Like many premeds, Keith had a rocky start on his journey to med school. What inspired him to turn things around and what was the path like once he knew?
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[02:44] Interest in Becoming a Physician and a 2.7 GPA
Wanting to become a physician was part of Keith’s premed process. He always wanted to go into the medical field with his mom being a pharmacist. So he had always been in the hospital growing up as a kid.
He went to school for biochemistry. He didn’t do what he needed to do when he got there and he got smacked.“I flopped because I didn’t put in the work.”Click To Tweet
He was thinking between pharmacy and medicine. But he didn’t really know what he wanted to do. And being misguided didn’t help him at all. Without having that clear goal in mind, the why in mind, it sounds like he was just not motivated to do what he needed to do. He didn’t get to that point because he didn’t know what that point was.
He was just bumbling along for the first couple of years. Then he realized, he wasn’t going to be able to do anything after he graduates so he knew he had to fix his GPA. And by the time he finished his last couple of years, he pulled it up to about a 3.0. But when he graduated, it was at a 2.7 range so it was bad.
[04:26] Talking with Premed Advisors
Keith had talked to premed advisors. He went to the University of Michigan for undergrad and they have a lot of premed advisors. They basically told him his chances at that point and that he had to do some serious repair. Half of the people he had talked to said he was done and the other half said he could still fix this.
In order to fix this, he was just studying and not goofing off and going to hang out with friends. He was really serious about class. He really liked what he was studying.
When he graduated, he saw a lot of his friends go on to medical school. They did very well. They did well on their MCAT. And he realized that his next step would either be to do a postbac or to do a Master’s? And he ended up doing a master’s in biochem at the University of Michigan.
[06:25] Surrounding Yourself with the Right People
Having that ultimatum buckled him down so he could do what he needed to do. He went to talk to his favorite professor who sat him down and said that Keith can achieve A’s if he’d really commit to doing the work. So he went through grad schools and got a near 4.0.
Seeing a lot of his friends were doing well, he didn’t think that he could do it. He was having this impostor’s syndrome. But the truth was that he was just lazy. And hearing this from his professor gave him a boost of confidence, as well as hearing the encouragement from the program director for his master’s program.'Who you surround yourself just makes a huge difference.'Click To Tweet
What actually happened to Keith was this mental shift as well as this pressure from an ultimatum.
[09:17] Keeping the Motivation
So during his last two years of undergrad, he was working a lot in a natural products lab making cancer drugs from bacteria. He was spending 20 hours a week in the lab. But he had to shutit off and focus on school. He had to take all that energy and time putting them into school.
He was doing the lab work for application building and for fun because he really did like it. However, it was hurting himin the long run and it was capping his potential to do better.
Knowing that he wanted to do med school, he took some time that summer, before he started grad school. He reflected and looked at everything that he had done. He sat down with his advisor and they worked out a plan so that he could study for the MCAT and do grad school.
Then he started listening to the podcasts on MedEd Media to gather more insights. He was learning about people that had done GPA repair and had done postbacs and master’s programs.“I realized it was possible and that my situation wasn't totally unique. I thought was alone, and I wasn't.”Click To Tweet
[11:51] Taking the MCAT and Picking Schools to Apply To
Keith then took the MCAT when he was in grad school and what he got was fine. He did everything that he could to relearn the material that he had missed in his undergrad and rehash that. He made sure he was understanding them.
Because he was doing a biochem master’s, a lot of that resurfaced as relevant material and he also invested in Kaplan books.
All the interviews that he ended up getting were at DO schools. And he thinks that DO schools are more accepting of nontraditional students. In fact, a lot of people in his class have had the same journey that he had. Or that they’re older, or they have kids.“DO schools are more accepting of nontraditional students.”Click To Tweet
His MCAT score ended up being a 506. Not good enough for a lot of schools in the state. For the MD schools, he thought he should have been aiming for a higher MCAT to those schools. Keith reached out to some of the schools he applied to and talked to program directors.
[16:30] Preparing for the Interviews and Getting His First Acceptance
Keith ended up getting three interviews. In preparing for his interviews, he read the interview The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. He also got the book for a couple of friends and one of them ended up getting an acceptance.
Reading the book helped ease his fears of going into a situation where he didn’t feel comfortable. Some of the things I talked about in the book are about hiccups that you’ve had and overcoming some of your background. But for Keith, it was a lot about just owning it, moving on, and accepting who he was.
Out of the three interviews, he ended up with one acceptance. When he got his first acceptance, he was bouncing off the walls. He called every person he knew and told them about the good news.
Although he applied early, Keith basically interviewed late at some of the schools. He already filled out AACOMAS and then added those applications.
Obviously, with his weak undergraduate GPA and good but not stellar MCAT score, he was probably just further down the list. By the time they got to him, it was just later in the cycle. But what’s important was he got one acceptance.
[20:01] Starting Medical School and Adjusting with Distance Learning
It took him two years from graduating from undergrad to actually starting medical school. He took 30 credits for his master’s program.
Whether he’s going to really pursue family medicine, Keith finds himself all over the place. Everything looks good to him right now. But family medicine is his default for now.
In the face of the pandemic, the medical school has moved them online. And it’s an adjustment to be sitting behind a computer 24/7 in med school.
The biggest change is just coming off a campus and coming home. All of our exams are online. It feels really disjointed. What Keith finds challenging is that he’s not able to really practice. So he feels like he’s missing out a little bit.'Many medical schools are scrambling to figure out what they're going to do with those students to meet their requirements for graduation and all that fun stuff.'Click To Tweet
[23:14] Final Words of Wisdom
Keith’s advice to all premeds out there is to sit yourself down and ask yourself, do you really want to do this? You can get interviews, you can be interviewed in good places if you put in the work. You can do well on the MCAT. But overcoming that is going to be hard. It’s going to suck, but you can do it.
[23:42] Something Exciting’s in Store for You!
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