I need some advice. But be forewarned, you are about to read a very lengthy post...=)
After getting a BS in Bio in 01 with a less than stellar GPA, I decided to put off any more advanced education and instead focus on a family. Three years into raising my family, and after much consideration, I re-evaluated the whole med school thing with my husband and decided that, yes, practicing medicine was where I wanted to go. The husband was/is still supportive. So the thought of going to med school at a different phase of my life was very exciting. This decision to go to med school inspired me ..and made me excel academically as I took other upper division courses in biology post bacclaureately to improve my GPA. I also spent 2 years being really involved in clinical volunteer experiences at the local hospital and this overlapped with 2 years doing undergrad research in breast cancer with a potential paper on the horizon. I also fit in getting a phlebotomy and medical assisting certificate so that I'm able to work either PT/FT to help pay for getting into med school. All of this has taken over the course of almost 5 years now since I made the decision to go to med school and finally I am now studying for the MCAT via Kaplan and plan on taking it in January 2011....Oh, and I also like being a mommy to my 6 year old son and 8 year daugther who are also very busy with their sports and school activities...
...SO long story short, what is my issue? Well, several.
First I feel like I have soooo many obstacles. Everywhere I turn it seems there are discouragements and disappointments into getting into med school. I feel frustrated because I am doing all I can without going insane to get into med school and I'm seeing more roadblocks than results.
Meanwhile, premed students in their early 20s are getting into med schools right and left..and as happy as I am for them, it doesnt help! One UCI research professor (MD/PHD) told me I would never get into med school just because my 3.0 GPA isnt competitive enough--at least not med schools in the US--his words!...and a majority of doctors that I've met either in the capacity as a volunteer or as their employee, frequently complain to me about why I should really reconsider going into medicine when its so much nicer just to be a PA or a nurse. As you can imagine, these remarks have not changed my mind but make me feel sad and disappointed. I have my reasons for going to med school and its all in my essay so my reasons are good and grounded but I dont know what it is that individuals constantly need to remind me why medicine isnt that great ....
I know the road to being a doctor is not an easy one but I am confident that practicing medicine is what I want to do and I feel like I'm doing all I can to prepare to make myself a competent med school candidate. ...what I want to know is it normal to feel discouraged and feel like there are constant obstacles and politics of trying to get into med school or is this just me? Its not just the remarks of a few professors, there are other examples of obstacles but that would be too lengthy to post on here.... .is it normal to feel discouraged?
I'd say apply broadly. There are schools that appreciate the non-traditional applicant. OHSU is one that I know of, and I'm sure there are others. Many osteopathic schools also seem to prefer the non-trads, and in general have lower average acceptance stats. I think you'd have a very good shot there.
It sounds like your grades after returning to school are much better than your first time around. Medical schools that don't immediately screen you out may notice this, and I think it is important. One interviewer I had counted the C's on my transcript and pointed them out to me... I remarked that I received all of those when I was 19... I don't know if that convinced her, but I was accepted at that school.
Finally, rumor is that California schools are very difficult to get into. I don't know if that is true, but that may be why the research professor feels the way he does. On the other hand, I work for a research professor who seems to believe that all applicants have to have straight A's - I don't, and I got in - so hopefully you can find some comfort in the fact that some professors are out of touch.
I think if you do really well on the MCAT and apply broadly you should be able to get in somewhere. You can look up school acceptance stats in the MSAR for MD schools and CIB for DO schools. The CIB is downloadable online, the MSAR has to be purchased. Your extracurriculars look great, and some schools do realize that there is more to an applicant than grades you got when you were 19.
You may not....at first. Getting in is extremely difficult these days. I have a classmate who applied three times before getting in on the fourth try. He's also one of the smartest guys in my class, and he regularly falls in the top quarter (easily). Not only that, I personally think he will be one of the best doctors in my class, and I would easily send my kids or myself to him. So don't think of things as over if you don't get in that first try either. Keeping a grip on reality is important, and staying hopeful is important, but also knowing that you can apply again is really important. It doesn't mean that things are destined for you.