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Ray_Cat_92

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  1. I was accepted to Calgary; overall very happy with that outcome After attending a number of information sessions at the school, I really like the philosophy and attitude of U of C med.
  2. Hi everyone, I have never posted on hear before, but was inspired and heartened by many of the stories that I read. I found it immensely helpful, in times of anxiety and doubt (and there were many such times!), to be reminded of the fact that many people who come from non-traditional backgrounds are able to gain acceptance to medical school. That is why I would like to share my story, so that I can give other non-trads even more evidence that it is possible. I did my undergrad in Community Design (Urbanism) and Sustainability. While I enjoyed the degree, I never felt super committed to it. Coming out of high school, I had enjoyed a variety of subjects (sciences, arts, etc), and (like many people) was unsure what I wanted to do in the future. I had had (and still do) an enduring interest in environmental sustainability, which is how I landed in that particular undergraduate. Yet, I could never really picture what a career in that field would look like for me. In my third year I experienced some significant health problems, and ended up in a close and sustained interaction with the medical system. This was the turning point for me. I had some great doctors/nurses, but I also had some very negative experiences which left me feeling powerless and frustrated as a patient. It was from this mixture of good and bad that my interest in medicine, and how it is currently conducted in Canada, was sparked. The thought of completely changing tracks at this point, and to a something that was so competitive and for which I was completely unprepared (not having taken a science course for five years), seemed almost impossible. I sat on this slowly emerging idea for the next year, as I finished up my degree, and it began to solidify into a more concrete vision. After graduation, I took a gap year, and gave myself some time to form a plan of action. After my gap year, I went back to school for three semesters (a year and a half), this time as a Biological Sciences major. I only took three courses per semester (I had the requisite number of years of full time course-load from my first degree that most med schools require), and spent the remainder of my time volunteering (which was one of my weaker areas). I was fortunate enough to be able to move back in with my parents, so I was able to minimize my expenses. My goal in taking these three semesters of science was to: 1) gain some science knowledge, so as to make studying for the MCAT less hellish; and 2) demonstrate to a medical school admissions committee that I was truly committed to changing my career path (this was advice I had gotten from someone who had been involved with medical school admissions at one of the universities, but I don't think that this is essential, as there are certainly non-trads who get accepted without resorting to this path). I was planning on applying widely to med schools across Canada, so I also took two English courses during this time, so that I would fulfill the UBC requirement. The summer after my first year of sciences (two semesters in), I wrote the MCAT for the first time, but only studied for CARS. Calgary and Mac largely only look at this section, and I figured that it would be nice to at least get the ball rolling on applications. My score for this MCAT was 504, so not stellar overall, but CARS was satisfactory at 129. I planned to rewrite (and fully study for all sections) the following summer. After finishing my third semester of sciences, I planned to take 6 months and study for the MCAT for my second go at it, while simultaneously taking an online Biochem course through U of Toronto, mainly so that I would have the necessary four life sciences courses required to apply to U of T med. It was at the beginning of this that I received an invitation for an interview for one of the medical schools that I had applied to, and ultimately ended up getting accepted for a 2018 start (dodged that second go at the MCAT, thankfully). While it can be such a slog as a non-trad, I do think that it can also be strength. Having diverse experiences (ex. I was a wildland firefight for three summers) and an uncommon (for medicine) degree can really make your application stand out. Being able to look at the world form a different perspective can also be an asset as a doctor, and help you connect to patients/people in a really different way then just the standard pre-med experience might equip you to do. Especially with schools like Mac and Calgary, I think that that is very helpful if you can let it shine through in your application/interview. Of course, I have not idea why I really got in; this opinion is merely based on talking with people in preparation for my applications, and now starting to hear the stories of my future classmates (incidentally, there are quite a few "non-trads" in the incoming class). I know that I haven't had to overcome as many challenges as others (for example: I had a good GPA coming out of my first degree; I was fortunate to not have to juggle work, volunteering, and school simultaneously; I had a supportive family), but I hope that my experience can still be of use to others. Best of luck to everyone!
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