Our student today is changing careers and has some very specific questions about whether he should put ADHD in his application and what he should focus on.
Questions in this podcast are taken from the OldPreMeds Forum. Register to join a collaborative community of old premeds. Also, check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media as we hope to help you on this journey to medicine.
[01:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:
“I’m 25. I started college out of high school and went one year. I then did a two-year church service mission. When I returned home, I started real estate and worked as a realtor for a year and a half. I got married. I decided that real estate wasn’t for me and went back to school. I went for another year. Those two years were not good. Some of it was online. Some in person. Two full semesters, I gave up on. I completely failed. The in-person semesters, I did okay, getting a mix of A’s, B’s and C’s. Around that time, my daughter was born. I like working with people so I started looking for a way to provide for my family while working. I got a job at a youth correctional facility. I worked in corrections for two years. I felt strongly that I should be doing more. I felt strongly about becoming a doctor.
So while I worked in youth corrections, I began online schooling once again. This time, only taking as many classes as I could handle and seeing a psychiatrist for ADHD. Being diagnosed with ADHD and medicated has changed a ton for me. I attended another semester online. Both semesters, I did well. So I sat down with my wife and concocted a plan. My wife is incredible and super supportive.
In carrying out this plan, I did one more semester online and saving money. We’ve put our house up for sale and moved to a little apartment to attend my university full time. Here’s where I am right now. I’m currently in my first semester back into school. My previous earned semester credits were 52, with only a few of those being science GPA. I am an interdisciplinary studies, biochemistry major. I chose this because correlates with most prereqs and gives me the fluidity. I’m almost to the halfway point next week of this semester. I’m doing 14 credits and doing well. I also feel very confident. My medication helps and the application of daily planning and setting small, achievable goals is helpful. I will graduate in two years and take the MCAT in 2020. I am confident that I can salvage my cumulative GPA to get it above a 3.0. And there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to do better than a 3.5 in the sciences, seeing as I haven’t hardly taken any.
I have submitted applications over the past few days for volunteering at my local hospital to be a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for the local county. And then to the local nursing facility for acute care. I’m not looking to do all of these at once but I’m trying to cast a wide net.
As part of my upper trend and nontrad status, at application, should I explain my ADHD diagnosis, and improvement, medications. I want to go into Family Medicine. Tons of rural areas need physicians. So I know this is a strength. How do I use that to my advantage?
I worked in a youth correctional facility for two years. Approximately 4500 hours. I administered meds daily and my interactions with the incarcerated individuals were all treatment-focused, working on anger management, addiction recovery, and cognitive behavioral therapy. We were way more than just prison guards. We were directly involved in treatment programs. How do I best frame that on the applications?
How much should I focus on the extracurriculars? Or should I just focus on repairing my cumulative GPA and killing my science GPA?”
[05:00] Mentioning Your Health Condition on Application
Personally, I wouldn’t mention it for the reason that there are many reasons to not have good grades and to have good grades. Focus on the now, that you realized you want to be a physician. You’re now more focused because you have a goal.
[Tweet “”You have a plan now to be a physician. And with that plan, comes focus. With that focus, comes better grades.” https://medicalschoolhq.net/opm-114-changing-careers-with-adhd-focusing-on-gpa-and-more/”]
[06:00] Choosing Family Medicine in a Rural Setting
The question is, are you in a rural area now? Many students will try to pitch the fact that they want to serve the underserved, without any examples of that in their application. So if you’re from a rural area and you’re saying you want to go back to a rural area, then that makes sense. If you are not from a rural area, and you’re saying you want to work in a rural area, then that doesn’t really make sense. Especially, if you don’t have any extracurriculars that show that you like being in rural areas.
With the personal statement, you talk about why you want to be a doctor, and not necessarily what you want to do as a physician. But if you can include something at the end about what you hope to accomplish as a physician, then there’s some room in there. And the rest of application should also look like that. There has to be some volunteering that shows you’ve been involved in rural areas. You can also have that in your extracurriculars. So there are ways to add it without overdoing it in your personal statement.
[07:18] Clinical Experience Working in a Youth Correctional Facility
Working in a youth correctional facility and working on anger management, addiction recovery, etc. are great examples of clinical experience. You can divide it up and say half of your time was spent more on prison guard roles and half of your time spent in more addiction recovery and direct patient care, etc. So you can have the same activity in multiple spots and categorize it as different things. It’s great clinical experience and you can talk about this in your application.
[08:05] How Much Should You Focus on Extracurriculars?
Right now, your goal is to focus on GPA. If you feel like you have time to add something in, what you should be continually doing over the course of time is consistent shadowing and consistent volunteering. You don’t have to do a ton, but show consistency.
[Tweet “”Be involved in healthcare. Be involved in your community. that consistency is something that’s very important to admissions committees.” https://medicalschoolhq.net/opm-114-changing-careers-with-adhd-focusing-on-gpa-and-more/”]