Wasteman reacted to rial2 in Trend In Volunteering
From what I understand, you should be doing what you love rather than doing what you think will appease to the admissions people. If you have a genuine passion for working with seniors, it's 100% alright. Just don't be the "typical premed" who thinks that volunteering at a hospital and a nursing home will make them look like a good applicant.
Wasteman reacted to Lifeisawesome in Success Stories- Non Trad Style!
I wanted to post my story specifically for those non-trads with lower GPAs.
Here we go. I knew I wanted to be a doctor from a young age (so I guess in that sense I am traditional!). The battle of getting into med really started for me in first year university. I was the first one in my family to attempt a university degree, and I was from a small town, so I really had no clue about the whole “pre-med strategy”. I chose a biochemistry undergrad because I liked biology and chemistry (it seemed to be a no brainer to me). In first year I obtained As, but also Bs and Cs. The transition from small town to city life was quite the adjustment and I was proud of the fact that I was going to university in a city and doing what I thought was “well” in a difficult program. Up until this point my average was probably a solid B/B+. It didn’t dawn on me that this would be a major hurdle of getting into med until midway through 3rd year. In one of my classes a prof mentioned that if you didn’t have at least a 3.7 GPA you could kiss scholarship funding (i.e. NSERC, CIHR) goodbye. This struck terror into me. If I “couldn’t even” get grad funding with a less than 3.7 GPA, did this mean I couldn’t get into med school? Trying to find a prof to take me for a 4th year research project was when reality really started to sink in. In interview after interview profs were telling me I just wasn’t honours research material because of my bad grades.
Luckily, I found one prof who was amazing. For the first time in my life I had someone take me under their wing and mentor me. During the interview she told me she purposely didn’t look at my grades, because as an undergrad, the most important thing was whether I would “mesh” well in the lab. She was extremely kind, supported me in the lab, and handed down many many pearls of wisdom. Encouraged by my supervisor and research project, I realized at this point if I didn’t pull up my GPA, I wouldn’t get into graduate school. I threw everything I had into 4th year and with a supportive environment I was able to get a GPA of 3.85. Even with this, I only ended up with an overall undergrad OMSAS GPA of 3.2.
** This is where I have to go on a tangent. I hate that lower GPAs are somehow synonymous with laziness. For me, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I studied very hard during my undergrad and was proud of my marks, until I entered the graduate/pre-med world. Sure, I struggled with a 6 course semester load and did horribly in organic chemistry I, II, and III, but it doesn’t make me lazy. I was raised in an environment where if you couldn’t handle everything on your own you just “weren’t good enough”. This resulted in a self-imposed barrier that prevented me from seeking help from fellow classmates or professors. Asking for help was viewed as “bad and weak” because I should be smart enough to know how to do it by myself. This resulted in me throwing even more time into studying, although without guidance, my attempts were pretty futile. This lead me to believe my “low GPA” was because I just wasn’t smart enough. At least this is what people were telling me. At this point I had really convinced myself that I just wasn’t smart enough for medicine. Luckily, I thoroughly enjoyed 4th year and the awesome environment I did my research project in, so I pursued graduate studies instead. ** Tangent over.
I took a 4th year pharmacology course and LOVED it, so I applied to and interviewed at graduate schools in pharmacology in Ontario and Quebec. I was accepted into one program, but because of grades wasn’t able to find a professor willing to take me. I eventually found a prof willing to take me at another school, but was rejected by that school (grades again). I had a decision to make, abandon graduate school or take a “special” year at the school to show that I really wanted to be there. Luckily the professor was still willing to pay me a graduate stipend (even though I wasn’t in grad school) as well as allow me to work in the lab. I interviewed again the following year and was thankfully accepted into the Master’s program. For the first time, I started to thrive. Once I was in, my GPA was no longer looked at, and I felt on an even playing field with my fellow colleagues. I loved research and the hospital centre our lab was in. I was working alongside physicians and this just re-enforced to me how much I wanted to go into medicine. I wanted to do my (now) PhD proper justice though, and threw myself into my projects. I was working very hard, but was also really happy and proud of the process I was making. During my 7 year PhD I was fortunate to present my research findings at national and international conferences and to publish good quality papers.
Riding on my newly restored self-confidence I thought I would try to apply to medicine for the first time (2012-2013 cycle). Since I came from a small rural town, I decided NOSM was my best option. Again, after seeing my horrific OMSAS calculated GPA of 3.2 sitting in front of me, I was expecting a full out rejection. Many people around me also discouraged me from applying because of my “really bad GPA”. I knew deep down though I would forever feel the regret if I didn’t at least try. I applied and to my absolute shock and delight I was offered an interview. This REALLY encouraged me, someone WAS interested in me. I went to the interview and was rejected afterwards. This rejection didn’t hit me too hard because I realized:
1) My GPA was low (by pre-med standards), and I would need the GPA boost from my completed PhD
2) I didn’t have as many ECs as I could. I decided to sit the following year out to graduate from my PhD and to take time to do as many volunteer ECs as I could.
I reapplied in the 2014-2015 cycle thinking I had a much better shot (increased GPA and better ECs). Thankfully, I was offered an interview again at NOSM. I practiced the CRAP out of interviewing. I practiced at least 2 hours every other day from the time I received an interview invite until I had my interview. I knew my lower GPA would hold me back, so I had to knock the interview out of the park. But, as long as I had an interview, I had a shot, right?! I completed the interview and thought I had done really well. I figured this was my best shot. I found out that May that I was rejected. This second rejection hit me really hard.
At this point I realized I would have to face my biggest fear – writing the MCAT. After hearing so often how bad my GPA was, I actually started believing I wasn’t smart enough to do well on the MCAT. MCAT prep courses weren’t an option for me, so I would have to do the studying on my own. I threw myself into studying and set myself an ambitious 2.5 month study plan. I wrote the MCAT and actually came out of the exam, got into the car, told my boyfriend that my dream of getting into medical school was over, before bursting into tears. I fully convinced myself I had bombed the exam. After the agonizing wait I found out my MCAT wasn’t as bad as I thought it was – 128/131/127/126 (overall 512). Not amazing by many people’s standards (ouch to psych/soc), but a huge confidence boost for someone like me that had convinced myself I wasn’t smart enough. At least my MCAT wouldn’t hold me back like my GPA was.
I applied to medical schools across Canada and even Singapore this past cycle and took a second year undergrad English Lit course to satisfy the UBC pre-req, but then I started to seclude myself. Surrounding myself with negative self-thoughts and negative people, I spiraled into anxiety and mild depression. This forced me into a position that I had never been in before. I was not happy with the person I was. I realized it was the time for introspection. Negativity had convinced me I was not good enough, that I should have known I was going to do poorly in undergrad, and that I should have somehow done better. I dwelled in the “failure” of my past, fretting over how grades from 10 years ago were impacting and dictating my future. Didn't they know that wasn't who I was now? With a well-earned PhD from a respected institution, good publications, and solid ECs, it seemed I would never be able to redeem myself and crawl out of the hole of my undergrad GPA. From those around me I received remarks like, “you have a PhD, you should go into the pharmaceutical world and actually make decent money”, “your undergrad GPA isn’t competitive enough”, “its time to let your dream go, you are too old to do this now”, etc … When I finally had the courage to reach out to family, I was made to feel guilty for feeling anxious/depressed because “other people go through harder things than you and they aren’t anxious/depressed.” They also told me medicine probably wasn’t in my future and that I needed to move on, I was told “not everyone gets into medicine you know!” After battling through this for many months, I came to realize just how important a supportive and encouraging network is. My boyfriend has been amazing for this, he never once questioned my reasoning or ability and was there through every tear telling me to keep going. Also, countless “check-ins” and words of encouragement from friends got me through the darkest days. Surround yourself with people like that. I am convinced your environment will make or break you.
Also, let go of any preconceived notions you have about where you will get in. I had convinced myself NOSM was the only realistic choice for me because of where I was born and raised, my GPA, and my age. After interviewing at UBC I can now fully appreciate that UBC is a much better fit for me than NOSM. The fit of the school really is important for your future success but also for admissions. I did my UBC interview in Feb and my NOSM interview in April and I was the same person for both interviews, nothing changed. UBC accepted me and NOSM rejected me again (for a third time). Apply broadly!
I sometimes kick myself for not doing some of these things sooner (i.e. writing the MCAT, applying more broadly, getting over my insecurities). At 31, I have to remind myself that 2 years ago I wasn’t the person I am now. Suffering through the horrible downward spiral of anxiety and depression let me see life from another perspective. Again, I was raised in an environment where anxiety and depression meant something was “wrong” with you and that you just needed to “pull yourself” out of it, “other people have it much worse!” I was always told. I blamed myself for not being a mentally stronger person, and convinced myself that I didn’t belong in medicine; I was too weak to handle it. You really can be your own worst enemy/biggest hurdle. Having gone through this process though, it really taught me empathy and understanding for others. You can’t possibility know what other people go through or the demons they battle. The best thing you can do is just validate and support that person's journey. Often the person doesn't need you to solve their problems or certainly not judge them, but they just want understanding and support.
I want to stress what others on this non-trad thread have already said (wow, lots of rhyming in that sentence!). Med school admissions involve luck. First of all, to everyone that asks “am I competitive enough”? I was told repeatedly that I wasn’t. I let this get to me. Regardless of what people say, you won’t know until you TRY. If NOSM rejected me flat out in 2012, I probably would have given up hope then, but they didn’t. Second of all, what you think is your best application might not get you in, whereas your “worst” (I use that VERY loosely) application might. Lastly, if you don’t get in, try, try, try again. Continually better yourself year after year and hopefully lady luck will be on your side. I am beyond humbled and overjoyed that UBC accepted me into their program and I know that I will never take my seat for granted.
So, if you have made it this far à The main message I want to get across to you is, you are NOT your GPA, you are so much more than that! I know it is an uphill battle for us low GPAers, as well as non-trads, but please PLEASE don’t give up. Surround yourself with motivating/encouraging people, put in the hard work, and above all believe in yourself! You CAN do it! I just did J.
Wasteman reacted to indefatigable in Need Advice How To Become Physician In Canada
I think one of the biggest hurdles for your future career prospects is clearly the language issue. Try and see if there is government subsidized English training including writing skills. Once you are more confident and capable in English, I think you will have a better sense of your options. This may take some time: at least 6 months if not a year. I know how difficult improving a non-native language is - but, this will really help you.
Wasteman reacted to Fresh fry in Need Advice How To Become Physician In Canada
Been on this forum for many years and have never tried to discourage anyone at any age or stage in the game. I started med school late, have friends that started in their 40's, have friends who did med in another country and made it here. It pains me to say this but it is highly unlikely that you will be able to practice medicine in Canada and any route that would be open to you would require a sacrifice most would been unwilling to make; 5-7 years of study would be the beginning. Sorry my friend and best of luck.
Wasteman reacted to JohnGrisham in Caribean Medical Schools
Lol, such broad and extreme statements. I personally think you're a loser and slacker for making such lazy statements. How does that feel?
There are plenty of people in the carribean who were competitive in Canada but just unlucky, just the same as there are many who were unlucky.
No need to perpetuate unnecessary hate. The ones that make it through all 4 years and match, generally had to work harder than many(not all or not most) Canadian students in med school where its p=MD.
Wasteman reacted to bruhh in Full Course-Load
I got the exact same advice when I started uni. I was skeptical and went to consult with my program advisor and was still told to not do a full courseload in first year as it would be too hard on me. These people know nothing bout the med school admission process. The only reason I don't qualify for UofT's weighing is because I did not take full courseload in first year, and no, summer credits do not magically turn your year into a full courseload for med schools. All it does, is it will count as a full courseload for your university, which med schools don't care about.
I highly suggest you take a full courseload during the fall winter term to take advantage of all the different med school's weighing system and eligibility.
Wasteman reacted to Hammmmmy in Are you a Yorkie Premed? (York Premed Discussion)
Sorry if I came off as disingenuous! I should've been a lot more clear in my earlier post. I have gone through the academic based scholarships on York's website and I posted here to see if there were other notable ones that could be suggested to me. I have gone through every single one from the database so let me assure you I wasn't trying to make an ignorant post. I have gone through the various faculties and seen their specific scholarships as well.
Once again, my bad mate.
Wasteman reacted to indefatigable in Failed Year Plus Huge Upward Trend
If you want to get a sense of what it would take today, check out the guide (look at GPA, ECs and calculations):
But, the admissions criteria and numbers may increase over the next several years, so just realize this.
Wasteman reacted to username9999 in Success Stories- Non Trad Style!
made a new account for this because I want to keep my personal history pretty personal.
I'm gonna start my non-trad story with I never wanted to go to med school. People ask (based on the undergrad program I was enrolled in and pressured (Asian parents) me to go to med school and I told them to f* off.
Even though I was never intended to go to med school, I couldn't deny that I was interested in physiology of the human body.
I had a rough childhood. My father molested me for almost 10 years and was a gambler who pushed our family to financial ruin. He eventually ended up homeless after my parents divorced. My mother was generally neglectful and tended to focus on herself (in one instance, she won't let me use the only computer we had to finish a school project because she also had a project to work on, then proceeded to wake me up at 2am to tell me that I can do my school work now). All to say, school was the only place I was happy. I lived off the praise of my teachers and the warmth of my friends. My life was school and I didn't see how I could live without it. I also saw it as a way out of my family.
When I entered UG, I did so with a small scholarship due to having good grades in high school. It occurred to me that good grades = money. And obviously money = not homeless. (My parents were not supporting me and for a while, I had to financially support my father.) So I kept my GPA up. I got involved with research mostly because it paid. In hindsight, I could've worked at bars or something and get paid there, but I was still terrified of life outside of school so I kept my employment opportunities within academia. I discovered that I really liked research in second year UG and figured that I'll be doing a PhD after UG and stay in academia for the rest of my life. I buried myself in school, shunning all manner of social life and extracurriculars (save for my research lab).
My UG program was a small honors program within biomedical sciences, where 9 out of 10 people were aiming for med school (you can guess it, I'm the 1 out 10 who wasn't interested in medicine). I used to look at the premeds I was in school with with disdain - thinking they were all running around volunteering, VP something to get an extra line on their CV. In hindsight, I think part of the disdain may have been envy because I didn't have the luxury of volunteering even if I wanted to. I could never take the summer off because I'd have no money for rent. Staying at home with parents was out of the question (one Christmas, my mom and I ate nothing but potato and mayonnaise for the entire two weeks because that's how empty the fridge had become).
I got accepted to a prestigious lab in Europe with a handsome stipend of 27 000 EUR. It was supposed to be a dream come true. Only it wasn't. I moved to Europe only to face culture shock, language shock, and a complete lack of guidance at the lab. I realized I didn't like research as much as I thought. All my previous lab experience involved working with a partner or mentor. In Europe, I was given a bench, a set of pipette and told to just do something. I missed the human contact. I also realized that which I do still like research, I only liked research if I can see how it could be applied to a human problem. I was wholly uninterested in basic research of mechanism and genes. I lasted less than a year, but it was there that I remember thinking for the first time that I might want to go to med school.
I came back to Canada and started a Master's in a different field. A part of me was not ready to accept that the entire life path I had laid out for myself was not meant to be. My master's only proved my initial instinct right. As I came to accept that I will not be happy in research, I started searching frantically for alternatives. There was a lot of soul searching during my two years of my master's. Beyond trying to figure out what I wanted, I started caring more about passing on what I have learned to others when it is of help. I was no longer in "survival" mode. Finances started to get better at the end of my UG with my father being out of the picture after both my mom and I put our feet down and stopped supporting him. I had started dealing with the near decade of molestation that left me unable to form relationships with people. My stipend from Europe left me with a few thousand in savings. I was also getting a livable stipend for my Master's. For once, I could do what I wanted to do rather than what I had to do to keep a roof over my head. I realized that you can't help others until you can help yourself. Until then, I couldn't help others because I myself needed all the help I could provide. I started volunteering with groups that work with disadvantaged populations.
Around this time, I was considering med school more seriously. I started asking friends about the process, but I was still hesitating. I don't think I believed that I could get in. I knew that the odds of acceptance were crazy low and you basically needed a 4.0, a ton of ECs and a stellar MCAT. I had high enough GPA (thank you, fear), but not much for ECs and definitely no MCAT. I was scared of the MCAT because, again, I know that people take months to study and the exam itself was hundreds of dollars. I would not be able to afford writing it multiple times in a year and by the time I decided I was going to apply to med, it was already Aug and I didn't think I had the time to study. The cost of the application still scared me. Oct 1 rolled by and I'd basically convinced myself that next year is when I'd apply. Meanwhile, I was pretty unhappy with my master's. I hated how it was me, at my computer, by myself all the live long day. October 18 was day I broke. I remember that someone told me McGill does not require the MCAT. I went on McGill's admission website and lo and behold, I had 13 days more days before the deadline. 13 days to prepare an app. By then, I was willing to try anything. I pulled my app together. Submitted everything by Oct 28. 6 months later, I got my acceptance and the rest is history.
I didn't want to be a doctor since I was a little girl (in truth, I wanted to be a marine biologist and chase after whales). I didn't fit in premed cookie cutter. I'm still having a hard time finding a social group that I belong. But at least I know I'm in the right place now. After seeing my preceptor helping a family get free infant formula (the mother couldn't produce breast milk), advocating for her patients through divorces and custody battles with abusive ex's I feel like this is a profession where I could do everything I feel is important to do.
Wasteman reacted to johnmccrae in Success Stories- Non Trad Style!
I’ve been following this forum for over a year now and definitely been inspired by reading many of the “non-traditional” success stories that are in this thread. As I recently accepted an offer to McMaster, I wanted to take some time to share my own story with everyone. I apologize in advance for the length of it (this is actually the condensed version, I wrote a longer version for a blog post but it’s not finished yet).
I started becoming interested in health when I was pursuing an UG in biochemistry at uOttawa (graduated back in 2006). During the degree I took up the sport of triathlon and became a bit of a health geek. I also was fortunate to get quite a bit of research experience, including 16 months of co-op, so I decided to do a M.Sc. and moved out west to Vancouver. Ultimately the program was not for me, so I withdrew after about 6 months.
In what was a hasty decision at the time, I entered in the UBC MBA program in Fall 2007. I really had wanted to work in the health industry, but I was mostly focused on triathlon racing at the time and didn’t really put as much into the program as I could have. I completed the degree in December 2008 and decided to look for something completely different to do.
So, in early 2009 I joined the Canadian Forces as an Artillery Officer (how I ended up in that particular job is a long story). I spent a year in Gagetown, NB (near Fredericton) on training and then was posted to Petawawa (west of Ottawa) in 2010. Around the same time I met my wife, and we were married in December 2011.
Army life had its challenges, but I did some really cool training! I called in hundreds of rounds of live artillery and spent many months commanding an armoured vehicle in simulated combat. I had prepared to deploy overseas but it never happened.
By mid-2013, we had our first baby. I was exhausted with the work tempo and wanted to spend more time with my daughter, so I left the full-time military and transferred into the Reserves. I spent the next year as a stay-at-home dad while working some part-time jobs: running my own coaching business part-time, teaching at a local college, and random army work.
It was during this time that I realized that I wanted to get into medicine. I met some fantastic family docs and OB/GYNs during my wife’s pregnancies that encouraged/inspired me, as well as several UG colleagues that were now practicing physicians. I decided to get back into the books and study for the MCAT. I also ended up taking a full-time army contract (in a desk job) for some financial stability as I knew applying to medical school wasn’t going to be cheap!
I applied for the first time this cycle and was extremely excited to accept an offer for McMaster. Looking forward to starting this fall as a 34 year old father of 1 and 3 year old girls!!
Wasteman got a reaction from johnmccrae in How To Tell Your Employer You Will Be Quitting Your Job For Med School?
I honestly day-dream about the day I get my acceptance letter and how I will leave. It is one of the main reasons why I'm just putting my head down. I really hope that I don't mature enough to be above gloating. The day I get my acceptance letter is going to be a bad day for many people.
I'm only starting my undergrad in September, but if I can say one thing, it is this: working in the real world with no post secondary education, and coming from an immigrant family with no connections, I am going to work my fingers to the bone to ensure that I never have to work another blue collar, near minimum wage job again.
Wasteman reacted to Edict in Will Donald Trump Be The Next President?
I just find it so hard to believe he'll win... but he just might... I always up until this point thought that the number of people who don't like Trump is greater than 50% and so once the establishment weeds itself down to one candidate, Trump will lose.
Trump is just selling an outlet for rage and a dream, his way of rallying the people is not too dissimilar from how Hitler rallied people for his own election. Not saying Trump is going to do what Hitler did post election but Trump is just appealing to popular anger.
I have serious, serious doubts that Trump will ever be president however. The number of people who would never vote for Trump is much greater than the people that would vote for Trump and a Trump republican nomination will most likely cause independents and democrats to rally behind the democratic nominee.
Wasteman reacted to Cyclosarin in Caribean Medical Schools
My thinking is this. If you're willing and capable of working hard enough abroad to secure a residency, why wouldn't you put in some of that effort at home and secure a medical school position? It's certainly cheaper to get a second degree and/or rewrite the MCAT multiple times then it's to pay tuition in the Caribbean.