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Better luck next lifetime? [Dec. 26th, 2012|07:41 pm]
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I'm panicking.

I'm a junior pre-med undergraduate student, majoring in Biochemistry. Current cumulative GPA is 3.5, science is 3.4. I've had three Cs in my undergraduate career in Genetics, Organic Chemistry 1, and Biochemistry 1, all in the same year. It was just a rough year, I slacked off, needless to say my own fault.

I'm still applying for medical school (at this point I'm headed for D.O. programs and I refuse to go to the Caribbean) as per my parents' wishes, but I'm also looking into physician's assistant and graduate programs.

I'm just scared that I screwed up too much to turn back. A lot of people keep telling me "You still have time," "You're still competitive," etc. but the fact of the matter is I'm treading on thin ice and I'm afraid it's going to crack very soon and I won't be able to get out and I'll be stuck doing nothing substantial for the rest of my life.

Advice? Cold-hard truth? Reassurance?
Anything you can offer because right now I'm alone and I have no one to give me guidance.

Edit// I just realized I made a very silly statement. Yes, my parents would like to see me go to medical school but it is mostly my choice. I want to be working in the medical field one way or another; it isn't pressure from them that is compelling me to apply.

[User Picture]From: r4wrdinosaur
2012-12-27 12:46 am (UTC)


My friend had a very high GPA and lots of extracurriculars, and a job at a morgue with experience,with an average MCAT score and she got rejected from all the MD schools she applied to, 3 years in a row. After each year of rejection, she beefed up her volunteer hours, and retook some classes to get a higher GPA, as well as retook the MCAT and she STILL got rejected. This fourth year she's looking at applying to DO schools.

Another friend of mine had a decent GPA and a average MCAT score, and he got rejected from the MD and DO schools he applied to the first time, but retook the MCAT and got a GREAT score, and was accepted to an MD school after he raised his score.

Not sure if that helps, but I figured I'd share their experiences.

Edited at 2012-12-27 12:47 am (UTC)
[User Picture]From: yumekanau
2012-12-27 12:53 am (UTC)


Thank you, it does. I know there's hope for me and I'll succeed one way or another, it's just frightening because I'm a future planner and right now my future has too many options and seems pretty bleak.
[User Picture]From: dravvie
2012-12-27 01:39 am (UTC)


Sometimes, admitting you had a rough year helps if asked about it, especially if it was outside of school related. Retaking the lower graded courses is a good plan to beef up your chances of success.
[User Picture]From: yumekanau
2012-12-27 03:54 am (UTC)


I'm definitely trying to word it well enough to put in my application! Thank you!
[User Picture]From: ntensity
2012-12-27 03:24 am (UTC)


I don't want to ruin your dreams or anything but I'm gonna be real with you: You should absolutely re-think medical school. That doesn't mean don't go! Just SERIOUSLY look at your grades, what you're estimating your MCATs to look like, any other extra-curriculars that will influence your application, etc. Compare yours with the average accepted students to a few schools and see if you have any chances at scholarships or getting into a top school. Then really consider the debt you'll be in immediately out of school and consider the type of job you will need to pay off that debt and think what are your chances at getting said job, what's the market like in the area you want to live in?

These may all be things you're more than familiar with and I apologize if it sounds insulting but I say this from semi-related experience. I just recently graduated law school and I had similar grades to yours in undergrad and now I am miserable, stuck in a job that doesn't pay well, and in massive amounts of debt. And I had a substantial scholarship and got into a decent law school.

Obviously, you aren't me so there are tons of things you can do differently and better than me and I hope you do! If you don't get into a good med school, bust your ass first year and transfer to a better school ASAP. I've heard it's easier to get into some top schools as a transfer than as a first year. Also, get involved in med school as much as you can. In law school, journals are the big thing and if you're on one it looks great on a resume, some law firms won't even consider applicants who weren't on a journal. Find out things like that about med school and get involved! I was so uninformed until it was too late and I missed a lot of opportunities. Don't wind up like me!!!

...oh god this all sounds so bitter. I really do like being a lawyer, I'm just so broke :(

Good luck!

Edited at 2012-12-27 03:25 am (UTC)
[User Picture]From: yumekanau
2012-12-27 03:53 am (UTC)


Thank you for your honesty, it's refreshing to hear real-life experiences although a bit distinct!

Maybe it's different for med school (and I could very well be misguided too!) but the way I understand it is, let's say I get into some public medical school and someone else gets into (my once dream school) Weill Cornell and we both are pursuing the same specialty. Both the Cornell med student and I will both ultimately become physicians of the same specialty (unless we don't get accepted into that residency program/change our minds), both with doctorates (whether M.D., M.D./Ph.D. or D.O.).

I don't know if it applies to law school as well, and most definitely a degree from an Ivy League or other top rated college shines a bit brighter than most other colleges, but we all end up ultimately in the same spot. So, as awful as this sounds, at this rate I'm not looking to get into a good med school, I'm looking to get into a med school.
My prejudices in terms of Caribbean med schools has a lot to do with distance and my overall determination and commitment for that distance and the fact that degrees from those universities are not accredited in my state, as far as I know.

I'll definitely be broke for a good, long while lol, but as long as I get there, I'll be set.

Thank you for your input again! I need a reality check once in a while!
[User Picture]From: molkat
2012-12-27 04:08 am (UTC)


Have you retaken those courses? The best way to show that those grades were the result of a temporary bad situation which you've grown/learn from is to retake them and get A's. Keep in mind though if you get a C again it's probably game over.

If you're stuck doing nothing "substantial" for the rest of your life it's not going to be because you're not an MD/DO. Lots of people aspire for med school, fall short, but manage to be successful with their back up plan. Just a heads up with back up plans though, if you really want to practice an MD/DO don't just pick any other health career if it doesn't work out. Pharmacy is filled with people who didn't get into medical school, a few of them are very lucky and it works out but most are unhappy people. Health careers aren't interchangeable and they all require their own types of personalities and talents.
[User Picture]From: yumekanau
2012-12-27 05:09 am (UTC)


Thank you for your input!

I considered retaking courses but many people advised against. I may opt to do so anyways but we'll see.

I guess because this is my first time considering a back-up plan and I don't have a solid goal in mind I'm a bit frightened. I know things won't come easy and this is all on me and what I want, but it's just so scary. And the fact that my options are all so distinct, I'm worried I'll pick the wrong one and I won't be able to turn back. I already feel this way about my major :(
[User Picture]From: fluorescenta
2012-12-27 04:13 am (UTC)


I almost think, in a way, you look better than a 4.0 student. You can say you dealt with some hard times (whatever you feel comfortable saying) but you've learned your lesson and you know how to cope if something like that occurs while you're in med school.

I have a friend who was accepted into med school. I don't know his exact GPA but I know it wasn't very high (maybe 3.25-ish, I could be wrong). What saved him was his honor thesis about heart attack survival rates in rural areas (we live in a midwest state) and how he was an EMT or something, and while he waited for calls at the ambulance place he was volunteering & only got paid for actually answering calls. he had a general idea of what he'd like specialize in (emergency services of some sort) and got a lot of experience to show he'd be good at it.
Granted, he didn't get into a ~prestigious medschool, but med school is med school is med school. If you get to the interview process, I hear that's what is most important.

I hope you have patient experience, if not, now is a good time to start. You don't have to go to med school right after your undergad either. You can take a few years, get real life experience, and then use that to write a killer statement of purpose.

I'll be stuck doing nothing substantial for the rest of my life.

Being a member of allied health professions, this rubs me the wrong way. I wouldn't say because I only work in the hospital lab I'm not doing anything substantial. Of course you didn't mean it this way, but... being anything less than a doctor doesn't mean someone is a failure. Consider looking into allied health professions (rad techs, respiratory techs, lab techs, ultrasound techs, etc, etc). You need to find something you are honest-to-god excited about and interested in. You don't specify what you have a passion for, whether it's infectious diseases (you could be a microbiologist in the hospital lab or become an infectious disease doctor or pathologist, etc, etc) or surgery (you could do surgery tech work or be the actual surgeon) or endocrinology. Find something that proves you want to go to med school other than for the sake of saying you're in med school and you're going to be a doctor. Why do you want to be a doctor? What excites you? What do you want to do? Why? Those questions are a lot more important than three C's.

this is incredibly ramble-y and I apologize. I considered med school for a while, but after being completely honest with myself, I realized the main reason I wanted MD behind my name was to show it off, despite having genuine interest in pathology.
[User Picture]From: yumekanau
2012-12-27 04:53 am (UTC)


Thank you, I appreciate your honesty and experience!

I've done a good amount of hospital volunteering, and over the next year I'll be doing clinical research/shadowing in which I get to interact with patients more intimately than volunteering.

I thought about potentially taking time off before applying to medical school, then I wondered what exactly I would do and I'm really not sure. I could take more classes, do more volunteering, become EMT certified, etc. I actually really wanted to go to Japan; I couldn't go this past summer so I considered waiting until after graduation. I'm not sure how that would bolster my application, if at all, but I wanted to improve my language skills and take my dream trip. There are so many variables though it's a bit overwhelming.

Oh no I meant no disrespect to anyone who decided against/didn't get accepted into medical school! I know for certain that med school is not the one and only way, but I guess the fact that even other graduate schools seem far-fetched at this point I feel a bit hopeless with my grades/GPA. I mean, I'm sure there are people in worse of positions than I. This is just my first time taking it all in and everything seems so daunting.

Thank you again!
[User Picture]From: fluorescenta
2012-12-27 05:11 am (UTC)


I hear being able to talk about trips in those kind of interviews or even in statements of purpose is very good. And you can BS about how your perspective of the world is.... better.... I'm not doing a good job of BSing right now.

Make friends in high places... I worked at a private research lab and made some very good contacts high up in the business who offered to help me get into medical or grad school. When doing your clinical research stuff think about getting references for later. You will probably meet some people who are very interested in your future success.

At this point I wouldn't rule out med school or a graduate program, you just have to be realistic about Harvard and crap probably not being options. I'm not sure what state you live in, but even my little state has a good state university with a med school and law school and a bunch of graduate programs. It's not Harvard but it's still a big deal to get accepted. And like you said above, you get the MD whether you go to Harvard or a state university. :)

good luck, bb. don't give up yet and don't get too hung up on your GPA. letters of recommendation, your little personal essays, MCAT scores, and the interview, etc, etc, are taken into consideration. you are more than the number of your GPA. admission peeps know your 3.5 GPA does not define you as a person.
[User Picture]From: corporate
2012-12-27 06:20 am (UTC)


I don't think it's that big of a deal. I really wouldn't worry too much. I'd just focus on finishing off as strong as you can at this point. I don't have any personal experiences with med school or know anyone personally that has gone, but there is always a chance to make up for it. Cs certainly aren't the end of the world and your GPA is still pretty high overall. I'm sure there are med schools out there that would love to have you. If nothing else, you can always retake the courses to bring your GPA higher and see if your school offers any grade replacement type programs. If nothing else, you still have a highly competitive undergraduate degree that I'm sure would offer you numerous opportunities in medical/pharmaceutical research, etc. until you can get admitted into the med school you prefer. Good luck!
From: e_d_young
2012-12-27 11:00 pm (UTC)


As a patient I wouldn't seek out a D.O. So you might want to evaluate whether that degree is really worth it. (Because people typically go to a M.D.)