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2003 Stats - Engineering

Guest Emma

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I noticed that someone with an Engineering background was admitted to Mac in year 2000.

I also have an engineering degree and I'm currently working as a software designer.

My questions to this individual or anyone who has an opinion about the followings:


1. Did you take MCAT?

2. Did you work for a few years before you made the career change?

3. Did you do the prereq's that most schools list as part of the admission requirements?

4. What do you think of the Mac program having completed an engineering degree?


Thank you!

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Guest gucio93

Hi Emma!

Unfortunately, I don't think that the person who is the engineer visits this site, but I can give you a little bit of background on him. He is a prof at UBC and has worked there for quite some time. He holds a Ph.D. He entered medicine because he wishes to engage in biomedical engineering when he finishes. I know part of the reason he chose Mac was that it was a 3 year program and it suited the arrangements he has made with UBC. Unfortunately I can't answer the other questions.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi gucio93,


Thanks for your reply!

Sorry I have been out of the loop for awhile.


A few things have happened in the last couple of months which make me more determined than ever to pursue this career path. But it'll take a couple of years before I can apply.


Now looking back, it really doesn't matter whether someone else who had an engineering degree pursued medicine or not. My concern really had more to do with being a mature student. I have read quite a bit in this forum about it and the age factor really doesn't matter after all.


Thanks again for providing the info on this person!!

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Guest medwant2b

Hi Emma:


I know a couple of people that went into medicine from engineering, and am in the process of trying to pull off that transition myself.


I once went to a seminar geared specifically to engineering students that want to go to medical school. People from McMaster Medical School Admissions were there and gave a talk. McMaster has about 50 applicants with a background in engineering per year and one or two get in on average.


Needless to say, the odds are tough to beat (as they are any where), so I think it makes sense to write the MCAT because it allows you to apply to a couple of other schools and thus increase your chances. If you take two life science courses (or have taken two life science courses) you can probably do fairly well on the biology section of the MCAT and (together with the MCAT) you're qualified to apply to the University of Toronto, where the odds (statistically) are the best in Ontario. Also, you can then apply to the University of Calgary, which can perhaps be described as a McMaster twin. The program there is also three years, they like older students and don't have firm prerequisites -- BUT require the MCAT.


Also, I'm not sure if you're aware of the fact that there is no harm for you in applying to McMaster this year. If you don't make it--you don't get penalized on subsequent applications if you're determined to try again.


Best of Luck!

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Hi Emma and medwant2b,

It's certainly possible to get into medicine from Engineering. I graduated from Engineering Physics at Queen's in 96, and I know there's at least 1 other person in my class from an Engineering background. There are also at least 2 from a computing background, so techies CAN get into med school. Another friend from my program at Queen's is in 3rd year at Ottawa and loving it, and another guy a couple years ahead of us graduated from Western a while ago.

I can't tell you what the others in my class did, but I wanted to maximize my chances of getting into med school and made sure to do all the prereqs for the Ontario schools (turns out I made a mistake and had to do a couple more life sci courses by correspondence last year to be eligible to apply to UofT). I did my humanities prereqs during the school year when I had to do my humanities electives anyhow, and did bio and organic chem in summer school the year I wrote the MCAT. It seemed like a good plan, because at least those two courses were fresh in my mind when I wrote it. I had to do chemistry and physics in first year anyhow to get my engineering degree.

Unfortunately I never got off the waitlists the first time I applied, so I went overseas and worked in technical support for 4 years before deciding to apply again. That seemed to work to my advantage, because I had certainly had lots of time to prove my abilities to work in small teams and to communicate with people. I also felt like my engineering background put me at an advantage because of the growing importance of technology in medicine.

I had to think long and hard before applying the second time round because I really enjoyed my job and the travelling I did for it, which probably also helped my application as I had good reasons for wanting to be a doc and could tell them why that was the only career for me. Your motivation sure shines through when you're ready to give up a great job to go back to school. I had worked nearly 5 years by the time I started school again.

It was a bit weird making the transition back to school life - not so much due to the homework, but more to the lack of money. I'm definitely not the only one here who started med school well after embarking on a career. 80 out of 129 people in our class were 24 or younger when they applied, and 23 people were 25-26, but we have 8 people 27-29 years old, 16 people in their 30s, and 1 over 50 in our class. I don't think you'll feel out of place here if you apply when you're "older".

I love the program here at mac. It's very well suited to me, not necessarily because I'm an engineer, but because I've been working for a while. I think it would drive me nuts to go to a school where I had a schedule laid out for me from 8am-4pm every day. I like being in charge of how I want to learn things, learning things on my own and using tutorials to confirm I'm on the right track. Mac's great! I think the people who have kids like the flexibility too...

My engineering degree was much more structured. I guess if you've never had any science type prereqs, you might find you'd have to work harder at the start to pick up the basics and keep up, but I think most of the non-science people in the class are doing just fine.


Hope that answers some of your questions!


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Guest medwant2b

Hi Kate:


Whoa! That last one was some long post. Thanks for the encouraging words--it is always nice to hear encouragement. :) I'm interviewing at McMaster on March 24th--something I'm nervous and excited/happy about all at the same time. It is my first real interview. :eek :rollin :D If you're helping out for that then and want to trade some stories look for a guy with an "iron" ring. I am sure it would be interesting if I bumped into you!


Take Care,


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Hi again medwant2b,

Good luck on the interview next Sunday - unfortunately I won't be around that day as I'm going on call for OB again (hoping to get in on some more deliveries).

Don't get too discouraged if you don't think your interview went well. I thought mine was really bad and somehow got a first round offer, and I know there are lots of others in my class who thought they'd done horribly and got in... I felt like they'd drilled me for a few minutes on a couple questions that I couldn't give a good answer for, but maybe my Dad was right and they were just trying to see how I'd react when they really pressed me.

Let me know if you've got any more questions! Have some fun with it...


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I'm an engineer and I got interviewseverywhere but outright rejected from Mac...


I've had lots of different experiences... Many people outright resented the technical background... others ate it up...


I'd write the MCAT for two reasons...


1) It is easier than engineering courses and you'll smoke the thing with little effort... just pick up a bood on organic chem and read it at some point...


2) It Canadian schools are stupid enough to reject you, apply to the States where you can be sure they'll love you're technical eduction and offer you money and stuff...


In the interview... be non-technical... I've found it better to talk about my interests in Shakespeare and creative writing rather than how I can use quantum theory to evaporate the side effects of chemo...


Best of luck... but let's all stay in Canada to turn our hospitals into power houses instead of maintaining the current "technology is bad" status quo...

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Hi Kate and medwant2b,


Thanks for your encouragement! It's really inspiring to know that someone out there has "been there, done that".


Lack of money is a bit of my concern so for the time being I'd prefer to work full-time and take 1-2 courses each semester. I just spoke to my manager about taking courses during the day and he hasn't responded to my request yet. Let's hope he'll permit it and I'll survive.


medwant2b, thanks for the U of Calgary suggestion. I'll have to look into that.


I'll be preparing for MCAT as well. The prep for MCAT should be a good review of the sciences anyway.


Thanks again, you guys. This forum is great!

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Guest medwant2b

One of the questions from the staff member was one I had thought about but hoped wouldn't be asked.


It went something like this:

'You haven't volunteered in a hospital... can you explain'?


My first thought was eek! :eek My second thought was... damn this guy is good!

I ended-up twisting the question, feeling it was a bit hostile...


I haven't volunteered in a hospital--BUT have worked in one for the past 2 years. During my master's I collected samples from autopsy, interacted with the autopsy staff and had the opportunity to observe some surgeries. --PAUSE-- I haven't had much patient contact, but am going to be having an interview next week for a volunteer position at a hospital for the summer, where I will work on that.


The moral is know your strengths... but know your weaknesses better. I don't think my interview went so hot. :rolleyes I just hope things go for me as they went for Kate on round two.


Interesting footnote is:

I did run into another person in engineering at the interview. Actually, they were in my interview group and seemed to be a good candidate.

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Hi medwant2b,


Congrats on surviving the interview!


Don't you think "collecting samples from autopsy" a form of patient contact? Just kidding!


Your interviewer had a good point. But I also think your answer if you did mention working in the hospital, was appropriate. Hope everything else went well in the interview.


I'm currently looking into volunteering and there are a couple interesting things out there I could do. One is to volunteer in a hospital and speak to people for two to three hours once a week. The other is to volunteer at a Planned Parenthood clinic. A third one is to help some physically disabled people to learn to use a computer. What's your suggestion? I personally think all three will give me sort of patient contact but wonder if it is necessary to be a hospital setting in which I volunteer.


Could you elaborate on the "interview group" a bit?



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Guest medwant2b

Hi Emma:


Actually... you're right :) -- I did have patient contact. In autopsy they refer to the deceased as 'patients.' If you think that is a bit silly... don't ask me why. I just know it has something to do with the concept of 'complete patient care.'


I don't think the third choice is that good, when you consider your background. It might suggest you don't have a lot of versatility. You don't want to give the reviewers of your application the impression you're a one-trick-pony and can only do stuff somehow related to computers. That said, I don't know what else you have done outside of school.


Hospital versus Planned Parenthood (PP)


PROS - Hospital/CONS - PP

- More diverse patient population.

- Exposure to the sick and dying. Afterwards you'll be sure you can deal with the sick, if you haven't had to already.

- You won't be one of the few that doesn't have hospital volunteer experience.


CONS - Hospital/PROS - PP

- Most applicants do hospital work. If you do it you're one of the crowd. Planned Parenthood would make you stick-out more.



A question you might want to ask yourself is: What type of physician can I imagine myself becoming?

Planned Parenthood, I think, would a great experience if you're thinking obstetrics & gynecology (OBGYN) or family practice.


In any case, you might want to look at the local hospitals and figure out what they have to offer you in terms of volunteer work. Some hospitals are very specialized and may for instance deal with only adults, or those with cancer. Also, even in the same hospital, I imagine volunteering in an in-patient and out-patient setting is quite different.


Of the three choices, I'd personally go with the hospital. I don't imagine myself doing OBGYN or family practice (--the ideas floating around in my mind are pathology, surgery, medicine (cardiology) and radiology). The other advantage of the hospital is--it lets you avoid the question I had to face.


Your background in software engineering is unique, and already makes you stick-out. Sticking-out in the big sea of applicants --mostly life sciences majors-- IMHO is good. You just have to figure out how much you want to stick-out, and if the experience at PP would be the most enjoyable for you.


I'll elaborate on the group interview in a bit.

Until next time. Take care, medwant2b. :)

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Hey medwant2b,


Thanks for your thoughtful analysis! Your points are well-taken. I thought that I'd have something to offer if I can help a disabled person learn to use the computer. I guess I need to step out of my comfort zone. Also, if I don't volunteer in the hospital, how would I know whether I can handle dealing with patients as a physician?


I'll be sending in my volunteer application in the next two days. I'm surprised to find out that the waitlist for volunteering in some BC hospitals can be up to 6 months!


I think I'm gona start out in the hospital first for a year and then volunteer at PP the following year. I think two years of volunteering plus, hopefully good marks in MCAT and premed courses should make up a good application.

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Guest Kirsteen

Hi there Emma,


I don't know what the hospital may have to offer you by way of volunteering, nor what you may be interested in doing for them; however, I've been a volunteer sexual and reproductive health counselor at Planned Parenthood here in TO for the past three years. Again, I can't speak about the Vancouver office, but it can be a lengthy process to become a volunteer with PP. Once deciding that this is what I wanted to do, I waited a full year before being able to go through the interview process (which only occurs twice per year here, I believe) and then the months of training, to finally emerge as a fully-fledged counselor. You may want to check into the PP processes out west.


Again, depending on what you're into, the PPT experience has been incredible and rewarding and I would recommend it for those interested in this sort of activity or area of medicine. (If I do end up in Vancouver this year, I definitely hope to continue my services in the office there.) A bonus for us is that we do gain a bit of exposure to medical life here in TO in that one of our centres is affiliated with the Bay Center for Birth Control, which is part of Sunnybrook/Women's College Hospital. Again, I don't know that the Vancouver office has a similar set up, but you may wish to check out those options further before committing one way or another.




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Guest medwant2b

<!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote>Quote:<hr> Could you elaborate on the "interview group" a bit?<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END-->

The format?

You're brought into a room with a one-way mirror with five other applicants. They then explain the process to you in detail and give you the topic for the discussion (on a sheet of paper).


The assessors come into the room shortly before hand to say hello and then go behind the one-way mirror. When they knock on the glass you're off. You have 15 minutes to talk about the topic. A buzzer goes when the time is up. This is followed by six minutes of you taking turns orally evaluating the group. Again, a buzzer goes after that is done. Finally, you have six minutes to take turns evaluating yourself.


What do I think about it?

They just want to know how you interact with your peers, and if you can contribute something of value to the discussion.


I hope this takes a bit of mystery out of the process. :)


Take Care, medwant2b

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I printed out the posts and went through it in the morning before I headed to work. I think there are some very valid arguments. However, I do know someone who started taking premed courses and volunteered for 6 months and ended up giving up because she couldn't handle dealing with the ill and the dying. I want to find out early, too, if I can't handle life in the hospital.


I'm checking out PP in BC though since no matter where you want to volunteer, you must wait for 6-12 months... One possible position is to work as a docotor's assistant!


I have to make sure there are volunteer opportunities on the weekend since I don't think my boss would appreciate me taking time off during the week to pursue another career option! ;-)


Thank you guys for your input. Your comments are much appreciated. Kirsteen and medwant2b, hope you both get into your dream med schools!

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Thanks for elaborating on the group interview. I couldn't believe it. A lot of thought must have been put into this interview process.


So for 15 minutes, everyone is supposed to express his/her opinion in something? The last 6 minutes which you evaluate yourself, is that oral as well?


Thanks for the info!

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Guest kewpee

For 15 min, everyone participates in a discussion about the given topic. The goal is not to find a "solution" for the problem but to explore the different aspects of the issue. After that, the entire group shares 6 min of time for group evaluation. Everyone just goes around and expresses how they think the group did in the discussion. Then the group shares another 6 min to do a self-evaluation. Both evaluations are oral.

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