Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum over at premedforums.com. Please go ahead and register for an account, ask your question, and have fun with the community.
Also, please be sure to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media as we try to bring you as many resources as you need on this journey. Also, check out our new technology platform Mappd.com to get the help you need on your journey into medical school.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[00:48] OldPreMeds Question of the Week
“So the plan for the past two years has been medical school for a career in forensic pathology. A few days ago, I was offered a job at a medical examiner’s office as an investigator, which I gleefully accepted.
I’m open to the possibility of falling in love with this new career, but the fear of making a mistake keeps creeping up. I know I can always go back to medical school later, but there’s not a lot of strict information about what to do as a “non-traditional” student that’s going back to school after graduating a few years prior.
If anyone has any advice to give on what to do after being out of school for a while and considering medical school, it would be greatly appreciated.”
[01:50] Solidify In Your Mind That This is What You Want
First off, check out Episode 24 of the Specialty Stories where I had Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist.
This is more a question of fear about not doing the right things to make sure they get into medical school. Nontraditional students have been away from starting medical school for many years. If you have no science courses and you want to start medical school next year, that’s probably not going to happen. There has to be this realistic timeframe in mind.
Don’t look at the freshman, sophomore, junior, senior being a premed student. But where are you in your journey? Do you have the prereqs done? Do you have time to study for the MCAT? When are you planning on taking that?
More importantly, before you do anything else, solidify in your mind that this is what you really want to do. Part of figuring this out is to go get some clinical experience and some shadowing experience to see for yourself if this is something you want. Get them to make sure you’re not just hallucinating. Do you really want to go to medical school?'There's nothing worse than getting several hundred thousand dollars into debt to go to medical school, knowing at the end that you don't want to be there. So verify first.'Click To Tweet
As a nontraditional student, why do you want to be a forensic pathologist? Where did that love come from? Make sure that you are solidifying in your mind that you want to be a physician.
[04:29] The Concept of Equifinality
If you have shadowing and clinical experience and all of that fun stuff, and that’s going along swimmingly. You recognize it’s a stepping stone to being a doctor. And you’re excited about it because this is what you want, then great!
Now, let’s look at your courses. Where are you with your prereqs? Where are you with your GPA? If you’ve already graduated, what does your GPA look like? Do you need to fix it?
We just need to add prereqs if we need to fix your GPA. How long is it going to take to fix it? What other classes can you take on top of your prereqs to make sure you’re showing a nice strong upward trend in your GPA?
On the Mappd dashboard, you’ll see a nice little graph showing everything with data on all of that. So it’s so fun. Where are you with all that? Those are the questions in my mind. Am I doing everything right to get to medical school? Because there is no right path.
One of my favorite words that I learned is equifinality. Everyone who gets into medical school ends up in the same spot right there in medical school. So no matter what path every student took, they all ended up at that same point.“There is no wrong on this path except if you're not following the path that verifies and really solidifies in your mind that you want to be a physician.”Click To Tweet
[06:22] Lining Up Your Experiences to Show You Really Want This
Just imagine this from the medical school side of things. The medical admissions officers reviewing your application may find it interesting that you worked as an investigator in the medical examiner’s office. But this student really doesn’t have anything else to say that they want to be a doctor.“Make sure you're lining up your experiences. But that being said, you don't have to transition everything in your life just to make sure everything is medically related.”Click To Tweet
A lot of advisors actually tell students to drop everything that’s not medically related. Their logic behind this is it will distract you from getting into medical school and that it will look bad. But it’s just not true.
If you love being an investigator, obviously, you’re working at the ME’s office. You potentially have great exposure to shadowing the pathologist there at the ME’s office. You have an opportunity to interact with your future dream job. So I think that’s a great place to be.
[07:47] Final Thoughts
Now, you also have to work on your clinical experience. Whether that’s volunteering at a hospice or the emergency department, do something else to get close to living patients and interact with them. That’s the biggest goal. Then obviously working in the MCAT and taking that and then applying.“Don't worry whether you're making the right steps or not. What's important is that you solidify in your mind and verify that this is what you want to do.”Click To Tweet
Then have that desire to reflect on those experiences. Tell your story in your application and go from there.
One other quick side note, when you are applying to medical school, be as generic as possible. It’s never always but be as generic as possible when you’re talking about what you want to do. The goal of the application to medical school is mostly focused on why you want to be a physician, not what kind of physician you want to be. So just remember that small little caveat.