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Soon-to-be veteran looking for pre-med guidance

overmind87overmind87 20 replies4 threads New Member
(Note: I originally posted this thread on the pre-med topics section. Someone suggested I ask the same questions here, so here it goes)

Hello everyone,

I will be leaving the Air Force this November, after eight and a half years of service. Unfortunately, I have some medical issues, so I will be medically retired. After thinking about what to do with my life afterwards, I've been leaning more and more towards a career in medicine. I was hoping I could get some pointers from here. Here are some questions I have:

- I originally thought I would be out by July so, thinking I might be able to attend school this fall, I took the SAT in a bit of a rush last November. I got a 1930. Should I retake it? if not, what are some good schools I could realistically get into with good premed programs?

- From what I gather, the most important things needed to get into medical school are a good GPA and a good MCAT score. However, I've heard some schools tend to be more harsh with their grading, which could be bad for my GPA. I'd like to go to a school that grades students fairly. I'll already be at a slight disadvantage, being a returning education student. I don't want my GPA to suffer unnecessarily if it can be helped. What are some schools I should consider based on that?

- Speaking of returning education students, does anyone know of any good schools that assist veterans with getting back on the education track? If they have a good premed program, that would be even better!

- I obtained an associate's degree in biomedical equipment technology from the Community College of the Air Force. That would put me on track for a bachelor's in biomedical engineering, I guess? But I've heard that going for any kind of engineering degree while aiming for medical school is a bad idea, since engineering is hard and may mess up my GPA. what are some other majors I should consider? I'm fairly artistically inclined, so anything with drawing would be all right. Not very lucrative, though, should I fail to get into medical school.

- Going back to my degree, are there any good schools out there that will let me disregard it and start over? I ask because I know the chances of getting into any school are a lot lower as a transfer student than as a freshman, which I think is a bit unfair for us military folk, since we automatically get credits when we learn to do our job so we can't apply as freshmen. If I can't discard the credits, do any good schools offer a transfer admission guarantee for military vets or something similar?

- My family lives in Denver so I thought about going to school for my pre-med requirements in that general area. Any school suggestions?

I really appreciate anyone taking the time to answer any of the questions above.
3 replies
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Replies to: Soon-to-be veteran looking for pre-med guidance

  • WordworkerWordworker 869 replies0 threads Member
    Dartmouth welcomes veterans and has an admissions officer for them, as well as an organization for students who are veterans. It's worth investigating.
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  • overmind87overmind87 20 replies4 threads New Member
    will do, Wordworker, thanks!
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  • NHufferNHuffer 968 replies2 threadsForum Champion GWU Forum Champion
    I know a little time has passed but I assume you didn't start school "this fall" since most application deadlines for transfers are in the April-May time-frame.

    As far as pre-med, know that most schools don't have an actual "program." All you need are the required courses for med-school. Off the top of my head, they are chem (1 year), bio (1 year), organic chem (1 year) and physics (1 year). All these classes require labs, as well, and will be time-intensive. So realistically, all you need is to attend a school that offers these classes, which I'm sure ANY 4-year university will. This leaves your options very open, especially if you want to find something around Denver.

    What you need to focus on while in school is completing your major requirements (I'd recommend staying away from engineering and pre-med unless you're an academic rockstar), maintaining a 3.5+ GPA, and then studying your butt off for the MCAT when the time comes. Also, volunteer at the local hospital, do summer internships at a medical center if possible, and do some community service work (there are lots of cool "Alternate Spring Breaks" that will send you to various areas of the country to help those in need instead of partying and would look great on a med school app).

    When it's time to apply for med school, it's GPA, MCAT, and how much involvement you have had serving the community. The school that you go to doesn't matter very much unless they also happen to have their own med school, in which case it might help your chances a bit to get into their school (but from my experience, these types of schools get a lot more students wanting to be pre-med and will therefor attempt to weed many out with more difficult classes).

    You also had a few other concerns in your message so allow me to address them:

    1) I'm not sure if you should retake your SAT as I'm more familiar with ACT, but I would assume you'd be fine with getting into many schools. A good SAT/ACT score and military service will go a long way.

    2) As far as schools helping vets get on track, I think it would depend on the school. My sister had to take some placement exams before starting classes so the school knew where she stood with math and whatnot. That way they won't let you shoot yourself in the foot like I almost did and start out with a calculus class after being out of academia for 5 years (ouch).

    3) You asked about majors... I recommend doing a major you would enjoy and would allow you the room to take the above-mentioned classes. Most students that intend to go to medical school major in a science so that in addition to pre-med courses, they can take others that will help them when they get to medical school (anatomy & physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, etc). The problem with this is that if you're academically weak and/or not that into science (why do you want to be a doctor again? lol) then your GPA will suffer. Since you have an associates in biomedical equipment technology, maybe you could handle biology or (gasp) physics? If you still have no idea, then go to school your first year, knock out some science classes with labs, but take some other gen ed classes to get an idea of where your interests lie. Just don't take too many science classes at once because you'll over-do it very easily since you haven't been in school for a while.

    4) Your chances of getting into a school aren't "a lot" lower as a transfer than as a freshman. I made it into GW as a transfer and they accept around 30-33% of applicants every year. That doesn't sound too shabby considering the percentage isn't far off from traditional freshmen.

    5) You won't get to "start over" with your degree. Any credits you have earned will forever be on your transcript. However, they grades you earned won't be applied to your GPA at the new school. And yeah, it sucks that schools don't take a lot of military credits. I had over 30 credits from the Navy and GW took ZERO of them. Oh well, gave me the chance to take a lot of cool electives, lol.

    Good luck and feel free to shoot me a message any time. I was in a very similar boat to you 7 years ago!
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