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BOMBED my first degree due to health issues and immaturity. What are my options in Canada? I'm willing to do anything....


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Well basically I started my degree at UofT in science and got absolutely decimated and lost all my confidence and managed to switch into business at another top Canadian school after taking courses elsewhere. I managed to land decent jobs through leveraging my social skills and network in investment banking (idk how) but Ive just felt unfulfilled and I keep thinking what if I had just tried harder in science and not given up. I graduated with a 2.7 & im pretty sure but never even got asked about it at interviews... I really got very lucky. Most people wouldn't believe my story.

Point is, I now know as a 25 year old that money isnt what drives me, and that being in a profession I like doing is important to me. Assuming I am willing to pay the price financially and emotionally, how do I get into med school or PA school? Im pretty sure the school i graduated from doesnt allow people to retake courses. Im willing to mov to the states or Australia to make this happen. I dont care anymore. I just dont know where to start. Any advice would be appreciated. 

Ps. Ive considered other medical careers and know that the scope of practice is what drives me the most. id like to be in ER medicine. 

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In Canada I think your only option is to do a second undergrad and apply to schools that only look at your best/last two years, or only the second degree. Many schools will award transfer credits from your first degree such that you only have to complete 2 years of coursework. If you're interested in that, then iirc Western will consider your best two years as long as they're both above a 3.7, and I think Queens only looks at your most recent two years of undergrad GPA. If you have a second bachelor's degree, McGill will ignore the first one entirely, but it's very competitive if you're not a Quebec resident. It's definitely possible from where you are to get into med (and if you search around this forum there are plenty of examples/stories), but you'd really have to be willing to make some big life changes I think. For what it's worth, I'm a bit older than you and am in the process of finishing a second undergrad specifically to get into medicine, so feel free to PM me, but my knowledge is mostly related to McGill lol

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You are correct that UofT will not allow you to retake courses (I'm a UofT grad too). Before I tell you what your next steps might be, I will start out with a caveat. Med school is difficult to get into. You need to get a high GPA (essentially 3.8+ but more like 3.9+ to be safe), amass an insane amount of extracurriculars, volunteering and research hours (although your past experience in IB would be a unique CV item that would certainly help), and perform well on the MCAT (for most schools) and interview (which you may do well on given your past history). Despite having most if not all of these credentials, many students apply 2-3 times before getting into medical school because there is an added element of subjectivity and chance in the application cycle. Some do not get in at all. This is not because most applicants are not smart or would not make good doctors, its just a matter of supply and demand. There are too many applicants with uber-high GPAs and the CV to back it up, and too few spots to accomodate them. All of this is not to scare you, but to really just make you think whether you are willing to risk a successful career and take a gamble on trying for med, especially when there's no guarantee of hard work translating into results. For information on what your path might be like, read ahead.

The number one issue in your application will be GPA. Thankfully, most schools have a weighted GPA system which will allow you to drop some courses from your transcript. Unfortunately, unless your transcript is something like a 1.8 in the first two years and a 3.8 in the last two years, no wGPA calculation will salvage a 2.7 GPA. Your best (and only) option would be to begin a second bachelors degree and achieve a 3.8+ (but more like 3.9) GPA in at least the first two years before considering an application. If you were to get that GPA while having strong extracurriculars/volunteering, and if you could score well on the MCAT (at least 513+), you would be competitive for two schools in Canada: Queen's and Western. The remaining schools do have weighted GPAs, but they only drop one year or a few courses, so you wouldn't be able to overcome the poor grades from your first degree unless you actually completed the second bachelors with a near perfect GPA before applying. UofC has a ten year exclusion rule, whereby mature applicants can choose to exclude courses taken more than 10 years age from their GPA calculation, but you wouldn't be able to take advantage of this for quite some time if you're still 25.

US, Australia and Ireland are all options for med schools (absolutely avoid the carribean at all costs). All very expensive, and even there you won't find any schools that would take someone with a 2.7 GPA (any that would are essentially a degree mill and you would basically be throwing away money and time). US schools don't drop any grades from a previous degree but unlike Canadian schools, they do value an upwards trend. So if you would score a 3.8+ in your first few years of the second bachelors (along with the corresponding volunteering/extracurriculars/MCAT), then you could have a shot at some schools. Keep in mind that going anywhere outside of Canada for med school will mean a few things (1) you will spend something like $300,000 on your degree (2) it will be very difficult to return to work in Canada, especially if you decide to do any speciality beside family medicine, so if you go abroad, go with the assumption that you will not be returning to work in Canada (3) while Canadian med schools are all pretty much considered equal in terms of residency matching and job prospects, ranking have a greater importance (and will become even more important once the USMLE transitions to a Pass/Fail). This means that if you were to get into a low-tier US school, your residency/job prospects will be more limited than as a graduate of any Canadian school. Despite all of this, many student do go abroad for school and they do find jobs and are very happy. I know someone who recently graduated from an Australian school and is now happily doing her residency there. 

Ultimately, if your goal is to go to med, I would never advise you not to pursue it (because that's the tough, grueling path I chose for myself too). But if the reason you're considering a career change is that your current job does not provide the satisaction, there are many ways both in your current career or a similar career that you could more easily pivot to, where you can get job satisfaction from helping people. For example, I'm sure your finance experience could be used to help manage the pension funds of a nurse's union, or raise funding for a new cancer ward, or you could simply just donate part of your salary to these causes and be engaged through volunteerism. Another option (given that you want to have an extended scope of practice), is to do a nursing degree and then after a few years of clinical experience, apply to be a nurse practitioner, which would allow you to be involved in diagnosis, prescribe drugs, order tests and imaging, and perform some advanced treatments/interventions. If you're totally set on medicine only though, don't be disheartened because there are people on this very forum (who I'm hoping can chime in) who have gone from a similar position as you to getting into med. Just know that for most of them, it took 4, 5 or even more years of trying before making it happen. All the best!

Edit: I can't advise much on PA school, but my understand is that it is still pretty competitive.

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Since you're well off financially (I assume?), like the previous poster said, you could give foreign med schools in Europe/Carib a try. It's tough to come back to Canada but if you're open to do residency in USA, or even better if you have Green card or EU citizenship, then residency becomes lesser of a problem

Of note, Emerg is extremely competitive in Canada, on par with optho, plastics, so forget about matching back to Emerg as IMG.

On the other hand in USA Emerg is only 3 years, and it's less competitive because it's more on par with primary care. So like I said, the potential quickest way to get into Emerg is to do maybe Carib med school and try to match to Emerg in USA. I had a quick look at some programs, seems they accept a fair number of people from Ross, St Georges, etc, aka the big Carib schools.

You could always do a second undergrad degree, do MCAT and try again in Canada, but that's a long underdog bet.

I doubt DO schools in USA will take a 2.7 GPA, but you never know, you gotta convert your GPA using their conversion scale

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I have been on multiple medical school admissions committees over the past number of years as an application reviewer and interviewer.  The GPA is important at many schools, and taken into consideration differently at each.  You should do the due diligence to see what is currently required from each school to which you are considering applying.  For many, once you have the necessarily GPA and MCAT scores (if the latter is a requirement) then the other components of the application are considered.  Contrary to what is often stated, myriad extracurricular experiences are often not required.  What is good to see, however, is an applicant who has had meaningful experiences and those that have offered exposure to working with others (social interactions outside of hospital walls can be just as effective as those within).  So many applications, these days, are alike so it is refreshing to receive those which are a little different.

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2 hours ago, shikimate said:

Since you're well off financially (I assume?), like the previous poster said, you could give foreign med schools in Europe/Carib a try. It's tough to come back to Canada but if you're open to do residency in USA, or even better if you have Green card or EU citizenship, then residency becomes lesser of a problem

DO NOT GO INTERNATIONAL if you're a 2.7 GPA student. You will get bounced out and have a tough time matching. Your best bet is to go back to undergrad and get 4.0s, if you are not hitting GPAs that are in range of Canadian acceptance you will really struggle in medical school/residency and may have to accept this isn't the path for you.

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With a 2.7 GPA, your chances realistically are only in the Caribbean without a superb MCAT. I would advise you to avoid healthcare professions in general as they are heavily GPA focused and without doing another undergrad you don't really have a chance at any health professional school in Canada with a 2.7 GPA. 

 

 

 

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