldn't be great. So poster bailed and decided to work harder, get smarter, and reapply in the US. Is it worth taking a chance and reapply to medical schools? What else can be done and how can you address the fact that you started medical school and then dropped out?

Here are the insights from Ryan and Rich: How MPH is viewed by medical schools:

MPH isn't that strong of a masters degree to hold a lot of water for medical schools

Why students go to Caribbean medical schools and then eventually decide to drop out:

Offshore schools are attractive to students being publicly traded companies.

Offshore medical schools have reasonably decent and rigorous medical education programs that people are not prepared for that.

Some questions to consider:

Is it worth the expense of going through a Special Master's Program (SMP) at this point?

Can you take higher level biomedical courses (high level undergraduate or beginning graduate courses) not for the degree but just to show them you can do well?

How to discuss your case of dropping out:

Getting allured in your desire to be a doctor and not thinking, you rushed in. Then you realized for many reasons that it was not going to be an environment that you were going to do well in and look well for the future. In short, you just have to lay it all out there. Don't try to hide something you can't hide or even try to minimize it.

Should you discuss this in your personal statement?

Make your medical school application a coherent, concise, and compelling narrative showing your motivation, commitment, and achievement to become a doctor.

This is a glaring red flag that you HAVE to discuss in a paragraph in your personal statement on the primary.

What are your chances?

Your chances are low but that doesn't mean you don't stand any chance. You can't change your past but you have to go with the best you can.

So many schools are now giving completely unscreened secondaries so you have more of a chance to develop it and discuss it in words.

Advocate for yourself. Build those relationships with people that can open some doors for you.

Links and Other Resources:

Check out The Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

47: How do MD Schools View Shadowing DOs?

Nov 10, 2016 08:01

Description:

session-47

Session 47

In this episode, Ryan and Rick tackle a question about shadowing experiences and whether it matters that you're shadowing a DO (osteopathic) when interested in going to an MD (allopathic) school. Ryan and Rich also take a step further and talk about how most DO schools stress the importance of shadowing a DO when applying to a DO school.

Once again, Ryan and Rich digged into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster, Matt, said that every DO school requires that you shadow a DO. How do allopathic schools view shadowing a DO versus an MD? Matt is applying to both schools.

Here are the insights from Ryan: and Rich: What  medical schools look for is "healthcare experience" which could be in multiple ways: Shadowing Volunteering in clinical or hospital setting or employment Community/social service is close to that Shadowing MD vs. DO:

An MD or DO is your degree from school. Most doctors look at your residency and what you did a residency in. That said, having an MD or DO is essentially meaningless in the practice of medicine.

If you're applying to MD school and shadowing a family practice but have a DO, have him write a letter of recommendation as a practice doc. DO is in the title but Rich doesn't think medical schools really care or think of it as less worthy than it would with MD.

Some points to consider:

Shadowing is just observing. In itself, it's not as valuable to medical school as some of the healthcare experiences can be.

Letters from doctors you shadowed are not really important as you don't usually have an in-depth relationship. Most schools are not that impressed by a shadowing letter as being all that valuable.

The College Information Book for most schools would say that a letter of recommendation from a DO is strongly recommended. Ryan recommends to take this as a requirement if they say so. DO schools care that you understand the DO philosophy and have shadowed a DO.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Go find somebody to shadow that is going to interest you. Spend quality time with him/her and get a good letter of recommendation after spending some quality time. The letters after their name don't matter. Doctors are doctors. The only difference is that when you're applying to DO school, it's recommended that you shadow a DO so you can observe their OM (Osteopathic Manipulative) medicine or therapy.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

College Information Book

46: How Should I Evaluate Postbac Programs?

Nov 2, 2016 09:01

Description:

session-46

Session 46

This week's question is coming from a 36-year old, single mother of three who is looking to get into medical school. Listen in as Ryan and Rich share their insights into how you can actually evaluate postbac programs.

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan and Rich again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster is looking at UCLA postbac program, part of the UCLA Extension School; she said it's the only program that doesn't require a GPA minimum but she's concerned if this is going to hurt her appearance at medical schools because of this.

How should a nontraditional student evaluate postbac progams?

Here are the insights from Ryan: Evaluate the logistics of your life.

A young single student has different concerns than a mom of three. Go to the best school if you can. But if you don't have time logistics to study, you're not going to be successful. So evaluate what you need.

The GPA point of interest is not a valid concern.

Medical school are not going to worry what GPA you had going into a postbac but they're going to worry about your GPA coming out of the postbac.

Some things you need to consider: Is it going to be in the morning or the evening? Is it a full time system or part time? What is the cost? Do you need an advisor? Do you need a prep course for MCAT? Are there any links for this postbac? Does it have any connections with medical school? Does it have any EC coordination? Place for training or research Success rate (Be careful of this.) Find out what their stats and requirements are. (Not having a committee or composite letter from them is a big red flag.) You can do an informal postbac.

This means not going through a formal postbac program but rather, you take the courses that you need to improve especially if you have low GPA.At this point, advising for this particular case is very important.

There is no MSAR for post bac.

There is no standardization.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

In celebration of The Premed Years podcast, Ryan is holding a contest where you can get a chance to win some one-on-one coaching with Ryan. Simply head over to www.medicalschoolhq.net/contest to join.

45: What Can I Do if my GPA is too Low for a Postbac Program?

Oct 26, 2016 08:28

Description:

opm-44

Session 45

In today's episode, Ryan is joined once again by Rich as they take questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums. Listen is as they try to outline possible routes to take to get into medical school when your GPA is too low to get into a postbac program.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster is a recent BS graduate from a school in California and medical school has always been in their eyes but graduating with a 2.86 GPA and feeling they have no chance; they took too many units out f worry that they wouldn't be able to graduate in four years; bad grades in Gen Chem and O Chem, getting D's and repeating those and still didn't do well (B in Gen Chem and C in O Chem). Their premed advisor at their school told them to give up their med school dreams. They're still volunteering and still want to go to medical school; haven't taken the MCAT yet and looking at taking a postbac but GPA qualifications are too high for what their GPA is.

What is a student supposed to do when you have a low GPA and you're looking for a postbac when they have minimum requirements for GPA?

Here are the insights from Ryan and Rich:

Many students see a GPA number and don't see anything past that.

Rich recommends either of these two paths:

Start within a formal postbac. Take classes as a non matriculating student at whatever school you can get to in order to get better coursework and prove your GPA. The prerequisites are not the same as a Special Masters Program (SMP) You may have to go through informal postbac, a formal postbac, and then SMP to get into an MD school - this is long and expensive path Go to a DO school. The repeats can be done again and they will only count the last retake in your GPA for school. The schools will know you repeated it but the GPA they will consider for entrance will be that. Assuming you want to stay in California, they have a limited space for postbac and limited space for informal postbac. California is probably the most competitive state for medical school. DO school may just be a better path in terms of time, chances, and money. Going to a Caribbean school:

This should be your very, very last resort. The quality of education is not the point but it's their way of taking students and the chances for residency in the US

Do not think about the Caribbean until you've gone through two complete cycles, both MD and DO, with a break in between for repair and enhancement. One of the most common mistakes is students reapplying too soon.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Go through an informal postbac, formal postbac. Don't take the MCAT until you've got your GPA up and ready. If you don't get in, try a Special Masters Program. Or just take the DO route directly. Consider other medical mid-level professions such as NP and PA as you would still be part of the team.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

44: How to Write About an Extended Gap in My Personal Statement?

Oct 19, 2016 10:04

Description:

opm-44

Session 44

In this episode, Ryan answers a commonly asked question among nontraditional students which is about how you can fit in your life experiences into a personal statement. How do you actually fit your life into 4500 or 5300 characters?

We take questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forum where they will be answered here on the podcast. If you have questions, whether you’re a nontraditional or traditional student, go to OldPreMeds.org and register for an account.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster is asking how to fit everything into his personal statement considering that he has done a lot of traveling and did online courses because his parents threatened to take away his funds for school if he didn't study. Now, he has been working hard in the last few months to gain volunteer hours, research work, shadowing experience, focusing on GPA, studying for the MCAT. However, he is having a hard time visualizing how all the travel experience and unique approach to his 20s will look in a personal statement versus being lazy or avoiding work life.

Here are the insights from Ryan:

"How do you fit in your life experiences into a personal statement?" Such is a wrong question for you to ask.

Your life experiences are a huge part of who you are in your application. However, your personal statement is your story about why you're pursuing medicine. At the end of your personal statement, the admissions committee needs to be able to understand why you want to be a doctor.

So it's not about your travel experiences, not about how all this travel has led to you being culturally diverse or how it's helped you develop time management skills, etc.

Therefore, the question should be:

"Why do you want to be a doctor and how do you write about that?"

Have these travel experiences deepened your resolve to be a physician? If yes, then talk about a little bit of that since you need to support "why you want to be a doctor" with these experiences you've had along the way.

Major takeaway from this episode:

You don't need to talk about your travel and how it's taught you all these skills in your personal statement. This does not belong there. What your personal statement should contain rather is why you essentially want to become a doctor.

If you need help with your personal statement, Ryan offers editing services. Simply go to www.medicalschoolhq.net/personal-statement-editing

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

43: Questions for a Student with a Low Undergrad & Postbac GPA

Oct 12, 2016 08:16

Description:

This OldPreMeds poster had some questions on next steps with a low GPA in undergrad and postbac. Take a listen to hear what his options are.

42: Is Medicine Still an Option for Me at this Point?

Oct 5, 2016 11:40

Description:

session-42

Session 42

Ryan takes another question over at the OldPreMeds.org forum and delivers the answer right here on to you. If you haven't already, sign up a at the OldPreMeds.org and feel free to drop in any questions or issues you might have or join a collaborative community of nontraditioonal premedical and medical students.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster is a 50-year old addiction specialist, with a great high school GPA, good undergrad GPA with a good trend in last years as an undergrad. She's interested in going to DO schools because of the "holistic" philosophy. She has extensive medical experience working as CNA and volunteering in the Emergency Room at a Children's Hospital. She realized she didn't want to go down the nursing path and enjoyed working with addicts and alcoholics and has been doing this now. Her questions are as follows:

Is medicine as option for me at this point in my life or should I just quit while I'm ahead and go for the clinical psych degree? Postbac courses vs. community college courses vs. university courses? (Their alma mater doesn't allow students to take classes as non-degree seeking students add you need to declare a second bachelor's) Can you combine community college courses and university courses? Will it be necessary to update the medical experiences? Here are the insights from Ryan:

If you want to be a physician no matter what your age, move forward and try to be a physician.

Otherwise, when you take the psych degree and only to realize that you really should have gone for your medical degree, imagine spending money and spending five years when you did that only because maybe you were too old to get your medical degree

Don't look at this from an age standpoint. If you're thinking you're too old to do it, you're wrong.

If you think you don't have the experiences to do it, you're wrong. (You have to get them of course but just because you don't have them yet doesn't mean you're not moving forward)

Therefore, the option is always YES to apply to medical school.

Postbac programs:

If you're dedicated enough to do everything on your own and do all the necessary stuff (study for MCAT, volunteering, clinical experience), then you don't need a formal postbac program.

Postbac program pro:

They will help you with everything along the way to ensure you're prepared to apply to medical school.

Postbac program con:

They are usually expensive; oftentimes, worth it if you need that structure, but expensive.

Community college courses vs. university courses

The gold standard for this are the four-year universities

But you can still take community college courses if that's what you need to do based on :

Budget Schedule Location

So which is better?

There is no right or wrong answer because everyone's situation is different.

Combination of community college courses and university courses

Yes, you can mix and match courses.

Caveat:

If you're taking community college courses because you can't handle the university courses, then that can be a red flag. So be ready to answer questions like why you took such course at a community college, whether thinking it's going to be easier or just to get the A.

Ryan's best advice:

Pick one or the other instead of switching back and forth or combining them.

Updating medical experience

If you've done it so long ago, reintroduce yourself to some experiences; although working as an addiction specialist working with patients is good patient care and valuable. But it doesn't hurt to go and get a more updated experience like shadowing one-on-one with a physician just to understand what life is like as a physician.

Links and Other Resources:

The PreMed Years Podcast Session 74: Listen to Ryan's interview with Carrie and her experience applying to medical school coming from a community college

www.mededmedia.com

41: Should I Write About Red Flags in My Personal Statement?

Sep 28, 2016 08:57

Description:

opm-41

Session 41

In this episode, Ryan tackles a question about personal statement specifically about whether or not you should mention red flags in your personal statement. Is it safe to mention that you’ve been partying too much? Listen in to know more about Ryan’s take on this.

Each week, Ryan pulls out a question directly from the OldPreMeds.org forum and answers it here on the podcast. If you haven’t yet, join the positive and collaborative community of nontraditional premed and medical students by signing up at the OldPreMeds.org.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster is currently writing his personal statement and has seen from different sources that red flags should be brought up in the application. His first two years were not good years academically and wanted to talk about it. If he did bring it up, should he say that he was getting lost partying too much over those first two years or should he give a vague reasoning?

Here are the insights from Ryan: Should red flags be mentioned in your personal statement?

Yes and no.

Two important analogy questions to consider: What was it that planted the seed in your head to become a physician? What experiences watered that seed? Do you mention too much partying in a personal statement?

No. Partying too much can be too much of a negative and plays too much into your personality of not caring too much and picking one thing over the other.

What can you mention in a personal statement?

Here's an example:

Even though you got off to a slow start academically, you have course corrected and showed your strength as a student in the last two years and during your postbac.

Write it down in one or two sentences. Just lay a little hint that something happened and then move on. Once you're there for the interview then you can explain things in more depth. Major takeaway from this episode:

The goal of your personal statement is to lay down why you want to be a physician, what experiences have you had that have strengthened that desire. Do not dive too much into red flags as they're a waste of space and the admissions committee would not want to hear about those at this point.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

The Premed Years Podcast Listen to The Premed Years Podcast Session 161: 5 Biggest Medical School Personal Statement Mistakes

Podcast Addict app on Android

Stitcher app on Windows

40: Can Being a Single Parent Prevent Me from Becoming a Doctor?

Sep 21, 2016 08:43

Description:

session-40

Session 40

In today's episode, Ryan answers a question about being a single parent in medical school.

Questions are pulled out from the forum over at OldPreMeds.org. Feel free to leave your question over there or engage with an awesome community of collaborative and positive premed and medical students.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster is a single dad who works two jobs and in school full-time. He has shared 50-50 custody of his son and knows med school is a full time job. If he had full custody of his son, how flexible are medical schools with this kind of situation? Are there any resources for this kind of situation or personal stories related to this?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

A  lot of nontraditional students have significant others in their life. Medical school is not impossible for single parents but here are some things that you need to consider:

Medical school is a full time job (even more than that once you start your clinical years). Hence, you are going to rely on other people for the care of your child.

Resources from medical schools:

Most medical schools do not have resources for single parents. Their job is to educate students to become physicians and not a daycare for children of their students. (Although there are may be a few schools that may also have child care services for their students.)

Taking loans:

If you are the breadwinner for the family and you go to medical school, your ability to take loans from the federal government to pay for medical school is capped at what the budget is set by that school. The budget doesn't usually include any sort of extra food or clothing for family members, much less for child care.

If you have custody of your child and have to pay for child care, then that money has to come from somewhere and not built into your loans. Either some of your family members take care of the child or pay for the child care services or figure something else out. Private loans are not the best option for you to pay for it.

Major takeaway from this episode:

The best situation is to have family members nearby to help shoulder the burden. If this is what you want to do, then you will definitely figure out a way to do it.

Links and Other Resources:

www.MedEdMedia.com

OldPreMeds.org

The PreMed Years Podcast

The MCAT Podcast

39: Does Shadowing a Family Member Look Bad?

Sep 14, 2016 08:02

Description:

opm-39

Session 39

In this episode, Ryan tackles a concern raised by an aspiring medical student regarding how shadowing with immediate family or volunteering for a family nonprofit organization will affect your medical school application.

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan dives into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where he pulls a question to deliver the answers right on to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Dave is a 30-year old software engineer looking to make a switch to a career in medicine; graduating with a degree in General Studies with GPA of 3.52. He decided 18 months ago to return to school to pursue his dream of providing care and service to the community as a physician. Dave has been taking as many courses at community colleges and almost done with base prerequisite coursework. Taking the MCAT in early 2017 and applying in June 2017 for the 2018 class. Dave is struggling to find time to take all the coursework, plan his study for the MCAT, find volunteering and shadowing opportunities, and fulfill his familial obligations (with his wife and a 5-year old). How are family connections to extracurriculars viewed? He has shadowing his brother who is a practicing DO. He has also volunteered hundreds of hours for a 501-C3 nonprofit organization made up entirely of family members where they help cancer patients and survivors. Is this considered valid volunteering? Will this be an issue?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

Shadowing family members is not a problem. The problem is in getting a letter of recommendation from the physician you're shadowing.

A strong letter of recommendation comes from the physician you're shadowing whom you've built a relationship with over a prolonged period of time. Quality, not quantity.

If you can shadow one physician for a long time, build an awesome relationship with that person then they can write you a killer letter of recommendation. A letter of recommendation from your brother probably will not be looked favorably upon because you just can't trust a letter of recommendation from a family member. It's perfectly fine to shadow a brother but if you really want a strong letter of recommendation from a physician, have your brother help you find somebody else to shadow. Your connection with your brother is still very helpful because he can help you find someone else to shadow.

If you're volunteering with a nonprofit, it doesn't matter who else is volunteering or working there. The key thing here is the experiences that you talked about with interacting with cancer patients and survivors are what's going to be so powerful as you write about them on your application. Your experiences will be huge here regardless of family ties.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Find a physician to shadow who can make a strong letter of recommendation for you while volunteering for a nonprofit organization makes a great experience for you regardless of who else is working or volunteering for that organization.

Links and Other Resources:

www.cramfighter.com

The Premed Years Podcast Session 195 features Cram Fighter, a software to help you plan your studies for the MCAT and create a custom schedule for you.

38: What Should Nontrads Focus on in Their Personal Statement

Sep 7, 2016 07:33

Description:

opm-38

Session 38

In this episode, we tackle personal statements for the "older among us." Is there a need to justify why you applied to medical school so late in life? Is there a need to specifically discuss this on your personal statement? Or should you save this for the interview? Is there a difference between younger nontrads and older nontrads?

Our questions are pulled directly from the forums over at OldPreMeds.org so we can deliver the answers right on to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster is currently drafting their personal statement and finding to continuously trying to answer the question, "If you want to be a physician so badly, then why haven't you done it by now?" Is this something that needs to be justified? Poster can't cover all the events that led them to apply so late in life. Should they discuss it all or save it for the interview? Are there topics older applicants should cover in the personal statement that the younger nontrads don't?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

How do you fit in everything in your life into 5300 or 5400 characters?

Your job is not to talk about everything you've done in your life. The job of the Personal Statement is to let the reader know why it is that you want to become a physician. (Not what's taking you so long or what have you been doing in interim)

Some things to consider when answering why you want to become a physician:

Start with what got you interested in medicine. What was your initial draw to medicine? Talk about the most meaningful experiences you've gained throughout your path

What the admissions committee members want to see from your personal statement:

The impact that the experience had on you and your impact on the patients or scenario. Your experiences as adding and continually strengthening your desire to become a physician and your resolve to do it.  Your experiences as securing in your mind that you want to be a physician and is really the only course that makes sense for you Major takeaway from this episode:

What took you so long doesn't really matter unless it supports your desire to become a physician. Then add it and talk about it. Think about the most impactful memories that you've had that are continually pushing you and reminding you why it is that you want to be a physician and write about those things.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

Ryan does Personal Statement editing, if you need help, visit www.medicalschoolhq.net/personal-statement-editing

37: Is Research More Important than Clinical Experience?

Aug 31, 2016 09:15

Description:

session-37

Session 37

Each week, Ryan pulls out a question from the forums over at OldPreMeds.org so we can deliver the answers right on to you.

This week's question comes from a student asking about research experience, specifically about whether admissions committees are biased towards applicants with research experience that they would value it over clinical observation.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Looking through the MSAR Admissions Requirements, one of the things that jumped out at them was the percentage of accepted applicants with research.lab experience. In many cases, the school reported higher numbers of accepted students with this experience than physician shadowing/observation, typically in the 85-95% range. Are admissions committees biased towards applicants with research experience that they would value it over clinical observation? Or is it that more students are reporting their lab experience from prerequisite coursework?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

Medical schools need to understand that you know what it's like to be a physician; hence, the importance of shadowing. You don't need a ton of shadowing to understand what it's like.

However, shadowing is not the same as clinical experience. While technically you're close enough to smell patient, you're still not really "smelling" the patient.

Clinical experience involves patient interaction or getting your hands dirty doing patient care. Work like being a CNA,paramedic, EMT, nurse, or PA are huge clinical experiences.

Research is something that is perpetuated in the premed world as a necessity to get into medical school.

Caveats: If you want to go into an MD/PhD program, research is the main driver during your premed years to get into an MD/PhD program. If you want to go into a research-heavy institution, research is going to be very important. The emergence of evidence-based medicine:

The actual act of research is not necessarily important but it's important that you understand the process. You don't need to publish anything to get experience and gain benefit from research, However, as a physician, it is important that you’re able to read research articles and statistics and understand everything that goes on behind the scenes with researching and the scientific method.

The admissions committees are not leaning one way or the other. They only need to make sure you know what life is like as a physician so they're looking for the clinical experience.

Major takeaways from this episode:

Shadowing shows you what's it's like to be a physician. Clinical experience proves you actually like being around sick people.

You don't have to have research (although some schools require it like the University of Utah which have set number of hours of research, shadowing, and volunteering)

Look at each of the schools you're interested in applying to. See what they require and then follow what you enjoy the most after all of the requirements are met.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

MSAR Admissions Requirements

University of Utah Medical School Admissions

36: Can I Get in Enough Shadowing and Clinical Experience?

Aug 24, 2016 11:02

Description:

opm-36

Session 36

In today's episode, Ryan welcomes a question from a student named Matt regarding getting shadowing and clinical experience - how much is enough, what better way to approach a physician, and can you shadow the same physician on a regular basis?

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast as Ryan and Rich pulls a question from the forums over at OldPreMeds.org and delivers the answers right on to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Matt is a 41-year old student how is extremely excited and nervous about this endeavor; no clinical or shadowing experience; hoping to apply next June and intends to spend the next 8 months shadowing and gaining clinical experience. Will this be sufficient? Or should the application be put off for another year?

Matt applied to join the local volunteer rescue squad where he is to commit 35 hours a month; what else can he do to gain clinical exposure?

Matt intends to shadow a few physicians across a range of specialties and attempts to spend a bit of time with the ones that feel like the most positive experience. Is there a better approach? Is it appropriate to ask a physician to shadow on a regular basis or is there a point where you are just interrupting his or her job?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

When you're applying 8 months away from the next application cycle and you don't have any clinical or shadowing experience, yes it is bad. How do you know you want to be a physician without any clinical or shadowing experience? This would be the first red flag to an admissions committee person.

Can you get enough clinical and shadowing experience in the next 8 months?

Yes, as long as it's quality experience where you hang around enough patients in a clinical setting to know you're okay dealing with sick people.

How can you get more clinical experience?

Consider being a scribe or any experience where you are close enough to smell the patient.

Shadowing experience

Shadowing is important to understand what life is like as a physician. You don't need to shadow every specialty out there to see which one you like because that's what medical school is for where you get to rotate different specialties. Your job when shadowing is to only understand what life is like as a physician.

Things to consider when shadowing:

Setting

Physicians working in an academic setting are different than those in an outpatient or community hospital. Try shadowing somebody in an academic hospital setting and somebody in a community hospital setting, as well as in an academic outpatient setting and in a community outpatient setting.

Shadowing on a regular basis

Yes, you can ask a physician on a regular basis. This is actually great as you're gaining a relationship that you can lean on later for a good letter of recommendation, hopefully. You may interrupt the workflow to some extent but not terribly. If you get a physician that says no, then that's fine and move on to another who says yes.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

35: What Jobs Should I Do During My Gap Year?

Aug 17, 2016 11:24

Description:

OPM 35

Session 35

In this episode, Ryan answers a question from a poster concerned about what kind of jobs can be done during gap years to help get them into medical school. Ryan makes two important points on the show today which you shouldn’t miss out on.

The questions shared on this podcast are taken out of the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster graduated in 2013 with a degree in BS Biological Sciences and Chemistry with one year of research before graduating; decided to become a physician that year and thought of taking a year off to volunteer and study for the MCAT and get a paid research assistant position while applying to medical school. It didn't turn out this way as poster took the pre-2015 MCAT on the last day the exam was offered and ended up with an average score; GPA 3.1. Poster is applying to an academic enhancer postbac program this Fall/Spring while preparing to take the MCAT after the program ends. Writing the personal statement is a challenge with only 6 months volunteer experience at a clinic and 4-month work experience as a medical assistant. Poster wants to know what other medical jobs or opportunities exist that will help a lot for medical school admission; something that utilizes her biology and chemistry knowledge. What sort of jobs can you do with a bachelor's degree before going into medical school that will help you get into medical school?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

Scores are scores. The 3.1 is below average. The data for medical schools that they provide is an average, a statistical number derived from adding together all of the classes' MCAT scores and GPAs and dividing by the total number of students. So the 3.5 number that you're looking at for a school includes 3's and 3.1's and 3.2's and 3.3's.

Don't kill your chances of medical school and not apply just because you don't think you're good enough. Let the medical schools tell you that you're not good enough.

Not applying to medical school because thinking you won't get in is definitely not appropriate.

On looking for jobs...

Don't look for a job that you think will help you get into medical school. Don't do any in your life that you think will help you get into medical school. There are no check boxes to get into medical school. You have to do what you are passionate about.

It's hard to find research positions at a university as a non-student so keep on trying. You need to go out and find those relationships with people that will help you get your foot in the door into possible research opportunities.

Research is great if that's where your heart is at. It may help you with medical school applications if you're looking to apply to a research-heavy institution. Consider being a scribe:

It's an amazing job for gaining the experience of what like if like as a physician and seeing the dynamics of patient care. Being a scribe is one of the best clinical experiences you can get which increases your chances of getting into medical school. Major takeaways from this episode:

Don't think about it as what job will help you get into medical school. Think about what you're interested in doing because that will show the most during your medical school interviews. Whether you're passionate about something or not will always come through.

Don't just not apply because you're scores are not good enough. Score and stats are just one part of the application.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

www.medicalschoolhq.net/ems

34: Is it Necessary to Shadow if I'm Already in Healthcare?

Aug 10, 2016 07:51

Description:

OPM 34

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan again dives into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where he pulls out a question and deliver the answers right on to you. In today’s episode, Ryan answers a question raised by an NP looking into going to medical school and asks about the need for shadowing experience.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster is an NP looking to go back to medical school and become a fully fledged professional. Would want to return to primary care one day as a fully fledged professional on the MD/DO route. As an NP, has worked alongside MD's and DO's in primary care and doing things they do such as patient care. Do you still need to shadow? Is it desirable to still shadow other specialties?

Here are the insights from Ryan:

The goal of shadowing is to really understand what you're getting yourself into.

Shadowing for you may not be required but there is a difference between working as an NP and a physician.

Go out and shadow other specialties to be a little bit more well-rounded and understand the fuller picture of what other physicians may do.

Shadowing in your case isn't for letters of recommendation but for you to get a bigger picture. Don't necessarily go crazy with your hours. Get maybe 10-40 hours and a couple hours here and there.

Links and Other Resources:

www.OldPreMeds.org

www.themcatpodcast.com

33: Introduction to The MCAT Podcast

Aug 3, 2016 21:22

Description:

OPM 33

Session 33

The OldPreMeds Podcast started as a collaboration between the Medical School Headquarters and the OldPreMeds.org, the site for nontraditional premed and medical students.

Currently, Dr. Ryan Gray is the Director of the National Society of Nontraditional Premed and Medical Students and now runs, operates, and publishes OldPreMeds.org which is now part of the Medical School Headquarters.

The Medical School Headquarters is also starting a new collaboration with Next Step Test Prep to produce The MCAT Podcast, which has been in the works for several months now. Today, they are sharing with you their very first episode on today's session.

The MCAT Podcast is a weekly episode dedicated to the MCAT. Ryan will be mainly talking to Bryan Schnedeker, Next Step Test Prep's MCAT Guru where they discuss the different aspects of the MCAT to help you get a better grip of the MCAT especially being nontraditional students.

Go to www.themcatpodcast.com and sign up to be notified when it's going to be on iTunes. What The MCAT Podcast offers:

Weekly information all about the MCAT Tips, tricks, and common pitfalls Content to help you break down some of the passages Ways to things about passages How to rule out questions Shorter format (around 10 minutes) Easier to consume

John Rood is the Founder and President of Next Step Test Prep which he started in 2009. John has a background in test prep and they started out doing one-on-one tutoring for the professional graduate schools in Chicago until eventually spreading to other cities and going online.

In 2013, Bryan Schnedeker joined the company and currently serves as the Vice-President for Next Step's MCAT and Tutoring. Bryan is Next Step's resident MCAT Guru having taught and tutored MCAT students over the past 15 years.

About Next Step Test Prep:

One-on-one tutoring programs

35,000 students have signed up for different MCAT practice tests and materials

Customization is at its core seeking to meet the individual needs of students

They have a team of five people working full-time on MCAT content and 15-20 people working part-time on specialized parts of their content.

About Ryan Gray: A physician by training (an Air Force flight surgeon for five years) Stumbled into the premed advising world after talking to young airmen in the Air Force about what it's like to go to medical school and coming across a particular website offering very negative and cutthroat information Wanting to create a safe place for people to go and get collaborative information that is not cutthroat and competitive Started the Medical School Headquarters in 2012

Today, Ryan runs the following podcasts:

The Premed Years Podcast  - 3 1/2 years old; nominated 2x as a Top Podcast in the Science and Medicine Category; with almost a million downloads The OldPreMeds Podcast Next Step pivoting into providing courses:

Going into the course market to put together a course with all the essential resources that any of the other major label courses would have:

12 full-length exams 11 books containing thousands of pages Course priced at $1,300 ($700-$900 less than students would have paid for courses under the legacy pricing system)

A Next Step exclusive: Customized study plan tool Diagnostic test followed by a short questionnaire that will allow a generation of a custom unique to you study plan so you're following the best possible prep for your needs

Our goals for The MCAT Podcast: Regularly repeating podcast of 5-15 min. mini-lessons on MCAT itself, building study plans, quick reviews, pitfalls and how to avoid them You get a little nugget of MCAT wisdom offering high value to students Links and Other Resources:

Go to www.oldpremeds.org/mcatclass and use the coupon code: MCATPOD to save money off their tutoring and 10% off their products

www.mcatpodcast.com/subscribe

32: How do I Prepare for the Medical School Interview?

Jul 27, 2016 09:02

Description:

OPM 32n

Session 32

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast are taken directly from the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

Today's question is about preparing for the medical school interview being a nontraditional student. Ryan lays out some relevant pieces of advice to help students rock the interview come interview day.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster is a nontraditional re-applicant who applied very late in the cycle and had a mediocre MCAT score, being her two biggest hurdles. Since then she has worked to improve on several areas of her application and applied early in this year's cycle. She chose to apply to 12 schools and received an interview to interview at a school in August. How do you prepare for interviews particularly for nontraditional students?

Here are the insights from Ryan: Know who you are.

Know what your future is going to look like. Check out Episodes 192, 19, and 91 of The Premed Years Podcast to get more tips about the medical school interview process.

Diversity is key.

What does your nontraditional background bring to your classmates and add to the diversity of the class?

Diversity is a huge buzzword these days with holistic admissions processes at medical schools. But you have to be able to tell that story as to why you're diverse.

Do a mock interview.

Talk with somebody who knows the process. Record yourself (audio or video) to see and hear yourself. Make it as real as possible and go through it so you can watch yourself. Get feedback from the person you're talking with on the answers you gave to see how it sounded like to the interviewer.

Links and Other Resources:

Session 192 www.medicalschoolhq.net/192

Session 19 www.medicalschoolhq.net/19

Session 91 www.medicalschoolhq.net/91

www.medschoolinterviewbook.com

31: Committee Feedback on a Bombed Med School Interview

Jul 20, 2016 08:06

Description:

Session 31

OPM 31

In this episode, Ryan focuses on the medical school interview process, an important topic to discuss considering that it's interview season and Ryan has a book coming up on Kindle. Find out more about it on www.medschoolinterviewbook.com and sign up to get notified when it releases. This book will also hit physical bookstores by the first part of next year.

Ryan pulls a statement from the forums over at OldPreMeds.org and he discusses how critical preparing for an interview is.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster got an interview feedback from one of the schools they applied to last year. The school quoted the committee stating that they felt the interviewee was extremely nervous, talking very rapidly, so rapidly that they often could not understand what was said. The committee felt as though the interviewee came across as closed-minded and lacking of self-awareness due to a combination of the choice of words and phrases used during the interview as well as the inability to fully answer some questions. Some comments were not received favorably by the committee and viewed as very disrespectful. Poster is at a loss as to how to correct this.

Here are the insights from Ryan:

This is what happens if you don't prepare properly for your interviews.

Mock interviews are very, very important to understand how the words floating around your head come out of your mouth and land on the interviewer. It's your job to make sure the words you're saying land favorably on the interviewer.

You can't control everybody listening to you to agree with you but if you're saying stuff that are very off-putting then you're obviously doing something wrong.

As you prepare for your interviews, record yourself with a video camera or an audio recorder.

Have somebody go through the interview process with you.

If you need a list of questions, check out www.medschoolinterviewbook.com to sign up and get notified when the book is released. It contains almost 600 possible questions as well as questions you can throw at your interviewers. The book also has over 50 real answer from mock interviews Ryan has done with students including the feedback he gave to students.

Links and Other Resources:

OldPreMeds.org

www.medschoolinterviewbook.com

30: A Statement Made About How Important Interviews Are

Jul 14, 2016 07:07

Description:

OPM 30

Session 30

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan again dives into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

Today, the questions revolves around the interview process and the feedback they received from a physician about the interview process.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster had a talk with a neurosurgery resident and gave so much insight into the journey, highlighting the fact that entry to medical school is not a destination. He is in the last year of residency as a chief resident after 18 years of education and residency. Poster shares the resident's insights and the deal breaker is the actual interview where only personality matters subject to the interviewer. Poster wants to ask any other insights into the interview.

Here are the insights from Ryan:

There are no such things as GPA and MCAT cutoffs.

If you got an interview at a medical school, they've taken the leap of faith that your scores are competitive enough to be a student at that school.

Once you have your interview and matched up among everybody else that had an interview, your GPA and MCAT still might fall short. If you have a perfect interview against another perfect interview of a student and everything else is equal but the other student has a higher MCAT score or GPA, they might get the spot over you.

Go into the interview thinking that the acceptance is yours to lose. You have to be there prepared and ready to go.

Over the years, schools have been refining what they use to select students. The AAMC has the core competencies that medical schools look at. Then the medical schools look at your applications, secondaries, interview skills and comparing you to a core competency list which takes some subjectivity out of it.

Ryan is releasing an interview book soon on Amazon as well as its print version. Go to www.medschoolinterviewbook.com to sign up and be notified when the book releases or if it's already out.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Personality is not the only thing that matters and that it is subject to the interview. Personality matters in everything in life and you need to be prepared for that interview.

Links and Other Resources:

www.medschoolinterviewbook.com

29: A Farewell Letter to Being Premed

Jul 6, 2016 11:46

Description:

OPM 29

Session 29

Today's episode is a lot different from the previous sessions where Ryan and Rich pull out a question from the OldPreMeds.org forum. In this session, Ryan reads out a post sent by someone over at the same forum as he bids goodbye to being a premed.

Hopefully, this session will help you gain insights into your journey towards becoming a physician and pay attention to your thought process as to whether this is something that you really like and if so, whether you’re willing to put all the work in.

Some points from the poster’s letter: Realizing this is not a path he/she will complete Struggling for the past six years to study for the MCAT but unfruitful Having very poor study habits and knowledge of the MCAT sciences is very lacking Only made it through college because professors were generous at allowing them cheat sheets during exams and having open book during the final exams

“You have to ask yourself if you want it. Then you have to ask yourself if you want it bad enough to actually put the work into it and do it.”

Poster’s realizations: Not willing to put the effort into overcoming the barriers of entry to medical school. He/she values time to self and family more than the prospect of becoming a doctor Enjoys being a musician more than studying for the MCAT which he/she finds stressful and depressing

“My admission here is not that I do not think I'm capable. It is that I do not think I am willing. Too much false hope from too many people and not enough listening to those who warned me along the way. Not enough paying attention to how the really hard classes indicated that I would not make it.”

Here are the insights from Ryan:

This is a very common thought process for people as they make the decision of whether or not to continue this path or jump ship and find something else to do.

Take some time and do some self-inspection. Figure out if this is really what you want to do. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort to do well in your classes. Take a deep look inside yourself and ask yourself if this is worth it.

28: Do I need to Rewrite my Extracurriculars as a Reapplicant?

Jun 29, 2016 08:06

Description:

OPM 28

Session 28

Ryan and Rich again shed light on your questions directly from the forums over at OldPreMeds.org.

This week they particularly talk about the importance of writing your extracurriculars and meaningful statements well. It can't just be a job description but it should show how you are as a person.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

A question coming from a reapplicant asking about redoing the extracurriculars. Do they need to rewrite their extracurriculars and the most meaningful essays they're selecting for their three big extracurriculars?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

Things to consider:

How extensive have you been? Has anything been changed and updated?

You may get by without extensively rewriting your extracurriculars and meaningful statements for the most of the secondary applications. So it's not bad to continue with what you've had.

But if you've reapplied to schools before with the same information and it hasn't worked then consider what you're being effective.

Have someone who does not know you well critically analyze your writing prior to getting into another application cycle as this somehow mimics the members of the admissions committee that don't know you at all.

Student really spend time on the personal statement and the first two secondaries. But people overlook the extracurriculars, which need to be well-written. They should be:

Concise Coherent Compelling Short paragraphs

Your extracurricular statement must show you as a person.

Characteristics Intelligence Motivation Commitment Attention to detail Major takeaway from this episode:

Be sincere about your motivation and your story. Start with your core or why and move from there.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

www.medschoolinterviewbook.com

27: Does Massage Therapy Count as Clinical Experience?

Jun 22, 2016 06:15

Description:

OPM 27

Session 27

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan and Rich again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster is a current massage therapist. She is in training for a clinical massage training. Would massage therapy become more accepted and being an alternative modality in the health field, how is this going to be viewed by medical schools?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

Massage therapy is a licensed field in most states. A lot of schools that offer it are accredited secondary institutions.

Rich doesn't think that most medical schools will think that it will add much to your application. It's not patient contact per se nor is it volunteering. But it's a work experience that you can list.

Other experiences you need to get include are volunteering and shadowing.

There are massage therapists who work in more clinical settings like nursing homes, some physical therapy practices and osteopathic practices in some hospitals for patients. If you're able to find positions such as these then this may be useful to your medical school application.

26: Should I Retake the MCAT? Is there a Minimum MCAT Score?

Jun 15, 2016 11:28

Description:

OPM 26

Session 26

In today's episode, Ryan and Rich discuss how to go about it when you’re considering to retake the MCAT as well as the minimum MCAT score required by different medical schools.

As always, this question has been pulled out by Ryan and Rich from the forums over at OldPreMeds.org so they can bring the answers directly right onto you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Student is working full time and with two boys; took the MCAT for the first time in September (which is a bit late) and received scores in October; looking at schools they're interested in applying to but only one of them had a minimum percentile listed. MCAT score of 504 and trying to figure out what to do next.

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich: The ultimate rule for MCAT:

Do not take the test until you are ready.

When are you ready to take the MCAT:

Having completed the prerequisites to have sound foundation in the basic sciences and other subjects for the MCAT

Timing the exam

Taking prep and practice exams

Feeling confident to go in and take the exam

How schools screen scores:

Most schools don't have a specific minimum for the MCAT. When they screen the applicant, they don't really screen them. They may have a minimum screening to send you a secondary. Most schools may have a formula that takes your GPA and MCAT with a minimum score to review somebody or not.

The reject review step:

An application that does not make their minimum scores.

Application is physically reviewed by somebody to check if there is any issue.

What is the average minimum?

124-125 in each section should be considered about the minimum

How do you succeed on the MCAT in this case?

Consider quitting full time job and study for the test again full-time

Include MCAT prep over a longer period Whatever method you pick, have a disciplined study routine

Do not take the MCAT until you're ready.

Make sure you're solid two weeks before the exam and ready to go.

Ryan recommends using Cram Fighter that provides you with a study schedule to keep track and stay on task

Major takeaway from this episode:

Take the MCAT only when you're ready. You need to have your head game there or you will not do well. Have a plan.

Links and Other Resources:

www.cramfighter.com

www.mededmedia.com

25: Should I Drop Out of My Masters Program and do a Postbac?

Jun 8, 2016 09:35

Description:

OPM 25

Session 25

In today's episode, Ryan and Rich take a question pulled out directly from the forums over at OldPreMeds.org as they discuss getting a master's program versus postbac program.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster, Megan, is a 27-year old professional with accumulative undergrad GPA of 3.04; currently enrolled in a master's degree program in molecular biology and biochemistry. She is now wondering if she should stop her master's degree program and go back and do more postbac work to help erase some of her other previous grades. Should she drop out of her master's program and go back and do undergrad classes for postbac?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

Go to AMCAS and AACOMAS to do grade conversions and get an idea of what you're year by year grade in science versus nonscience and get an idea of what your grade trends are.

Master's programs are tricky in that their GPAs will not directly enhance a weak undergraduate GPA. They also have a reputation of awarding grades surely high for most graduate programs.

Postbacs and SMPs designed specifically for a premed have more traction. If you're doing it part-time while working full-time, this is not something you can finish a year and go back and do something else.

This all depends on what your undergraduate record looks like and what paths you may want to go, whether you need to do grade replacement and focus on a DO route, or have some good upward grade trends that can be salvageable for MD route or how far along are you from the master's to prevent the motivation and commitment question that will come out in some ad com's eyes.

Major takeaway from this episode:

A traditional master's program still is not going to be as acceptable or impactful as a special master's program or a postbac depending on your background. However, some schools may look at a master's degree more heavily. Some even use it to replace an undergrad GPA.

Links and Other Resources:

AACOMAS

AMCAS

www.mededmedia.com

24 : How Is My Academic Dismissal Going to Hurt My Chances?

Jun 2, 2016 08:30

Description:

OPM 24

Session 24

In today's episode, Ryan and Rich take another question directly from the OldPreMeds.org and they specifically discuss how getting academically dismissed in undergrad can possibly hurt your chances of getting into medical school.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster is a student, 35 years old (by the time they will apply to medical school); thinking about transferring to finish their Bachelor's degree; academically dismissed from undergrad ad transferred credits to community college and now wants to finish at another four-year institution. How is this going to hurt their chances of going to medical school?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

Being dismissed is a major issue and has to be reported. A few considerations:

When was the student dismissed? During freshmen year who got wild and got thrown out? Or somebody who spent three years struggling and got thrown out? How far in your career have you gone? How long ago was that?

There are medical schools that like "redemption" - people who have shown they've come out of their academic holed and climbed up.

Students going to a community college generally have very few credits from their original degree:

You have to write a concise and compelling narrative explaining the pattern of failure to success. Consider the DO route that considers grade replacement so you can make up for some of the failures you took during undergraduate.

A well-crafted application applying to a target rigorous school can make the person successful in getting into medical school.

You can only go forward. There is nothing else you can do in a case like this. You have to deal with whatever the application interview comes up with.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Keep on and don't think it's impossible. Own up to your mistakes as you go forward and be able to talk about them.

Links and Other Resources:

www.mededmedia.com

The Premed Years Episode 174

23: How Much Will My Undergrad Hurt My Chances at Med School?

May 26, 2016 11:09

Description:

OPM 23

Session 23

In today's episode, Ryan and Rich take a question from the forums over at OldPreMeds.org about whether a poor undergraduate school can hurt your chances at getting into medical school. 

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Scenario: From an NP who wants to go back to medical school; Mom with 2 kids; Has been a nurse practitioner for 5 years and made up her mind to follow her dreams of going to medical school. Enrolled in a community college but worried about her undergraduate science GPA of 2.9 and receiving F in one of her classes.

How much is her undergraduate grades going to haunt her as she tries to move forward?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

Only 2% of people who apply to PA also apply to MD or DO school.

PA itself seems to become a direct route for people to go into medicine.

It's a grade baggage you don't have to worry about

NP course load might be lower than a special master's program (MPH)

An NP degree is a great accomplishment. Although it won't directly impact the GPA, it will certainly impress the admissions committee.

How the admissions committee looks at your numbers:

Generally, students get too focused on a single GPA number. Go to the AMCAS and look up what your grade chart will look like (science vs. non-science). This is how an admissions committee sees your grades.

They don't see a single number, but the net trend and the totals at the bottom to give them a good idea of what your trends are like.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Your undergraduate school days may haunt you but you have plenty of opportunities to overcome them.

22: Choosing Between an SMP vs Postbac Program

May 19, 2016 10:33

Description:

OPM 22

Session 22

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan jumps into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where he pulls a question and delivers the answers right on to you.

In today's episode, Ryan tackles the topic on taking a postbac or SMP for a 32-year old science major with a lot of credits while having poor numbers. Listen in to learn more about this. 

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster is a 32-year old nontraditional premed student; graduated in 2007 with a chemistry/computer science double major; Science GPA with 3.05 and accumulative of 3.13; lots of credits to GPA's. Should they take the basic prerequisite science classes considering the not-so-stellar grades? Formal postbac program would be great but most of them specify that the applicant cannot have more than 50% science grades completed.

Here are the insights from Ryan: Two types of postbac programs: Career-changers

Where you haven't taken a lot of science courses

They don't want you to have any of your sciences done or at least not a lot of them done

Record-enhancers

You went through school as a science major, knew you wanted to be premed, but you struggled so you need help to enhance your GPA

They have specific postbac programs for students like this poster

Out of 223 postbac programs, there are 152 record-enhancing programs

Are SMP's high risk?

SMP's are great because they're usually tied to the medical school and you're taking classes with medical students

You are performing for the school to say that you're doing just as well as their medical students and that you're building relationships

Caveat:

If you do the math to enhance the record with a lot of credits to take more science courses and get straight A's, the GPA is not going to move very much.

In this case, consider a special masters program because it will be a separate grade in the application.

Links and Other Resources:

OldPreMeds.org

AAMC List of Postbac Programs - Special Program Focus

MedEdMedia.com

21: Volunteering or Working When There is a Time Crunch

May 11, 2016 10:32

Description:

OPM 21

Session 21

In this episode, Ryan pulls out a question directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums. It's all about working and volunteering and how to squeeze it all in. Ryan also covers a very important aspect of applying to medical school when it comes to updating your application.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Poster is a student in a premed postbac program and will finish next year and applying for 2018 matriculation; with 30 hours of shadowing and three months of volunteering experience at a clinic; working at a radiology department for transport about 25 hours a week; and bartending 1-2 nights a week to pay the bills. Poster finds it difficult to volunteer with a year plus to work and volunteer after postbac before matriculation, but is it too late to add volunteer hours to the resume?

Here are the insights from Ryan: Updating your AMCAS application as your resume grows:

Once you submit your application for verification, there are only a few things that you can change in your AMCAS application and your extracurriculars are NOT one of them.

The only things you can update are:

ID number, name, address, contact information, date of birth, sex Letters of recommendations MCAT test dates Schools you're applying to Release of application information to your prehealth advisor

What you can do, however, is send an individual letter to each of the application services (which means you have to add in some work sending individual letters or emails to each of the schools you applied to updating them about it)

Work versus volunteer:

Volunteer experience is very important while work is also very important in order to pay your bills so it's basically a personal decision. Everybody is different with the amount of work they have to do and the amount of bills they have to pay.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Choosing between work and volunteering is a personal decision but you have to keep in mind that lack of clinical experience is one of the biggest reasons students aren't getting into medical school.

Links and Other Resources:

The Premed Years Session 171

20: Interview with a 56-Year-Old Medical Student

May 5, 2016 38:48

Description:

OPM 20

Session 20

In today's episode, Ryan talks with Kate, a 56-year old 3rd year medical student at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine as she  shares with us her path to becoming a physician.

Kate was initially a bio premed major until she decided to stop and pursue a career as a nurse until changing careers to becoming a nurse midwife and doing another career change into finally becoming a physician.

Kate is definitely proof that anything is possible. Anyone can get into medical school. You just need to put in the work and you'll get there.

Listen in to Kate’s amazing journey!

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Kate: Kate's path to becoming a physician: Decided to become a doctor when she was 10 Interest in rural family practice growing up in rural locations for the  most part of her life Initially a biology premed major until midway through college Transferred to a nursing program in her junior year Working as a nurse midwife for 13 years prior to medical school Switching from being a nurse to a nurse midwife and a teacher in nursing Deciding to go back to medical school at the age of 50 Why Kate decided to stop being premed the first time: Medical school as having a cutthroat environment Finding the length of education to be overwhelming Found interest in what the nurses are doing and wanting immediate gratification The thought of raising kids Lack of research into the whole thing when she made her decision The driving force that made her decide to get into medical school: Being involved in her local community and seeing the need for primary care Seeing physicians as a really huge instrument for change especially in the effective organization around  public health issues Thirst for knowledge and wanting to become a "change" agent Resources she tapped into initially: Kate googled "old premedical students" which led her to OldPreMeds.org Knowing what prerequisites were needed Her family physicians Taking her postbac program: Not being able to get to the classes she needed Ended up applying to two schools for a "structured" postbac program Quitting her job to do the program full time Having that fear in terms of finances Getting the finances:

Applying to the National Health Service Corps each year and not getting it

Applying for loan repayment program as her plan B

Considerations for choosing the schools she applied to: Emphasis on rural primary care and global medical outreach Geography (closer to family) Specifically choosing osteopathic medical schools but ended up applying to 6 DO schools and 6 MD schools and getting 6 interviews The interview process: Having a collegiate footing with the interviewer being a nurse educator herself Giving her an edge as a nontraditional old premed having had some experiences The biggest obstacle that she had overcome:

Talking herself out of trying

Links and Other Resources:

West Virginia School of Medicine

National Health Service Corps

OldPreMeds.org

AAMC list of postbac programs

If you need any help with the medical school interview, go to medschoolinterviewbook.com. Sign up and you will receive parts of the book so you can help shape the future of the book. This book will include over 500 questions that may be asked during interview day as well as real-life questions, answers, and feedback from all of the mock interviews Ryan has been doing with students.

Are you a nontraditional student? Go check out oldpremeds.org.

For more great content, check out www.mededmedia.com for more of the shows produced by the Medical School Headquarters including the OldPremeds Podcast and watch out for more shows in the future!

Hang out with us over at medicalschoolhq.net/group. Click join and we'll add you up to our private Facebook group. Share your successes and miseries with the rest of us.

Email Ryan at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq

19 : Should I Apply to Med School Without Many Extracurriculars?

Apr 28, 2016 09:35

Description:

OPM 19

Session 19

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan and Rich again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

This is a common question for non traditional students who have to juggle time taking care of family, test prep, classes, and so many other things that some of them might even get left out.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Finished undergrad with a double major in English Literature and Spanish Language; decent GPA; struggled in the Science prerequisites; not getting a lot of volunteering and shadowing done. Should you apply with such little experience? Or should you take some time and get the experience you need under your belt before applying?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

A common assumption that the more you do as an undergrad in terms of academia, the better candidate you are - that's not always the case.

All your grades for allopathic medical schools will count whether you retake them or not.

Medical school want to see:

Motivation Commitment Achievement

Commitment must be shown through extracurriculars that you've committed to for some time

You want to be the strongest applicant on your first application you can be. Not having sufficient volunteering, shadowing, extracurriculars will make you a weaker candidate.

Consider taking time until you have those experiences under the belt to become a stronger, more competitive candidate.

Shadowing vs. volunteering:

Volunteering is when you're doing something for others (clinic, nursing home, geriatric care, etc.) Shadowing is something you do for yourself (following a doctor around) Links and Other Resources:

The Premed Years podcast session 171 - Reapplying to Med School - What You Need to Know to Improve

The Premed Years podcast session 75 - What Are My Chances of Getting into Med School?

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including The Premed Years and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

18: Will Medical School Accept an Online Degree for Undergrad?

Apr 21, 2016 06:30

Description:

OPM 18

Session 18

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan and Rich again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

Today's question is quite interesting as it pertains to busy nontraditional students who may not have time to go to classes and the risk of taking online coursework over the in-campus classes.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Can you use an online degree for medical school?

The poster considers doing an online degree as an older nontraditional student. They've email premed consultants and directly to medical schools and thinking about doing a BA online at the University of Florida. Final 30 hours would be online and completing premed coursework at a local campus.

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich: Some places online courses but most schools do not accept that. MSAR lists which schools will accept or not accept online prerequisites Undergrad institutions providing online courses are putting their name on the course. These schools would argue that their online course is as good as any course that they teach in-campus so in all the transcripts you won't know whether it's an online class or not. Medical schools would like to see whether it's online or not. They may ask a question on your secondary to state if you're taking any online coursework.

If you're doing the prerequisites in an actual campus and the rest of the degree online, there still could be some risks to it.

It could limit you to what medical schools to apply to It may put you at a competitive disadvantage in the applicant pool Major takeaway from this episode: It is such a time-consuming and expensive process to apply to medical school so you wouldn't want to run such a risk. If taking an online course is a risk worth taking, go for it. Don't rely on one just one medical school to apply to. Do your research. Check out the MSAR or the CIB to arrive at the best decision possible. Links and Other Resources

MSAR

CIB

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including The Premed Years and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

17: As a Nontrad, How Should I Create a Med School List?

Apr 13, 2016 08:22

Description:

OPM 17

Session 17

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan and Rich again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you. Today, they cover tips you need to know when making your school list in narrowing down which medical schools to apply to.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

How do you sort through the 150+ medical schools out there and pick the ones that you apply to?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich: Tips in creating your med school list: Get a copy of the MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirement) published by AAMC) which summarizes each school of their class, their setup, requirements, and their average GPA and MCAT score. For the osteopathic schools, check the College Information Book to get the same information. Take a realistic look at your grades and see if you're going to fit within the range of the medical schools you're applying to. For nontraditional students consider to increase your overall GPA even though the actual may be a little bit lower. Consider all the schools in your state, both state schools and the private schools. Consider it a part of your normal broad application process. State schools look at the factor of being in-state or out of state. States will look at in-state applicants closer than out of state applicants. Some things you need to consider: Most students apply between 12 and 24 schools. City or more rural Specialty of the school you want to be associated with. Weather Major takeaway from this episode:

Pick your schools wisely because it's a big part in the application process and a great deal of money is involved too.

Links and Other Resources

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including The Premed Years and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

16: When Should I Expect an Interview or Be Told I'm Rejected?

Apr 6, 2016 07:28

Description:

Session 16

OPM 16

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan and Rich again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

Today, the discussion touches on the secondaries, interviews, the timing, and the process of it all. 

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster has completed 9 secondaries and already has 2 scheduled interviews. If the school is not going to offer an interview, do they let you know or do they just leave you hanging? What kind of timeline do most schools work on? 

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

The timeline of the secondary process:

AMCAS application (not transmitted to the schools until starting July 1st) Many schools start sending the secondary before your primary application has been processed and transmitted to them AMCAS provides schools (upon request) contact information for applicants for them to be able to send unscreened secondaries to all students who select that school. You get many schools so when the application transmits for the secondary sent unscreened, you get other schools with very minimal screening and very low MCAT and GPA grade cutoff or formula. Virtually all students will be getting a secondary. Most schools will wait until the secondary gets in and then review it

After interview, depending on the school, the status may vary according to:

Rejection Hold status Leave you hanging

Hence, all schools vary in terms of the secondaries so there is no general rule whatsoever. Most schools though, hold most students until later in the cycle when they decide to wait list or reject.

If you don't hear about an interview, you may just have to wait to find out. The waiting game can be painful because they won't finalize it until April 30th.

Get your applications early so things get reviewed early. However, medical schools may review applications not in a chronological fashion. 

Major takeaway from this episode:

Each school has their own culture and mission. Many schools will eye much more on the secondaries for soft answers, motivation, commitment, achievement than they do on the primary application. So a lot of schools look at the secondary more intensely than they do the primary.

The application can be painful and slow but that is the game. School take in a lot of applications so it may take a long time to get through them all. So stay encouraged and motivated  while you're waiting for the answer (hopefully an interview invite). 

Links and Other Resources:

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including The Premed Years and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

15: How Recent Should My Prereqs Be Before Applying to Med School?

Mar 30, 2016 07:02

Description:

OPM 15

Session 15

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Taken directly from the forums over at OldPreMeds.org, Ryan and Rich pick a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

For this week, Ryan and Rich discuss about course timing and coursework expiration.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster took coursework 30 years ago and wasn't premed at that time. She retook most of the lower division coursework 7-9 years ago. During the intervening years, she was doing some upper division stuff, studying for the MCAT and taking care of life. Their advisor suggested that the prereqs should be taken within five years of applying to medical school. Is there an expiration for coursework?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

For most school, there is no set expiration for prereqs.

In the last couple of years, medical schools would like to see the coursework within 5 years or some evidence of academic achievement during the past 5 years (if you have completed degrees before that)

Becoming more complex because the AAMC has changed the MCAT recently adding more content.

For prereqs approaching 10 years, consider retaking some of the courses or continue taking the advanced classes. Basic or introductory classes change rapidly.

In general, there is no requirement or specific timing on your prereqs. It usually depends on the school you’re applying to.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Get the definitive answer to go to the medical school that you're interested in applying to and ask them what they think.

Links and Other Resources:

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including The Premed Years and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching an MCAT podcast and a medical school-focused podcast so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

14: Can I Take Community College Courses for a Postbac?

Mar 23, 2016 05:28

Description:

OPM 14

Session 14

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan and Rich again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

This week, the OPM duo takes on a dual-edged question about taking a post bacc at a community college.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster needs to do some GPA-fixing, working full-time, and making pretty good money so quitting their job is not ideal. However, the only place to take classes in a DIY post bacc is at a community college. Are community college classes going to hurt?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

This depends on the applicant's overall background. In general, community colleges are not going to enhance your application as much as a 4-year school would.

The negative impact can be minor to moderate depending on the medical school you're applying to and your background.

Community colleges are definitely better than nothing.

Take some upper level classes or additional classes at a 4-year school and show them that you can handle the work.

If you are previously a non-science major and your first time taking your science classes, this will have less of an impact. Here are some questions to consider:

Why are you at a community college now trying to fix your GPA? Were you a liberal arts major and just didn't care to study the romantic languages you were trying to learn? Have you not ever taken any science courses and this is your first time? Or are you just going to the community college because it's "easier" than the sciences courses you already took at your 4-year school you previously were at? Major takeaway from this episode:

Everybody is unique so your story matters in the application.

Links and Other Resources:

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including The Premed Years and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq

13: Should I Apply Early Decision to Medical School?

Mar 16, 2016 05:38

Description:

Session 13

Each week, Ryan and Rich directly pull up a question from the forums over at OldPreMeds.org as they deliver the best answers right on to you. If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account.

This week's topic is on Early Decision, whether it be a wise decision to apply for it and weighing out between its risk and reward.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

The poster is deciding if they should apply for Early Decision in the current city they live and also wanting to apply for the HPSP scholarship. What are the pros and cons?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

What is Early Decision?

It is a program by some medical schools typically designed for students who:

Are very strong candidates Have a strong geographic connection to the school Make a strong case why they be a good fit for that school

When you apply for it, it means you have committed on the AMCAS application to only apply to that school until a decision is made.

The risk of early decision:

This raises an issue that if the decisions do not come out by October and if you don't get accepted the Early Decision, you have now set yourself back for all the other medical schools to apply to.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Rich recommends:

Do not consider early decision unless you are extremely strong, have extremely good geographic connection to the area, and you are a good fit for that school.

How are you a good fit for that school?

Specific on the school's mission such as role in medicine, primary care, or some other aspect that you can show that would make you a good fit.

Ryan recommends:

Do not apply for an early decision because the risk is higher than the reward.

Links and Other Resources

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including The Premed Years and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

12: How Will Grad School Affect My Chances of Getting In?

Mar 9, 2016 10:34

Description:

OPM 12

Session 12

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan and Rich again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

Today, they talk about the impact of grad school on an application. Listen in as they discuss the implications of applying to medical school with an appearance of withdrawals on your grad school transcript. 

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

What choices are going to enhance the medical school application or at least minimize the negative impacts given these scenarios:

Leaving a semester transcript blank to save money but increase tutoring hours for other things in order to make some money. Finish the semester but with W's on their transcript, there is appearance of quitting and confusion Finish all of it even if it's costly. Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

Not having the information before starting grad school is going to affect you.

Medical schools generally look at your undergraduate grade GPA for the admissions. Grad school grades, however, do not have a major impact upon acceptance. Hence, having good grades in grad school won't enhance your application with a few exceptions such as:

Special Master's Programs Few traditional hardcore science master's usually marketed and listed as special master's  What are Special Master's Programs?

They are a form of post bacc that differ than just taking the required classes. They are designed loosely to be an addition year into a medical school semester. In short, they serve as a stepping stone for direct acceptance into medical school.

Investigate what the program is going to do for you Investigate the cost Investigate their success or their placement

On the other hand, having bad grades or withdrawals have a negative impact on your application, which questions your commitment, motivation, and achievement.

The 32-Hour Rule:

Some medical schools take the last 32 hours of your coursework (grad school/post bacc coursework) and replacing all of your other coursework GPA-wise. So they calculate your GPA based on those last 32 hours of coursework.

Major takeaway from this episode: Look at the entire picture of what your application is going to look like. Don't assume that this one part of your application is going to make your entire application. Take a look at the whole picture of what you're going to look like on paper to an admissions committee. Links and Other Resources

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

OPM Session 03: Your Premed GPA is More than Your Premed GPA

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including The Premed Years and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

11: Which MCAT Materials are the Best for Me?

Mar 2, 2016 13:15

Description:

OPM 11

Session 11

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan and Rich again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

Today, they discuss about the best resource for studying for the MCAT, what you need to do, and some things you need to consider to find your best resource.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Looking at retaking the MCAT with a 19 on the old exam and trying to avoid going to the Caribbean. What is the most useful resource for studying for the MCAT?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich

MCAT used to be a 3-part exam:

Biological sciences

Physical sciences

Verbal Reasoning

In 2015, MCAT now covers 4 sections:

Chemical and physical foundations for systems

Critical analysis and reasoning

Biological and biochemical foundations

Psychosocial and biologic foundations of behavior

What you need to do for the MCAT:

Have a preparation plan. The courses you take as an undergrad are not enough preparation, Understand how the exam works. Understand the strategies for reading and answering the questions. Practice, practice, practice. It's not just knowing the content or how to approach the exams, but it's having a head game to take the exam. Don't take the exam until you're ready to do so. Get started with the AAMC exams (the closest thing as the real exam as possible.) Get another set of exams with one of the providers. "How Many Practice MCAT Exams Should I Take?"

Rich's rule of thumb is to do 4-6 practice exams under realistic conditions in getting scores you're comfortable with before you take the actual exam.

"Which MCAT Prep Company Should I Use?"

Look at your finances. It could cost $2,000-$3,000 to take a course.

You may self-study (if you have good habits and can be disciplined) and get retail books provided by an MCAT prep companies  such as Kaplan, Examkrackers, Princeton Review.

Live classroom or live online?

That's your personal preference.

Which of the courses of these companies are going to work for you?

Kaplan stresses the most amount of strategy to take an exam.

Princeton Review is a content-heavy course.

Examkrackers offers online and in-classroom classes but there are mixed reviews about their classrooms.

Free online resources like the Khan Academy (a few years ago, they hooked up with AAMC to run a contest and funding for people to rate MCAT prep materials for their system)

Things to consider here when choosing your resources:

Your learning style

Your discipline in studying

Your financial considerations

Understand where you are in the process and how are you going to be able to schedule all these things

Major takeaway from this episode

Rich personally believes that everyone should be in some sort of formal course (online or classroom). If you're thinking about investing a couple hundred thousand dollars of debt to go to med school, then $2,500 to pay for a prep class is not that expensive.

Links and Other Resources

Check out AAMC’s MCAT 2015 practice test.

Test prep companies:

Kaplan

Princeton Review

Examkrackers

Khan Academy

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Go to medicalschoolhq.net/mcat for a ton of great MCAT information. Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including The Premed Years and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

10: Who the Heck is this Rich Guy Anyway?

Feb 24, 2016 10:06

Description:

OPM 10

Session 10

Every week, we answer your questions here on the OldPreMeds Podcast where Ryan and Rich Levy again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org, pull a question, and deliver the answers right on to you.

Today, however, is a fun and unique episode as we re-introduce Rich and get to know him more in-depth…

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Rich Levy Rich’s path to the OldPreMeds.org Having the epiphany of wanting to go back to medical school in 2002 Coming across the website for the National Society for Nontraditional Premedical and Medical Students, otherwise known as OldPreMeds.org, a small online group that he got involved with By 2005, Rich took over as the group's business manager, running conferences Rich has helped develop the organization into a much more solid and effective resource for nontraditional students Getting to see all the sides of the medical school application process giving Rich a different view and understanding Factors that did not allow Rich to go to medical school Personal relationships Monetary considerations Financial crisis Lessons learned from taking the postbac To prove to medical schools that he can do it. To prove to your yourself that you want to do it, willing to work this hard and long to get to some place Major takeaway from this episode

Consider postbac as much expensive place, time, effort, and resources to answer that question and realize in your first year that you can't really do this.

Links and Other Resources

Check out Tim Horeczko’s podcast The Pediatrics Emergency Medicine Playbook

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including The Premed Years and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

9: Do Surgical or EM Residencies Like Older Applicants?

Feb 17, 2016 09:30

Description:

OPM 9

Session 9

Ryan and Rich once again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you. In today's show, they discuss about residency matching for older students.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Entering into a residency program in later 40's. Family, internal medicine, and psychiatry will be amenable to the older residents, but how about surgery or emergency medicine? Are there stories wherein older 4th year's are not considered for or are at a significant disadvantage for these two specialties?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

In some ways, older students have the more advantage in residency than traditional students.

Job experience Residencies are a job where you're expected to work in a small group and be responsible for what needs to be done. Most traditional students have never had a job in their life. Older students have worked and understand what it means to be responsible, to be on time, and to be supportive of your team in doing that. The ability to network

Going into residency has a lot to do with board score. There is a significant amount that has to do with networking:

Letters from your professors How you do an interview Small group dynamics around you Issues Each medical specialty has its own culture. Rich has observed no bias in emergency medicine people in their 30's and 40's. As with surgery, it depends on the surgical specialty and the culture on the program. More competition Residency slots become more competitive. Major takeaway from this episode

Older medical students who have done successfully in medical school, have done well in their boards, have done well in their rotations, and have done all the networking necessary to get into a residency slot, probably have as good a chance as any other student landing a spot for most specialties.

It doesn't matter how old you are, whatever you want to do, you can make it happen!  

Links and Other Resources

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including the Premed Years Podcast and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast and possibly an MCAT-specific podcast so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

8: Can I start an MD/PhD Program at an Older Age

Feb 10, 2016 11:15

Description:

OPM 8

Session 8

In this podcast, Ryan and Rich take a plunge into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you. Today, they discuss about the issue on age especially when considering to take an MD/PhD program.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week: MD/PhD possible at age 40?

Embarking on a premed journey at 40 years old and planning to start his postbac courses this Fall at a 4-year college. If he started medschool at 43 with a 7-year MD/PhD program plus a 4-year residency, he won't be working until 54. With a PhD in Social Science discipline and NPH and working at public health and related fields. Is it worth considering going back and doing the MD/PhD at their age and with the education already gained?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich: More training involved

Age does not impact medical admissions. However, MD/PhD is a little bit different as it's geared towards biomedical research, bench research, wet research, and is perceived to be a more conservative, disciplined group of people so this involves more training.

Difficult program

Geared towards hard core research (laboratory, in-depth scientific research) and applicants who apply for these have a significant amount of in-depth research (many of them have original or near-original work) so they are highly sought-after spots because they are supported (paid for completely through the medical science training program and monthly stipend)

Other things to consider Long time in school Many people who do medical research only have an MD People who do clinical/ lab research or more geared towards the social aspects of medicine, an MD is more than enough a degree to do that with. It is going to be a difficult road for a non-traditional student without significant research background to get into an MD/PhD program. Major takeaway from this episode

While you can have it, what else are you going to give up in order to get it? This is a personal choice you have to make for yourself, for your partners, and your family.

Links and Other Resources

Learn more about Jessica's story who received 10 acceptances to medical school at medicalschoolhq.net/168.

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including the Medical School Headquarters and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

7: Should I Mention Children in My Med School Application?

Feb 3, 2016 08:18

Description:

OPM 7

Session 7

Every week, Ryan and Rich share their thoughts and insights here on the OldPreMeds Podcast as they seek to answer the questions raised over at the OldPreMeds.org. In today's episode, the question is all about children and medical school, specifically mentioning children in your application.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

Do you mention your children in the application especially if it adds to your narrative of why you wanted to become a doctor?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

If your children have anything to do with your forthcoming, motivations, desires, and commitment to medicine then it is certainly important to mention that.

Can you put down parenting as an extracurricular?

No, if it's just being a parent in itself. But if you're doing things around your child that are organized (e.g. PTA, little league coach, soccer coach) these can be activities that would list well on an extracurricular activity.

How do the admissions committees look at students with children?

Parents who are on the admissions committees would probably look highly on someone who has been able to successfully got good grades, MCAT scores, and has been able to take care of two kids while doing a full time job. This is a show of discipline in her efforts and a high level of maturity and responsibility.

Links and Other Resources

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Session 61 of The Medical School Headquarters Podcast - Medical School Mom – Prioritizing Family, School and More

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including the Medical School Headquarters and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

6: How to get the Best Letters of Recommendation as a Nontrad

Jan 27, 2016 09:29

Description:

OPM 6

Session 6

Ryan and Rich answer your questions over at the OldPreMeds.orghere on the OldPreMeds Podcast. In today's episode, they will touch on letters of recommendation - what the admissions committee is looking for, how to get strong ones, and when is the best time to get them.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

How do you get a good letters of recommendation? Do you need to take more upper division science course work to get a good letter of recommendation? Does the letter of recommendation need to come from a professor you interacted recently?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

Many medical schools require 2 science professors and 1 non-science professor for a letter of recommendation

What the admissions committee wants to see from the letter of recommendation:

How you're evaluated in a class setting in recent history

Ways to get good letters of recommendation: Take another course or two and make an attempt to network and get a letter written. Get a committee letter which takes away the need for specific individual letter requirements and get one overall evaluation from your undergraduate school. Some schools have recommendations for nontraditional students SUNY Upstate Medical School- Students who graduated more than 5 years ago and are currently employed may submit one letter of recommendation from a current supervisor or someone form a science faculty they took a course from a while ago Weill Cornell Medicine (Cornell University)- Supervisor at work or research professor; students working in career fields like nursing or other medical fields can get a letter of recommendation from a supervisor from a physician you work with that may be useful

General Note:Students (nontraditional especially) should think about networking when they start going back to medical school because they need to get good letters of recommendation.

When is the time to get letters of recommendation?

Don't wait until application season to ask for letters of recommendation.  You can have your letters sent to Interfolio.com and they will hold on to the letters until you're ready to apply to medical school.

If you feel that a person is going to write you a strong letter of recommendation, ask for it even if you're applying next year.

Major takeaways from this episode:

Make an effort to network and even as you go into medical school, network early because you will need letters of recommendation again when you apply for residency.

Schools have different specific requirements for letters of recommendation so check out the MSAR and go through the College Information Book to find out what each school wants for letters.

Links and Other Resources

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including the Medical School Headquarters and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@oldpremeds.org or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

5: Applications - When Should I Apply to Medical School? Does it Matter?

Jan 20, 2016 12:12

Description:

OPM 5

Session 5

Ryan and Rich again take in questions from the forum over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

In today's episode Ryan and Rick talk about the risks of late application to medical school and the repercussions of taking the MCAT late.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

If you are taking the MCAT on August 22nd and sending in the primary application in July, are you going to compete for a very few (less than 25%) remaining interview slots in most schools?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

Applying to medical school has to be done early and often.

Consider this scenario during the medical school application process: Several schools in late September suggest that 50% of the interview slots have been assigned There are rolling admissions Limited number of interview slots Your chances start going lower and lower Reasons for the slim chances: There is enormous competition. There are 50,000 people applying for 20,000 MD spots 20,000 people are applying for 7,000 DO spots Steep competition with lots of good candidates The process involves time and processing, verifying and transmitting applications to the AMCAS or AACOMAS Each school may get 5,000 applications for just 100 spots There are so many OCD, neurotic, and near paranoid premeds when it comes to submitting early (An Admissions Committee said that they got 25% of their applications on the first day of transmission, which was on opening day) What is "Rolling Admissions?"

Med schools admit students as they come through the application cycle (no end date as to when all the admissions will be announced); instead, they do this as the cycle continues. Hence, the first day of acceptances can be sent out by October 15. Schools lock down good candidates before they get offers from other schools.

Fewer seats and more applicants = application screening gets more critical

What happens when you take the MCAT late:

If you're taking the MCAT late, you still have to submit your applications early so it can go through the verification process. Once there is a mark that you have an MCAT pending, the school will sit on it and wait till they review everything. But at least they already have your application.

Rich recommends that if you need to take a late MCAT, think about applying the next cycle. Otherwise, take the MCAT early enough to get your score back and apply early.

A professor at the NIH said that the application process is your first medical school test, an open book test, and applying late is your first failure of this test in medical school.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Submit your applications early. Take the MCAT early enough to get your score back so you can apply early.

Links and Other Resources

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including the Medical School Headquarters and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

4: DO vs Caribbean Medical School? What Should I Do?

Jan 13, 2016 10:31

Description:

OPM 4

Session 4

In today's discussion, Ryan and Rich answer a question related to last week's episode question which has been broken into two parts.

To check out last week's episode, go to www.opmpodcast.com/3.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week - DO vs Caribbean:

A U.S. DO school or a Caribbean MD? Which is a better choice? (More job prospects)

Cumulative GPA is not above 3.0 unless over 120 hours of classes are taken; Science GPA 3.5+

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

Always, always, always go for a U.S. MD or DO over Caribbean even if it takes you a couple of application cycles to try

Squeeze in the residency slots can affect the Caribbean students more.

Consider the stats:

In U.S. medical schools,

About 40% of people get accepted Residency matching rates after 5 years at 94% Residency matching rates after 8 years at 97% Placement rate at 100% (get residency slots outside of the main match) Attrition rate at 3%

In short, most people who start med schools in the U.S. are able to finish.

Other things to consider: Residency slots for the ACGME - MD and DO will be one credited residency program with one match 1-2% of the U.S. med school graduates who never look for residency go with research or other non-clinical fields What happens if you go offshore schools?

They would accept almost everyone but only 50% of people who go to the big 3 or 4 Caribbean schools actually get a degree.

If you start a Caribbean med school or any other off shore med school, you may only have 1-2% chance of actually earning a degree.

Your chances of getting a residency slot are 40-45%. ( A huge risk in the amount of loans plus you won't be able to practice medicine; most likely, you will end up being an Anatomy teacher in the medical school)

For-profit nature Caribbean schools vs. U.S.:

For-profit schools in the Caribbean are 100%; in the U.S., only two of all DO and MD schools (out of 175) have a for-profit basis.

Major takeaway from this episode:

Only consider Caribbean medical schools as your last resort after you've applied twice and done repair to consider all other options.

Schools are different. The big schools in the Caribbean may not be as valuable as some of the smaller schools in Australia and in Israel, which have different school setup and histories. In either case, the residency match rates and the numbers for that are just working against anyone who goes offshore.

Links and Other Resources

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to the OPM Podcast Episode 3 to hear the first part of this 2-part question

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including the Medical School Headquarters and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

3: Your Premed GPA is More than Your Premed GPA

Jan 6, 2016 11:02

Description:

OPM 3

Session 3

Your questions, answered here on the OldPreMeds Podcast. Ryan and Rich again dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

A U.S. DO school or a Caribbean MD? Which is a better choice? (More job prospects)

Cumulative GPA is not above 3.0 unless over 120 hours of classes are taken; Science GPA 3.5+

Here are the insights about GPA from Ryan & Rich:

There is an assumption about GPA that it's all a number. The truth is that it's beyond a single number.

A cumulative GPA is not the only thing the medical school admissions committee is going to look at. Other things they will look for are:

Science vs. non-science

Bio, Chem, Phys, and Math (BCPM) vs. others

Grade trends

Other additional degrees or coursework (post-bacc)

-Combined with the rest of your undergrad

-Reported as a separate line item

Some schools where your post-bacc or graduate program or last year or two of your undergraduate count as your official GPA for admissions purposes - the "32 hour rule"

Wayne State University Michigan College of Human Medicine Boston University Medical School Louisiana State University - New Orleans

AAMC survey got 127 replies from medical schools for what factors they consider

Therefore, don't just look at the number. Instead, look at the overall factors going on.

Other considerations in the application MCAT is the most efficient method to show that you can handle the work. Take an MCAT prep course few hours a week for a few months and get a much better score. Put your application together in a more coherent, compelling, and concise manner to really convince the schools. Go through at least two application cycles before considering an offshore medical school Arrogance vs. overconfidence EC's, personal statement, and secondaries Major takeaway from this episode

GPA is not the be all and end all when applying to any medical school. The second part about Caribbean medical schools will be tackled in the next episode.

Links and Other Resources

If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Also check out the Premed Years Podcast at www.medicalschoolhq.net.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including the Medical School Headquarters and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

2: How Old is Too Old to Start Medical School

Dec 30, 2015 12:04

Description:

OPM 2

Session 2

In this episode, Ryan and Rich dive into the forums over at OldPreMeds.org where they pull a question and deliver the answers right on to you.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

What age is too old for medical school?

Here are the insights from Ryan & Rich:

Age is not a factor. Here are some facts and figures:

About a thousand a year over the age of 30 matriculate every year into an allopath medical school which is about 5% of the total number of students who start the year. From that number, about 200 are of the age of 35. About 350 people a year over the age of 31 start osteopathic school 10-12 people a year over the age of 50 start medical school

Success Story:

One of our more recent success stories is Laisha Heedman, a nurse/midwife who recently graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine at the age of 57. She has gone onto residency and family practice medicine.

Is there any bias that goes on with age?

The percentage of applicants is nearly the same as the percentage that you get accepted regardless of age range.

Applicants who are above 40 years of age seem to be less represented but there is no bias going on. Factors that may be affecting the demographics are difficulty in preparing, getting the grades, and doing things that need to get done when you are working full time and you have a family.

Many people who have been successful in other medical careers such as nurse/midwife, nurse practitioner, nurse, PhD researchers have also been successful at getting  into medical school at 40 and above.

MD vs DO?

The applicant base for MD schools is about 50,000 while for DO schools, it's under 20,000 - large difference.

For an applicant per seat basis, it is therefore more competitive to get into an osteopathic school than it is to get into an allopathic school.

Do older students have less years of good working time?

Different variables to consider:

Burnout as one of the common issues of physicians Prior working experience in healthcare as a nurse/midwife or other medical-related

What the admissions committee will actually be looking for:

Will this person be a good physician that you want to be treated by? Links and Other Resources

OldPreMeds.org

Listen to our first episode at OPMPodcast.com/1 to find out more about who we are.

Find us on iTunes and go to opmpodcast.com/itunes and leave us a rating and review.

Check out MedEdMedia.com for all the shows that we produce including the Medical School Headquarters and the OldPreMeds Podcast. We will soon be launching a medical school podcast as well so stay tuned!

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.

1: Introduction to the OldPreMeds Podcast

Dec 30, 2015 12:56

Description:

Session 1 Welcome to the inaugural episode of the OldPreMeds Podcast!

OldPreMeds.org is a site dedicated to nontraditional premed and medical students. This podcast is going to take questions that students post in the forums over at OldPreMeds.org which will be turned into episodes. Your questions will be answered to help you on this journey to becoming a physician.

If you're a nontraditional student entering the medical field on your terms and you may have some hiccups along the way or perhaps changing careers and you're ready to change course to go back and serve others as a physician, then this podcast is here to help answer your questions and educate you.

The OldPreMeds Podcast is published by Dr. Ryan Gray who is also the publisher of the Medical School Headquarters Podcast, which has been around for more than 3 years now.

A Brief Overview - Who We Are

OldPreMeds.org was founded in 1998 by six slightly older students who were getting harassed for some online forum for an MCAT prep course. They decided to create a mailing list that began with six students. Rich Levy eventually got involved with the site since 2002 and formally took over eight years after serving as both executive director and publisher of the OldPreMeds.org.

OldPreMeds.org has now joined the family of Medical School Headquarters where Ryan has taken over on the role of publisher of the OldPreMeds.org website as well as in helping direct the society that it runs under.

Currently, the site has over 10,000 registered members and over 25,000 monthly unique visitors, being the largest organization that is solely dedicated to nontraditional students who tread the path of medicine.

OldPreMeds.org  is founded under the auspices of the National Society for Nontraditional Premedical & Medical Students.

Where we are headed to moving forward

What used to be the nontraditional is now the new traditional and with so much misinformation out today both for nontraditional students and the regular students about medical school prospecting and application, we are dedicated to overcome this major challenge and put clear emphasis on accurate, referenceable, attributable information.

OldPreMeds.org provides a safe place for students to go and ask questions and not be judged in the same way that you will be in other sites.

Rich is not exiting completely as he will still get on the podcast, along with Ryan, to share their wisdom to listeners. If you have questions you want answered here on the OldPremeds Podcast, go to oldpremeds.org and register for an account. Go into the forums and ask a question.

Links and Other Resources

OldPreMeds.org

Visit medicalschoolhq.net for tons of information about the premed journey

Email Dr. Ryan Gray at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net or connect with him on Twitter @medicalschoolhq.