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ulysses

Want to be a doctor but am intimidated by the sciences...

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Hey p101! Sorry for the long post you're about to read.

 

First time poster here. Just some background, I am 26 years old and am set to graduate from U of T with a degree in Philosophy and English. My cGPA hovers around 3.6-3.7 ( U of T formula ).

 

Years 1-5 ( took some time off school to work fulltime): 3.0 ish?

6th year: roughly 3.8

7th year: roughly 3.8 (assuming I don't screw up the courses I am in)

 

6th and 7th year were full-time.

 

I've been volunteering at hospitals and senior's homes since I was in grade 9, around the year 2000. A couple of months ago I was talking with one of the patients I've seen since I was in high school (a war veteran) and we were talking about what I wanted to do with my life. I told him that I had applied to several graduate programs in the English/Philosophy stream when he abruptly cut me off and asked: "what about a doctor? I'm sure you'd be a good one." I laughed it off while making some vague excuse about how you needed to major in science to get into medical school but over time I started mulling the idea over in my head and it appealed to me more and more.

 

I realized after some hard thinking a career in the medical field (MD, RN, PA, DDS anything!) is something I truly want to pursue, however, only problem is I never took high school sciences and I've heard way too many Life Science horror stories here at the St. George campus that I've always pictured Life Sci lectures to resemble dungeons rather than the friendly lecture halls of Victoria College/SMC/Trinity.

 

I purchased a number of high school science textbooks but opening them gave me a headache. I understand if you want to be a doctor you need to learn these subjects, but surely there's someone who is/has been in my position who's had some experience tackling/overcoming the initial intimidation?

 

I was talking to a doctor i've known since high school and when i told him of my plight he replied: "ulysses, if you're serious about this you need to take bio/chem/physics/calculus/organic chem not necessarily because you want to but because you need to. these are obstacles that block you from you and your dream. not every doctor wants to become a scientist, some of us just want to help people."

 

EDIT: I'm currently weighing my options and am considering going to YorkU for a second undergraduate degree, so I have the whole summer to study high school level bio/chem/physics/calculus before a new school year starts in September.

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Hi,

 

There are a few schools that do not have any requirements however, in order to write the MCAT you'll have to overcome these barriers if this is really what you want to do. I would set priorities on learning biology and chemistry first (foundations), followed by Organic chemistry and lastly physics. Try your best and see how far you can get, try taking prep courses before taking an actual course and try your best. Good luck :)

 

P.S. If you grew up in northern Canada, you won't have to worry as you can apply to Northern Med with your previous degree and not write the MCAT or take any science courses. They also give HIGH priority to northern applicants. Please correct me if i'm wrong.

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First of all, you don't need to major in a science to go to med school. Many have gone to med school with a philosophy or English degree. I myself was in math and physics before medicine (no extra courses except prereqs).

 

You do need the prereqs. I'm not sure how admissions works nowadays given I've been out of the game for 10+ years. I wouldn't waste four years doing a "science" degree. First you will need to ace it to bring your GPA up to anything respectable. Second, it's a waste of time if you don't get in. I'd focus on doing the prereqs and then applying for the US (where they look more at the whole person and US schools tend to favor humanities majors a lot more than here I find, but it's getting increasingly harder for Canadians to get accepted to US schools, but you may have a chance at a lower tier school or even a DO school even with your current GPA). And don't discount the value of an arts degree. You'd be surprised at how useful having good communication skills (verbal and written) are in many specialities in medicine.

 

Going to caribbean, Ireland, Aus may also be an option but is super risky nowadays. Would stick to North America.

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Thanks Ian for the reply!

 

I talked to some of my friends who are in medical school now and they told me my GPA for the last two years might be competitive for some medical schools? Do medical schools care that all the courses I took during this time were primarily in the humanities?

 

Of course though I am missing a competitive MCAT score.

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First of all, you don't need to major in a science to go to med school. Many have gone to med school with a philosophy or English degree. I myself was in math and physics before medicine (no extra courses except prereqs).

 

You do need the prereqs. I'm not sure how admissions works nowadays given I've been out of the game for 10+ years. I wouldn't waste four years doing a "science" degree. First you will need to ace it to bring your GPA up to anything respectable. Second, it's a waste of time if you don't get in. I'd focus on doing the prereqs and then applying for the US (where they look more at the whole person and US schools tend to favor humanities majors a lot more than here I find, but it's getting increasingly harder for Canadians to get accepted to US schools, but you may have a chance at a lower tier school or even a DO school even with your current GPA). And don't discount the value of an arts degree. You'd be surprised at how useful having good communication skills (verbal and written) are in many specialities in medicine.

 

Going to caribbean, Ireland, Aus may also be an option but is super risky nowadays. Would stick to North America.

 

Thanks for the reply!

 

The second degree would actually be 2 years in duration. I spoke with the YorkU staff and they told me many of my credits would transfer over.

 

Do medical schools care that you finished your prerequisites outside of your "good" GPA years?

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Thanks Ian for the reply!

 

I talked to some of my friends who are in medical school now and they told me my GPA for the last two years might be competitive for some medical schools? Do medical schools care that all the courses I took during this time were primarily in the humanities?

 

Of course though I am missing a competitive MCAT score.

 

Moo isn't Ian...

 

There are certain schools that look at the best two years/most recent two years. That includes Western, Queens, and Dalhousie off the top of my mind (Queens looks at two most recent). However, they all need the MCAT, so prep yourself well for it.

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When in doubt about MCAT science, just cut out the middleman and find a science passages workbook and just do lots of questions. I find that just keeping at the questions doggedly helps a lot. Your final years GPA sounds good, and your ECs sound superb. :D

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from what i've heard you don't really need grade 12 physics to do entry-level physics at university, but i'd put physics off until a later university year anyway - so you can probably skip that one during the summer. taking the "math of life sciences" course at York is all the math you'll need for physics portion of the MCAT, and again (but check with the guys here) as long as you have 12U functions level that course is basically introduction calculus. biology isn't even a prerequisite there (even for biology) and it's true biology never really requires any prerequisite knowledge.

 

chemistry however, you should take - at the 11U and 12U level. that is what i would do if i were you. skip taking the 12U calculus and physics (for now), and just take chem and maybe bio - if you've only got the summer.

 

see what the guys here say about it.

 

P.S when were you planning to apply and for what?

 

Hey Ryan! Thanks for the reply! I'm looking into taking some prep courses in the sciences.

 

To be honest I'm not sure when I'm planning to apply. I still kind of want to pursue graduate studies in English/Philosophy (a short masters program), just to keep me occupied.

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Hi,

 

I would set priorities on learning biology and chemistry first (foundations), followed by Organic chemistry and lastly physics..

 

Uh, this is backwards.

 

 

You should learn math, then physics, then chem, then bio. The foundations of each one is based on the one preceding it.

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Ok ulysses I just had to come in and post here..

 

To become a doc, you will need to overcome these fears and take atleast first year bio, first year chem, first year math, first year physics and an organic chem.

Even if you do get passed the requirments and get in, you will be studying not only that first year biol/chem but also immunobiol, microbiol, endocrin and all that other stuff AND you will be applying it all to diseases.. (im not trying to scare you here, just making you realize that you will need to go through them)

I was just looking at what people had to study for to write their USMLE (an exam americans write after thier second year) and it was intense. Its stuff we do in 3rd and 4th year biology courses + application of that stuff.. so you will need to overcome those fear. (I understand canadians don't have to write that test, but its what we will learn for 2 years and be tested on, so its something to consider)

 

Now, if you are going to go to university in fall to do the prereqs. I highly recommend doing those 0 level courses in math, biology, chemistry and physics in your summer or in your fall semester. (these are courses that come before the first year courses) This will teach you everything you should have been thought in high school. It will bring you up to speed with all the other students. Once you have these, you can take on the actual first year biol, chem, math and physics when you feel like it.

The other route is, if you are confident in your abilities to study and to learn, then you can go ahead and take the first year courses and do some hard work..

Also, during the summer, you can find out about the schedules of the courses and the location and sit in the classes to catch up on that stuff..

 

some study aid..

you have already purchased the high school textbooks.. bad idea, I would suggest going straight to university textbooks. becuase the textbooks used in first year are highschool + first year material.

 

you will need to be very active in finding resources at your university. Find all those free tutoring services for first year biol, chem, math courses and use them to the MAX. (don't pay for tutor unless you absolutely must).

I cannot stress this enough, your university will have many resources for you to expolit, you just need to find them all. + there are many more on the internet (especially for first year courses), find them and exploit them to the max.

 

while in your first year, make sure you go to teachers and express your concern, they will provide more study habits.

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the first 2 years of Medicine (Basic of Medicine) is all about Science (Biochem, Organic chem, anatomy ...etc). If you are intimidated by science, then it might be tough for you :)

 

Thankfully the road to being a doctor doesn't just consist of the first two years of med school, otherwise I would hate my life as I couldn't stand basic sciences. (I did math in undergrad).

 

As I've said before, you don't go to med school to train to be a basic scientist. Medicine is more than just the basic sciences, way more. And this is why I don't understand why premeds are so hung up on the "medicine is all about the sciences..." Yes it is, FOR TWO YEARS. You are not going to be studying basic sciences in 3rd/4th year nor are you going to be studying it in residency (unless you yourself PICK a specialty that requires you to know certain basic sciences but are many fields that don't require you to be an anatomy king or know all the biochemical pathways or histology, etc. But even then, you are confined to know only the sciences for your own narrow specialty which also is a tiny tiny tiny part of what you actually do on a day to day basis)

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Moo, how much of the first 2 years of med school do you still remember? Material wise. I remember a 32 year old doctor (on a different site) saying he'd probably fail step 1 (american) right now and he was doing an oncology fellowship.

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the first 2 years of Medicine (Basic of Medicine) is all about Science (Biochem, Organic chem, anatomy ...etc). If you are intimidated by science, then it might be tough for you :)

 

Where do you go to school? Cuz this is certainly not the case at U of A. Of course, there's anatomy, but no one cares about your knowledge of the Krebs cycle or synthesis sequences. It's all very clinically geared. I have a neutral relationship with science and have not had any problems passing or issues with excessive boredom.

 

Ulysses, you don't have to major in science - or love it, for that matter - to enjoy med school and be successful in it. I majored in Japanese Language and Culture.

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Hello OP:

 

I wouldn't worry about what field you are from. There are majors from all over the place in medicine. If you want to pursue this career, however, you need to shake off this nervous feeling about the basic sciences. You have to put in a lot of time and energy to begin to develop the skills to master it somehow. All you will need is basic university introductory level courses. I realize that some schools don't have any pre-requisites for medical curriculum, but I really think that's stupid. Your life will be a LOT easier if you have taken some basic science work before starting. The important thing is to start somewhere. You might find a lot of the material difficult at first, so I don't think it'd be good to take all of them at one time (if you have no experience in any of them), but figure out a strategy to take them so that you will be able to write the MCAT and do well.

 

 

I would set priorities on learning biology and chemistry first (foundations), followed by Organic chemistry and lastly physics. Try your best and see how far you can get, try taking prep courses before taking an actual course and try your best. Good luck :)

 

Uh, this is backwards.

 

 

You should learn math, then physics, then chem, then bio. The foundations of each one is based on the one preceding it.

 

In my personal opinon, I do not think it matters at all how you begin. At least so far in my education, I have had to use very little physics, and I still think I understand a lot of medical science! The key thing is to learn the basics and use a lot of repetition! I started learning biology and chemistry before I had a solid background in physics and I don't think that hurt me in the slightest. Don't get me wrong - understanding some physics though is important (ex. resistance & blood flow), but I really don't think the order you learn things matters at all.

 

Good luck OP!

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Where do you go to school? Cuz this is certainly not the case at U of A. Of course, there's anatomy, but no one cares about your knowledge of the Krebs cycle or synthesis sequences. It's all very clinically geared. I have a neutral relationship with science and have not had any problems passing or issues with excessive boredom.

 

Ulysses, you don't have to major in science - or love it, for that matter - to enjoy med school and be successful in it. I majored in Japanese Language and Culture.

 

Step 1 cares! :P haha.

 

Jochi brings up a good point though. It depends on your school. My school in the US is extremely heavily basic science based, but that's because the first (and most important) US licensing exam is like that.

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Hey Ulysses,

 

I had a similar fear of science before pursuing this route. My background is in history and philosophy, I barely passed OAC biology and I failed OAC chemistry. This likely prevented me from pursuing medicine earlier. Eventually I decided I needed to overcome that fear, which I did by writing the MCAT with only some high school science (which I did horribly in anyway). I managed to score a 9 on biology and a 10 on physics/chemistry with about 2 months studying. Your humanities degree has given you the ability to learn. Learning science is about integrating parcels of knowledge into a unified system and is not that much different than some subjects you might study in the humanities. In some ways it is easier, since the subjective element of essays is removed. That said, I would recommend doing at least biology and chemistry. Doing physiology on top of those two would make you eligible for every med school in Ontario except Ottawa U. Anyway, my point is that an excellent student in the humanities should have no problem being an excellent student in science. You have learned how to learn, and that is what matters.

 

Der Kaiser

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Moo, how much of the first 2 years of med school do you still remember? Material wise. I remember a 32 year old doctor (on a different site) saying he'd probably fail step 1 (american) right now and he was doing an oncology fellowship.

 

I remember mostly Epi for both family med and public health work. This is the only subject I feel comfortable teaching.

 

I remember the very basics of anatomy, basics of physiology, etc. I would outright fail first and second year exams if I took them today.

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