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Peaka

Where are you at underprivileged population?

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I've been having a very hard time the last few years because all the people I know who want to go to med school are the typical student with middle or upper middle class parents that get tons of opportunities handed over to them because of "contacts" and who won't ever have to worry about their apartment building being set on fire by a bunch of sociopathic drug dealers living a floor bellow (true story).

How in the world I am supposed to compete with that?

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Honestly it sucks and you can only do your best. Medical schools seem to be trying to make admissions more accessible so that their classes more closely reflect the general population, but that will take years and there will still be a ton of privilege in medicine. 

MCAT + study materials + interviews can be a huge financial burden that many applicants don't even have to think about because their parents are footing the bill. 

Once you get in, your LOC somewhat helps level the playing field. The tradeoff is the stress of increasing debt while many of your classmates will graduate debt free. You can do quite well in medical school building your own connections, but there will always be nepotism in all levels of medical school even all the way up to residency selection. People seem to turn a blind eye to it and there's not much you can do about it. 

The good thing is there will be people in the same situation as you and lots of students have been successful. It just takes more work and determination and relying more on what you build vs. relying on parental connections.

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On 5/17/2019 at 4:12 PM, Peaka said:

I've been having a very hard time the last few years because all the people I know who want to go to med school are the typical student with middle or upper middle class parents that get tons of opportunities handed over to them because of "contacts" and who won't ever have to worry about their apartment building being set on fire by a bunch of sociopathic drug dealers living a floor bellow (true story).

How in the world I am supposed to compete with that?

It's tough, but do your best and don't give up. The rewards are worth it. Once you're in, you're set from a financial perspective assuming you follow a few simple rules.

Unfortunately, there's no easy way. There will always those who come from money who have everything laid out for them. I try not to focus on that (it would be depressing to persevere on), but instead focus on doing my best and hope for a good outcome.

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I come from poverty, existed on student loans always, owe a fortune now. Focus on the positive, work hard, stay motivated no matter what, keep your eye on the ultimate goal, the rest is b.s.! Your future is in your hands, you must navigate all problems, difficulties to succeed. If I did it, you can! You need to prioritize, have good time and stress management skills, study hard and smart, and ignore as best you can or navigate through or around all other issues. I maintained my motivation when exhausted, was in burnout, felt I could not continue, kept my eye on the goal and achieved success. As resident, I work harder than I had thought humanly possible. It does not get any easier. Good luck!

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My parents were very supportive but didn't have the means to provide me any financial help. I was personally fortunate to be able to get a couple of grants/scholarships so that I didn't have to work during school (but I did either work full time or do paid research every summer). If I didn't seek out and eventually win those scholarships, I would have needed a part time job while studying and avoiding this situation at all costs was my main driving factor. It was discouraging to see peers that didn't have to plan out these things at all and could solely focus on GPA, volunteering, etc. while still getting to go on nice vacations during their breaks to "de-stress" while I had to go back to work, but ultimately you just need to focus on yourself (I know, easier said than done). Put your head down and work smart for a few years, and once you get in you are set for life. Plan out some days every week or two to spend on yourself to maintain your own mental health so you don't get burnt out. Unfortunately I think that's the needed mindset for us minority of people that get in from disadvantaged backgrounds. It's challenging, and unfair, but it is doable.

Happy to chat further if you have any questions or need to get anything off your chest.

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On 5/17/2019 at 1:12 PM, Peaka said:

I've been having a very hard time the last few years because all the people I know who want to go to med school are the typical student with middle or upper middle class parents that get tons of opportunities handed over to them because of "contacts" and who won't ever have to worry about their apartment building being set on fire by a bunch of sociopathic drug dealers living a floor bellow (true story).

How in the world I am supposed to compete with that?

Got into medical school just fine, sure it may be "harder" than those who are well off, but its not that much more insurmountable. People will say "oh but i have to work two jobs to support myself through undergrad, i cant get involved" - to that i say, great, you are already building up your CV with those two jobs, keep it up. You dont need clubs, typical pre-med stuff to get into medical school at all.  You dont need contacts. You just need to work smart and hard, and prioritize your time.  Not everyone in medical school comes from silver spoons(most do however!). 

Those experiences with sociopathic drug dealers? include it as an entry in how you live and relate with marginalized populations. Its all relevant experience.

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Don’t compete. 

Get good grades in spite of your experience and show what you’re made of through your own original and unique experience. 

Believe me, it won’t go unnoticed. We need people from all walks of life in medicine if they have the passion, aptitude and academic ability. 

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As the recent U.S College Admissions scandal shows, there is nothing inherently better about children of the wealthy and privileged. Many students still can't perform well academically or distinguish themselves despite having all the legitimate advantages money can buy. You can give an average tennis player the best possible equipment and private lessons, but they'll still lose to someone more talented and hard working than they are. 

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19 hours ago, photato said:

Honestly it sucks and you can only do your best. Medical schools seem to be trying to make admissions more accessible so that their classes more closely reflect the general population, but that will take years and there will still be a ton of privilege in medicine. 

MCAT + study materials + interviews can be a huge financial burden that many applicants don't even have to think about because their parents are footing the bill. 

Once you get in, your LOC somewhat helps level the playing field. The tradeoff is the stress of increasing debt while many of your classmates will graduate debt free. You can do quite well in medical school building your own connections, but there will always be nepotism in all levels of medical school even all the way up to residency selection. People seem to turn a blind eye to it and there's not much you can do about it. 

The good thing is there will be people in the same situation as you and lots of students have been successful. It just takes more work and determination and relying more on what you build vs. relying on parental connections.

AFMC has been testing a pilot program for reduced MCAT fees: https://afmc.ca/medical-education/mcat-fee-assistance-program-canadians

To OP, don't give up, I come from a disadvantaged background, it is very tough to get into medicine when our profession seems elitist and unattainable. You do have to work harder than your privileged peers for the same results as we don't have the social or financial means. Once you get into medical school, the financial aspect will be taken care of by LOC, medical school bursaries and governmental bursaries. I do admit that the journey during medical school and residency will only become harder, but as our backgrounds taught us invaluable life lessons and resilience to overcome challenges, you will handle stress and difficulties more calmly than your peer from affluent families. I do think that medical schools should value working part time jobs as valuable as going to Africa for humanitarian trips, some of us just don't have the means!

Best of luck in your studies and don't give up!

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My parents combined income is ~45K, whereas many of my classmates have 1 or 2 parents in high paying professions, esp. physicians. They have parents invest in condos for them during only 3 years of medical school, have cars, vacations, opportunities handed to them on a silver platter. However, the only thing driving me is that getting into medical school is a great equalizer (more equal to these privileged people than I was before anyways) and is the ticket for my family out of poverty. So what choice do I have but to keep grinding for my opportunities and get by with what I have.

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The only route I had was the route I made, with encouragement from a sibling who now works as community staff (but was then in residency).

I saved up money and paid down student debt from my original education while working and then afterwards funded more of the "classic" pre-med experience (incl MCAT study time in the summer, volunteering..) over a couple of years.  

Fortunately, I was accepted to one school in Canada on my first round of application, although it involved its own share of sacrifice and really learning about resilience, etc.  

I didn't grow up in poverty at all, although there is no way I could have funded going abroad or to the US (or even another year), without leaning on the sibling, which I think would have been a terrible mistake in terms of the relationship.  No other co-signor, etc.. would have been available.

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Thank you all for your wonderful responses! It's great to have such a supportive community with people who can relate. It is really reassuring to see people who can relate and this definitely motivates me to continue to push through!

To all the ones who are or were in a similar situation you have all my respect. To all those who were never in that situation you also have my respect! As mentioned in a comment above all the advantages in the world can not out-weight a combination of skills and hard work. Some have it harder, some have it a lot harder, but at the end of the day we are all hardworking individuals. 

I do want to point out that it's important to remember that being underprivileged does not only mean that you are poor and that your parents have no contacts. It can be a variety or combination of many different factors. Heck you can be filthy rich and still be underprivileged with oppressive and neglecting parents. Just something to keep in mind.

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On 5/17/2019 at 4:12 PM, Peaka said:

I've been having a very hard time the last few years because all the people I know who want to go to med school are the typical student with middle or upper middle class parents that get tons of opportunities handed over to them because of "contacts" and who won't ever have to worry about their apartment building being set on fire by a bunch of sociopathic drug dealers living a floor bellow (true story).

How in the world I am supposed to compete with that?

Hey, my apartment did burn down in Uni and I had to deal with the stress of not having a place to live and relocating in the middle of exams! Despite all the stress, it may sound a bit corny/cliche but I do think that the experience helped me see that I can deal with adversity much better than I thought. I even mentioned the experience in one of my interviews - and got an acceptance there!

What I found extremely challenging, as part of a disadvantaged population, is the lack of opportunities. I didn't have a chance to build up a huge resume of ECs because I was too busy working for the entire 4 years and every summer in Uni. Yes, I know that working counts as an EC, but spending every spare hour working is not the same as doing various ECs, perhaps a few hours each week or a different one every summer. In addition, it can be very difficult to find work that is relevant for med - sometimes you just have to make ends meet, as a clerk or cashier or whatever works. For the MCAT, not only did I not have the resources to purchase a prep course or even several sets of materials, I couldn't afford to take a summer to study so I studied while working a full-time job. A huge part of my ABS was a list of my awards, whereas I only had two research experiences. For all the schools that focus on being holistic by emphasizing ECs - I do hope that they can take all these into consideration and make fair judgments.

I don't want to sound like I'm complaining because no process is perfect and everyone has different struggles that unfortunately can't be compared. There are many less fortunate than me who were able to persevere and succeed. I think it helped to truly realize that med school admissions are not a reflection of your self-worth, and the adversity I've encountered has helped me mature and find strength in myself. Sorry for the long rant, and hope that this helps at least someone here!

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On 5/17/2019 at 1:12 PM, Peaka said:

I've been having a very hard time the last few years because all the people I know who want to go to med school are the typical student with middle or upper middle class parents that get tons of opportunities handed over to them because of "contacts" and who won't ever have to worry about their apartment building being set on fire by a bunch of sociopathic drug dealers living a floor bellow (true story).

How in the world I am supposed to compete with that?

You just do, and you come out stronger because you are more resilient,  you can handle the stresses of med school/not getting what you want all the time/ being tired/ multitasking life and work and everything else that gets thrown at you/ and managing someone else's life on top of yours vs someone else who had everything handed to them on a silver platter.

It took me 5 cycles of trying to get in but I'm happy to finally start med school this fall. I also am fortunate to have met others who have faced the struggle, and tbh I think we're a stronger batch of students because of it. We have real-life experience - not just from textbooks. You'll need to develop a thicker skin to make and build those connections/contacts/opportunities - but again that will help you develop character too. A part of me is salty that I had to go this route - but a part of me is happy that I now have better skills than before to do so. The salt doesn't really ever go away though, but I've learned to just move on from it. 

For reference, I've worked 2-3 part-time jobs since I was 12 to supplement family income, commuted 4 hours/day to university for undergrad on top of said jobs, dealt with a chronic debilitating illness with both of my parents (heart failure/brain tumors), and had my entire family and extended family remind me every month over the last 3 years that I should probably get married and settle for a base living wage job instead of being a doctor because I'm getting "old" and should pop out a grandchild soon. Not to compare, but to be somewhat of a "success" story. Life isn't fair, but you make the most of what you have to be the person you wish to be, and the experiences you gain in the process are invaluable.

Also - if anything - I've taught the s/o quite a few bits and pieces about life as well. He grew up much more privileged than I, and thus, missed out on some basic life lessons that you would only learn from having minimum wage customer service jobs for half your life. Your patients are more likely to be middle/lower class, its easier to relate and empathize when you have gone through it - than to "imagine the how hard it must be to work in manual labor". 

Good luck!

 

 

 

 

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39 minutes ago, chiynadoll said:

You just do, and you come out stronger because you are more resilient,  you can handle the stresses of med school/not getting what you want all the time/ being tired/ multitasking life and work and everything else that gets thrown at you/ and managing someone else's life on top of yours vs someone else who had everything handed to them on a silver platter.

Also - if anything - I've taught the s/o quite a few bits and pieces about life as well. He grew up much more privileged than I, and thus, missed out on some basic life lessons that you would only learn from having minimum wage customer service jobs for half your life. Your patients are more likely to be middle/lower class, its easier to relate and empathize when you have gone through it - than to "imagine the how hard it must be to work in manual labor". 

Wow thank you for your post chiynadoll. I recognized this feeling. When I was in medical school, I found that a lot of my peers get stressed easily (e.g: panicking and breaking down for not studying enough for an exam), when medical students from disadvantaged background have lived through so many adversities that we are calm in front of whatever life throws at us. I really didn't understand why my peers get stressed and couldn't handle some basic criticism well back then.

After I realized shortly that the majority of medical students come from privileged backgrounds, I am happy of what my background taught me. Granted that your privileged peers are much more well-connected for residency matching, and finishing medical school & residency without having to worry about debt and supporting their family members. To OP, there are a lot of life lessons that you only learn from being raised in poverty, and after having to work twice as hard to achieve something as someone from an affluent background.

To be honest, our background is not all rainbow and sunshine, and there are many challenges ahead of you and sometimes you just want to give up after learning how much more opportunities others get handed down to them. There were times that I questioned if it was worth it to pursue medicine with all the additional years of training & costs, the exclusive competitive selection process and the lack of opportunities with my background,  but then I never looked down and doubt for one second for my capacity to become a physician. In the challenging times, I always remember what brought me to medicine in the first place, to make a difference for the marginalized population after being one of them. I do find that I connect better with patients from lower income backgrounds and are committed to advocate for them, compared to peers who look down on patients have trouble showing up at appointments and couldn't adhere to the medication regimen. 

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I grew up in low-SES neighborhoods most of my life and I've found success in life whenever I learned to appreciate others who work hard to take advantage of their privileges rather than complain that they have certain privileges that I don't. By focusing on the positive it made me work harder and be happier. 

I really dislike these kind of threads because of the assumption that every low income person has it harder than a middle income person. This is true on average, but its a broad generalization. Don't assume that students from middle income or even high income families haven't built up their own share of resilience. Everyone has their own path. Imagine a high income kid who deals with parental abuse or domestic abuse at home. What about a high income kid who had to deal with cancer throughout undergrad? Is it really fair to judge them for having it "easy" compared to low income kid with a healthy, happy, and cohesive family? Sure statistics show that on average lower income families deal with more abuse, violence, health problems etc. But these are averages and you shouldn't give into them by unnecessarily comparing yourself to others whom you don''t even know the whole story about. Just do you. 

 

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21 minutes ago, nsrdude said:

I grew up in low-SES neighborhoods most of my life and I've found success in life whenever I learned to appreciate others who work hard to take advantage of their privileges rather than complain that they have certain privileges that I don't. By focusing on the positive it made me work harder and be happier. 

I really dislike these kind of threads because of the assumption that every low income person has it harder than a middle income person. This is true on average, but its a broad generalization. Don't assume that students from middle income or even high income families haven't built up their own share of resilience. Everyone has their own path. Imagine a high income kid who deals with parental abuse or domestic abuse at home. What about a high income kid who had to deal with cancer throughout undergrad? Is it really fair to judge them for having it "easy" compared to low income kid with a healthy, happy, and cohesive family? Sure statistics show that on average lower income families deal with more abuse, violence, health problems etc. But these are averages and you shouldn't give into them by unnecessarily comparing yourself to others whom you don''t even know the whole story about. Just do you. 

 

Completely agree! You may have skipped on a comment I put a little higher as a clarification to what you mentioned so I will quote myself on that one:

"I do want to point out that it's important to remember that being underprivileged does not only mean that you are poor and that your parents have no contacts. It can be a variety or combination of many different factors. Heck you can be filthy rich and still be underprivileged with oppressive and neglecting parents. Just something to keep in mind." 

Thank you for putting things into perspective!

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On 6/7/2019 at 4:42 PM, Peaka said:

Completely agree! You may have skipped on a comment I put a little higher as a clarification to what you mentioned so I will quote myself on that one:

"I do want to point out that it's important to remember that being underprivileged does not only mean that you are poor and that your parents have no contacts. It can be a variety or combination of many different factors. Heck you can be filthy rich and still be underprivileged with oppressive and neglecting parents. Just something to keep in mind." 

Thank you for putting things into perspective!

Haha yeah I missed that comment. I still stand by what I said though - that threads like this are a symptom of a wrong mentality that many pre-meds unfortunately fall victim to. If you stay optimistic, you can relate to and find yourself more privileged then almost everyone in some way or another. :) 

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