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loren93

Need real life opinions, not a chart (complex situation - pls help)

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Hello everyone, 

I am new to this forum (even though I joined years ago). I came to Canada (Montréal, Québec) 7 years ago after high school and I have always wanted to become a doctor. It has not been easy at ALL. Where I come from you go straight from High School to med school. Seeing my friends move on with their careers and comparing myself having to go through so many hurdles has definitely distanced me from Medicine. I am graduating from my undergrad (after completing Cégep, of course) and I had already made up my mind that I was not going to pursue medicine since I needed my life to start already (steady job, move out of my house, start making plans, etc). After applying to many jobs in everything, I found myself very depressed and in some kind of "quarter life crisis". No Masters or certificate would fulfill me and give me stability as much as I knew medicine would. After much contemplation, I decided I am going to prepare the MCAT this summer and apply during this application cycle. My mom has been VERY supportive and even though we are not a high-income family has agreed to help me in any way (financially, morally, mentally, etc). 

Since I am giving it all I have, I am planning to apply everywhere in Canada (where I can pre-req wise), including french schools and even in one or two of the accredited schools in the Caribbean. I know everything will be expensive, but that's what loans are for *nervous laugh*. I am thinking of expending every resource I have in this process. I am even thinking of getting a coach to help me frame my application to highlight non-academic achievements since my GPA is not very high. 

Anyways, if you feel like helping me, giving me some advice, reflect with me, or just say anything here is my LIFE: 

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ACADEMIC

College:

Finished with R-Score of 29 in Natural Sciences (for those familiar with the Cégep system; not excellent)

University:

Finished with cGPA of 3.68/4.3 in Honours Psychology (Behavioural Neuroscience) with a minor in Multidisciplinary studies in Sciences & went on exchange to Europe for one semester 

1st year: 3.83 (Dean's list)

2nd year: 3.32 (going through personal/family difficulties)

3rd year: 3.60 (just for one semester as the exchange semester grades, which were very good, do not count)

4th year: Around >4.00 (final term GPA had not been posted yet; Im sure will be in Dean's list)

I completed my first two Uni years with 5 courses each semester (FULL load). Third year 5 courses 1st semester, 4 courses during my exchange (2nd semester). Fourth year, equivalent of 4 courses each semester (in credits but not in actual courses as the thesis and other projects had more credits assigned). I was always considered full-time.

EXTRACURRICULARS

During/right after High School

-Low-income summer camp animator in Latin American country rural areas for 2 consecutive years.

-Volunteered at local Latin American country hospital for 6 months (talking to patients and filing lab paperwork). 

Right before/during Cégep (College):

-Volunteered for more than 6 months at local Montreal hospital (reading to long-term patients and caring for emergency room patients).

-Went to Lima, Peru for a whole summer to volunteer in an NGO project aiming to develop local economy. 

-English and Spanish volunteer college tutor (received certification, and awards)

University: 

-Volunteered at a University Centre for students with disabilities for one year.

-President of student association for one year (achieved many good things for association)

RESEARCH

-Volunteered for a year in Drug Addiction lab (animal models). 

- Conducted and wrote independent research project as part of minor: Asthma medication related- research conducted in hospital (Grade: A)

-Conducted and wrote independent research project as part of minor: Protein purification - European biochemistry research lab (Grade A+, awesome comments from Prof)

- Conducted study and wrote Honours Thesis in Neuroscience (Grade A+, awesome comments from Supervisor and Thesis professor)

-Currently volunteering in follow-up to my thesis, will be a published (4th) author by the end of project (probably next year). 

WORK

University tutor to students with disabilities 

Other non-relevant jobs (I think): Waitress, Brand Ambassador, Brand Ambassador Team lead (always worked part-time in Uni)

Recommendation letters:

I am sure I could get strong recommendations letters that attest to the committed, resourceful and persistent student I have been said to be. 

MCAT, CASPer:

Will take prepare for them and take them this Summer/Fall. I will only work/volunteer a few hours a week so I am committed to achieving high scores. 

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Sorry for the long read. I am actually considering a coach, so if any of you can help me with some useful comments, I would appreciate it. 

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19 minutes ago, loren93 said:

and even in one or two of the accredited schools in the Caribbean

whatever else you do, do NOT do this.

If GPA really ends up being a big hurdle for you, you could always apply to mid/lower tier MD schools in the states, or even DO schools. Anything is better than carib (read: vastly superior). 

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I'll definitely echo the advice against Caribbean medical schools. I had contemplated it a while back, looked into it, and very promptly saw a plethora of horror stories and countless cases of people with a Caribbean MD degree being stuck. I would strongly suggest you try all your options in Canada first. 

Your GPA isnt bad but you would likely be better off looking for schools that do a weighted system or count only the last couple years. Pass/fail courses (which I assume your exchange classes are) dont affect you at some schools (I had a couple from transfer credits that didnt make a difference to my school). 

In the mean time I would suggest seeking out another EC or two and applying as broadly as financially possible and see what happens your first cycle. Your French may just help you a bit too. 

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17 minutes ago, kirraea said:

whatever else you do, do NOT do this.

If GPA really ends up being a big hurdle for you, you could always apply to mid/lower tier MD schools in the states, or even DO schools. Anything is better than carib (read: vastly superior). 

Yes? I saw many good stories from St. George...not sure how true they are. 

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15 minutes ago, loren93 said:

Yes? I saw many good stories from St. George...not sure how true they are. 

Caribbean’s schools are also very expensive and it’s difficult to come back and practice in Canada. It should be your last option if your goal is to practice medicine and live in Canada.

Check out this article here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/caribbean-medical-students-have-tough-time-coming-home-1.4223028

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Your situation is not really that complex or different than your peers.  Work to open up as many Canadian schools as you can.

Prepare well and write the MCAT. You would need to write by late August for results to be available in time to apply this cycle in Canada.  

Your current cGPA is not likely sufficient to be competitive for an interview in Ontario and the rest of Canada (OOP) .  I am not familiar with Quebec French language schools.  Your weighted wGPA could be OK for Western (Best 2 years).

Your list of ECs is diverse and somewhat different than your peers.  Alot depends on how you can write them up and attribute to CanMeds skills.

USA MD/DO schools may be an option depending on how you convert to USA GPA scale and how you do on MCAT.   Cost is prohibitive for most people ($300K-$400K CAD) to get to residency.  Canadian Bank Medical LOCs are not as rich or flexible for USA schools.  You would need co-sign and collateral and it would not cover enough. 

Read more on premed101 and you will understand why Caribbean is not a good choice before exhausting all your options for a couple of cycles in Canada first.

You might want to do a 5th year of undergrad if it could help your weighted wGPA for schools like Queens, Ottawa, Toronto.

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Whatever you do, don't apply to the Caribbean, you'll spend hundreds of thousands and won't be able to become a doctor. Canada won't take you back, and if you're not a US citizen, you won't have much of chance in the US either.

I would probably do an undergrad in PT, OT, pharmacy or optometry and apply for Quebec schools since you'll have an in-province advantage and they require less work to get into (no mcat, not much attention to the CV, mostly just university R score which is based on the program and MMI interview).

Search through this forum and inform yourself!

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