Jump to content
Premed 101 Forums

Recommended Posts

3 hours ago, atlrkmrb said:

This is my third draft because it got way too long, but I am an anxious human being who likes to be thorough. Please note that I am well aware of the pandemic and travel bans.

TL;DR at the bottom. I apologize for any spelling/grammatical errors as it's 4 am and my eyes are bleeding from this.

—————

Hi everyone, thanks for taking the time to read this.

Med school has been my dream since I was a kid, but I did terribly UofT where I'll be getting an Hon. B.Sc (double majored in East Asian Studies (focus in Japanese/Korean history) and Anthropology (focus in evolutionary (which is where the BSc comes from) and medical anthropology). My cGPA is in the toilet thanks to first and second year, but I'll be eligible for wGPA at: UBC (80% average... not ideal, but I'm a resident), Western (3.85+ 2YGPA), Queens (3.9+ 2YGPA), Mac (extremely unlikely but CARS and CASPer are strong points for me as far as I can tell), and Dalhousie. Really unique/solid ECs. MCATs are pending (will take this summer).

So, the issue.

I was fortunate in that my family was able to finance my entire undergrad degree, but living in Toronto long-term (as far as I can tell) will be impossible due to the almost unethical cost of living/housing here (this was trending on **DELETED** yesterday). I've been nervous about my future since there's no guarantee when it comes to med acceptances, and I have an even lesser chance than my peers due to my uncompetitive GPA and unique background. I was basically in despair for a while until my uncle suggested something I'd never considered: to do a masters (MPH in particular) abroad.

I immediately rejected the idea at first as (a), I don't think MPHs are desired/needed at all in Canada, (b) it doesn't do anything for Canadian med schools, nor will it help my GPA, and (c), why would I do an expensive Masters abroad when I could just do one here if I wanted to? But the more we talked, the more I realized it could be worth it, especially considering the alternatives: to work/volunteer in the ridiculously expensive Vancouver or Toronto, OR do a second undergraduate degree if things really don't work out.

—————

To give some context, the school we were looking at is in Japan. Though we're not Japanese ourselves, I have extremely close friends who are currently living/studying there as well as family members who go to Japan at least once a week for work-related purposes (aviation, teaching). For personal reasons, my home country is not an option I will ever entertain, hence why he suggested Japan.

COVID permitting, there was a list of reasons that my family, friends, and I came up with as to why I should go abroad:

1. I miss my family: I have family in Asia who I haven't had the chance to see in years, especially my aging grandparents. If I lived in Japan, they'd be able to come and see me since I can't go and see them anymore due to COVID. We'd also be closer distance-wise, so I'll be able to see them often when the travel ban ends.

2. Greatly reduced costs: One of my closest friends is living in a house with extra rooms in the city of my choice, so she'd love for me to rent one out which would be a fraction of the cost that I'd be spending in Toronto (around $200-300/mo). We've also lived together before, so there's no concerns of not getting along. Living costs are also a fraction of Vancouver/Toronto as I am not looking to live in Tokyo, but a slightly more remote area. Even if I spent liberally on leisure, it wouldn't even cost half as much as I spend monthly here (I've gotten exact numbers from my friends).

3. Japan: I love Japan itself. I've been there, my family visits often and loves it there (some visit often for work, others teach Japanese), and I've also practiced a Japanese martial arts since I was in high school (which I played competitively until university). Hobby-wise, I love art, animation, and architecture, which Japan is famous for. As I mentioned earlier, I also studied Japanese history for part of my major. My Japanese is nowhere near fluency, but I am en route to take the JLPT (proficiency tests) as I took Japanese in university and continued self-studying. If I can learn to speak it fluently, I will have 4 languages under my belt. Many of my friends also attended language schools in Japan and they've been helpful in my own Japanese studies :)

5. Support: I'll have family who are close by, family who will come often (COVID or not) due to work, and my closest friends live there. I'll have much more interpersonal support there than ironically, Toronto. My friends also have siblings/family who are fully Japanese/Japanese citizens, so I'd have support in that regard too.

6. The MPH program: the program I'm looking at is centred around a topic that is extremely personal to me. I have struggled with eating disorders throughout my entire teen/adult life and was fascinated by Japan's unique culture when it came to food and obesity, access (and the affordability of) cheap and nutritious foods, and how globalization has impacted obesity rates in Japan. With my interest in medicine, personal history with nutrition, and my major that focused on Japanese history/culture, I thought that it was an extremely good fit (and the reason why my uncle suggested it in the first place). I wouldn't normally think of doing an MA/MSc/MPH abroad, but given Japan's unique outlook on nutrition and my personal experience with it when I visited, it really would be a program I'd like to do there as opposed to here. 

7. MEXT/Monbukagakusho: there is a very very slim possibility that I'll be able to study there completely for free with allowances from the government through a scholarship called MEXT/monbukagakusho. But of course, due to its competitive nature, this is not an option I will be relying on.

I personally think the benefits outweigh the negatives, but I still have a few concerns (and I'd like to know if there's something I've overlooked).

1. To emphasize again, I know that a Masters will not make up for my terrible cGPA, or anything that's really of importance. However, I'd be curious to know if studying 2 years abroad (especially on a topic that I genuinely love and one that's driven part of my love for medicine and healthcare) + another language is something that'd look favourable as opposed to just staying here and working a part/full time job. Or will they hate it because they won't be as familiar with it as Canadian grad programs? The school I'm applying for is very reputable, is ranked highly worldwide, and the degree itself will be in English, if this helps at all.

2. Though living in Japan would save my parents a lot of money, I still need to pay tuition. Unless I'm understanding something wrong, it's ~$6000 CAD/yr (which is very similar to what I paid at UofT, if not cheaper), which—all things considered—would still be cheaper than if I stayed in Toronto.

3. What I personally get out of this experience will be meaningful to me as far as I can see (support, hobbies, interest in the MPH topic), but keeping medicine and beyond in mind, I'm not sure if it is the wisest choice financially or even time-wise. If I return to Canada and medicine doesn't work out, I'd like to work in Public Health (some sort of government job, especially with my other languages and majors in anthro/history), maybe do a PhD in regards to healthcare/nutrition, or work as a dietician/nutritionist (though I'm admittedly unfamiliar with how this would work).

4. While literally every family member, friend, and even professors I've talked to so far have all encouraged me to apply, the most important person—my dad, who supports me the most financially—is furious because he doesn't want me to return to Asia when that was the reason why he moved us to Canada in the first place. However, there are three things that I know will convince him: (1) for reasons I can't disclose, he's required by law in our home country to support me financially. If I move to Japan, he'd be spending astronomically less, even with tuition included. Of course, he'd rather just not have me do a Masters at all, but doing one in Japan—all things considered—would still be cheaper than me simply existing in Toronto. (2) He'd be able to see me much more frequently as him coming to Toronto usually involved 12+ hour flights, and I'd be able to see family more often too. (3) Most importantly, if I have a legitimate reason to go that will help me get accepted to medical school, I know 100% that he'll bend. However, I will not lie to him, especially if doing an MPH/living abroad will do nothing or affect my application negatively. If there is the slightest chance that it will help me, however, he will support me 100%.

—————

TL;DR:

-I know a Masters doesn't help with anything but the topic I'm studying is personal/interesting/important to me, I want to learn a new language, I want to be close to my friends/family, and it is financially much cheaper than if I stayed in Toronto.

-I am looking at a school in Japan (not Tokyo), where I already have friends who are living/studying there

-What I personally get out the experience will be beneficial for me but I am not sure if it will be helpful at all for medical school. While I know that my life shouldn't just be dictated by medical school, the financial support I get is partially dependant on it, and I'm not sure if my time is better spent elsewhere. But I can't think of anything else except to do a second undergrad (which I definitely don't want to do for another year or two as UofTears has murdered my soul, and I will also no longer get financial help from family if I were to do one).

—————

If you made it through this wall of text, thank you so much for your time. Any insight or comments will be appreciated as I know this is not a commonly asked question and I feel quite nervous. Stay safe everyone :)

A couple things:

1) this was a great read. I can tell you’re very passionate about this and my initial reaction is to encourage you to try to program in Japan. That sounds like it could be an absolutely incredible experience, and I think talking about it as a whole would absolutely help you for med although there are clearly many other benefits as well.

2. I wouldn’t count yourself out for med in Canada at all. Your GPA is more than enough for Western and Queens, and your masters year will be included into your GPA for some schools (ie. Alberta schools if you get 128 in CARS, Dal, MUN).

 

Goodluck!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would do it. Spending the extra time working on non-academics here in Canada vs in Japan is not much of a difference - but at least you'll get the extra benefits you outlined.

You can continue to keep applying to medical school in Canada while training abroad/living abroad. Just make sure to keep your health care card in your province(it sounds like BC), and keep filing taxes etc in Canada.

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, naptime98 said:

A couple things:

1) this was a great read. I can tell you’re very passionate about this and my initial reaction is to encourage you to try to program in Japan. That sounds like it could be an absolutely incredible experience, and I think talking about it as a whole would absolutely help you for med although there are clearly many other benefits as well.

2. I wouldn’t count yourself out for med in Canada at all. Your GPA is more than enough for Western and Queens, and your masters year will be included into your GPA for some schools (ie. Alberta schools if you get 128 in CARS, Dal, MUN).

 

Goodluck!!

Thanks a bunch for your reply! I was worried that I'd overlooked something, so it gives me more confidence to hear that it could actually be beneficial on my app in the long run (especially since I'll have much better access to my hobbies/continue my extracurriculars there).

It's always strange to hear people tell me that my GPA is competitive and I suppose that seems to be the case on this post. However, I almost failed first year (>2.0) did very mediocre in second year (3.0+) so my cGPA is absolutely garbage. I know in cases like Western and Queens, my GPA is okay, but who knows what they'll think since my application is so weird and unique in general...

My cGPA does not allow for me to apply to my UG school (UofT) but apparently, getting a Masters/Doctorate will lower the minimum GPA requirement to a 3.0. I have even less faith that UofT will take me in comparison to even Mac since most students seem to have a UG cGPA/wGPA of 3.9+, but that's still another school in my limited pool!

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, JohnGrisham said:

I would do it. Spending the extra time working on non-academics here in Canada vs in Japan is not much of a difference - but at least you'll get the extra benefits you outlined.

You can continue to keep applying to medical school in Canada while training abroad/living abroad. Just make sure to keep your health care card in your province(it sounds like BC), and keep filing taxes etc in Canada.

Thanks for your reply! Yes, I figured that if I have a 'gap/app year' anyways, might as well just extend that to another year and get an MPH/fourth language/practice competitively/learn animation and architecture in my free time/explore my personal connection to food and body image.

As far as I am aware with BC, they require my permanent address to be there (which it is, since my family still lives in Vancouver), and I have to stay there for 6 out of the 12 months. Probably not possible during my masters, but returning home after I'm done shouldn't be a problem.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Gonna go against the grain here and tell you that a MPH here or abroad will not help you get into medical school. If you want to do it for yourself and feel that it would make you a better person, go for it, but its just delaying things two years. You have reasonable weighted GPAs at many schools, and you say good ECs, so what you need to do is rock the MCAT. Would an extra-post bac year help your GPA numbers at various places? Some don't require a degree to contribute to GPA weighing. Otherwise the other thing to beef up your application would be research experience/publications. Again, this is from a purely what will move you closer to your goal and what won't. Most schools don't even give you the bonus for having a master's degree unless it's complete by time of application, which means unless you apply 3 years from now it won't even be considered. You need to get a great MCAT and apply this year and consider either research or GPA boosting.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I did an MPH in Canada and am a current medical student. I pursued graduate school not explicitly to improve my stats for MD admissions but to secure an alternate career path if I was never accepted to medicine. Public health training has been helpful to contextualize medicine but other than that I agree with the posts above that your stats at present seem more than adequate without the degree. As an aside, your interest in Eating Disorders is quite niche - in Canada, an MSc may support this better rather than a general MPH.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, bearded frog said:

Gonna go against the grain here and tell you that a MPH here or abroad will not help you get into medical school. If you want to do it for yourself and feel that it would make you a better person, go for it, but its just delaying things two years. You have reasonable weighted GPAs at many schools, and you say good ECs, so what you need to do is rock the MCAT. Would an extra-post bac year help your GPA numbers at various places? Some don't require a degree to contribute to GPA weighing. Otherwise the other thing to beef up your application would be research experience/publications. Again, this is from a purely what will move you closer to your goal and what won't. Most schools don't even give you the bonus for having a master's degree unless it's complete by time of application, which means unless you apply 3 years from now it won't even be considered. You need to get a great MCAT and apply this year and consider either research or GPA boosting.

Thank you for your reply—I did state a few times (in that massive wall of text haha) that I'm well aware it doesn't do much for me GPA-wise. I've discussed my ECs on a separate post a few months ago (different account) and everyone seemed pretty enthusiastic about them, I think they're decent—at the very least, I've done them for as long as I can (throughout my UG degree) and they're very unique due to my academic background.

I think one thing I'm have a really hard time contextualizing is just the fact that I'm not confident in my application at all because of my GPA. I had an awful first and second year, so my cGPA will only be around a 3.3-3.4 after I'm done next week. I even failed a course in second year. I'm proud of having 4.0s now, but I still see that F in my nightmares and I can't really feel the 4.0 as strongly as I feel the Cs and Ds I got in first year.

I am already in my fifth year so I can't do much for GPA boosting unless I do a second degree. I loved studying evolutionary anthropology and East Asian history, but I wasn't a fan of research in either field. The one field I did enjoy research was in medical anthropology/public health, but I did not major in the latter and we don't have a lot of opportunities for the former post-graduation unless of course, I do a Masters.

The Masters in Japan is not for the GPA, but more for (1) ECs: having a fourth language if I pass my JLPTs, being able to play kendo again competitively, just having a Masters in the end since there's no guarantee that I'd get accepted within the three years by not doing one, and (2) personal reasons: I like Japan, I have family who are close or in Japan, my best friend lives there and has a room, and it'd be 1/5th of the cost of living in Toronto (we calculated).

Going back to the GPA thing though, I makes me really happy every time someone says my wGPA is competitive enough, however, I just can't see it. I've lived almost every day post second-year telling myself I'm never allowed to fail or get a B again because I screwed up so royally in my first two years, so my starting point is already further behind everyone else's in this endless marathon. Being in 'survival mode' this long, it is very, very hard to tell myself that my marks stands a chance anywhere, wGPA or not.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, t2n1n4 said:

I did an MPH in Canada and am a current medical student. I pursued graduate school not explicitly to improve my stats for MD admissions but to secure an alternate career path if I was never accepted to medicine. Public health training has been helpful to contextualize medicine but other than that I agree with the posts above that your stats at present seem more than adequate without the degree. As an aside, your interest in Eating Disorders is quite niche - in Canada, an MSc may support this better rather than a general MPH.

Thank you for the reply.. I think I'm also in a similar boat in that if med school doesn't work out for me, I'd like to work in some sort of a public-health related field (with the government? Or maybe as a dietician/nutritionist?). And I personally enjoy things that help me contextualize medicine too, which is a big reason why I majored in anthropology/history rather than human biology (my original major). However, the other big reason was that I didn't enjoy lab work at all, hence why I'm a bit reluctant to do an MSc. I know that a H.BSc also has 'science' at the end of it, but anthro labs are pretty weird compared to the standard bio/chem/physics labs I did in first year, and wouldn't translate well if someone just threw me in a bio lab now.

The other reason why I'm interested in MPH though is that I took several health studies courses during my undergrad that focused on epidemiology and other community+ levels of healthcare. We talked about medical anthro vs. public health a lot in my major, the pros/cons for both. I learned a ton during my degree but I'd love to now focus on public health more, and hopefully synthesize what I learned in both.

Thanks again for your insight!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • atlrkmrb changed the title to .

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...