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next.med88

Should I Apply Again?

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This year was my second time applying, and this was my second post-interview rejection.

 

I am debating as to whether I should apply one more cycle. My feelings right now are like a roller coaster ride. 

 

I keep getting these extreme highs where I feel that I can totally improve on my MMI skills. I am so motivated to start preparing as soon as my exams are done next week. Seeing as my MCAT is above accepted average (40% of decision), my AGPA is slightly below average (but plays only 15% into the decision), and that I am a rural applicant (I get bonus points for this) I have a good shot at getting in if I really commit to practice for the MMI more than I have the past two years.

 

But then I get these extreme lows where I feel so hopeless and I doubt that I could improve my MMI skills. I also feel that if I do get accepted into medical school next cycle, I would be so old (would be 29, and would have done a total of 10 years post secondary school!) when I finish. I really feel like getting my life started, especially seeing as I will be finishing up back-up plan next year (a subject that I am also interested in, slightly less than medicine though). Also, money might start being a problem seeing as I won't be eligible for student aid for my fourth year anymore!

 

 

My questions are:

 

1) How old were you when you started/finished medical school? And how many total years of education have you done in total? 

 

2) If you did about 10 years of school, was it difficult to keep the motivation after ten years of studying? Did you feel like you were missing out on life compared to all your friends that are already married/have kids/own houses?

 

3) Is it possible to work during medical school, and if so, how many hours, and during which years (I am assuming only 1 and 2)? I know many people say not to bother working since the income would be so low, but if I finish my back-up program next year, and I would be able to work a flexible job (could work evenings and weekends in a health care setting) and earn 30$/hour (and frankly it is the only way I can afford it)

 

4) Were you able to drastically improve (going from like bottom quintile to top quintile) your MMI skills over the course of 8 months? What did you do to improve your skills?

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I'm in my 30s and I will be starting medical school in the fall. I have been working in health care for almost nine years and decided to make the jump to medicine in order to widen my scope of practice.

 

Ultimately, 29 isn't old... Nor do I feel old. I have life experience and ++ clinical experience, and that will be my strength when I return to school in the fall.

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I'm in my 30s and I will be starting medical school in the fall. I have been working in health care for almost nine years and decided to make the jump to medicine in order to widen my scope of practice.

 

Ultimately, 29 isn't old... Nor do I feel old. I have life experience and ++ clinical experience, and that will be my strength when I return to school in the fall.

 

 

Except I won't have life experience or clinical experience (might get 1 year from my practicum next year) that pull from, I have been in school ever since high school (minus one year I took off)

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Well then maybe you would benefit from a break from applying to medical school to work and travel and live a bit? Only you can really answer that question...

 

I can tell you that I wasn't ready for medical school when I was a uni student over 10 years ago. And when I returned to school at 30 with the goal of applying to med school, I ended up changing my mind and going a different path because I didn't feel ready. Fast forward a couple of years and here we are.

 

At the end of the day, medicine isn't the be all, end all of the universe. If the application process is draining you, it's okay to take a step back and reassess. That's great self-care.

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Honestly I say apply until they don't let you anymore, why would you close the door on yourself. You said you really feel like getting your life started, why don't you do that, why should applying to med school stop you from getting your life started? Start your life, follow your plan B or make one if you don't have one, and just keep applying, it isn't that much effort to apply. Who cares about age and all those other concerns, they are non-issues that you're stressing over. Start your life, enjoy yourself and just apply every year, and watch all the doors open up for you!

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Honestly I say apply until they don't let you anymore, why would you close the door on yourself. You said you really feel like getting your life started, why don't you do that, why should applying to med school stop you from getting your life started? Start your life, follow your plan B or make one if you don't have one, and just keep applying, it isn't that much effort to apply. Who cares about age and all those other concerns, they are non-issues that you're stressing over. Start your life, enjoy yourself and just apply every year, and watch all the doors open up for you!

 

Yeah, can't you pursue plan B, and just throw in apps as the cycle comes along? -- this way if you do get in you already have money from plan B to put towards it? :)

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I keep getting these extreme highs where I feel that I can totally improve on my MMI skills. I am so motivated to start preparing as soon as my exams are done next week. Seeing as my MCAT is above accepted average (40% of decision), my AGPA is slightly below average (but plays only 15% into the decision), and that I am a rural applicant (I get bonus points for this) I have a good shot at getting in if I really commit to practice for the MMI more than I have the past two years.

 

Hold on to those highs! I was definitely where you are now (many times, it took me more than two post-MMI rejections lol) and understand how you're feeling about all that you're saying. I say keep at it for as long as you can :)

 

29 isn't old

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4) I think MMI skills can definitely be improved over 8 months if you put the time towards it. I'm pretty sure I started off terribly. But what really helped me was to practice with as many different people as you can (a few of which I met here on the forums and practised over Skype) and give each other feedback. They'll be able to identify your weaknesses, and you'll be able to learn from their strengths. 

 

I'm a traditional applicant myself but being at U of C, many of my classmates are older having done previous graduate degrees  - and they seem to be doing perfectly fine. I read a great quote somewhere on the forums and it goes along the lines of: "you're going to be 29 regardless, so why not be 29 and doing what you love"

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Hi there! My answers are below.

 

 

My questions are:

 

1) How old were you when you started/finished medical school? And how many total years of education have you done in total? 

 

Started when I was 24 ... very fortunate to have gotten in as my chances were slim going into the interview (got in after my 2nd try). I would have tried two more times if it didn't work out. 

 

I have done 7 years of formal education now. By the time I finish medical school I will have done 10 years.

 

2) If you did about 10 years of school, was it difficult to keep the motivation after ten years of studying? Did you feel like you were missing out on life compared to all your friends that are already married/have kids/own houses?

 

There will always be times where you doubt .... before medical school, during medical school, afterwards..... it's just a part of what we all go through. 

I would be lying if I said I wasn't missing out compared to my colleagues in engineering, business, etc... when I was in graduate school it definitely felt at times that I was stuck and that I was watching them live instead of myself...It can be hard to bring yourself back from that rut but what helped me a lot was my support system, reminding myself why I'm doing what I'm doing (I love statistics and I love medicine). Biggest thing though was realizing my life was in front of me and I can choose to live in the present and enjoy some of my time. Making friends, trying new things, pursuing past passions etc... are all important to your personal well-being. 

 

3) Is it possible to work during medical school, and if so, how many hours, and during which years (I am assuming only 1 and 2)? I know many people say not to bother working since the income would be so low, but if I finish my back-up program next year, and I would be able to work a flexible job (could work evenings and weekends in a health care setting) and earn 30$/hour (and frankly it is the only way I can afford it)

 

I did work part-time (< or = 10 hrs/wk at 25 to 35$/hr teaching statistics or doing freelance statistics research - I get referrals sometimes from colleagues). That said I don't recommend everyone do this.... On a spectrum of "labour of love" to "need money to eat" .... I was definitely closer to "labour of love" ... but if you secure LOCs, student loans, savings/family assistance (if possible)... you don't need to worry significantly about debt assuming you finish medical school and will practice. You'll be able to pay it all back eventually. I know I wouldn't work during M3 or 4... I want to spend whatever "free" time I have with family, friends, and SO if I can. 

 

4) Were you able to drastically improve (going from like bottom quintile to top quintile) your MMI skills over the course of 8 months? What did you do to improve your skills?

 

My story is below... 

http://forums.premed101.com/index.php?/topic/41062-success-stories-non-trad-style/?p=953358 

 

Once you finish reading that story... you'll realize how low my chances were and I'm so thankful that the interviews went well. For some context (in 2013)... I was in the 2nd percentile (yes you read that right) for the UofC and I had ~13 / 25 for my interview at the UofA (average for matriculants 18 / 25) ... I had to do very well to move from the bottom pre-interview to being accepted in 2015. 

 

TLDR: you can do it within 8 months if you work hard in an efficient manner to further develop critical thinking and broaden your scope of thought. Having some contemporary knowledge about various concepts and topics won't hurt but isn't necessary (it's a nice to have).

 

My thoughts on the MMI and my preparation is below...

http://forums.premed101.com/index.php?/topic/86211-is-it-too-early-to-prepare-for-interviews/?p=959565

 

 

Best wishes, 

 

- G

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My questions are:

 

1) How old were you when you started/finished medical school? And how many total years of education have you done in total? 
 

I had done about 4 years of schooling of various things before I even thought about med. 75% of that was material I'll never use or think about again (U1 and a chem eng tech diploma). The other year was contract paramedicine which was incredibly eye-opening and allowed me to gain a little life experience. After that I went back to do an undergrad (because none of my previous schooling counted) with the sole intention of medical school (was then 25). I was at a supreme disadvantage both academically (24 CH's of F's + D's) and financially (around 40k edu debt before starting). It was not easy. I applied for every grant, bursary, scholarship and extra bit of financial aid I could possibly get my hands on and it helped immensely. I only just got into medical school and I turned 29 two days ago. I don't feel bad about it one bit because many people simply end up settling for less or not following their passion's at all to play it safe. So at the moment I'm at 7 years and will be at 11 by the time I'm done.

 

2) If you did about 10 years of school, was it difficult to keep the motivation after ten years of studying? Did you feel like you were missing out on life compared to all your friends that are already married/have kids/own houses?

This really hits home for me. It was extremely hard to power through the majority of undergrad because I was going back specifically for medicine and most of the courses I had to drone through had 0 practical application for that future. I'd argue that my year of paramedicine was 1000x more useful than all the theory that you take in during an undergrad and it made it particularly aggravating at times. I had to constantly remind myself what it was all for and I'm so glad I kept with it.


In terms of feeling left behind it was absolutely soul-crushing for me. Almost all my friends had careers in trades or had traveled the world or had 2-3 kids and a houses/vehicles/cabins. What I realized later on is that many of them were also stuck living back in my hometown wishing they had got out (small, northern rural town). Many put up picture-perfect moments on facebook but deep-down weren't really that happy with the marriage they were in or career they chose. I felt like a failure many times screwing up my U1 and constantly changing my mind about what I wanted to do but I never settled and I'm happy I didn't because I've finally found it. It was worth the sleepless nights staying in studying on the granola bar diet while my buddies came through the city throwing cash around and partying.

 

3) Is it possible to work during medical school, and if so, how many hours, and during which years (I am assuming only 1 and 2)? I know many people say not to bother working since the income would be so low, but if I finish my back-up program next year, and I would be able to work a flexible job (could work evenings and weekends in a health care setting) and earn 30$/hour (and frankly it is the only way I can afford it)

Judging by how much school you've done already I'd say when you get in (and you will if you keep at it) just relax in your spare time. Academic work is draining and years 3 + 4 are so busy (I'm told) that you'll be happy you enjoyed yourself as much as possible during your down time. I wholly agree with the others in this thread in focusing on work for a while might be the best option for you right now (or when you finish your program). Keep at the med application process going on the side but a change of pace might entirely change your perspective on things. For the money side of things - once you are accepted it's usually not an issue. I have some SERIOUS educational debt right now with almost no assets to speak of but there's a ton of financial assistance available after you have that acceptance letter (eg: LoC, ROS programs, bursaries, grant, etc). I completely understand the financial part of the equation your going through and I know it's a crushing weight on your shoulders. At one point I was doing manual snow removal (3am-8am) before school everyday just to afford groceries. It sucked. It sucked so hard. But suffering + rejection build character which allow you to grow and truly appreciate the good times.

 

4) Were you able to drastically improve (going from like bottom quintile to top quintile) your MMI skills over the course of 8 months? What did you do to improve your skills?

I can tell you that I'm a very socially anxious person. Just thinking about the MMI 3 years before I had to do it made me tremble. I'm terrible at interviews and give off an unfavorable first impression. It took a ton of practice to develop those skills. And that's all interviewing is - a skill that can be honed over time. Video-recording myself doing multiple mock-scenarios was absolutely cringe-worthy at first but it helped me infinitely in identifying my flaws. Other advice which has been mentioned is practicing with people you don't know. This is huge. People that aren't your friends have nothing to lose by giving you honest feedback and they often have unique perspectives. There's tons of resources in place to get involved with these types of groups and it is a little discouraging + scary at first but completely worth it. My method was to have a group of friends I practiced with regularly, a group of people I didn't know and the self-recording sessions.


The entire process  was extremely discouraging for me at times and I often thought I was making a huge mistake in not just moving home and getting a high-paying job at the local mine. I know hearing tough news sucks but I promise you your hard work will pay off eventually.

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I'm going to chime about your fourth question, as I can very much relate to it. 

The first time I interviewed I was in the lowest quintile. My stats were similar to yours in regard to MCAT and AGPA. So I spent the next year bettering my apparently non-existent interview skills. The first thing I did was join Toastmasters. This was a HUGE help, as it gets you comfortable with speaking to people you don't know well. It also helps with dealing with body language, speech styles, and structuring your speech (there a fun little impromptu section of the meetings that were super beneficial). Once I received my interview invite I starting practising with groups of people, mostly that I had just coordinated with through this forum. But as other people mentioned already, you can practice by yourself by recording and then reviewing it. 

Another thing I did was started journalling experiences that I have had that related to the CANMED roles. I also started finding the specific types of questions MMI will ask (e.g., dealing with stress, authority figures, a time there was a miscommunication etc.) and thinking of *specific* experiences in my life I could potentially talk about. I think this is actually what saved me the most this year, as I could more readily bring forth experiences that related to the questions.

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I'll be starting a week after my 28th birthday. I think that if there's one thing I've learned in getting older, it's that this idea that your life has to follow a set path, with milestones occurring at the appropriate age and in line with the norm, is bs. Life is messy, and beautiful, and weird. I have absolutely zero regrets about not applying sooner. Yes, I could be finished and practicing right now if I'd thought about this path in undergrad, but then again the rest of my life wouldn't have happened (and it's been pretty great). I think that as long as you're moving forward, towards what interests you and what you feel a purpose in doing, you'll be ok. That might mean a roundabout path to medicine, or maybe even something completely different, but don't let a feeling that it's too late, or that you're too old, ever stop you from going for something!

 

It might help to think about your priorities in life (maybe even write a list) and how they might align with medicine, or not. If your priority is a stable 9-5 with kids in the next two years, then there's nothing wrong with that. If medicine always comes out on top though, then don't let anything else stand in the way of at least trying.

 

Good luck! 

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