What’s the First Step After Deciding to Apply to Med School?

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OPM 223: What's the First Step After Deciding to Apply to Med School?

Session 223

You’re switching gears and getting ready to pursue a career in medicine, but what’s your first step on this new path?

Your questions are directly from the nontraditional premed forum over at premedforums.com. You can check it out, go sign up, go create an account to go ask questions. Go join in the community and the conversation going on over there. If you’re not into that, you can check out our Facebook group, which is well over 12,000 members now over PremedHangout.com. For more podcasts and resources, check out Meded Media.

Our question today is from a student asking about the best first step. And I think that’s a great question. It’s what I often ask students on The Premed Years Podcast.

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

[01:51] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I am in my early 40’s now and have had numerous false starts with regard to applying to med school. Undergrad GPA 3.9’ish (old prerequisites/biochem degree/published) and beginning of graduate work at Teachers College Columbia University in Nutrition Education GPA 4.0. All coursework is 10+ years old. Worked as a MA for several years, but again, that was 10+ years ago, as well. Life, consisting predominantly of family illnesses and being primary caregiver, has had much to do with this huge delay. Currently NED (3+ years) from bc dx, but this is what has prompted me to move forward now…as you can imagine, that was a major life changing, wake-up call!

Sorry for the long summary, but I don’t even know where to start now. I had thought that preparing for and acing the MCAT was my first step. However, upon reading other posts, here’s my question:

Should I, perhaps, complete my MS at Columbia first or even retake my prerequisites? Should I focus on the MCAT, as previously planned? If more recent clinical experience and/or volunteer work is required, that wouldn’t be a problem.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.”

[03:29] So What’s the First Step?

The first step for me is going straight to the horse’s mouth. From an academic standpoint, you have the prereqs. You have an outstanding GPA biochem being published. You have the resume to prove that you can handle medical school.

Now, the question is, will medical schools like that old coursework? And you won’t know that unless you call the schools and tell them about your story.

But the question that you’re ultimately asking is whether your old grades would hold you back if you’re planning on taking the MCAT. Ask if they would recommend that you retake some select classes to show your academic capabilities now.

My assumption is that the majority of schools will say they’re probably going to want some newer classes. They want to see if you can still be a student and that you still have those skills you had many years ago.

“Not necessarily repeating all of your prereqs, but at least some newer classes to show that you're still interested in being a student.”Click To Tweet

[05:16] Final Thoughts

The first step is to go straight to the medical schools, call them up. Right now. They’re busy, unfortunately. But call them up, email them, and just lay out your story and ask those questions directly to them. Ultimately, that is the question.

What will they do when they see old classes, no new classes – hopefully, a solid MCAT and the rest of the application. You need to have the shadowing and clinical experience and you have the research already. 

“Show that you are interested in being a physician by getting those experiences and being able to write about why you want to be a physician in your personal statement.'Click To Tweet




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