THE FOLLOWING ARE QUESTIONS FOR A NEW SERIES OF POSTS ENTITLED “READER PROFILES.” EACH POST IN THIS SERIES WILL DETAIL THE CURRENT SITUATIONS AND CHALLENGES OF A MEDICAL SCHOOL HQ READER. THE PURPOSE OF THIS SERIES IS TO HELP US ALL IDENTIFY WITH PEOPLE LIKE US (IN SIMILAR SITUATIONS — NOT ALL WILL BE, OF COURSE, BUT EVENTUALLY I’M SURE YOU WILL FIND SOMEONE LIKE YOU HERE), GET TO KNOW THE FREQUENT COMMENTERS ON THE SITE, AND HEAR SOME WISDOM/CHALLENGES FROM PEOPLE OTHER THAN THE SITE CREATORS. I BELIEVE THIS SERIES IS A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO THOSE THAT DON’T ENJOY DIGGING AROUND FORUMS FOR INFORMATION ABOUT SITUATIONS THAT THEY MAY BE CURRENTLY PLAGUED WITH. USE THE BELOW QUESTIONS AS THE OUTLINE. YOU CAN EXPAND EACH ANSWER BEYOND THE DEFAULT QUESTIONS I HAVE ENTERED. ADD ANYTHING YOU FEEL WILL BE HELPFUL TO THOSE AT THE START OF THEIR JOURNEY.
If you’re interested in contributing to this series, then drop me an email. The series can be a very valuable source for readers and I need a steady stream of new ones to keep it going.
Next in the series is MedicalSchoolHQ reader HK. He answered my questions (in red below) as follows:
Please tell us a bit about yourself (include where you are in your path to becoming a physician).
I’m an engineer living in the northeast with a wife and a beautiful baby boy. I recently got accepted to my state’s medical school so I’ll be starting next fall. To say I’m excited would be an understatement.
Describe your path to medical school (MCAT scores, undergrad GPA with emphasis on any difficulties in required courses, D.O. vs M.D. and why, and if you are further along in your training any other information you think would be helpful to others – i.e. AMCAS process tips, interview tips).
For me, the path to medical school started out with a lot of self reflection. Do I want to be a doctor? Why do I want to be a doctor? Is it worth quitting my job to be a doctor? What sacrifices will I be making? It took me a couple years for me to figure that stuff out, or I guess more importantly, figure me out. After that, I started volunteering in clinical settings (ambulance service, hospital, etc) so I could get a sense of what it would actually be like. I think this is the most important step as it gives you the drive to see everything that follows through.
Once I made the decision to be a doctor, things got a little easier (at least the planning aspect). I looked up what pre-req classes I needed to take and started taking them in the summer of 2010. I found it difficult to find classes that fit my work schedule (9 to 5) so I ended up taking courses at the local community college. It took 2 years but after I finished my pre-req’s I took a Kaplan course Sept 2011, had a baby in the beginning of the year, studied by myself for 3 months, and took the MCAT this past April.
Ah, the old DO vs MD argument. Practically speaking, if I had only gotten into DO schools, that’s where I would have gone. I would not have waited another year for another chance at an allopathic (MD) school. I would still get to treat patients and improve their lives, which is my main purpose. Personally, I think if allopathic (MD) schools offered 2 different tracks (allopathic and osteopathic), many people including myself choose the osteopathic path. However, I had one main concern when it came to DO schools. The stats for incoming students at DO schools are lower than most MD schools (not counting carribean schools). At my GPA of 3.56 and a 32Q MCAT score, I was about average for allopathic schools. In order for me to be the best doctor I could be, I wanted to go to the best school I could get into. I’m sorry if I offend anyone.
What were(are) the biggest obstacles to your path to an acceptance letter?
Lack of time. Work, marriage, baby, volunteering, and studying ate up all my time. I had no spare time for hobbies or hanging out with friends. In the past 2 years I lost a fair amount of friends.
What have you encountered that you wish you could go back and tell your younger self?
Take classes from science faculty so you can use their letter of recommendation. You got this.
What are your plans for the future (medical school goals, residency goals, practice types)?
My dream is to open up a free clinic in an underserved area, preferably near where I live. But I’m currently shadowing a surgeon now and I find that aspect fascinating. So I’m not sure. Should I be a family doctor and focus on the long term health of my community or should I specialize and work on interesting cases?
What is(are) your best piece(s) of advice for others on their path to medical school?
When you feel yourself faltering (some call it FUD), ask yourself: How bad do you want to be a doctor? How good of a doctor do you want to be? What are you willing to do to get there?
Again if you’re interested in contributing to this series, then drop me an email.
If you feel like the information in this post is useful, please share it. I would also love to hear your comments below.