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captain_nguyen

Canadian applying to med school with average stats. Best course of action?

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Hey all,

 

I graduated a few years back with a degree in engineering and spent a bit of time working, travelling and taking masters courses (for an M. Eng degree). Over these past 2 years I have decided to switch careers and go into medicine. Med schools in Canada are terribly competitive and my GPA is not up to par (though no terrible). Even worse, I have a decreasing trend in my GPA due to a poor attitude (who cares about GPA in engineering if you got a good job?) and some sleep problems at the time . My stats are as follows:

CGPA: 3.5ish (depends on how the school calculates)

MCAT: 514 (128/130/128/128), (willing to retake, I was terribly sick, didn't finish a section and fell asleep...)

ECs:

-Volunteered in a hospital for 2 years and was able to shadow some doctors

-Started a business 5 years ago (still running) which allowed me to pay for school

-Was on the executive committee of many student chapters

-Was involved in lots of sporting teams

- I am also planning on spending 6 months in south america to volunteer & learn Spanish and 6 months in Asia to teach English.

What I am looking for is some suggestions on what I should do to be accepted into a medical school.  Obviously improving my GPA would help a lot but how would I be able to make a significant dent without having to do something as drastic as a second undergrad? I am also willing to consider American schools assuming I can meet their cut offs for Canadian students. Any thoughts on the most effective route (extra year, research, rewrite MCAT, apply anyways etcs...) ? I appreciate any suggestions!

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Your GPA is your enemy here.   It is not sufficient to achieve an interview in Canada. Your MCAT is fine for most schools.

Note some schools have a weighting wGPA formula.   Calculate your GPA for each of your 4 years individually and check out Queens and UWO.  Also look at how U of T drops xx courses from your total GPA if you had full course load all 4 years.  You need to get your undergrad wGPA up above 3.8x.

 

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3.5 will put your out of the running for every Ontario school besides Mcmaster. Is your CARS130? If so, you may have a chance at McMaster if you do well on the CASPER. But even then its a longshot. People who gets accepted to McMaster generally have GPA 3.8+ CARS >130+ and really good extracurriculars. Your downward trend probably puts you out of the running for Queens and Ottawa and Western (who take best2/last 2 years). If you are out of province and have extensive ties to the maritimes you may have a shot at Dalhousie and memorial but I wouldn't bet on it.

Chances are you need to do a masters, I have heard of people with your GPA with amazing grad school performance get into U of T. Aside from that you probably have to think about USMD/USDO. If Canadian school is where your heart is, you probably need to do a second undergrad and kill it (GPA >3.85)

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33 minutes ago, deathvvv said:

3.5 will put your out of the running for every Ontario school besides Mcmaster. Is your CARS130? If so, you may have a chance at McMaster if you do well on the CASPER. But even then its a longshot. People who gets accepted to McMaster generally have GPA 3.8+ CARS >130+ and really good extracurriculars. Your downward trend probably puts you out of the running for Queens and Ottawa and Western (who take best2/last 2 years). If you are out of province and have extensive ties to the maritimes you may have a shot at Dalhousie and memorial but I wouldn't bet on it.

Chances are you need to do a masters, I have heard of people with your GPA with amazing grad school performance get into U of T. Aside from that you probably have to think about USMD/USDO. If Canadian school is where your heart is, you probably need to do a second undergrad and kill it (GPA >3.85)

 

EC's don't factor in for Mac. It's CARS/CASPer/GPA and either a 1% masters bonus or 4% PhD bonus.  OP should write CARS and see where he stands. If it's 130+ he should apply.

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54 minutes ago, deathvvv said:

3.5 will put your out of the running for every Ontario school besides Mcmaster. Is your CARS130? If so, you may have a chance at McMaster if you do well on the CASPER. But even then its a longshot. People who gets accepted to McMaster generally have GPA 3.8+ CARS >130+ and really good extracurriculars. Your downward trend probably puts you out of the running for Queens and Ottawa and Western (who take best2/last 2 years). If you are out of province and have extensive ties to the maritimes you may have a shot at Dalhousie and memorial but I wouldn't bet on it.

Chances are you need to do a masters, I have heard of people with your GPA with amazing grad school performance get into U of T. Aside from that you probably have to think about USMD/USDO. If Canadian school is where your heart is, you probably need to do a second undergrad and kill it (GPA >3.85)

Yes my CARS is 130. My GPA trend by year  is roughly: 3.8 , 3.4, 3.1, 3.65. I am finishing up my masters in engineering and will likely have a grad gpa of 3.7ish. Is a second undergrad really the best solution? I was thinking about taking an extra year and killing it because UWO only looks at your 2 best years... it may be risky though to invest that time and only to apply to 1 school.

 

 

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Wouldn't you be competitive for Western, even with your current GPA? If you took a full course load in each of your top two years (3.8 and 3.65) then you're 2 year gpa would be > 3.7 which makes you competitive, as your MCAT score is great ( i would not retake and risk a 130). Maybe someone else can chime in here...

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57 minutes ago, captain_nguyen said:

Yes my CARS is 130. My GPA trend by year  is roughly: 3.8 , 3.4, 3.1, 3.65. I am finishing up my masters in engineering and will likely have a grad gpa of 3.7ish. Is a second undergrad really the best solution? I was thinking about taking an extra year and killing it because UWO only looks at your 2 best years... it may be risky though to invest that time and only to apply to 1 school.

 

 

From Western's admission website

"Minimum GPA, as established by the Medicine Admissions Committee, must be met in each of the two best undergraduate years. GPA is calculated using the OMSAS Conversion Scale.

So in your case you would not apply unless u do a fifth year and rock it. Also a gamble of a year. By the way, western change their mcat cutoff from year to year and one year their CARS went as high as 131. So in my opinion this is pretty high risk. Also, this is just to get to the interview. At that point you have a 50/50 shot of getting accepted depending on how you peform on the interview day. I would work on a long term strategy go maximize my chances

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23 minutes ago, alokozay said:

Wouldn't you be competitive for Western, even with your current GPA? If you took a full course load in each of your top two years (3.8 and 3.65) then you're 2 year gpa would be > 3.7 which makes you competitive, as your MCAT score is great ( i would not retake and risk a 130). Maybe someone else can chime in here...

UWO is 3.7 in EACH of the calculated years. And as for MCAT, I am confident in a better score the second time around. As I mentioned, I was very sick when I wrote it .  I will have more time to study second time around as opposed to 4 weeks

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6 minutes ago, captain_nguyen said:

UWO is 3.7 in EACH of the calculated years. And as for MCAT, I am confident in a better score the second time around. As I mentioned, I was very sick when I wrote it .  I will have more time to study second time around as opposed to 4 weeks

I don't see a realistic path for you in Canada with the exception of an outside shot at McMaster. 2nd undergrad would be the only solution if you want to stay here. You don't qualify for any other schools in Ontario with your stats. 

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7 minutes ago, captain_nguyen said:

So suppose I apply US, I would be considered international or out of state. Would these stats be competitive or still too low ?

Too low. You could try DO in the states. 

 

If you had one more year above a 3.7 or 3.75 so many doors would have opened for you in Canada, but too late for that now I suppose. 

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22 minutes ago, captain_nguyen said:

So suppose I apply US, I would be considered international or out of state. Would these stats be competitive or still too low ?

 

Probably international as far as I know. But one important thing to note. Like the poster above me mentioned, your cGPA might be too low for American MD but possible for DO's. If your goal is to come back to Canada DO graduates from the USA are considered to be IMG's so landing a residency will be just as difficult if you went to a school in Ireland or Australia for instance. Unless you are ok with staying in the States for residency don't put your money on coming back to Canada right away.

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1. Take an extra year fulltime for UWO unless they take masters? McMaster is on table for outside shot also. Otherwise most other schools will need at least 1-2yrs undergrad to even have chance.

 

2. USDO. Save up some money and apply there if you can afford tuition with loans and some saved funding, youll be perfectly fine for a US residency and come back to canada after. Even as a USMD its not a gauranteed for Canadian residency. And even as a Canadian there's no guarantee you do residency in your home town home province, so if you have this mindset that youre flexible to move around, USDO is a great option. USMD would be an outside shot, really have to sell non academics and masters, not impossible but less odds than USDO. This is all speaking to get to interview stage of course. Still need good interpersonal skills to get that full acceptance.

 

Cautious with MCaT retake and ensure you dont drop down. If you can bring it up that is a good idea but already decent.

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For USMD schools, you may have shot with "low tiers" that are canadian friendly

ie Wayne State, GWU, georgetown, penn state, suny upstate, rosalind franklin, michigan state

But with that said, you need to have BETTER than the average entrance GPA. So your 3.5 GPA may sink you as averge GPA for those schools tend to be >3.6

So I think doing an extra year and killing it make sense. Opens up UWO (maybe if they count that year and your first year of 3.8) and may push your GPA to above 3.6

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His GPA might be favored by AMCAS grade conversion. Might have an ok shot at USMD. I wouldn't retake the MCAT since you're not trying to meet a specific cut off. Going from 514 to lets say 519 isn't gonna do anything for you Canada-wise, and will only help you marginally for the states since it seems that they look at all of the attempts.

 

I'd consider special year for UWO, which is actually what i'm doing myself. 

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I'd consider the US. I think in the US they tend to look at the whole candidate and they may give you some benefit for doing an engineering undergrad etc, and they look at what you've done since graduation etc. The US loves a good MCAT and yours is not bad. While i'm not too familiar on what is needed, I would say apply broadly and hope. 

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