I Struggled In Engineering, Will I Make It As A Premed?

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OPM 309: I Struggled In Engineering, Will I Make It As A Premed?

Session 309

This nontrad struggled through their engineering journey. Can they make the shift to premed and survive?

Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from the Premed Hangout. Go ask your questions there and use #OPMquestion.

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.

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

[00:57] The MCAT Minute

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[01:53] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

I’m currently 29, about to be 30 in July, with 5 kids under 10. I work as a Software Engineer and have been working in this field for 5 years now. I want to switch careers to become an OBGYN specifically for high risk, due to my own personal experiences during all of my pregnancies. 

However, I only have an Associates, which is in Software Development and my previous college experiences weren’t the best. I actually ended up getting dismissed from one university in 2011.

To begin, I started out my journey fresh out of highschool, literally that summer after high school graduation in 2010. I first majored in Industrial Design, yet after failing my art classes, and shadowing some people, I realized I didn’t want to continue. I then switched to Business Administration and bombed pretty badly which caused me to get dismissed in 2011.

I stayed out of school and life happened. I got married in 2013 and got pregnant the same year with my first daughter. I had no idea about the ups and downs of pregnancy and this was my first real experience with an OBGYN. 

Throughout the experience, I grew a fascination with my body and how the baby grows from a little seedling to a baby. Along with this, I grew curious about my conditions that I developed through my pregnancy and how I was ill prepared. I wish I had started this journey to a healthy pregnancy early.

With that said, I struggled trying to figure out what to do for a living and was working as a CNA while pregnant, but I had a passion to work in a hospital setting with mothers and babies. So I started thinking about going to nursing school, I never applied due to an incident while tending to a resident. I ended up quitting and decided to look into a non health care career for my safety.

Fast forward a few months later, I’m flipping through my high-school yearbook one day and I see a picture of me under a S.T.E.M. scholar bulletin. In my bio, I mentioned that I wanted to be a computer engineer or a video game developer. I then thought I found my calling. So I looked for schools where I could take online classes so I can be a stay at home mom when my daughter was born. Fast forward, I got accepted to a technical college in 2014 shortly before my daughter was born that June. But I struggled trying to make ends meet, having another baby in 2016, and having marriage issues.

I finally graduate 3 years later in 2017 and land my first job as a developer in 2018. I soon quickly realized that this may not be the career for me. Yet I stick through it. I ended up divorcing my first husband the same year and lost that job shortly afterwards in 2019. 

I met my now husband months after I separated and got another job as a Software Engineer in another state. We moved there and things were going well at first. Until after the pandemic, I got let go shortly after returning from my maternity leave, (my 3rd child). I stayed out of work for about a year, and had another baby in 2021. Then got pregnant again late 2021 with my 5th and hopefully last child, due in August 2022. As of January 2022, I am back to working as a Software Engineer, but I still don’t feel fulfilled, or secure in this job.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but to me the way I am thinking is that it’s almost 5 years from graduating in Software Development and I don’t feel that I have progressed in this career. Nor am I satisfied, I am back to wanting to go back to school to get my BS in health services and then applying to Medical School. Yet, I’m afraid I may be too late though, because I struggled in school. What should I do?”

[05:34] The Upward Trend is Super Important!

For someone who struggled early in their academic career and they want to go back to medical school, upward trends are very important.

You can finish with a 3.5 GPA, and either have a downward trend or an upward trend. Let’s say, for a 3.5 GPA, a trend of 3.0, 3.0, 4.0, 4.0 is better than a 4.0, 4.0, 3.0, 3.0.

Ultimately, when students struggle early, they have to show academic capability moving forward. That final number that they get to may not be super sexy. But it’s the upward trend that a lot of schools will look into.

'Upward trends are very important in this game, especially if you struggled very early on in your college career.'Click To Tweet

Most medical schools will look at trends, and not just look at that final number to determine your ability to do well in medical school. 

[07:30] What Medical Schools Do

The admissions committees have the ability to recalculate your GPA. They could remove a year of poor performance because they understood and they were empathetic enough to understand that students struggle for one reason or another.

Whether it’s because of health issues, family members have health issues, they go through a bad breakup, or whatever the circumstance is. They understand that students have issues and they can recalculate GPAs.

Every medical school has some sort of internal number that they look for. Whether that’s a solid GPA number, or the trend, the story behind that number. Or they could be looking at the last 20 credit hours, 40 credit hours, 60 credit hours, whatever they’re looking at.

Obviously, they want students to excel in and get the best board scores. That being said, they also understand that students struggle early on.

[09:18] But First… Test Your Hypothesis!

Get some more clinical experience. You were a CNA, which is great because you’ve been in that field. Now, you obviously had an experience where you didn’t feel safe and you removed yourself from a clinical environment.

I recommend getting back into a clinical environment as soon as you can to prove to yourself that this is still an environment that you want to be in. 

'Too many nontraditional students jump straight into the academics without testing the hypothesis. Is this the right thing for me right now today?'Click To Tweet

So get back into some clinical experience, get back into some shadowing, prove to yourself that this is what you want.

Use that motivation to do well in your classes, and don’t focus on that final number.

Look at the trends. If you haven’t created a Mappd account yet, go do that. Enter all of your courses and go look at that green semester trendline. That’s the trendline that I go to when students ask me to look at their account. Your final number may only say 3.15, but your trendline may be super great. So that won’t be a concern.

[10:39] Final Thoughts

Get all those grades in there, start calculating, and start making decisions based on good accurate data. Then test that hypothesis that you want to get back into a clinical field by getting some more recent clinical experience. You’re not too old. You haven’t messed up enough to not be able to overcome this!


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