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This premed student wants to know if doing a postbac will give him a better GPA trend.
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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[00:21] Question of the Day
“I’m just starting out on my postbac premed journey for about a year now. I’ve been a nurse for over two years now. When I started nursing school, I thought being a doctor would be fun, and directing the care of patients is something I’ve been more drawn to and more attracted to.
I made that step sometime last summer, and I started taking Gen Chem I and II. My GPA wasn’t that great at 3.4, and there’s no trend. I didn’t think my GPA was good enough for PA school. So I went into nursing, just thinking I was going to be a nurse and then I eventually found out I wanted to be a doctor.
I have to work full-time so I’m only able to take about eight hours per semester. Do you think that’s enough? Because I’m scheduled to take O-chem and Bio I in the fall and second courses in the spring.”
[03:22] Do What Works
Make sure that you’re doing the things that you need to do for yourself, first and foremost. Do what you have to do to make things work. Maybe get two more roommates and the cost of your rent goes down. Or you could move out, break your lease, and go move back in with parents if that’s an option. There are very extreme ways of making things work so you can go take a full-course load.
That being said, working as a nurse is a great clinical experience. So you can keep doing that but you may have to explain why you only took eight credit hours. There may be a school or two or however many that aren’t going to like that and they’re not going to bother to look at your activities to see what you’re doing. That may happen. But you can’t control that. So don’t worry about it.
[05:11] Withdrawal or Getting a C
This student is wondering which is better, a withdrawal from his course or getting a C. And you don’t want five credits of a C on your postbac work when your goal is as close to perfect as possible. Instead, if you choose to withdraw, there’s no harm or no foul there. It may screw up your timeline. Ultimately, the question is why would you struggle in the class in the first place. So you have to figure things out yourself.
[07:38] Taking Online Classes at a Community College
Our student mentions having taken online classes and wondering how medical schools will look at it. Recently, Hopkins is the first major institution that changed its whole process and now accepts online classes regardless of when you took them, pre-pandemic or post-pandemic.
He’s also asking if online classes at a community college would be worse. But you can’t control how medical schools will look at this.
The only thing that you can do is do what’s going to work best for you, knowing that online may hurt you for some schools. Community college may hurt you at some schools. And online at community college may hurt you at some schools. So again, you can only do what you can do, and hope that works out.
[10:54] What AMCAS Considers a Science GPA
Check out AMCAS to see what they consider as science GPA. Even if it’s labeled as maybe an Allied Health, which may not typically be considered science, if it’s anatomy and physiology, it should be considered science.
The whole course classification guide that schools put out is always confusing for students. It looks pretty firm, but it’s up to you to decide how to categorize it. Then it’s up to AMCAS, AACOMAS, or TMDSAS to adjudicate it and to actually confirm or deny it. Just because something is labeled as Bio 350, for instance, doesn’t mean it’s a bio course. It doesn’t mean it’s biology that counts as science. Because there are random Bio 350 courses that are not science courses. It could be a course about Writing for Biologists, which is an English course. So you just have to use your best judgment to mark it as a science course.
A lot of times, courses in the nursing world like chemistry, bio, and physics will not count as prereqs that schools want so this is something to consider.
[13:12] Will Clinical Experience Compensate for Shadowing?
This student is also curious if the clinical experience will compensate for shadowing hours. Being a nurse, obviously, is an amazing clinical experience that will be looked upon highly favorably. Students don’t need 100 hours of shadowing. But if you can sneak in shadowing for half a day, every few months, then try to do that.'The goal of shadowing is to go see what all of their job looks like. Because you only see one small part of it.'Click To Tweet
A lot of nurses will question why they need to shadow when they’re already working with doctors all the time. But you’re only working in one specific facet of their job. So go with them when they’re not at the bedside or they’re not at the nurse’s station. Go see what else they’re doing and make sure that you’re okay with all that too.
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