OldPreMeds Podcast | Medical School Headquarters | Premed | MCAT

Ryan Gray, MD of Meded Media

Podcast Overview is the go-to site for nontraditional premed and medical students. Now, the OldPreMeds Podcast will help these students even more as we take questions directly from the forums and answer them on the show. If you have questions, ask them in the forum at

Podcast Episodes

82: Can't Find Volunteering that Works with Working Full-time!

Our question this week is from a nontrad looking at making a switch to medicine. He's working full-time and can't find any clinical volunteering experiences.

81: Will B's in my Orgo and Biochem Classes Hurt My Chances?

Our student this week is worried about a few B grades in Orgo and Biochem during his postbac and is wondering how it will affect his chances for medical school.

80: Can You Have Kids and Be a Good Medical Student?

Session 80

This week, we're answering a question that comes up a lot, usually from females, which is whether or not a medical student can have a family while in med school. This episode will help you especially if you're a female or even if you're a male and getting ready to be married or you have a relationship with somebody and you're thinking about having kids.

This is not the same situation as wanting your cake and eating it too. It's a situation where you want to be a premed, a medical student, or a physician, and you want to have a family at the same time. Reality is women enter medical school and residency every year and they have kids. It's a wonderful biological process of having babies. It's natural and it doesn't get put on hold unless you want it to.

[02:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a 35-year- old woman turning 36 tomorrow and after a major life event last year, I have felt that my true calling is being a physician. I have a couple science prereqs left to take i the MCAT and some great docs lined up to shadow over the next few months to confirm my desire to be a doctor. If I stay with this track, I'll apply next year for a 2019 start. By then I'll be 38 and my boyfriend is super supportive of me becoming a doc but we are also getting serious about getting married and having kids. I'm wondering what you all think about starting med school and having babies in the same few years? Anybody have young ones or planning to at the same time as medical school? Yes, I know, it may be crazy but is it still doable?"

[03:50] Here are my thoughts:

Yes! It's definitely doable. If you're not part of the Hangout Group on Facebook, go there and type a message. Try to tag Jessica White. Jessica was a student of mine and she was on The Premed Years podcast several months ago back on Episode 168. She got into medical school, in fat ten medical schools actually. She got married, started medical school, and she had a baby on the first year. Is it easy? Heck no! Having a baby is not easy. Having a baby in medical school is even less easy but it's doable.

I teach a little bit at a medical school here in Colorado and one of the students that was teaching with me was a fourth year student who had two kids during medical school and she took off a year for each kid. The school obviously had to grant her that and she made it work. Although it took her longer to finish medical school, she felt it was the right decision for her and her family to have the baby and stay home and raise the infant until she was ready to go back to school and reintegrate herself into medical school and then do it all over again with a second kid. Now, she matched in Psychiatry and she's going into residency.

Again, it's doable. Easy? No. But then again, having babies isn't really easy. It's just one of those things where you're going to have to prioritize your time. You're going to have to be very good at time management and be very efficient with studying. Have a great support system around you. Lastly, you're just going to have to deal with being crazy for a while. But it's doable without a doubt.

[06:24] Physician Moms Group

This is a very common question that comes up, usually, from women who are interested in going to medical school, being premed, being a physician. They have that lingering question of what if they want to be a mom too.

Although I'm not sure if they allow premed students at this time, but I highly recommend Physician Moms Group (PMG) on Facebook or on their website. They have almost 70,000 members in it. Their founder is Dr. Hala Sabry, an ER doc with three kids. She was also on The Premed Years podcast back in Episode 201. This is a huge resource for students thinking about going to medical school and being a mom. It's a big support group for women physician moms.

[07:32] Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this episode was helpful to you. Please share this podcast with somebody you think would benefit from this. If you're in a postbac program or an extension program, wherever you are, please go and share this with your classmate or advisor.


MedEd Media Network

Facebook Hangout Group

The Premed Years Podcast Session 168: Interview with Jessica

Physician Moms Group (PMG)

Physician Moms Group on Facebook

The Premed Years Podcast Session 201: Interview with Dr. Hala Sabry

79: MD or DO vs PA? How Should I Decide Which is Best?

Session 79

A common question among stressed out premeds – which do I choose, physician or PA? In this episode, I am sharing some insights into the differences between a physician and a PA as well as how to best choose between the two.

[01:18] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm a new OPM (old premed), 31-year-old single, no kids. After taking a detour from the very traditional path, during my original undergrad 3.47 GPA in Biology, never took the MCAT, I figured out that I wasn't ready for medical school and started pursuing other interests outside of health care."

* As a nontraditional student, you're allowed to go pursue other things. If you think you're not ready, maybe you're a little burnt out from the premed path (all of us are a little bit), go and explore some other interests which is what this person did.

"Nearly a decade later, I am more convinced than ever that becoming a health care provider is the right career for me but I'm struggling with the decision of MD/DO versus PA. I don't have the requisite health care experience that would make me competitive for most PA programs but I'm going to have to spend one to two years full-time refreshing postbac coursework, taking the MCAT, etc. to go to medical school. So I could just easily spend the time working full-time as an EMT, CNA, or whatever. the problem is can't do both so I need to figure out which path I want to pursue sooner rather than later.

I've read some compelling statistics about PA that appeal me - 90% job satisfaction, two times the patient interaction time, 42-hour work week, etc. But those tend to come from sources that seem incredibly biased towards PA over MD. Furthermore, I am not 100% sure I'd be happy long term with the relatively diminished status of PA and/or whether I could do the type of international work as part of my life plan. Any thoughts, feedback, etc. from the OPM community especially from those who have explored decision for themselves would be most appreciated."

Here are my thoughts: [03:50] Don't Base It on Job Satisfaction or Work Hours!

Deciding between being a physician and a PA -  the problem with this at that high level where you're just comparing work hours and patient interaction time and job satisfaction, that means nothing. Go look at somebody who has the best job satisfaction who's only working 40 hours a week and has great interaction with their clients. You can't choose your career based on job satisfaction, ratings, work hours per week, or patient interaction. If that's how you're going to choose your career then you're not going to be happy in the long run depending on if you made the right choice or not.

[05:15] A Huge Difference Between PA and Physician

Unfortunately, it's not talked about enough but there's a huge difference between being a physician and being a PA. The PA world will tell you there's not that big of a difference and the physician world will say there is. I am a little biased as I'm a physician. But in practice, depending on what you're doing and on what state you're in considering states have different laws regarding PA's, the work around what a PA can do can vary drastically.

I've talked to PA's who want to go on to medical school and I've helped some of them get into medical school and the reason always comes back to not having enough knowledge to be able to treat the patients they want to treat. The physicians would usually tell PA's it's the doctor's job while they go take care of the minor stuff. So there's a huge difference in the types of patients you'll be able to see because your knowledge base is limited, your scope of practice is limited. The role of the PA was created to fill in more of the mundane, easier things that could be algorithmically handed over to a "mid-level" provider. There's a lot of rate around the term "mid-level' but we'll just call it that because that's the terms that's been thrown around for a long time and that's the term that I always use.

The PA and NP are trained to take care of easier things. You can't go through PA or NP school and have the same depth of knowledge as a physician to be able to treat the sort of diseases that you would see that a physician treats. You can't. So if you are okay regardless of job satisfaction, hours per week, or any of that stuff, get rid of that. If you are okay working and treating patients who have the sniffles or aches and pains, it's going to be a lot of repetitive things. Medicine in general is repetitive even for physicians. But if you're okay with treating some of the lower acuity things then great, go be a PA. If you're okay not having the full knowledge base to be able to take care of your patients then be a PA.

[08:17] How Should You Choose Between a Physician and PA

We need PA's and there are plenty of people out there that want to be PA's. They have that mentality, personality, and goals in life that fit with being a PA. But my point here is do not choose physician versus PA based on job satisfaction, patient interaction, and hours per week. Don't base it on years of schooling. Choose physician or PA based on the scope of practice you want and the level of knowledge you want and go from there. The only way you're going to find our is by shadowing a physician or shadowing a PA. Shadow many physicians in different specialties in different areas or shadow PA's in different specialties in different areas and talk to a lot of people. Find out what they like and what they don't like about their job. This is the best way to go about it.

[09:23] International Work

I'm going to assume that a PA degree is not recognized throughout the whole world. If you're interested in doing international work as a PA, you may want to look into this. For instance, DO or the osteopathic medicine degree started here in the U.S. and it's most recognized here in the U.S. Now the American Osteopathic Association is working on getting more countries to recognize the DO degree and they're doing well. So now as a DO, you can practice in more and more countries but there is a limitation there. Whereas an MD can practice everywhere. So if you are truly interested in international work then really look into the recognition of a PA degree and what privileges and credentials you would have in another setting.

[10:36] Final Thoughts

Don't look at hours of work or patient interaction or at job satisfaction. Find out what you want based on the depth of knowledge, the skills you learn as a physician versus a PA. Look at everything else in there and you can only do that by shadowing enough. That's how you should choose between a physician or a PA.


MedEd Media Network

78: What Happens If I'm Worried About Failing?

Session 78

This week, our poster is worried about that little voice in his head that is telling him he may fail at this whole "med school" thing. Listen to my response.

If you have any questions, please register at the forums for free and ask away to get some awesome answers from the community.

[01:08] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I've taken Ryan's advice to heart and believe that a backup plan will hurt my chances."

*Listen to The Premed Years Podcast Episode 213 where I talked about not having a plan B. Some people agreed with it and others but if you have a backup plan of being a nurse, PA, or NP, the psychology is that you are less likely to achieve your goal of becoming a physician because you're able to have that safety valve there.

"Not begrudgingly either, I was already convinced of this myself before I heard him say it several months ago so it was great to hear my instincts confirmed. As a 35-year-old nontraditional, convinced that I'm called to serve others as a physician. I eat, sleep, and breathe this journey every second of every day. Yet there are those moments when the still small voice of doubt whispers in my ear a little louder than usual. What if I fail?"

"This is a second trip through undergrad to earn my prereqs and at the end of the summer semester, my federal student loan eligibility will be cut off factoring in that they've reached the cap. I've needed to give up my full-time job so I can go to school full time as well as shadow, volunteer, and scribe and then supporting myself almost entirely on private loans. I have a solid two years remaining before I can take the MCAT and by the time I enter med school, I will be on the hook for $100,000 in additional private loan debt to cover tuition and living expenses before I even start medical school.

I have no qualms whatsoever about taking on this step because I know this is what I'm supposed to do. But the naysayer voice within that says I can't do this, that tells me just to give up after another sleepless night, simply will not stop asking what if I fail? I exercise regularly trying to limit caffeine and eat healthy. I was a personal trainer for years so I do all that I can to alleviate stress. What other suggestions do you have to shut up this voice?"

Here are my thoughts: [03:57] What If I Fail?

That inner voice inside you is your guiding light. It's most likely your limbic system saying, "Stop, this is scary. We don't want to do this." Unfortunately, it's not very smart for the age we live in today.

That little voice in the back of your head used to be able to tell us, don't go out there. There's a saber-toothed tiger out there that's going to eat you. That was a great little voice to have in the back of your head a hundred thousand years ago. But in today's day and age, that little voice in your head always rears up when you're on the verge of something great or in the face of something tough. It's never there when you're sitting on the couch playing video games or when you're ordering pizza on the phone or when life is easy. It's always there when life is hard, when you're making decisions that have the potential to affect you and everybody else in your life as well as your future.

If your little voice is popping up and saying what if you fail, it means you're doing the right thing because it should be hard. That same question, "What if I fail?" can be asked by every student and it has nothing to do with you being a nontrad or all the loans you have. That voice is normal and everybody asks that everyday. Personally, when I release a new podcast and I have four already. What if I fail? What if this new one isn't popular? What if it's not good? This tells me to push forward.

[06:13] How You Define Failure

In your case, "what if I fail?" should be telling you to keep going. As you're going on your premed journey, define failure. Failure, to me, is giving up.

To you this could mean applying to medical school a couple of times and not getting in or going to a Caribbean medical school. But failure, to me, is just giving up even though you know this is still your dream and even if in two years down the line, you still wanted to become a doctor but you can't take it anymore. That, to me, is failure.

Failure is not a rejection from medical school. I was rejected from medical school and it wasn't failure. I was just told not yet.

[07:05] Change That Voice

Instead, change that saying of "What if I fail?" to "What if I succeed?" What would that look like? That would be awesome, wouldn't it? That you're in medical school and you're a medical student. Listen to that voice in your head because when it talks and speaks up, that means you're doing something right. So don't be afraid of it.

I know this is a very different show than usual but I like the psychology of thinking. A good writer, Seth Godin, talks about lizard brain which is that little voice in your head, the deepest and oldest part of our brain that told us to stay away from saber-toothed tigers and that's what's telling you "What if I fail?"

[08:05] Loans and Timeline

On a side note, be very careful with private student loans because they are much, much, much more strict than the federal student loans.

I also want to question what's taking you so long? Giving up a full-time job to shadow and everything else and it's still going to take two more years? This timeline seems to be off. I recommend you reach out to somebody or to an advisor. Shoot me an email. But I really think your timeline seems off in this whole thing. Lastly, to your question of "what if I fail?" it depends on what your definition of failure is.

[09:10] Final Thoughts

Join the collaborative community at and ask a question. If you don't already, subscribe in your favorite podcast app. I actually created a video to show you how to do this. Check it out on  


The Premed Years Podcast Episode 213: Stop Looking for a Backup Plan, It's Hurting Your Chances

MedEd Media Network

77: Should I Do a Postbac for My Postbac? Applying to 1 School!

Session 77

Today's question taken directly from the forum is from a female nontrad student who is looking to possibly restart her postbac after starting it poorly about 5 years ago. She’s also thinking about applying to just 1 school.

[01:35] OldPreMeds Question of the Week: Her Backstory

"I obtained my B.A. in Anthropology in the Midwest many moons ago, worked as an on-camera model/actress to pay rent in my undergrad. Upon graduating, my agent sent me to LA where I worked for three years as a model and actress.

I moved back to the Midwest to begin my nontrad premed journey as a single gal when I was about 28 years old at the same school from where I obtained my BA."

[02:02] Similar to Jessica's Story

This is similar to Jessica's story back on The Premed Years Podcast Session 168. She was a former actress and did her Bachelor of Arts at NYU, lived in L.A. as an actress, and then she decided she wanted to be a doctor and then got ten acceptances.

[02:27] Suffering Grades

"It is a large university with a medical campus, undergraduate campus, and teaching and research hospital. I was so eager and motivated to be involved in all things medicine that I began working, or shall I say, living in a laboratory for a cardiologist. I literally craved to be there. I would beg my mentor to let me hop on rounds with him. I was eager to be in the lab to perform science to think to shadow and was ferociously stubborn about my goals. However, my tenacity for the hands-on work at the labs/hospital caused my postbac grade to suffer. Nothing too horrible but a few C's and mostly B's."

[03:06] Too Much on Your Plate

Postbac and C's and B's, that is kind of horrible. It is not very good for a postbac. When you're doing a postbac, the assumption is you've got to shoot for a 4.0. Obviously, you don't have to be perfect. But your goal is a 4.0 especially for nontrads who are trying to fix early grades.

As I've discussed before, one of the greatest mistakes premeds make is having too much on your plate that your grades suffer. You can hardly fix grades which means you can fix your grades but with more classes. But it's always average so you can't just replace anymore. Research and clinical experience can always be added.

[04:18] Poster's Questions

"Fast-forward a few years at 30 years old. After publishing much of my research, I met my husband. He plays in the NFL in our home city and has been for nine years now. His job is anything but traditional and the schedule in life is nothing short of hectic. These past few years, we have been married, traveled, settled into a home, and are thinking about a family soon. Even with all of this, I still have the itch. I am now 33 and wish to continue my journey. I'm so thankful for this website.

Should I do a postbac for my postbac? My grades were average at best, relatively speaking, but since so much had passed and I wish to perform well on the MCAT. Should I simply start over? My AMCAS GPA isn't the greatest, around 3.3 cumulative, 3.2 BCPM. I've not taken Orgo or Biochem. The classes were upwards of five years ago. So part of me wishes to start fresh for the MCAT and so admissions committees can see me ace these classes now. Or should I redo only the classes in which I didn't do well, continue to take o-chem and biochem and attack on some more upper levels?"

[05:33] Start Fresh

You can't really start fresh because those grades are going to be there. You're going to have to report those. Any classes you're going to retake are going to be averaged in. Yes, you can redo some of the classes you didn't do well in and hopefully you get better grades in those and it's still going to be averaged. The only difference is you're not repeating all of the courses.

It depends on whether you're talking about a formal postbac or do-it-yourself. If you're referring to a do-it-yourself, I probably wouldn't go back and repeat everything. Definitely repeat those with C's to try to get those up.

Could you repeat everything and start fresh and hope for a 4.0? Sure, that's going to take a little longer and it's going to be more expensive although it may not be a problem for you financially having a husband who plays in the NFL. So it's awesome to have that financial stability.

[06:57] Retake Classes

Contact the school that you're applying to or interested in applying to. If you're applying to several medical schools, figure out if they're okay with older grades. I've talked to a lot of nontrads who have 10-year old and 20-year old grades. Some say it's not a problem and not to worry about it while others want something within five years.

Moreover, retaking your classes would help you on the MCAT. The best way to start preparing for the MCAT is to do well in your undergrad, your core science courses. So if you retake those with a better foundation, better study habits, less time commitment, you will obviously do better.

I don't know if I'd repeat them all. Repeat those C's of course and then figure everything else out. Keep that AMCAS calculator open to see how it's affecting your GPA.

[08:18] Geographical Restriction

"I'm terrified. My husband's career could be seen as a silent blessing for my journey because we have the financial security to support a family and allow me time for my studies without worry. However, there is one medical school in our city and is my first and foremost choice to attend because our families are here and we wish to continue to settle here. The risk is great for limiting myself to one school. And to be clear, it isn't just the geographical location of the school that makes it number one on my list. It is my top choice for many reasons. I'll save those for another post to reapplying year after year however. So if there is anyone out there who has advice on a perplexing situation such as mine, it would be helpful."

[09:10] Applying to One School is Very Risky

This is a unique situation with the poster's husband being in NFL and being in the city he is in now. Some of you may have that same situation since I've talked to spouses whose husbands and wives are in the military. You're in once city. But are you still going to be in that same city in two years?

For this student, her husband in the NFL and they have trades in the NFL and cuts. Keep in mind that the limitation to one school is understandable to some extent but you're putting all your eggs in one basket.

With the off-chance that your husband gets traded or let go or cut, whatever, immediately after you applied to that one school, what happens next? You move to another city and maintain your current residence in your current city. How does that work? Think about that as well. Applying to one school is very, very risky.

[10:35] Talk to the Admissions Committee

I helped a student this year who applied to two school. Last year, she applied to one and didn't get in. This year, she applied to two and she got into the original she wanted to go to. We made it work.

So what I had her do is to go and talk to people. This poster talked about doing research for the cardiologist and doing tons of stuff. So go and talk to those people and let them know you're applying. Ask them who they know and who can you talk to. Go to the admissions committee. Talk to them and tell them why you want to come to that school and ask them what you need to do.

They're going to be somewhat restrictive in what they can tell you. They can never guarantee you an acceptance but they can help guide you. They are there to help you. They want the best students to apply to their school and if they can help form that best student in you, why not? When you are going to a limited number of schools for whatever reasons, go and get to know the school as much as possible.

[12:12] Form Great Connections

Back in The Premed Years Podcast Episode 74, I talked with Carie, a nontrad premed. Her husband was a helicopter pilot for the army and contractor. So he was always being deployed and Carie was very limited taking care of family and working. She was very limited of what she could do. She also had some geographic restrictions and some issues with taking classes only at a community college.

What she did was she formed great relationships with the admissions committees at a few school she was willing to apply to and told them who she was and what she was doing and asked for their feedback and she kept checking in with them semester after semester after semester and eventually she gained her acceptance into medical school. So go and form those connections because they're very important.


The Premed Years Podcast Session 168

The Premed Years Podcast Episode 74

MedEd Media Network

The Premed Years Podcast

The MCAT Podcast

Specialty Stories

76: How Will Being a Nurse Affect My Application to Med School?

Like some nurses, our poster this week has realized he wants more impact in healthcare. How will that affect applications, colleagues and more?

75: Concerns and Questions About Transitioning from PA to MD/DO

Session 75

This week’s poster is a practicing PA who has some questions about transitioning from being a PA to starting medical school. These are great questions commonly asked not only by PA’s, but also, by NPs and other nontrads who are in a healthcare-related field and would want to make that switch.

[00:56] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"Just stumbled across this forum. Happy to see there are other nontrads getting back on the horse too. I have a few logistical questions I hope you all could help me with.


I'm currently a practicing PA in Emergency Medicine in the ICU for around four years, looking to make the switch to medical school for a number of reasons, which I'm happy to elaborate on if needed. Three kids with a work from home husband, undergrad major of chemistry with cumulative GPA of 4.0 and a PA grad school GPA also 4.0. All med school prereqs essentially met via PA school prereqs. Haven't taken the MCAT yet but started studying and plan to take in the next one to two years.


  1. Would it be more financially wise for me to work an extra three to four years, pay off debt, and save up for cost of living with my PA salary before applying to and starting medical school? Or would it be better to start sooner rather than later, let the debt build on holy amounts of interest throughout med school and residency and have med school debt added on top of that knowing that I'll be making more money sooner?
  1. Are there any legal issues or conflicts of interest against me picking up shifts as a PA while in medical school or working during med school in general? Do people do this?
  1. Do I really need to obtain shadowing hours given my experience practicing medicine everyday?
  1. Should I be going back to school just so I can get science LORs (Letters of Recommendation) or would it be sufficient to obtain letters of recommendation from my physician colleagues and PA faculty members?"

These are great questions that a lot of students switching from a career from another healthcare-related field like a Physician Assistant or a nurse have. Let's dig into each of the questions and discuss them.

[03:14] Making a Financial Decision

Is it financially wise to wait a couple years or do you start sooner rather than later? Yes, it would be more financially wise to pay off the debt before actually accruing more debt. This is a personal question that's hard to answer since you really need to sit down with a financial advisor and look at the lost income from giving up your PA work while attending medical school and the income you'll be making as a resident (which is most likely going to be a lot less than working as a PA) and finally, your work as an attending. What would it take to break even and pay off all of that debt and what that would look like. Be able to work out some different scenarios.

Therefore, it seems more financially sound and wise to wait a couple of years. Whether or not it's right for you, it's a personal question that only you can answer. Do you enjoy your job well enough now to give it a couple of years? Are you dead set on going to medical school? If you wait a couple of years, are you going to question that decision? Or should you just jump in now with both feet while you're ready and your husband supports you? These are some things to think about.

[04:40] Legal Issues and Conflicts of Interest

Are there any legal issues or conflicts of interest against picking up shifts as a PA while in medical school or working during med school in general? Yes, people do this.

I recommend that you talk with the medical school as you are accepted and you go through that process. Make sure you're accepted first and then go through the process telling them about you going to medical school and whether you could pick up some shifts. Your ability to pick up shifts is going to be few and far between since medical school is going to be rigorous so being able to work is going to be hard. But it is possible. Your credentials, certifications, and schooling as a PA are fine. If you need to change state, you're going to need to re-license yourself and all of that stuff that goes with moving to a new state. But you should be able to work as a PA. However, be careful with the clear delineations of what you're doing and what scope of practice you're practicing under.

Back in Episode 170 of The Premed Years Podcast, I talked with Brad who turned from PA to medical student and he shared his journey, why he was doing it, as well as practicing as a PA during medical school.

[06:10] Shadowing Hours

Do you need to obtain shadowing hours? Yes. Working as a PA side-by-side with physicians is not "shadowing" a physician. What you see working as a physician's assistant while 99.9% of it is going to be the same, go shadow for 10 or 20 hours. You don't actually need a ton of hours. Just go shadow and see what life is like when you're not working and you're able to just observe and take it all in. You've gotten through your education, PA's work side by side with physicians and even as you're practicing, so you understand it. Still, go get some shadowing hours so you can put it down on your extracurriculars.

[06:57] Letters of Recommendation

Do you need to go to school just to get science LORs? No, you don't. Most medical schools are going to recognize the fact that you're a nontraditional student. If you ask them, they will say they won't need those science LORs so go ahead and use a supervisor and anybody else who will write a great letter of recommendation for you.

[07:26] Final Thoughts

These are great questions a lot of nontrads have not just for PA's but those who are also in the medical field. If you have any questions you want answered here, go to and register for a free account.


PMY 170: PA Turned MD Talks About Why He Made the Shift

74: Should I Apply to Med School this Cycle With My Grades?

Session 74

Our poster this week is questioning whether or not he should apply this cycle with low grades and not a lot of extracurriculars. He is getting very nervous about applying and getting some cold feet.

If you have any questions, sign up for a free account at the and join a collaborative community of like-minded students.

[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

"I'm two years out of college with the hopes that I would have applied to medical last cycle (2016) to start in 2017. However, when the time came to send out my primary, I couldn't bring myself to do it. With a very low cumulative GPA of 3.05 and a science GPA of 3.25, a 502 MCAT and very, very few extracurriculars, I decided to wait a year and better my application. A year has come and gone and yet I still feel hesitant to apply. I have been working a job as an Emergency Room technician, volunteering in a hospital, and again preparing to take the MCAT. Even if I get an outstanding score on the MCAT, I feel that it will not be enough to get in. What is your advice? Do I apply anyways? Or do I spend another year in limbo and get a Master's or postbac while gaining more ECs (extracurriculars)?"

[02:10] Your Numbers Are Just a Portion of Your Application

This student is nervous about spending the money to apply to medical school without getting in. It's a legitimate concern, especially given the GPAs for this student which aren't great. Then a 502 MCAT with that MCAT isn't great. However, as I've mentioned in the past, the MCAT and GPA are just a portion of your application. So you can't only go on that.

[03:00] Clinical Experience & Extracurriculars

Episode 171 of The Premed Years Podcast, I had a discussion with a former Dean of Admissions at UC Irvine where she talked about a lack of clinical experience being one of the big reasons to not get into medical school.

This poster obviously recognizes the fact that they lack some extracurriculars and got a job as an emergency room technician. Does this mean you're interacting with patients? If that's what you're doing then great. Taking the MCAT again is also great and you have to do well.

[03:45] Taking Postbac Classes

What I would have liked to see over the past year is you taking postbac classes. It doesn't have to be a formal postbac but doing ore classes to bring up your GPA from a 3.05 and get a cumulative up to 3.2 or 3.3 and your science GPA up higher around to 3.5. This would be fantastic and it would make an admissions committee think twice about that application.

I had a great discussion with the Dean of Admissions at the University of Central Florida where we talked about nontraditional students who have done poorly in the past. He discussed how he looks at applications. He looks at the last 20 hours of science coursework and if you've done well in those last 20 hours, his assumption is you'll be fine in medical school.

The poster did not give any trends on their grades. They may have an amazing upward trend but their cumulative GPA and science GPA are still lower. A lot more information would be helpful here but if you were able to take the MCAT and get a great score, apply. The only worst thing that could happen is them telling you no.

Assume that your GPA is going to hold you back so start taking some classes and do that now. And get ready to apply again. The safer bet that a lot of students don't like to be classified as a reapplicant is usually an unfounded fear. Being a reapplicant doesn't hurt you. But on the safe side, you can continue working as an EMT in the hospital, take classes, and improve your GPA. Take the MCAT, do well on it and apply next year.

[05:55] Final Thoughts

There are so many variables that go into a good medical school application that can get overwhelming. What happened to this student is a common thing where you get shy about pulling a trigger and then you don't apply because you feel you're not good enough. Then a year goes by and you really didn't do much to adjust that so you're still not good enough and this becomes a cascading problem of never being good enough. So take those next steps. Figure out where you need to go and pull the trigger. Take some classes. Do whatever you need to do to improve that MCAT score and hopefully, you will put together successful application. Obviously, personal statement, extracurriculars, secondary essays, and interview prep all go into a great medical school application.


MedEd Media Network

The Premed Years Podcast Episode 171: Reapplying to Medical School - What You Need to Know to Improve

The Premed Years Podcast Episode 013: Interview with Dean of UCF College of Medicine

UC Irvine School of Medicine

University of Central Florida - College of Medicine

73: Will My Medical History Affect My Chances at Med School?

Session 73

The paperback version of The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview is set to be released in June. In celebration of that launch, simply preorder it from Barnes and Noble before June 06, 2017 and get almost $100 worth of giveaways including a brand new, amazing mock interview platform which is only available right now to those who preorder the book. This platform will enable you to practice your interview skills anytime you want and even share video recordings of your interviews with mentors, advisors, friends, and family. Access to this platform is worth $47 a month but you get a free month if you preorder the paperback copy of the book from Barnes and Noble.

You will also get access to my 13 video series of which are courses I've done on the medical school interview (regular price is $47). To know more, text PREORDER to 44222 and you will get instructions on how to buy the book and how to submit your receipt to get access to this free gift.

Today's question is about whether an applicant's medical history would affect their application to medical school, which is a common question we get. Do you need to mention it in your personal statement? If so, how will this affect your application?

[04:00] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I am currently back in school working on completing course prereqs for medical school. I'm just wondering, is a medical history taken into account when applying to medical school especially mental health?

In 2016, undiagnosed OCD led me to develop an eating disorder for which I'm currently in recovering as well as chronic depression. I'm wondering if these life events could affect my medical school application. Aside from my mental health history, I am working towards a strong application (knock on wood). My undergrad GPA is 3.9. My current science and math GPA is 4.0. I'm about to begin volunteering at a hospital and I work 24+ hours a week in an advanced stage dementia nursing home, basically, as a CNA. I serve as a peace corps volunteer and I'm nearly fluent in Spanish.”

Here are my thoughts: [05:00] Medical School Application

Luckily, for this student, their mental health has obviously not affected their grades. Ultimately, what the question comes down to is, what do I have to tell the medical schools?

The plain answer is nothing. There is nothing on the application that asks about your health. What could come up is if you had any significant gaps in education and you have to explain those. And even if you do have those gaps in your education, you don't have to explain those by saying you've had chronic depression, OCD, or an eating disorder. Instead, be very generic and say you've been dealing with some health issues that have gotten under control and since coming back to school, you've been fantastic. And it shows!

[06:34] Medical License Application

When you go for your medical license, you will be asked a question about any health issues that are going to prevent you from taking care of patients. It doesn't sound like this poster has anything that would prevent them from taking care of patients so this is not something to worry about.

However, this comes into play if you have brain tumor and it's affecting your cognition and your ability to think and control impulses. Then you're starting to deal with some questionable issues. If you have a vision problem or severe carpal tunnel, for instance, and you're a surgeon then maybe that's a problem. You're going to have to disclose that on your applications for your medical license as well as your credentials at the hospital.

[07:33] A Red Flag

Whatever you have is none of the medical school's business. I highly recommend that even if this has motivated you to go into medicine, be very careful about talking about those things on your application and in your personal statement. This could pose a big red flag.

Medical schools are looking at thousands of medical schools so why would they take a chance on you when they can just put you aside and look at somebody else, just as qualified as you are, that doesn't have any red flags?

Back in Episode 194 of The Premed Years podcast, I talked to a student who is legally blind from a condition and he applied to a medical school. His personal statement was all about his blindness and how that's motivating to continue. However, he didn't get into medical school and thought maybe he shouldn't have done that. The next time he applied, he didn't mention anything about his blindness. He was able to hide it to a certain extent, like if it was bright out, he was able to see well enough that he didn't need a walking stick. Then he got accepted to medical school and the packages that came after his acceptance asked him about whether he needed accommodations and that's when he said he's legally blind. Currently, he is residency and is doing very well.

[09:46] Final Thoughts

As you are struggling with mental health issues or whatever you're dealing with, guess what? We are all dealing with something.

One of the reasons I left the Air Force and I'm doing the podcasts full time now and I don't practice medicine anymore is I was diagnosed with MS (which was also one of the reasons I got into the Air Force instead of doing Orthopedic Surgery which was what I really loved to do but it could have made my disease worse but it wasn't worth it). Hopefully, this discussion has helped you figure out whether this is something that's going to affect you. Usually, it doesn't. We have our own concerns like how the admissions committee members are going to look at you. But for the most part, your business is not the medical school's. Keep it to yourself and keep taking care of yourself on your journey. Hopefully, you will do very well.

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