After a rough start to college before deciding to pursue medicine, this student is asking what to do next on his pursuit of medical school.
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[01:04] OldPreMeds Question of the Week
“My name is Jordan and I’m 27 years old, a Firefighter/Paramedic, and starting nursing school in the spring of 2021. In beginning my college career at a 4-year university in fall 2011, I was a full-time student with an undecided major but attempting to take mechanical engineering courses.
Due to relationships, finances, family, and just not being prepared to take on college, I failed almost all of my classes in the first semester. I was placed on academic probation and given another chance in the spring. That also did not go well, and again, I failed the majority of the classes as a full-time student. I was then suspended from the college and prohibited from returning for several years. I was kicked out of a four-year university because I could not get the grades.
Afterward, I worked several simple jobs, and in 2015, became a firefighter and then an EMT. At that point, I discovered my love for medicine. I then became an Advanced EMT, Paramedic, and soon will have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. I’ve been taking BMCP prerequisites at a community college and have had a 4.0 GPA since starting back in school.
My Cumm GPA without the failed courses at this time is 3.3. I’m worried if the amount of failing grades at the beginning of my college career is too large of a red flag for medical schools regardless of everything else I can accomplish before applying.
I’m working on getting my transcript from the university to have a better idea of my actual GPA’s. The question is not should I give up my dream, but more so, How much opposition should I expect to encounter when applying with a history such as mine? Thanks for reading and I appreciate any feedback.”
[03:05] What This Journey Is All About
So they’re asking how much of a fight should they have to put in. And the question is, why does it matter that you want to go on this journey?
Fight whatever fight you have to fight. The goal of going through this journey is to prove your academic readiness to get into medical school. Not only that but also your academic readiness to get through medical school, get through your board exams as residents, and even your board certification exams when you’re out of residency.'This journey is never over in terms of taking tests, and medical schools want to make sure that you understand that and are prepared academically to get through.' Click To Tweet
Starting out on this journey with a less than stellar and lots of Fs is hard and it’s going to be hard to overcome. It’s going to be hard to increase your cumulative GPAs high enough.
The good thing is that it’s only two semesters’ worth. You had one semester, full-time student, and you failed most of your classes. Then another semester, full-time student, and failed most of your classes. That’s only two semesters. The school did you a favor by kicking you out and making sure that you didn’t come back until you were ready.
[04:36] Why Go to a Nursing School When You Want to Go to Med School?
Another question here is why this student went to a nursing school if they wanted to go to medical school. You should just go and get a bachelor’s degree in science. Else, don’t go down the path of nursing school because a lot of those courses aren’t going to be specific enough for applying to medical school.
It’s a very common mistake that students make. Either they’re going to nursing school as a backup plan, in case they don’t get into medical school, or they think the clinical experience they’ll gain as a nursing student will help them as a physician. Having clinical experience is obviously important. But it’s a lot of extra knowledge and information that you’re going to have to forget. Not that you will forget it, but you’ll have to forget it.
A nursing school teaches students how to be a nurse. Don’t go to nursing school, if you know you want to be a physician.
There’s a ton of knowledge that you are going to learn and subsequently need to forget. That’s because how physicians think about things is going to be different than how nurses think about things. So you don’t want to put yourself through that.'Why go learn A, and then in medical school, you have to learn B?'Click To Tweet
There’s no doubt nurses have a critical role in health care. The point is if you want to go to medical school, don’t go to nursing school. Leave that seat open for someone who wants to be a nurse. Instead, go study whatever it is that you want to study. Now, obviously, you have to balance that with showing a nice strong upward trend, having enough credits, and getting in all of your prereqs. But you don’t need to go to nursing school for that.
[07:34] You Can Overcome It!
I know someone who had 16 F’s on her application, and she’s a medical student right now. So it’s possible to overcome that. It’s really hard. But especially given your story of starting out school, not being aware of what you wanted to do, and failing. And then having this awakening and realizing you want to be a physician – that tells a story.
That also tells the story of your grades. Because you weren’t motivated to do anything before, you didn’t know you wanted to be a mechanical engineer. But now that you know you want to be a physician, and you’re getting good grades, that fits the story.
[08:30] Final Thoughts
Again, if your only goal to nursing school is to get into medical school, there’s a possibility those courses may demotivate you. Because you don’t want to be a nurse. You want to be a physician. Go study anything else that you want, something that will keep you interested and motivated.
Keep your grades up. And then do everything else. Continue working as an EMT, as a firefighter, go get some shadowing experience or any sort of other volunteering and clinical experience, and then apply to medical school.'Don't go to nursing school to apply to medical school. Get your degree and whatever else you want. Get through this journey and you can get through it.'Click To Tweet
Some medical schools aren’t going to like your grades. You’re going to run into some resistance and that’s okay. But hopefully, you’re going to have a long enough trajectory of good grades. That proves that what happened in your first year in a four-year university wasn’t a fluke. But it was just because you didn’t know what you wanted to do. And that happens to a lot of students. So don’t worry about that.
Just go down your path, continue down this journey, and you will get in and make it through this whole process, and be a better physician because of it.
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