From Premed to Physical Therapy School—Back to Premed

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Session 323

Madeleine struggled early and got some bad advising which caused her to doubt her abilities to get to medical school. A pivot to physical therapy didn’t work out.

First off, is finally live. The secondary essays are a big part of the medical school application process.

It’s a database of secondary essays for every school that offers them. It’s an easy way for students to inform us about the new essays for the year. Most schools reuse secondary essays year after year. Some schools change them and we have an easy way for you to let us know that those secondaries are updated so we can keep you fully updated as well. More great stuff is coming as well including videos and posts — all about how to answer the most common types of secondary essays.

Back to our episode today, Madeleine has always wanted to be a doctor and didn’t want to due to her advisor telling her she could never get in with the grades she got. So she went the PT route, got into PT school and realized she was meant to be a doctor after all. Today, she talks about her jjourney, what she thinks set her apart that she got three interviews right off the bat, and multiple acceptances that she cancelled the rest of her secondary essays.

[04:15] Her Interest in Becoming a Physician

Ever since she was a kid, Madeleine has always wanted to become a doctor. When she got to college, she didn’t think she wanted to become a physician anymore. Madeleine’s mom is a freelance writer and she grew up not knowing her dad.

When she went to an honor’s college at University of South Carolina, which she describes as a very intense environment. Since she wasn’t doing well during her Freshman in college, she started doubting herself especially that she didn’t have a strong reason that she wanted to do it.

By second semester of her Freshman year in college, she began doing competitive powerlifting and there were a lot of physical thersapists who trained at her gym. While having injuries during her training, they were able to help her with making her feel better. She thought it was so cool that she wanted to be a physical therapists. So she began shadowing them and being around them very frequently, training for 2-3 hours a night, 2-3 days a week. So she took the GRE three times and applied to physical therapy schools and got into one. However, although she was relieved to be in physical therapy school for figuring out what career she wanted to do, she wasn’t excited about it. There was no real passion about it, and this haunted her a little bit.

Then her best friend introduced her to the idea of osteopathic medicine where she learned she gets to do physical therapy and medicine. So she emptied her savings account and signed up for organic chemistry. At this point, she had already graduated.

So she scoured the internet for her next steps. She descibres it as a similar process to applying to physical therapy school. However, she hadn’t fully committed to it at that point as she had put down a deposit on physical therapy school in case it didn’t work out so she had a backup plan.

[11:45] Shadowing Experience and a Bad Advice from Her Premed Advisor

Madeleine had a great shadowing experience with a DO who just does neuromuscular medicine. Again, at the back of her mind, she knew she wanted to be a physician. But she just doubted myself so much that she convinced herself she didn’t. So she shadowed this DO and saw what she could do in terms of helping relieve people’s pain and helping them feel better in their life. She needed that experience to solidfy things for her.

'I always knew I wanted to be a physician. I just doubted myself so much that I convinced myself I didn't.'Click To Tweet

She never did this earlier due to her premed advisor. She talked about how she wanted to do medicine but this advisor just straight up told her that there was no way she was going to medical school with her grades that first semester.

Basically, Madeleine admist she didn’t know how to study andshe didn’t figure this out until organic chemistry. So this was a big thing for her. Part of that too, was figuring out how to live a balanced life.

[15:25] Figuring Out Her Stdying Strategy

How she got to learn how to study during organic chemistry was the motivation she got from shadowing the DO and finally now having this concrete, tangible thing that she wanted to be a physician. She also found a group of nontraditional students she could study with and she figured out she studied well in a group setting.

'Having that goal, having a motivation to keep studying, that was a big thing.'Click To Tweet

As a nontrad, she felt older and out of place around her classmates so she felt like there wasn’t anybody to talk to in class. Until she found a person she knew from before that she approached and talked about studying as a group.

[17:05] Making It Work to Work While in School

Wanting to graduate without any student loans, she got scholarship money but she still needed stuff to live on. She figured out what jobs would be flexible enough for her to be able to study and make her own schedule and go to classes. She would usually take two jobs. At one point even, she had four. She didn’t have long hours in each one but she was able to pace together enough hours between all of them to make it work. She got to graduate without any debt.

As to what could have contributed to her poor grades, she though it was because of lack of clarity with the goals. She was actually balancing everyhting well but learning how to do all of that took a toll on her grades. She was working as a personal trainer so she’d be working with client schedules and also go to class that she forgot to schedule any time to study.

[19:00] Rushing to Take the MCAT, Ditching the SMP Idea, and Retaking the MCAT

Madeleine took the MCAT twice. The first time she took it, she was debating about doing the Special Master’s Program. She knew that they required that for entry. She didn’t intially expect to do well on the MCAT and took it late summer/early fall, right after organic chemistry. In short, she was rushing the MCAT because of SMP applications. She knew she wasn’t ready to take it but she was still telling herself she needed to take it so she can do SMP. Ultimately, she didn’t take the SMP and she’s thankful for this podcast.

'Premeds, by default, are all perfectionists... we feel like we have to correct that and make it perfect because med school's not going to let us in unless we're perfect.'Click To Tweet

At this point, she decided she was going to apply and just see what happens. A lot of students actually think it’s crazy. The second time she took the MCAT, she did much better.

She never carved out specific time to study for it but she had a friend shome she also studied with helped her with editing personal statements etc. They’d meet up to study every week for 4-5 hours and on the weekends. So she had somebody keeping her accountable and be able to work through things together.

She also did the Next Step course which she found really great! She got access to the test and for her this made a very big difference. She’d be taking the test over and over so she would have the mental stamina to do it and be able to tackle the length of the test. Finally, she got the score she was hoping for. She was shooting for a 505, something that she knew was realistic for her. Also, she already had an upward trend with organic chemistry, and biochem, and genetics. So she was already proving to med schools that she figured out how to study and she can do well in med school.

'I knew that I had an upward trend there so I was already proving to med schools I've figured out how to study and I can do well academically in med school.'Click To Tweet

[25:52] Applying to DO Schools Only and Asking for Letters of Recommendation

Madeleine only applied to DO schools she wanted to be able to use OMT practice, not solely neuromuscular practice but she wanted to have this in her tool box as a physician. The hardest thing about the application process for her was getting letters of recommendation. The physicians who wrote the letters for her were great and on time. But her organic chemistry professor was about to retire at that time. She went to his office everyday for two weeks to make sure she was going to get it. Madeleine submitted the letters through Interfolio. She recommends applicants to use Interfolio since the letters are stored there and if you need them for whatever reason, they’re there. Plus, somebody misspelled her name and Interfolio was able to pick up on it and she was able to get back before she sent anything.

Interfolio isn’t just a repository and they can have your letters sent. But they also check spelling of names, the letterhead, whether it’s signed, etc. And they’ll let you know so you’re not scrambling the last minute.

[28:50] Getting Acceptances and How She Stood Out

Madeleine applied to 10 DO schools and filled out secondaries for three and she got accepted before all the other ones got back to her with the secondaries. She submitted mid June so appyling early was a big part. Then she made sure she was different and that everything she wanted them to know about her stood out. She used the Medical School Headquarters to edit her personal statement and extracurriculars to make sure it was immaculate and that was what she needed to be. She had to make sure to present the best possible package for herself that by the time she had to hit submit, she knew there was not anything in there that she could make better.

'Just making sure I presented the best possible package for myself that I could and by the time I hit submit, I knew there was not anything in there that I could make better.'Click To Tweet

In being different, for her it wasn’t intentional since she wasn’t planning on going to med school. Everything she did she loved to do. She was an award winning powerlifter with a couple of records which stood out. She volunteered for the Animal Shelter training dogs which was something she also liked to do. So there was nothing on her application that she didn’t love and couldn’t talk with and be passinate about. And this passion she had was what came across. Just tell your story, instead of selling to them why you’re going to be an amazing physician.

'I was just me - there was me presented in the best way that I could be presented.'Click To Tweet

[31:22] The Interview Process and Getting Her First Acceptance

Madeleine actually did the beta group for my interview course and so we talked about the things in an interview process. During the interview, she was asked about why DO, which wasn’t hard for her to answer, why she wanted to be a physician, and why this school. She got to talk about her powerlifting as it was something she was passionate about that set her apart, not to mention it was a big part of her wanting to become a physician.

'Different is better than better.'Click To Tweet

The first acceptance she had was her number one school. And she had her interviews done in a span of three weeks. She didn’t actually know about getting into her first choice until after she already finished her second interview. And by the time she got to her third interview, she almost didn’t go to it. But then it ended up being where she was actually going so she was glad she went. At this point, she stopped filling out other secondaries as those interviews were her top three schools so she figured she might as well save some money. She chose the third over the first since although it’s a big school, they’ve done efforts to retain a small environment. So she was getting all of the perks of the small school but also getting all the resources of having a large school. They have 3-4 mental health professionals that serve as therapists for students. They have research opportunities — everything a big school has and also have done things to foster a small school environment.

[35:30] Preparing for Medical School

Madeleine is currently working as a medical scribe. When she decided she wanted to apply to medical school, she signed up to be a medical scribe, which she’s still doing up to now — doing everything she can to get exposed as much as possible, preparing for medical school without really preparing for it directly.

'Let the medical schools tell you no. Don't let anyone else tell you NO.'Click To Tweet


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