Disclosing Sources of Motivation When Applying to Med School

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OPM 216: Disclosing Sources of Motivation When Applying to Med School

Session 216

This premed and mother of two is wondering when and how to discuss her motivation for applying to medical school: her children.

Your questions answered here are taken directly from the PremedForums.com.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“27, white, female, military spouse, mother of 1 (due with my second on 3/5/20).

A few questions:

  • I have my #1 goal school based on location. Anywhere else will make it way more difficult but I’ll be applying to 3 other schools in my state. If one of the biggest reasons I want to go into medicine is my kids, should I reveal this to my goal school? I’ve heard “if they don’t accept you because of it, why would you want to be there anyway?” And I understand that. But I really want to go into this specific school. I’m just afraid something will be missing from my story if I don’t reveal that… but I don’t want them to think I won’t be able to handle the load.
  • I’m really nervous about my GPA. It’s not up to med school standards. The median for my goal school is 3.6-3.7 so I’m below that. I know a strong MCAT won’t necessarily make up for it. I detailed my background below. Any suggestions on how to be a stronger applicant aside from filling in the obvious gaps (where I mention 0 hours below) and getting a strong MCAT?
  • I took two courses toward my MBA (4.0) a year ago because my company paid for it. I decided no, I don’t want to continue down my current path, so I’m not going to continue this program. I’m going to work toward medicine. Does this look as bad as I think it does? Like I have no idea what I want to do? (Even though that’s not the case) Note: You won’t have to worry about this.


*3.39 cGPA / ~3.0 sGPA from bachelor’s in forensic science 2014.

*3.81 cGPA / ~ 3.5 sGPA just excluding grades (As) for research from master’s in chemistry 2016 (master’s of philosophy because I left after becoming a PhD candidate when I finally knew I didn’t want to go into research or industry and I didn’t write a thesis… not smart, I know).

*Upward trend (Cs in entry level bio/chem courses up to A- in UG physical chemistry, A in graduate pchem, B+ graduate bioorganic chemistry, As in spectroscopy courses, etc).

*Worked full time through undergrad (not sure if this makes a difference), did computational physical chem research for two semesters (2 local poster presentations), competed on a national mock trial team for Jr & Sr year.

*Teaching assistant for physical chemistry lab, gen chem lab x2, and forensic chemistry lab while in grad school.

*I’ve been working in pharmaceutical sales for 3 years since graduating.

Med school wasn’t on my radar during school. It wasn’t until I began working in Pharma sales and meeting lots of physicians that I realized wow, I want to be a physician. I hear from physicians almost daily about the good, bad, and ugly, and I want part of every bit of it. Of course there’s much more to my WHY than this, but this was my AH HA moment.

As of now:

*Shadowing 0 hours (working on this… can’t shadow doctors I know through my job so looking outside a large geographical area)

*Clinical 0 hours (took EMT exam yesterday so pending results, I’ll get my hours through this)

*Volunteer 10 hours (in training for multiple other opportunities so I’ll have at the very least 400 hours by the time I apply in June 2021… 3 different nonprofits for over a year each)

*Research a few thousand hours

MCAT test date ~ Jan 2021

Applying June 2021 for 2022 admission

Sorry this was so long… I wanted to make sure I gave a full picture in case any questions came up. Thank you!”

[04:50] Why Do You Want to Be a Doctor?

This student obviously has a lot going for her and some huge, glaring issues in terms of her reason for doing this. She has zero clinical experience and zero shadowing hours.

When someone comes to me and says they want to be a doctor. But they’ve never shadowed and never gotten any clinical experience. I would immediately tell them how do they know they want to be a doctor? It’s impossible for you to know that this is something you want. 

'You may think you want to be a doctor. But you don't know you want to be a doctor until you get that experience.'Click To Tweet

She’s been told the good, bad, and ugly. But the physicians only told her this through their own lens and their own experiences. That is why clinical experience and shadowing are very important. 

To become a physician, you really need to understand what it’s like to be a physician. You need to shadow and get clinical experience. 

This doesn’t mean that every student accepted to medical school has shadowing and clinical experience. 

But honestly, I would like to follow up with these people in 10-15 years to see if they actually enjoy their job. A percentage of them will, definitely. But compare that to a control group of those who did get clinical experience and shadowing. This would be a good research topic to determine if these people are more prone to burnout.

My hypothesis is that if you’re not getting clinical experience and shadowing, and you get into medical school and you go out and practice, then you’d probably realize this is not what the doctors told you it was.

So you need to go out and experience this yourself. 

[07:03] Grades and Working During Undergrad

Right off the bat, her grades are not an issue. I assume the Master’s is done and it looks like she’s on her way to a Ph.D. 

“A good upward trend in the hard sciences is good. But a master's in public health won't help poor undergrad grades.”Click To Tweet

Working during undergrad is obviously going to be part of your story. This is also going to be in your activity list. Someone will be able to see that you were busy while in undergrad and that plays into it.

[07:52] Get Some Shadowing and Clinical Experience

When you look into this whole thing, being a military spouse automatically gives some experience and some level of trustworthiness. That coupled with the fact that you’re a parent and a nontrad student and that you have shown this growth in your grades. And along with your research past and experience in the pharma world. All this is awesome!

The only thing you need here is clinical experience and shadowing. So get out there as fast as you can and go get it. 

'Get that experience!'Click To Tweet

[08:43] Kids as a Reason to Get into Med School

The student didn’t really explain in the post as to why her kids were her reason to want to go to medical school. Regardless, always come back to telling your story. If your story has gaps in it, it’s not going to make sense and the admissions committees won’t like that. 

'Tell your story.'Click To Tweet

You need to tell your story. Whatever is going on with your child that it’s a huge reason for wanting to do this, then I personally think it needs to be a part of your story. 

Next is to figure out how to tell the story so that it’s not a concern moving forward for the school. 

If for instance, the medical school might question whether you need to take an extra year to finish school because of the kid and all the other stuff going on. 


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