Jump to content
Premed 101 Forums

Looking for advice


Recommended Posts

Hi,

I would like to explain my story, and hopefully I can receive some valuable feedback that will help me with my endeavors. I feel as though this section is the best place to start my thread as my path towards medicine is quite alternative.

I started Brock University in 2009, hoping to get my bachelor's degree in Physical Education. During high school there was little thought as to where I wanted to go, or what I wanted to be. Unfortunately it took two years at Brock for me to realize how much I enjoy medicine. I immediately decided to switch programs and transfer into Health Sciences, where I would get my Bsc in Health Sciences with honors. As I went to switch programs I learned that my lazy academic past had come back to bite me as I had never taken chemistry. I went back to high school and took night school courses in order to achieve a credit on my my high school transcript. I then decided that I would take chemistry courses on a letter of permission at McMaster University in order to catch up to where I should have been. Additionally to help support my academic performance I tried to join Med Plus at Brock. Unfortunately I was declined as my Phys. Ed. marks pulled down my grades. My plan for that now is to shadow a doctor friend of mine as much as I can once I get my schooling all straightened out. To add to all of this, while I have been attending school I have been working a part time job. That is where I am at now.

My biggest dillemas that I am hoping someone could answer are, whether or not my Phys. Ed. Courses will affect my GPA negatively, my average prior to switching into health science was low 70's, after switching they are now mid 80's. Additionally taking chemistry at McMaster I took the first course for granted and got a very low 62, have I basically screwed myself over?

If you can't tell, I'm very nervous and stressed out. Health sciences is the first thing I have ever actually enjoyed and worked very hard for in school and I want to succeed and become a doctor.

If anyone could help with my concerns and additionally add in their opinion on what they think I should do, or any advice at all Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I am open to all suggestions and comments. I appoligize for the long story, but this is really the only place I can ask these questions as Brock's academic Advisors have been refusing to help me since I am in between programs. So I appreciate every contribution and all the time and effort involved.

 

Chris

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a few points of clarification we need in order to help you best:

 

Was your Phys Ed program a degree granting program? If so, then yes, your marks there will impact your application to medical schools.

 

Where exactly do you sit in terms of progression in your Health Sciences program? Did they allow you to transfer credits from your Phys Ed program and use them as electives in your Health Sciences program? What I mean is- how many years of full time studies do you have left before earning your degree?

 

This is important because while your low grades are certainly going to hinder your application to med school, they do not preclude the possibility. The saving graces for people with low marks are schools that take your best or last two years, or incorporate weighting if you qualify.

 

I'm assuming that your province of residency is Ontario since you went to Brock, so you'll have a tough time at schools outside of Ontario as an out of province applicant. If you've lived in any other province, please let us know. As it stands, if you're able to commit yourself completely and fully to your studies and can right your marks you could have a shot at some schools provided your MCAT scores are high enough. Western and Queen's hold hope for you, look into their policies on the best/last two years, essentially they'll overlook poor performances in some years provided you meet the cut-offs for those years. Something to note is that while these schools are the most forgiving in terms of GPA they are also amongst the most difficult in terms of MCAT cut-offs. You'll want at least a 10 in verbal reasoning, and a Q in the writing sample- no easy feat.

 

If you have northern ties, NOSM may be an option as well. If you can score high in verbal reasoning and do well at CASPER, which is essentially an online MMI from McMaster- you may have a shot at interview there. Dal also takes your last 3 years I believe, and a number of schools have weighting formulas where they give more weight to your later years as long as you've been taking full course loads (UBC and U of T do this for example).

 

My advice to you right now is to figure out how you can commit to your studies full time, and find out if you're capable of achieving the grades necessary to meet the cut-offs at most med schools (you want 3.70+ for Queen's/Western, check the stats in the school-specific threads). Then you want to invest heavily in scoring well on the MCAT- that is going to be a huge hurdle for you since so much rides on it when you're at a disadvantage in terms of GPA. While you're doing all this, and afterwards you're going to want to be immensely involved in extracurriculars. Find some activities that are meaningful to you and really get in there and make things happen. Being behind other pre-meds academically means you're going to have to outshine them non-academically. Certainly this will be the case for Queen's where you'll have a shot, but they now use a holistic approach to assessing applicants. Western you just have to meet the cut-offs, for now, but you want to have as many options available to you as possible.

 

Post further questions/concerns/clarifications here and we'll do our best to help you out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a few points of clarification we need in order to help you best:

 

Was your Phys Ed program a degree granting program? If so, then yes, your marks there will impact your application to medical schools.

 

Yes it was

 

Where exactly do you sit in terms of progression in your Health Sciences program? Did they allow you to transfer credits from your Phys Ed program and use them as electives in your Health Sciences program? What I mean is- how many years of full time studies do you have left before earning your degree?

 

After I finish this chemistry course at McMaster, I will have completed the first year of the Health Sciences program. They will allow me to transfer my Phys. Ed. credits as electives, which theoretically allows me to complete the degree two fall/winter terms from now. Since this isn't a perfect world, the courses do not fall exactly in place, so it looks as though it will be three school terms before I can graduate.

 

If you have northern ties, NOSM may be an option as well. If you can score high in verbal reasoning and do well at CASPER, which is essentially an online MMI from McMaster- you may have a shot at interview there. Dal also takes your last 3 years I believe, and a number of schools have weighting formulas where they give more weight to your later years as long as you've been taking full course loads (UBC and U of T do this for example).

 

Since I have only ever lived in Ontario, would I be able to attend UBC, Dal? Additionally, what about attending a university outside of Canada, such as in the United Kingdom, USA, or Caribbean. From what I have read so far, if I was able to attend these schools, my biggest hurdle would be able to get into a residency within Canada, am I correct?

 

While you're doing all this, and afterwards you're going to want to be immensely involved in extracurriculars. Find some activities that are meaningful to you and really get in there and make things happen. Being behind other pre-meds academically means you're going to have to outshine them non-academically. Certainly this will be the case for Queen's where you'll have a shot, but they now use a holistic approach to assessing applicants. Western you just have to meet the cut-offs, for now, but you want to have as many options available to you as possible.

 

Other then shadowing a doctor what would be examples of extracurricular activities that would appeal to these schools and help my case?

 

convert your grades into the 4.0 omsas GPA and post each term average, starting with 2009 and we'll have a look. You probably need at least 2 more years of full time undergrad with 3.90+ and an 11 verbal to be competitive.

 

2009: 3.05

2010: 3.07

2011: 3.25

With at least 3 Fall/Winter terms yet to complete.

 

I would like to thank both of you, Dr. Henderson and Tooty. I do greatly appreciate this! Thank you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes it was

 

 

 

After I finish this chemistry course at McMaster, I will have completed the first year of the Health Sciences program. They will allow me to transfer my Phys. Ed. credits as electives, which theoretically allows me to complete the degree two fall/winter terms from now. Since this isn't a perfect world, the courses do not fall exactly in place, so it looks as though it will be three school terms before I can graduate.

 

 

 

Since I have only ever lived in Ontario, would I be able to attend UBC, Dal? Additionally, what about attending a university outside of Canada, such as in the United Kingdom, USA, or Caribbean. From what I have read so far, if I was able to attend these schools, my biggest hurdle would be able to get into a residency within Canada, am I correct?

 

 

 

Other then shadowing a doctor what would be examples of extracurricular activities that would appeal to these schools and help my case?

 

 

 

2009: 3.05

2010: 3.07

2011: 3.25

With at least 3 Fall/Winter terms yet to complete.

 

I would like to thank both of you, Dr. Henderson and Tooty. I do greatly appreciate this! Thank you.

as it stands your GPA is too low, realistically you need to aim for a 3.8+, but as mentioned if you do at least 2 more years with 3.8+ GPA then you will be eligible for schools like western (esp if you are SWOMEN).

 

As for extracurriculars there is no preferred ECs, schools like diversity of experience to show you are well-rounded (big buzz word in med applications). Things like sports, music, leadership roles are popular as well as work/experience to show you have diligently research being a physician (shadowing, volunteering in hospitals etc)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes it was

 

 

 

After I finish this chemistry course at McMaster, I will have completed the first year of the Health Sciences program. They will allow me to transfer my Phys. Ed. credits as electives, which theoretically allows me to complete the degree two fall/winter terms from now. Since this isn't a perfect world, the courses do not fall exactly in place, so it looks as though it will be three school terms before I can graduate.

 

 

 

Since I have only ever lived in Ontario, would I be able to attend UBC, Dal? Additionally, what about attending a university outside of Canada, such as in the United Kingdom, USA, or Caribbean. From what I have read so far, if I was able to attend these schools, my biggest hurdle would be able to get into a residency within Canada, am I correct?

 

 

 

Other then shadowing a doctor what would be examples of extracurricular activities that would appeal to these schools and help my case?

 

 

 

2009: 3.05

2010: 3.07

2011: 3.25

With at least 3 Fall/Winter terms yet to complete.

 

I would like to thank both of you, Dr. Henderson and Tooty. I do greatly appreciate this! Thank you.

 

 

Unfortunately some schools such as UT and Mac do look at your entire university GPA, so your phys ed GPA will drag you down at these schools. Depending on whether you have rural background, NOSM may be a shot.

 

A bunch of other schools either look at your best/last 2 years (western & Mac) or take a wGPA based on your last 3 years (Ottawa). If you could manage to earn at least 3.8+ in the next 2 years with full course load, you may have a shot at western and Mac (although depends on your MCAT and ECs). Since you are an Ontario resident, your chances of getting into schools outside of Ontario are even slimmer because of your poor GPA. Manitoba does give MCAT a great value in the application process so you may have a shot if you can get an excellent MCAT score.

 

Is that 2011 (3.25) the year you transferred to Mac or is that one of the years at Brock?

 

As for ECs, shadowing a doctor is a good start. Med schools look for diversity. So whatever EC that distinguishes you from other applicants is generally a good sign. Do what you enjoy.

 

I'm not familiar with universities outside of Canada, but if you graduate from a US med school, your chances of getting residency in Canada are equal to Canadian medical graduates, from what I understand (this is not the case with Caribbean schools). If you need more info on this, check out the CARMS website.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unfortunately some schools such as UT and Mac do look at your entire university GPA, so your phys ed GPA will drag you down at these schools. Depending on whether you have rural background, NOSM may be a shot.

 

A bunch of other schools either look at your best/last 2 years (western & Mac) or take a wGPA based on your last 3 years (Ottawa). If you could manage to earn at least 3.8+ in the next 2 years with full course load, you may have a shot at western and Mac (although depends on your MCAT and ECs). Since you are an Ontario resident, your chances of getting into schools outside of Ontario are even slimmer because of your poor GPA. Manitoba does give MCAT a great value in the application process so you may have a shot if you can get an excellent MCAT score.

 

Is that 2011 (3.25) the year you transferred to Mac or is that one of the years at Brock?

 

As for ECs, shadowing a doctor is a good start. Med schools look for diversity. So whatever EC that distinguishes you from other applicants is generally a good sign. Do what you enjoy.

 

I'm not familiar with universities outside of Canada, but if you graduate from a US med school, your chances of getting residency in Canada are equal to Canadian medical graduates, from what I understand (this is not the case with Caribbean schools). If you need more info on this, check out the CARMS website.

 

I have not transferred to McMaster, I just took summer courses based upon a letter of permission. That allowed me to fully completed the required first year courses for Brock's Health Sci. program.

 

What do you mean when you say rural background? I have always lived in Southern Ontario.

 

To basically recap so far what everyone has said, essentially my grades are too low and I need to get some more extra-curricular activity hours?

 

Again, thank you all. I do appreciate this immensely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have not transferred to McMaster, I just took summer courses based upon a letter of permission. That allowed me to fully completed the required first year courses for Brock's Health Sci. program.

 

What do you mean when you say rural background? I have always lived in Southern Ontario.

 

To basically recap so far what everyone has said, essentially my grades are too low and I need to get some more extra-curricular activity hours?

 

Again, thank you all. I do appreciate this immensely.

did you go to high school in any of these areas?

http://www.schulich.uwo.ca/swomen/communitieslist/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

What do you mean when you say rural background? I have always lived in Southern Ontario.

 

you did not go those places for high school so you are not considered SWOMEN. Can you be more specific in terms of where you went to high school or work? Did you live in a rural area (small population).

 

To basically recap so far what everyone has said, essentially my grades are too low and I need to get some more extra-curricular activity hours?

 

nope, that's not what we have said. GPA takes priority. No matter how much ECs you got, its not going to compensate for a poor GPA. You need to bring up your GPA.

 

Again, thank you all. I do appreciate this immensely.

 

............

10char

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No I did not

that was the SWOMEN network, if you go to high school in those areas it makes it easier to get into western. However, since you still have at least 2 years left in your undergraduate studies you still have a chance. If you put in the hard work and get a >3.75 in 2 FULL time years of study with at least 3.0/5 course at your year of study (ie in year 2 you need 3, 2000 level courses) then you have the option of applying to the schools which take you best 2 years or most recent years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you do what captcapt stated above you'll also have a good chance at Queen's provided you score well on the MCAT (high cut-offs for both Queen's and Western). For Queen's you'll also need some good extracurriculars.

 

To answer your question about ECs: outside of shadowing a doctor (which isn't at all necessary, I never did it), good ideas include anything that shows community involvement, leadership, sports, research etc. See if your city has a volunteer mailing list (lots do, just google it) and then you can read through and see what interests you.

 

Regarding your question about international schools etc, if your goal is to practice in Canada your progression should be 1)Canada 2)U.S. M.D. or D.O. 3)International. With your grades you'll likely be looking at D.O. in the U.S., which you'll still have to pull your grades up for, but its a perfectly viable option and you have full practice in B.C. and Ontario (moving forward in other provinces too). The reason the U.S. is the next best option is because you're not lumped in with international medical graduates (IMGs) when you apply for residency, therefore you can apply for Canadian residency programs through CaRMS along with all the Canadian grads. IMGs are competing for very few spots and there are many many applicants. Further, you may not be able to secure a residency in the country that you studied (for example there is a shortage of spots in Australia, and they go to citizens before internationals). Going international you run the risk of having a medical degree that is essentially useless because you don't have a residency, + being hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

 

The moral of the story is exhaust your Canadian options before going elsewhere. Remember the average applications before acceptance in Canada is 2.7- and most of those applicants are ones who fit the pre-med "traditional" description. As a non-trad it may be higher. To me it was worth sticking it out and applying as many times as necessary in Canada, I was fortunate that I got in below the average, on my second application cycle, but I would have kept going :).

 

Anyways, all of this is irrelevant if you don't secure great grades and score well on the MCAT. Those should be your goals in the coming years, along with becoming a volunteering superstar. Best of luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you get into mac health sci at Mcmaster, you r halfway to med school (quote from my health sci friends in med school). So get into that program at Mcmaster. It's atrociously easy to get high marks in that program according to some of their grads.

 

wow that is some real misinformation if I ever heard any ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

lol, i was gonna say, i think there's weberian social selection at play... highly co-correlatory low statistical variance characteristics that lead people into one, then the other, plus external desire for validation... etc, i could go on... maybe a degree in philosophy wud work better, or like piano :P

 

wow that is some real misinformation if I ever heard any ...
Link to comment
Share on other sites

............

Sorry, I went to school in Welland, Ontario (Just near Niagara Falls)

 

I understand about my GPA, I'm glad to know how much more so my GPA is greater then EC.

 

Would it be beneficial to get a grad degree?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, I went to school in Welland, Ontario (Just near Niagara Falls)

 

I understand about my GPA, I'm glad to know how much more so my GPA is greater then EC.

 

Would it be beneficial to get a grad degree?

 

Unfortunately no. There are, however, schools that give you "bonus" points for being a graduate applicant (Mac gives 1% for Masters and 4% for PhD in their formula, I forgot the other ones but there should be a couple more if you search around). These points will not be really beneficial in your case, though, because your undergrad GPA is low. Doing at least 2 more years of full course load is your best bet to become more competitive. After that, if you don't get in, then I would suggest a Masters/PhD.

 

How do you feel about Caribbean med schools? Although I wouldn't really suggest this route to anyone but if you are absolutely passionate about medicine, its another option. Canadian match rates don't look too good though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also think you should start thinking of some solid back up options. There are some fantastic careers in health care that can be just as rewarding as medicine - though of course, those also have high GPA requirements so like all the other posters mentioned, that should be your number 1 priority.

 

I know you are probably still in the "But I WANNA be a DOCTOR!!" mode and probably haven't considered any back ups, but the reality is that while it takes the successful applicants on average 2.7 tries to get in, most people who want to get into medical school don't - EVER. And many of these people have way better grades and ECs than you and have amazing MCAT scores.

 

I'm not trying to convince you to not pursue this - if this is your dream, you absolutely should, so that you have no regrets - but please know that you are facing an uphill battle. Its not just about hitting the minimum requirements -that just ensures that your application will be looked at. If you want to see what you are facing, go and look at the Accepted/Rejected threads of Queens, Western and Mac (your only options) and see what kinds of GPA, MCAT and ECs people who applied had. So really try for as high a GPA as you can, starting doing practice MCATs, and start looking for some good and meaningful ECs (and keep in mind you will need at least 3 stellar letters of recommendation, and good ECs are an excellent resource for those).

 

And while people are throwing around the US and international options, those are not guaranteed either. I know for a fact your GPA won't get you into any Australian or Irish university (as it currently stands) and most MD and even DO schools in the US will require a higher GPA than your current one. Also, to pay for these schools you will need to secure the $200-300K (Australian med schools are $50-60K PER year for 4 or 5 years, not including living, travel costs etc for example) which isn't that easy if you aren't going to med school in Canada (for one girl who went to the Carib, her family took a loan against their house, which really sucks since she hasn't been able to get a residency).

 

Also, like others mentioned, your ECs need work. Shadowing a doctor isn't REALLY a great EC because other than observe, you don't DO anything - you aren't demonstrating leadership, compassion, creativity etc that are things that you should be in your ECs. Definitely try and get involved in your community and do things that really interest you.

 

Anyway, do some soul searching and decide if this is something you really want - if yes, than brace yourself for a few really tough years.

 

I do wish you the best and really hope you succeed. Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How do you feel about Caribbean med schools? Although I wouldn't really suggest this route to anyone but if you are absolutely passionate about medicine, its another option. Canadian match rates don't look too good though.

 

Honestly, I really want to study medicine. So whether it be in Canada, US, UK or Caribbean, it doesn't matter. I have read about the UK schools being able to get into residency in Canada, rather easily. As far as the Caribbean, I have also heard about how hard it is to get into residency in Canada.

 

I also think you should start thinking of some solid back up options. There are some fantastic careers in health care that can be just as rewarding as medicine - though of course, those also have high GPA requirements so like all the other posters mentioned, that should be your number 1 priority.

 

I know you are probably still in the "But I WANNA be a DOCTOR!!" mode and probably haven't considered any back ups, but the reality is that while it takes the successful applicants on average 2.7 tries to get in, most people who want to get into medical school don't - EVER. And many of these people have way better grades and ECs than you and have amazing MCAT scores.

 

I'm not trying to convince you to not pursue this - if this is your dream, you absolutely should, so that you have no regrets - but please know that you are facing an uphill battle. Its not just about hitting the minimum requirements -that just ensures that your application will be looked at. If you want to see what you are facing, go and look at the Accepted/Rejected threads of Queens, Western and Mac (your only options) and see what kinds of GPA, MCAT and ECs people who applied had. So really try for as high a GPA as you can, starting doing practice MCATs, and start looking for some good and meaningful ECs (and keep in mind you will need at least 3 stellar letters of recommendation, and good ECs are an excellent resource for those).

 

And while people are throwing around the US and international options, those are not guaranteed either. I know for a fact your GPA won't get you into any Australian or Irish university (as it currently stands) and most MD and even DO schools in the US will require a higher GPA than your current one. Also, to pay for these schools you will need to secure the $200-300K (Australian med schools are $50-60K PER year for 4 or 5 years, not including living, travel costs etc for example) which isn't that easy if you aren't going to med school in Canada (for one girl who went to the Carib, her family took a loan against their house, which really sucks since she hasn't been able to get a residency).

 

Also, like others mentioned, your ECs need work. Shadowing a doctor isn't REALLY a great EC because other than observe, you don't DO anything - you aren't demonstrating leadership, compassion, creativity etc that are things that you should be in your ECs. Definitely try and get involved in your community and do things that really interest you.

 

Anyway, do some soul searching and decide if this is something you really want - if yes, than brace yourself for a few really tough years.

 

I do wish you the best and really hope you succeed. Good luck!

 

I appreciate everyones advice, I really do. Kasiunut, I agree with you I am still in that initial stage, and I haven't even begun to search for a backup option. All because I want to carry out this as far as I can, to avoid any regrets further on down the road. If you dont mind me asking, what are those careers you are suggesting? I would like to do further research into them.

 

I have an interest in UK schools, does anyone have any advice or any opinions to share on them?

 

Again I want to thank you all immensely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Career options:

- physiotherapy

- optometry

- respiratory therapy

- nursing

- physician assistant

 

As for UK schools, they have 6 year programs, the first two of which are pure sciences. The schools there are also very competitive and require exams similar to the MCAT as well. Also, if you do end up dOing a residency in the UK in family

Med you can come back and be a family dr in canada, but no other specialty. For all others you would have to redo the Canadian residency to be able to practice.

 

Also keep in mind that doing in a country that you don't have permanent resident or citizenship means you won't be able to do a medical residency or work there afterward. So you cant be like "Oh well, if i cant get back to canada ill just stay in x country. That's the big risk with goIng overseas. If you have citizenship in a EU country, and don't mind doing 6 years of med school in the UK then this could be an option (however they usually look at HS grades as most people go into meds straight from HS there).

 

Anyway good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chris I think you've gotten some great advice here and don't have much to add.

 

I just want to expand a little on the themes that Kasi was hitting. It sounds like you're dead set on medicine and that's understandable. There's a lot of media coverage of the career, there are lots of TV shows making the profession look amazing, and you've spent a bit of time shadowing a physician.

 

Have you shadowed a nurse? A physio or OT? A social worker? An EMT? A nurse practitioner? If not, these are things you should do.

 

You should move ahead with full recognition of your chances. Fewer than 1/4 of people who apply to medicine end up getting in. And think of all the people who "drop out" along the way - I'd bet you that 1 in 10 people who seriously consider medicine at some point will get in. Queen's tends to have over 3000 people apply each year for 100 spots. The chances of getting into med schools in Canada is slim.

 

Likewise the chance of returning to North America to practice medicine is decreasing. There are now more Canadian medical students studying medicine outside of Canada than there are studying inside. Yet for every 5 residency spots there are for a Canadian med student, there is only 1 residency spot for a student who has studied medicine elsewhere. By 2015 in the United States there will be just as many American medical graduates as there are residency spots. This is going to put extreme pressure on people trying to get residency spots in the States.

 

The net effect of all of this is that it's hard to get in, but better to do medicine in Canada. I think that should be your first focus. If you can't do that, then consider the Caribbean.

 

I think what concerns me about your background is that I don't see any proven academic success. You state that you sort of came to your senses and have been working harder, but your GPA doesn't reflect the kind of success that getting into medicine requires.

 

So your first step should be to prove to yourself (and eventually an admissions committee) that you can succeed academically. Take this next year and work your tail off. If you can get a bare minimum of a 3.7 out of 4.0, that's great. But if you can't, you need to very seriously consider alternatives.

 

In any case, whether or not that happens come back in a year and let us know how it goes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...