He Took all Online Classes, Will It Hurt His Chances?

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts

Session 195

This military guy came out of dual college credit in high school where he did poorly, and then took almost 100% online classes with straight As. Now, he’s wondering about his chances of getting into medical school.

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.

The episodes in this podcast are recordings of our Facebook Live that we do at 3 pm Eastern on most weekdays. Check out our Facebook page and like the page to be notified. Also, listen to our other podcasts on MedEd Media. If you have any questions, call me at 617-410-6747.

[00:22] Question of the Day

Q: “I’m a nontraditional premed, coming from the military, looking to get out and maybe hopefully go to medical school. Since I’m in the military, all of my classes are almost 100% online. I did community college and dual college credit in high school. I did terribly. I made Cs and Ds. 

Since online, I’ve made all straight A’s. But the dual college is hurting me. I’m like a 3.58 right now or something. Do online classes hurt my chances of getting in? All my online classes were my chances of getting into medical school.”

A: It’s going to depend on each individual medical school. One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that medical schools have reevaluated their stance on online classes. They themselves had to teach medical school online for a period of time. And so, why are they judging a student based on their online class when they were perfectly fine teaching their own students in an online course?

Hopkins actually has changed the language on their website to say that they accept online classes regardless of when you’ve taken them, not just during the pandemic. And so, they’ve changed their stance, and that was a new change since the pandemic. Ultimately, it’s just going to depend on the medical school.

[02:18] What Counts as Patient Care

Q:I’m a helicopter rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard. I have patient experience here and there. Because I’m an EMT, I perform EMT duties on the helicopter. What can I count as a patient care experience?”

A: If you’re just sitting in a firehouse somewhere, as an EMT, maybe you’re on a 24-hour call, then maybe three hours of that is patient care experience.

As a doctor, the far majority of your time is probably going to be non-direct patient care activities. You’re going to be charting, doing teamwork stuff, doing rounds, and other things. You’re going to be talking to insurance companies and a lot of other things that are not direct patient care.

Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself, just based on your specific situation. If you worked a week, and maybe there was one call that you went out on. Then just make some educated guesses on the amount of time you spent being in the Coast Guard, and which amount of time you did actual clinical experience. And so, you can just separate out the hours so that they add up to your total time.

[04:16] Counting Volunteer Hours

Q: “I work full-time because I’m on active duty, and I’m a full-time student. I’m taking 20-24 credits right now. As far as volunteer hours go, I’m looking to squeeze some hours in. But I do a lot of volunteering at my work, specifically with the Leadership Diversity Advisory Committee. Could I count that as volunteer hours?”

A: There are actually no rules as far as activities go.  And so, if you feel like that is true volunteering, then sure. Add it in as volunteering hours.

'You can do whatever you want ultimately. There are no specific rules to this game.'Click To Tweet

[05:17] Taking Courses in the Summer

Q: “Being a full-time student and actually taking overload credits just to try to sail my way through this, does that look bad in a medical school? We’re in the summer semester right now and I’m taking a full course load. Some people advise taking college classes or core classes in the summer.”

A: There’s no issue taking core classes or prereqs during the summer. The only possible issue is that summer courses are condensed. It’s harder to take organic chemistry during the summer than it would be during fall or spring.

You are more likely to get worse grades by taking it during the summer. Therefore, it’s discouraged to take it during the summer. But it’s not bad. And medical schools don’t really care whether you took your courses during the summer or not.

[07:00] Is Shadowing a PA Okay?

Q: “Would it be discouraged to shadow a PA?

A: It’s okay to shadow a PA, but you should also have to have a physician (MD/DO) shadowing. Whoever you’ve shadowed shows that you’ve explored and asked questions. Add it all in there and that’s fine.  And if you’re applying to medical school, you should be shadowing physicians, ideally, civilian physicians.

[08:51] Applying to Texas Schools

Q: “I’m only looking to apply to UCSF and to every medical school in Texas that I can just because of the Hazlewood Act, which is a Texas benefit. And if I could apply, that would make medical schools significantly cheaper. And UCSF because that’s where my wife is a nurse right now and I wouldn’t have to move her around.”

A: To be sure, just confirm with TMDSAS and ask if it’s going to be okay to apply to Texas Medical schools and that they’re going to consider you as an in-state applicant.

[12:33] The Joint Services Transcript

If you are getting credits from the Joint Services Transcript (JST), just submit that when you apply to medical schools. You’re just adding your JST to your application. If they don’t give you any sort of grade, it’s just going to be a pass/fail thing or whatever it shows on there.


MedEd Media

Medical School HQ Facebook page

Medical School HQ YouTube channel

Instagram @MedicalSchoolHQ

Join the Application Academy!

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

Blueprint MCAT