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icdt2018

Extremely low cGPA, humanities student (I would like to get lots of opinions)

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Background info: UofT undergrad student (3rd year), double majoring in humanities. Wanted a few more viewpoints as I'm not sure if there are things I have/haven't considered yet. I'm not sure if I'm being unrealistic about pursuing med school at this point, but I still really want to give it a shot. I'm upset and mad at myself, but I'm trying (and I've been trying) to change things--I just hope that it's not too late.

GPA/MCAT:
First year: 1.7 cGPA, full course load not taken (3.5 credits or 7 courses for the year)
Second year: 3.1, 2.6 cGPA, full course load not taken (4.5 credits or 9 courses for the year)
At the end of third year: ? (full course load not taken, 4.5 credits or 9 courses for the year).
Current cGPA: 2.6
MCAT: not taken yet (studying it throughout this year straight through summer)

There are a few glaring problems--most obvious being my cGPA, second: no year with a full course load, third: I'm missing a lot of science prerequisites (i.e: never taken chemistry in university before).

ECs:
-3 unique research positions (research in the humanities I guess tends to be a bit different than wet lab research in the sciences), no pubs
-3 awards so far for leadership/community involvement
-Lots of volunteer hours
-Orchestra (throughout high school and starting in uni)
-Lots and lots of executive positions for clubs (most are 2-3 years, presidency for two)
-Older volunteer experiences (volunteering at orphanages, law firms, sports centres)
-Newer volunteer experiences (volunteering at hospitals, with researchers, mentorship programs)
-Strong focus on making the community more accessible through clubs and volunteering (I'll spare the exact details if that's okay)
-Good connection to faculty (most professors for both of my majors know me fairly well)

Other things to consider:
-I'll have to take a fifth year (not just for med school applications, but because I changed my major at the end of second year)
-The reason why I don't have full course loads in second/third year is because I did badly in one course (for each year) and my registrar and I thought it would be better to drop it than to do badly and harm my cGPA even more
-Profs from both majors strongly recommended that I do a masters degree (continuing some of my research work in undergrad to masters), and I would love to
-Also considering a second undergrad degree--both parents willing to support me
-Am still a BC resident
-Had a family circumstance throughout first and second year (just ended summer of this year) which both UofT and UBC admissions strongly suggested I write an explanation essay for
-Would really prefer not to go to the US because it is so expensive and also the fact that I'm pretty sure they calculate science courses separately GPA (but I guess beggars can't be choosers?)

The reality:
-Because I can't use this year to apply to schools like Western (since I can't take a full course load as I've already dropped some courses), I will do my best this year to get high marks in hopes to patch whatever is left of my cGPA (I had to drop one course that I thought it was likely I'd get a 60-70% in, but all my other courses are in the 3.7 - 4.0 range)
-Most IP students that got into UBC med (even though they say minimum 75%) had a cumulative percentage of around 82% (which was on the lower end I think). My current percentage is I think a 73%, so I'll also use this year to hopefully patch this a bit
-No matter how good my ECs/academic explanation essay will be, I am fully aware that GPA trumps all, and with my MCAT so up in the air, this dream may be very unrealistic
-Another thing that is discouraging is that I've already barred myself from so many schools by not having science prereqs (I will not have room in my timetable to take them--even in the summer as I said I've just switched majors)

I'm mad and disappointed at myself--I know that if I can't succeed in undergrad, it's likely that I won't succeed in med school, even if by some miracle I do get in. Though I am normally good at converting negative thoughts into more effort and working harder, I can't deny that I've been feeling a little hopeless lately. I know it's a marathon and not a sprint, and that time, perseverance, hard work, and money is required--but I'm also not sure if I'm just beating a dead horse.

If you've read till the end, thank you so much for your time. Any opinion is appreciated, and I'd like to consider all options (perhaps even some I'd never even thought about before).

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Your basically only reasonable shot without doing another undergrad is western.

Killl fourth year (like 3.85+ GPA, 3.7 gpa minimum)

Do fifth year (same as above)- this gives you the chance to take pre reqs

You can either apply in your fifth year (long shot- I doubt western will give you an interview with just one year of 3.7+) or the year after (where you graduated and works/domasters/volunteer- to beef up your resume more)

rock the mcat (meet western cutoffs, ie CARS 130)

and apply. Even with IP status I don't think ur very competitive with UBC because your low grades in the first 3 years are gone drag you down. In reality you probably need 85%+ to be competitive. 

If you apply in year 6, queens may open up to you. Their application is a black box, but I hear of people get in with last 2 years being 3.8+ and a good MCAT score.

But yes, very long uphill climb. I would also take the next couple of years to explore alternatives to medicine

 

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15 minutes ago, deathvvv said:

Your basically only reasonable shot without doing another undergrad is western.

Killl fourth year (like 3.85+ GPA, 3.7 gpa minimum)

Do fifth year (same as above)- this gives you the chance to take pre reqs

You can either apply in your fifth year (long shot- I doubt western will give you an interview with just one year of 3.7+) or the year after (where you graduated and works/domasters/volunteer- to beef up your resume more)

rock the mcat (meet western cutoffs, ie CARS 130)

and apply. Even with IP status I don't think ur very competitive with UBC because your low grades in the first 3 years are gone drag you down. In reality you probably need 85%+ to be competitive. 

If you apply in year 6, queens may open up to you. Their application is a black box, but I hear of people get in with last 2 years being 3.8+ and a good MCAT score.

But yes, very long uphill climb. I would also take the next couple of years to explore alternatives to medicine

 

I second this, but make sure you take a full course load in those two years, which I believe is requirement for Western... if you can pull >3.8 in your last two years, Queen's may open up.

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Awesome ECS but your missing the basics. Standard advice is going to be kill the MCAT and aim for a high GPA. Easier said than done. Is it possible? Yes? Realistic? No. It would be more realistic to basically start over with a second undergrad. Is that really worth it given you seem to have found a good place in the humanities? Doubtful.

If you're considering other careers, go for it. For some reason most answers tend not to include that in their answers. Medicine is cool but it it isn't magical, and the idea that 99% of people fall in love with ISN'T what your life will actually be like. So unless you've found someway to ensure that medicine is going to be what you want it to, the opportunity cost is relatively high for you. The decision to pursue medicine especially at a higher cost shouldn't be based on medicine alone. You have to compare it with other equally likely opportunities, given your starting position.

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3 hours ago, PhD2MD said:

Awesome ECS but your missing the basics. Standard advice is going to be kill the MCAT and aim for a high GPA. Easier said than done. Is it possible? Yes? Realistic? No. It would be more realistic to basically start over with a second undergrad. Is that really worth it given you seem to have found a good place in the humanities? Doubtful.

If you're considering other careers, go for it. For some reason most answers tend not to include that in their answers. Medicine is cool but it it isn't magical, and the idea that 99% of people fall in love with ISN'T what your life will actually be like. So unless you've found someway to ensure that medicine is going to be what you want it to, the opportunity cost is relatively high for you. The decision to pursue medicine especially at a higher cost shouldn't be based on medicine alone. You have to compare it with other equally likely opportunities, given your starting position.

Yep--I hear the same thing every time. I'm definitely trying to focus more on GPA this year than EC's because I know marks trump everything. Also, I did say I majored in humanities, but I majored in something similar to public health/health studies/bioethics (the other major is history). I've considered multiple other careers because I have to, not because I want to. And I don't have such rose-coloured glasses for the occupation anymore, and I'm positive this is what I want to do. But I know realistically that with my marks, it's hard to prove that I'm capable, not just to admissions, but to myself as well. That's why I wanted to hear what other people thought.

It seems like a second undergrad degree is the most popular opinion which kind of sucks, but I made costly mistakes. Came to university not knowing how to study at all, took courses that weren't needed for my major and bombed all of them, so at least I know if I do another degree, I won't make the same mistakes :)

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There could be an intermediate path - if graduate studies took you to NS for example, you may be able to gain IP status there and Dal puts more weight on ECs than MCAT/GPA (and grad grades count, like in the West).  I'm not sure what the criteria to gain IP status are there though.  Otherwise, 2nd undergrad degree is the best choice, but it would still be an uphill battle, as others have mentioned.   

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17 minutes ago, tere said:

There could be an intermediate path - if graduate studies took you to NS for example, you may be able to gain IP status there and Dal puts more weight on ECs than MCAT/GPA (and grad grades count, like in the West).  I'm not sure what the criteria to gain IP status are there though.  Otherwise, 2nd undergrad degree is the best choice, but it would still be an uphill battle, as others have mentioned.   

An uphill battle, but it's one I'm willing to fight for. Thank you for your insight--I'll look into IP status, though I probably shouldn't bank on it :) 

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I agree with the others that at present, you're not really in good shape GPA wise to apply anywhere. If you're OK with medicine being a long-term goal for you, then try to really kill your GPA in the next couple years and consider a second undergrad (some programs you can do in only 2-years once you have a bachelor's) and/or that Master's. But most importantly, try to do things you love and that you can do well in. You might find that it's not worth the effort to you to give up your ECs to put in the necessary time to boost your GPA, or you may decide in a few year's that you are happy in a career in the humanities, and that's totally fine too.

If you plan to maintain your BC residency: UBC doesn't require science prerequisites, but doing at least some of them will really help you with the MCAT. UBC will include the grades from a graduate degree in calculating your GPA -- this is usually a minimal boost because it's usually only ~ a half year of credits, but if you can achieve very high marks (which is more possible in some types grad programs than others), it can really help offset a bad year. And they will also drop your worst year. Realistically you'd want an adjusted GPA over 80% to stand a shot as an IP-applicant. The majority of students admitted to UBC actually have a GPA over 85%, but about a 1/4 are in that 80-85% range, and strong ECs and life experience really seem to help if your GPA is in that range. 

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46 minutes ago, frenchpress said:

I agree with the others that at present, you're not really in good shape GPA wise to apply anywhere. If you're OK with medicine being a long-term goal for you, then try to really kill your GPA in the next couple years and consider a second undergrad (some programs you can do in only 2-years once you have a bachelor's) and/or that Master's. But most importantly, try to do things you love and that you can do well in. You might find that it's not worth the effort to you to give up your ECs to put in the necessary time to boost your GPA, or you may decide in a few year's that you are happy in a career in the humanities, and that's totally fine too.

If you plan to maintain your BC residency: UBC doesn't require science prerequisites, but doing at least some of them will really help you with the MCAT. UBC will include the grades from a graduate degree in calculating your GPA -- this is usually a minimal boost because it's usually only ~ a half year of credits, but if you can achieve very high marks (which is more possible in some types grad programs than others), it can really help offset a bad year. And they will also drop your worst year. Realistically you'd want an adjusted GPA over 80% to stand a shot as an IP-applicant. The majority of students admitted to UBC actually have a GPA over 85%, but about a 1/4 are in that 80-85% range, and strong ECs and life experience really seem to help if your GPA is in that range. 

Ah thank you so much for the help. I admittedly don't know a lot about second undergrad degrees so I suppose I'll look around.

I did calculate my oGPA and AGPA and assuming that my courses continue to stay in the 3.7-4.0 range, I should hit the min OGPA (75% threshold), and by taking away first year (which definitely has my lowest marks), I should be very close to an 80%, which I will try to take the next 2-3 years to reach at least an 82% (which is where most 'low' UBC acceptances seem to start).

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icdt2018,   something people have not yet said is that Medical school is hard. Although most Canadian Schools are Pass/Fail, you need to work very hard with excellent time management skills to be successful.  There is a reason admissions require consistently high GPA and full course load while still also doing considerable ECs.  They want to make sure you have the track record and ability to do well.

Reflect and understand why you were not able to achieve +3.8 across all courses for the past 2 years.  Motivation, study habits, interest, Overloaded, comprehension, anxiety, distractions are all potential reasons.  Be honest with yourself.  Understand that first and how you can change that before attempting to embark on this journey.  Maybe your change in major was the ticket.  See where you are GPA-wise at the end of 3rd year and go from there. 

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8 minutes ago, Meridian said:

icdt2018,   something people have not yet said is that Medical school is hard. Although most Canadian Schools are Pass/Fail, you need to work very hard with excellent time management skills to be successful.  There is a reason admissions require consistently high GPA and full course load while still also doing considerable ECs.  They want to make sure you have the track record and ability to do well.

Reflect and understand why you were not able to achieve +3.8 across all courses for the past 2 years.  Motivation, study habits, interest, Overloaded, comprehension, anxiety, distractions are all potential reasons.  Be honest with yourself.  Understand that first and how you can change that before attempting to embark on this journey.  Maybe your change in major was the ticket.  See where you are GPA-wise at the end of 3rd year and go from there. 

Yes--I noted this briefly before but there is definitely the wall in which I have to prove to myself first that I can handle a difficult course load before I can attempt to show anything to adcom. I understand that being a doctor means competency, and an abysmal GPA with poor work ethic does not translate well. It has definitely been a mix of everything you said--I moved across the country, didn't know how to take care of myself (eating/sleeping/well being in general), poor work ethic (I learned the hard way that high school is very crammable, university is not), and family issues with depression/anxiety that got further heightened after coming to university. It's been a really, really rough learning curve but I honestly don't regret it, even though I know there will be an uphill battle. The desire to even become a physician made me a much more harder worker, and I think it made me into someone who can accept and learn from failure--something I struggled with in high school.

Will my GPA give me a chance to say this to adcom? Probably not. But until the day I truly give up, I'm just going to keep doing my best. I'd love to have a 4.0 GPA but I also love what I'm learning, so it's not all rough!

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Hi, 

I was in a similar situation as you, having around 6.7/10 last degree.  I would go with a second degree, I have now a perfect 4.0 for McGill and Uottawa, some universities are only going to look at your second degree.  Even though your EC are amazing, I would try to cut them off a little bit and focus on studying !!  If you need advices with studying and getting high GPA I can try to help ! 

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36 minutes ago, Beastmango.MD said:

Hi, 

I was in a similar situation as you, having around 6.7/10 last degree.  I would go with a second degree, I have now a perfect 4.0 for McGill and Uottawa, some universities are only going to look at your second degree.  Even though your EC are amazing, I would try to cut them off a little bit and focus on studying !!  If you need advices with studying and getting high GPA I can try to help ! 

Thank you, I’ve sent a message!

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You want to go to medical school, but have a C+ average, have not taken chemistry in university, and no years with a full courseload? You also claim to be trying, yet have maintained mostly C's and D's in university. I really don't see how a second undergraduate degree can fix the fact that you may not be academically capable enough to get into medical school, to begin with.

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On ‎11‎/‎1‎/‎2018 at 12:30 PM, tere said:

There could be an intermediate path - if graduate studies took you to NS for example, you may be able to gain IP status there and Dal puts more weight on ECs than MCAT/GPA (and grad grades count, like in the West).  I'm not sure what the criteria to gain IP status are there though.  Otherwise, 2nd undergrad degree is the best choice, but it would still be an uphill battle, as others have mentioned.   

You'd need to live in NS after completing graduate studies for at least a year though, Dal doesn't consider time spent in the province for school for gaining IP status.

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42 minutes ago, Chels1267 said:

You'd need to live in NS after completing graduate studies for at least a year though, Dal doesn't consider time spent in the province for school for gaining IP status.

In this case, yes.  I just checked and it looks like they have one criterion which could apply if one had done considerable education at Dal:

"3.    You have completed 6 consecutive years of post-secondary education in the same Maritime Province, immediately prior to the application submission deadline (Section 2)"

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On 11/5/2018 at 2:29 AM, Avatar Aang said:

You want to go to medical school, but have a C+ average, have not taken chemistry in university, and no years with a full courseload? You also claim to be trying, yet have maintained mostly C's and D's in university. I really don't see how a second undergraduate degree can fix the fact that you may not be academically capable enough to get into medical school, to begin with.

I didn't breakdown the grades by semester because I didn't think there'd be a point but I did have a semester with a 3.8 (five courses (so full/regular course load)--but the year wasn't considered full in total because it was the semester after that I only took 4 courses instead of five). I also got 4.0 the first summer and a 3.8 this summer (which I also didn't count). This semester is also ending and it is very likely I'll get a 3.8-4.0 as long as I don't majorly screw up my final exams. I was hoping for more constructive criticism--the point of this post was to figure out if I'm missing anything major I didn't recognize before, see if anyone had any tips if they were in situations similar to mine, and see what my next steps from here could be (especially by talking to other people who got a second degree). I also did admit that this path may not be realistic for me anymore, but I'm going to do my best until the end of undergrad as I am currently in third year, and I will do a fourth/fifth year as well.

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23 hours ago, freewheeler said:

Is there anything else you would consider doing instead of medicine?

I do have backups but no, not really. I'd rather try for a second degree than to give up, to be honest. Other jobs I was thinking of though was radiation therapist/technologist, social work, some sort of assistant work in healthcare, but just thinking about them makes me depressed. I made a lot of mistakes first year and part of second year but I did have a 3.8 for one semester (full course load) and it's likely I'll get a 3.7-4.0 this semester (full course load but one is credit/no credit so I don't know if that'd count) assuming I don't badly mess up my finals. I was just wondering if anyone had other ideas I hadn't considered before, or hope that doing my best (from second year) will be my best shot. If it's alternatives to medicine, I probably wouldn't even ask on this forum and just do it on my own.

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8 hours ago, icdt2018 said:

I do have backups but no, not really. I'd rather try for a second degree than to give up, to be honest. Other jobs I was thinking of though was radiation therapist/technologist, social work, some sort of assistant work in healthcare, but just thinking about them makes me depressed. I made a lot of mistakes first year and part of second year but I did have a 3.8 for one semester (full course load) and it's likely I'll get a 3.7-4.0 this semester (full course load but one is credit/no credit so I don't know if that'd count) assuming I don't badly mess up my finals. I was just wondering if anyone had other ideas I hadn't considered before, or hope that doing my best (from second year) will be my best shot. If it's alternatives to medicine, I probably wouldn't even ask on this forum and just do it on my own.

Try to keep in mind that your opinion of medicine and these other jobs is most certainly wrong. Even by residency, many people don't have a true grasp of what their lives in their specialty will actually look like. By extension, your thoughts about those other jobs are probably inaccurate. Don't fall into the premed trap of obsessing over something you don't actually know.

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23 minutes ago, PhD2MD said:

Try to keep in mind that your opinion of medicine and these other jobs is most certainly wrong. Even by residency, many people don't have a true grasp of what their lives in their specialty will actually look like. By extension, your thoughts about those other jobs are probably inaccurate. Don't fall into the premed trap of obsessing over something you don't actually know.

Er... I'm not entirely sure when I gave an opinion on them (I just said thinking about them makes me feel depressed because that means I need to choose if I'll spend my time trying to do a second degree or head straight for the alternatives). And as for the things I've listed out, two of my friends did a degree in radiation therapy at Michener, so I learned about that through them, and my best friends mom (as well as my grandma) were both social workers. Not sure if I'll like them per say, but I don't have a strong opinion (just not a preference) for either jobs.

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1 hour ago, PhD2MD said:

Try to keep in mind that your opinion of medicine and these other jobs is most certainly wrong. Even by residency, many people don't have a true grasp of what their lives in their specialty will actually look like. By extension, your thoughts about those other jobs are probably inaccurate. Don't fall into the premed trap of obsessing over something you don't actually know.

I notice you try to dissuade ppl from meds. Why are you sour about medicine?

There is uncertainty with any career pathway you choose, whether it is radiation therapist, social worker,  PT, pharmacist, optometry dietician.  In fact, a lot of people I know graduating from these fields are more worried about finding jobs and their ability to pay debt and their rents more so than the avg physician/resident.   Your thoughts about these jobs are probably inaccurate as well.

 

57 minutes ago, icdt2018 said:

Er... I'm not entirely sure when I gave an opinion on them (I just said thinking about them makes me feel depressed because that means I need to choose if I'll spend my time trying to do a second degree or head straight for the alternatives). And as for the things I've listed out, two of my friends did a degree in radiation therapy at Michener, so I learned about that through them, and my best friends mom (as well as my grandma) were both social workers. Not sure if I'll like them per say, but I don't have a strong opinion (just not a preference) for either jobs.

icdt2018, choose a career based on your interests, and fight for your dreams. But be realistic, and have a back up plan.  Few years ago, I knew I really wanted to get into med school, but I was also realistic knowing that my chances were not great, so I also applied to optometry first.  I ended up finishing 2 yeas of optometry before getting into med school.  

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3 minutes ago, usmedicine said:

I notice you try to dissuade ppl from meds. Why are you sour about medicine?

There is uncertainty with any career pathway you choose, whether it is radiation therapist, social worker,  PT, pharmacist, optometry dietician.  In fact, a lot of people I know graduating from these fields are more worried about finding jobs and their ability to pay debt and their rents more so than the avg physician/resident.  

 

icdt2018, choose a career based on your interests, and fight for your dreams. But be realistic, and have a back up plan.  Few years ago, I knew I really wanted to get into med school, but I was also realistic knowing that my chances were not that great, so I also applied to optometry first.  I ended up finishing 2 yeas of optometry before getting into med school.  

Thank you very much. And as you said, I can’t be 100% sure about medicine either because I really won’t know until I get there. I’m trying to make sure it’s what I really want by volunteering at hospitals, talking to doctors that I’ve known for a while, and of course, having friends in med school already.

I do understand that my chances aren’t great, and maybe a second degree wouldn’t even help. One other backup plan I hadn’t mentioned though was that my major (though it’s in humanities) is very closely linked to cancer (the social aspects, rather than scientific), so I may try to persue a masters/PhD with this before either trying for med school again, or staying within this field.

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1 hour ago, usmedicine said:

I notice you try to dissuade ppl from meds. Why are you sour about medicine?

There is uncertainty with any career pathway you choose, whether it is radiation therapist, social worker,  PT, pharmacist, optometry dietician.  In fact, a lot of people I know graduating from these fields are more worried about finding jobs and their ability to pay debt and their rents more so than the avg physician/resident.   Your thoughts about these jobs are probably inaccurate as well.

 

icdt2018, choose a career based on your interests, and fight for your dreams. But be realistic, and have a back up plan.  Few years ago, I knew I really wanted to get into med school, but I was also realistic knowing that my chances were not great, so I also applied to optometry first.  I ended up finishing 2 yeas of optometry before getting into med school.  

 

It's like a mild, slightly smug, condescending god complex lol.

To the OP, honestly, just do a second degree. Do sciences and do good on the MCAT so you at least know you have the aptitude for the technical aspects of medicine and if you still feel that medicine is the only thing for you and you can't get into a Canadian school, look into international schools in the UK or Ireland and Australia. The whole IMG terror thing is seriously overblown. You just need to be very flexible in where you can settle down. If you go overseas make sure you write the USMLE and apply to residency spots in both Canada, and the USA and even in the country you studied med in (Aus is pretty friendly towards foreigners, Ireland/UK is a bit harder) but bottom line is you'll probably end up somewhere as long as you're not gunning for some ultra competitive specialty.

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1 hour ago, usmedicine said:

I notice you try to dissuade ppl from meds. Why are you sour about medicine?

There is uncertainty with any career pathway you choose, whether it is radiation therapist, social worker,  PT, pharmacist, optometry dietician.  In fact, a lot of people I know graduating from these fields are more worried about finding jobs and their ability to pay debt and their rents more so than the avg physician/resident.   Your thoughts about these jobs are probably inaccurate as well.

 

Maybe because they're in med for the last little while and have talked and seen the lifestyle of residents and attendings? You would be surprised how many of my classmates didn't know the lifestyle or job prospects of some fields of medicine, Surgery being a great example, and how they're turned off from it now. Stress of the job hunt and prospects is real for any person or major. But back to your point, many pre-meds definitely have a romanticized view of medicine, and honestly believe it's the one thing that'll keep them happy. Meanwhile, burn-out rate of physicians/residents is super high and still increasing, administrative responsibilities are increasing, sacrifice to personal life can be large depending on your field. @PhD2MD has actually been a great resource on the forums, and talks good shit. I wouldn't be so quick to say they are dissuading as they are simply bringing to light some things. If anything it's just informing people, it's not like their job prospects are dependent on that person getting in or not.

Having a back-up plan is key, and for most working people, it's not the job that keeps them happy but their outside of work life. Having been part of the work force as a non-trad, that's the big thing. Good luck to OP and everyone else.

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