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Success Stories- Non Trad Style!

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Dividebyzero, thank you so much for sharing your story! I am in tears after reading about your journey. You are truly an inspiration and I will be honoured to have you as a future colleague. Good luck with everything :)

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every time I feel hopeless about my medical-school dream, I come here to seek inspirations. Dividebyzero, your story is the most inspiring of them all. Thank you for being a live evidence that there is still hope for those who messed up. Best of luck with your journey. You will make a great doctor I'm sure!

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It's great to hear all of these success stories but I was wondering if once you got into medical school and started classes and placements was it everything you expected or was it underwhelming and not worth all the effort?

Just wondering myself if I should continue pursuing medicine. I've been interviewed only at one school (NOSM) with a cGPA of 3.53(because my father passed away 1st year). I've interviewed 3 times and was never waitlisted, i believe this is because of my GPA. I started my masters in January and am hoping to finish by next September. I will reapply then. But I'm just wondering if the end goal is really as sweet as you think? If it is I will continue to apply until I get in, but if not I will pursue other avenues.

 

Thank you

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I'm not gonna lie Lost__in__space, I actually took your advice and went back in your history to search for your success story.

 

I think I got to page 6 when I gave up. :P Mind telling me just how far back your own success story was posted? Because I would actually want to read about the sacrifices (and success!) of which you speak.

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http://www.premed101.com/forums/showpost.php?p=701360&postcount=155

 

there you go! for future reference, you can look up at the top right corner of each page of the thread (below the page count), and you'll see something like "search this thread". you can then search the thread for relevant key words. eg. Lost__in__space lololol. have a good one

 

Reading back on it, I decided to actually delete it. So much has changed in my life, and my story is so different now. If anyone in the future wants to hear my non trad story, just PM me!

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Hello all. Long time lurker (for years, naturally), first time I've been able to post to a thread called 'success stories'. It's not something I'd usually do, but it seems like this is the place to offer up personal truth and (hopefully) offer some support and inspiration to those in need of it. And this is a story I don't really tell anyone, so it's good to be able to share it.

 

Just a head's up: this is going to be a little long.

 

I, like many of you, did pretty poorly in my first undergraduate degree. My average was a 2.8, I think, in a Bachelor of Arts. I had no desire at the time to be in medicine; upon graduating at 21 I took a job in the financial industry, started dating and eventually married a girl from the US, and generally lived my life.

 

Here are some things to know about my life at that point: my American wife was unable to work due to Canada's policy around immigrants and employment statuses, so I was paying all the bills. She was also very sick, which wasn't an issue initially but really started to snowball later in our relationship. Her illness, her doctor's visits, and her prescriptions were all paid for by me. Since I was the only one working. I started to go into debt.

 

Stupid, right? I was young, in love, and pretty naive. It helped that she was a fairly excellent liar, and was very good at having men believe what she wanted them to. Which included me. I digress. Anyway, I left the bank I was working for in late 2008, when I was 26, due to stress. By this point I had accrued tens of thousands of dollars in debt, was completely running our household affairs, and was the only one of the two of us that was working full time and at a job he (I) hated. Imagine why I was stressed, right? To make things worse, we were fighting more and more regularly.

 

In order to make ends meet, I took a low-paying job at a call centre and started working upwards of 55 hours a week. During this time, I began exploring what a return to school would look like. I knew I had botched my first degree pretty badly, and knew I didn't want a subsistence job any more. You know? I felt as though I was floating, stalled, just getting through each day rather than working at something I was really passionate about. So I started planning a return to university.

 

I enacted my plan in the summer of 2009, returning to university for my second undergraduate degree while I continued my bonkers work schedule. I should mention as well that when I voiced this plan to my wife, she was in complete support. During this time as well, she struck up a friendship with a guy who she had met online through a social website she used. She found odd jobs that paid cash and contributed a little to our household finances.

 

It wasn't a bad place to be. I loved what I was taking in school, an introduction to Psychology. I've always been interested in Psychology, particularly the nitty-gritty of where consciousness and biology intersect. The more I learned about it, the more I learned that what really interested me was the biology. That led to my changing my degree to sciences, and for the first time in nearly a decade since high school really devoted myself to learning the introductory science disciplines.

 

Mind you, this is still the summer of 2009. I'm taking a full course load of online classes offered through my university while I'm working at a call centre from approximately 11am to midnight each day. My wife is sick, prone to headaches and blackouts. She's struck up a friendship with a local guy, and though I disapprove of the amount of time she spends with him I'm not in much of a position to judge, given that I'm never around. She assures me it's non-sexual, that he's gay and they've really bonded. I'm reassured.

 

In September of 2009, I accept that I cannot continue to service my debts, pay rent, care for my wife, work full time, and be a full-time student. I move my wife and myself back to my family's home. There is considerable tension: they are happy to help us, but my wife is moody and unpredictable despite agreeing to the plan when it was discussed in previous months. Her application to be a permanent resident is finally accepted, and things start to look up. Don't get me wrong, we were broke. BROKE. Like, 10 bucks was a carefully calculated expense. But we made it work.

 

I'm wildly successful in my new classes and absolutely loving them despite the heavy workload. For the first time, I consider what life might look like if I were to pursue psychiatry, or some other discipline of medicine. My wife is thrilled at the idea. My parents are more restrained in their enthusiasm, but still quite pleased with the idea if it will make me happy. Months pass.

 

February of 2010 comes around. My wife is behaving strangely, and when we have time to be together it usually devolves into fighting. A normal day for us is her coming to school with me during the day, being dropped off at a job or her friend's house in the morning, and being picked up again after classes are done and she's done work. During this time I'm doing some of the things that undergrads have to do; I'm working part-time jobs, volunteering, maintaining my GPA. Looking into what the MCAT might require, which was pretty intimidating.

 

Valentine's Day is approaching. I splurged and bought tickets to the theatre (it was a pretty big splurge for us, almost a hundred bucks: the Cultural Olympiad was happening at the time of the Vancouver Olympics, so a really big circus act was coming to town). On Valentine's Day, she stayed home. I called her that day to remind her to dress up, because we were going to the theatre after classes were done. She said she would remember, and that she loved me.

 

When I got home that day to pick her up, all of her things were gone. My parent's house was damaged, as though people had been careless while moving heavy objects. There was a letter on my desk which told me that she was sorry, but she couldn't be supportive in the stressful environment of my parents' house, and that it was deeply difficult for her to be in the situation she was in. It said she was staying with some friends, and that she loved me. She wrote that she didn't know what was going to happen to the two of us, but that she wanted to keep trying to be together.

 

(As an aside: my parents are lovely people, not quick to anger, not particularly demanding, and extremely accommodating).

 

I was oscillating between heartbreak and furious anger, given all the stress I was carrying on my shoulders, and I wrote her an email saying that she needed to call me to tell me where she was and what was going on or I would be revoking my sponsorship of her as a permanent resident (new residents need a sponsor who agrees to financially support the new resident for 3 years after they become a resident).

 

At 1 am, 15 February 2010, the police arrived at my family's home. My wife, with the assistance of her new boyfriend (her 'gay' best friend, with whom she'd been sleeping for months as I came to learn), had gone to the police and alleged that I'd raped her in my family home. Her new boyfriend supported her statement. I was now being investigated for rape and spousal abuse.

 

If I was mad before, I was now terrified. It was a false allegation, but if her allegation was brought to trial and received legitimacy through the court system then my future medical career would be over before it had begun. Understand, this is WHILE I was a full-time student in the winter semester of 2010, attending classes during the day and then dealing with this during the evenings and weekends. Following my family's advice, I sought legal counsel.

 

I won't get into a lot of details here except to say that, as the police investigated further, many of the details of her story began contradicting each other. Finally, the investigation was closed during May of 2010 and a charge of public mischief was leveled at my wife for swearing out a false statement to police.

 

I was still in deep financial difficulty, I was succeeding academically, but I was in that place where so many others have described better than I. The 'Oh, you're doing what?' place. That place where people give you a funny look when you tell them that you're an undergrad at 27. Which is how old I was when this happened. My friends were in their careers, in relationships, having children, buying houses... in other words, doing what it seemed like people did to progress their lives. I was still living in the house I'd grown up in with mum and dad and my young brother at 27, desperately heartsick and sad.

 

I shut down personally for a while, focusing on school and athletics. How can you trust other people, get into a relationship with a person, after you've been betrayed by someone you trusted so much? And I did trust her. After all, we were married. Had been together for 5 years, and married for 3 of them.

 

I worked out a LOT during those times. I went through with a divorce against her. Last time I heard, she was living off of another mid-20s guy, now in her early 30s, somewhere in northern Ontario and that the government is after her for overstaying her visa. I found that out because they called me to ask if I knew where she was.

 

Academically, I acquitted myself quite well. I'm not going to bore you with the numbers, but I had a nearly flawless gpa my 2nd year back, 2010-2011. I wrote the MCAT for the first time in late 2010, getting a 29T. Sciences were really shaky for me, but verbal was always my strong suit. My first scores were 11V/9P/9B. I wrote it again the next year, but due to the circumstances of the test I scored the same, a 29. I thought that was a pretty poor score and a great reason to wait, so I didn't apply after my first write of the test. I'd only had one year of undergraduate science after all, and high school science was 10 years ago.

 

My first application to a med school happened during 2011, to Dal Med, after my second MCAT write. They were willing to overlook my horrifying first undergrad degree grades and consider my application holistically. I was wait listed for entry in 2012, but didn't get the nod.

 

I wrote the MCAT once more. I busted my ass for that test. I pulled out every stop, practiced like a demon everywhere I went. I downloaded audio tapes to listen to at one of my jobs, a night janitor at a local bar. Finally, I wrote the test and when the scores came back, I got a 35. 13V/11P/11B. I was thrilled. That year, I applied to Dal for entry in 2013. I only applied to Dal, since it was where I wanted to go and the last time I applied I was wait listed with a 29. Now I had a 35 as well as a full year of new experiences and volunteering and grades to support what a good candidate I was.

 

It wasn't to be. My application was rejected pre-interview. During the academic year, I'd taken 2 lab courses. These 2 lab courses counted as 2 credits rather than 3. As a result, for that year I'd had only 28 rather than 30 credit hours. They disallowed my application.

 

I'm not going to lie, I drank to forget it then. I was getting pretty discouraged. I was working multiple part time jobs, lying to Student Loans about my financial situation in the hopes that they would give me enough to get by on, and barely making ends meet. I was successful academically, but still felt as though I was going nowhere. Moreover, I was going to graduate soon with an Bachelor of Science Honours in Psychology but had no realistic chance of going to a med school after graduation in 2013. What would I do?

 

I stayed in school, taking a graduate degree in Business (which I've always considered an interesting support degree to other interests and passions) and applied again. You're goddamned right I applied again. I applied in 2013 for entry in 2014 to Dal and Mun, the only schools where I had a legitimate chance given my first degree gpas. I wanted to be a doctor.

 

There was a part of my essay at the very end, where I wrote about my experiences working and volunteering in a hospital. I wrote that 'being part of medicine, being close to patients and being part of their care, makes me feel as though I'm standing on the edge of something great.' I wrote that I was asking them, humbly, to give me the opportunity to succeed with them. To discover what that something great was. And I meant it. And still do.

 

The best part about writing on this forum is that the people here who read this, who read that line, will know what I mean. You, reading this now, know what that 'something great' is.

 

Of course I'm writing this here because I got in. Dal accepted me for the graduating class of 2018. I got the email when i was, ignominiously, sitting on the toilet during a break at one of my 4 jobs (research assistant, teaching assistant I, teaching assistant II, and tutor respectively). I will never forget how badly I trembled as I opened it, or the rush of adrenaline when the first word I read was 'CONGRATULATIONS' in all caps. I'm tearing up now thinking about it. That was when my life's pursuit was validated.

 

I was as low as I could be when I started my journey. Along the way I was betrayed by the person who I held dearest to me in this world, I was constantly stressed by finances and academics and time demands. I never got enough sleep. I barely saw my friends. I had no guarantee that I would make it, that I wouldn't another one of those discouraged types who say glumly every so often 'yeah, I wanted to be a doctor once' to their acquaintances in pubs.

 

I am now 31 years old. Though I will likely never meet you, I want to tell you that it is never too late to start. It is never too late to believe in yourself. It is never too late to dare to do something great.

 

Dare to do something great. Dare to dream. Dare to be wise. Dare to reach.

 

Thank you very much for giving me a place to tell my story.

 

What an inspiring story! Wish you all the best and I hope you never lose that drive to strive forward. Congratulations. :)

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I promised myself that one day when I was successful in getting accepted to medical school I would post here so that my journey could give hope to others and motivate you all to never give up on your dream. I consider myself an non-traditional applicant due to my age, 35 and the varied journey I had to reach this goal. Life is so often defined by life altering events sometimes positive and others negative. I truly believe how we navigate these events and the moments between is where the meaning of life exists. Can we overcome the hardships and build a narrative to rise like a phoenix from the ashes. I believe we all have the potential to do so and I hope my story gives you some of the strength to do just that.

 

Now let me begin by saying that I was lucky to not grow up underprivileged or having to strive through economic challenges like many people do. So I won’t pretend to compare my challenges to those of that nature. My parents provided me a safe a stable home where they nurtured and encouraged my goals, even after their divorce when I was 13. Having a support network like that is truly amazing in the development of a child or any individual. It allows us to dream and believe we can succeed much easier than if we do not have that environment. I am truly in their debt as well as that of my siblings and many friends and colleagues who never let me forget that I am capable of anything I put my mind to. I would argue that is the same for all of you still struggling to reach your goal. Search out those in your life and lean on them when times are tough or even turn to this forum as I have and read the stories of those who have come before you. It will make the days easier.

 

I remember being in grade 2 at the age of 7 knowing I wanted to be physician. It was a career discussion day and I can clearly recall telling my teacher and class that I wanted to be a doctor, specifically at the time a plastic surgeon. Looking back I am uncertain as to why I gravitated to that specialty, but the desire to help others as a healthcare practitioner was there. In my youth I was an overachiever and excelled in school. However this changed to some extent when I entered high school. This isn’t to say that I did not do well anymore at this level of education, but I was going through changes that I could not quite understand or explain until I was much older. I believe not understanding my identity at this time prevented me from truly excelling. This identity I will discuss later. Although I graduated from my Catholic high school’s academic program, I ended up dropping senior level chemistry. As a consequence of this decision I was unable to take many of the prerequisites for medical school. Being frustrated by this fact I chose to enter a Bachelor of Arts program and gear up to apply to law school.

 

I took my first two years of my BA at the local college in the small northern Alberta city I grew up in. I seemed to excel at the social sciences. During this time I also became interested in theatre and drama and began acting in productions at both the college and city local theatre. I found this to be quite fulfilling as it allowed me to become someone else. Something that I now realize I was trying to do since I was young because I was not being completely honest with my own identity. Nonetheless I enjoyed this time in my life. This joy however was interrupted by a life event that would change me like none before. I had chosen to take a break from my BA program to decide what I wanted to do going forward. Partially because I was uncertain about law school and recognized I still had a yearning for the study of medicine. During this year my mother passed away unexpectedly, I was 21. This event shattered my world. I had reached a point in my life like so many of us where I had finally saw my parents as human beings and more importantly friends. My mother had become my closest confidante and friend as well as the woman who gave me life and guidance as a child/youth. I fell into a depression and asked my father to help me seek out professional counsel to help me overcome this. My father rose to the occasion and helped me at home and found me suitable counsel. It helped me put things into perspective at the time so that I could climb out of my stupor. This year was also filled with other momentous events. My step-mother who had returned to school to complete her RN was graduating from the University of Alberta. I went with my family to attend her convocation at the Northern Alberta Jubilation theatre. During this event I watched as nurses received their graduation papers and I realized that I still had the desire to pursue medicine. My mother had always been a big supporter of this dream as had my father, so now more than ever in light of her recent passing I wanted to make her proud by shifting my educational focus back towards medicine. I returned to college that fall and took senior level high school chemistry and over the next two years completed two years of my Bachelor of Science. I did quite well in these courses, most of which being prerequisites. Upon completion of these two years I was now required to move to Edmonton to finish my degree, I was 23. I was scared and nervous to move still missing my mother so much, still struggling with an identity issue that had not been fully addressed as I was focused more on school and grieving for my mother’s absence.

 

I began the last two years of my BSc program at the UofA when I was 23. This year was immensely challenging as it was a bit of a culture shock going from a small city and college where you felt like you knew everyone to a large city and University where you felt like a number rather than an individual. During this year I struggled with course work. I was missing my family, missing my mother and I had begun to recognize the identity issue I was struggling with, my sexuality. As a result I had a poor GPA by MD admission standards ~3.1. I was certain that after this year my hopes of gaining acceptance to medical school were dashed, but I still pressed on. I joined a research lab for a summer studentship between my third and fourth year as well as following the completion of my fourth year. I enjoyed research and realized the significance it played in human health. Upon graduating from my BSc I was at a crossroads again. Uncertain as to what I should do. Wanting to be a physician so much but at the same time so fearful of rejection due to my poor academic standing during my third year so fear won out and I chose not to write the MCAT or apply, I was 25. I was left with no options, until my research supervisor for my summer studentships offered to take me on as a graduate student. An act that I am immensely grateful for.

 

I did well in graduate school. Acing my course work and performing a substantial amount of research in the field of immunology and cell biology. I thought that perhaps obtaining a PhD wouldn’t be that bad of an alternative to my dreams of being a physician. During my graduate program I began to truly accept my identity as a homosexual man as well, I was 27. This did not come easily as I feared that my family and friends would not accept me, but I realized I could no longer hide the truth of about my identity as I knew it had crippled me in the past. Through counselling and support of my family, especially my father who was more understanding than I could have ever imagined I became a proud gay man. I still remember my father’s first words when I told him, “I wish I had done more to make you feel like you could have told me sooner”. Those words are etched in my mind forever, as the love this man had for me his child was boundless. I also realized at this time that if I was going to be true to my sexual identity that I would need to be true to my deep desire to still be a physician. With this in mind I chose to complete my graduate degree with a MSc rather than pursue the PhD. I wrote a first author peer reviewed publication for a scientific journal and wrote up and defended my thesis, I was 29.

 

Upon graduation I knew I would need to work now to support myself as I no longer had the income that came from being a graduate student. I found two technical positions that I worked in. It was during this time that I promised myself that I would give it my all to pursue medicine. I worked for a few years and at 32 after re-teaching myself all the material covered in my pre-requisites for medical school I wrote the MCAT. I obtained a score of 28S. I knew that it was a bit lower than the average accepted score, but was still happy that I was able to achieve this after not looking at the tested material in over 10 years. I then began the application process. Highlighting the things I had done in my life that I felt made me suited to the practice of medicine. I spoke about the crisis management skills I learned from working on a sexual assault centre crisis line, where I advocated for callers and helped them through moments of hardship. I spoke of my involvement in both provincial and federal politics, where I met with members of my community sharing with them insight into the elections and information about the party I represented. I took on leadership roles in my provincial political party as well as with my condo board where I purchased my first home. I spoke about my strong participation in advocating for those affected by HIV/AIDS with HIV Edmonton, where I also became a leader and helped organize the citywide walk event for numerous years. During this time I also became involved in a romantic relationship that nurtured my heart and made me feel loved in a way I had never experienced before. I felt more ready than ever.

 

The process wasn’t over though. Like many applicants I was met with rejection. Although I was interviewed every year by at least one school, many others rejected me pre-interview due to my overall UG GPA of 3.47 as calculated by the University of Alberta. My 3.85 GPA in my masters did not offset this that much. I faced uncertainty and questioned myself. In my first year applying I was only interviewed at the UofA, but was rejected post interview. In my second year of applying I was interviewed at only the UofC and the UofA. Post interviews I was rejected at the UofC and waitlisted at the UofA, but later ultimately rejected. I felt I had made some improvement and decided to push on! In my third application cycle that being the 2013/2014 application year I applied to only the Alberta schools as I did not want to endure rejection from the OOP schools again. I was met with defeat when UofC rejected me for an interview. I was shocked and confused not understanding how this happened as I had worked hard to improve myself from the previous cycle. Strengthening my ECs and even using a new MCAT score that had a higher VR score. I was scared and nervous that the same result would occur with the UofA. I was fortunate to have friends and family who reminded me to stay focused and not worry about things I have no control over anymore. I waited and waited for interview notification day. I was so afraid to check my email for fear it would be a rejection like that from the UofC. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that UofA had not given up on me! I was ecstatic! I called all those who mattered most. I went into full preparation mode for the interview hoping I could wow those MMI interviewers and really change my fortunes this time around! I went into interview day prepared and confident, more so than ever before. I felt I did amazing. As the day passed I went into waiting mode again like everyone else. Feeling great about my interview and my life experiences addressed in my application, but a little uncertain as to how my GPA would affect my chances again….

 

May 15 rolled around. The night before I drove around Edmonton reflecting on places that played a significant role in my journey and life here. I felt like my life was about to change the next day. I was nervous to open my email, but knew I had to do so eventually. I opened it and found that I was waitlisted again. It was not the answer I was hoping for as that had not played out so well for me last year. I tried to remain hopeful but struggled wondering if I had plateaued and that this might be as high as I climb. I began to accept this result and realized that I would likely have to gear up to apply again next year. On June 10, 2014 I was out for dinner with my sister and I told her I had finally come to terms with the result of this application cycle and had accepted that I would be having to reapply. It was actually quite cathartic.

 

Then came June 11, 2014. I was driving into work at the UofA, when my phone rang and a number displayed on my car console, It was a 780-492-XXXX number. Being an employee at the UofA I knew it was a university number. I assumed it was one of my colleagues or supervisors calling me from a different university phone. As I answered I was greeted by a woman’s voice that proceeded to ask if she was speaking with me. I confirmed my identity. The next few moments were shock… She informed me that I had been accepted off the waitlist. I must have thanked her over 20 times! Telling her she changed my life, I could barely park my car. As soon as the call ended I called my father and tears of happiness flowed as I was overwhelmed with emotion. My Father was overjoyed and everything I had gone through up until that moment finally came into focus. I had achieved what I had wanted for so long and worked for so hard. I proceeded to notify my partner, brother and sister and all those close to me. It is now June 14, 2014 as I write this and I am still in disbelief, not because I don’t feel I deserve it but because it feels like a wonderful dream. I keep pinching myself making sure that I am not asleep. Guess what I’m not!!

 

I am 35 years old and I want to let you all know that don’t ever give up if this is your dream!! Don’t let fear immobilize you!! So much of this process makes you question yourself even doubt yourself, but also you discover who you are and the strength you may not have known you had or the support network around you. The process is filled with a large amount of luck. Luck that you resonate with the reviewers who hold your application or the interviewers who sit across from you. It also requires diligence and perseverance. But if you keep on trying I believe eventually it will happen. Look at me and take hope that all is possible. Thank you to everyone on this forum who has provided me with hope and insight. You have all truly been a great deal of support in my journey. I hope that I can be that for many of you still trying. I know this process and the struggles I went through will make me that much better of a physician as I will never forget how hard I had to work to be given this privilege.

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Hello,

 

It is so inspiring reading all of these non-traditional success stories.

 

I guess I can be considered a "working in progress" non-traditional applicant.

 

I am planning on going back to university for a special year to upgrade my GPA for UWO and Queens. My only concern is the fact that I have never taken Chemistry and I am worried about that section of the MCAT. I am very familiar with all the other sections. But I am unsure how I can start studying for Chemistry.

 

Can anyone provide me with some advice? I feel like my dream to becoming a doctor may not be that realistic.

 

Thank you

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This is an amazing thread. As I am new to it, was wondering if anyone could point me in the direction of success stories that are written by women who have balanced med school with having children during or just before med school, if they exist at all. I am a 29-year-old woman, and I am feeling the pressure of the clock we women face. I am also deciding right now whether or not I should complete my PhD at the UofT, or bow out with an MSc and consider revisiting my goal of becoming a doctor (have been rejected three times, although I deserved it for sure twice), or do the responsible thing and get a job to start paying down my student debt.

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This is an amazing thread. As I am new to it, was wondering if anyone could point me in the direction of success stories that are written by women who have balanced med school with having children during or just before med school, if they exist at all. I am a 29-year-old woman, and I am feeling the pressure of the clock we women face. I am also deciding right now whether or not I should complete my PhD at the UofT, or bow out with an MSc and consider revisiting my goal of becoming a doctor (have been rejected three times, although I deserved it for sure twice), or do the responsible thing and get a job to start paying down my student debt.

Are you familiar with the website Mothers in Medicine? It's pretty inspirational in terms of reading stories of women of all ages who have gone to med school and had children at some point either before, during or after. 

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Are you familiar with the website Mothers in Medicine? It's pretty inspirational in terms of reading stories of women of all ages who have gone to med school and had children at some point either before, during or after. 

I am not, medmom - thank you so much for pointing me in the direction of this resource.

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Hello all. Long time lurker (for years, naturally), first time I've been able to post to a thread called 'success stories'. It's not something I'd usually do, but it seems like this is the place to offer up personal truth and (hopefully) offer some support and inspiration to those in need of it. And this is a story I don't really tell anyone, so it's good to be able to share it.

 

Just a head's up: this is going to be a little long.

 

I, like many of you, did pretty poorly in my first undergraduate degree. My average was a 2.8, I think, in a Bachelor of Arts. I had no desire at the time to be in medicine; upon graduating at 21 I took a job in the financial industry, started dating and eventually married a girl from the US, and generally lived my life.

 

Here are some things to know about my life at that point: my American wife was unable to work due to Canada's policy around immigrants and employment statuses, so I was paying all the bills. She was also very sick, which wasn't an issue initially but really started to snowball later in our relationship. Her illness, her doctor's visits, and her prescriptions were all paid for by me. Since I was the only one working. I started to go into debt.

 

Stupid, right? I was young, in love, and pretty naive. It helped that she was a fairly excellent liar, and was very good at having men believe what she wanted them to. Which included me. I digress. Anyway, I left the bank I was working for in late 2008, when I was 26, due to stress. By this point I had accrued tens of thousands of dollars in debt, was completely running our household affairs, and was the only one of the two of us that was working full time and at a job he (I) hated. Imagine why I was stressed, right? To make things worse, we were fighting more and more regularly.

 

In order to make ends meet, I took a low-paying job at a call centre and started working upwards of 55 hours a week. During this time, I began exploring what a return to school would look like. I knew I had botched my first degree pretty badly, and knew I didn't want a subsistence job any more. You know? I felt as though I was floating, stalled, just getting through each day rather than working at something I was really passionate about. So I started planning a return to university.

 

I enacted my plan in the summer of 2009, returning to university for my second undergraduate degree while I continued my bonkers work schedule. I should mention as well that when I voiced this plan to my wife, she was in complete support. During this time as well, she struck up a friendship with a guy who she had met online through a social website she used. She found odd jobs that paid cash and contributed a little to our household finances.

 

It wasn't a bad place to be. I loved what I was taking in school, an introduction to Psychology. I've always been interested in Psychology, particularly the nitty-gritty of where consciousness and biology intersect. The more I learned about it, the more I learned that what really interested me was the biology. That led to my changing my degree to sciences, and for the first time in nearly a decade since high school really devoted myself to learning the introductory science disciplines.

 

Mind you, this is still the summer of 2009. I'm taking a full course load of online classes offered through my university while I'm working at a call centre from approximately 11am to midnight each day. My wife is sick, prone to headaches and blackouts. She's struck up a friendship with a local guy, and though I disapprove of the amount of time she spends with him I'm not in much of a position to judge, given that I'm never around. She assures me it's non-sexual, that he's gay and they've really bonded. I'm reassured.

 

In September of 2009, I accept that I cannot continue to service my debts, pay rent, care for my wife, work full time, and be a full-time student. I move my wife and myself back to my family's home. There is considerable tension: they are happy to help us, but my wife is moody and unpredictable despite agreeing to the plan when it was discussed in previous months. Her application to be a permanent resident is finally accepted, and things start to look up. Don't get me wrong, we were broke. BROKE. Like, 10 bucks was a carefully calculated expense. But we made it work.

 

I'm wildly successful in my new classes and absolutely loving them despite the heavy workload. For the first time, I consider what life might look like if I were to pursue psychiatry, or some other discipline of medicine. My wife is thrilled at the idea. My parents are more restrained in their enthusiasm, but still quite pleased with the idea if it will make me happy. Months pass.

 

February of 2010 comes around. My wife is behaving strangely, and when we have time to be together it usually devolves into fighting. A normal day for us is her coming to school with me during the day, being dropped off at a job or her friend's house in the morning, and being picked up again after classes are done and she's done work. During this time I'm doing some of the things that undergrads have to do; I'm working part-time jobs, volunteering, maintaining my GPA. Looking into what the MCAT might require, which was pretty intimidating.

 

Valentine's Day is approaching. I splurged and bought tickets to the theatre (it was a pretty big splurge for us, almost a hundred bucks: the Cultural Olympiad was happening at the time of the Vancouver Olympics, so a really big circus act was coming to town). On Valentine's Day, she stayed home. I called her that day to remind her to dress up, because we were going to the theatre after classes were done. She said she would remember, and that she loved me.

 

When I got home that day to pick her up, all of her things were gone. My parent's house was damaged, as though people had been careless while moving heavy objects. There was a letter on my desk which told me that she was sorry, but she couldn't be supportive in the stressful environment of my parents' house, and that it was deeply difficult for her to be in the situation she was in. It said she was staying with some friends, and that she loved me. She wrote that she didn't know what was going to happen to the two of us, but that she wanted to keep trying to be together.

 

(As an aside: my parents are lovely people, not quick to anger, not particularly demanding, and extremely accommodating).

 

I was oscillating between heartbreak and furious anger, given all the stress I was carrying on my shoulders, and I wrote her an email saying that she needed to call me to tell me where she was and what was going on or I would be revoking my sponsorship of her as a permanent resident (new residents need a sponsor who agrees to financially support the new resident for 3 years after they become a resident).

 

At 1 am, 15 February 2010, the police arrived at my family's home. My wife, with the assistance of her new boyfriend (her 'gay' best friend, with whom she'd been sleeping for months as I came to learn), had gone to the police and alleged that I'd raped her in my family home. Her new boyfriend supported her statement. I was now being investigated for rape and spousal abuse.

 

If I was mad before, I was now terrified. It was a false allegation, but if her allegation was brought to trial and received legitimacy through the court system then my future medical career would be over before it had begun. Understand, this is WHILE I was a full-time student in the winter semester of 2010, attending classes during the day and then dealing with this during the evenings and weekends. Following my family's advice, I sought legal counsel.

 

I won't get into a lot of details here except to say that, as the police investigated further, many of the details of her story began contradicting each other. Finally, the investigation was closed during May of 2010 and a charge of public mischief was leveled at my wife for swearing out a false statement to police.

 

I was still in deep financial difficulty, I was succeeding academically, but I was in that place where so many others have described better than I. The 'Oh, you're doing what?' place. That place where people give you a funny look when you tell them that you're an undergrad at 27. Which is how old I was when this happened. My friends were in their careers, in relationships, having children, buying houses... in other words, doing what it seemed like people did to progress their lives. I was still living in the house I'd grown up in with mum and dad and my young brother at 27, desperately heartsick and sad.

 

I shut down personally for a while, focusing on school and athletics. How can you trust other people, get into a relationship with a person, after you've been betrayed by someone you trusted so much? And I did trust her. After all, we were married. Had been together for 5 years, and married for 3 of them.

 

I worked out a LOT during those times. I went through with a divorce against her. Last time I heard, she was living off of another mid-20s guy, now in her early 30s, somewhere in northern Ontario and that the government is after her for overstaying her visa. I found that out because they called me to ask if I knew where she was.

 

Academically, I acquitted myself quite well. I'm not going to bore you with the numbers, but I had a nearly flawless gpa my 2nd year back, 2010-2011. I wrote the MCAT for the first time in late 2010, getting a 29T. Sciences were really shaky for me, but verbal was always my strong suit. My first scores were 11V/9P/9B. I wrote it again the next year, but due to the circumstances of the test I scored the same, a 29. I thought that was a pretty poor score and a great reason to wait, so I didn't apply after my first write of the test. I'd only had one year of undergraduate science after all, and high school science was 10 years ago.

 

My first application to a med school happened during 2011, to Dal Med, after my second MCAT write. They were willing to overlook my horrifying first undergrad degree grades and consider my application holistically. I was wait listed for entry in 2012, but didn't get the nod.

 

I wrote the MCAT once more. I busted my ass for that test. I pulled out every stop, practiced like a demon everywhere I went. I downloaded audio tapes to listen to at one of my jobs, a night janitor at a local bar. Finally, I wrote the test and when the scores came back, I got a 35. 13V/11P/11B. I was thrilled. That year, I applied to Dal for entry in 2013. I only applied to Dal, since it was where I wanted to go and the last time I applied I was wait listed with a 29. Now I had a 35 as well as a full year of new experiences and volunteering and grades to support what a good candidate I was.

 

It wasn't to be. My application was rejected pre-interview. During the academic year, I'd taken 2 lab courses. These 2 lab courses counted as 2 credits rather than 3. As a result, for that year I'd had only 28 rather than 30 credit hours. They disallowed my application.

 

I'm not going to lie, I drank to forget it then. I was getting pretty discouraged. I was working multiple part time jobs, lying to Student Loans about my financial situation in the hopes that they would give me enough to get by on, and barely making ends meet. I was successful academically, but still felt as though I was going nowhere. Moreover, I was going to graduate soon with an Bachelor of Science Honours in Psychology but had no realistic chance of going to a med school after graduation in 2013. What would I do?

 

I stayed in school, taking a graduate degree in Business (which I've always considered an interesting support degree to other interests and passions) and applied again. You're goddamned right I applied again. I applied in 2013 for entry in 2014 to Dal and Mun, the only schools where I had a legitimate chance given my first degree gpas. I wanted to be a doctor.

 

There was a part of my essay at the very end, where I wrote about my experiences working and volunteering in a hospital. I wrote that 'being part of medicine, being close to patients and being part of their care, makes me feel as though I'm standing on the edge of something great.' I wrote that I was asking them, humbly, to give me the opportunity to succeed with them. To discover what that something great was. And I meant it. And still do.

 

The best part about writing on this forum is that the people here who read this, who read that line, will know what I mean. You, reading this now, know what that 'something great' is.

 

Of course I'm writing this here because I got in. Dal accepted me for the graduating class of 2018. I got the email when i was, ignominiously, sitting on the toilet during a break at one of my 4 jobs (research assistant, teaching assistant I, teaching assistant II, and tutor respectively). I will never forget how badly I trembled as I opened it, or the rush of adrenaline when the first word I read was 'CONGRATULATIONS' in all caps. I'm tearing up now thinking about it. That was when my life's pursuit was validated.

 

I was as low as I could be when I started my journey. Along the way I was betrayed by the person who I held dearest to me in this world, I was constantly stressed by finances and academics and time demands. I never got enough sleep. I barely saw my friends. I had no guarantee that I would make it, that I wouldn't another one of those discouraged types who say glumly every so often 'yeah, I wanted to be a doctor once' to their acquaintances in pubs.

 

I am now 31 years old. Though I will likely never meet you, I want to tell you that it is never too late to start. It is never too late to believe in yourself. It is never too late to dare to do something great.

 

Dare to do something great. Dare to dream. Dare to be wise. Dare to reach.

 

Thank you very much for giving me a place to tell my story.

 

This made me cry. I'm glad you got in and I think you'll be an amazing doctor.

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DividebyZero, dude, crazy story ...

 

there is a lot of craziness in my story but I going to wait till I make the move to apply and get accepted. I've seen a few people on the forum with similar backgrounds that got accepted ... 

 

Stats

- BSc Computing Science (2004) / BCom Business (2005)

- cGPA (5 years), about 3.65 ... depending on how aggressively you round it off ;)

- started a few ventures, (tech / finance), none succeeded. Instead got in some deep debt.

- while working on ventures, worked in Oil and Gas directional drilling to pay the debt / support the family.

- I am 34 and am contemplating med school. Age is a bit of a kink in my decision to apply .. by the time its all said and done .. I will be 43-44 realistically speaking .. giving me about 20 years in practice.

 

If you've had similar experience / education / age etc .. I would be interested in hearing your story and your journey .. and if anyone can share comments re: age, that would be much appreciated ...

Thanks!!  

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DividebyZero, dude, crazy story ...

 

there is a lot of craziness in my story but I going to wait till I make the move to apply and get accepted. I've seen a few people on the forum with similar backgrounds that got accepted ... 

 

Stats

- BSc Computing Science (2004) / BCom Business (2005)

- cGPA (5 years), about 3.65 ... depending on how aggressively you round it off ;)

- started a few ventures, (tech / finance), none succeeded. Instead got in some deep debt.

- while working on ventures, worked in Oil and Gas directional drilling to pay the debt / support the family.

- I am 34 and am contemplating med school. Age is a bit of a kink in my decision to apply .. by the time its all said and done .. I will be 43-44 realistically speaking .. giving me about 20 years in practice.

 

If you've had similar experience / education / age etc .. I would be interested in hearing your story and your journey .. and if anyone can share comments re: age, that would be much appreciated ...

Thanks!!  

 

You are similar to me. I have Bcomm (2009)

Gpa = 3.5

I also work in finance and unfulfilled/bored.

I am 28 and have a family. I dont think your age is all that relevant. The difficult part is going for it and taking care of your family - thats what I struggle with. So in a lot of respects we are in the same boat!

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You are similar to me. I have Bcomm (2009)

Gpa = 3.5

I also work in finance and unfulfilled/bored.

I am 28 and have a family. I dont think your age is all that relevant. The difficult part is going for it and taking care of your family - thats what I struggle with. So in a lot of respects we are in the same boat!

 

yea, except you are about 6 years younger :) you've got time. I am sure you have your wifes/husband buy in to do this (Its a long-haul, ~ 8-10 years by the time you done). And financial discipline too. I hear Med school can be draining leaving very little time for family / fun etc. That is why I like UofC .. 3 years boom and you are out the other end. I am working hard to nail that MCAT, all sections (first attempt June). You still have time to do 2 years of bird courses and bump your GPA if necessary. I don't have that freedom. And say enter in around 32-33, while building experience at the same time.

 

Good luck!

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