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Low GPA/High MCAT Applicant; MD or focus on DO

Asked 8 months ago by Guest (120 points)

Hey all, thanks in advance for taking the time to look at my question!

I am a current Master's student with a low undergrad GPA (3.26 cGPA, 3.24sGPA) and a high MCAT (520; 130/129/131/130). I am applying next cycle and want to get an idea of where I should be applying and if I should spend the time applying MD or just put maximum effort into DO schools.

I went to a SUNY undergrad school and graduated with a B.S. in Biochem with the above GPAs and am going to another SUNY school to do my MS in biochem as well. My Master's is research focused with a thesis requirement and I have a 3.9 in the classes I have taken there (25 credits worth, all biochem/analytical chem/ cell bio/ stuff like that).

I have ~3,000 hours direct patient care experience as a volunteer critical care technician on an ambulance (A bit lower on the totem pole than a paramedic but can do most of the same treatments and skills).  Also significant leadership and teaching experience here, was elected to office and in charge of all training.

I have also been doing research in cancer biology for a little over 3 years now and that has resulted in 2 second author literature reviews and one second author manuscript in a mid-level journal. Plus I'll have my thesis to point to by the time I apply if that is taken into account?

 My shadowing experience is scarce, only ~35 hours with a plastic surgeon whom I met serendipitously and he wrote me a great LOR.

For non-clinical volunteering I began a social-support group on campus for students battling drug addiction (not in recovery myself but sibling died of an overdose so it is something I'm passionate about). That's it for my non-clinical volunteering though.

I guess I just want to know if my undergrad GPA will cause me to get tossed at MD programs and if I'm better off focusing my time/energy to DO programs . I was thinking maybe I can just apply to SUNY MD schools and have the rest of my apps be to DO programs I'm interested in. Any insight from experts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you all in advance!!

// Answers //

Answered 8 months ago by mark-ER (6700 points)

If your ultimate career goal is to get into a competitive subspecialty, I think you ought to spend another year or more in a post-bacc or in your case (with excellent MCAT score already in hand), a self-designed post-bacc, taking several science classes at a local college (above a community college, but does not have to be USNWR ranked).  You don't have to be in school full time, maybe 3 classes in the fall, 2 in the spring should do it, but to get there given how late it is, you will have to spend 2018 and 2019 doing this, and apply 2020.  In the background you can continue to work (and cover your expenses) in your current laboratory, maybe even get another manuscript published (1st author would help a lot, 2nd/3rd authors don't account for as much).  This may be the best approach if your ultimate career goal is a competitive subspecialty practice.  

Your alternative  would be to apply to A LOT (and I mean 25-35) lower tier private allopathic schools and all your in-state schools as well as all DO schools.  Given your background and MCAT score, if you asked this question in early August/late July I would have said pretty confidently with enough applications you could get in somewhere (likely DO, but perhaps at least 1 lower tier MD ??)  But at this point with rolling admissions, it may be too late.  

So my suggestion is to perhaps split the difference between the 2 plans, particularly if your ultimate goal is to be an internist, peds, psych or family doc (something less competitive when residency applications roll around).  Enroll in 1 undergraduate science class (ASAP, like today), then a 2-3 undergraduate classes in the spring.  With those, assuming A's, you should boost your GPA to 3.4 or so, which will help and probably be OK to get into a lower tier allopathic school next cycle (2019), given your application includes enough schools (20-25).  Remember it is the undergraduate GPA that counts (& at this point might lead to a 'screen out' at a lot of allopathic schools)   Just be on top of things and apply early next year.

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