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Pre-med advice/chances?

purplerocketmanpurplerocketman Registered User Posts: 28 Junior Member
Hello everyone, I am currently an incoming 3rd year at a UC majoring in a BS in Biology. I was just looking for any advice on what I can do to strengthen my medical school application or if I’m on the right path? Keeping in mind, I’m planning on completing a fifth year plus a gap year. I plan on applying to medical school at the end of my 5th year. I’ll give you a brief summary of what my application will look like if I maintain all of my extracurriculars by the time I apply (excluding my gap year)... Gpa: ~3.5 sGpa: ~3.4 MCAT: hopefully above 507 Extracurriculars:

Shadowing: (~200 hours) (6 years) shadowed multiple specialties including an interventional cardiologist, interventional radiologist, ER surgeon and a pediatrician.

Non-clinical Volunteering: (~400 hours) (4 years) One of the strongest points of my application. I volunteer for a local elemtary school geared towards low-income families, in which I have volunteered over the summer and in the school’s after school program. Over the summer, I’d be able to build strong relationships with the kids and do fun art, science and outdoor activities. The after school program I am able to tutor the kids and help them with their homework and act as a supervisor until their parents picked them up.

Clinical Volunteering: (~250 hours) (4 months) I volunteered for a hospital for an entire summer in downtown Los Angeles. I volunteered mostly in the ER.

Competitive Triathlete for a non-profit organization: (? Hours) (5 years) I raised over $5000 for a non-profit organization by representing them while running mutilple triathlons.

Hobbies: (6-7 years) Surfing, wave photography, hiking

Research: (2-3 years) (~1,000+ hours) worked as an RA in a psychology research lab. Hope to receive a publication soon, if not at least a poster/presentation

Pre medical fraternity: (~3,000+ hours) (5 years) was a member of a pre-medical co-ed fraternity, in which I was a part of the recruiting committee , served as the recruitment committee chair and I am now the Vice President of recruitment for the entire fraternity. Completed many non-clinical service hours through the fraternity.
———- Advice on extracurriculars to do during my gap year? Do I need more clinical experience or volunteer hours to show that I know what it’s like to be a physician? Despite that, I’m also worried my application screams that I did too much stuff related to medicine and not enough stand out extracurriculars. Should I spend my fifth year being a biology tutor for the school? There’s so many things I’m interested in just not sure if I should pursue other interests to make my application more diverse or keep adding hours to my volunteering, shadowing and research? Or maybe complete an SMP or Post-bacc to boost my gpa? Any opinions/advice help!! Thank you so much!

Replies to: Pre-med advice/chances?

  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 10,184 Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    Your GPA & sGPA are quite low for MD schools, especially as a CA applicant. This is the one area of your app that need the most improvement.

    Your ECs look to be on-track, though I would suggest trying to diversify your clinical volunteering to sites other than the ER. You need broader exposure to medicine. The doctor-patient relationships you observe in the ED is limited and not entirely representative of medicine in general.

    Given your GPA, I'd also suggest shadowing a DO so you can get a DO LOR--something most osteopathic schools require.

    Also, put maximum effort into scoring well on the MCAT. A 507 is well below the median for accepted MD applicants last cycle. (511-512 was the national median for MD programs, in CA it was higher)

    A 3.4 sGPa, 3.5 GPA and 507 MCAT is just not competitive for MD programs, although it is about average for DO programs.

    If you simply must have a MD, then your best option is SMP--though you need to understand this is a high risk-high reward proposition. Do well, finish in the top 15% of the class and you have a 50-50 chance getting into a med school (MD or DO). Fall anywhere outside that range and you can kiss any hope of a med acceptance (MD or DO) goodbye. Frankly, given your [projected] stats--DO offers a much surer path.

    If you decide to take a gap year, find a clinical job--medical scribe, CNA, patient assistant, therapy assistant, phlebotomist, medical office assistant, etc while continuing with non-clinical volunteering with the less fortunate.
  • purplerocketmanpurplerocketman Registered User Posts: 28 Junior Member
    Thank you for the reply! I couldn’t agree more with being non-competitive for medical school. Do you think my extracurriculars would be considered “strong” if I added in a little more clinical volunteering? I have definitely been thinking about applying to half DO and half MD schools (probably mid to low tier MD). Do you think if I were to score around a 515, I’d be considered in the mid range of applicants? Thanks again!
  • purplerocketmanpurplerocketman Registered User Posts: 28 Junior Member
    Sorry, I forgot add.. us there anything on my application that shows I am diverse? Or anything I should emphasize? Or should I maybe start a new extracurriculars that will help me stand out for the next 2-3 years?
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 10,184 Senior Member
    Mid-range for what? MD Programs? No. Your sGPA puts you below the 10th percentile at many schools--and that's lethal unless you have some sort of exceptional circumstances. ((UiM? Non-traditonal student? Former active duty military? Low SES & first gen college student who had to work their way through college?)

    You can apply to some lower tier MD programs, but you should focus the bulk of your application on DO programs.

    A 515 MCAT will get you ZERO GPA leniency from MD programs.
  • purplerocketmanpurplerocketman Registered User Posts: 28 Junior Member
    Let’s say I have strong LOR’s, Extracurriculars, Essays, and MCAT score, there’s no chance of me getting into a decent MD school unless I have any of the things you listed above? Also, I’m not 100% sure I want to go into a primary care specialty.. is it possible for me to still pursue other specialties or is it just super difficult to get into residency programs?
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 10,184 Senior Member
    There are very few ECs that will make a person "stand out"

    Peace Corp and active duty military service would be the most common ones (and the easiest to achieve).
  • purplerocketmanpurplerocketman Registered User Posts: 28 Junior Member
    Okay, thank you very much for the help!
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 10,184 Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    Your GPA/sGPA is going to keep you out of MD programs--even if your everything is else is great. A truly exceptional MCAT might make a difference, but you don't have one right now. Come back once you have your score.

    DOs in theory can go into any specialty they choose. But just like MD students they need to have the stats, LORs and research to do so.

    The issue is that you have to be competitive for competitive specialties --top standardized exam scores, top grades in med school, graduating in the top 10% of your class, excellent LORs from specialty preceptors, top clinical grades, appropriate research, etc. It's not so much what letters you have after your name, it's all about your numbers (COMLEX/USMLE scores). You will be competing for a very limited number of residency slots on a national basis. (And in med school the pool of your competitors is much, much more academically talented than it is in college.) Generally speaking, DO students are weaker academically (lower GPA, lower MCAT) and so tend not to score as well as MD students on the big national standardized exams. This is why DO students tend to go into primary care--their COMLEX/USMLE scores just aren't high enough to be considered for the competitive specialties.

    Actually, in some ways, right now it's easier to get into a competitive specialty as a DO than it will be after the MD-DO residency merger in 2021 because right now DOs have their own protected, DO-only residencies in competitive fields. After 2021, those residency positions are up for grabs for whoever has the best stats.

    However, let's be honest here. MOST medical school grads (MD and DO) end up in a primary care field. Only maybe the top 20% nationally Match into competitive specialties. Unless you're willing to work in a primary care field--DO NOT GO TO MEDICAL SCHOOL.
  • artloversplusartloversplus Registered User Posts: 8,607 Senior Member

    You should be aware that you are very competitive for DO schools, not for MD schools. There is nothing wrong with DO school and you still can be matched into a non-primary specialty if you do well in the USMLE tests and be in the top 15% of the class combined with good LOR and shelf tests in the rotations.

    If you go to SDN, you can find some DO students got high USMLE scores, it is up to you, however. There are still chances.
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 10,184 Senior Member
    edited August 2018

    BTW, what do you consider a "competitive specialty"?

    This from a DO adcomm
    The following are DO unfriendly:
    Radiation Oncology
    Vascular Surgery
    Plastic Surgery
    Neurological Surgery
    Orthopaedic Surgery
    Interventional Radiology
    Gen Surg and Thoracic Surg, while not impossible, is difficult

    In addition, top residencies will not interview or rank DOs.

    The following are DO friendly:

    Obstetrics and Gynecology
    Emergency Medicine
    Child Neurology
    Internal Medicine
    Internal Medicine/Pediatrics
    Family Medicine
    Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

  • purplerocketmanpurplerocketman Registered User Posts: 28 Junior Member
    Yeah this helps a lot! I know the more competitive specialties are the ones that usually pay the best, but require intensive work and longer years of residency. I didn’t know EM, radio and neuro were all DO friendly though, that’s cool!
  • purplerocketmanpurplerocketman Registered User Posts: 28 Junior Member
    So would it be better to just shoot for a top-tier DO school and excel there or is it better to go to a mid to high-tier MD school (hypothetically) and finish towards the bottom of the class? All leaning towards match day and getting your specialty of choice.
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 10,184 Senior Member
    You may want to look these documents over--

    Charting Outcomes in the Match: Senior Students of U.S. Osteopathic Medical Schools

    Charting Outcomes in the Match: U.S. Allopathic Seniors

    The rank of your medical school is irrelevant when it comes to the Match. What matters is your standardized test scores. That's is the #1 determiner of your ability to Match into your chosen specialty. Assuming that you'll be at the top of the class if you attend a DO school, but would be at or near the bottom at MD programs is dangerous and misguided. It doesn't work like that. There a several DO schools where the median MCAT is higher than some of the lower tier MD programs.
  • purplerocketmanpurplerocketman Registered User Posts: 28 Junior Member
    Ok so my best option is to shoot for a top DO school?
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 10,184 Senior Member
    Apply widely to a range of DO programs, not just top programs because when it comes to med school admissions there are no guarantees.

    Once you have acceptances in hand, then you can decide where you want to attend.
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