Jump to content
Premed 101 Forums


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


RichardDegrasseSagan last won the day on August 17 2017

RichardDegrasseSagan had the most liked content!


About RichardDegrasseSagan

  • Rank
    Junior Member

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Not Telling

Recent Profile Visitors

2,527 profile views
  1. If you're not going to be doing any video/picture-editing or comp sci stuff, you're best off with an iPad Air (because these ones now have stylus compatibility). I have one and it works really well for me. I use it exclusively for PDFs and note-taking (with synced notes in OneNote). Here's a great breakdown by a resident doc comparing the different ipads available.
  2. Took me 7 years to finish mine (gap year and two additional years). They didn't bother asking me about it during either Queens/Western interviews. I am currently in the process of wrapping up medical school. Good luck!
  3. Depends on your specific situation and the organization. See if there are any records and/or documentation? You can put yourself down as a verifier if you were unable to track down a verifier but have documentation (e.g., 250 hours of volunteer completed certificate). Don't stress too much about it - just put yourself down if you've tried your hardest and haven't had any luck. That's what I did back when I was applying!
  4. Hi all, I haven't had a chance to be as active or contribute to the community as much I'd like to be, but I figured I'd post an update/reflection on here. I feel like many of us non-trads go through similar challenges when applying to and/or completing medical school. I hope some of you are able to derive some inspiration through my process and avoid the mistakes I've made. Guilt: I feel like this is often a burden to us. Guilt for being behind. Guilt for not performing on tests/courses. Guilt for not preparing hard enough for interviews. That's not to say you shouldn't have a constructive analysis of previous mistakes, just don't feel guilty about your previous life circumstances. I think being able to make mistakes, learning from them, and improving is as admirable (if not more) than never making any mistakes at all. So embrace your past self, learn from their mistakes, and improve on them. Building on your imperfections is what’s made you so strong. For me, I had started feeling a lot of guilt after getting into medical school for not maintaining the intensity that I kept throughout the process of getting there. I started feeling guilt for taking time for myself and not dedicating it towards philanthropic pursuits. And I recently realized: if I don't take time for myself and learn how to be a happy/healthy individual, am I really in a great position to try to provide these tools to my patients/others? It doesn't matter what stage you're in (pre-med, medical student, doc), taking time for yourself to be happy/healthy is not something you should ever feel guilty about. I would argue that this might be one of the more important aspects of life: creating a sphere of healthiness/happiness around you by first making yourself happy and healthy. Participate in charity and philanthropy, but don't overextend yourself. Always remember, charity begins at home! Purposelessness: There's sometimes a tendency to be tunnel-visioned into working extremely hard to get into med. You don't think too much about what happens after, and just assume that things will be amazing after. Its important to realize that 1st/2nd year are primarily lecture-based. There is very limited patient interaction, so you don't the positive feedback of helping others during this time. As an example, I saw my older brother battle through addiction once he got to professional school - after all that hard work/sacrifice he put into the acceptance, he wasn't sure about what came next or what he wanted out of life. Happiness and contentment doesn't wait at the gates of medical school. Your acceptance might give you some security about your career, but it only addresses one facet of your life. I told myself that I would keep a balanced lifestyle and made sure to be a happy person (I may have overcompensated see below ) Complacency: When you get to medical school, you get exposed to the rigorous work schedules of the clerks (3rd/4th year medical students), residents, and staff physicians. I thought to myself "man, I better make the most of my pre-clerkship years before shit hits the fan." In fact, all the upper years tell you the same: "enjoy pre-clerkship while you can." This is true. Pre-clerkship is super fun with all the parties and your suddenly booming social life. Combine that with the fact that us non-trads have often sacrificed so much to get here - it can become very easy to tip the balance. Be on the lookout if you ever catch yourself steering towards this end. ESPECIALLY for you current pre-clerks (incoming 1st years or 2nd years) who will have online lectures. What works for me: actively attending/listening to lectures. The process of just being present is a huge step into keeping you engaged and maintaining your academic life. TL;DR: be kind to yourself throughout the process of getting into medical school – learn from your mistakes, don’t feel guilty about them. Try to learn what you want out of life so that medical school doesn't become your end goal and you are not left with a feeling of purposelessness once you're in. Once you get in, there will be a sense of complacency. Figure out a way to counter this - I always felt that going to lectures kept me engaged (medicine is inherently interesting to most of us, so this should take care of itself). And finally, prioritize your own healthiness/happiness as this will trickle down to your patients and those in your sphere of life. Don't ever feel guilty about not participating in a myriad of extracurricular if it comes at the expensive of your own healthiness/happiness.
  5. I wasn't trying to imply that the average was 20-22. By skewed towards 20-22 range, I meant that the majority of the students fell in this range. There were still a few 22-24, handful of 25-30, and a couple of 30+. They gave us the statistics of it all during some of the intro lectures.
  6. Some schools tend to be much younger (I know the stats of my school were pretty skewed towards the 20-22 range). That being said, no one is ever too old for medical school. However, age difference is definitely a consideration to be prepared for. Medical school can be a bit of a repeat of high school, some of your classmates can be pretty immature, and so being aware of the fact that reduce the surprise of it all.
  7. Congrats on your turnaround Lauren. I am glad you're feeling like you're in a better place now As for starting a new degree, I don't think it will really matters - Ontario schools will primarily look at your last 2 years (Western), best two years (Queens), weighted last 3 years (Ottawa), weighted GPA (Toronto), or cGPA (Mac). So in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't make a difference. Where it might make a difference is your interest in the material. If you've already completed 2 years of your second undergrad, you're probably going to be starting 3rd/4th year courses. I found these to be infinitely more interesting and easier to excel in than 1st/2nd year courses. Whereas if you start a new degree, you might be stuck with arbitrarily bell curved courses etc.
  8. It sounds like you've had a really difficult time coping with the mental health issues. Depression is insanely tough and kudos to you for managing to do as well as you have. There's no doubt you have the motivation and intelligence to accomplish your goals, but I think the biggest hurdle for your right now is your recurrent depression. Your (mental) health seems to be the deciding factor in your long-term success, not the academics (we've seen that you can get 90s when you're in a good place). So please definitely try to look into getting help for the depression so that it doesn't continue to bog you down. Your journey reminded me of this cool motivational video from Tyson Fury. Back story: he became the heavyweight champ in 2015, but soon after fell into a cycle of depression, went through substance abuse, become super out of shape. He lost his boxing licence. But ended up making a comeback in 2018 and working his way up to the championship fight that ended as a draw. Really inspiriting stuff. Here's the video
  9. For me, trying to cram the MCAT in with other commitments (work, volunteering etc.) was really difficult. I couldn't find enough time to study. The second summer that I re-wrote in, I took a solid month off from work. It was absolutely necessary to do as many practice full lengths as I could and to properly be able to review them. Also, my content knowledge on chem/physics was quite weak, so I had to devote quite a bit of time to brush up on that. If your content is relatively fresh, I would say 2 to 2.5 months is doable as you can focus on just doing practice tests and reviewing them. If your content knowledge is weaker, I would recommend at least 3 months.
  10. Try to send everything as soon as you can (ideally at least two weeks out) because this gives you time to fix anything that may have gone wrong. The references and transcripts, once received, will update on your OMSAS application page. Their status will indicate "received". So if you send these in ahead of time, and there's no update even after a week or two, you have a chance to figure out what went wrong. So yeah, don't leave anything to the last minute. The application process can be quite comprehensive (creating descriptions for ABS, contacting verifiers and getting their information, filling out essays). In order to synthesize the strongest application, I'd recommend that you finish an early draft of everything and just sit on it for a month or so, refining it for a few minutes here and there whenever you get a chance. Good luck!
  11. I typed this really long post but was almost going to delete it. I felt like it sounded so silly. But I will keep it in the hopes that some of you find it helpful/encouraging because I've always enjoyed and was motivated by reading this thread. I tried injecting some context into this, so hopefully it doesn't bore you guys too much with being somewhat long. I grew up in a relatively rough neighbourhood. I'll give you an example to highlight the point: in grade 7 while my friends and I were going trick or treating, we ran into three of my older brother's friends profusely bleeding from stab wounds. Turns out they had been ambushed by a group they had bad blood with. Anyway, one of them had a pretty bad gash in his neck, close to his jugular, but thankfully none of the major vessels were cut. My friends and I had to help them to a nearby clinic (which was thankfully open). Scary stuff, but it was the reality of the place. My parents worked really hard to provide for my siblings and I (I have two older brothers - let's call them Alpha and Bravo). They tried their absolute best to keep us shielded from the bad stuff, but there's always an inevitable influence by the environment. Being males in a rough neighbourhood meant keeping up a “macho” facade. You definitely didn't get overly sentimental, and so my brothers and I were walled off emotionally not only from friends, but each other as well. So what was the culmination of these early childhood experiences? The "climax" of it all came during my senior year of high school. Well, I should say my SECOND senior year. At this point in my life, I had never had the experiences to develop an appreciation for education and knowledge. I would skip classes to go play sports. There was a point in grade 12 where I had skipped more classes than I had actually attended. This meant that I was forced to do an extra year in high school to try and salvage my marks enough to try and apply to postsecondary. This extra year was tough. You question the decisions you’ve made so far, you watch all your friends move on to the next stage of their lives, and you're in classes with kids younger than you. Unfortunately, this wasn't even the tip of the iceberg. Within the span of 3-4 months, my life literally spiraled out of control. My high school sweetheart (who had started university at this point) had just broken up with me. I already mentioned how I came from a background where I was extremely insular about keeping my feelings to myself. My girlfriend was a sweetheart - I could open up emotionally to her and it was a welcome change. Losing her in an already difficult time was tough, and unfortunately things kept getting worse. Soon after the breakup, I injured myself playing sports, effectively ending my entire sports year and requiring surgery. Sports had always been that one pseudo-emotional outlet of mine, so removing it was definitely a huge emotional hurdle. I even started losing my hair from stress (this is a contentious topic haha, but I genuinely believe acute stressors can potentially act as a trigger). Unfortunately, I would soon realize that all of these challenges would pale in comparison to what was to follow. I will never ever forget this day. It still seems so vivid. I came home from school one day to see my brother, Bravo, in our driveway with this very confused/sad look on his face. He was very inebriated, but that confused/sad look still haunts me. He looked so vulnerable. He was being arrested for drug charges. It was heartbreaking. We would later find out that he had been battling severe mental health issues and masked them through substance abuse. Being arrested wreaked even more havoc on his mental health. We couldn't bail him out because my other brother (Alpha) had already tried. The first time he was bailed out, Bravo's mental health lead to him acting very erratically. He broke his bail conditions and disappeared. We were able to track him down after a friend of Bravo’s contacted the family. So I had to watch from afar, yet again, as my brother got arrested. My mom was with me this time. We later learned from the friend that Bravo had been really hungry, yet we saw him get arrested as he about to take the first bite of his food. My mom started getting very frequent panic attacks soon after this incident. I remember visiting him in jail on multiple occasions, only to be received by non-nonsensical and hysterical laughter. This was absolutely brutal for me. I grew up always being Bravo’s sidekick. I followed him everywhere he went, being that annoying little brother. He really was my role model. So to see him there, unrecognizable, was very gut wrenching. We were unable to convince the penal system of the clear mental issues he was exhibiting and he was retained in a normal jail. His condition worsened and he was eventually placed in solitary confinement due to bad behavior. He stayed there for 2-3 weeks. Being a witness to this and unable to help was absolutely excruciating. Like, the breakup, surgery, extra year of high school seem bad right? They genuinely felt like a walk in the park compared to this. It was during this ordeal that I had made up my mind to commit myself to working hard, getting into university, and getting into the field of psychology so that I might help others that had gone through similar situations as my brother. Thankfully, after a few months convincing, we were finally able to get through to the courts. We had been able to convince the judge to transfer Bravo to a mental treatment facility as opposed to a jail. I still remember the day we found out that they would transfer him: June 12th, 2009. It is probably on the top of the happiest days of my life. Getting into medicine definitely pales in comparison to that day. Anyway, he received a diagnosis and began treatment, which he has continued to this day. I started university soon after. Motivated with my desire to pursue psychology, I had a relatively strong start. However, I was faced with quite a few additional hurdles on the way that reflected in my GPA trends. Beyond the typical academic struggles (taking time to find field of interest) and personal struggles (breakups, dealing with limitations after surgery etc.), helping Bravo navigate his mental health condition and potential substance relapses was quite challenging. Additionally, my other brother (Alpha) also developed a very bad substance abuse problem due to the stress of the events surrounding Bravo. It's been an ongoing thing for a few years and still continues to this day. This caused my mom's panic attacks to become even worse/frequent. However, Alpha has significantly improved in recent months. But to tie in an earlier theme, I strongly believe that there is a component of emotional support to this. My siblings and I were raised to be very insular about our feelings, and substances may be seen as an easy “alternative” to having to deal with these emotions. That’s why I think it's so important to cultivate the ability to share your emotions with others, and make others feel comfortable in sharing their emotions with you. Especially so as a physician. So that's my journey to med in a nutshell. It took me 5 years to do a 4-year high school degree, 6 years total to do a 4-year BSc, three MCAT writes, and three additional years off. But I've always been one to challenge myself and improve after every failure. I've been fortunate enough to have amazing parents (though we might not agree on everything) and lucky enough to find amazing professors/mentors in my life. I owe literally all of my successes to these people. Although I continue to be faced with some of the same challenges that seemed completely insurmountable before, I really believe I am stronger than ever, not only individually, but also because of the social support network I’ve been able to establish. I understand the responsibilities I carry because of these events, but believe me, that doesn’t stop me from being the silliest and happiest person that I can possibly be. I hope to carry these experiences into the field, and hopefully make a positive impact. Here is a thread to some of my more CV-like details: http://forums.premed101.com/topic/69931-lost-with-updates/ if you’re curious about what type of stats, ECs etc. I was working with. Good luck everyone!
  12. It's possible, but would be a huge gamble. But I saw a couple of 3.91s. I got an interview and eventually got in with a 3.92. I likely had a high CASPer score though because I was invited to Mac with a 3.61 cGPA.
  13. Agreed with 1997's points. For me, the two things that improved my grades the most were: 1) Aim for 100s - don't be satisfied with anything less (but also don't get too hard on yourself if you don't achieve this - treat it like a fun challenge/game/sport) 2) Learn from your mistakes and actively plan to get around them. One of my biggest mistakes was that I put in the time, but I put it in too close to exams/midterms. I saw a huge jump in my marks when I simply re-distributed the time I spent studying from closer to exams, to like 2-3 weeks out. When exams rolled around, the majority of my studying was just reviewing on my phone in bed with intermittent naps (I rationalized all these naps by saying sleep was good for consolidation ). It was hard for me to force myself to study 3 weeks out from exams, so what I did was forced myself to pull all-nighters at the library/lab. I commuted, and the fact that the public transit stopped running past 1 am meant I was essentially forced to study for the entire night. And realize that you can never be perfect. I tried to get an OMSAS 4.0 for six years. Even during my best year, when everything went absolutely perfect, the closest I got was a 3.97. And this is fine, because you don't need to be perfect to get into medical school. And you certainly don't need to be perfect to be happy in life.
  • Create New...