Is it Okay to Cut out Research if I’m Too Busy?

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ADG 201: Is it Okay to Cut out Research if I'm Too Busy?

Session 201

This nontrad, stay-at-home mom wants to know if it will hurt her application if she is unable to fit in research within her busy schedule.

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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[00:19] Question of the Day

“I’m Megan, I’m a very nontraditional student. I don’t really have any advisors. I am in school full-time. And I did speak to a premed advisor, but she basically told me that if I wasn’t prepared to spend the next 10 years trying and failing to get into med school then not to do it. So I haven’t talked to her again. 

My number one burning question is this. I am a stay-at-home mom of three very young children. I do school full-time. Anything that’s non-science, I do online. For science courses, I’m doing them in person, of course. I volunteer for a hospital and I volunteer on a crisis hotline. I have a plan in place that in about a year, I want to start doing clinical and shadowing. I don’t have time to research at all. Is that an issue?”

[02:07] No One Right Way to Do This

You don’t need to do anything. Maybe it will look better to have research in your application. But you can’t quantify it because every school is different in how they look at an application.

Admissions committee members are made up of human beings who have the ability to look at an application holistically. They could see you’re a mom and they would understand if you haven’t done any research. And maybe they’ll ask you about that in the interview. But you will be fine.

At the end of the day, there are no absolutes in this. I’ve talked to students who get into medical school with zero clinical experience or zero shadowing. I wouldn’t have accepted them. But the point is that there’s no one specific right way to do this.

[03:51] Having a 2.42 Science GPA

Q: “I have Mappd and I have a very strong upward trend. It went from way down to way up. With your like projection on Mappd, I think I can get my science GPA up to about a 3.4 range. And I am a pretty decent test taker. I’m doing all my classes. So I’m hoping I’m doing well on the MCAT. There were a couple of years when I did a culinary degree. My science GPA at this point is 2.42 on AMCAS and in AACOMAS it’s 3.11. I’m actually really good at math. I was just struggling with a lot of things at that time.”

A: Don’t hesitate, reach out to a school and see if it’s even something that they would entertain. Some schools don’t look at it. Some schools will look at something on a case-by-case basis.

Historically, the way that AMCAS works is if you can’t really attribute where your class is, then 0-30 hours is freshmen, 30-60 is sophomore, 60- 90 is Junior, and then 90+ is senior. 

Looking at her Mappd dashboard, we can see a good distinction here of a pre-good student having 2.09 and 65 credits then 3.92, 3.95, and 4.0 with over 100 credits at this point. So that’s as close to a 3.94. And this is awesome.

Going to the class standing science GPA is where you have a lot of work to do because your science GPA is only 2.42 and it’s only 30 credits at this point. And so those 16 credits at 0.75 are really dragging you down. And so, you need more science credits at this point.

My recommendation may vary depending on how many classes you have left by the time you submit your application, especially for grade repair.

I typically don’t recommend applying until that grade repair is done. I’m not super concerned about you, because your grade repair has been great. Unfortunately, most of your credits are non-science classes. So we just need to make sure that as you transition into more hard sciences, those grades stay up.

[13:05] What to Include in Your Activity Section

There are no rules when it comes to what you should include or not. But if a big chunk of time from your timeline is going to be missing, medical schools will be wondering why that is. And so, it’s important to put it in there. And you have 15 spots on the AMCAS, so use all of those spots if you can.

[14:16] Studying for the MCAT

Q: “If I’m intending to self-teach or use Blueprint classes, do you think six months is enough time?”

A: Six months is enough time for a typical premed without kids. Now for you, you may need to expand that or if you have a good support system, then maybe not. Also, it doesn’t hurt to take a diagnostic now and you can get a free one at Blueprint MCAT.

[16:04] Shadowing/Clinical Experience

Q: “I have a shadowing that I can jump in when I’m ready. My OB is amazing and likes to teach. And when volunteering at the hospital, they do surgery days. I get to go spend a whole day in surgery just watching surgery. So I’m excited about that. 

My plan has been that in a year’s time, my oldest is going to kindergarten, and I can put the other two in daycare. Then I want to become a medical assistant. Hoping that at that time, I will make at least enough to cover daycare for the two. That will put me at having been working and doing clinical and shadowing for right around nine months before I apply. But I just don’t want that to look like I’m just throwing that in at the end. ”

A: It’s a valid concern. But you have a reason why you’re not doing it so that should be okay.

[18:16] Use of Potentially Sensitive Words

Q: “I’ve heard you talk about certain ways to phrase things like rape. I get what you said before about how particular words are causing feelings inside people when they read them. Do you think that applies if I were to just use words like regular abuse?”

A: My general advice is don’t think about it and write it. See how it feels to write things out. See how it feels to read things. Just see if it tells the story. Share it with people who you trust and ask them how they feel about it or whether it’s too much.


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