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Hi All

 

I read all of the stories and they all were so inspiring. I am in this situation and I have been struggling for months to figure out which option works for me. I would be happy and grateful if you guys can help me with your information/advices:

 

I have a thesis base masters degree from Ryerson University (Mechanical), I passed 5 courses with (2 A+, 2 A, and 1 A-)

I have done my undergrad in a tough engineering school outside of Canada: GPA 3.16/4 (two best years 3.79 & 3.41)

 

I am 26 and I do not want to spend a lot of money and time and gain nothing at the end, so I assume that I have the following options: 

 

1) doing another undergrad degree but this time in health science, become familiar with health courses and also prepare myself for MCAT, definitely my chance would be higher, I am sure I can get a high GPA. And with my masters, probably I will be good for interview. The bad thing is that it takes 4 years and I will be 30 by then. 

 

2) Take 2 years non-program health science courses, obtain some good marks and get ready for MCAT, and then apply. The bad thing is that, considering my low under-grad GPA I won't have a chance for the schools that consider all 4 years for calculating GPA. 

 

3) unfortunately, because of my immigration problems I cannot do MD outside of Canada. I am about to become PR, so leaving the country means that I have to give up on my immigration hopes. 

 

I understand that by doing the second option I will not have a chance at all for a lot of MD schools inside of Canada. But If you had my situation, what would you do. 

 

Thank you so much,

Your comments and advices would make a huge effect on my decision. 

 

 

Hey there man!

 

Most people may not say it directly, but the people here are proud of you keeping up the good fight for your dreams. It's such an inspiration to see people who are willing to overcome obstacles in their lives to become what they want to be. Whatever your decision ends up to be, know that you definitely have the potential to do well.

 

To address your question... one thing I would strongly consider is to take a 2 yr MSc or MPH in a School of Public Health.

 

The following is a list of schools you may consider...

US

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-health-schools/public-health-rankings

 

Canada

http://muchsp.com/canadian-public-health-schools/

 

Now the reason I suggest this as an alternative option involves the following:

1. Doing an undergrad again in a health-related discipline for four years doesn't quite ensure that you will really get the knowledge out of it. When I did undergraduate and learned about pharmacology, physiology, and biochemistry as much as they were interesting to me, I felt so detached from learning about people and the actual health system with which these disciplines will apply to (this point isn't relevant if you want to apply for Nursing or Pharmacy etc). Doing an MPH in something like health promotion, global health, or health policy can really broaden your understanding of the health care system and also help you build up a different foundation of skill connected with community health. When I did my MPH degree in biostatistics I not only had amazing opportunities to interact with health care professionals across a multitude of professions, but also contribute meaningful statistical understanding to help solve health care problems (ex. what risk factors significantly contribute to developing diabetes 5 yrs from now?)

 

2. An MSc or MPH in a public health field can open many conduits to new job opportunities, so that even if things don't completely work out right away, you can always have that connection in the health care field.

 

3. Since you have a thesis based degree, an MPH does not require a thesis but usually asks you to work in the field for a certain amount of time (like a coop). Some of the projects you get involved in are fascinating and address real determinants of health in ways that people don't think about often (ex. what are the prescription drug trends among African Americans vs Asian Americans over the last 10 years? or what can we do to help reduce smoking in the media?)

 

4. An undergrad degree or even open studies doesn't open doors for you to meet health care professionals as frequently. Being in this program is not only shorter, but also helps with networking.

 

From your grades point of view, it's going to be difficult to change them drastically since you already have ~ 6 yrs worth of education. With the new MCAT however the SD should be much larger so that will be your best opportunity to really stand out. Whatever you end up doing, focusing on the MCAT is a huge priority.

 

Try to keep involved and participate in ECs whenever you can reasonably do so (don't kill yourself trying to do too much). Most importantly don't think your life is over and gear everything you do purely for this one goal. Enjoy your time. Make the most out of these experiences.

 

If you have any other questions I would be more than happy to help.

 

Best wishes and good luck.

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After reading this all I can say is I absolutely 100% don't deserve my spot...

Just noticed this post, pardon the two week late reply.

 

While I appreciate the sentiment (I interpret your response as a ton of moral support), please understand that I harbor no resentment to those who got accepted and in my humble opinion, no one should. If anything I'm frustrated with the system, both for med school applications, and also social supports for basic life needs (ie. disability funding).

 

I have utmost faith in one thing - the system selects amazing people (even if not all of them, sadly). If I had a chance to get to know you (and anyone else really) I'm sure I'd be proud of your accomplishments and efforts to get accepted and in awe of the hard work you put in. So if I have faith in you, you definitely should! There's no reason you should doubt yourself even in the slightest.

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Hi All

 

I read all of the stories and they all were so inspiring. I am in this situation and I have been struggling for months to figure out which option works for me. I would be happy and grateful if you guys can help me with your information/advices:

 

I have a thesis base masters degree from Ryerson University (Mechanical), I passed 5 courses with (2 A+, 2 A, and 1 A-)

I have done my undergrad in a tough engineering school outside of Canada: GPA 3.16/4 (two best years 3.79 & 3.41)

 

I am 26 and I do not want to spend a lot of money and time and gain nothing at the end, so I assume that I have the following options: 

 

1) doing another undergrad degree but this time in health science, become familiar with health courses and also prepare myself for MCAT, definitely my chance would be higher, I am sure I can get a high GPA. And with my masters, probably I will be good for interview. The bad thing is that it takes 4 years and I will be 30 by then. 

 

2) Take 2 years non-program health science courses, obtain some good marks and get ready for MCAT, and then apply. The bad thing is that, considering my low under-grad GPA I won't have a chance for the schools that consider all 4 years for calculating GPA. 

 

3) unfortunately, because of my immigration problems I cannot do MD outside of Canada. I am about to become PR, so leaving the country means that I have to give up on my immigration hopes. 

 

I understand that by doing the second option I will not have a chance at all for a lot of MD schools inside of Canada. But If you had my situation, what would you do. 

 

Thank you so much,

Your comments and advices would make a huge effect on my decision. 

 

 

Hi Med_Sep. You've got a difficult situation for sure, not impossible, but you may have to sacrifice a bit of time. The majority of schools in Canada have a citizenship requirement that would place you last on the hierarchy in one way or another. Getting PR will help, but it depends on your province of residence. Which province are you settling down in, and when do you anticipate getting PR? (Where in your journey will you be when that happens?)

 

Unfortunately with your cGPA and 2yGPA, I don't see any schools taking more than a passing glance at you, even if you got a stellar MCAT score. Western is the closest bet if you scored exceptionally high on the MCAT, they require two years of 3.7+ to pass their cutoff so you'd have to take a minimum of one year of courses, score over 3.7, and even then you have to do extremely well on the MCAT (which is what filters most applicants out of Western).

 

Regarding a masters, even though I agree completely with Ghoststalker154 about learning knowledge and putting it into practice, it doesn't matter how brilliant/experienced/special your experiences are as an applicant if the admissions committees don't look at you because they think your grades are too low. University of Toronto might take extenuating circumstances for your GPA into account if you hold a masters, but I think their minimum for consideration is a 3.0 cGPA for graduate students to put it in perspective. Their average accepted GPA is in the 3.9's.

 

If I were in your situation the choice would be working as an engineer, or going back for that 4 year bachelors in Health Sciences. If you're confident you can get in to Health Sci, in 3 years you can apply without a completed degree to most schools (in fact since you hold degrees already, I believe you can start applying in as little as two years to Queens/Western where you might have a reasonable shot given a good GPA in those two years), and your chances will be astronomically greater than they are right now.

 

Don't be afraid of being 30, or even 40 - you can either dedicate yourself to applying 10 times, or spend 4 years bettering yourself, and spend 6 subsequent years applying. Good luck!

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Just noticed this post, pardon the two week late reply.

While I appreciate the sentiment (I interpret your response as a ton of moral support), please understand that I harbor no resentment to those who got accepted and in my humble opinion, no one should. If anything I'm frustrated with the system, both for med school applications, and also social supports for basic life needs (ie. disability funding).

I have utmost faith in one thing - the system selects amazing people (even if not all of them, sadly). If I had a chance to get to know you (and anyone else really) I'm sure I'd be proud of your accomplishments and efforts to get accepted and in awe of the hard work you put in. So if I have faith in you, you definitely should! There's no reason you should doubt yourself even in the slightest.

Hi mathtomed - it looks like Manitoba is possibly opening up some OOP spots, that may be suitable to background with significant adversity (if you wanted to put an application out next year):

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/U-of-M-looking-to-make-changes-to-medical-school-admission-in-2016-303522391.html

 

Also, if you are planning on working in quantitative finance, please PM me as I have a contact or two.

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Hi Med_Sep. You've got a difficult situation for sure, not impossible, but you may have to sacrifice a bit of time. The majority of schools in Canada have a citizenship requirement that would place you last on the hierarchy in one way or another. Getting PR will help, but it depends on your province of residence. Which province are you settling down in, and when do you anticipate getting PR? (Where in your journey will you be when that happens?)

 

Unfortunately with your cGPA and 2yGPA, I don't see any schools taking more than a passing glance at you, even if you got a stellar MCAT score. Western is the closest bet if you scored exceptionally high on the MCAT, they require two years of 3.7+ to pass their cutoff so you'd have to take a minimum of one year of courses, score over 3.7, and even then you have to do extremely well on the MCAT (which is what filters most applicants out of Western).

 

Regarding a masters, even though I agree completely with Ghoststalker154 about learning knowledge and putting it into practice, it doesn't matter how brilliant/experienced/special your experiences are as an applicant if the admissions committees don't look at you because they think your grades are too low. University of Toronto might take extenuating circumstances for your GPA into account if you hold a masters, but I think their minimum for consideration is a 3.0 cGPA for graduate students to put it in perspective. Their average accepted GPA is in the 3.9's.

 

If I were in your situation the choice would be working as an engineer, or going back for that 4 year bachelors in Health Sciences. If you're confident you can get in to Health Sci, in 3 years you can apply without a completed degree to most schools (in fact since you hold degrees already, I believe you can start applying in as little as two years to Queens/Western where you might have a reasonable shot given a good GPA in those two years), and your chances will be astronomically greater than they are right now.

 

Don't be afraid of being 30, or even 40 - you can either dedicate yourself to applying 10 times, or spend 4 years bettering yourself, and spend 6 subsequent years applying. Good luck!

Thanks MathtoMed,

 

I really appreciate your reply. I am about to start an undergrad program. I started volunteering too. I am hoping that I can get a high GPA and a good MCAT score. I look forward to transferring some of my credits, and use them as elective courses in my new degree so I can finish my degree in 3 years. Hopefully I take the MCAT at the end of second year and apply at the beginning of third year. That is my plan. I hope it works well. 

 

I live in Toronto, I am considering which school/program I should go for, do you have any suggestions? Easy program, related to MCAT materials. 

 

Thanks you for your comment, that is encouraging and I am happy.

 

 

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Hey there man!

 

Most people may not say it directly, but the people here are proud of you keeping up the good fight for your dreams. It's such an inspiration to see people who are willing to overcome obstacles in their lives to become what they want to be. Whatever your decision ends up to be, know that you definitely have the potential to do well.

 

To address your question... one thing I would strongly consider is to take a 2 yr MSc or MPH in a School of Public Health.

 

The following is a list of schools you may consider...

US

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-health-schools/public-health-rankings

 

Canada

http://muchsp.com/canadian-public-health-schools/

 

Now the reason I suggest this as an alternative option involves the following:

1. Doing an undergrad again in a health-related discipline for four years doesn't quite ensure that you will really get the knowledge out of it. When I did undergraduate and learned about pharmacology, physiology, and biochemistry as much as they were interesting to me, I felt so detached from learning about people and the actual health system with which these disciplines will apply to (this point isn't relevant if you want to apply for Nursing or Pharmacy etc). Doing an MPH in something like health promotion, global health, or health policy can really broaden your understanding of the health care system and also help you build up a different foundation of skill connected with community health. When I did my MPH degree in biostatistics I not only had amazing opportunities to interact with health care professionals across a multitude of professions, but also contribute meaningful statistical understanding to help solve health care problems (ex. what risk factors significantly contribute to developing diabetes 5 yrs from now?)

 

2. An MSc or MPH in a public health field can open many conduits to new job opportunities, so that even if things don't completely work out right away, you can always have that connection in the health care field.

 

3. Since you have a thesis based degree, an MPH does not require a thesis but usually asks you to work in the field for a certain amount of time (like a coop). Some of the projects you get involved in are fascinating and address real determinants of health in ways that people don't think about often (ex. what are the prescription drug trends among African Americans vs Asian Americans over the last 10 years? or what can we do to help reduce smoking in the media?)

 

4. An undergrad degree or even open studies doesn't open doors for you to meet health care professionals as frequently. Being in this program is not only shorter, but also helps with networking.

 

From your grades point of view, it's going to be difficult to change them drastically since you already have ~ 6 yrs worth of education. With the new MCAT however the SD should be much larger so that will be your best opportunity to really stand out. Whatever you end up doing, focusing on the MCAT is a huge priority.

 

Try to keep involved and participate in ECs whenever you can reasonably do so (don't kill yourself trying to do too much). Most importantly don't think your life is over and gear everything you do purely for this one goal. Enjoy your time. Make the most out of these experiences.

 

If you have any other questions I would be more than happy to help.

 

Best wishes and good luck.

Thank you for your comment, and also sharing your experience with me. I really appreciate it. 

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Thanks MathtoMed,

 

I really appreciate your reply. I am about to start an undergrad program. I started volunteering too. I am hoping that I can get a high GPA and a good MCAT score. I look forward to transferring some of my credits, and use them as elective courses in my new degree so I can finish my degree in 3 years. Hopefully I take the MCAT at the end of second year and apply at the beginning of third year. That is my plan. I hope it works well. 

 

I live in Toronto, I am considering which school/program I should go for, do you have any suggestions? Easy program, related to MCAT materials. 

 

Thanks you for your comment, that is encouraging and I am happy.

 

 

 

 

Are you eligible to apply to McMaster Health Sciences? (You cannot apply as a mature applicant):

 

http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/bhsc/admissions_level_1.html

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So after kind of looking through these forums (especially the non-traditional section), I wanted to take some time to share my experiences. I admit it's not nearly as amazing as some of the other posts from previous non-traditional applicants but I hope to instill some hope for those that may be struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Overall, this online community is extremely supportive and I hope to make positive contributions in the future (among other things like learn from you all =D).

 

Some of you may not consider this story to bear much weight and I understand completely. I just hope that what I contribute in the future will. Thanks in advance for reading.

 

Undergraduate Years

I was pretty much the typical undergraduate student following the path of applying to medicine with my friends. It seemed like a good option, especially since I had amazing experiences with my dermatologist. I joke that my initial interest in medicine is written all over my face, since I had the most severe acne throughout my body that was awful to bear during grade school (kids are mean =/ ).

 

At the time I got involved in things I enjoyed, tried to keep my grades up like everyone else. It seemed relatively fine at first, until I hit a solid roadblock near fourth year undergrad. I struggled with depression, and the daunting task of applying to medicine with average grades and GPA scared me. Luckily, my ECs helped me get to the interview stage at the UofC and UofA during my first application cycle. At the time I felt decent, that despite my issues, I still got pretty far. Unfortunately, that only hid my weaknesses as a person, and the interview left me exposed. I struggled with handling the pressure, choking when it mattered. My inability to cope with my depression contributed to ruined relationships with my professors (did poorly during an honors project). I secluded myself despite putting on a happy face for everyone.

 

When I didn't get in, it became harder to even get out of bed as I felt like I was watching everyone else live their lives. I had no real plans during the summer and just felt myself wasting away. I let myself down and everyone that supported me along the way. I hurt a lot of relationships that I continue to regret. Throughout undergrad I continue to gain more weight and felt more miserable.

 

One day I asked myself when I looked at how overweight I became through this process if I wanted better than I am now. Once I decided to be better I started to do readings, working out etc.... It started with basic things like what is medicine etc.. but expanded as I attained more understanding. To learn more about what medicine involves on a daily basis I traveled to the US to shadow physicians and compare and contrast that to what it's like here. It was after that shadowing opportunity that I decided I wanted to try again, not thinking of dermatology, but just trying to get in and promoting health.

 

Graduate Education

As my plan B I applied to the MPH program in applied biostatistics here concurrently with medicine and ended up getting in. I figured that I wanted to gain more skills in statistical analysis in health related data, and I get to practice my hobby more (I like stats... I know ... lame =D). It was during those two years that I learned about how in depth health really was. Health went beyond clinical experience, but policy, advocacy, environmental health, health care economics, occupational medicine, waste management etc.... There was such a vast amount of exploration and I got to be involved in it all. I participated in numerous other projects in diverse fields and felt like I contributed worthwhile work. In the meantime, my understanding of health became more diverse. My perspective fields grew, and I could actually speak to more issues on multiple hierarchical levels competently.

 

Two years in... continued to practice public health, read more, interact with different health professionals... I spent time rebuilding my connections with people, particularly those who I've let down in the past. I felt that this year was the year. I became a better person, became smarter, more articulate, and actually appreciated medicine for more than just the doctor's office. I put in my UofC and UofA application again hoping that this was my time.....

 

Except it wasn't ......

 

This year relatively more difficult since the MCAT2015 was coming up and all other MCAT grades weren't accepted. In response, many people from all walks of life gave it their final try (especially those in the late 20s to 30s). The number of applicants grew greatly to be a ... far outlier (stats joke =D). Those that depended more on ECs (like me) struggled to stand out with these amazing applicants coming in. With below average grades, MCAT, and now ECs... I was rejected. I was shaking with frustration and can't even count how many times I teared up. It felt as if everything I've done... I went backwards... at least I got an interview the last time and I was an idiot relative to what I am now...

 

The Turning Point

That was until I got a call from the admissions office one week before the interview week at the UofA saying I got a second chance since one person cancelled. After getting over the initial shock (there's an interview waitlist???????????) I immediately took their offer and felt more rejuvenated than I've ever been. This was my second "second" chance... and I had no intention of fucking it up. I knew the odds were stacked against me however since to get off that list I must have been at the bottom. The UofA interviews were worth 30% so I also knew a majority of my application was decided. In order for me to move up that list to get in I had to crush the interview. My chances to get in were close to zero but at least it's better than nothing.

 

Fortunately I was practicing scenarios and getting used to the environment during the application cycle, so I wasn't going in completely fresh off the boat. I stopped practicing when I got my rejections cause... well it was pretty painful to work at it for something that wasn't going to happen... I had one week to pick up the pieces, revive my skills, and give it everything I got for these interviews.

 

I didn't go to classes, asked for time off (my professors were understanding, even now I thank them for it), and committed every single second to it. I prepared so much I forgot to eat for a day. I barely slept since even during my sleep I would think of possible scenarios and how I'd react. I wanted it so bad so that I can prove to myself that I have the capabilities to be a good doctor, and that I'm better than I was the first time I applied.

 

I can remember every single question, every interviewer, every room, every answer I gave etc... My mind was absolutely peaked in terms of focus and determination. I felt that this time ... I answered the questions well, and that there was nothing I couldn't do to explain the various perspectives and points of view. Sure I was nervous... who wouldn't be? Deep down... I wanted to prove to myself that I got better, regardless of whether or not I got in.

 

So to keep the waiting part short... I ended up getting in... against all odds, I was able to make a miracle come true.

 

 

 

The reason I wanted to share with this story is for you to understand that as long as you get an interview, you have a chance to get in. Just having one shot at your dreams is enough to make it happen. Keep on fighting for that glimmer of hope =D.

 

- G

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I have been a long time lurker and I wanted to share my story in the hopes that someone else can benefit from it. I have found tons of useful tips on this site and wanted to pass on what I learned during my applications. I apologize for the long post but my road to medicine was a windy one.

 

I came to Canada as an international student on a scholarship. I had no family here and the parents were planning to immigrate but I came on my own on a student visa. It was tough but I made some great friends in that first year that are my closest friends now and have been very supportive and helpful in this process. I was pretty naive and young back then, did not really know what I wanted, education is highly valued in my family so after high school it was university for me. The only reason I ended up in Canada was cause of the scholarship money I received and I knew I would go abroad after high school. I didn't think I would be a doctor, my parents are both physicians and I wanted to try something different. I was interested in research and thought I would continue my studies and get a PHD. But I did Coop during my undergrad and after two work terms in some decent labs I realized this route was not for me. It requires patience and passion to study a particular field and takes a long time to get any results or to become an expert. I also learned you may not always have funding to do what u love as ur grants may run out or the university decides there are better projects than urs to give money too. In terms of job prospects I wasn't sure I liked the options available. During my undergrad I faced some financial issues, the Canadian dollar value increased and my parents were unable to cover the portion not paid by the scholarship. Their immigration application was also rejected so I was here with limited funds having to decide if I wanted to stay or go back home. I came to Canada hoping to stay here after I graduate, I didn't want to go back but as an international student I could not get any student loans so I had to cover my expenses given my tuition alone was 3x the local rate. I'm not going to lie it was a very trying time and I honestly don't know how I pulled it off. I worked maximum work study hours in labs, got on campus jobs at the library and auditorium and worked as a resident advisor to make ends meet. Coop in the summer also helped. The downside of this crazy schedule was my marks were affected. My GPA went from 3.8 in first yr to3.5 by the time I graduated. I managed to get hired as a research assistant after graduation and was getting ready to apply to immigrate to get my PR status. In my last yrs of undergrad I seriously started to consider being in health care. I knew I liked research and wanted to work with ppl. My research assistant job was in clinical trials which combined both these aspects. Plus I got to work closely with oncologists, nurses, social workers and I got a good idea of what the responsibilities are and the various scopes of practice. I wanted more responsibility which was lacking in my current position. I learned a great deal about Cancer staging,diagnosis, the various trial drugs and how they attack the cancer cells. But I wanted to know more about the human anatomy, pathophysiology, how things can go wrong at the cellular level to bring about disease that effect us systemically. The clinical trials nurses I worked with were very kind in answering my many questions but they kept saying I should continue my learning. Once I got my PR I was now eligible to apply to medical school so I applied broadly but was rejected everywhere. It's then when I discovered this forum and used the information here to compare my application. It was very frustrating not having any feedback from the schools and just guessing from what I could find on their websites in past stats and info here. My assumptions were my GPA was too low, my MCAT score was ok at 33 (PS12 VR 10 BS11) and I did not have much volunteer experience. I read all the threads here on whether to do a 2nd degree or a masters, how each school looks at ur application, even going overseas. I had quite a few friends in Australia Ireland US and they did not seem to have any concrete plans on coming back to Canada and it was super expensive for them. As I was already an international student once I did not want to go that route and I had no funds to go overseas or co signers for bank loans. I focused solely on Canadian schools and decided my best shot is at schools looking at last two yrs or only 2nd degree. I decided to do a 2nd degree in advanced placement Nursing as I could complete it in2yrs, get relevant clinical skills to medicine and have a decent job at the end. There was also the option of NP. I was able to get posters and a publication through my research job and during nursing school. For volunteering I did what I liked. For example, I joined the StJohn Ambulance which gave me some useful first aid skills and free entrance to concerts (that's a perk but really it was the first aid :D). I applied again in my last yr of nursing and was rejected again. I was devastated. I had a plan but it didn't work. I was confused my GPA for my last 2yrs was 3.7 I had more volunteer hours, my MCAT was still 33 as I didn't think I needed to rewrite but it didn't work. I was thinking about giving up maybe going the NP route but I knew I would not be happy with that. I started researching again and looked at the stats on this forum and at all the schools. I moved to increase my in province status and got an interview this time around. I prepped for the MMI with friends, family, strangers on skype and MMI prep course. On the day of the interview I felt prepared as I had strategies to answer each ques type and tons of life experience to take from especially health care related from nursing. I felt it went great. But as we all do, in the next months as I waited for the results I kept rethinking each answer, each scenario, kept looking at my application re thinking my essay. This was my last shot and though I enjoyed nursing I couldn't picture myself doing that for the rest of my life. On the day the letters came out it seems God had heard my prayers as I got the acceptance letter. I was on break at work and I went in the washroom and cried. Then I went back to work with the biggest smile on my face.

 

I feel really lucky to be able to make this post as not everyone gets to but I cannot emphasize enough you have to keep trying. Even when things seem bleak there is light in some corner and there is a strategy to make your dreams come true. Keep trying and it will happen for you!

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Hi everyone,

 

First off, thank you for such a great forum and in particular this thread. Having found this site less than a week ago, I've gone through every page of this thread and the stories here are remarkable and inspiring to say the least.

 

I'm just curious as to how people decided upon which of the different paths to take when it came to improving their application? Not to flood this forum with the same post, but I recently posted my situation here (http://forums.premed101.com/index.php?/topic/85787-chances-with-a-not-so-great-gpa-of-36ish/).

 

Now I feel like I'm at the middle of a crossroad, with no idea of which direction to go. I should complete my masters in the next few months,  but I'm not sure if going back to complete some more undergraduate courses (or even a 2nd degree) would be of much help at this point. I was hoping to get a research assistant position for the next year in a more clinical setting, but I don't know if that would add much to my CV which is already much more research orientated.

 

I know I still have to write the MCAT, but I'm still not sure whether even scoring well enough on that would help much. Since I was also considering applying to PhD programs this fall (to start fall 2016), I just feel the pressure even more (particulary due to not getting any younger, I'm currently 25) and the idea of entering med school seems that much farther.

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This is amazing. You deserve it!!

 

So after kind of looking through these forums (especially the non-traditional section), I wanted to take some time to share my experiences. I admit it's not nearly as amazing as some of the other posts from previous non-traditional applicants but I hope to instill some hope for those that may be struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Overall, this online community is extremely supportive and I hope to make positive contributions in the future (among other things like learn from you all =D).

 

Some of you may not consider this story to bear much weight and I understand completely. I just hope that what I contribute in the future will. Thanks in advance for reading.

 

Undergraduate Years

I was pretty much the typical undergraduate student following the path of applying to medicine with my friends. It seemed like a good option, especially since I had amazing experiences with my dermatologist. I joke that my initial interest in medicine is written all over my face, since I had the most severe acne throughout my body that was awful to bear during grade school (kids are mean =/ ).

 

At the time I got involved in things I enjoyed, tried to keep my grades up like everyone else. It seemed relatively fine at first, until I hit a solid roadblock near fourth year undergrad. I struggled with depression, and the daunting task of applying to medicine with average grades and GPA scared me. Luckily, my ECs helped me get to the interview stage at the UofC and UofA during my first application cycle. At the time I felt decent, that despite my issues, I still got pretty far. Unfortunately, that only hid my weaknesses as a person, and the interview left me exposed. I struggled with handling the pressure, choking when it mattered. My inability to cope with my depression contributed to ruined relationships with my professors (did poorly during an honors project). I secluded myself despite putting on a happy face for everyone.

 

When I didn't get in, it became harder to even get out of bed as I felt like I was watching everyone else live their lives. I had no real plans during the summer and just felt myself wasting away. I let myself down and everyone that supported me along the way. I hurt a lot of relationships that I continue to regret. Throughout undergrad I continue to gain more weight and felt more miserable.

 

One day I asked myself when I looked at how overweight I became through this process if I wanted better than I am now. Once I decided to be better I started to do readings, working out etc.... It started with basic things like what is medicine etc.. but expanded as I attained more understanding. To learn more about what medicine involves on a daily basis I traveled to the US to shadow physicians and compare and contrast that to what it's like here. It was after that shadowing opportunity that I decided I wanted to try again, not thinking of dermatology, but just trying to get in and promoting health.

 

Graduate Education

As my plan B I applied to the MPH program in applied biostatistics here concurrently with medicine and ended up getting in. I figured that I wanted to gain more skills in statistical analysis in health related data, and I get to practice my hobby more (I like stats... I know ... lame =D). It was during those two years that I learned about how in depth health really was. Health went beyond clinical experience, but policy, advocacy, environmental health, health care economics, occupational medicine, waste management etc.... There was such a vast amount of exploration and I got to be involved in it all. I participated in numerous other projects in diverse fields and felt like I contributed worthwhile work. In the meantime, my understanding of health became more diverse. My perspective fields grew, and I could actually speak to more issues on multiple hierarchical levels competently.

 

Two years in... continued to practice public health, read more, interact with different health professionals... I spent time rebuilding my connections with people, particularly those who I've let down in the past. I felt that this year was the year. I became a better person, became smarter, more articulate, and actually appreciated medicine for more than just the doctor's office. I put in my UofC and UofA application again hoping that this was my time.....

 

Except it wasn't ......

 

This year relatively more difficult since the MCAT2015 was coming up and all other MCAT grades weren't accepted. In response, many people from all walks of life gave it their final try (especially those in the late 20s to 30s). The number of applicants grew greatly to be a ... far outlier (stats joke =D). Those that depended more on ECs (like me) struggled to stand out with these amazing applicants coming in. With below average grades, MCAT, and now ECs... I was rejected. I was shaking with frustration and can't even count how many times I teared up. It felt as if everything I've done... I went backwards... at least I got an interview the last time and I was an idiot relative to what I am now...

 

The Turning Point

That was until I got a call from the admissions office one week before the interview week at the UofA saying I got a second chance since one person cancelled. After getting over the initial shock (there's an interview waitlist???????????) I immediately took their offer and felt more rejuvenated than I've ever been. This was my second "second" chance... and I had no intention of fucking it up. I knew the odds were stacked against me however since to get off that list I must have been at the bottom. The UofA interviews were worth 30% so I also knew a majority of my application was decided. In order for me to move up that list to get in I had to crush the interview. My chances to get in were close to zero but at least it's better than nothing.

 

Fortunately I was practicing scenarios and getting used to the environment during the application cycle, so I wasn't going in completely fresh off the boat. I stopped practicing when I got my rejections cause... well it was pretty painful to work at it for something that wasn't going to happen... I had one week to pick up the pieces, revive my skills, and give it everything I got for these interviews.

 

I didn't go to classes, asked for time off (my professors were understanding, even now I thank them for it), and committed every single second to it. I prepared so much I forgot to eat for a day. I barely slept since even during my sleep I would think of possible scenarios and how I'd react. I wanted it so bad so that I can prove to myself that I have the capabilities to be a good doctor, and that I'm better than I was the first time I applied.

 

I can remember every single question, every interviewer, every room, every answer I gave etc... My mind was absolutely peaked in terms of focus and determination. I felt that this time ... I answered the questions well, and that there was nothing I couldn't do to explain the various perspectives and points of view. Sure I was nervous... who wouldn't be? Deep down... I wanted to prove to myself that I got better, regardless of whether or not I got in.

 

So to keep the waiting part short... I ended up getting in... against all odds, I was able to make a miracle come true.

 

 

 

The reason I wanted to share with this story is for you to understand that as long as you get an interview, you have a chance to get in. Just having one shot at your dreams is enough to make it happen. Keep on fighting for that glimmer of hope =D.

 

- G

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I'm only days away from writing my first MCAT and I've just turned 48. I've waited 2 decades to finally apply for med school. This year will be my second attempt. After four careers and 5 degrees including one graduate degree, I figured it is now or never. Visiting the forum for non-trads is always inspiring and helps keep me motivated. You are all fantastic. :)

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Best of luck Future 20/20; 48 is a good age :)

 

I'm 45 and will be applying for the 2nd time. If accepted this cycle, I'll still have a good 20-25 year career ahead of me. I'm in good health and my known ancestors, excluding those killed in WWII, have all surpassed age 80, with a low of 80.5 and a high of 106.2. I'm shooting for 95, which would still give me a 20+ year retirement. :)

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Best of luck Future 20/20; 48 is a good age :)

 

I'm 45 and will be applying for the 2nd time. If accepted this cycle, I'll still have a good 20-25 year career ahead of me. I'm in good health and my known ancestors, excluding those killed in WWII, have all surpassed age 80, with a low of 80.5 and a high of 106.2. I'm shooting for 95, which would still give me a 20+ year retirement. :)

 

If medicine is your passion; why not; you only live once !!!

Best of luck

 

I'm 26 and I'm applying for the first time this years (quebec). Don't give up your dreams

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I love reading all about these inspiring stories! I will add a short version of my story here. I started thinking about pursuing medicine in 2005 after graduating from my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at McGill. Due to various factors (including waiting to get permanent status in Canada, pursuing my career and having kids), I did not apply until 2012. I did the MCAT 3 times and applied twice (I was waitlisted twice post-interview). This year I got off the waiting list and I am thrilled to have been accepted to medical school (at the age of 35 with two young kids). All this to encourage you that there's always hope. Keep trying and shooting for your dreams. Persistence does reap its rewards in the long run. All the best to you!

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I’ve been following this forum for over a year now and definitely been inspired by reading many of the “non-traditional” success stories that are in this thread. As I recently accepted an offer to McMaster, I wanted to take some time to share my own story with everyone. I apologize in advance for the length of it (this is actually the condensed version, I wrote a longer version for a blog post but it’s not finished yet).

 

I started becoming interested in health when I was pursuing an UG in biochemistry at uOttawa (graduated back in 2006). During the degree I took up the sport of triathlon and became a bit of a health geek. I also was fortunate to get quite a bit of research experience, including 16 months of co-op, so I decided to do a M.Sc. and moved out west to Vancouver. Ultimately the program was not for me, so I withdrew after about 6 months.

 

In what was a hasty decision at the time, I entered in the UBC MBA program in Fall 2007. I really had wanted to work in the health industry, but I was mostly focused on triathlon racing at the time and didn’t really put as much into the program as I could have. I completed the degree in December 2008 and decided to look for something completely different to do.

 

So, in early 2009 I joined the Canadian Forces as an Artillery Officer (how I ended up in that particular job is a long story). I spent a year in Gagetown, NB (near Fredericton) on training and then was posted to Petawawa (west of Ottawa) in 2010. Around the same time I met my wife, and we were married in December 2011.

 

Army life had its challenges, but I did some really cool training! I called in hundreds of rounds of live artillery and spent many months commanding an armoured vehicle in simulated combat. I had prepared to deploy overseas but it never happened.

 

By mid-2013, we had our first baby. I was exhausted with the work tempo and wanted to spend more time with my daughter, so I left the full-time military and transferred into the Reserves. I spent the next year as a stay-at-home dad while working some part-time jobs: running my own coaching business part-time, teaching at a local college, and random army work.

 

It was during this time that I realized that I wanted to get into medicine. I met some fantastic family docs and OB/GYNs during my wife’s pregnancies that encouraged/inspired me, as well as several UG colleagues that were now practicing physicians. I decided to get back into the books and study for the MCAT. I also ended up taking a full-time army contract (in a desk job) for some financial stability as I knew applying to medical school wasn’t going to be cheap!

 

I applied for the first time this cycle and was extremely excited to accept an offer for McMaster. Looking forward to starting this fall as a 34 year old father of 1 and 3 year old girls!!

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made a new account for this because I want to keep my personal history pretty personal.

 

I'm gonna start my non-trad story with I never wanted to go to med school.  People ask (based on the undergrad program I was enrolled in and pressured (Asian parents) me to go to med school and I told them to f* off.  

Even though I was never intended to go to med school, I couldn't deny that I was interested in physiology of the human body.  

 

I had a rough childhood.  My father molested me for almost 10 years and was a gambler who pushed our family to financial ruin. He eventually ended up homeless after my parents divorced.  My mother was generally neglectful and tended to focus on herself (in one instance, she won't let me use the only computer we had to finish a school project because she also had a project to work on, then proceeded to wake me up at 2am to tell me that I can do my school work now).  All to say, school was the only place I was happy.  I lived off the praise of my teachers and the warmth of my friends.  My life was school and I didn't see how I could live without it. I also saw it as a way out of my family.  

 

When I entered UG, I did so with a small scholarship due to having good grades in high school.  It occurred to me that good grades = money.  And obviously money = not homeless.  (My parents were not supporting me and for a while, I had to financially support my father.)  So I kept my GPA up. I got involved with research mostly because it paid.  In hindsight, I could've worked at bars or something and get paid there, but I was still terrified of life outside of school so I kept my employment opportunities within academia.  I discovered that I really liked research in second year UG and figured that I'll be doing a PhD after UG and stay in academia for the rest of my life.  I buried myself in school, shunning all manner of social life and extracurriculars (save for my research lab).

 

My UG program was a small honors program within biomedical sciences, where 9 out of 10 people were aiming for med school (you can guess it, I'm the 1 out 10 who wasn't interested in medicine).  I used to look at the premeds I was in school with with disdain - thinking they were all running around volunteering, VP something to get an extra line on their CV.  In hindsight, I think part of the disdain may have been envy because I didn't have the luxury of volunteering even if I wanted to.  I could never take the summer off because I'd have no money for rent.  Staying at home with parents was out of the question (one Christmas, my mom and I ate nothing but potato and mayonnaise for the entire two weeks because that's how empty the fridge had become).

 

I got accepted to a prestigious lab in Europe with a handsome stipend of 27 000 EUR.  It was supposed to be a dream come true.  Only it wasn't.  I moved to Europe only to face culture shock, language shock, and a complete lack of guidance at the lab.  I realized I didn't like research as much as I thought.  All my previous lab experience involved working with a partner or mentor. In Europe, I was given a bench, a set of pipette and told to just do something.  I missed the human contact.  I also realized that which I do still like research, I only liked research if I can see how it could be applied to a human problem.  I was wholly uninterested in basic research of mechanism and genes.  I lasted less than a year, but it was there that I remember thinking for the first time that I might want to go to med school. 

 

I came back to Canada and started a Master's in a different field.  A part of me was not ready to accept that the entire life path I had laid out for myself was not meant to be.  My master's only proved my initial instinct right.  As I came to accept that I will not be happy in research, I started searching frantically for alternatives.  There was a lot of soul searching during my two years of my master's.  Beyond trying to figure out what I wanted, I started caring more about passing on what I have learned to others when it is of help.  I was no longer in "survival" mode.  Finances started to get better at the end of my UG with my father being out of the picture after both my mom and I put our feet down and stopped supporting him.  I had started dealing with the near decade of molestation that left me unable to form relationships with people.  My stipend from Europe left me with a few thousand in savings.  I was also getting a livable stipend for my Master's.  For once, I could do what I wanted to do rather than what I had to do to keep a roof over my head.  I realized that you can't help others until you can help yourself.  Until then, I couldn't help others because I myself needed all the help I could provide.  I started volunteering with groups that work with disadvantaged populations.

 

Around this time, I was considering med school more seriously.  I started asking friends about the process, but I was still hesitating.  I don't think I believed that I could get in.  I knew that the odds of acceptance were crazy low and you basically needed a 4.0, a ton of ECs and a stellar MCAT.  I had high enough GPA (thank you, fear), but not much for ECs and definitely no MCAT.  I was scared of the MCAT because, again, I know that people take months to study and the exam itself was hundreds of dollars.  I would not be able to afford writing it multiple times in a year and by the time I decided I was going to apply to med, it was already Aug and I didn't think I had the time to study.  The cost of the application still scared me.  Oct 1 rolled by and I'd basically convinced myself that next year is when I'd apply.  Meanwhile, I was pretty unhappy with my master's.  I hated how it was me, at my computer, by myself all the live long day.  October 18 was day I broke.  I remember that someone told me McGill does not require the MCAT.  I went on McGill's admission website and lo and behold, I had 13 days more days before the deadline.  13 days to prepare an app.  By then, I was willing to try anything.  I pulled my app together. Submitted everything by Oct 28.  6 months later, I got my acceptance and the rest is history.

 

I didn't want to be a doctor since I was a little girl (in truth, I wanted to be a marine biologist and chase after whales).  I didn't fit in premed cookie cutter. I'm still having a hard time finding a social group that I belong.  But at least I know I'm in the right place now.  After seeing my preceptor helping a family get free infant formula (the mother couldn't produce breast milk), advocating for her patients through divorces and custody battles with abusive ex's I feel like this is a profession where I could do everything I feel is important to do.

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made a new account for this because I want to keep my personal history pretty personal.
 
I'm gonna start my non-trad story with I never wanted to go to med school.  People ask (based on the undergrad program I was enrolled in and pressured (Asian parents) me to go to med school and I told them to f* off.  
Even though I was never intended to go to med school, I couldn't deny that I was interested in physiology of the human body.  
 
I had a rough childhood.  My father molested me for almost 10 years and was a gambler who pushed our family to financial ruin. He eventually ended up homeless after my parents divorced.  My mother was generally neglectful and tended to focus on herself (in one instance, she won't let me use the only computer we had to finish a school project because she also had a project to work on, then proceeded to wake me up at 2am to tell me that I can do my school work now).  All to say, school was the only place I was happy.  I lived off the praise of my teachers and the warmth of my friends.  My life was school and I didn't see how I could live without it. I also saw it as a way out of my family.  
 
When I entered UG, I did so with a small scholarship due to having good grades in high school.  It occurred to me that good grades = money.  And obviously money = not homeless.  (My parents were not supporting me and for a while, I had to financially support my father.)  So I kept my GPA up. I got involved with research mostly because it paid.  In hindsight, I could've worked at bars or something and get paid there, but I was still terrified of life outside of school so I kept my employment opportunities within academia.  I discovered that I really liked research in second year UG and figured that I'll be doing a PhD after UG and stay in academia for the rest of my life.  I buried myself in school, shunning all manner of social life and extracurriculars (save for my research lab).
 
My UG program was a small honors program within biomedical sciences, where 9 out of 10 people were aiming for med school (you can guess it, I'm the 1 out 10 who wasn't interested in medicine).  I used to look at the premeds I was in school with with disdain - thinking they were all running around volunteering, VP something to get an extra line on their CV.  In hindsight, I think part of the disdain may have been envy because I didn't have the luxury of volunteering even if I wanted to.  I could never take the summer off because I'd have no money for rent.  Staying at home with parents was out of the question (one Christmas, my mom and I ate nothing but potato and mayonnaise for the entire two weeks because that's how empty the fridge had become).
 
I got accepted to a prestigious lab in Europe with a handsome stipend of 27 000 EUR.  It was supposed to be a dream come true.  Only it wasn't.  I moved to Europe only to face culture shock, language shock, and a complete lack of guidance at the lab.  I realized I didn't like research as much as I thought.  All my previous lab experience involved working with a partner or mentor. In Europe, I was given a bench, a set of pipette and told to just do something.  I missed the human contact.  I also realized that which I do still like research, I only liked research if I can see how it could be applied to a human problem.  I was wholly uninterested in basic research of mechanism and genes.  I lasted less than a year, but it was there that I remember thinking for the first time that I might want to go to med school. 
 
I came back to Canada and started a Master's in a different field.  A part of me was not ready to accept that the entire life path I had laid out for myself was not meant to be.  My master's only proved my initial instinct right.  As I came to accept that I will not be happy in research, I started searching frantically for alternatives.  There was a lot of soul searching during my two years of my master's.  Beyond trying to figure out what I wanted, I started caring more about passing on what I have learned to others when it is of help.  I was no longer in "survival" mode.  Finances started to get better at the end of my UG with my father being out of the picture after both my mom and I put our feet down and stopped supporting him.  I had started dealing with the near decade of molestation that left me unable to form relationships with people.  My stipend from Europe left me with a few thousand in savings.  I was also getting a livable stipend for my Master's.  For once, I could do what I wanted to do rather than what I had to do to keep a roof over my head.  I realized that you can't help others until you can help yourself.  Until then, I couldn't help others because I myself needed all the help I could provide.  I started volunteering with groups that work with disadvantaged populations.
 
Around this time, I was considering med school more seriously.  I started asking friends about the process, but I was still hesitating.  I don't think I believed that I could get in.  I knew that the odds of acceptance were crazy low and you basically needed a 4.0, a ton of ECs and a stellar MCAT.  I had high enough GPA (thank you, fear), but not much for ECs and definitely no MCAT.  I was scared of the MCAT because, again, I know that people take months to study and the exam itself was hundreds of dollars.  I would not be able to afford writing it multiple times in a year and by the time I decided I was going to apply to med, it was already Aug and I didn't think I had the time to study.  The cost of the application still scared me.  Oct 1 rolled by and I'd basically convinced myself that next year is when I'd apply.  Meanwhile, I was pretty unhappy with my master's.  I hated how it was me, at my computer, by myself all the live long day.  October 18 was day I broke.  I remember that someone told me McGill does not require the MCAT.  I went on McGill's admission website and lo and behold, I had 13 days more days before the deadline.  13 days to prepare an app.  By then, I was willing to try anything.  I pulled my app together. Submitted everything by Oct 28.  6 months later, I got my acceptance and the rest is history.
 
I didn't want to be a doctor since I was a little girl (in truth, I wanted to be a marine biologist and chase after whales).  I didn't fit in premed cookie cutter. I'm still having a hard time finding a social group that I belong.  But at least I know I'm in the right place now.  After seeing my preceptor helping a family get free infant formula (the mother couldn't produce breast milk), advocating for her patients through divorces and custody battles with abusive ex's I feel like this is a profession where I could do everything I feel is important to do.

 

wow.....

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I wanted to post my story specifically for those non-trads with lower GPAs.

 

Here we go. I knew I wanted to be a doctor from a young age (so I guess in that sense I am traditional!). The battle of getting into med really started for me in first year university. I was the first one in my family to attempt a university degree, and I was from a small town, so I really had no clue about the whole “pre-med strategy”. I chose a biochemistry undergrad because I liked biology and chemistry (it seemed to be a no brainer to me). In first year I obtained As, but also Bs and Cs. The transition from small town to city life was quite the adjustment and I was proud of the fact that I was going to university in a city and doing what I thought was “well” in a difficult program. Up until this point my average was probably a solid B/B+. It didn’t dawn on me that this would be a major hurdle of getting into med until midway through 3rd year. In one of my classes a prof mentioned that if you didn’t have at least a 3.7 GPA you could kiss scholarship funding (i.e. NSERC, CIHR) goodbye. This struck terror into me. If I “couldn’t even” get grad funding with a less than 3.7 GPA, did this mean I couldn’t get into med school? Trying to find a prof to take me for a 4th year research project was when reality really started to sink in. In interview after interview profs were telling me I just wasn’t honours research material because of my bad grades.

 

Luckily, I found one prof who was amazing. For the first time in my life I had someone take me under their wing and mentor me. During the interview she told me she purposely didn’t look at my grades, because as an undergrad, the most important thing was whether I would “mesh” well in the lab. She was extremely kind, supported me in the lab, and handed down many many pearls of wisdom. Encouraged by my supervisor and research project, I realized at this point if I didn’t pull up my GPA, I wouldn’t get into graduate school. I threw everything I had into 4th year and with a supportive environment I was able to get a GPA of 3.85. Even with this, I only ended up with an overall undergrad OMSAS GPA of 3.2.

 

** This is where I have to go on a tangent. I hate that lower GPAs are somehow synonymous with laziness. For me, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I studied very hard during my undergrad and was proud of my marks, until I entered the graduate/pre-med world. Sure, I struggled with a 6 course semester load and did horribly in organic chemistry I, II, and III, but it doesn’t make me lazy. I was raised in an environment where if you couldn’t handle everything on your own you just “weren’t good enough”. This resulted in a self-imposed barrier that prevented me from seeking help from fellow classmates or professors. Asking for help was viewed as “bad and weak” because I should be smart enough to know how to do it by myself. This resulted in me throwing even more time into studying, although without guidance, my attempts were pretty futile. This lead me to believe my “low GPA” was because I just wasn’t smart enough. At least this is what people were telling me. At this point I had really convinced myself that I just wasn’t smart enough for medicine. Luckily, I thoroughly enjoyed 4th year and the awesome environment I did my research project in, so I pursued graduate studies instead. ** Tangent over.

 

I took a 4th year pharmacology course and LOVED it, so I applied to and interviewed at graduate schools in pharmacology in Ontario and Quebec. I was accepted into one program, but because of grades wasn’t able to find a professor willing to take me. I eventually found a prof willing to take me at another school, but was rejected by that school (grades again). I had a decision to make, abandon graduate school or take a “special” year at the school to show that I really wanted to be there. Luckily the professor was still willing to pay me a graduate stipend (even though I wasn’t in grad school) as well as allow me to work in the lab. I interviewed again the following year and was thankfully accepted into the Master’s program. For the first time, I started to thrive. Once I was in, my GPA was no longer looked at, and I felt on an even playing field with my fellow colleagues. I loved research and the hospital centre our lab was in. I was working alongside physicians and this just re-enforced to me how much I wanted to go into medicine. I wanted to do my (now) PhD proper justice though, and threw myself into my projects. I was working very hard, but was also really happy and proud of the process I was making. During my 7 year PhD I was fortunate to present my research findings at national and international conferences and to publish good quality papers.

 

Riding on my newly restored self-confidence I thought I would try to apply to medicine for the first time (2012-2013 cycle). Since I came from a small rural town, I decided NOSM was my best option. Again, after seeing my horrific OMSAS calculated GPA of 3.2 sitting in front of me, I was expecting a full out rejection. Many people around me also discouraged me from applying because of my “really bad GPA”. I knew deep down though I would forever feel the regret if I didn’t at least try. I applied and to my absolute shock and delight I was offered an interview. This REALLY encouraged me, someone WAS interested in me. I went to the interview and was rejected afterwards. This rejection didn’t hit me too hard because I realized:

 

1) My GPA was low (by pre-med standards), and I would need the GPA boost from my completed PhD

2) I didn’t have as many ECs as I could. I decided to sit the following year out to graduate from my PhD and to take time to do as many volunteer ECs as I could.

 

I reapplied in the 2014-2015 cycle thinking I had a much better shot (increased GPA and better ECs). Thankfully, I was offered an interview again at NOSM. I practiced the CRAP out of interviewing. I practiced at least 2 hours every other day from the time I received an interview invite until I had my interview. I knew my lower GPA would hold me back, so I had to knock the interview out of the park. But, as long as I had an interview, I had a shot, right?! I completed the interview and thought I had done really well. I figured this was my best shot. I found out that May that I was rejected. This second rejection hit me really hard.

 

At this point I realized I would have to face my biggest fear – writing the MCAT. After hearing so often how bad my GPA was, I actually started believing I wasn’t smart enough to do well on the MCAT. MCAT prep courses weren’t an option for me, so I would have to do the studying on my own. I threw myself into studying and set myself an ambitious 2.5 month study plan. I wrote the MCAT and actually came out of the exam, got into the car, told my boyfriend that my dream of getting into medical school was over, before bursting into tears. I fully convinced myself I had bombed the exam. After the agonizing wait I found out my MCAT wasn’t as bad as I thought it was – 128/131/127/126 (overall 512). Not amazing by many people’s standards (ouch to psych/soc), but a huge confidence boost for someone like me that had convinced myself I wasn’t smart enough. At least my MCAT wouldn’t hold me back like my GPA was.

 

I applied to medical schools across Canada and even Singapore this past cycle and took a second year undergrad English Lit course to satisfy the UBC pre-req, but then I started to seclude myself. Surrounding myself with negative self-thoughts and negative people, I spiraled into anxiety and mild depression. This forced me into a position that I had never been in before. I was not happy with the person I was. I realized it was the time for introspection. Negativity had convinced me I was not good enough, that I should have known I was going to do poorly in undergrad, and that I should have somehow done better. I dwelled in the “failure” of my past, fretting over how grades from 10 years ago were impacting and dictating my future. Didn't they know that wasn't who I was now? With a well-earned PhD from a respected institution, good publications, and solid ECs, it seemed I would never be able to redeem myself and crawl out of the hole of my undergrad GPA. From those around me I received remarks like, “you have a PhD, you should go into the pharmaceutical world and actually make decent money”, “your undergrad GPA isn’t competitive enough”, “its time to let your dream go, you are too old to do this now”, etc … When I finally had the courage to reach out to family, I was made to feel guilty for feeling anxious/depressed because “other people go through harder things than you and they aren’t anxious/depressed.” They also told me medicine probably wasn’t in my future and that I needed to move on, I was told “not everyone gets into medicine you know!” After battling through this for many months, I came to realize just how important a supportive and encouraging network is. My boyfriend has been amazing for this, he never once questioned my reasoning or ability and was there through every tear telling me to keep going. Also, countless “check-ins” and words of encouragement from friends got me through the darkest days. Surround yourself with people like that. I am convinced your environment will make or break you.

 

Also, let go of any preconceived notions you have about where you will get in. I had convinced myself NOSM was the only realistic choice for me because of where I was born and raised, my GPA, and my age. After interviewing at UBC I can now fully appreciate that UBC is a much better fit for me than NOSM. The fit of the school really is important for your future success but also for admissions. I did my UBC interview in Feb and my NOSM interview in April and I was the same person for both interviews, nothing changed. UBC accepted me and NOSM rejected me again (for a third time). Apply broadly!

 

I sometimes kick myself for not doing some of these things sooner (i.e. writing the MCAT, applying more broadly, getting over my insecurities). At 31, I have to remind myself that 2 years ago I wasn’t the person I am now. Suffering through the horrible downward spiral of anxiety and depression let me see life from another perspective. Again, I was raised in an environment where anxiety and depression meant something was “wrong” with you and that you just needed to “pull yourself” out of it, “other people have it much worse!” I was always told. I blamed myself for not being a mentally stronger person, and convinced myself that I didn’t belong in medicine; I was too weak to handle it. You really can be your own worst enemy/biggest hurdle. Having gone through this process though, it really taught me empathy and understanding for others. You can’t possibility know what other people go through or the demons they battle. The best thing you can do is just validate and support that person's journey. Often the person doesn't need you to solve their problems or certainly not judge them, but they just want understanding and support.

 

I want to stress what others on this non-trad thread have already said (wow, lots of rhyming in that sentence!). Med school admissions involve luck. First of all, to everyone that asks “am I competitive enough”? I was told repeatedly that I wasn’t. I let this get to me. Regardless of what people say, you won’t know until you TRY. If NOSM rejected me flat out in 2012, I probably would have given up hope then, but they didn’t. Second of all, what you think is your best application might not get you in, whereas your “worst” (I use that VERY loosely) application might. Lastly, if you don’t get in, try, try, try again. Continually better yourself year after year and hopefully lady luck will be on your side. I am beyond humbled and overjoyed that UBC accepted me into their program and I know that I will never take my seat for granted.

 

So, if you have made it this far à The main message I want to get across to you is, you are NOT your GPA, you are so much more than that! I know it is an uphill battle for us low GPAers, as well as non-trads, but please PLEASE don’t give up. Surround yourself with motivating/encouraging people, put in the hard work, and above all believe in yourself! You CAN do it! I just did J.

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I wanted to post my story specifically for those non-trads with lower GPAs.

 

Here we go. I knew I wanted to be a doctor from a young age (so I guess in that sense I am traditional!). The battle of getting into med really started for me in first year university. I was the first one in my family to attempt a university degree, and I was from a small town, so I really had no clue about the whole “pre-med strategy”. I chose a biochemistry undergrad because I liked biology and chemistry (it seemed to be a no brainer to me). In first year I obtained As, but also Bs and Cs. The transition from small town to city life was quite the adjustment and I was proud of the fact that I was going to university in a city and doing what I thought was “well” in a difficult program. Up until this point my average was probably a solid B/B+. It didn’t dawn on me that this would be a major hurdle of getting into med until midway through 3rd year. In one of my classes a prof mentioned that if you didn’t have at least a 3.7 GPA you could kiss scholarship funding (i.e. NSERC, CIHR) goodbye. This struck terror into me. If I “couldn’t even” get grad funding with a less than 3.7 GPA, did this mean I couldn’t get into med school? Trying to find a prof to take me for a 4th year research project was when reality really started to sink in. In interview after interview profs were telling me I just wasn’t honours research material because of my bad grades.

 

Luckily, I found one prof who was amazing. For the first time in my life I had someone take me under their wing and mentor me. During the interview she told me she purposely didn’t look at my grades, because as an undergrad, the most important thing was whether I would “mesh” well in the lab. She was extremely kind, supported me in the lab, and handed down many many pearls of wisdom. Encouraged by my supervisor and research project, I realized at this point if I didn’t pull up my GPA, I wouldn’t get into graduate school. I threw everything I had into 4th year and with a supportive environment I was able to get a GPA of 3.85. Even with this, I only ended up with an overall undergrad OMSAS GPA of 3.2.

 

** This is where I have to go on a tangent. I hate that lower GPAs are somehow synonymous with laziness. For me, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I studied very hard during my undergrad and was proud of my marks, until I entered the graduate/pre-med world. Sure, I struggled with a 6 course semester load and did horribly in organic chemistry I, II, and III, but it doesn’t make me lazy. I was raised in an environment where if you couldn’t handle everything on your own you just “weren’t good enough”. This resulted in a self-imposed barrier that prevented me from seeking help from fellow classmates or professors. Asking for help was viewed as “bad and weak” because I should be smart enough to know how to do it by myself. This resulted in me throwing even more time into studying, although without guidance, my attempts were pretty futile. This lead me to believe my “low GPA” was because I just wasn’t smart enough. At least this is what people were telling me. At this point I had really convinced myself that I just wasn’t smart enough for medicine. Luckily, I thoroughly enjoyed 4th year and the awesome environment I did my research project in, so I pursued graduate studies instead. ** Tangent over.

 

I took a 4th year pharmacology course and LOVED it, so I applied to and interviewed at graduate schools in pharmacology in Ontario and Quebec. I was accepted into one program, but because of grades wasn’t able to find a professor willing to take me. I eventually found a prof willing to take me at another school, but was rejected by that school (grades again). I had a decision to make, abandon graduate school or take a “special” year at the school to show that I really wanted to be there. Luckily the professor was still willing to pay me a graduate stipend (even though I wasn’t in grad school) as well as allow me to work in the lab. I interviewed again the following year and was thankfully accepted into the Master’s program. For the first time, I started to thrive. Once I was in, my GPA was no longer looked at, and I felt on an even playing field with my fellow colleagues. I loved research and the hospital centre our lab was in. I was working alongside physicians and this just re-enforced to me how much I wanted to go into medicine. I wanted to do my (now) PhD proper justice though, and threw myself into my projects. I was working very hard, but was also really happy and proud of the process I was making. During my 7 year PhD I was fortunate to present my research findings at national and international conferences and to publish good quality papers.

 

Riding on my newly restored self-confidence I thought I would try to apply to medicine for the first time (2012-2013 cycle). Since I came from a small rural town, I decided NOSM was my best option. Again, after seeing my horrific OMSAS calculated GPA of 3.2 sitting in front of me, I was expecting a full out rejection. Many people around me also discouraged me from applying because of my “really bad GPA”. I knew deep down though I would forever feel the regret if I didn’t at least try. I applied and to my absolute shock and delight I was offered an interview. This REALLY encouraged me, someone WAS interested in me. I went to the interview and was rejected afterwards. This rejection didn’t hit me too hard because I realized:

 

1) My GPA was low (by pre-med standards), and I would need the GPA boost from my completed PhD

2) I didn’t have as many ECs as I could. I decided to sit the following year out to graduate from my PhD and to take time to do as many volunteer ECs as I could.

 

I reapplied in the 2014-2015 cycle thinking I had a much better shot (increased GPA and better ECs). Thankfully, I was offered an interview again at NOSM. I practiced the CRAP out of interviewing. I practiced at least 2 hours every other day from the time I received an interview invite until I had my interview. I knew my lower GPA would hold me back, so I had to knock the interview out of the park. But, as long as I had an interview, I had a shot, right?! I completed the interview and thought I had done really well. I figured this was my best shot. I found out that May that I was rejected. This second rejection hit me really hard.

 

At this point I realized I would have to face my biggest fear – writing the MCAT. After hearing so often how bad my GPA was, I actually started believing I wasn’t smart enough to do well on the MCAT. MCAT prep courses weren’t an option for me, so I would have to do the studying on my own. I threw myself into studying and set myself an ambitious 2.5 month study plan. I wrote the MCAT and actually came out of the exam, got into the car, told my boyfriend that my dream of getting into medical school was over, before bursting into tears. I fully convinced myself I had bombed the exam. After the agonizing wait I found out my MCAT wasn’t as bad as I thought it was – 128/131/127/126 (overall 512). Not amazing by many people’s standards (ouch to psych/soc), but a huge confidence boost for someone like me that had convinced myself I wasn’t smart enough. At least my MCAT wouldn’t hold me back like my GPA was.

 

I applied to medical schools across Canada and even Singapore this past cycle and took a second year undergrad English Lit course to satisfy the UBC pre-req, but then I started to seclude myself. Surrounding myself with negative self-thoughts and negative people, I spiraled into anxiety and mild depression. This forced me into a position that I had never been in before. I was not happy with the person I was. I realized it was the time for introspection. Negativity had convinced me I was not good enough, that I should have known I was going to do poorly in undergrad, and that I should have somehow done better. I dwelled in the “failure” of my past, fretting over how grades from 10 years ago were impacting and dictating my future. Didn't they know that wasn't who I was now? With a well-earned PhD from a respected institution, good publications, and solid ECs, it seemed I would never be able to redeem myself and crawl out of the hole of my undergrad GPA. From those around me I received remarks like, “you have a PhD, you should go into the pharmaceutical world and actually make decent money”, “your undergrad GPA isn’t competitive enough”, “its time to let your dream go, you are too old to do this now”, etc … When I finally had the courage to reach out to family, I was made to feel guilty for feeling anxious/depressed because “other people go through harder things than you and they aren’t anxious/depressed.” They also told me medicine probably wasn’t in my future and that I needed to move on, I was told “not everyone gets into medicine you know!” After battling through this for many months, I came to realize just how important a supportive and encouraging network is. My boyfriend has been amazing for this, he never once questioned my reasoning or ability and was there through every tear telling me to keep going. Also, countless “check-ins” and words of encouragement from friends got me through the darkest days. Surround yourself with people like that. I am convinced your environment will make or break you.

 

Also, let go of any preconceived notions you have about where you will get in. I had convinced myself NOSM was the only realistic choice for me because of where I was born and raised, my GPA, and my age. After interviewing at UBC I can now fully appreciate that UBC is a much better fit for me than NOSM. The fit of the school really is important for your future success but also for admissions. I did my UBC interview in Feb and my NOSM interview in April and I was the same person for both interviews, nothing changed. UBC accepted me and NOSM rejected me again (for a third time). Apply broadly!

 

I sometimes kick myself for not doing some of these things sooner (i.e. writing the MCAT, applying more broadly, getting over my insecurities). At 31, I have to remind myself that 2 years ago I wasn’t the person I am now. Suffering through the horrible downward spiral of anxiety and depression let me see life from another perspective. Again, I was raised in an environment where anxiety and depression meant something was “wrong” with you and that you just needed to “pull yourself” out of it, “other people have it much worse!” I was always told. I blamed myself for not being a mentally stronger person, and convinced myself that I didn’t belong in medicine; I was too weak to handle it. You really can be your own worst enemy/biggest hurdle. Having gone through this process though, it really taught me empathy and understanding for others. You can’t possibility know what other people go through or the demons they battle. The best thing you can do is just validate and support that person's journey. Often the person doesn't need you to solve their problems or certainly not judge them, but they just want understanding and support.

 

I want to stress what others on this non-trad thread have already said (wow, lots of rhyming in that sentence!). Med school admissions involve luck. First of all, to everyone that asks “am I competitive enough”? I was told repeatedly that I wasn’t. I let this get to me. Regardless of what people say, you won’t know until you TRY. If NOSM rejected me flat out in 2012, I probably would have given up hope then, but they didn’t. Second of all, what you think is your best application might not get you in, whereas your “worst” (I use that VERY loosely) application might. Lastly, if you don’t get in, try, try, try again. Continually better yourself year after year and hopefully lady luck will be on your side. I am beyond humbled and overjoyed that UBC accepted me into their program and I know that I will never take my seat for granted.

 

So, if you have made it this far à The main message I want to get across to you is, you are NOT your GPA, you are so much more than that! I know it is an uphill battle for us low GPAers, as well as non-trads, but please PLEASE don’t give up. Surround yourself with motivating/encouraging people, put in the hard work, and above all believe in yourself! You CAN do it! I just did J.

I really love this post! Thank you for being so awesome and sharing this.... :D I really appreciate your wisdom. 

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I wanted to post my story specifically for those non-trads with lower GPAs.

 

Here we go. I knew I wanted to be a doctor from a young age (so I guess in that sense I am traditional!). The battle of getting into med really started for me in first year university. I was the first one in my family to attempt a university degree, and I was from a small town, so I really had no clue about the whole “pre-med strategy”. I chose a biochemistry undergrad because I liked biology and chemistry (it seemed to be a no brainer to me). In first year I obtained As, but also Bs and Cs. The transition from small town to city life was quite the adjustment and I was proud of the fact that I was going to university in a city and doing what I thought was “well” in a difficult program. Up until this point my average was probably a solid B/B+. It didn’t dawn on me that this would be a major hurdle of getting into med until midway through 3rd year. In one of my classes a prof mentioned that if you didn’t have at least a 3.7 GPA you could kiss scholarship funding (i.e. NSERC, CIHR) goodbye. This struck terror into me. If I “couldn’t even” get grad funding with a less than 3.7 GPA, did this mean I couldn’t get into med school? Trying to find a prof to take me for a 4th year research project was when reality really started to sink in. In interview after interview profs were telling me I just wasn’t honours research material because of my bad grades.

 

Luckily, I found one prof who was amazing. For the first time in my life I had someone take me under their wing and mentor me. During the interview she told me she purposely didn’t look at my grades, because as an undergrad, the most important thing was whether I would “mesh” well in the lab. She was extremely kind, supported me in the lab, and handed down many many pearls of wisdom. Encouraged by my supervisor and research project, I realized at this point if I didn’t pull up my GPA, I wouldn’t get into graduate school. I threw everything I had into 4th year and with a supportive environment I was able to get a GPA of 3.85. Even with this, I only ended up with an overall undergrad OMSAS GPA of 3.2.

 

** This is where I have to go on a tangent. I hate that lower GPAs are somehow synonymous with laziness. For me, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I studied very hard during my undergrad and was proud of my marks, until I entered the graduate/pre-med world. Sure, I struggled with a 6 course semester load and did horribly in organic chemistry I, II, and III, but it doesn’t make me lazy. I was raised in an environment where if you couldn’t handle everything on your own you just “weren’t good enough”. This resulted in a self-imposed barrier that prevented me from seeking help from fellow classmates or professors. Asking for help was viewed as “bad and weak” because I should be smart enough to know how to do it by myself. This resulted in me throwing even more time into studying, although without guidance, my attempts were pretty futile. This lead me to believe my “low GPA” was because I just wasn’t smart enough. At least this is what people were telling me. At this point I had really convinced myself that I just wasn’t smart enough for medicine. Luckily, I thoroughly enjoyed 4th year and the awesome environment I did my research project in, so I pursued graduate studies instead. ** Tangent over.

 

I took a 4th year pharmacology course and LOVED it, so I applied to and interviewed at graduate schools in pharmacology in Ontario and Quebec. I was accepted into one program, but because of grades wasn’t able to find a professor willing to take me. I eventually found a prof willing to take me at another school, but was rejected by that school (grades again). I had a decision to make, abandon graduate school or take a “special” year at the school to show that I really wanted to be there. Luckily the professor was still willing to pay me a graduate stipend (even though I wasn’t in grad school) as well as allow me to work in the lab. I interviewed again the following year and was thankfully accepted into the Master’s program. For the first time, I started to thrive. Once I was in, my GPA was no longer looked at, and I felt on an even playing field with my fellow colleagues. I loved research and the hospital centre our lab was in. I was working alongside physicians and this just re-enforced to me how much I wanted to go into medicine. I wanted to do my (now) PhD proper justice though, and threw myself into my projects. I was working very hard, but was also really happy and proud of the process I was making. During my 7 year PhD I was fortunate to present my research findings at national and international conferences and to publish good quality papers.

 

Riding on my newly restored self-confidence I thought I would try to apply to medicine for the first time (2012-2013 cycle). Since I came from a small rural town, I decided NOSM was my best option. Again, after seeing my horrific OMSAS calculated GPA of 3.2 sitting in front of me, I was expecting a full out rejection. Many people around me also discouraged me from applying because of my “really bad GPA”. I knew deep down though I would forever feel the regret if I didn’t at least try. I applied and to my absolute shock and delight I was offered an interview. This REALLY encouraged me, someone WAS interested in me. I went to the interview and was rejected afterwards. This rejection didn’t hit me too hard because I realized:

 

1) My GPA was low (by pre-med standards), and I would need the GPA boost from my completed PhD

2) I didn’t have as many ECs as I could. I decided to sit the following year out to graduate from my PhD and to take time to do as many volunteer ECs as I could.

 

I reapplied in the 2014-2015 cycle thinking I had a much better shot (increased GPA and better ECs). Thankfully, I was offered an interview again at NOSM. I practiced the CRAP out of interviewing. I practiced at least 2 hours every other day from the time I received an interview invite until I had my interview. I knew my lower GPA would hold me back, so I had to knock the interview out of the park. But, as long as I had an interview, I had a shot, right?! I completed the interview and thought I had done really well. I figured this was my best shot. I found out that May that I was rejected. This second rejection hit me really hard.

 

At this point I realized I would have to face my biggest fear – writing the MCAT. After hearing so often how bad my GPA was, I actually started believing I wasn’t smart enough to do well on the MCAT. MCAT prep courses weren’t an option for me, so I would have to do the studying on my own. I threw myself into studying and set myself an ambitious 2.5 month study plan. I wrote the MCAT and actually came out of the exam, got into the car, told my boyfriend that my dream of getting into medical school was over, before bursting into tears. I fully convinced myself I had bombed the exam. After the agonizing wait I found out my MCAT wasn’t as bad as I thought it was – 128/131/127/126 (overall 512). Not amazing by many people’s standards (ouch to psych/soc), but a huge confidence boost for someone like me that had convinced myself I wasn’t smart enough. At least my MCAT wouldn’t hold me back like my GPA was.

 

I applied to medical schools across Canada and even Singapore this past cycle and took a second year undergrad English Lit course to satisfy the UBC pre-req, but then I started to seclude myself. Surrounding myself with negative self-thoughts and negative people, I spiraled into anxiety and mild depression. This forced me into a position that I had never been in before. I was not happy with the person I was. I realized it was the time for introspection. Negativity had convinced me I was not good enough, that I should have known I was going to do poorly in undergrad, and that I should have somehow done better. I dwelled in the “failure” of my past, fretting over how grades from 10 years ago were impacting and dictating my future. Didn't they know that wasn't who I was now? With a well-earned PhD from a respected institution, good publications, and solid ECs, it seemed I would never be able to redeem myself and crawl out of the hole of my undergrad GPA. From those around me I received remarks like, “you have a PhD, you should go into the pharmaceutical world and actually make decent money”, “your undergrad GPA isn’t competitive enough”, “its time to let your dream go, you are too old to do this now”, etc … When I finally had the courage to reach out to family, I was made to feel guilty for feeling anxious/depressed because “other people go through harder things than you and they aren’t anxious/depressed.” They also told me medicine probably wasn’t in my future and that I needed to move on, I was told “not everyone gets into medicine you know!” After battling through this for many months, I came to realize just how important a supportive and encouraging network is. My boyfriend has been amazing for this, he never once questioned my reasoning or ability and was there through every tear telling me to keep going. Also, countless “check-ins” and words of encouragement from friends got me through the darkest days. Surround yourself with people like that. I am convinced your environment will make or break you.

 

Also, let go of any preconceived notions you have about where you will get in. I had convinced myself NOSM was the only realistic choice for me because of where I was born and raised, my GPA, and my age. After interviewing at UBC I can now fully appreciate that UBC is a much better fit for me than NOSM. The fit of the school really is important for your future success but also for admissions. I did my UBC interview in Feb and my NOSM interview in April and I was the same person for both interviews, nothing changed. UBC accepted me and NOSM rejected me again (for a third time). Apply broadly!

 

I sometimes kick myself for not doing some of these things sooner (i.e. writing the MCAT, applying more broadly, getting over my insecurities). At 31, I have to remind myself that 2 years ago I wasn’t the person I am now. Suffering through the horrible downward spiral of anxiety and depression let me see life from another perspective. Again, I was raised in an environment where anxiety and depression meant something was “wrong” with you and that you just needed to “pull yourself” out of it, “other people have it much worse!” I was always told. I blamed myself for not being a mentally stronger person, and convinced myself that I didn’t belong in medicine; I was too weak to handle it. You really can be your own worst enemy/biggest hurdle. Having gone through this process though, it really taught me empathy and understanding for others. You can’t possibility know what other people go through or the demons they battle. The best thing you can do is just validate and support that person's journey. Often the person doesn't need you to solve their problems or certainly not judge them, but they just want understanding and support.

 

I want to stress what others on this non-trad thread have already said (wow, lots of rhyming in that sentence!). Med school admissions involve luck. First of all, to everyone that asks “am I competitive enough”? I was told repeatedly that I wasn’t. I let this get to me. Regardless of what people say, you won’t know until you TRY. If NOSM rejected me flat out in 2012, I probably would have given up hope then, but they didn’t. Second of all, what you think is your best application might not get you in, whereas your “worst” (I use that VERY loosely) application might. Lastly, if you don’t get in, try, try, try again. Continually better yourself year after year and hopefully lady luck will be on your side. I am beyond humbled and overjoyed that UBC accepted me into their program and I know that I will never take my seat for granted.

 

So, if you have made it this far à The main message I want to get across to you is, you are NOT your GPA, you are so much more than that! I know it is an uphill battle for us low GPAers, as well as non-trads, but please PLEASE don’t give up. Surround yourself with motivating/encouraging people, put in the hard work, and above all believe in yourself! You CAN do it! I just did J.

 

Wow amazing story! These are the type of stories that keep me motivated :)

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