criston got a reaction from mp44518 in Law School?
Your law school grades will count for some schools - such as McMaster. Other schools, like Ottawa, ignore professional school grades. Most law schools curve to a B (3.0) (usually about 60% of students in a course would get this). Most schools limit A's and A+ to 15% to 20% of the class. And then about 20% or so of students get a C. If you do go to law school and are still thinking of going to med school after, U of T's grading scheme *might* help, since they grade on a honours/pass/fail basis - I don't think (but I don't know for sure) that this would convert to any number on the OMSAS scale.
I finished law school and am now working as a lawyer (and don't have much interest in it). I started developing an interest in medicine part-way through law school - so that's why I'm applying now. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
Law school is not particularly time-consuming (just in the first term of first year when you are learning how to learn) - you definitely can still manage other things in your life. You could continue applying for med while you're there. But if going to med school is your end goal, perhaps finding a job, doing some travelling, and learning some new skills might be a better option, rather than going to law school to buy time.
Though the best advice I can give, and what most people who have gone through law school would give, is that you ONLY should do law school is you are truly passionate about law and working as a lawyer - please don't do it as a backup if you don't have the passion! Before accepting your law school offer please (I beg you!) try to find some family/friends/connections who are lawyers, and learn about what they do on a daily basis; what they like and dislike etc. Check out lawstudents.ca and search up google for both good things about being a lawyer, and also why people want to leave the profession.
criston reacted to struggling2getin in UofT Interview Invites/Regrets 2019
I don't usually post my stats anymore since they've basically remained the same from my posts 2 years ago. I'll make an exception in this time just because of how -relatively- little data usually gets contributed here.
TIME STAMP: Feb 21 2019, 11:17 EST
Interview Date: March 30
Result: Interview (MD)
cGPA: 3.96 (by rounding)
MCAT: Passed cutoffs
ECs: Filled up all 32 items this year, but I've had an interview back when I had 21/48 items. Diverse and met each of UofT's clusters quite well.
Essays: Spent at least 1.5 months on them, at least 400 hours. Was it overkill? To be honest, probably. I'm not a bad writer by any means, but when it comes to pieces with word limits, I believe in the importance of articulating each idea as succulently and artistically as possible. My grades did suffer but I wanted to write essays that could stand strong among a diverse audience of readers (which is to be reasonably expected of) and leave myself without regret. All of the topics strongly resonated with my experiences and I had a lot to share.
If anything, future readers should find this observation helpful: having exchanged essay reviewing with some of my friends, I've come to realize that there isn't a single, uniform writing style that really makes the magic happen. Some of my friends briefly addressed the question within a single few sentences, then built their entire essays on how their experiences met the four clusters. Personally, I dedicated almost half my word count towards giving a thorough answer/solution before briefly sharing some personal experiences. We all got an interview.
Year: Graduated UG
Two years ago, I did horribly on my interview. I knew my application wasn't strong: I had a weak reference, few extracurriculars and ultimately, couldn't hold up to applicants with an amazing wealth of experience behind them. I was invited during the final week and suspected that I had only marginally scraped into getting an interview. I convinced myself that the odds weren't in my favour and let myself fall.
Last year I didn't take my essays as seriously enough and got rejected March 16th. Firstly, the topics just didn't click with my experiences. Secondly, seeing that I already had been previously been invited, I grew extremely over-confident and complacent in my writing. I got no interviews from any school during this year.
Each interview is a privilege. Each year, med schools get more and more amazing applications, either from those who have come back strong after a previous rejection, or new talented applicants. Perhaps I'm just on this site too often, but getting accepted 4th year doesn't seem as common as it once was. In any case, I'm extremely grateful to have another chance of making things right.
criston reacted to shematoma in Admitted but having second thoughts about med school
I am one of those is often quite ambivalent and even negative about my experience in medicine and I'm very upfront in saying I wouldn't do it again. But this varies wildly based on individual circumstances as well. To the OP:
1. Age 23 is very, very, very young. I know it doesn't feel like it now, but it is. Trust me, when you look back in 10 years time, you will think you were a baby, because you are. Not to have income until you're 27... honestly, this isn't nearly as big of a deal in the grander scheme as you might think. A lot of people meet their partners in medical school, and you will be going to medical school in a big city where there are plenty of people to meet both in and out of school. Whether you are a boy or a girl, you will still be prime dating and childbearing age when medical school is done. You could even have a baby during or after medical school, while in residency.
2. I'm surprised you've had all these attendings, especially FM ones, tell you they were miserable. What would they rather be doing instead? Have they experienced other careers? We all suffer to some degree from a "grass is greener" on the other side mentality. People who work at "regular" jobs aren't always happy either where there's the real possibility of getting fired, having to compete for promotions, etc. You might hate your boss or coworkers, your work might be a long drive from where you (can afford to) live. There really are no guarantees.
3. If you are thinking about options, maybe you school would let you defer your decision for a year. However, I would think twice about doing this. One year goes by quickly, and you will have to make the same agonizing decision next year. It's a lot of time to be stuck in limbo, but might not be enough time to explore another viable career, before the decision comes up again, making things all the more muddled.
4. Many of my complaints about medicine stem from the fact that I had a viable career before medical school and only decided to go the medicine route in my late 20s. It made medicine a lot more difficult to bear - there was the opportunity cost of all the income I was giving up, having to move away from my friends, a lot of factors that contributed to my life feeling like a real funk. These things have gotten all the worse as I've matched to a 5-year residency in a location I don't want to be. If I knew things could end up so bad I would have taken the match a lot more seriously and put more effort into gunning for a good location. I'd feel a big sense of relief if I could go to a family program in the same city as my family - at this point I don't care about specialty anymore, I just want my life back and be close the ones I love. I also realize that a lot of my feelings could change later in residency or when I'm an attending.
5. You will never know in advance what's the right thing to do because life is a one shot deal and you don't get to know what would have happened if you had picked another option. Despite all the posts and blogs you read and all the people you talk to, it's still possible that you end up very happy in medicine and glad you picked this path. It's also possible that you leave medicine now and it later becomes a gnawing regret. Or maybe you leave medicine now and never look back. But what we do know is that even with a less-than-ideal career, you can still make your life very satisfying, both inside and outside of the career. So it may not matter which career pick so much as how well you deal with life's challenges as they come up and your ability/luck in finding a niche where you're happy.
And if you're someone who's prone to depression, you will be prone to depression no matter what you do. It's something that will stay by your side through thick and thin, ready to pounce. Sorry, that sounds terrible but as someone who's also prone to depression, that's my experience.
criston reacted to Rorzo in Admitted but having second thoughts about med school
I won't be so flippant as to say just try it out, but I would ask you to try to take a step back and look at your situation objectively. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is your happiness, and I do think there are many paths withing medicine that can be fulfilling for a wide variety of people; I also think it's incredibly easy to make numerous small sacrifices for dubious goals that accumulate to an overall frustrating life.
I've absolutely experienced that miserable feeling you're describing, few people get to experience being berated by someone at 4am because you're still on the low end of the totem pole in your mid twenties. And there are a ton of people in my med school class who pushed themselves to do research in med school on top of that, put time in to networking, over-studied for every test, only to continue the cycle for another 6 years of residency.
You don't have to do that if that's not your picture of happiness though. I was initially pushing for a difficult specialty and I would feel anxious every second I wasn't working on my research project, I was attending rounds for that specialty and doing additional clinic on top of normal school duties, and I honestly felt terrible. Then I realized that this doesn't have to be my life, my peers from high school who I was jealous of treated their jobs like a job and there was no reason I had to let it consume my life. I studied to around the median, I played sports and video games instead of researching, and I got in to a fantastic community family medicine program. And now my average days are 9-4 with some charting on either end and the occasional home call. And while I found a niche I'm really excited to pursue full time, I know someone who recently graduated and makes 80k a year off one hard day of work per week - something you won't find in any other field and allows him to pursue his true passions.
So that's where I'd ask you to be objective. Whatever career you're comparing medical school to, don't compare it to the jaded or overworked staff you never hope to be. Compare it to what you, with your values, would do with that degree. I can't guarantee it's for everyone, but if you've come this far there's a very strong chance you find something that works for you better on many levels than most alternatives.
criston reacted to newline in Attrition rates for each medical school?
There's no way out at a certain point - I was facing mid-career uncertainty and underemployment, but I could see there could have been happiness on the personal side perhaps. So far, I've had a rough professional and personal start to a medical career. I never completely realized becoming fully proficient in a different language would be so difficult and the repercussions of that weakness/outsider status within and outside academic/medical environment.
criston reacted to shematoma in Attrition rates for each medical school?
This, this and this. My biggest regret in life at this point is going into medicine, or at least meeting the people who gave me the idea of going into medicine. It's a virus that has quite literally ruined my life. And everyone here has nailed the problem on the head - the mounting student debt, otherwise useless degree and several years of your young adult life that you will never get back. If I could only be so lucky to be part of the attrition statistics, but it's too late for me. I'm "too close" to the end to stop.
criston reacted to Edict in Should I give up my Finance Career to try to get into Med?
The sacrifices you are planning on making are insanely real. If this is what you want, go for it. There are people in every medical school who are around your age who do it, who like it etc., but the sacrifices are incredible. shematoma has it right, I would strongly consider the negatives. I hear a lot of the pros in your post but not the negatives. You could easily be away from your family and wife for 2-4/6 years, depending on what specialty your wife is in, she may or may not be easily willing to relocate for you. The debt will be insane and your ego will take a huge hit. You will face discrimination for your age, you will be at the bottom of the ladder begging for letters and respect from people half your age for 5-7 years assuming you make it. You will be trying to out compete people who are going to learn better, study more easily, have the time and the resources to do so and still do it all with a nice big innocent smile on your face. I'm sure you will at times feel regret if you choose this path, but the question will be is it worth it despite it for you. Medical school is incredibly competitive, again you will probably have to be working insanely hard just to obtain the grades you need to get in and that is no guarantee either.
With all that being said, your plan does sound practical and well thought out. Your chances will be in Calgary and later on schools like Western and Queens (assuming you have a decent MCAT). If you ask me, if you do decide to take this path, give a go at MCAT practice tests before you start because if you can score well on the MCAT, your chances are higher than if you can't. You will have almost no chance at McMaster unfortunately since they look at every single grade.
criston reacted to ralk in Should I give up my Finance Career to try to get into Med?
So, to cut right to the chase, your grades are far too low for any medical school in Canada. There's no point in applying to McMaster at this stage - even if you hit the barest cutoff, you'd likely need a perfect CARS on the MCAT and a perfect CASPer just to get an interview. I'm not familiar enough with Calgary's 10 year rule to comment, so maybe that's an option, but the Ontario schools are longer shots. No point applying to U of T at all, regardless of what your future grades are, and McMaster would be a longshot even with a perfect MCAT and a 4.0 GPA for several years. NOSM's out unless you have solid northern or rural connections.
Queen's is a possibility with their weighted averages, but you'd likely need at least one if not two completed additional undergraduate years before starting an application. Western is as well, though the exact number of years necessary will depend on the specifics of your prior GPA and how your new program is structured - could be as little as 2 years, with an application started in the 2nd, could be as long as 4 years, with an application first in that 4th year. Both would require strong MCATs. Ottawa would be the next choice with their weighted GPA formula, but you'd need exceptional grades for at least 2, probably 3 years.
There's a path to Canadian medical schools for you, but you're almost certainly looking at two years before getting into medical school, very likely to be longer than that. It would be a resounding success, given your position, to be starting your residency in your early 40's. There are many other less favourable outcomes that are quite plausible.
I would stay far away from international schools. Risky path that's getting riskier. You can do everything right and not match, and doing everything right's easier said than done.
Given what you've presented, I can't help but wondering why you're dead-set on medicine as a career? I get wanting to transition out of finance, 100%, and seeing your wife's experience does give you a closer look at medicine than most get, but like any career, it's got its flaws too. Plenty of career dissatisfaction on this side of medical training too. It seems like there would be many other jobs that would make better use of your experience and wouldn't come with the significant barriers to entry that medicine does (in general or for your specific situation). Even assuming everything works out in your favour in terms of getting into medicine, it sounds like this isn't the first time you've looked to change careers due to dissatisfaction with your current path. With its upfront costs, long training times, and difficulty transitioning from one career within medicine to another, it's not a particularly flexible career if it turns out that medicine it's as amazing as you think right now - which, frankly, is a very common occurrence.
To summarize, I think you could get into medicine, albeit with a fair bit of time and considerable amount of effort. But unless you literally cannot see yourself doing anything but becoming a physician, I have to think there are better options for you.
criston got a reaction from Calopee in How happy are you with choosing medical achool and becoming a doctor? Êtes vous satisfaits d'avoir choisit la médecine comme carrière?
With all the negative talk out there about the stresses of clerkship and residency, I've been hearing many wonder whether going through medical school and residency are really worth the end result - i.e."giving up" some of the prime years of their life doing something they are marginally passionate about. They tell me that they feel trapped and don't have any other alternative career.
I'm interested to hear of anecdotes of students who decided to leave medical school partway through in order to pursue a different career path, if anyone has any to share!
criston got a reaction from blah1234 in How happy are you with choosing medical achool and becoming a doctor? Êtes vous satisfaits d'avoir choisit la médecine comme carrière?
With all the negative talk out there about the stresses of clerkship and residency, I've been hearing many wonder whether going through medical school and residency are really worth the end result - i.e."giving up" some of the prime years of their life doing something they are marginally passionate about. They tell me that they feel trapped and don't have any other alternative career.
I'm interested to hear of anecdotes of students who decided to leave medical school partway through in order to pursue a different career path, if anyone has any to share!
criston got a reaction from la marzocco in Chartered Accountant - Questions
You might also want to consider McMaster, if you're willing to move out to Ontario. Their admissions criteria are much more objective, based on your GPA, only the CARS section of the MCAT, and an online test (Casper). You also get a bonus for having completed a masters degree. You don't need any undergraduate science courses and Mac doesn't require any of the science portions of the MCAT.
I also come from a non-trad background, where I did tax work. If it's something you really want to do and you're willing to make some sacrifices, do it while you still can!
criston reacted to premed989 in Ever Feel Like Med School Is A Big Rich Kids Club?
Man, I hate to revive an old forum post from 2016, but I just started medical school at McMaster this year, and I've definitely noticed this. I've noticed it so much that it really, really bugged me, I went and did some research on why the hell my class is like this, and found this thread.
I come from a middle class family. Our income was slightly above the national median, but we actually have real trouble making ends meet. During the financial aid talk this week, the professor asked how many of us had NO DEBT going into medical school, and 3/4 of the class put up their hands. I went to school in downtown Toronto, and I'd say more than 1/2 of students from my high school had to borrow from OSAP to pay for their undergraduate degree. I personally have 12k in OSAP debt from undergrad. I talked about this to my group of friends back home (some of whom want to be doctors) and all of us had OSAP debt. I told them about how my class was made up of rich kids - imagine how discouraging that must have been for them.
And then I got to know more of my class. Many of them had parents who were doctors, professors, etc. It was disproportionate, and they talk about it really casually, "my dad does family medicine at blah blah". I don't think I went to a shady high school or something, but aren't these sort of family backgrounds supposed to be somewhat rare? Among my entire circle of high school friends, not one of them came from such a good background as having a family doctor as a parent - NOT ONE. I've had no doctor mentors to take me through this process.
I hate to feel this way, but I'm beginning to feel like the whole medicine enterprise is about a bunch of rich people from really privileged backgrounds who make a ton of money taking care of the poor (it's hard to deny that medicine pays really well) - and it makes me feel really dirty. Dirty in the sense that medicine is supposed to be a public service, not a system to perpetuate privilege. Shouldn't poor kids have a better shot at moving up socioeconomically? More importantly, on the public service side, doesn't it benefit medicine to recruit students from middle class backgrounds - people who understand what it's like to work stressful factory jobs while taking care of 3 kids, people who are obese, smokers, diabetic, and have high blood pressure (all 4 of which, I'm pretty sure, are far more prevalent in people of lower SES). My family isn't that poor, but I have an understanding of what many of these things are like - my mom has three of the above conditions (obesity, diabetic, high BP), and I'm pretty certain if we had more money, she'd be in better health. I actually really understand this, because I can see the stress she's under.
I have a first hand appreciation of the social determinants of health, and I think it's a bit of a shame that not many medical students do. I mean, they learn it in class an all, and they answer all the questions correctly at the interview, but every time you tell med students about the sorts of conditions the AVERAGE canadian family (like mine) live in, they're absolutely shocked and appalled, because they've lived in nothing other than a big fancy house, with 4 course nutritious meals at dinner, living at a boarding school.
All of the things I've described above will affect the development of the kids in that family, believe it or not. The SES bias is NOT a product of tuition being too expensive - realistically i've never heard of anyone not being able to "afford" medical school in Canada, if they have an acceptance in hand - they'll manage. Yes, there's very little excuse for someone to say "I did poorly on that math test because I came from poor parents". But medical school is more than just a single math test. IT's a LOT of work to get into. To do so, you need to reach your full potential. You need not only to do very well in school, but you have to be highly accomplished. People can only do these things if their basic needs are well met. I've seen my mom cry about not being able to pay off the mortgage - imagine how that makes me feel? It makes me hurt inside every time I spend my parents' money to buy food for myself. It means I have to work every summer to be able to live away from home, because I don't want to ask my parents to pay my rent. How can I focus fully on ECs when all this is going on? I mean, I made it into medical school, but imagine how much further I could have gone if I didn't have to worry about these things. People can only reach their full potential when all their needs are met. I want to emphasize that my family income is slightly ABOVE median. The majority of Canadian students are in family backgrounds that prevent them from reaching their full potential. I remember sitting on a GO Bus listening to a student behind me talking to her friend about her med school ambitions, about all the shit that goes on at home, about her sister attempting suicide because of school-related stress - she's not that far from the average family. Imagine how hard it must be for her. I wouldn't have made it if that was my family. These sorts of problems are common in Canadian families, believe it or not, but REALLY rare in families with >100k income (do your parents make more than 100k?) - I hope none of you are surprised to hear that, because rich families have a lot more control over their lives. That sister of hers would have just moved on to business or something without a care in the world.
Some of the posts in this thread made me a little upset. It's easy to deny that family income has ANYTHING to do with medical school admissions success when you've been in a privileged household your whole life. This is my experience, and it doesn't surprise me at all now how skewed med school classes are. It's not the tuition, anyone who can get into medical school can afford it - I've never heard of any Canadian medical student being unable to attend, or even hesitant to attend, just because the tuition is expensive (quite frankly, engineering programs can cost $16k a year, medicine is a bargain). The cost of writing the MCATs and submitted applications is a factor, but not the leading factor. I'm pretty sure it's just the fact that kids from privileged backgrounds are more likely to do better in school, not because they're smarter, but because their needs are well met, allowing them to truly reach their full potential. You need to have your needs met before you can get a 4.0, before you can spent hours working on your med school/nserc/scholarship applications, before you can work at an inner city HIV clinic, or whatever the hell else premeds do. Being smart may partly be a genetically inherited factor, but I'm certain it doesn't explain a substantial part of the bias - I know plenty of smart poor kids who are definitely smart enough to be in my class.
Also, why is there only one (I think) black guy in my class?
That's why I kind of like Mac. I'm not the dean or anything, but I think at least part of the reason they don't look at ECs is because ECs favors privileged kids (I hope Queens' dean sees this). I'd still say Mac has a way to go. By the way, how many of you come from households with income above $100k? If so, you need to realize that you're somewhat privileged. You may not notice because all the kids in your school are likewise rich, another aspect of your privilege. YOU need to see what school is like in downtown Toronto. My high school produces about one med student per year. I hear many of the suburbian high school product 10s of med students per year. Are downtown kids just dumb?
I think this article is worth a read:http://www.universityaffairs.ca/features/feature-article/medical-school-admissions-process-skewed/
criston reacted to RichardDegrasseSagan in Success Stories- Non Trad Style!
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!
criston reacted to Kasiunut in Success Stories- Non Trad Style!
Six years ago I embarked on a journey to fulfill my dream of becoming a doctor and I'm thrilled to say that in another six years, this dream will become a reality.
A month ago I was accepted to medical school and in two and a half months I will be starting.
I was a 26 year old, married mother of one and a CPA. I had graduated with honors from the Richard Ivey School of Business (Western) and had a very good GPA. I immediately started working for PricewaterhouseCoopers (now just known as PwC) and started working towards my CPA designation.
I knew almost immediately that this was NOT the career for me, however I had just started so decided to make a go of it. But after 5 years of it getting worse and worse, as well as some personal issues, I had deep look at my life and realized that I wanted to become a doctor.
I was incredibly lucky to have a very supportive family and husband - I quit my job to focus on getting in but I made some big mistakes.
First of all, I tried to take some shortcuts - I wanted to apply right away because I had a strong GPA so I went all in for Mac. I took an MCAT prep course and hoped my GPA was strong enough to get me through. Unfortunately, my MCAT was not good enough (9, 9 10) the first time around and I decided to try again - however just before I wrote my second attempt, I discovered I was pregnant with my 2nd child. It threw me and I did worse my second time around. Then I decided to pause my attempts at med school - I second guessed myself as to whether this was a good idea or not.
Then we had an opportunity to move to New Zealand and I again discovered that one of the med schools there had an alternative pathway for non-trad students and I really thought I had a chance. I even took a university level chemistry course to prove I can do the sciences (I got a 98% in the course) however, there too it wasn't enough. While we were in NZ, I also had our 3rd child.
When I didn't get in yet again, I decided to throw in the towel and focus on something else. I knew I couldn't go back to the world of public accounting but started to look into what I could do. I considered law school. I looked into opening up a shop. But everything felt half-hearted. I knew deep in my soul that medicine was all I wanted to do.
Luckily my amazing husband knew too and suggested I try in Poland. I am a Polish citizen and am fluent in the language and had lived there before. I had briefly considered it in the past, but was put off by having to do the 6 year program. But now I just look at it as a good thing. It takes 6 years because it starts with a lot of basics and there is a LOT of clinical time, plus three months off over the summer. When I mentioned our idea to my parents they too were incredibly supportive and sweetened the deal for us - they said that we could live in their house (they go back and forth between Canada and Poland for their work) if I got in, completely for free. They had been trying to sell it with no luck (the political situation isn't great there at the moment) but had been paying a full time house keeper to live their in their absences. They said it would be a win-win because they would no longer need to pay someone to live there and care for the house and we would get a place to live for free.
So I decided to go all in for the University of Warsaw's English language program for HS graduates, which is a 6 year program. There is also a 4 year program, but you have to have a BSc to apply, which I didn't have. To get in you need to pass their entrance exam in Chemistry, Biology and Physics.
I had some major bumps in the road, but I managed to pass their exam and got accepted.
It is an incredible feeling. YES, I know that as an international med school graduate I may not get a residency spot in Canada. But for me, becoming an MD is more important than the ability to return to Canada. However, I'm pretty sure I want to do family medicine, and if I do a residency in Ireland, Scotland or England (which will be possible for me as an EU citizen, though Brexit may have made it a bit tougher for UK) which is what a lot of the grads from this program end up doing, I may be able to practice in Canada and for sure in New Zealand (my husband is a citizen and I have permanent residency status there). Worst case scenario, I will just end up in Poland, but luckily as a citizen and graduate from a Polish med school I'd have no problems.
I actually know a lot of people who graduated from this program and they all have the best things to say (about the quality of teaching, though dealing with the admin side is brutal). One guy went on to become a radiologist and do a fellowship at Cambridge and is now working on his PhD in radiology in DC. Another couple work as ER docs in Arizona. Another one is finishing up her residency in Scotland and loves in.
I realize though that I'm incredibly and uniquely lucky. I have SO MUCH support from my friends and family, both in the form of encouragement and financially. My husband moved to a country where he doesn't speak the language and has little opportunity for work (though at the moment is able to work remotely) but told me he will do what he needs to do to make it work. My parents have saved us a TON of money by providing free housing. We have enough savings to pay for my tuition and costs without us needing to take on any debt.
In some ways, I do wish I had gone the traditional route for non-trad students - I should have started from scratch and gone back to school and gotten a BSc OR simply tried Poland from the beginning. I'd likely be done by now and starting residency. But that said, it many ways I'm so glad it worked out the way it did. I have three beautiful children, with whom I've been able to spend a lot of time and my family is complete. I will be able to focus my efforts on med school and residency and not have to worry about my fertility or relationship status. I'll still be in my 30's when I graduate (I'm now almost 33 and will be a month shy of my 39th birthday when I graduate). But what kept me going was the thought that "well, I'll be 35, 40, 45 ANYWAY...at least I'll be 35 and a med student, 40 and a resident, 45 and an MD."
That said, this is really just the beginning. This program has about a 25% attrition rate after the 1st year so I need to make sure I stay on top of my game.
If anyone, particularly moms, is interested in my story, I've had a blog documenting my journey of the past six years at my blog, mdorbust.blogspot.com and I will continue to blog about my life as a medical student and mom and how I balance it.
Anyway, I just wanted to share my very non-trad story and pathway to an MD. Please feel free to get in touch but please be patient as I don't check my inbox too regularly.
Good luck to everyone!
criston got a reaction from duke101 in International Electives in Med School?
Have you heard of some students doing multiple international electives? Considering that Mac doesn't have much vacation time but has the most weeks of electives, I was thinking that by international electives could be like vacation in the sense that I could do some travel at the same time.
criston reacted to shikimate in Attendings
what will get you a lot of thumbs up from residents and attendings:
- smile, treat everyone well, say hi/good morning, even if you're tired or having a bad day
- when given knowledge by resident or attending, thank them for teaching you
- when a resident give you an opportunity to show off in front of the attending, thank them in private.
- give effort, try hard, doesn't shun away from small/boring tasks when being asked.
- try to make the team run smoother, such as print off some extra patient lists, lend a resident an extra pen, grab the vital charts before entering the room.
- treat patient and family well, receives compliments from patients.
criston reacted to Hopeful2017 in For Them Waitlisters
Hi Waitlist Team!!
I received an offer off the waitlist yesterday (June 1st) at 12:22 pm to Hamilton campus!
Thank you all for the support over the past few weeks (waitlisting would have been much harder without it) . I checked this thread often and every post and acceptance made me feel more hopeful.
Try to remain optimistic!! Your eventual acceptance will feel even sweeter as a waitlister
Hope to see you all in the Fall.
EDIT: Happy to answer questions about my application/whatever! PM me if you would like.
criston reacted to shikimate in Making Strong Connections In Medicine
Simple things you can do that residents and attending will appreciate and notice, doesn't matter if you are introvert or extrovert, prodigy or average intelligence etc (and you'd surprised how many clerks don't do this because they are not interested in the specialty etc):
1) show up on time, and be ready to get started. So if you need to print patient list or write down lab work, come early to do that.
2) when a resident ask you to help with something, do your best. If you cannot do it, let the resident know, but also say you're willing to learn and try your best shot.
3) treat patients well. if you cannot come up with a ddx or treatment plan, at least say some nice things to the patient. Especially if you are on call with a resident, and the resident is buried with pages. The last thing the resident needs is a page for hand-holding at 2am.
4) treat other people well, like nurses, receptionists, even porters, cleaners etc. When people on the floor like you, residents notice.
5) if attending/resident ask you a question and you know the answer, seize the opportunity. If you don't know the answer, be honest, and let them know you are making an educated guess.
6) if a resident (especially senior resident) don't know the answer, you DON'T blurt out the answer. Never try to out-smart residents on your team.
7) if the team/attending/resident is having a bad day, don't play smarty pants.
criston reacted to RicardoKaká in Success Stories- Non Trad Style!
Thought I would share my story to inspire hope to others (especially those with lower MCAT scores).
I was your typical pre-med throughout university, although I didn't really know what it took to get into medical school when I started (no one in my family comes from a science/medical background). I started university thinking that a B would be a good average, I had this idea that getting an A in university was this esoteric idea and that I would never really be able to attain those types of grades (although I was a 90 student in high school). I compared myself to my brother who was naturally smart, whereas, I was dedicated, hard-working, yet never as smart as him (still not!). My first year of university I achieved a 3.41 (on a 4.3 scale!). I wasn't too disappointed in myself, however, this was around the time I found these forums - saw the 4.0s and knew that I had to do better. So I changed my view and study habits completely come 2nd year.
In my 2nd year, it was tough, I barely got out, my life was dedicated to my studies and spent in the library, however I quickly realized that I enjoyed what I was studying (anatomy, physiology) and I knew that medicine would be the only career path that I could find myself in (due to my passion for the sciences and my relentless work-ethic). I continued to push myself everyday, I studied day in and day out, volunteered as much as I could. I think this year was the biggest year of my intellectual growth -- but I only netted a 3.78 GPA. However, this year was my stepping stone to success, I had jumped from a B+ --> A- and knew that I could jump again.
In 3rd and 4th year I became really good at time managing (balancing both my academic and social life). I now was enjoying school and enjoying what else university had to offer - I also got a job these two years because of family/financial issues at home. Despite the unfortunate circumstances at home, I was happy - I loved academia, what I was studying and I continued to push myself. I knew I could be that 4.0 student I never thought I could be. My 3rd year GPA ended up being 3.91, and 4th year == 4.0! My studies were a sort of safe haven for me, because despite what was happening at home I was excelling and getting myself where I wanted to be.... except...
The MCAT.. I wrote my first exam in my summer after 2nd year of university.. I thought by throwing myself in MCAT study mode, studying everyday and doing what I had done in university would work for me, that I would get a good score. After writing my exam, I was ambivalent, I thought all that studying would at least turn out OK... But when I got my score back, this was not the case -- I scored a 26. This was probably the lowest I had ever felt in my life. All my friends had killed the exam, but I was falling behind and failing. Although I wallowed in sorrow for a bit, I didn't let the number define me. I wrote the exam again the following year, scored a 28.. Again the exam had beaten me, but at least it was an improvement. After 4th year I knew I was not going into medical school, my 1st year marks had ruined my chances at schools like Toronto/Ottawa (the only schools I would have had a shot at) and my MCAT was holding me back from the rest. I decided to pursue a MSc and take 1 year off from the MCAT.
In my summer after my 1st year of my MSc, I attempted the new MCAT. Studying was going pretty well, I had learnt new approaches to learning in my MSc and I think just my continued persistence in academia and shaping my way of learning had improved my scores on the new exam, I was achieving pretty great scores (for myself) getting around 512+ to 517 on my AAMC final practice test. I wrote my exam that summer and got my score back (510), I was happy about my overall score, I had finally cracked the 80th percentile, but knew it would still hold me back, and I knew I could do better. However, I decided not to re-write and give applications a shot.
I applied to Dalhousie, Queen's, Toronto, Ottawa, UBC (as an OOP applicant). I was utterly shocked to get my first interview invitation to UBC in December. My dreams were finally becoming a reality, I was on my way! Shortly after, I received invitations to Ottawa and Toronto. I would never have thought that I would EVER get an invitation to Toronto... I always used to do research there in my summers but I never thought I was good enough.
Long behold, Toronto was my first and only acceptance (thus far). So I guess I just want to say one thing for future applicants and those aspiring to do medicine. Never doubt yourself. Ever. If you really put your mind to something, and never let anything hold you back, you will get there..eventually.
I will never take for granted how lucky I was to achieve an acceptance letter.
criston got a reaction from struggling2getin in Accepted/Rejected/Waitlisted??? (for current applicants)
Result: Accepted to Hamilton
Time Stamp: 8:30am
Interviews: I thought I missed the point and bombed one of them, but great on the rest.
Glad to have got the acceptance this year! Spent a lot of time during my commute reading up on health policy, current issues, ethics and interpersonal skills. More importantly, every week, I prepped with a few people I met through this forum. I think it helped a lot talking about interview topics with people who I didn't know well, to better simulate the MMI process and to receive different feedback. I'm happy to have made some friends through the interview process!
criston reacted to Nizatidineee in Making An Informed Decision About Mac
First of all, congratulations to everyone who got accepted to Mac (and other schools), and good luck to everyone on the wait-list! Everyone has worked so hard to get here, so just take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come.
I’m making this post so that people can have the most information about McMaster as they possibly can (because I did not know any of this when I chose to go to McMaster over Western). With that said, these views are mine alone and may not reflect the views of the class.
Here are some of the best things about the McMaster curriculum: - No “tests”! We have “concept application exercises”, but usually they are not to be stressed over because most tutors understand that students are there to learn. This creates a relatively relaxed preclerkship environment. However, and this is a big thing, if you like didactic learning and knowing what you need to know for a certain topic, this curriculum is radically different. Oftentimes, students are not quite sure if they have covered the material in-depth, at least compared to other schools. Of course, there is a debate to be had whether most of this preclerkship knowledge is even relevant in the first place, but I have heard of more than one instance of a physician in clerkship speaking about how poor Mac students are with anatomy and pharmacology. It’s a reputation that exists, even if it may not be founded completely in truth (the pharmacology stuff is true, though!). - More free time than other schools (with one big exception!). At Mac, we have very little time dedicated to didactic lectures – most of our preclerkship is spent in tutorials or prepping for tutorials. Students are often quite helpful with resources, and the attitude of the students is almost uniformly good. So, we have more free time in preclerkship to explore our interests (horizontal electives), but it comes with a cost that may or not be important to you. In-between “first” and “second” year, our summer break consisted of one week. Ultimately, this was fine for a lot of people, but I found that many of my classmates felt burnt out by the middle of clerkship.
- 3 years! This is related to the other point. 3 < 4! Less tuition, less money paid to rent, etc. But without the extra year (and summers), it is more difficult to put together a research-heavy application, in my opinion. Obviously, this does not matter so much for something like family medicine, but if you are trying to become a dermatologist, there is just less time. I’ve found that the extra time we had in preclerkship did not overcome the fact that we had one less year to work with. Oftentimes in research, you are waiting a few weeks to hear from a supervisor, waiting another few weeks for someone else on the team to analyze results, so having 1-2 more hours of free time per day didn’t really impact my output. At the same time, if you have a family (and you want to finish med school as fast as possible) or you want a relatively noncompetitive specialty, Mac might be the best option for you. Now for my biggest issues about the program (some of which I believe are not adequately communicated to applicants beforehand):
McMaster makes students rank 16 streams (colour-coded) for clerkship and then a lottery happens in which an algorithm tries to give you what you ranked near the top. This process differs from the four-year programs in 4 key ways: (1) Students have to have a good idea of what stream they want by the end of March (only 7 months after beginning medical school!), because that is when rankings are due. In other words, they have to know what specialties they’ve ruled in and out by then because some streams are way better for some specialties and way worse for others. (2) The streams are quite uneven for elective weeks, which is a huge deal for CaRMS. . Some streams have 12 weeks of electives before CaRMS, whereas some only have 8! And, statistically, there are the same amount of people in each stream, so some people are unlucky and have up to 4 fewer weeks of electives before the CaRMS deadline (just within the same school, let alone others). (3) The other schools go through all of their cores first before having to go through their electives. At McMaster, it is pretty much random. For some streams, person x may have surgery first, and then a few weeks of electives, and then pediatrics core, and some more electives, etc. Person y may have psychiatry first, then a few weeks of electives, followed by OB/GYN, etc. So, you are not exposed to much at all before having to set up your electives (over 20 weeks ahead of time). What happens if you fall in love with anesthesia but it’s at the very end of your stream? Too bad. At the other schools, they complete all of their cores before doing any electives, which gives students a much better idea of what they want to do. I personally wish I had my internal medicine core before doing any of my electives because it would have given me a better knowledge base. (4) Because of this system, every one of the streams has one or two cores post-CaRMS (one is during the CaRMS period, which makes it “not count” as well). So, if you get light blue stream, for example, you can forget about matching to surgery because the core is post-CaRMS. This does not happen at the 4 year schools. I know of a friend who originally wanted to do internal medicine and he ended up in a stream that had internal post-CaRMS. Can he still match to internal? Probably, but it will be a lot more difficult without the letter of reference from your 6-week core. It depends how comfortable you are with leaving your fate to an algorithm – many students 2 years ago were put into their 8th ranked stream!
- Match results. This year, around 20 students did not match from McMaster (first iteration), the worst year in Mac’s history, I believe. Now, there are a ton of confounding factors here – perhaps more people applied to competitive specialties this year than in the past. Maybe the students did not adequately back up, etc. We’ll never know, but it is worth considering that this was their worst year ever. With that said, perhaps it will inspire some change within the curriculum to make sure nothing like this happens again. - Anatomy and pharmacology. At the Hamilton campus, we don’t have cadavers for people to work on. There is a lottery (once again), so a handful of students get to do a workshop with cadavers. The bigger issue is pharmacology. For as long as I’ve been at Mac, students have complained about how poor their foundation in pharmacology is, and I don’t know if they are making any meaningful changes for the incoming class. If you have an understanding resident or physician in clerkship, it will probably be fine, but I’ve heard horror stories of people going to Toronto or Vancouver, and getting yelled at due to their lack of knowledge. Perhaps this is a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence, but I know a few people who feel like they were not properly informed of these things before making a decision (especially the clerkship lottery). I probably would have made a different choice if I had this information, so I thought I would provide it here.
criston reacted to older in Having Some Second Thoughts About Medicine Due To "better" Options Elsewhere?
If you don't love medicine, don't do it. Yes, there are many people who went to medicine without love, but the main alternate motivator is money. You are not in this position. You have good profession and good financial prospects, why suffer through huge workload, sleepless nights, years of poverty and debt. There is a good chance you'll be send to a place you don't want to be --it's not exactly pick and choose with residencies. And you could possibly regret that you gave up something that interested you more than medicine.
Having said that, world is changing constantly. What is an excellent profession today, and the turning point, may not be so in several years. But this applies to medical profession too. It not what it used to be, and some aspects of it can get worse - opportunities, pay, pressures, the entire environment of the health system. So the risk is both ways.
Do what you love and get paid for it. That's the best advice I know.
criston reacted to aray623 in Mmi Prep - London On
You are welcome! When I did it, it ran over 4 hours (started at 5:15 and ended at 9:30 - they do a debriefing which takes up some time but I would say doesn't really "help" you). And I would have to agree with what m_jacob_45 said about the student evaluators and their feedback. I thought I had a lot to improve on, and they all seemed to think I did pretty well. But that just might be me being my own worst critic! The practice was very useful though.