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This chiropractor is ready to ditch the spine and crack open a book instead. Is he setting himself up for success?
Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT. Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
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[00:30] Question of the Day
Q: “I find myself in a particular situation with my current profession and wanting to switch. And I guess a lot of my questions are more so based on my transcripts and how they’re going to be viewed when I actually apply, especially with the degrees that I have.
I graduated with my bachelor’s and my doctorate at the same time last year, and a part of my doctorate program was applied to my Bachelor’s programs.
I contacted AAMC, they were super helpful as to how certain classes are going to apply and things of that nature. I haven’t gone through that process yet. But at least I have some starting points.
I took a diagnostic test about a month ago and I scored a 492 through Kaplan. I don’t have a chemistry background or any physics as well.
I actually started out as an art major. I went to a performing arts grade school and middle school. I wanted to be a high school art teacher growing up.
I picked up a certification in massage therapy because I absolutely love the human body. I thought it would help with the figure drawing classes that I had, which it did. And then in my massage therapy program, one of my anatomy and physiology teachers was a chiropractor. And that’s how I got introduced to this profession.
I spent some time in the field as a massage therapist working at a couple of different doctor’s offices. I went to chiropractic school right around 2017 and graduated four years later with my bachelor’s and my doctorate.
Fast-forward to here and now. I’ve always wanted to serve people of color, especially the underserved and low socio-economic neighborhoods, which is why I moved to Baltimore, where the minority is the majority. So I wanted more access to that population.
As much as I enjoy this profession, it is still looked upon more like a luxury than a necessity. So the majority of people that are seen by chiropractors are affluent. They have disposable income, primarily white. And that’s particularly not the population that I want to serve. So that’s one of the reasons why I’m making the jump.
The most prevalent thing that I’m facing right now is that I have to finish my prerequisites. I have the opportunity to do a postbac here in Baltimore. They offer it at night so it fits with my schedule, working full-time. It’s a little expensive from what I can afford right now. I also have the opportunity to do a do-it-yourself postbac at some of the local community colleges around here, which is definitely more affordable.
I’m trying to figure out the best route for me, given that I have a doctorate. My GPA definitely isn’t the best currently. It is an upward trend. But I’m also trying to figure out how my GPA is going to look on the application because I know it is going to be different from what I see.”
[09:28] Do You Need a Postbac?
First, create a free account at Mappd and put all your courses in there and you can see all those graphs and stuff.
From a postbac perspective, I don’t think anyone needs a formal postbac. There’s no need to spend the extra money to go to a formal postbac unless you specifically need it. If you think you need that structure and support, and you’re not going to do well if you don’t do it, then it may be worth paying for that level of support. If you don’t need it, then just go take the classes at a community college.
Some medical schools may not like that but you can’t please everyone. But there are plenty of students every single year getting into medical school, taking community college credits as postbac.“Don't worry about community college versus a fancy postbac that is probably going to be three or four times more expensive, or even more, potentially.” Click To Tweet
[11:51] The Challenge of Telling Your Story
Q: Do you know of any other hiccups chiropractors face in terms of applying to medical schools?
A: There are none specific to chiropractors. Whether it’s a nurse, PA, NP, etc. the struggle is always – how do I tell my story to show why I want to be a physician, and not this other thing anymore and without disparaging the other thing? And that’s always the challenge that I typically see for anyone coming from another health profession.
Again, that just comes with time and learning your messaging, and going through lots of drafts of your personal statement.
Eventually, you will get to a point where you will better understand and own your story. It talks about you going through the chiropractic route. But now you want to be a doctor. And it makes sense as to why you want to be a doctor. It’s not just for you, specifically. It’s not just serving the underserved. But in totality, it’s about the impact you want to make on the world through medicine.
The Seed and Watering the Seed
Your seed is going to lead you to chiropractic or maybe even massage. And while you’re on that journey, you have this pivot point where you realized it’s not going to be enough. That’s why you decided to go down the medical school route.
Then the watering events are going to be proving that you really want to be a doctor. So you’re putting yourself around patients and that interaction solidified your intention to want to become a doctor.
[17:38] Chiropractic as Clinical Experience
Q: Is what I’m doing now as my job considered clinical experience?
A: Being a chiropractor is a clinical experience. Ideally, you want to have other clinical experiences on top of it. Whether that’s volunteering in the emergency department or putting yourself around non-chiropractic patients. That way, you get a feel of the rest of the potential clinical world out there.
And since chiropractic medicine is your full-time job, it’s obviously going to be the bulk of your hours and that’s fine. I would also get physician shadowing as well to add to that.
[18:39] Shadowing Hours
Q: I already have set up a long-term shadowing commitment with a PM&R MD, which I think is where I want to end up. I just finished up with a DO two weeks ago with some shadowing that I did as well. So I’m starting early.
A: Find some unique experiences where you could go and find a PM&R office or some orthopedic office. Since chiropractic medicine is a great adjunct to what they are doing, they would love to have a chiropractor on staff in their clinic. That way, you’re around doctors all the time which may help you as well.
[19:45] Overcoming Bias Towards Chiropractors
Q: Do you think I will face some kind of bias with having most of my clinical experience as a chiropractor going through like the interview process?
A: There is a general perception of chiropractors out there. We need chiropractors and chiropractors are great. But there are also way too many chiropractors practicing outside the scope of their training.
And so, just come in knowing there’s some negative bias towards chiropractors for various reasons. Again, humans are humans, some are going to have their biases and you will never win from a biased perspective. Hence, the only thing that you can do is be true to who you are so own it.
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The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement
The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Application Process
The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview