If someone tells me to "manage expectations" one more time...
April 7, 2016 2:57 PM   Subscribe

Having been inspired by the CBS Sunday Morning piece on a husband and wife team who, with no science background, went on to do amazing things as PhD biomedical students at Harvard, I feel like there still might be a chance at (re)building the life and story I imagined for myself. Starting over, with the goal of becoming a doctor. Help and hope me?

This could very easily become a massive wall of text so I'll only say that I haven't had a very easy time of it over the past couple years. I have cerebral palsy and depression, and so graduated 2 years ago with a spotty record and no real work experience since, save two projects on rehabilitation in oncology. If you've seen my previous asks on here, you know my story.
Can someone with:
- A degree in psychology
- a 2.67 GPA but, damn it, a good head on his shoulders and a willingness to learn
- No money for a post-bac program right now, but working on getting an entry-level job
-Attention and mental endurance issues
e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y get into med school?

Long story short, I'm currently being shoehorned down a path that I never saw myself going toward, by a vocational rehab agency. Maybe this is what I need to do right now. But I'm looking to build, with The Green's help, a toolkit for a complete reboot.

I'm talking anything and everything: ideas on ways to get experience, to develop myself personally, intellectual and pragmatic supports, inspirational anecdata, ideas for learning on my own, medications I should ask my doctor about....whatever I can do to salvage the dream of medical school, period.

I'm willing to be in this for the long haul. All I ask is that people don't question my motivations and ask me to consider alternatives. Yes, it's a little bit about the money and the prestige, and no, I didn't love college chemistry and biology, but I KNOW that I do love the day to day work of a doctor- interacting with patients, learning new things, solving puzzles, making decisions based on an aggregate of data, reading and interpreting test results, the constantly changing, evolving work environment and well, chiefly, the sense of agency it would give me in terms of being able to help others and myself. My question, really, is how do I fake it till I make it?
posted by marsbar77 to Education (28 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Caveat: I realize that the couple in the story I've linked started out with much more than I am now. Still, I want to make this happen.
posted by marsbar77 at 2:59 PM on April 7, 2016


I mentor pre-med students as part of my job as a biology professor. I hear what you're saying about knowing you can and want to do the things a doctor does day to day. But first, you have to get into and complete medical school. This is a huge obstacle for many people who want to be and would excel at being doctors.

To get into medical school, you need as near to perfect a GPA as possible, particularly in the science pre-reqs, and a killer MCAT score. From reading this and remembering your previous threads, this likely means going back to college for a year or more likely two years to take or retake the pre-reqs and earn great grades. You do not have to do this in a formal post-bacc program--most of those are at expensive private colleges, so you could save a lot of money by taking the courses you know you need at a public college at which you have instate tuition.

If you were my student, I would ask you how your second time in college (and your time in medical school) would be different from the first time in college. What will you do differently? What support structures do you have in place now that you didn't have then? If things start going badly, how will you fix them?
posted by hydropsyche at 3:09 PM on April 7, 2016 [22 favorites]


That's what I'm talking about. I have no issue being a P.A, or doing anything else that will eventually get me there. I never thought of applying as-is right now, or even two years from now. I'm looking for ways to erase the damage my BA did, at least on paper, even if I have to take night classes to start. And that's precisely what I'm after- ways I can ensure it WILL be different this time. Okay, done thread sitting!
posted by marsbar77 at 3:11 PM on April 7, 2016


I do not think you will get into an American med school with that GPA, regardless of awesome MCAT scores or retaking classes. (Here are the stats for acceptance by GPA for UC Berkeley, as one data point: https://career.berkeley.edu/MedStats/MedStats). Maybe you can get in to one of the Caribbean schools? But that will limit your residency choices. I would figure out what appeals to you about medicine (working with people one on one? solving problems? public health?) and find a way to do those things in another field.
posted by ellebeejay at 3:22 PM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not looking to get into Harvard, or UCB, or even an American school per se. Not looking to do this now. Not delusional about how difficult it is. Please, let's try to move away from the impossibility narrative. This has to be possible in some way, in some configuration.
posted by marsbar77 at 3:27 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


You could easily take nursing pre reqs at a local community college, crush it there, and then do a short second BSN program. You could be working as a nurse in 3 years, maybe less. Med school is likely out of the question.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:29 PM on April 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


Anything is possible if the ingredients are correct. Even things that defy the laws of physics happen. However, instead of working forwards, try the thought exercise of working backwards. Know a first year resident or attending. Really 'know' what they're doing, their capacity. Also know some med students. Are you at their level, sans medical knowledge? Because the only difference between a med school grad and a med school applicant should be the knowledge, not the intelligence, grit and stamina.
posted by kinoeye at 3:30 PM on April 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


Night classes sound like a good idea if a true "post-bacc" is out of the question. I don't know which grades set you back, but bear in mind that different medical schools look at retakes differently. Notably, the vast majority of osteopathic medical schools (D.O.) have a policy of "grade replacement", while M.D. schools average the old and new grades. You can read about osteopathic programs and their statistics here. CAVEAT: while osteopathic schools' statistics on average may seem lower than allopathic schools, the gap is closing, and they really want you to demonstrate your commitment to osteopathic medicine through experience, essays, and interviews. M.D. and D.O. have been equivalent for decades, and both the applicant pool and public are increasingly realizing it.

* I am strictly referring to American medical schools.

PA school is another good suggestion - however, many of them need a LOT of clinical hours. To an even greater extent than osteopathic schools, they want you to demonstrate your commitment to the field. Nevertheless, it is entirely possible to go to medical school after a few years of working as a PA!

There are many paths you can take - choose wisely!
posted by Seeking Direction at 3:35 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's possible to recover from a sub-3.0 GPA and maybe get into an American DO school if you perform exceptionally in a post-bacc program and on the MCATs. In your case, though, a formal post-bacc may be a better idea than taking pre-reqs piecemeal because it sounds like you need a fair bit of structure and support to succeed.

So yes, in theory you can find some way to get a DO or an MD. But I really question whether any of that's really important.

Med school (as well as nursing and PA programs) is difficult. Beyond really stellar academic preparation, it requires tenacity. A demonstrated history of tenacity, particularly, beyond what it takes to simply get a college degree. I think you need to be very honest with yourself regarding whether you've ever been able to stick-to-it in a way that would be predictive of success in a health professions program. This isn't about asking you to manage your expectations so much as it is about inviting you to maturely assess your strengths and weaknesses.
posted by blerghamot at 3:40 PM on April 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


learning new things, solving puzzles, making decisions based on an aggregate of data, reading and interpreting test results

Have you considered data science? It's a really good match for those interests, is applicable to medicine and many other fields, and has a good deal of free classes available via Coursera and the like. If you need to do additional undergrad coursework to bring your GPA up, you could do worse than to study it.
posted by Candleman at 3:41 PM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


So I'm not in medicine (I do work in bio research), but from looking at your previous Asks, I think this is a big ambitious goal, but one that is also do-able. You are still pretty young tbh, and if you want this and it continues to excite you, I think you should go for it. Yeah, the GPA is a problem, but it's not an insurmountable problem if you're willing to play the long game, I think. Check out, for example, the stories in this thread -- your GPA and age are well within what people are talking about there.

I am slightly concerned about your not enjoying college biology. I didn't love a lot of my undergrad biology classes, and now I have a PhD in molecular biology, so I'm not saying it's a dealbreaker. But I think it depends why you didn't enjoy them: if you found them interesting but just didn't do well, or if you found parts really interesting and parts really tedious), or if you felt like you didn't know how to relate the material to things you care about, those are imho more solvable problems [and probably related to attention management in part] than just being kind of meh on them across the board. You're also going to need to revisit classes like that in a post-bac. So I'd ask, what didn't you like about them specifically? What do you think could be different when you take them the next time around?

This leads me to: in order to pull this off I think you'll need to do very well (like, 3.7–4.0) in a post-bac program. You also need to ace the MCAT to the best of your ability; that'll be down the road for you but you might want to start saving for a good prep course now. (Also keep in mind that people study part-time for the MCAT for months and often full-time for at least a month before taking it.) To achieve that, I think the thing you need to tackle with the highest priority is the attention management/mood management side of things: if you suspect ADHD, definitely talk to your doc about medications (idk what you've tried but I'd look into stimulants, Strattera, Wellbutrin, Intuniv [which might be particularly good if you have high blood pressure -- sorry to AskStalk you but I wanted to be helpful :)]), etc. Even just being aware of my own attention management problems and getting strategies about controlling them from e.g. therapy and self-help has made me appreciably better at getting things done (he said, writing an answer on MeFi...). You'll need to practice time management so that when you actually save up enough money for a post-bac/masters you have a ton of good strategies and habits. One good way to do that is to gradually add more commitments to your life, while you continue to go to therapy and treat your mental health. Which brings me to:

Volunteering is going to be an important component of any future med school application. A lot of pre-med undergrads I knew volunteered with, e.g., emergency medical services, hospitals, nursing homes, rehab programs, etc. When you feel confident in your ability to hold down a job plus something on the side (and don't feel you need to wait for 100% confidence, 80% is good enough, otherwise you may wait forever), this is what I would recommend you start with. Beyond being good for your CV and demonstrating an inclination towards service, it's also important to figure out what aspects of medicine you would actually like or not like! It may be that there are career tracks (either within or outside the MD) that you haven't considered that would be a particularly good fit. Whatever happens it'll be useful information for you.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:42 PM on April 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


Anecdata: my husband has a kidney transplant and has at times been invited to kidney transplant patient groups at the hospital. He is always the only person at these groups who has a) been to university and b) who holds down a full-time job. This is why they invite him to the groups :-)

So yes, beating the odds IS possible. But we also have to accept, as part of growing up, that some dreams are probably not going to come true. And that is as true for anyone in the world as it is for you. In another life, my hard-working, odds-beating husband would have been a baseball player. That is never going to happen. And child me wanted to be a ballerina. I simply don't have the body for it. Or the skill. It is simply not going to happen.

Now, same as for you as anyone, there are other avenues for the passion and interest to be funnelled into. And others have given you some suggestions for that. But please understand, the people who are telling you to be realistic are not trying to single you out because of your past or your health concerns or any other reason. We ALL have to make these kinds of compromises and choices in life.
posted by JoannaC at 3:48 PM on April 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


I know nothing about qualifying as a doctor, so will let you take other people's advice on that. But your question reminded me of Lucy Mathen, who I interviewed a few years ago. She was a journalist, found herself one day filming a piece with a doctor in Afghanistan and told herself right away that next time she was surrounded by people in that much need, she would be there as a doctor, not a journalist.

She had absolutely no relevant background and had to go right back to the stage of taking her science A-Levels (normally done in the UK by school kids between 16 and 18) and progress from there. Now she's an eye surgeon and runs the charity she set up, Second Sight, which has restored sight to more than a quarter of a million people with preventable blindness, using volunteer surgeons.

So it's definitely possible. Does that mean it's possible for you? She was certainly extremely focussed, tenacious, single-minded. I guess, as others have said, the question is whether you know that you are definitely also that kind of person. Sometimes 'official' careers like Being A Doctor can be particularly tempting when we feel a bit lost and vague in our lives, but as en forme de poire says, maybe there be other similar tracks that would suit you better, so keep an open mind, rather than fixing on it being doctoring or bust.
posted by penguin pie at 3:48 PM on April 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


What about medical social work? You could become an LCSW with two years of school experience and two years supervised work experiences. I work with doctors, problem solve, even spend time in the emergency department ! It is stressful but fun and probobly more achievable. It hits all of the things you want to do as a doctor and builds on your past experiences.


You are making the first step in your dream of becoming a doctor. School, take some classes ay your local comminity college to bump your GPA. Get involved with something related to the medical field for written in the meantime. .. like being a medical biller and coder.

You should be clear with your voc rehab, after all it is your choice and there is no reason they should be pushing you into any field or job. Get training and education you want.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:49 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


So it seems to me that the first thing to do would be to work on treating and ideally resolving your depression. That's probably going to go a long way towards making all the hard work (doable, but hard!) of becoming a doctor easier. Your depression may also contribute to the attention and mental endurance issues you mention.

It looks like you asked a question here about depression last July - have you seen any improvement since then? If not, is there more that you can do (trying new meds, finding a therapist, even self-help books at home) to work on that? Can you review the answers to that question again now, and see if there are any good suggestions there you haven't tried yet?

As far as taking or retaking classes you'd need to get into med school, I have two friends who did undergrad degrees in humanities fields and who decided they wanted to be veterinarians after they graduated. They both did informal post-baccs by taking the classes they needed wherever they could nearby (state schools, community colleges, even some online classes). They both applied to and got into good vet school programs. One was dealing with a health problem during her post-bacc period, so it took longer than it would otherwise, but she just went slow and steady, one class or maybe two per semester, until she got them all finished.

I have no idea how or whether this applies to med schools, so definitely look carefully at other answers from people with direct experience in that field, but I'd say that it is completely possible to switch career paths like this - it may just take a long time and a lot of hard work (as you said yourself in your question).

On the subject of both post-bacc classes and building mental endurance, have you thought about taking any free online classes from an organization like Coursera? While they may not count towards post-bacc credits, maybe that's even better - you could, say, take a chemistry class there to brush up, and then take essentially the same class again at a local college or community college with the extra experience and knowledge (and confidence!) you got from the online class, and ace the class that matters.

Or you could take just a fun, medical related class, like Genes and the Human Condition (From Behavior to Biotechnology), because why not? It's medically related information that might come in handy, and it might help keep you motivated with the less fun classes like chemistry.

Good luck!
posted by bananacabana at 3:58 PM on April 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


One quick thing: online courses can be great, but some people really need the structure of a regularly-meeting class where you make a strong commitment up front (in cash or social expectations), or else it will just slide to the bottom of your to-do pile and it'll be too easy to blow it off. This is me tbqh; it is fine if it either is or is not you, just something to think about.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:05 PM on April 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


I happened to open a medical text (needed a heavy book for a sewing project:-) and flipped it open and saw a word (Cryoimmunoglobulinemia) and flashed on a chat I had with a doc socially about how insanely much memorization was needed, just stuffing the raw database of words that are used to describe the human body. So start digging in. Take an anatomy class and really know every bone and ligament, and muscle and vein and artery and how they are all connected. Even if you change your mind it's great knowledge to have. I knew that I was not interested in med/bio as a career but I do wish I'd had an anatomy class.

So yes, go for it, there are many paths that folks have and will take. Surprise everyone then remember this thread and invite us in for a consultation.
posted by sammyo at 4:33 PM on April 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


IAAMS (I am a medical student). I like medical school okay, and I'm really excited for my career as a doctor. But there are a million things (even in medicine) I would be happy to do instead.

If I were you, I would spend a lot of time thinking about why you want to do this thing that will take you even more years and $$$ than it would take any other applicant. There are so many impressive, challenging, world-changing things that can be done.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 5:52 PM on April 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


You might like the Frannish blog. It's a fashion blog, but she writes lots of posts about what it's like to apply for and be in medical school. Right now she's doing student rotations, but she started the blog before she applied to (and didn't get in, and applied again to) medical school so you can start right at the beginning! It was recommended to me as a fashion blog, but I stayed up late reading all her medical school posts - and I don't even want to go to medical school.
posted by jrobin276 at 7:11 PM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Many disabled people have had the same experience of being shoehorned into particular degree programs and career paths by VR. The way to deal with that is to do an end-run around your counselor: they don't care what additional classes you take as long as you're making progress towards the major they chose for you. Take some of the prerequisites, ACE THEM, go to plenty of the office hours and let the professors get to know you, see if they agree with you that it's a realistic career choice for you. Then go back to the counselor, armed with evidence, and make your case.
posted by Soliloquy at 8:00 PM on April 7, 2016


I wanted to nth the idea of getting real world experience. I'm an EM physician so some of the ways I'm most familiar with are becoming an EMT, a paramedic, an emergency department tech. These are all excellent ways to get paid while you're getting a taste of what medicine is like. EMT/paramedic training will teach you many useful skills and a lot of applicable knowledge. Being an ED tech gives you the opportunity to observe many different types of doctors at work and what it's like, doing procedures, dealing with difficult patients, dealing with difficult emotional situations, doing tons of paperwork, etc.

I love my job and I personally have no regrets but it's important for any pre med person to consider VERY carefully the fact that a huge percentage of residents and physicians do regret their career choice. And since it costs around $200K-$400K of debt to become a physician, it's not something that you can just give up if it turns out the parts you like aren't worth putting up with the parts you hate for - you'll be locked in. That's why I advise anyone I'm mentoring to get as much direct/hands on experience as possible. If not with a job as above, then finding people to shadow. And I most recommend shadowing not in a physician's outpatient office, but in a large tertiary care center on inpatient services. Because as a medical student and resident, you would likely spend at least 5-10 years training in such institutions, so you need to know what that is like just as much as what a physician's outpatient office job looks and feels like.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:21 PM on April 7, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'd agree with everything treehorn+bunny says above. In addition, you do really need some objective evidence that you can stick at something through the difficult times - I can see from your previous questions that you have started a medical coding course, looked into sonography, a PhD in neuroscience, clinical psychology, and now medicine. You mention in previous questions that you don't think you'd be able to accept an admin job you'd been offered because it's not interesting enough to hold your attention. You mentioned before that you have never actually had a job (hopefully you have one now?). The constant chopping and changing is going to be very off-putting to a medical school admissions committee - I have been peripherally involved in our medical school selection process, and the lack of staying power is a far bigger red flag than the poor grades (if you wait 5-10 years and apply as a mature student, you can explain the crap grades away as long as your new grades are stellar). You need to do something, anything (job, volunteering, college, whatever), for a few years and complete it to show staying power. This may well mean spending a few years getting on top of your depression and ADHD first. It is so important - you will not get admitted to med school if the admissions committee think you are going to drop out the minute the novelty wears off or it gets difficult. I am sure you wouldn't! But they need hard objective evidence of that.

Secondly, I note from your previous questions that you have difficulties with oral communication due to your cerebral palsy and anxiety. I'm not sure how severe these difficulties are, but you mentioned that it made in-person interviews impossible and you preferred to use an ipad to communicate. If this is an ongoing issue (it wasn't clear from the question whether the anxiety was the major problem or the CP), I am really not sure how you will be able to practise as a doctor. Medicine entirely consists of communicating clearly with patients, nurses, other doctors and AHPs. Your communication skills will be being assessed in the med school interview, and they need to be good. If you need speech therapy, therapy for your anxiety, or any other intervention to get your communication skills up to "excellent", you need to focus on that before you put any applications in anywhere. "Adequate" is not going to be good enough, I'm afraid.

Medicine is also a very physical job (if you want to examine a non-mobile patient, or do a procedure, nobody else is going to help you reposition them). I notice you ruled out sonography for that very reason. What has changed since then which makes you now able to cope with the physical demands of the job?

There also a lot of people and project management - you will be supervising and training junior doctors on your team, working with nurses and AHPs, coordinating different investigations and referrals. As you progress, you will take on service management (auditing your outcomes, leading quality improvement projects, writing business cases, etc). You need to be super organised, even if it doesn't come naturally (it doesn't come naturally to me, but I had to find ways to get more organised). Your ADD really needs to be sorted out or you will overlook important things.

A lot of high-flying people go into medicine thinking that they will be making difficult diagnoses on a regular basis. They get a shock when they qualify and it is mostly admin. I work in a "glamorous" specialty (nephrology is widely perceived by other doctors as hard, academic, with complex patients and lots of mysterious technology). But everything loses its glamour when you do it all day every day, and external prestige doesn't get you through sixty-hour weeks for ten years. You really really must spend time shadowing actual residents and interns, as Treehorn+bunny says. I have seen a lot of people who wanted to apply for med school who changed their minds when they saw what the job actually involved. I read this: "learning new things, solving puzzles, making decisions based on an aggregate of data, reading and interpreting test results" and laughed - that's not what the job involves, at all. Become a research scientist if that is the kind of thing you want to do all day, because you won't enjoy medicine. Medicine is more like painstakingly untangling a ball of wool and then rewinding it neatly, but in a team where some people, often the patient themselves or their family, keep messing all your work up because they are trying to untangle from the opposite end to you. Your job satisfaction comes from untangling it pretty well despite all the hindrances, not from realising it needs untangling in the first place.

I have linked to this blog before, but it is by a geriatrician who uses comics to explore the hidden curriculum in medicine. The kind of issues she grapples with are things like how to avoid burnout or apathy, the hoops you have to jump through to progress in medicine, the systems failures in modern hospital care, etc. Those are the challenging parts of the job. The diagnostic bit is usually trivially easy - every patient I admitted last night told me exactly what was wrong with them and how it was usually treated as soon as I met them, and they were all completely right.

So, checklist:
1. Sort out depression and ADHD properly - you will not get through med school while they are undertreated.
2. Demonstrate commitment to something over several year period
3. Get communication skills up to scratch
4. Resits/prereqs - need to do these AFTER you've got the ADHD and depression fixed
5. Volunteering to show commitment to helping people (basically compulsory these days)
6. Shadow interns to see what the job actually entails.

It's a lot. It's not impossible, but it is a lot. I would focus on the first three items first as they are the biggest barriers, and I would not be expecting to be able to make a competitive med school application for 5-10 years, realistically.
posted by tinkletown at 5:49 AM on April 8, 2016 [12 favorites]


I had two quarters of Greek in college in my teens and intro to linguistics and one of my high school classes covered Greek and Latin root words to help with test prep. I could read half or more of the early chapters of my husband's Latin book when he took Latin.

This was enormously helpful when I took biology. All those big hard words that other people struggle with mostly break down to translations like "bony fish" in English and they are mostly in either Greek or Latin. Some of my husband's Latin classmates were there because they were pre med.

So, when I took biology, following the concepts was far far easier because the big long words made sense to me. It was less of a cogniticognitive load and less intmidating. I was pretty sick when I took that class. I got the highest grade in that class.

So, see if you can't take a little Latin and/or Greek.

I am busy and pressed for time. I am likely to return to this question later. I just don't have a lot of time for it today. In case life gets in the way, in a nutshell, let me just say that you need to stop telling people you have an impossible dream and asking them to believe in you. Most people do not have that kind of vision.

You will get more useful responses from people, both on AskMe and IRL, if you stop announcing to people that you have an impossible journey of a thousand miles ahead of you and, instead, ask them how to get through the next step or a specific piece. Don't give them the opportunity to rain on your parade gratuitously.

Further, it will be better for your mental health and quality of life if you don't put that out there so much. It will give you more room to change your mind about your goals without feeling like a failure who looks like a fool.

That doesn't mean I am suggesting you cannot do this. As a child, my son wanted to play video games for a living. I never told him he can't do that. I told him I thought it was unlikely, but feel free to prove me wrong. Do not let my lack of vision stop you. So when he later decided he wants to make video games for a living instead of play them, it was no big deal.

So, if you tweak your dream, you will feel better about that if you don't have a bunch of judgey assholes saying "I told you so!" and gloating about it. And you will get less of that if you just start playing your cards closer to your chest. And that will leave you more free to pivot as you learn and grow and come to a deeper understanding of yourself and other things. It makes it less likely that you will stubbornly bull on because of feeling like you need to prove something to shut up assholes instead of doing what makes sense to you and for you. Just don't invite them to comment on your dreams to begin with. Fuck that noise.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 1:05 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Thanks everyone. Lots of thought provoking, if not easily digestible answers here. I wanted to clarify a few things, in case anyone ever stumbles on this question or still feels like they have something to add:
- I'm not quite so hung up on the M.D. next to my name as I might come across as being. Anything in the realm (D.O., PA, MD from a Caribbean school, research scientist)... any solid position with a fair amount of responsibility in medicine would make me happy. I'm here for the journey. Right now, for example, being a radiology or EM tech would be amazing. This is really about me wanting to feel like a person. A confident, productive, tenacious person.

- I'm definitely not adverse to paperwork or administrative drudgery. I understand that life isn't a stream of Dr. House episodes, though I could see where people might have gotten that idea.
- Really the only reason I haven't stuck to something is because people haven't given me a chance. I've been getting the message about volunteering being the key to that, and will work on making that happen soon enough.
-Very good advice on not shouting my goals from the rooftop Michele. I've actually heard this before. Need to start practicing it.
Feel free to add anything, and thanks again everyone!
posted by marsbar77 at 2:49 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh, one other medicine-adjacent career you might want to consider is public health, which offers opportunities both to interact w/ patient populations and to do problem-solving, data analysis, policy work, etc.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:55 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


To clarify my previously answer, UCB does not have a med school. The stats I posted above are for the GPA/MCAT scores for which their undergrads (from a top public university) were accepted at, even after doing post-bac, cool work/volunteer things to make themselves more desirable, etc.
posted by ellebeejay at 9:42 AM on April 10, 2016


So, I have a spare minute. Here are a few more thoughts:

Fact is stranger than fiction. There are lots of real world instances of people doing "the impossible." I like reading about stuff like that. It proves that lots of crazy stuff actually happens and it often gives clues to how to do "the impossible."

Additionally, humans often make tributes to folks who pulled off crazy stuff. Look up the origin of the marathon. He fought, delivered vital messages and helped save a city from invaders. He died for his efforts, but more than a thousand years later, we memorialize his heroic accomplishments with races that are a tribute to him.

The Iditarod race and a statue of a dog in New York's Central Park both pay tribute to a relay to deliver life saving medicine under impossible circumstances. They set an ambitious goal of getting there super fast, then beat their goal. Not a single vial of medicine was damaged in this trek.

I also like biographies. Temple Grandin is good to read about and the quotes of Helen Keller are wonderful.

Wishcraft is a good book about getting stuff done. So is The Seven Habits of Highly Effecive People.

Also, work on diet and exercise. You have to get your body more functional if you are going to do this. People do that all the time. Don't let anyone tell you that is crazy talk just because you have a condition.

People who do marathons have to train for it. Professional athletes have to train for it. Actors often do crazy things to remake their bodies for a role.

Linda Hamilton had an infant just months before she began training for the role for T2. In Million Dollar Baby you can see the actress get more buff as the story progresses.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 11:29 AM on April 11, 2016


Coming in a little late here, but OP I think you should be aware that most, if not all, med schools in the US have a set of criteria called 'technical standards' which, among other things, outline the physical abilities required of applicants; here's University of Wisconsin's. These criteria include stuff like observation and communication skills, and motor function, but also state that reasonable accommodations will be made for students with disabilities in order to bring them up to that standard. However, what's reasonable and what isn't seems to vary a lot from school to school; here's a story about Tim Cordes, who is blind and made it through a MD/PhD and successfully matched into a psychiatry residency, and is now a practicing psychiatrist. It really comes down to the school and whether they feel like they can make reasonable accommodations, but if you read the article, you'll see what kind of uphill battle Dr. Cordes had to fight, even with a 3.99 undergrad GPA.

Here's a video about a deaf medical student who uses an iPad on her surgery rotations so she can pick up on what the surgeons are talking about. However, I'm assuming that she can function nearly 100% independently outside of the OR, which is why the whole process worked out for her, and I'm guessing that's what qualified her in the eyes of the med school adcoms. There's nearly zero chance she'd be able to become a surgeon, though, but that doesn't mean that she can be a fantastic doctor in some other specialty. The OR is kind of a weird place, and doubly so for someone who has less-than-perfect hearing (as I too can attest!), and while all med students should be exposed to it as a part of their education, it's no biggie if you can't really function in there if you're not trying to match into a surgery or anesthesia residency.

PS: I would advise you to not consider Caribbean med schools when the time comes to apply; not only will it probably be harder for them to accommodate you, it'll be a LOT harder to get into a good residency from one; many specialties are essentially closed to Caribbean med school grads. You won't get the opportunity to do research, either, which could be something you'd want to explore.
posted by un petit cadeau at 8:09 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


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