PMY 190 : Premed Q&A – What Are My Chances and More!

Session 190

Session 190

In this episode, Ryan answers some questions through voicemail and email received from students. Some of the topics covered include whether a paramedic course would count for medical school, alternate letter of recommendations, the chances of getting into U.S. and Canada medical school, and academic renewal programs.

If you have any questions, go to www.medicalschoolhq.net/feedback and ask a question right on the webpage.

Here are the highlights of the episode:

Q: From Lisa, nontraditional premed currently working as a flight paramedic; pre-reqs completed are almost ten years old now; does any of her schooling as a paramedic count for medical school?

A: How old are your pre-reqs? While there isn’t an expiration date on pre-reqs. Typically, schools would like to see newer pre-reqs. But it also might help you to retake your pre-reqs to help you study for the MCAT. Your flight paramedic training is probably not going to count towards anything for your undergrad pre-reqs or for your medical school pre-reqs. Usually, those courses are done for a certificate and aren’t really part of an accredited university of some sort.

Q: From Mariah, graduated five years ago and planning to apply to a career changer postbac program for summer 2017. What is the best way to seek an academic reference for the postbac. As an undergrad, she works full time and didn’t make the time to connect with her professors. She has great recommendations from supervisors with 3.8 overall GPA and a good story including extensive clinical work with difficult patients and overcoming significant personal obstacles but she doesn’t believe any of her professors would remember her well enough to provide a strong academic reference. (All postbac programs she looked at require at least one reference from a professor)

A: Medical schools would typically require a letter recommendation from a science/non-science professor. If you don’t think you can get a strong letter of recommendation, call the postbac programs that you’re interested in applying to and let them know your situation and see if you can replace one of those letters with a letter from your supervisors or somebody that knows you a lot more. More often than not, they’re going to be okay with that and they’ll gladly accept an alternate letter because you don’t have a relationship with those professors.

For undergrad students, start building those relationships with your professors because those will take you so much further in life.

Q: From Hayden, 3.2 GPA with MCAT score of 27. She’s got 3,000 hours of shadowing experience as  a scribe. Does she have a chance to MD or DO school?

A: There is no straight answer to that. But if you look at the AAMC website, you will get a bunch of amazing pieces of information. Check out Table A-23  of the AAMC data which is a grid of MCAT and GPA scores for applicants and acceptees to U.S. medical schools. This will tell you specifically what percentage of students got to medical school with stats similar to yours. Based on this table, your chances for medical schools is 23.2%.

Remember that you are more than your MCAT score. You are more than your GPA. Your application tells a lot more than what those two scores can tell an admissions committee. Working as a scribe is a huge and great clinical experience. As long as the rest of your application is well-rounded, you obviously have a chance. The only thing you can do is apply and let the schools tell you that you don’t have a chance. It only takes one school to accept you. Apply and find out. If you don’t get in, ask the schools that didn’t accept you and see what they can recommend.

Q: From Christina, who is interested in moving to Canada either for or after medical school. She wants to be sure she’s preparing herself properly. What is a good resource to be sure she’s on track?

A: Canadian schools are similar to U.S. medical schools. For the most part, you’re going to be on track if you’re on track for a U.S. school. However, it is very, very, very hard for a U.S. citizen to get into a Canadian medical school. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. They are government-funded institutions that have the desire to train their own citizens to stay in Canada and practice medicine in Canada.

Two options: Move to Canada. Become a citizen and then apply to a Canadian medical school or go to a U.S. medical school and apply for Canadian residencies afterwards. Canadian graduates coming to U.S. schools are typically not considered international medical graduates so you probably have an easier time going that route.

Q: From Justin, a non-traditional student. Started college 20 years ago and had several difficulties with bad semesters before leaving school to take the job as a flight attendant. Now 38 years old and recently finished a certificate program in a Bible school. ready to go back and finish school with the intent of becoming a doctor. Academic renewal vs. course repeat? Should he re-apply and pursue the academic renewal program at University of Missouri to completely erase those bad grades? Or should he look into the course repeat option?

A: Read the instruction manual for the AMCAS application, for the Texas application, and for the AACOMAS application. For AMCAS specifically, they mentioned that even if you’ve gone through one of this academic renewal programs, courses aren’t on your transcript still need to be entered into the system. How are they going to know? I don’t know. If you try to sneak in and you get caught, you get a big red flag on your application and obviously your chances of getting into medical school go from slim to none. So you better not go the route of hiding your courses no longer on your transcript. Your transcript will look a bit weird because you probably had a full course load in your undergrad years and now you only have 2 or 3 classes because the other 1 or 2 were taken away. So they might be able to tell some classes are missing.

No matter what, you need to retake your classes. It doesn’t really matter how you do it. Just understand that if you’ve taken classes and they’ve been wiped from your transcript, you still need to enter those into the application.

Links and Other Resources:

www.medschoolinterviewbook.com

AAMC website

Table A-23  of the AAMC data

AMCAS application

Texas application

AACOMAS application

Transcript

Introduction

Dr. Ryan Gray: The Premed Years, session number 190.

Hello and welcome to the two time Academy Award nominated podcast, The Premed Years, where we believe that collaboration, not competition, is key to your success. I am your host Dr. Ryan Gray, and in this podcast we share with you stories, encouragement, and information that you need to know to help guide you on your path to becoming a physician.

Welcome back to The Premed Years if this is not your first time joining us. If this is your first time, welcome to the show. We are a two time Academy of Podcasters award nominated podcast, and unfortunately a two time loser of the Academy of Podcasters awards podcast. We were nominated again this year for the top podcast in the science and medicine category, and just like we did last year, we lost to a great show. This year we lost to Invisibilia, an NPR produced- highly produced show, and I’m okay with that. They have probably a dozen or two dozen people working on their show and on this show we have me. So I’m okay with that. I appreciate you taking the time to listen to the show, because without you listening I wouldn’t be here doing this, and I wouldn’t have been nominated.

Also without you being here for the show, I wouldn’t have questions to play today, and today that’s what I’m going to do. Over the course of the last couple weeks and months we’ve received several voicemails from students like you who have questions, and we’re going to answer them- or I’m going to answer those questions here. So if you ever have a question you can go to www.MedicalSchoolHQ.net/feedback and you can use your computer and ask a question right there on the web page, and it gives you some other ways to get in there.

I’ll start off with this first one here from Lisa.

Do Flight Paramedic Credits Count Towards Medical School?

Lisa: ‘Hello my name is Lisa and I am a nontraditional premed, currently working as a flight paramedic out of the state of Kansas. Long story short, I’ve toyed with the idea of medical school for a long time, but a brain injury and negativity from myself and others kept me from pursuing it. I’m currently figuring out what additional coursework I may need as I have all the normal prerequisite coursework completed, though some of it’s almost ten years old now. Does any of my schooling as a paramedic count for medical school GPA totals, in particular the science GPA? I apologize if the answer is in the AMCAS handbook, I just started looking at all this again and I’m still figuring it out. I do love the podcast. It helps a tremendous amount and it’s one of the reasons I’m finally pursuing my dream of becoming a physician. Thank you very much.’

Dr. Ryan Gray: Awesome, thanks for that question Lisa. I’m excited that the podcast has given you the motivation to go back and hopefully fulfill your dreams. I think the first thing to look at is how old your prereq’s are. While there usually isn’t an expiration date on prereq’s, typically schools will like to see newer prereq’s, but it also might help you to retake your prereq’s to help you study for the MCAT.

With that said, to your question, your flight medicine, flight nurse, flight medic training is probably not going to count towards anything for your undergrad prereq’s or for your medical school prereq’s. Usually those courses are done for a certificate, obviously for a flight medic certificate in this case, and aren’t really part of an accredited university of some sort. It’s really just for that certificate. So it doesn’t hurt to ask and dig a little bit deeper. Maybe where you took your classes was fully accredited and you might be able to get a transcript and enter those grades, but likely not. But good question, I wish you the best of luck on your journey.

The next question here is from Mariah.

Lack of Good Letters of Recommendation Writers

Mariah: ‘Hi Ryan, my name is Mariah and I’m calling from Seattle. I graduated from Brown University five years ago and I’m planning to apply to a career changer postbac program for summer, 2017. I’d like your advice about the best way for me to seek an academic reference for that postbac. As an undergraduate I worked full time and I didn’t make the time to connect with my professors. I have great recommendations from supervisors, I have a 3.8 overall GPA, and I have a good story including extensive clinical work with difficult patients and overcoming significant personal obstacles. However I don’t believe any of my professors would remember me well enough to provide a strong academic reference, and all of the postbac programs I’ve looked at require at least one reference from a professor. So what do I do? Thank you.’

Dr. Ryan Gray: Mariah, great question and actually a very common question that I get from nontraditional students applying directly to medical school. Medical schools will typically require a professor letter of recommendation from a science professor, from a non-science professor, and there are many nontraditional students that haven’t interacted with their professors for some time. The recommendation that I would give you is if you don’t think you can get a strong letter of recommendation, call the postbac programs that you’re interested in applying, let them know your situation, let them know that you don’t have a relationship with these people anymore so a letter of recommendation from them would be useless and see if you can replace one of those letters with a letter from a supervisor, somebody that knows you a lot more.

More often than not they’re going to be okay with that and they’ll gladly accept an alternate letter because you don’t have a relationship with those professors. But with that said, I want to take a second to plug for you listening, if you don’t have good relationships with your professors, if you’re a traditional student, nontraditional student, whatever it may be, start building those relationships. It’s those relationships that take you so much further in life whether it’s on your premed journey, medical school, residency, wherever you are build those relationships.

Alright thanks Mariah. Again if you have a question, www.MedicalSchoolHQ.net/feedback will take you to the page where you can leave a question right there in the page.

The next one here is from Hayden.

What are My Chances?

Hayden: ‘My name is Hayden and I’m calling from Atlanta, Georgia. I have a 3.2 GPA and I scored a 27 on the MCAT, but about 3,000 hours of shadowing in my job as a scribe. I’m wondering if I have any chance at MD or DO school. Thanks so much.’

Dr. Ryan Gray: Alright Hayden this is a very typical Student Doctor Network question, an SDN question, and I don’t blame you for that. I think everybody wants to know what are my chances? But the honest answer is there is no way for me to tell you that. With that said, if you look at the AAMC’s website, if you just google ‘AAMC data’ it will bring you a list of a bunch of amazing pieces of information that they have. And table A23 is a grid of MCAT and GPA scores for applicants and acceptees to US medical schools, and this can tell you specifically what percentage of students got into medical school with stats similar to yours. So if you look at a 27 MCAT and a 3.2 GPA, 23.2% of those that applied were accepted. So your chances if that’s specifically what you want to know for MD schools at least is 23.2%.

If you’ve listened to the show long enough, and you know my spiel, you’ll know that you are more than your MCAT score, you are more than your GPA. Your application tells a lot more than what those two scores can tell an admissions committee. So it sounds like obviously 3,000 hours of shadowing it sounds like a scribe, experience that you’ve had. Obviously working as a scribe is huge, great clinical experience as long as the rest of your application is well-rounded. You obviously have a chance. What specifically that is, I do not know. Obviously it would be amazing if your GPA were higher, but it’s not. It would be amazing if your MCAT score were higher, but it’s not. And so the only thing you can do is apply and let the schools tell you that you don’t have a chance. It only takes one school to accept you. So find out, apply, and if you don’t get in talk to the schools that didn’t accept you and see what they recommend.

Alright that was it for the voicemail questions. I do have a couple questions that were emailed in, and this first one here is from Christina. Christina I actually met in Chicago recently, I was there for Podcast Movement and the awards ceremony I was talking about earlier, and I had a meetup with three people- about ten RSVP’d but I guess people got busy and we had an awesome couple hours sitting around and chatting and Christina was there, so it was great.

Medical School and Canada

But Christina emailed here this question; it’s interesting because we didn’t talk about it there. But the question that she asked here was that she was interested in moving to Canada either for or after medical school permanently. And she wants to be sure that she’s preparing herself properly in terms of which tests to take, which classes to complete, and things like that. What is a good resource to be sure that she’s on track?

So Christina, fortunately the Canadian medical schools are very similar to US medical schools so for the most part you’re going to be on track. If you’re on track for US school, you’re going to be on track for Canadian school. With that said, it is very, very, very hard for a US citizen to get into a Canadian medical school. It’s not impossible but it’s hard. They are government funded institutions, public institutions that have the desire to train their own citizens to hopefully stay in Canada and practice medicine in Canada. So you have two options; you could move to Canada, become a citizen, and then apply- become a resident and then apply to a Canadian medical school, or you go to medical school here and apply for Canadian residencies afterwards. I’m not sure specifically about applying to Canadian residencies as a US student. Typically for Canadian graduates coming to US schools, they’re typically not considered international medical graduates, so you probably will have an easier time going that route. Going to a US medical school and then a Canadian residency if you wanted to move up to Canada afterwards.

So that is my advice for you for that. It was great meeting you in Chicago. And if you’re listening to this and you would like to come hang out with me at some point, I think the next couple stops that I’ll have, I’ll have a- there will be a premed conference I believe in Tampa around October, and the UC Davis premed conference October 8th I will be at so I might have meetups around those two conferences, but obviously definitely you can see me at the conference, so I look forward to meeting any of you there.

Academic Renewal

We have one more emailed question that I pulled out here from Justin and he said, ‘I’m a nontraditional student, started college twenty years ago and had several difficulties, and had some very bad semesters before eventually leaving school to take a job as a flight attendant.’ We have a little flight theme today with the flight medic and a flight attendant. ‘Now that I am 38 I am in a much better place in my life and I just recently finished a certificate program in a Bible school. I am ready to go back and actually finish school with the original intent of becoming a doctor. I’ve looked at the schools here in Oklahoma, it has been brought to my attention that with the University of Missouri, they actually are offering academic renewal now as course repeat. I was curious what your thoughts are on if I should reapply to University of Missouri and pursue the academic renewal to completely erase the grades of those few bad semesters, or if I should look into the course repeat option they now have. I appreciate any insight.’

So without knowing the specifics of the University of Missouri’s academic renewal program, what you need to understand, and what every student should do is go read the instruction manual for the AMCAS application, for the Texas application, and for the AACOMAS application. And for AMCAS specifically they mention that even if you’ve gone through one of these academic bankruptcy, or academic renewal programs, courses that aren’t on your transcript still need to be entered into the system. Now the question is how are they ever going to know? I don’t know. Can you try to sneak one past them? Sure but if you’re caught then you get a big red flag on your application, and your chances of getting into medical school go from slim to none. So I probably wouldn’t go that route as far as trying to hide courses that are no longer on your transcript. Your transcript will look a little weird because you’re going to have coursework from your previous undergrad years where you probably had a full course load, and now you only have two or three classes because one of those classes, two of those classes were taken away. So that might be how they can tell if there are classes that are missing from your transcript. So no matter what, you’re going to need to retake your classes it sounds like. So go in, retake them, it doesn’t really matter how you do it, just understand for everybody if you’ve taken classes and they’ve been wiped from your transcript, you still need to enter those into the application.

Alright those are the questions I had today. Again if you have any questions, go take a look at www.MedicalSchoolHQ.net/feedback.

Final Thoughts

I did have a couple new reviews come in that I wanted to take a second and thank. We have Figureskatingchick that says, ‘Ever since discovering this podcast I’ve slowly started to listen to each episode every time I get in my car.’ Thank you for that review, Figureskatingchick.

We also have one here from roo57 who says, ‘I’m a nontraditional student that has decided to go back after receiving my Bachelor’s in psychology to prep for medical school and this is not the easiest of paths to take. This podcast has given me so much confidence in that I feel like I’m not alone in this nontraditional world, and that a nontraditional is sometimes valued amongst traditional premeds.’ That is true. We value you, roo57. Thanks for that.

And we have one here from Tazz xlrt, ‘Everything you need to know about your premed journey can be found here.’ Yes that is exactly right, thank you for that Tazz xlrt.’

If you’d like to leave us a rating and review, www.MedicalSchoolHQ.net/iTunes.

Alright I hope you got a ton of great information out of the podcast today. If you’re interested in signing up to be notified when our medical school interview book launches, go to www.MedSchoolInterviewBook.com where you can sign up and get notified when we launch. We will be launching probably in the next week or two. It’s still undetermined at this point how we will be launching. There have been some new things that have come up, and by things I mean the book has been picked up by a publisher and so it will be published, but it won’t be officially published until next year sometime. But I’m still going to launch it so that I can get the information out to you in time if you’re applying this cycle- this cycle meaning the poor class of 2017. So it’ll either come out on Kindle, or just a normal eBook, or something else altogether. Still not 100% sure but you can go to www.MedSchoolInterviewBook.com to get notified when we launch that.

Alright shorter episode today, I hope you got some good information. Again www.MedicalSchoolHQ.net/feedback if you have your own questions to ask. I hope you join us next time here at the Medical School Headquarters and The Premed Years Podcast.

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