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I was debating for a long time now regarding whether or not to post here...sadly my dream of becoming a physician has not, and will not ever be realized. However I would still like to share my story,

This thread inspired me and gave me hope to pursue my medical school dream. Thank you to all that have posted on here before. You have all truly touched my heart. It is because of your stories, that

It’s going to be a long one. I wrote all of this before I got in, because there is something wonderfully raw and vulnerable about documenting my reflections while I’m still on the outside looking in.

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  • 2 weeks later...

After having been a loooooooooong time lurker, I finally get to put my post here, in the non-trad success stories, a thread I have been reading since 2010-2011.


I would say I am about as non-traditional as it gets. In the socio-economic gradient I come from, higher education is not really a thing. Most people graduate from high school, maybe do some college, and get comfortable in a middle class job until retirement. Which there is nothing wrong with. Unless, of course, you are me, graduating from high school many many years ago, and dreaming about medicine. The thing with coming from this kind of background is that there is no cultural capital to support you through learning the ropes of higher education. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, is that this “vertical transmission” of knowledge is implicit in many (most?) premed students, who have usually had the (implicit) knowledge that after high school, you go to you university, get good grades, make connections with professors and mentors who can support you. Obvious, right? Not for me, it wasn’t. I knew I wanted medicine, I knew it was my calling. But I didn’t know how to get there, and without the support of anyone, at 19, it was difficult to know how to do this. Here’s a quote from the high school career counsellor when I told her I wanted to go into medicine: “Mmmmm… I don’t know… why don’t you become an elementary school teacher instead?”. So I believed them. I believed those who said I could not make it, and after high school, I took a different path in another field. 


My career in this other field was successful in many ways: I have gained a profound emotional intelligence, I have learned to overcome obstacles, get back up and keep going when you hit a wall, I have learned to connect with people in a way that builds quality long lasting relationships and memorable short encounters. But this path ran its course, and it’s at 29 years old that I realized that it was time. I was yearning to be a doctor. But what were the odds? Here I was, low-income, with no degree, at an age where most people are graduating with a MD. But I had suppressed the part of me who wanted to go into medicine for long enough, and now it had resurfaced in a way I couldn’t ignore. So I started a degree from scratch. I had all the doubts in the world, but I had to at least try. 


I did well in my degree. Actually, I did well in the last few years of my degree. The return-to-school after a decade of using your right brain (my past career required a lot of creativity) and letting your left brain shrivel did no good for my first and to some extent second year grades. I was seeing the dream fade away. So I put my head down, and studied. Hard. I lost all my friends because I missed all their birthdays/baby showers/stags. But “I had a dream”, as they say. And I had to gamble it all, live in poverty while my peers were getting mortgages, lose all my friends, just in case it was worth it. Just in case I could get into medicine. And in 2012, after all these years of hard work, I was ready. I applied to medical school, hopeful and confident. And I failed to even get an interview. It was crushing. 


What med students and posters on this forum tell you when you don’t get in is to live your life as fully as you can, and do something that you find interesting. And I did. I completed a Master’s in a topic I loved (medicine-related), and found a job I thought would be great. And then another job, because the first one wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. And then another one. The problem was that all these jobs really felt, and were, like plan B, and medicine kept gnawing at me. I was in my early thirties by then, I had met someone, and I felt the societal pressure of it was time to get a job and get on with it. But you know what? Deep down, I knew that if I wouldn’t give it one more try, I would always wonder “what if”. My MCAT was still eligible for one more year, so I applied. And got rejected pre-interview. So I studied the MCAT again (while working full time), and I did well enough (not awesome but not awful) that I could apply again. And I did. And finally, finally, after 4 application cycles, got an interview. This was the most exciting news of my life. I prepared, read, practiced, bought new clothes. But mid-May came, and with it, my rejection post-interview. Damn. What a blow. And I am not getting any younger here. 


So the next application cycle (my fifth), I applied across Canada, and received 3 interviews. Mid-May came around, and this time I had a rejection from my home school (again), a waitlist, and… wait, what…is this… an acceptance?? “Dear medschool40&cool, on the behalf of the admission committee, we are pleased to accept you in our program”. My life flashed in front of my eyes at that moment. Me, in high school getting the highest grades but a scoff when I brought up med school. Me, in my early to mid twenties, living under the poverty line, and with no knowledge of the academic world. Me, with a dream. Me, rebuilding myself up, learning the ropes, developing relationships with mentors, writing first-author articles. Me, finally, getting into med school. Passing the threshold. Changing world. Getting into med school the closest I have ever been to a religious experience. I will, after all, be a MD. (Take that, guidance counsellor from high school). 

One last note: It is unusual to get into med school this late in life (I'm in my late thirties now). And I would lie if I would say I am not worried. I am worried about the stigma, for one. I am worried about fitting in to some extent. I am worried agism will play in whenever Carms comes. But I'll keep posting here and let you know, if you're interested, how this all plays out over the next 4 years. 


  

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  • 1 month later...

Hi,

sorry, long post alert, plz bear with me...

it is so inspirational to read all these success stories, i pray that someday i will also be in a position to share my story here.

So basically I am from Pakistan and completed my degrees from there, till high school i was a pre-med student but due to some circumstances I was not able to get into medicine..

then altogether i changed my field, i did B.Com (Hons) and M.Com from University of Punjab. I have my course-by-course evaluation from WES and get equivalence of 3.90 and 3.80 CGPA respectively. i was doing PhD in commerce when i moved here so left it incomplete.

i worked as assistant director in Central bank of Pakistan for 5 years, married too during that time and have my family (one 4 year old, one around 3 year old and one 10 months old baby) I also worked as volunteer in another bank for 2 months, i am going to be 31 years old btw in couple of months

thats all i have... i know nothing about Canadian education system, i don't know from where to start? should i do a second degree in sciences? which path i should choose? which books i should study for MCAT?

i came Canada last year on PR and i am in Ontario.

Please i just want clue from where to start, i have enough dedication and i am hard-working so i believe i can do a try for a dream that is still in the bottom of my heart. Your suggestions are really important for me, so based on my circumstances please give your input.

Regards,

Kanwal

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  • 9 months later...

It’s been a few days now since I’ve received my acceptance and it’s so surreal. I’m hoping this post will touch at least one person and help motivate them to never give up on their dream.

PART I - Failure
I started my first undergraduate degree in 2008 in a city away from my family. I was 16 years old at the time and chose to study biomedical sciences. I was also a member of a varsity sports team and was super motivated to get good grades and eventually attend a Canadian medical school. Then life hit me in the face with a sack of bricks. During my first year of this degree, my father lost his battle with leukaemia. The loss of my father flipped my world upside down. With extended family members fighting over his estate, feeling isolated while attending school, and my grades suddenly plummeting...I lost my path. My grades suffered heavily and instead of taking the time to grieve I tried to push my feelings aside. Instead of taking ownership of the situation I blamed my poor academic performance on the degree. So I switched into engineering, performed even worse, and then ultimately ended up switching to a degree in chemistry. I was the captain of the varsity team at this point and then retired from sport. I finished my chemistry degree with a 2.x GPA but managed to get my name on a research paper. I also wrote the MCAT and decided not to study...you can imagine how well that went. Thankfully, after graduation the legal disputes surrounding my father’s estate was resolved shortly after graduating. I took some time to evaluate my life and figure out what was important to me. I also attended therapy sessions and took the time to grieve. I knew that I wanted to practice medicine in Canada so I figured out a plan to make that dream become a reality.

PART II - Road to Redemption

I moved back home and came to this forum to see if it was possible. I’m grateful to have found and read some of the stories on here because it helped me figure out what to do. In 2014 I chose to enrol in a second undergraduate degree. My plan was to be accepted to either Western or Queens Med since they look at your best two years.  This time I studied economics because I was interested in learning something more applicable to everyday life. It would also only take me 3 years to complete. I worked full time in a factory, volunteered, and researched during this time. There was no room for error. It was challenging and after my first year of Econ I had a 3.83 GPA (only considering the Econ grades here). I felt it had to be higher so I studied even more and cut my hours at the factory to part time. In the summer between the first and second year I wrote the new MCAT, studied, but only scored a 505 (damn it). I brought my second year Econ GPA up to a 3.98 and studied for the MCAT the following summer...508 (damn it). I put my head down for the final year of my Econ degree and graduated with a 2 year GPA of 3.95. Good enough for Western and Queens. I graduated with the gold medal from economics and received other academic awards based on my performance.  Things were starting to turn around for me. I needed to bring my MCAT score up so I left the factory and took the year to solely focus on Med school apps. I studied in the summer of 2017 for 60+ hours per week and wrote the MCAT in July. Shortly after, I began doing contract work for the university as a research assistant. I started on my Med school app just in case I scored well on my 4th attempt. I got my score back and it was a 515. I was relieved that it was above the cutoffs for Schulich. I submitted my app and worked in the mean time. I received an interview invite to Western and prepped like there was no tomorrow. Though looking back on it, I didn’t prep adequately. I interviewed and was normal wait listed. Unfortunately I waited all summer and didn’t get an offer.

PART III - Success

During the waiting period I started thinking of contingency plans. I knew that it was a gamble to just wait around for an acceptance. I also needed to start working because whatever money I had saved from the factory was disappearing. It’s nearly impossible to get a professional job with an undergrad so I looked into Masters programs related to Econ. It was past the deadline for all masters applications. However, I took a chance and emailed the admissions committees of two programs. The Toronto program said tough luck, while the Western program indicated that a student had declined their offer so there was an open spot. I wrote my essays and gathered my transcripts in 24 hours and applied. Within a few days the director of the program scheduled an interview and I was accepted. In 2018 I started my Master of Financial Economics degree with the goal of starting a career in investment banking. I put the thought of medicine out of my mind for a while because I couldn’t apply until this degree was over and I wanted a solid plan B career in place. I networked with over 100 finance professionals (cold calls, emails, blind coffee chats in Toronto, networking events etc.) - little did I know all this talking to strangers would help down the road ;). I ultimately landed an internship at a global finance firm with their boutique investment banking team in the summer of 2019. In May 2019 I moved to Toronto for my internship. The hours were long and I spent that summer grinding to get a full time offer. In August I received a full time offer at the end of my internship and breathed a sigh of relief. Around this time, the idea of medicine started creeping back into my mind. I started to question whether investment banking was aligned with my values as a person. After some introspection I realized it would not offer me the personal fulfillment that I’ve been looking for. I sat down with my partner and explained to her that I wanted to give medicine another shot. She supported me completely. I was scheduled to start the final semester of my Masters degree in Sept so started on my Med application in August. I spent two months refining every aspect of my application (essays, ABS, picking good references etc.). I applied to Toronto, Western, Queens and Ottawa. In October my employment contract came in the mail and I asked for a March 2020 start date because I wanted to use the time between graduating from my masters and starting work to prepare for interviews (hopefully). I felt comfortable with my interviewing skills because of all the networking I did during my Masters and all of the finance interviews I had. However, I still spent a lot of time preparing because I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. I received one interview at Schulich and scheduled an early March interview date because I knew my workload would start to pick up if I delayed the process. I interviewed and felt okay about it all. Now the waiting began...luckily I had work to keep me distracted. As May 12 (decision day) grew closer I started picking apart every answer and felt nervous. Try not to do this. I woke up on May 12, 2020 to some fantastic new from Schulich and started to cry tears of joy with my partner. All of my hard work finally paid off. I am truly honoured and thrilled to be a part of the Schulich Med family.

PART IV - Takeaway

It took me 12 years to receive an acceptance to a Canadian medical school. That time consisted of 2 undergraduate degrees, 4 MCAT attempts a masters degree, working on Bay St. and 2 application cycles. There were a select few people in my corner and honestly I’m sure some of them lost faith in me. I remember being told to try for the Caribbean, Ireland, or Australia. I ignored their suggestions and chose to remain steadfast and believe in myself. By taking the harder path I grew a lot as an individual and was able to have some really cool experiences that I hope to draw from as I begin my journey as a medical student and beyond. Please never give up on your dream, the time it takes to accomplish something should not deter you from striving towards long term happiness and fulfillment.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions feel free to PM me

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  • 3 weeks later...

This thread has been a pretty inspiring read. Thanks to everyone who has shared their stories; it has made me feel more welcome as a "mature" applicant, especially one that has a different background.

I am happy to report that I was accepted to med school this fall. My story is: I went to law school and worked in and out of the legal profession for about 10 years. About 4 years ago, I realized that it wouldn't be a good fit for me long term. I had previous experience working with vulnerable clients in the legal sector, and realized that being a doctor would be one way to help people in that capacity. I also had past experience working in clinical trials and a few personal experiences that have pushed me toward the direction of becoming a physician. In 2016, I took some high school science courses that I neglected to take, and subsequently finished a BSc (with distinction) in the following years. It has been absolutely refreshing to study science again and to feel so humbled by my lack of knowledge. I expect this will continue through med school and the entirety of my career.

I will be 38 by the time I graduate, and will be over 40 once I become a doctor (fingers crossed), but I am hopeful that the experience will be worth it in the end. 

If anyone has questions about my experience, please let me know. 

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  • 7 months later...
On 5/14/2010 at 11:53 AM, janny_jan said:

Fellow non-trad who got into Mac!!

Took a year off after high school. Then moved all the way across the country for UG. Wrote and bombed my MCAT in 2007 which made me swear off med school. Did my Masters with the full intention of doing a Ph.D and continuing research/academia. I'll be defending that masters in about a month...wooop!

 

I re-wrote my MCAT in summer 2009 and did okay except for Bio. I applied to Mac to get some experience with the application process before I went full throttle the next year, with a VR=10. Wound up getting an interview and then accepted! Bonus!

 

I only applied to one school. It just goes to show that you only need one.

I also don't have the highest GPA. I went to the maritimes for my UG...they drink lots of beer there...my marks suffered but it was so worth it! You don't need a 4.0! In fact, I wouldnt want one unless I knew that my social life wouldnt suffer.

 

Congrats other non-trads!!! Well deserved!!

What do you think were the strong factors in your application? Did you add in explanation letter? Can you please confirm your gpa if possible? Thank you!!!

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On 6/4/2020 at 7:40 AM, tallshirts said:

This thread has been a pretty inspiring read. Thanks to everyone who has shared their stories; it has made me feel more welcome as a "mature" applicant, especially one that has a different background.

I am happy to report that I was accepted to med school this fall. My story is: I went to law school and worked in and out of the legal profession for about 10 years. About 4 years ago, I realized that it wouldn't be a good fit for me long term. I had previous experience working with vulnerable clients in the legal sector, and realized that being a doctor would be one way to help people in that capacity. I also had past experience working in clinical trials and a few personal experiences that have pushed me toward the direction of becoming a physician. In 2016, I took some high school science courses that I neglected to take, and subsequently finished a BSc (with distinction) in the following years. It has been absolutely refreshing to study science again and to feel so humbled by my lack of knowledge. I expect this will continue through med school and the entirety of my career.

I will be 38 by the time I graduate, and will be over 40 once I become a doctor (fingers crossed), but I am hopeful that the experience will be worth it in the end. 

If anyone has questions about my experience, please let me know. 

Congrats. When you are 40 or over 40,you are a lawyer AND a doctor. You can combine your expertise in these two areas to make a real change in the healthcare system compared to a younger person who is just a doctor.

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On 7/15/2019 at 10:06 PM, Kanwal said:

Hi,

sorry, long post alert, plz bear with me...

it is so inspirational to read all these success stories, i pray that someday i will also be in a position to share my story here.

So basically I am from Pakistan and completed my degrees from there, till high school i was a pre-med student but due to some circumstances I was not able to get into medicine..

then altogether i changed my field, i did B.Com (Hons) and M.Com from University of Punjab. I have my course-by-course evaluation from WES and get equivalence of 3.90 and 3.80 CGPA respectively. i was doing PhD in commerce when i moved here so left it incomplete.

i worked as assistant director in Central bank of Pakistan for 5 years, married too during that time and have my family (one 4 year old, one around 3 year old and one 10 months old baby) I also worked as volunteer in another bank for 2 months, i am going to be 31 years old btw in couple of months

thats all i have... i know nothing about Canadian education system, i don't know from where to start? should i do a second degree in sciences? which path i should choose? which books i should study for MCAT?

i came Canada last year on PR and i am in Ontario.

Please i just want clue from where to start, i have enough dedication and i am hard-working so i believe i can do a try for a dream that is still in the bottom of my heart. Your suggestions are really important for me, so based on my circumstances please give your input.

Regards,

Kanwal

Based on my research, it doesn't really matter were your got your degree from and what matters is your GPA. There are exceptions though. For example, if you studied your undergraduate at UBC you have a better time compared to a person who did their undergraduate in a university with 4 or 4.33 based grades. Other that these nuances, graduating from Pakistan or Canada or anywhere else in the world doesn't make a difference in your application (at least in theory based on their scoring system). The MCAT exam could be a real beast though and you should strive for a good score if you want to appear competitive. Since English is not the first language in Pakistan, I think you may need to work on your expressive power in English in order to appear put together in interviews as well (Of course I don't know your English level!). Some schools also have some course requirements e.g. 6 credits of English literature.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

6 years ago I wrote my story here on being accepted to medical school. I stopped back to say that I was just registered by my provincial college, I've completed my residency, and I'm stepping into my first job as staff in a couple of months. 

I'm also happily married, and we have two beautiful children. That part happened along the way... :P 

It meant a lot to see what people thought of my story. Writing it out like that made me feel really intensely vulnerable at the same time that it gave me some closure to that chapter of my life. 

If you came here in search of inspiration: you are right to trust in yourself. If you dream it, and you plan for it, and you execute it, it will happen for you.

You got this. 

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Hey guys! so this is a pretty much an unconventional route to med school.

I completed my undergrad in chemical engineering in the UK and I got the permenant residency in Canada. I am a current masters student at UofT. I am also setteled in Ontario. My stats are:

cGPA 3.83 (WES conversion, I will not be eligible for wGPA idk why, but thats a rule appaently)

MCAT: Planning to sit Summer of 2021

ECs: one year work experience as an engineer in one of the biggest oil companies in the world, manager of sustainability engineering projects at university, multiple positions held in student societies, chair of best student union council in the UK, volunteer at cancer charity (ongoing), African agriculture research project, 1.5 years working as an A&E hospital volunteer (that was 4 years ago though) and many more positions in student socities as well as other activities such as teaching stock market investing and more.

I am currently doing my masters at UofT with the intention to apply in the 2021 cycle, does anyone have any idea what my chances are?

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  • 1 month later...

I have been reading this thread for the past 5+ years, trying to find some hope and inspiration, and now I cannot believe that I am posting my story here.

I just got my acceptance from McGill two days ago, and it feels unreal. I am a QC resident, anglophone, and with about a 3.65cGPA, my only realistic option is McGill. After almost 5 years out of undergrad, one master's and working in the industry, I am finally able to start my journey in medicine. I have been told to consider some other career, to just forget about medicine and to just focus on what was going on in my life, but I still kept on trying. I have also been through so much confusion, if I should do a 2nd undergrad even with a master's, if I should try to do the MCAT or if I should apply to USMD. Eventually, I learned that it is important to explore all your options, and plan strategically. If you find the most optimal route, go with it and stick to it. Do not back down. Even after 2 flat out rejections, one waitlist (then reject), I still kept on applying. This is because I knew medicine is the career for me, and I can't picture myself doing anything else.
 

You will read lots of feel good and inspiring stories here, but it is never easy, especially the ones in this thread. The process is brutal for yourself and your relationships, the feeling of uncertainty is crushing and the efforts you have to put in is astronomical. But, in the end, if you really believe that medicine is your dream career, go for it, and it will be worth it in the end.

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1 hour ago, Organic Chemistry said:

I have been reading this thread for the past 5+ years, trying to find some hope and inspiration, and now I cannot believe that I am posting my story here.

I just got my acceptance from McGill two days ago, and it feels unreal. I am a QC resident, anglophone, and with about a 3.65cGPA, my only realistic option is McGill. After almost 5 years out of undergrad, one master's and working in the industry, I am finally able to start my journey in medicine. I have been told to consider some other career, to just forget about medicine and to just focus on what was going on in my life, but I still kept on trying. I have also been through so much confusion, if I should do a 2nd undergrad even with a master's, if I should try to do the MCAT or if I should apply to USMD. Eventually, I learned that it is important to explore all your options, and plan strategically. If you find the most optimal route, go with it and stick to it. Do not back down. Even after 2 flat out rejections, one waitlist (then reject), I still kept on applying. This is because I knew medicine is the career for me, and I can't picture myself doing anything else.
 

You will read lots of feel good and inspiring stories here, but it is never easy, especially the ones in this thread. The process is brutal for yourself and your relationships, the feeling of uncertainty is crushing and the efforts you have to put in is astronomical. But, in the end, if you really believe that medicine is your dream career, go for it, and it will be worth it in the end.

Congratulations!!!!! This is amazing. You did it. You have come so far. Now it’s time to start your lifelong medical journey as a training and a licensed physician. I wish you all the best with your career and thank you so much for posting this 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 4/26/2018 at 11:39 PM, Butterfly_ said:

 

The moral of my story:
Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can or cannot achieve. Only you can decide that for yourself. 

Also, remember that:

"We are, at any moment, capable of pursuing our dreams...
And, when you want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."

                                                                                                                - The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

If medicine is your dream, don't give up. Never, ever give up.  

I sincerely wish you the best of luck on your journey.

Three years flew by just like that. I can't believe I'm graduating next month! 

Re-reading this post has brought back so many memories.

I fortunately matched yesterday and will be going back home for Family Medicine! It's my dream specialty and location--I am so excited!

Medical school has truly been an amazing journey. There hasn't been a single day that I regretted making this decision.

I know recent times have been extremely difficult for all. If there's anything I learned in my last few years, it is that the toughest experiences are the ones that bring out the best in us and allow us to grow the most.

Hang in there everyone. I sincerely wish you all the best. 

Stay safe and take care! 

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56 minutes ago, Butterfly_ said:

Three years flew by just like that. I can't believe I'm graduating next month! 

Re-reading this post has brought back so many memories.

I fortunately matched yesterday and will be going back home for Family Medicine! It's my dream specialty and location--I am so excited!

Medical school has truly been an amazing journey. There hasn't been a single day that I regretted making this decision.

I know recent times have been extremely difficult for all. If there's anything I learned in my last few years, it is that the toughest experiences are the ones that bring out the best in us and allow us to grow the most.

Hang in there everyone. I sincerely wish you all the best. 

Stay safe and take care! 

Wow!! Congratulations!!! I have been following you here and there for the past few years, and I am happy that you have made it! It must be a surreal feeling!!

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/21/2021 at 2:51 PM, Butterfly_ said:

Three years flew by just like that. I can't believe I'm graduating next month! 

Re-reading this post has brought back so many memories.

I fortunately matched yesterday and will be going back home for Family Medicine! It's my dream specialty and location--I am so excited!

Medical school has truly been an amazing journey. There hasn't been a single day that I regretted making this decision.

I know recent times have been extremely difficult for all. If there's anything I learned in my last few years, it is that the toughest experiences are the ones that bring out the best in us and allow us to grow the most.

Hang in there everyone. I sincerely wish you all the best. 

Stay safe and take care! 

WOW! Congrats! You're an inspiration!!!

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On 3/27/2021 at 11:38 AM, Organic Chemistry said:

I have been reading this thread for the past 5+ years, trying to find some hope and inspiration, and now I cannot believe that I am posting my story here.

I just got my acceptance from McGill two days ago, and it feels unreal. I am a QC resident, anglophone, and with about a 3.65cGPA, my only realistic option is McGill. After almost 5 years out of undergrad, one master's and working in the industry, I am finally able to start my journey in medicine. I have been told to consider some other career, to just forget about medicine and to just focus on what was going on in my life, but I still kept on trying. I have also been through so much confusion, if I should do a 2nd undergrad even with a master's, if I should try to do the MCAT or if I should apply to USMD. Eventually, I learned that it is important to explore all your options, and plan strategically. If you find the most optimal route, go with it and stick to it. Do not back down. Even after 2 flat out rejections, one waitlist (then reject), I still kept on applying. This is because I knew medicine is the career for me, and I can't picture myself doing anything else.
 

You will read lots of feel good and inspiring stories here, but it is never easy, especially the ones in this thread. The process is brutal for yourself and your relationships, the feeling of uncertainty is crushing and the efforts you have to put in is astronomical. But, in the end, if you really believe that medicine is your dream career, go for it, and it will be worth it in the end.

Amazing! Congrats!!!  

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