Another Q&A With Dr. Gray

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts

PMY478: Another Q&A With Dr. Gray

Session 478

Let’s tune in to an awesome Q&A session that I didn’t want you to miss out on! Will your premed questions get answered?

For more podcast resources to help you with your medical school journey and beyond, check out Meded Media.

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

[01:41] The MCAT Minute

The MCAT Minute is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT.

If you need to retake the MCAT, you have a little bit of flexibility. If you need to push back your MCAT, you have some flexibility. The biggest thing is to get your score back during a time when you can still apply early. Say you take an April MCAT, you get your score back in May. And you can submit it on June 1. That is still applying early for all three application services.

If you take your MCAT later, your MCAT prep is getting in the way of your application prep. That’s the biggest thing that you need to worry about, that’s why you need to take the MCAT earlier.

[09:48] Finally Getting an Acceptance After Three Cycles

Ari applied to medical schools and only got an acceptance after three cycles. The first time he applied, he had no clear mission or story. Then he didn’t do live prep for the interview. It’s usually the student that screws it up because you’re trying to be too formal and the interviewer just wants you to chill.

On his second interview, he got waitlisted. It was the most terrible for him because of the waiting game. 

Ari is a nontrad who has been out of school since 2017 and has been an EMT for seven years. He did shadowing and got a physical letter of recommendation, which he didn’t have the first time he applied.

Acceptance to a Caribbean School and a DO School

The next year, he did a little bit better and fine-tuned everything. But he lost a little bit of hope and applied to the Caribbean. The acceptance came within a month.

Ari says if you’re planning on applying to Caribbean and U.S. schools, the finances could be something that can trip people up because they’re asking for the deposit. Although they waived the deposit for him.

The Caribbean school allowed him to defer. And so, he took one of the DO interviews and got accepted a week after.

What He Did Differently This Time

Ari started his personal statement expressing his interest in medicine due to having childhood asthma. He talked about the impact that having a good relationship with a physician had on him. Through his EMT career, he also gave a glimpse of people’s home life and not having access to any health care.

Ari also talked about two patients in their 70s who suffered from dementia and were just trying to live. He wanted to stress the impact of these populations on him, people who fall through the cracks and are not getting treatment because they can’t get out of the house. And so, he was able to draw some personal stories from his experience. 

[22:30] The Goal of a Postbac

This senior is graduating with a 3.32 GPA. She’s taking a gap year and while doing that, she’s considering scribing. But her advisors are telling her to do a postbac. If you’re like this student who wants to see what your trend looks like, sign up for a free account at Mappd and our dashboard will generate the trends for you. All you need to do is put in all of your courses.

A 3.32 GPA may not be great, but if your last X number of hours is really great, then great. But if not, then you’re not ready to apply.

Hence, you cannot look at that final number alone. You have to look at that final number, along with the trend and the story.

'The goal of a postbac is to create that upward trend if you haven't done it already. But if you've done it already, you don't need a postbac.'Click To Tweet

[27:54] Don’t Let the Dream Crushers Get You!

Jenna says she went to chiropractic school for a little bit after her undergrad. During undergrad, she started premed. She got a B in Biology and got a B or C in Chemistry. So her advisor told her she was never going to get into medical school and chose a non-medical related degree for her.

Because of the dream-crushing experience she had with the advisor, she got confused and she thought it ruined her college experience. She bounced throughout majors and even declared a major four or five times in her undergrad. (This is insane!)

Jenna ended up finding her major in her junior year and had a strong upward trend. But she explains she didn’t do well in all of her science classes because she had no goal. The chiropractic school was the only health-related occupation she figured she would be a good applicant for.

Doing Well in the Postbac and a 515 MCAT Score

She then found out that the postbac program she applied to was offered for students trying to go to medical school. So she transferred into that program and did three trimesters and got 4.0 across the board. Jenna redid all of her classes, all her prerequisites, and even more. She did great.

And so, now, she’s applying. She just took the MCAT and got a 515. And she’s wondering how to write her personal statement.

In this case like Jenna’s, you don’t need to worry about why you went to chiropractic school. You wanted to be a doctor. Your soul was crushed so you lost direction. And now, you’ve found that path again and realized it’s what you really wanted to be. So now you’re going for it and just tell the truth.

[36:22] When is the LOR Too Old to Submit?

Johari says she has a letter of recommendation that has been sitting and now she’s wondering when the LOR is too old to submit.

'The general rule of thumb is you want your letters of recommendations to be dated the year that you apply.'Click To Tweet

If you’re applying in 2022, you want your letters of recommendation dated in 2022. It doesn’t mean they have to be rewritten. You can go back to your letter writers and ask them if they could update the date.

[38:52] The Biggest Mistake Students Make

Tyra graduated in September with a Chemistry degree. She is currently in her gap year working in a medical device company. She had the opportunity to volunteer at a hospital’s gift shop area and a local hospice company. She’s struggling with self-doubt and anxiety. Her undergrad GPA is a 3.5. She also has a leadership role in the Minority Association of Premedical Students.

Tyra has zero shadowing hours. On a side note here, if you’re struggling with getting shadowing opportunities, at least get virtual shadowing. Check out

Now, this student is not ready to apply. If you don’t have any experience being around patients and being around doctors, then what makes you say you want to be a doctor? You need to have a good understanding that this is what you want to do for the rest of your life.

'The biggest mistake that students make when applying is applying with little to no clinical experience.'Click To Tweet

You have to prove to yourself that you like being around patients. Prove that you like caring for them in some way and that you enjoy the day-to-day life of being around patients. A lot of students have this ideology of wanting to be a doctor when they haven’t even tried being around patients, listening to their complaints, and being with them close enough to smell them.

[47:50] A Need for Self-Reflection

Abraham came to the states as an immigrant. He had to work three jobs to pay for his school. He has a 3.1 GPA and got married between his college and his master’s. His wife was able to help him financially so he was able to focus on his studies and got a 3.9 GPA.

His MCAT score was 496 for the second time and retook it in January. He has done a lot of things to change the way he approached his studying so he’s hoping his score improves. However, Abraham needs to do a lot of self-reflection here.

If you’re doing a master’s to prove that you’re academically capable for medical school, you should not be working full-time. Otherwise, all you’re doing is hurting yourself and wasting money at the same time.

If you’re working to pay for school but you’re not getting the grades that you need, at some point, there needs to be some self-reflection on who you are as a person.

“The MCAT is kryptonite to a lot of students and you need to respect it.”Click To Tweet

[1:01:40] How to List Clinical in Your Activities

Ruby did some clinical shadowing in her senior year of high school and she’s wondering if this can be counted as shadowing. Then she did another shadowing in college. She graduated in 2021 and now works as a research coordinator at a medical school. Basically, she’s confused about how to label her activities.

Being a clinical research coordinator is a clinical experience. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to determine what category you’re going to put it under. Then each individual medical school will adjudicate it. They’re not going to just look at the name and experience name.

[1:07:08] CNA as Clinical Experience

This international student is wondering if working as a CNA would count on his application. And being a CNA is a great clinical experience.

Our student adds that he’s thinking of getting shadowing experience in Rwanda, which is his home country. The goal of shadowing is to understand the role of a physician and what they do day in and day out. Rwanda’s health care system is different from our healthcare system. And so, what you see in Rwanda isn’t the same experience as what you’ll see here.

[1:13:17] Don’t Miss the Why

This student just finished her Associate in Science and is currently working in surgical tech. She wants to be an EMT surgeon. She explains she’s from Vietnam and a lot of kids there are born with a cleft palate. Her mom was a surgical nurse and she’s inspired to make an impact there.

Also working as a surgical tech, she has seen a lot of procedures. And so, the other fields don’t interest her as much as EMT has.

She has a 3.0 GPA and she’s concerned about becoming a physician. Now, these are two separate things that you have to keep separate. There are two separate questions. Do you want to do this? And the other question is, can you do this?

This student explains seeing how this doctor she was assisting handled 10 cases in one day. And she was exhausted just seeing this. That being said, she didn’t have any direct relationship with the patient, where the “why” in every physician comes from. 

The “why” is that relationship with the patient and learning who that patient is, what they’re suffering from, and how you can help them. And this student is apparently missing all of those key parts.

[1:20:04] Finding a Study Habit That Works for You

The same student is asking about her classes. She has two years left and is transferring to Alabama. She is currently taking Biology 2 class. She hasn’t found the right study habits for her so she just has to keep figuring it out.

As she transitions to the four-year university, no matter what her GPA is now, her goal is to crush it in the next two years so that she can prove that she’s academically capable.


Meded Media

Blueprint MCAT

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Application Process

Application Academy