OPM 94: Should I Skip the Research and Start a Postbac Now?

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Session 94

Session 94

When you’re faced with a decision about leaving a valuable learning opportunity with research to start a postbac to increase your GPA, what do you do?

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[01:22] About OldPreMeds

We take questions from the OldPreMeds.org forums and answer them here on the podcast. OldPreMeds is short for the National Society for Nontraditional Premedical and Medical Students. You don’t have to be old to be an old premed, but you just have to be nontraditional – whatever that means to you.

I was a nontraditional student. I didn’t get into medical school the first time. I took a three-year hiatus. I worked in the gym and managed some personal trainors. I was a personal trainor myself. And then I went back to medical school.

The nontraditional student is now becoming the “traditional” student. And you are here on this journey with a lot of other students. Check out OldPreMeds.org. Sign up for an account and ask away!

[02:20] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I graduated in 2015 from UC Berkeley. My science GPA is 2.87 and my cumulative with all others is 3.33. The reason why my BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math – the science courses that make up the science GPA for the AMCAS application) is so low is because I failed Math in my sophomore year. During this year, I was severely depressed and affected by matters back home. At the same time, my learning disability was really getting the best of me give the more challenging environment. I retook the class and got a B+. However, this F is still being accounted for.

I got a job after college to help my family. I work at an ophthalmic research center as a lead ocular disease evaluator. And I volunteered at a needle exchange clinic on the weekends.

Recently, I applied to a postbac program that would start in January of 2018. However, I’ve been paired up with a fellow to write an abstract for conference submission. The only I can be sponsored for this conference is if I remain an employee until the conference date which is late April or early May. What do I do?

I know my GPA is what deters me from applying to medical school, thus my urgency to get into a postbac program is very much real. But this conference is a big deal and I’ve been chosen due to my knowledge and experience. I have not taken the MCAT yet and I was planning on self-studying. Should I study and take the MCAT and just apply for the next cycle of postbac so I may attend this conference? I’ve just been feeling like I’m constantly postponing my future.”

[04:15] Looking at the Bigger Picture

Let me cite a number of moving parts here – poor science GPA, including an F in math. I would have to see all the grades in front of me. It’s hard to imagine how one F can bring the GPA down that much. But I guess it can. So I’d be interested to see what the rest of the transcript looks like for this student.

The poster is doing this research and to be sponsored to go to the conference, she needs to remain an employee. Here’s the question:

What is more important, going to a conference or getting into medical school (this year or next year)? Or getting into a postbac this year or next year?

This is your decision point.

Should you decide to take a pause with your medical school application and decide to push through with the conference, that puts you to pushing back until 2020 based on the timeline you gave. If that is okay with you then do it.

When you look at the big picture of everything, it’s really not a lot of time. So don’t worry about it. If you’re really into this research, go do the research. Go to the conference. Delay everything.

[06:50] For DO Applications

For the DO application, Math does not count as a science. So if you dropped your math, your GPA would probably be very similar to what your total GPA is. Is that still strong enough?

It depends if you have a great upward trend. But I’m just seeing this one little snapshot at the end. That said, there are a lot of other things to think about on your journey.

Are you okay just doing research for a year? Are you okay with postponing postbac and delaying gratification and just enjoying your life for now? Or is time of the essence and you need to get into medical school or postbac right this minute so you can apply to medical school ASAP and graduate and start working as soon as possible?


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