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Applying to med: PhD, low GPA, Canada. Competitive?


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I'm a Canadian (Ontario) med applicant with a PhD in a medicine heavy program (work in a hospital and run clinical trials), and would like to hear some of your thoughts on where/whether or not I'm competitive to Canadian medical schools. I have an extensive research profile but a very low GPA with an upward trend. Which schools do you think would favour my application? I'm not very informed on US schools, but if you have some insight on that I'd appreciate it as well. Hoping to stay in Canada. I'll summarize my app below:

GPA: 
Y1: 2.9, Y2: 2.7, Y3: 3.5, Y4: 3.7, Grad school: 3.9. (Depending on where I apply, my GPA changes a lot. UofT I have a 3.2, but at Dalhousie I have a 3.8)

MCAT: 507 (126 cars), re-writing this June.

Notable accolades:

~8+ publications (3 first author - clinically intensive project)
~35 peer-reviewed abstracts
~20 presentations (10 international, 10 oral presentations)
~$3000 in conference awards
~$130,000 in scholarships (OGSx4 & CGSD-NSERC - second highest research scholarship in Canada behind Vanier)

Any insight is appreciated. Thanks!

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Need more undergrad years at 4.0 level. Start a 2nd undergrad degree, get a 4.0 in at least 1 year and do better on the MCAT, That will open up many more doors than currently.

UofT, Queens, UWO(if you can really get MCAT way up), UBC, Calgary/Alberta if Cars is up.

Other than your Research accolades, do you have any other volunteering/community work/actual jobs etc? Schools like calgary, ubc etc require strong non-academics and strong grades.

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  • 2 weeks later...

McMaster also give a bonus on your score when you have a PhD

Good luck! I 100% understand the struggle, I plan to apply after my PhD (but am fortunalety IP in quebec where they have a different contingent with lower GPA cut-off for biomed-related PhDs, I don't get why they don't have that in other provinces :( Your expertise should be recognised!!)

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3 hours ago, Tullius said:

You should be able to get into Queen's, U of T, or Dal with your GPA and CV.  2nd undergrad would be absurd with your profile.

I appreciate all the replies! I'm very much trying to avoid doing a second undergrad, its the first suggestion that I always get to improve my app. I've been lucky during grad school and have come out as one of the top prospects at my University (Ontario), but still can't get away from the GPA for some of these med schools.
- I didn't realize Queens only looked at most recent 2 years (and I noticed they give a bit of slack to grad students for GPA), but they still have a hard MCAT cutoff, so I'll have to improve that.
- I'm still very confused as to how much UofT cares about research vs GPA. I make their 3.0 cutoff with a 3.2 but is that actually competitive, how good does my research have to be to make up for that. Who knows..
- With Dal I'd be chasing one of their few out of province spots, but they let me use my grad school GPA so I look much better on paper there. Can only apply and see I guess.

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45 minutes ago, Al22 said:

McMaster also give a bonus on your score when you have a PhD

Good luck! I 100% understand the struggle, I plan to apply after my PhD (but am fortunalety IP in quebec where they have a different contingent with lower GPA cut-off for biomed-related PhDs, I don't get why they don't have that in other provinces :( Your expertise should be recognised!!)

Hard to gauge how much a 4% bonus converts to, but I'm sure every little bit helps!
Good luck to you as well! I wish we had something similar! It's unfortunate that some med schools won't recognize my 5 year Biophysics PhD until the supp app or an interview.

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On 4/1/2019 at 11:28 PM, JohnGrisham said:

Need more undergrad years at 4.0 level. Start a 2nd undergrad degree, get a 4.0 in at least 1 year and do better on the MCAT, That will open up many more doors than currently.

UofT, Queens, UWO(if you can really get MCAT way up), UBC, Calgary/Alberta if Cars is up.

Other than your Research accolades, do you have any other volunteering/community work/actual jobs etc? Schools like calgary, ubc etc require strong non-academics and strong grades.

I'm really hoping to avoid that 2nd undergrad, but we'll have to just see.

I've got a bunch of volunteering in the community (community center/first aid stuff) and I've got actual job experience at multiple hospitals (Co-op undergrad). 
Unfortunately for UBC I'm missing a half course in English, and need more undergrad grades to meet Calgary's cut off.

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14 hours ago, Tullius said:

You should be able to get into Queen's, U of T, or Dal with your GPA and CV.  2nd undergrad would be absurd with your profile.

This!

Honestly, I think you have a fair shot at Queens, U of T, and Dalhousie. I had a friend who interviewed at Queens this year who also had a PhD and a similar GPA as you. For McMaster, you will need a very strong CARS. CASPer is also 1/3 of your pre-interview score for McMaster, so if you can practice a good deal for that, that would help your chances too. 

Your accolades are really impressive, you should be proud of yourself, and we need more people like you in medical school! I think you should go for it. I wouldn't do a second undergrad. 

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15 hours ago, Tullius said:

You should be able to get into Queen's, U of T, or Dal with your GPA and CV.  2nd undergrad would be absurd with your profile.

A 3.2 is a far cry from being a gaurantee to even getting an interview at UofT.

Maybe an interview at queens but even then can be hit or miss.

Dal has few seats for OOP. So again not a gaurantee of securing interview but definitely possible

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19 hours ago, PhMDer said:

Hard to gauge how much a 4% bonus converts to, but I'm sure every little bit helps!
Good luck to you as well! I wish we had something similar! It's unfortunate that some med schools won't recognize my 5 year Biophysics PhD until the supp app or an interview.

FYI when I was applying in 2016, a friend on Mac's admissions committee told me that they had gotten rid of the grad student bonus bc it didn't really change anything (the grad students who got it were getting in anyways). Not sure if it changed.

Either way good luck...the PhD > MD route is long. PM if you have any questions (especially if you plan on dealing with OSAP. They don't know how to handle us because they're used to dealing with people doing their PhD after their MD).

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18 hours ago, PhMDer said:

I'm really hoping to avoid that 2nd undergrad, but we'll have to just see.

I've got a bunch of volunteering in the community (community center/first aid stuff) and I've got actual job experience at multiple hospitals (Co-op undergrad). 
Unfortunately for UBC I'm missing a half course in English, and need more undergrad grades to meet Calgary's cut off.

With a conferred PhD, UBC will let you apply as an in province applicant, so the GPA cut offs will be lower. They will drop your worst year (to a max of 30 credits), and include your grades from grad school. You’d have to do the math, but as long as you have the equivalent of a 75% GPA with these adjustments, you would get a full file review — your non-academics and grad school experience may be enough to get you an interview, as it makes up half of the pre-interview scoring.

If all you’re missing is a half course in English, you can still apply to UBC with the plan to complete the course by the end of April 2020 and see if you get an interview before deciding whether or not to take the course. Interview invitations come out in December, so you could register in a course for January 2020 and then drop it if you don’t get an interview.

 

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20 hours ago, Tullius said:

My understanding was that Queen's does not have a hard MCAT cutoff... 

Queen's has a hard MCAT cutoff. The cutoff just fluctuates from year to year depending on the applicant pool, and is therefore not publicized. Grad students who do not meet the MCAT cutoff for that year are not considered. GPA for grad students is more lenient.

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