Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A: Giving Up on My Med School Dream

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Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A: Giving Up on My Med School Dream

Session 74

What do you do when a premed advisor recommends a drastic change of course? Should this caller call it quits on US MD and DO schools?

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[00:12] Question of the Day

Rob went to their premed advisor on campus and did an overview of his transcript and took a look at his courses and grades and everything.

He was told to rule out U.S.-based medical schools and consider Caribbean schools as his best chance to get into medical school.

Rob hasn’t taken the MCAT yet and he has a few C’s in his core classes. He admits to not having taken his classes seriously and considers himself a late bloomer. He has retaken all of the courses and got A’s in them the second time around. Obviously, he has shown an upward trend.

So for the past year and a half to two years, he had nothing but a 4.0. But even with that, he was being told by his premed advisor that he really shouldn’t look into MD schools.

Rob’s overall GPA is 3 and he’s not sure about his science GPA. But out of the six classes he has retaken, he has gotten A’s in all of them.

[02:13] Let the Medical Schools Tell You

Rob’s premed advisor is misguided in their advice to Rob to just give up in the MD and DO schools. It’s ridiculous. Obviously, you’re getting to a Caribbean school.

But can you get into a U S school? Of course you can.

You screwed up to begin with. Guess what? A lot of students mess up when they start undergrad and haven’t figured it out.

But you hit the reset button. You course-corrected. You figured it out. You’ve got enough. But the question is, is that enough to get you into medical school today? We don’t know.

So Rob should run the numbers. Look at what the science GPA is right this minute, if it’s above a 3.0, then apply to medical school. Obviously, you’d have to take the MCAT.

“Apply and let the medical schools tell you that it's not enough.”Click To Tweet

[04:24] The Job of a Premed Advisor

That’s the key part. The fact that advisors are out there telling students you won’t get into a U.S. medical school is ludacris.

“It's not your advisor's job to tell you that you can't get into medical school.”Click To Tweet

It’s your advisor’s job to show you how to get into medical school based on your current circumstances. And if your advisor is telling you that you can’t get into medical school, then they just don’t want to do their job.

If you’re at a large school, advisers are super overwhelmed, I get it. But they’re getting paid to advise and help you. And telling you that you can’t get into a medical school in the U.S. is no help except for them because then you go away.

Nevertheless, this student has turned it around completely to a 4.0 GPA. So continue on. Just finish the last class strong and he should be fine.

[06:53] Should You Do a Master’s Program?

“You don’t need to do a master's program if you've shown that you can handle the coursework. And that's what a master's program is for.” Click To Tweet

Another important factor to note here is that Rob retook his classes at the same school he received the C’s which is great. Otherwise, retaking your classes at a community college, for example, will cast a doubt upon the admissions committee in that you can’t handle a four-year university.

In terms of how a master’s program is viewed depending on the type of master’s, an MPH will do nothing for you. It would have to be a master’s in hard sciences or one of the special masters programs, which is very specific for certain students.

In terms of the GPA, they may ignore your undergraduate GPA and only look at your master’s GPA. They may work in your master’s GPA, into your undergraduate GPA and average it altogether. So how the medical schools look at that is up to each of the medical schools.

[08:33] How Different Schools Look at Your GPA

Now, there are two different ways to improve your GPA. You can take a special master’s program to boost your undergrad GPA. Or you can continue taking your higher level courses. See how many you can squeeze in to get that trend continuing to go or leveled off at 4.0.

For instance, University of Central Florida has the ability to look at the last 20 hours of science credits. And this is how they determine if you can handle it. University of Illinois has the ability to remove a whole year of classes from your GPA.

And so that’s the kind of the most frustrating thing with this process is that every school is different. Getting blanket advice from an advisor saying you’ll never get into medical school is just crazy.

“Every school is different.”Click To Tweet

All that being said, every school has the ability to do something with your transcripts, with your GPA. 

Again, Illinois can drop a whole year of your classes and base your GPA on how you’re moving that whole year. UCF takes a look at the last 20 hours.

There are also schools that have what’s known as the 32-hour rule where they will look at your last 32 hours. It’s like a reboot of your GPA. And they’ll kind of ignore everything else before for that as well.

[11:15] Reach Out to Medical Schools

You’ve already figured out why you struggled and now you’re doing well. Now you just need to keep doing it. Continue to do it.

Obviously do well on the MCAT. Make sure that the rest of your application is great. Have a good personal statement. Have good extracurriculars. Write your secondaries.

Submit your application early and broadly and you’ll be fine.

Finally, reach out to the medical schools and lay out your situation. Really reach out to the schools that you’re interested in going to and see what sort of communication they will have with you about your GPA.

[14:07] What If You Didn’t Get In

If you don’t get in then it’s time to reevaluate. What went wrong? Was it a bad personal statement? Was it not enough extracurriculars? Was it a bad interview if you got interviews or did you not get any, any interviews because your GPA just wasn’t where it needed to be?

And then that’s where you reevaluate and decide on whether you need to take an SMP? But I wouldn’t do that as the first step right now. Just keep that upward trend there. Apply. And then if you don’t get in, reevaluate.


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