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Success Stories- Non Trad Style!

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On 5/30/2019 at 7:07 AM, clever_smart_boy_like_me said:

Well... this story is five years in the making so bear with me for length... It is quite the novel!!

I wrote in the forum 2 years ago with hopes of gaining acceptance to UBC... hoping to write in this thread. Turns out it wasn't going to be that year, but finally... FINALLY .... this year. This is the year I get the honour of writing my success story!!

For anyone struggling right now, it took me FOUR years of applications to get an acceptance! If you are continually improving yourself and your application/interview skills/grades/etc. stay focused on your goal and hang in there!

I am 33 this year and began this journey five years ago while deciding to change careers from environmental/animal biology towards medicine. My first step was to go back to school for some prereqs for UBC during the summer. I had asked for time off from work and was so lucky to receive it.

I completed the courses with good grades and began studying for the old MCAT. Then I saw that the MCAT was changing and got crazy stressed out so I signed up for a Princeton Review course to learn what exactly was going to be tested on this new MCAT. I found it difficult to focus my attention 100% on the MCAT as I was concurrently working fulltime. A tragedy struck my family and I had to take a month off from studying, and shortly thereafter decided to quit my safe, full-time job to float by on a part-time job and savings while dedicating myself 100% to my goal and dream: getting a good score on the MCAT and getting into medschool.

I pushed my test date ahead once or maybe twice, can't remember, and when finally the day came for my test I arrived sleep-deprived because my cat had been sick all night and it was so hot out that I couldn't sleep... No matter! I scored decently well regardless (511) and forged onward with my first ever set of medical school applications! I applied broadly and received pre-interview rejections from all schools. I hadn't expected much because I knew it takes an average of 3 applications in Canada to get in. That fall (2015) I had gone back to school to take medically-relevant courses as I had not really done so during undergrad (just had done typical bio degree courses) so I had a lot to focus on regardless. I finished those up with awesome grades in April 2016 and began the process of reapplying. I rewrote all of my descriptions for UBC and added new activities and grades.

I took some first aid courses and started working as a medic on construction/oil/gas sites. During the 2016-17 cycle I received one interview: UBC. I prepared extensively with the interview groups, taking time from work to focus on preparing. Interview day came and went and I felt confident but not overly hopeful so as to spare myself in case of rejection. Mid-May rolled around and the offers, rejections, and waitlist emails came out and I was gutted to find I had been rejected... No matter! Forging onward. It has only been 2 applications so far anyways... After a brief pity session I regained my composure and determination and set myself up for taking even more university courses and enrolling myself in an additional course that would eventually grant me employment as a paramedic. I felt the fire of my passion fueling me onward: “I will get in” was the feeling. I went back to school again at more than one institution and did a heavy load, full-time and got A+ in most of my classes... “This will be my year”... I got another interview with UBC for Feb 2018. Second interview, third application; this has to be my year!

Mid-May 2018: post-interview rejection. “Ok.. I can recover.. I guess. One more try... I have all those courses I did... does that open any doors for me?? Oh, Queen's! McMaster?? Do I take the MCAT again? Ok, let's do that – I really don't want to”... I was scared I would get a worse score somehow... And to have to redo that test and work and ... “Let's just try re-applying again this year without redoing the MCAT... one last shot with this score and then I will re-evaluate”.

I begin crafting my OMSAS applications, and re-doing my UBC application. All is well I think. I will probably get my UBC interview at least! (fingers were crossed) and maybe I would score an Ontario interview...

December 2018 UBC interview results day comes: PRE-INTERVIEW REJECTION... My TFR dropped over 10-15 points, just like my jaw... my NAQ dropped from mid 30's to in the low 20's... What??? I was shocked... How??? I had added hours, courses, activities, my wording was excellent, I had been receiving interviews for two years in a row????? HOW!!!???

If you look back through the UBC threads around that time you will see that I wasn't doing well with the news and I wasn't expecting much from Queen's either as I had never received an interview with them thus far (I applied during my first application round in 2015-16 also).

After feeling low for a few weeks or so I began to slowly gather my broken dream and tried to see a way to improve, again. Fifth time will be the charm I guess, mostly ignoring that I still had apps out in Ontario... I go on vacation to the Caribbean and forget for a while that OMSAS will be releasing interview invites. I don't have much hope but I check my email the morning of the second day of my vacation there to see I had received an interview!!! I cry with happiness!! This cycle may yet provide positive news!!
I finish my vacation and return home. I take a month off work and set to focusing on my interview. I watched Ted talks, read, practiced solo and otherwise relaxed. Planned my trip to Ontario and set off in March 2019...

The interview felt amazing. I loved the school, the people, the curriculum design... The panel was awesome, and I felt so confident when I got back to my hotel room. I spent the rest of the night in a positive buzz and then came home reservedly hopeful...

The wait between interviews and decision day was agonizing... I had started to think about my 'what-ifs' for the year... If I get in – do I buy/rent? Do I get a new car? What about this? What about that? If I don't get in... redo MCAT? Go up north for work? Move to Alberta? Move to Ontario? Start Australia applications? Go to the States? What about Ireland... and on and on and on... to the point where I had considered quitting this goal and beginning to brain-storm alternate careers... I reluctantly decided I would give it one last try before giving up if I didn't get in for this cycle. This process had taken so many years from me and I felt stuck in limbo and stagnant.

Mid-May rolls around... Waitlisted... Ok I guess that's better than being outright rejected, but man... MORE WAITING!!!
I commit to my daily activities to stay busy. I have some hope but I try not to let it get too high – the waitlist for Queen's notoriously moves a lot, according to historical trends (as noted in the Queen's threads)...
Many on the Queen's forum think that the first wave of waitlist offers are coming out May 28, 2 weeks after initial offers... I check my email like a crazy person early in the morning on May 28... and also the forums to see if there was any news yet...
I go to bed (in the morning cuz I am a night person) only to be woken an hour later by a gardener with power tools... Okay, well if I am going to be awake for a bit again may as well see how the forum is doing...

The waitlist thread is hot... “oh.. jeez, it's happening... let's see – yep people are getting offers. Better rip off the bandaid and check my email...”

Queen's School of Medicine-----
Oh my god. I don't even have to open this email to know what it is...

Dear Clever_Smart_Boy_Like_Me, 

On behalf of the Admissions Committee of Queen's School of Medicine, we are pleased to provide to you a conditional offer of acceptance...

I didn't even read any further than this, I just started sobbing...loudly... with the windows open... someone probably thought something terrible had happened... I start running around in my house sobbing and shaking!!
All the years of hard work and determination and sacrifice I had made. All the hours I had spent working at this... Everything I had done in the past five years finally FINALLY paid off... I GOT INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL!! I feel almost moved to tears just writing this sentence.

I called my dad and I couldn't even speak, I was just sobbing hysterically into the phone... between sobs I said “I got in” and started losing it again... he came over to my house right away with flowers and a card.

I ran around all day telling those important to me that I finally got in. My family and I went to dinner that night to celebrate and I am planning a party to celebrate as well.. Logistics of this process have set in and I am working on all the info I have to provide for the school and getting finances in order and looking for a place to live but... the magnitude of this washes over me randomly throughout the day and I feel so elated and proud and like crying again all over.

I AM GOING TO BE A DOCTOR!!

I am the first in my immediate family to attend university. And within my family there are not many doctors (though I have learned I have at least 2?). This was a huge goal for me. From its inception in 2014 to its realization in 2019 I have grown so much as a person and with every decision I made towards improving myself and my application I reaffirmed my passion for medicine.

It took five years of hard, gruelling work and determination, sleepless nights working on projects and courses, sacrifice, and planning to get where I am. It took four years of applications to get an acceptance. And I am finally in. I am finally in.

QMED2023

 

PS: for those of you who are struggling or otherwise needing guidance on your applications I am willing to provide insight and advice :)


 

This made me tear up! Congratulations friend and cannot wait to meet you this fall at Queens!!!

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After having been a loooooooooong time lurker, I finally get to put my post here, in the non-trad success stories, a thread I have been reading since 2010-2011.


I would say I am about as non-traditional as it gets. In the socio-economic gradient I come from, higher education is not really a thing. Most people graduate from high school, maybe do some college, and get comfortable in a middle class job until retirement. Which there is nothing wrong with. Unless, of course, you are me, graduating from high school many many years ago, and dreaming about medicine. The thing with coming from this kind of background is that there is no cultural capital to support you through learning the ropes of higher education. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, is that this “vertical transmission” of knowledge is implicit in many (most?) premed students, who have usually had the (implicit) knowledge that after high school, you go to you university, get good grades, make connections with professors and mentors who can support you. Obvious, right? Not for me, it wasn’t. I knew I wanted medicine, I knew it was my calling. But I didn’t know how to get there, and without the support of anyone, at 19, it was difficult to know how to do this. Here’s a quote from the high school career counsellor when I told her I wanted to go into medicine: “Mmmmm… I don’t know… why don’t you become an elementary school teacher instead?”. So I believed them. I believed those who said I could not make it, and after high school, I took a different path in another field. 


My career in this other field was successful in many ways: I have gained a profound emotional intelligence, I have learned to overcome obstacles, get back up and keep going when you hit a wall, I have learned to connect with people in a way that builds quality long lasting relationships and memorable short encounters. But this path ran its course, and it’s at 29 years old that I realized that it was time. I was yearning to be a doctor. But what were the odds? Here I was, low-income, with no degree, at an age where most people are graduating with a MD. But I had suppressed the part of me who wanted to go into medicine for long enough, and now it had resurfaced in a way I couldn’t ignore. So I started a degree from scratch. I had all the doubts in the world, but I had to at least try. 


I did well in my degree. Actually, I did well in the last few years of my degree. The return-to-school after a decade of using your right brain (my past career required a lot of creativity) and letting your left brain shrivel did no good for my first and to some extent second year grades. I was seeing the dream fade away. So I put my head down, and studied. Hard. I lost all my friends because I missed all their birthdays/baby showers/stags. But “I had a dream”, as they say. And I had to gamble it all, live in poverty while my peers were getting mortgages, lose all my friends, just in case it was worth it. Just in case I could get into medicine. And in 2012, after all these years of hard work, I was ready. I applied to medical school, hopeful and confident. And I failed to even get an interview. It was crushing. 


What med students and posters on this forum tell you when you don’t get in is to live your life as fully as you can, and do something that you find interesting. And I did. I completed a Master’s in a topic I loved (medicine-related), and found a job I thought would be great. And then another job, because the first one wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. And then another one. The problem was that all these jobs really felt, and were, like plan B, and medicine kept gnawing at me. I was in my early thirties by then, I had met someone, and I felt the societal pressure of it was time to get a job and get on with it. But you know what? Deep down, I knew that if I wouldn’t give it one more try, I would always wonder “what if”. My MCAT was still eligible for one more year, so I applied. And got rejected pre-interview. So I studied the MCAT again (while working full time), and I did well enough (not awesome but not awful) that I could apply again. And I did. And finally, finally, after 4 application cycles, got an interview. This was the most exciting news of my life. I prepared, read, practiced, bought new clothes. But mid-May came, and with it, my rejection post-interview. Damn. What a blow. And I am not getting any younger here. 


So the next application cycle (my fifth), I applied across Canada, and received 3 interviews. Mid-May came around, and this time I had a rejection from my home school (again), a waitlist, and… wait, what…is this… an acceptance?? “Dear medschool40&cool, on the behalf of the admission committee, we are pleased to accept you in our program”. My life flashed in front of my eyes at that moment. Me, in high school getting the highest grades but a scoff when I brought up med school. Me, in my early to mid twenties, living under the poverty line, and with no knowledge of the academic world. Me, with a dream. Me, rebuilding myself up, learning the ropes, developing relationships with mentors, writing first-author articles. Me, finally, getting into med school. Passing the threshold. Changing world. Getting into med school the closest I have ever been to a religious experience. I will, after all, be a MD. (Take that, guidance counsellor from high school). 

One last note: It is unusual to get into med school this late in life (I'm in my late thirties now). And I would lie if I would say I am not worried. I am worried about the stigma, for one. I am worried about fitting in to some extent. I am worried agism will play in whenever Carms comes. But I'll keep posting here and let you know, if you're interested, how this all plays out over the next 4 years. 


  

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Hi,

sorry, long post alert, plz bear with me...

it is so inspirational to read all these success stories, i pray that someday i will also be in a position to share my story here.

So basically I am from Pakistan and completed my degrees from there, till high school i was a pre-med student but due to some circumstances I was not able to get into medicine..

then altogether i changed my field, i did B.Com (Hons) and M.Com from University of Punjab. I have my course-by-course evaluation from WES and get equivalence of 3.90 and 3.80 CGPA respectively. i was doing PhD in commerce when i moved here so left it incomplete.

i worked as assistant director in Central bank of Pakistan for 5 years, married too during that time and have my family (one 4 year old, one around 3 year old and one 10 months old baby) I also worked as volunteer in another bank for 2 months, i am going to be 31 years old btw in couple of months

thats all i have... i know nothing about Canadian education system, i don't know from where to start? should i do a second degree in sciences? which path i should choose? which books i should study for MCAT?

i came Canada last year on PR and i am in Ontario.

Please i just want clue from where to start, i have enough dedication and i am hard-working so i believe i can do a try for a dream that is still in the bottom of my heart. Your suggestions are really important for me, so based on my circumstances please give your input.

Regards,

Kanwal

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