Nontraditional International Applicant Worried About Chances

Session 153

As an international applicant, today’s student is worried about his chances of getting into medical school and even if he should apply or look at something else.

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[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I’m a 25-year-old registered dietitian who graduated with Master’s in 2017. It didn’t take me long to realize the limitation of nutrition in providing comprehensive care to patients so I have recently decided to apply to medical school.

My biggest question right now is: would applying as an international student + nontrad = 0 chance of getting in? Should I even try? Would I have a better chance for DO vs. MD?

My second question is whether most schools that accepting international students would consider me. Some basic information about myself:
– GPA: 3.88 undergrad and 3.85 from grad school
– EC: practicing RD in critical care settings for 1 year, many MD shadowing hours as a nutrition intern during 2 years of RD training but no other “unpaid/volunteer” experience
– Pre-reqs:2 semesters bio, 2 semesters gen chem, 1 semester gen physics, 2 semesters biochem (1 at graduate level)
– MCAT: plan to take it by May 2019

Final question (if I had even the slightest chance of getting in): Do I have to take 2 semesters of organic chem and additional 1 semester of physics? Are there any alternatives since I have 1 semester of graduate-level biochem?”

[02:25] Prerequisites

Go to the medical schools you’re interested in applying to and look at what they require for prereqs. Then base your decision for prereqs on this. Another thing to consider is how prepared are you for the MCAT if you haven’t had any organic chemistry and you only have 1 semester of Physics, which both are on the MCAT. You may be hurting yourself for some schools as you may have the prereqs necessary for some schools. But you also may be hurting your chances of doing well on the MCAT without doing a lot of self-study.

[03:15] The Chances of International Nontrads to Get Into to Medical School

Personally, I don’t think being a nontrad hurts anything. In fact, it’s a great benefit to be a nontraditional student. Having that experience as a registered dietitian is great. The biggest issue is being an international student.

First, who’s paying for your medical school? As an international student, you don’t qualify for federal loans. You won’t get loans from the government to pay the schools to give you the education so you can get a job and pay back the loans.

There are schools that accept international students that have a large endowment that will give you the loan directly from them. But some don’t have that so they want to see you or your family or somebody has the finances to pay for medical school out of pocket.

Second, are you going to have any visa issues to work? Once out of school and you’re working as a resident, are there any visa issues? There a lot of residency programs that hesitant to accept international students because they don’t want to deal with any visa issues.

[05:34] What Are Your Options?

One option to take is going to the Caribbean or any of these international medical schools. Get your degree and then come back and do your residency in the U.S. This gives you better chances to get into an international school as an international student.

Another option is to wait until you get your Green Card, your permanent residency, or your citizenship. It could take 6 months or even 6 years – it’s all up to you to decide if you’re willing to wait for a year or two.

[06:35] Clinical Experience and Shadowing

The student has already worked as a registered dietitian for a year in a critical care setting This is great! As to how much experience is needed, only you can answer that as to how much you’re actually getting in a clinical setting.

Are you getting notes and prescribing the dietary needs of the patients? Are you having discussions with the patients, interacting with them and going around with the team to do all of this stuff? If it’s the latter, that’s great clinical experience. But if it’s the former, then that could hurt since it’s not really “clinical experience.” Sure, you’re working in a clinical setting, but you’re not interacting with the patients.

Shadowing as an intern is good but you still need more. The key is to do this consistently.

[09:13] The Biggest Hurdle of Getting In

The biggest hurdle of getting into medical school is not being a nontraditional international student, but it’s just being an international student.

So make sure you get all the prereqs needed for the school and the MCAT. Make sure you’re getting consistent shadowing experience, clinical experience, etc. And ask yourself if you’re okay to wait until you’re able to get your Green Card, permanent residency, or citizenship. Or are you okay, knowing the risks, of going to an international school such as the Caribbean, Australia, Isreal, etc that cater to U.S. students?

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