elephante reacted to cleanup in If you were raised with the notion that drinking in a sin, should you drink when out with friends?
There's a real difference between 'drinking' and enjoying alcohol. My partying days are long, long behind me (I started clubbing at the age of 15 since I lived overseas). But at the time it was fun, I treated it for what it was, a time to escape, have fun with friends in a common context.
Don't write it off though, and certainly don't judge others for enjoying it more than you do. There's no need to impose your own values/principles on others.
Getting into wine and beer and cocktails in an enthusiast sort of way as you get older is just like enjoying good food and coffee, though. I used to think of alcohol as just that, a drug, but I actually give a shit about having a good drink now. High-end cocktail bars are amazing, finding wines that punch above their weight class is fun, and I'm always down for a brewery tour or wine tour.
elephante reacted to rmorelan in How true would you say this article is?
ha - I mean to start with consider the source - an organization whose entire business model is threatened by easy access to information thinks access to a form like this is a bad thing.
It would be insanely unproductive to use this forum to prevent people from applying by spreading false information. For one thing most errors would be collectively caught rather quickly, and almost every premed is paranoid enough to verify things independently etc. There are a ton of people that already got into medical school more than happy to tell you what you actually need so lying and saying you need to be a super star would have limited utility. Push it too far and be outright destructive and you would be banned. Imagine how much time you could waste doing that - and for what - congrats there are thousands of applicants and instead of building up your ECs or improving your GPA you just wasted all this time trying to stop a handful from applying.
Good luck tracing anything back to an applicant - that is extremely hard to do. We are also pretty good at destroying fake accounts designed to advertise other premed companies - if anything we are biased quite a bit against such companies. One of the reasons I stayed with the forum was to push back - to make it so you DIDN'T need to spend all this money to another company just to get the right information - money which many people don't have to spend.
They talk about knowledge vs wisdom on that site - well some of us have been on the site a very long time - very likely much much longer than anyone trying to help you at that company. That experience has helped quite a few people. There are a ton of points of view on this site - I honestly find most companies that service premed far more "hive mind" like than we are. Is the forum enough to solve all your information needs - no, you need to do your own homework as well, but it still is I think a robust knowledge source.
"Most alarming is that even some (but not all) of the moderators use unprofessional and hostile language towards others, and get into frequent bickering matches in an attempt to prove their 'expertise' and superiority, which brings their qualifications as mentors and role models of professionalism into question and the forum moderators are anonymous and even the site owner and administrator claims he doesn't know who they are so it is quite possible that the 'expert' moderators might not even be medical students or residents. "
really? we do? I am the closest thing the site has to an active administrator and we vet all the moderators quite closely actually. Of course Dr. Wong doesn't know every moderators personally (he is a busy staff radiologist), but that is like saying a CEO of a company doesn't know all managers either like it is a bad thing. The moderators are much closer to the ground ha. Hopefully if people think the moderators are well as abusive as that quote states someone would bring it up and we would face it.
elephante got a reaction from amt6500 in Today is the day... NTP is officially closed. No movement :(
Got my rejection from NTP waitlist last night also. I was so close (top 5), but like you said no movement this year. Or ever again.
elephante reacted to amt6500 in Today is the day... NTP is officially closed. No movement :(
No movement this cycle on NTP. A sad story for those who were on the waitlist, including myself.
Thanks for all the positive topics and information. Time to prepare for next cycle.
elephante reacted to shematoma in Is 38 Too Late ?
The problem is, and I speak from firsthand experience, that when you're afflicted with itch to go down the MD route, it's in the back of your mind all the time. In the morning when you shower, at night when you're trying to sleep. And then you're constantly wondering, should I be signing up for courses this fall, getting started on MCAT prep, registering for the September MCAT so I can apply this cycle, etc. etc. Meanwhile, I am not getting younger, and since medical school starts only once a year, even small delays in getting certain balls rolling could mean medical school is kicked back another year and every cohort is only getting more competitive. It's hard to get on with life. At least that was my experience. I don't envy anyone in my or OP's shoes.
elephante reacted to MathToMed in Success Stories- Non Trad Style!
I was debating for a long time now regarding whether or not to post here...sadly my dream of becoming a physician has not, and will not ever be realized. However I would still like to share my story, which I will reluctantly call a success story (though really, only time will tell). It's going to be long (as an after note: It took me about 2.5 hours to type), and I apologize in advance. I don't mean to be presumptuous here and assume that anyone really cares about my story, but I am thinking of writing an autobiography as it would likely be fairly entertaining.
Early life, leading to why I want(ed) to be a physician
I was born to a poor family - we're talking the kind you'd see on TV shows poking fun at poor families. The kind with kids that would wear dirty clothes with those little animated stink lines coming off of them (indeed, clothes were a luxury). My parents tried their best... my mother was incapable of working, and my father worked those insecure, dangerous jobs to support us, though those never seemed to last. He'd try to balance his time between shift-work and helping to enrich the lives of his kids, particularly academically. See he didn't have the opportunities I've had - he started a university degree but was unable to complete it as he couldn't pay his tuition. Despite this, he was brilliant and resourceful, he read many books that he'd pick up for free here and there (math, science and history books mostly) and would pass his knowledge on.
I had a knack for it - I learned mathematics very quickly and early (it would be no exaggeration to say I was doing calculus, and understanding it, in grade 3) thanks to his guidance and it ultimately shaped the rest of my life, as well as my academic interests. I was a straight A student who had the talent, and the brains to know that I needed to work hard. I had many things in childhood that I would say make me quite privileged, a father who gave me the time of day, and a traditional family that treasured the concept of a tight-knit family. "We don't need money to be happy" my mother would always say.
As some of you may attest to, able-bodied people never really notice say, handicap parking spaces, or ramps/elevators until you either have a disabled friend/family member, or break your leg and have to use an assistive device. That being said, life is immensely difficult for the unwealthy, and you could never really understand the stigma unless you've been forced to live it. Statistically speaking, someone in my family should be an alcoholic (just based on numerical data) and granted, if we had the money to spend on it, at least one of us probably would have been. True or not, I was certainly treated as a drug abuser/alcoholic/future criminal by many I interacted with, other students, even many of my elementary school teachers (one of whom likely made the observation, and then gossiped to the rest).
A turning point came in grade 6, I took it very personally when I wasn't selected for an academic award in math. I don't think I can accurately portray why this bothered me so much (perhaps it's even one of those irrational "kid things") despite having aced the EQAO (literally, my principal called my parents in to congratulate me) and placing 1st in the province in a UWaterloo math contest for grade 9s. To this day I don't know what basis I wasn't selected on, but the thing that immediately sprung to mind back then, and I have yet to shake from my mind, was prejudice. I felt discriminated against despite all of my hard work, and the only reason I could think of for being discriminated against, was being poor.
So naturally, I "rebelled" against the school, and my parents who were upset with me for not being picked (and had somehow assumed I was being lazy, and took the teachers' side...man, don't you wish parents still had teachers' backs? Haha), naturally my marks dropped like a rock. If I'm not going to be appreciated/acknowledged for my effort, why put the effort in? If I wouldn't be able to afford going to university and getting a good job anyway, why should I bother? From Grade 6-10 my marks went from high 90s to low 70s and even 60s...kind of wish I could go back and time and slap myself, but don't we all.
In grade 11, the kindness and support from one teacher helped me turn things around - I was in desperate need of corrective lenses (for probably about 10 years by that point) and simply couldn't afford it...so my teacher advocated to the school admin, who wrote me a cheque and told me to go get an eye exam done and buy some glasses. I was moved by this gesture, here was someone who not only didn't see me as "that smelly kid who's going to end up a criminal" and instead felt compassion. As you'd expect, I began to try once more and my marks immediately jumped back up into the 90s. In grade 12 I had that game-changer moment - I realized I could go to university, a thought which had never occurred to me. To get into the program I wanted, it required I do a "victory lap" year (as I hadn't taken enough science up to that point) to fill in the last science.
The real game-changer - why medicine?
About a month before beginning my victory lap year of high school, my dad woke me up one morning at about 6am saying his chest hurt and that he wanted to sleep on my bed as it was more comfortable. I went and slept on the couch without giving it another thought, he was perfectly fine after all. A few hours later when I woke up again he was insisting he needed to go to the hospital. My mom didn't take him seriously and kind of rolled her eyes at him, and so she sent me with him to the ER. We had to take the bus as we had no vehicle. Upon arriving at the ER, we found out my father's health card was expired by about 5 months or so, and were given a sheet outlining the various medical costs we'd incur. Naturally being unable to afford any of it, we immediately went downtown to get his card renewed. We had just done so and were on our way out of the building when he collapsed from a heart attack on the elevator down. The paramedics arrived after what felt like an eternity (it always does, doesn't it?) and pronounced him dead on arrival. I was dumbfounded, he had no family history, no prior episodes, and seemed perfectly fine even the day before. He was also in his 40s...his only real risk factor that I'm aware of was, you guessed it, being poor.
This instilled in me a burning hatrid/fear of both, elevators, and the current medical system. I had vowed to do everything I can to become a doctor so I could do my part in preventing tragedies like this.
As if coping with the loss wasn't bad enough, there went our family's sole financial provider (my mother is disabled). Despite this I finished up my final year of high school while battling what I can only assume was undiagnosed depression, using studying as a coping mechanism. I memorized my biology textbook front to back (even the obscure vitamins/minerals in table form) as I'd read it for about 7 hours a day while remaining focused on that goal. Thankfully I applied to university and was accepted to every program I'd applied to, and some even had a fairly respectable entrance scholarship. I chose a Kinesiology program that was local as I wanted to cut down on costs.
Things did not look up for long however and eventually the OSAP/scholarship funds dwindled. By December of my first year, we were unable to pay rent and by February, we were evicted, with nowhere to stay and little money to feed ourselves with. We were homeless. Being the eldest male I took it upon myself to try and find work, so I wound up finding a job at a steel refinery, drilling holes into locomotive parts. Unfortunately I could not keep up and had to make a difficult choice - should I give up university to go work full time in the steel mill to feed my family?
I decided not to, after consulting my family...they didn't want me to drop out like my father did, and instead I looked to tutoring. I applied for, and was offered a TA job and also began tutoring local students in first year calculus. However I was so desperate that I did not charge a competitive rate - I sat in the math building of my alma mater with a sign that read "Need help, will tutor (math course codes) for food :(" hoping for passers by to take me up on my offer...and they did. I thought it was smart to sit beside the cafe/deli so people could just buy a sandwich and give it to me in exchange for an hour of calculus help.
Unfortunately, some people are inhumane and would call security on me, so I had to convince my university that I had extreme financial need. They offered me a bursary, allowed me to continue tutoring but asked me not to hold up the sign as that "detracted from the university environment" whatever that meant. So we compromised, I sat near a blackboard with "Calculus Help! Will take a sandwich :)" written on it. The university accepted this, as it made it appear more like a school function, and didn't look "quite so homeless." I would now find that a bit insulting, but I was thankful for anything I could get.
It was at this point that I abandoned my hopes of becoming a physician. My colleagues were all gearing up to take the MCAT that summer with their fancy prep courses and books, and here I was struggling to feed myself and clean my clothes. I was crushed, but kept telling myself "People like me don't become doctors." It helped a bit...
That continued for about a month... and thankfully I saved up enough to pay off the landlord and move into a new place. But it didn't last... I'll never forget that sinking feeling, that defeated feeling in my heart when I realized it was almost exam time. You might think I was worried about my own exams, given I had very little time or motivation to study, but that had nothing to do with it. That meant the semester would break for the summer which meant two things - First, my TA work would be over, and secondly, the demand for tutoring would drop...both of which supported us for the time being. I was utterly heartbroken, and terrified.
But a miracle happened - my mom came into some money from the government which provided enough to pay rent and utilities. We were set, and I had a place to live...the ordeal was over!
I finished my first year with a 3.0 GPA...a proverbial premed hole that, to this day, I've been unable to climb out of.
The rest of my B.Sc. - an important switch
Years 2-4 were relatively uneventful with only mild crises occurring. Unfortunately in nearly every one of those years, I had to drop a course due to some pressing financial need (ie. in second year I dropped a course because my mom needed some medication, and I got about a $400 refund on the course). I had a strong upward trend, 3.7 in both my 2nd and 3rd years. At this point I decided that I had virtually no chance at getting into medical school (rightfully so from the looks of it), so I began looking for other options.
I had met my better half during those years as well, whose moral support has almost certainly kept me from suicide. She was a math major and one year my senior (due to that victory lap year)... despite having had a real knack for math, I hadn't taken any of it at university besides elementary calculus. I got numerous course waivers to take some upper year math courses with her and developed my love affair with math even further - it didn't matter that I'd skipped about six courses, when I took that advanced course in topology I killed it and loved it...so I switched to math in my final year, overloaded with 12 3rd and 4th year math courses (to meet the minimum number of credits needed to graduate) and nailed it, with a 3.9 that year. Unfortunately even that is kind of "meh" by premed standards.
What comes next? More education of course
Those particular courses, so-called "Pure" math (or "theoretical math" to the layman) take a special kind of person to take. That paired with the fact that I was attending a university with a fairly small math program, implied that my upper level courses rarely had more then about 5 people in them. I was the star of those courses once again, just like in elementary school, and so I stood out amongst my peers, and was coerced into applying for a masters degree in the field. "People like me can get masters degrees?" Keep in mind, no one in my family has ever completed university before...and now I was considering doing a Masters? Was I crazy? Could I even manage it?
What followed were easily the best two years of my life. I received some funding which helped immensely and I had a brilliant supervisor who taught me so much about life, reality and how to live. I specialized in a niche-field of mathematics known as knot theory (quite literally - using complicated math ideas to explain/differentiate between different knots). I began reading all about DNA and how the "Unknotting number (a mumbo-jumbo math idea)" is a quantity that was preserved via gel electrophoresis, and that charge/mass/other obvious things didn't explain it as well as this crazy math idea. I began writing a book on the subject as part of my dissertation, stumbled upon a cool new field that just came into existence ("Virtual" knot theory) and began corresponding with professors in Japan, where the field was in its infancy. Imagine having to look up articles in your field, then using google translate on them because the only ones in existence were Japanese! I taught my supervisor about it, and the field has since grown in the western world, and I played a part in it which I'm rather proud of. I wrote the first english textbook on the subject, and in the process, proved a really cool theorem that I accidentally stumbled upon...this constituted my research thesis.
Unfortunately I had a falling out with one professor in my department who, sadly, was an expert in a related field whose support I really needed to pursue doctoral studies. I did not feel like fighting it and got depressed once again, feeling as though my life was a big joke. "People like me don't become doctors" I was still telling myself, only this time I meant it as a "PhD" kind of doctor. Searching for a new path was when I re-realized my dream to be a physician. Unfortunately, I was as non-traditional as they came - no pre-requisites, no MCAT, no hospital involvement, and no "premed-y" stuff at all. I used some of my grant money to write the MCAT for the first time, but unfortunately I scored rather mediocrely so I chose, like a broken record, not to pursue medicine. "People like me don't become doctors." Instead I applied to teacher's college and was accepted.
Teacher's Ed was fairly uneventful for me, but sadly the Ontario Government imposed new regulations on hiring practices for teachers...as I was finishing up teachers college. It now takes on average 6 years for a teacher (once they become a supply teacher) to become a full time teacher. Naturally, despite having done everything right IMHO, I just couldn't land that coveted supply teacher job...for 3 years (and counting) so I can't even start the counter on those 6 years, and they only open the supply list once per year (it's a lot like med apps, haha). If it's going to take me at least 6 years to become a teacher, why wouldn't I pursue med school? I'd have to be an idiot not to try, right?
So there I was - three degrees, a lot of education-related debt, and not really employable...so I went full force into two things - tutoring math and science (which I had done all along, and now command a rather respectable hourly rate with all of my credentials), and obsessing over this idea of becoming a physician.
Fixing myself for the adcoms
I applied for the first cycle after finishing my B.Ed. (2013-2014) to the only schools I satisfied the requirements for (I still don't have those pesky orgo pre-reqs) - Queens, Mac and UofT. I told myself "If I can land that interview, I know I can nail it...I have so much I can talk about! But I don't look very good on paper, I realize that, so I may never get the chance. If I get an interview, I will reapply, if not, I won't." Queens and Mac rejected me early in the process, but UofT held onto me until the last interview spots were filled. It was utter agony to be kept waiting that long! But it gave me renewed confidence - UofT was interested, maybe with a different applicant pool, or slightly improved stats, I could get an interview spot! It was around this time that I joined PM101.
So I had a renewed passion, I was surrounded by colleagues in similar, or even worse situations, who were all supporting each other and pulling toward that same goal. In no small way, has this forum and its kind people impacted my journey and for that I'm thankful. I began to study incredibly hard for an MCAT re-write, saved up money and got some help from my mother in law to pay for books and AAMC Practice Tests, and OMSAS fees, so I was off to the races. By the end, my score was in the high 30s! I was pumped, wrote the test...and scored significantly lower on test day, but still had a respectable 12/10/11.
I began volunteering like crazy too, at a hospital notably (as I had no prior clinical experience) and with the elderly, particularly with dementia patients and those with special needs/mental disabilities. A truly humbling experience, but it wasn't always rewarding as it can be extremely difficult. Regardless I did what any premed would do - I manned up and did it, and I tried my best. Over the past few years (beginning before teachers college) I also helped pilot a youth centre for underprivileged kids where I taught them math and breakdancing and tied them together. It was tremendously successful, and I began managing the finances over this past year. Unfortunately, it's a non-profit so this didn't provide me with any income!
Unfortunately because of all of this investing of time and money into med apps, my very carefully budgeted/balanced finances for myself and my family didn't really hold up. My family began to have problems paying their bills as I couldn't siphon money their way, and there have been several close calls that could have resulted in a similar ordeal to that dark time during my undergrad. I felt (and still feel) horribly selfish for pursuing my dreams against all odds this past while.
Another Dark Period
In January of this year, I received a rejection from Mac and Queens. Queens disappointed me tremendously and infuriated me. I was finally over their cutoffs, it was supposed to come down to extracurriculars, and wow what a story I've got! This was my year... but sadly, it wasn't so. I harboured an incredible amount of resentment - why have I been wasting my time and energy? Why has my hard work never been beneficial? Why does everything I touch seem to turn to crap? I've wasted the past x years of my life....etc.
It was so difficult to keep the feelings inside, to feel like all I've done in my life is give to others and try my best, only to have life and the people in it give nothing in return. It felt so right, that I'd make a career out of helping others because it was what came so naturally to me... I was furious and not myself for several days, to the point where some of my loved ones were crying, intervention-style, telling me they didn't want me to become some broken person...and I finally had access to something I hadn't had previously, which concerned them: alcohol.
Before things got too dire I snapped out of it, thanks to my better half. If I didn't have enough moral support, I may have ended my life right then and there. All I could see were rejection letters, financial difficulties, and biological clocks spinning out of control...I needed my way out.
My Success? It's all in how you look at it
I began to look into alternatives at this point, including other programs, or jobs I could do with my current education level. I stumbled upon a few that clicked with me, ranging from chiropractic to mathematical finance, to computer science, to a doctorate in theoretical physics of all things. I applied, and naturally, got into all of them (except for some I'm still waiting on). I realized at this point that even though I'm not meant to be a doctor, I've still overcome tremendous odds and will continue to overcome these odds. I'm still a pretty darn smart guy, and I've done really well for myself.
I had an interview for a particularly competitive program (but one more up my alley in terms of being math-y), where the interviewer wound up boasting about why I was great, instead of the other way around. It was ridiculous, all these things that adcoms didn't think were enough impressed nearly everyone else in every other walk of life. I was accepted, nearly instantly, to a highly competitive professional masters program (they only accept 6 students, 1 guaranteed from Canada, 5 more international, and it's the only such program in Canada) which promises a really good salary at the end of the day. Best of all, it's employable - it takes very specialized math skills so they can't train very many people at a time. Apparently, I have a skill set which clearly the med adcoms do not value, but which made me a perfect match for this career.
So I had to make the judgement call - turn down my offers and try for medicine again (and risk having my family become homeless again during the next year or two), or accept...I'd be foolish not to. Sure it's boring and not my passion, but I will gladly take this offer. The program is expensive so I'm currently in the process of procuring a loan with some difficulty due to my "shady financial history" (ie. I was born into the wrong family).
With this, I slowly but surely, gave up the fantasy of becoming a physician. "People like me don't become doctors" is something I'll be telling myself for a long time now...but with each passing day, I can finally feel that resentment slipping away. If adcoms don't want me, then it's their loss...not mine. It's time to build my new life and say good bye to my old one.
And right on schedule, a few days ago, UofT sent me my final rejection. Ironically, despite devoting all that time and energy to bettering myself, I did worse this year. I was not interview wait-listed, which means I have no idea how far into the process I got.
The conclusion - my new dream, the moral of the story, and farewell
"People like me don't become doctors....they become good people and good parents."
My new dream is not to be a doctor, but instead to provide my family and children with the ability to follow their dreams unhindered...and I will do this even if it means sacrificing my own personal desire to be a physician. This is a dream that I can finally see come to pass.
Don't be fooled, not even for a second - if you're here reading this, you are destined for greatness. You're the cream of the crop, even if medicine doesn't work out... even if life hasn't been kind to you... I promise you. Things will improve.
elephante reacted to Borborygmi in Apprehensions About Starting Med
There are many thoughtful posts in this thread. I really appreciate you laying your thoughts and feelings out for everyone here to see, radames. I think one of the biggest strings of thought in this thread is that you're not alone. Many of us are experiencing similar apprehensions and I think it's quite common for people in medical school and others who are well into practicing to consider if medicine is the right fit for them. Inevitably, I think this happens in any career path--and I'm an example of someone who has spent many years in one career, considered what it means to be doing it on a daily basis, and realizing what I was doing was not the right direction for me. It shows maturity and awareness of self that you're able to consider what you are considering right now and I think that it's natural to have apprehension about what is going to become real for you pretty soon. What nobody else can answer is whether you really want to take that leap.
I know a number of people with similar backgrounds as yours who have gone through medical school to become excellent physicians: An opera singer, an artist, a writer, and a philosopher to name a few. One of the things that makes them such excellent physicians is their ability to relate to people through experiences that many others who are pursuing or practicing medicine don't have. This is why diversity in medicine is important. You offer an interesting perspective and different journey than many other people and I think that's something to be embraced.
I'm an older applicant--mid-30's--and I come from an art direction background before pursuing a career change for medical school. I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to go down this path and I'm very excited about the possibilities that have opened up before me. But I also feel a lot of apprehension, sometimes panic, about the first day of classes coming closer. The biggest surprise for me happened the day of my acceptance and is still something I'm very conscious of daily since (I was shocked that I didn't consider it more carefully beforehand). On the day of my acceptance, I was walking down the street after work just beaming. I happened to look up at a group of people standing on the corner, waiting to cross the street. This wave of panic washed over me in that moment when I considered that at some point in time, I could be responsible for someone's life... how that would impact them, their family member's, and loved ones... etc., and I wondered in that moment if I was capable of doing that work. It's such an enormous responsibility that I hadn't so clearly considered until that moment. I'm glad I feel that because I think it's grounding. I hope one day the thoughts you're having help you to feel grounded as well.
elephante 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 $100k? If so, you need to realize that you're somewhat privileged. You may not notice because all the kids in your school are likewise rich, another aspect of your privilege. YOU need to see what school is like in downtown Toronto. My high school produces about one med student per year. I hear many of the suburbian high school product 10s of med students per year. Are downtown kids just dumb?
I think this article is worth a read:http://www.universityaffairs.ca/features/feature-article/medical-school-admissions-process-skewed/
elephante reacted to momMD2B in Is There Hope At Age 30? Starting Over From Scratch
I started my undergrad in my 30s, with four kids. Years ago I had completed a college degree with marks I am ashamed of. I had many, many people tell me not to return to school full-time, as I had a business and career. But my passion had always been medicine. I just needed the undergrad degree first. Which I did, and managed to do exceptionally well, while still running my business, raising the kids and overcoming a difficult health concern. My unwavering desire to go into medicine kept me motivated through many hardships. I've applied over the past three years, with many of the 'uphill battle' warnings from friends and family members, telling me I should give up. After three application cycles, I received three offers of admissions this year. And incredible dream come true. You can do this.
elephante reacted to HoopDreams in Is There Hope At Age 30? Starting Over From Scratch
I am really sorry to jump in on this one but I would personally not listen to goleafsgochris's advice.
His or her personal disappointment in having spent a decade in something he/she does not enjoy is a sad thing.
Maybe that person is not totally aware of the fact that in 99% of the jobs, you have a boss and are told what to do.
The other thing I would like to add is that once you start residency, you will have a salary in the 50-60K$.
That is basically the starting salary of high income jobs for any university graduate.
His or her case might be personal and I am sure that person wanted to give you a reality check.
I am usually the most realistic / pessimistic person on the planet but sometimes you have to listen to the voice inside.
Here is the question that I would ask you :
What have you done that was so extraordinary in the last 10 years ?
The reason why I am asking this question is because, being a non-trad myself, I find it absolutely irrelevant to talk about age and that 'spending 10 years' issue.
The 10 years will pass by, no matter if you pursue your dream or not.
In 10 years, you will be 40 no matter if you get in or not.
I believe that no matter what happens, this process will make you better.
And what's the worse thing that can happen?
Well you can plan on being a nurse, a physio, a pharmacist, etc.
It wouldn't be your 1st choice but it's close to the field that you like and it is surely better than what you are currently doing.
Just follow your guts.
elephante reacted to thethirdlaw in Ever Feel Like Med School Is A Big Rich Kids Club?
Given the contemporary paradigm shifts, your idea isn't going to sell well, the culture of medicine is working towards valuing patient preference and experience, which is intimately tied with the therapeutic alliance and building a rapport (increases compliance, motivates patients etc.). Besides, the marginal benefit of a candidate slightly more "qualified" (by what metric? a voluntourism stint in Africa?) is absolutely minimal at best. I'd argue that, on average, the patient benefit provided by the first choice medical school applicant vs. the last one to get in off the wait list is absolutely negligible. Meritocracy provides very little added benefit in such an oversaturated and competitive market for medical students, schools DO have the luxury of choice without costs to quality.
We should have a mandate in place to have a physician workforce that reflects the values, experiences, and cultures of the patients we treat. Because trust me, the people I grew up around don't care about the mark their physician got in histology lab, they care about whether they understand that when they leave the office they can't pay for the prescription or that they have to go home and live in conditions that make it impossible for them to be proactive about their health. And I can guarantee you that if you measured the benefit of shared/similar experiences on patient satisfaction, you'd see it. There's a lot of work going into patient preference and selection effects, it's sometimes just as important as the treatment effect.
elephante reacted to _ _ in Ever Feel Like Med School Is A Big Rich Kids Club?
If you had seen enough of the issues that low SES people deal with, I'm guessing you wouldn't disagree.
Wealthy people are, despite maybe a higher VR or CARS score, or maybe a 0.1 higher GPA, very often totally unaware of most of the issues facing low SES families. Not only are they often unaware, in my experience with these students, they often *deny* the existence of these issues-because it's so very far from their own lives they can't imagine it in Canada today.
For example, I bet many of my peers would be shocked to know I skipped 3 weeks of a prescription medication in September when I submitted my OMSAS application. The 90$ that I still needed to pay wasn't there until my next paycheck. Maybe, if my doctor had asked about my situation, or I felt comfortable explaining I was short on cash, we could have found a cheaper alternative.
And that's just one tiny, insignificant example. I am by far more privileged than many Canadians, so I know I am unaware of the issues facing many of them. That's why we **need** to ensure people from all walks of life enter medicine. SES diversity is no less important than any other kind of diversity.
elephante reacted to ralk in Ontario to fund new residency spots with return of service requirements
If all the government does with NPs is to have more of them help academic FHTs and work in underserviced areas, I'd call that a solid win. In academic FHTs they provide continuity residents simply can't (and can be decent sources of learning for those residents too). Underserviced communities need any providers they can get and while it would be ideal if FPs stepped into that void, we haven't, and neither physician groups nor governments have come up with reliable methods to get adequate FPs to those locations long-term, especially not without significant cash incentives.
I agree about midwives, but that's also a bit of a complicated situation. Midwifery, as a concept, I think makes a lot of sense. Low-risk OB is rather simple, and have dedicated providers (rather than, say, FPs doing OB only as an adjunct to their main office-based practice) has logistical and safety advantages that are hard to ignore. Some countries, like the UK, use midwives as a mainstay of obstetrical care and their outcomes are quite good. The problem in Canada is the midwifery standards are far too low, and midwives as a whole have bought into too many non-evidence-based practices like home delivery. They're very slowly moving in the right direction, but don't have the training or skills yet to do so effectively, resulting in high rates of transfers to OBs. Better than the alternative of hanging onto patients they shouldn't, but not an efficient or effective system in the slightest.
When it comes to public perceptions of physicians, we are definitely losing ground, but as I've said on this forum many times in the past, we have only ourselves to blame. A big part of that is our profession's collective over-estimation of its own importance and capabilities. It's a strain of arrogance that every patient has seen from a physician. That's why we're not going to get anywhere in improving our public standing by going after other health care professionals, especially NPs who are essentially filling gaps in our own coverage. Doing so only reinforces the perception of physician egotism.
elephante got a reaction from Premed_Girl in Lines of Credit for Medical Students (Scotia is the best option)
You’re eligible for the 300$ and the Amex points (I got both and all I have with Scotia is the special student account).
elephante reacted to polarbear123 in Success Stories- Non Trad Style!
After having been a loooooooooong time lurker, I finally get to put my post here, in the non-trad success stories, a thread I have been reading since 2010-2011.
I would say I am about as non-traditional as it gets. In the socio-economic gradient I come from, higher education is not really a thing. Most people graduate from high school, maybe do some college, and get comfortable in a middle class job until retirement. Which there is nothing wrong with. Unless, of course, you are me, graduating from high school many many years ago, and dreaming about medicine. The thing with coming from this kind of background is that there is no cultural capital to support you through learning the ropes of higher education. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, is that this “vertical transmission” of knowledge is implicit in many (most?) premed students, who have usually had the (implicit) knowledge that after high school, you go to you university, get good grades, make connections with professors and mentors who can support you. Obvious, right? Not for me, it wasn’t. I knew I wanted medicine, I knew it was my calling. But I didn’t know how to get there, and without the support of anyone, at 19, it was difficult to know how to do this. Here’s a quote from the high school career counsellor when I told her I wanted to go into medicine: “Mmmmm… I don’t know… why don’t you become an elementary school teacher instead?”. So I believed them. I believed those who said I could not make it, and after high school, I took a different path in another field.
My career in this other field was successful in many ways: I have gained a profound emotional intelligence, I have learned to overcome obstacles, get back up and keep going when you hit a wall, I have learned to connect with people in a way that builds quality long lasting relationships and memorable short encounters. But this path ran its course, and it’s at 29 years old that I realized that it was time. I was yearning to be a doctor. But what were the odds? Here I was, low-income, with no degree, at an age where most people are graduating with a MD. But I had suppressed the part of me who wanted to go into medicine for long enough, and now it had resurfaced in a way I couldn’t ignore. So I started a degree from scratch. I had all the doubts in the world, but I had to at least try.
I did well in my degree. Actually, I did well in the last few years of my degree. The return-to-school after a decade of using your right brain (my past career required a lot of creativity) and letting your left brain shrivel did no good for my first and to some extent second year grades. I was seeing the dream fade away. So I put my head down, and studied. Hard. I lost all my friends because I missed all their birthdays/baby showers/stags. But “I had a dream”, as they say. And I had to gamble it all, live in poverty while my peers were getting mortgages, lose all my friends, just in case it was worth it. Just in case I could get into medicine. And in 2012, after all these years of hard work, I was ready. I applied to medical school, hopeful and confident. And I failed to even get an interview. It was crushing.
What med students and posters on this forum tell you when you don’t get in is to live your life as fully as you can, and do something that you find interesting. And I did. I completed a Master’s in a topic I loved (medicine-related), and found a job I thought would be great. And then another job, because the first one wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. And then another one. The problem was that all these jobs really felt, and were, like plan B, and medicine kept gnawing at me. I was in my early thirties by then, I had met someone, and I felt the societal pressure of it was time to get a job and get on with it. But you know what? Deep down, I knew that if I wouldn’t give it one more try, I would always wonder “what if”. My MCAT was still eligible for one more year, so I applied. And got rejected pre-interview. So I studied the MCAT again (while working full time), and I did well enough (not awesome but not awful) that I could apply again. And I did. And finally, finally, after 4 application cycles, got an interview. This was the most exciting news of my life. I prepared, read, practiced, bought new clothes. But mid-May came, and with it, my rejection post-interview. Damn. What a blow. And I am not getting any younger here.
So the next application cycle (my fifth), I applied across Canada, and received 3 interviews. Mid-May came around, and this time I had a rejection from my home school (again), a waitlist, and… wait, what…is this… an acceptance?? “Dear medschool40&cool, on the behalf of the admission committee, we are pleased to accept you in our program”. My life flashed in front of my eyes at that moment. Me, in high school getting the highest grades but a scoff when I brought up med school. Me, in my early to mid twenties, living under the poverty line, and with no knowledge of the academic world. Me, with a dream. Me, rebuilding myself up, learning the ropes, developing relationships with mentors, writing first-author articles. Me, finally, getting into med school. Passing the threshold. Changing world. Getting into med school the closest I have ever been to a religious experience. I will, after all, be a MD. (Take that, guidance counsellor from high school).
One last note: It is unusual to get into med school this late in life (I'm in my late thirties now). And I would lie if I would say I am not worried. I am worried about the stigma, for one. I am worried about fitting in to some extent. I am worried agism will play in whenever Carms comes. But I'll keep posting here and let you know, if you're interested, how this all plays out over the next 4 years.
elephante reacted to this_process_is_death in Accepted/Rejected/Waitlisted??? (for current applicants)
WOO! BC reunion in Kingston!
elephante got a reaction from isitlunchtimeyet in Lines of Credit for Medical Students (Scotia is the best option)
elephante reacted to this_process_is_death in Accepted/Rejected/Waitlisted??? (for current applicants)
Result: Accepted of the waitlist (last week; only posting for stats)
Year: Graduated undergrad 4 years ago
MCAT: 518 (130/125/131/132)
EC: One 2nd author publication, 2 conferences, little bit of research in surgery and patient centered care. Student government throughout undergrad, international athlete, a bunch of miscellaneous cookie-cutter like activities (hospital volunteering, peer tutor, etc. etc.). Worked 2 full-time jobs throughout undergrad.
Reference Letters: Confident about all 3 referees. I knew all of them for 3+ years and have a very strong relationship
Interview: MMI felt great! Was getting good body language cues from actors/preceptors so definitely built up confidence from one station to the next. Panel was a completely different story. I thought it was quite difficult and I couldn't even come up with answers to questions I had already rehearsed.
I'm not going to lie, this took a while for me to accept that the acceptance is real. This was my 5th time applying and after getting rejected from UBC (my home province) I thought a new career search was in the horizon. I was not very hopeful of Queen's WL moving. To be accepted is such a humbling (and really overwhelming feeling)!
To anyone reading this and looking to (re)apply, please don't give up. It's such a grueling process, but it's well worth it once you get that acceptance letter. There's always a way if medicine is the career for you!