View Full Version : how low is too low?
01-16-2002, 07:52 PM
i am currently a 2nd year human bio major with very mediocre marks hoping to get into med school. with the regular extracurrics and volunteer stuff in mind, how low, if you were hypothetically to have lower marks as an undergrad, would your marks have to be until you would focus your efforts at another field of study?
this is just a question of personal opinion.
If you like research and would enjoy grad school (but ONLY if you enjoy it... it'll be pretty tough to succeed there if you don't even like it), you could do that and apply to med school later. They wouldn't count undergrad marks for too much, in that case. If you're set on getting in after 3 or 4 years of undergrad, then you absolutely need an upper 3.5 GPA to have a shot at Queen's. 3.6-3.65 would make you eligible for Western - BUT, these two schools have MCAT requirements that are not a breeze to attain. U of T and Ottawa need high (3.8+) GPAs from undergrads if they want a decent chance. Mac requires only a 3.0, but people with that sort of GPA and are accepted have a lot of life experience, or at least experiences that really stand out.
01-17-2002, 12:05 AM
You'll need to check with each med school as to how much they would still look at your undergrad marks should you do a Masters. My impression is that your undergrad marks will still count for a significant amount, so a grad degree isn't neccessarily going to reverse the damage done by a poor undergrad transcript.
Here's a link to UBC's statistics for the average entering class GPA's from 1996-2001. As you can see here, the average GPA is around 82%, but a small minority of people are still accepted to UBC med school with an overall GPA somewhere in the range of 70-75%.
UBC, Med 3
01-17-2002, 06:05 PM
Western's minimums have hovered in the 3.55-3.65 range. Nice thing for you is, they've been taking only your BEST year and LAST year - so if you pull up your boots for 3rd and 4th year there's still a chance.
Don't forget there are also tons of other amazing careers in the health care field. Currently, us MDs tend to be at the top of the hierarchy but that is changing. . .
01-17-2002, 07:54 PM
It may be changing, but I doubt that MDs will be knocked off the top :)
Anyways, study for the MCAT...without a decent mark, you can kiss Queens and Western out...UofT and Ottawa are no gos from your marks, so all that is left for you is Mac...good luck if it comes down to that...
If you do suceed on the MCAT, you can have two interviews if your GPA is around 3.5 - 3.6, which isn't too hard to get (its not even an A). Just take some courses you will do well in and stop partying for a while
01-18-2002, 12:14 PM
We won't be knocked off in the sense that physicians will be replaced at the top by nurses, occupational therapists, or physical therapists - but the health field is getting much more lateral in it's structure. The keyword is becoming teamwork, with physicians another member of the team.
What I mean by that is that at one time physicians were seen as THE health authorities. With increasing knowledge, however, it is becoming difficult for us to be experts in absolutely everything. For example, unless I decide to specialize in Physical Medicine/Rehabilitation Medicine, I'll probably only get 5 lectures tops and a week or so of a Phys Med/Rehab clerkship that's applicable to physiotherapy issues. Working with a physiotherapist whose spent 4 years in a program dedicated to physiotherapy, I'd probably defer to their opinion on a patient who requires physiotherapy.
Of course, I'm still only in year I, so if someone in upper years/residency/practicing wants to correct me, please do.
01-22-2002, 06:37 PM
About Western Med school -- when you say that they take your BEST year and your LAST year to calculate the GPA....... do you mean your LAST COMPLETED year? Like, for instance, if I apply to Western at the beginning of my 4th year, would they take my best year + my 3rd year marks, or my best year + my 4th year marks (once they are completed)?
01-22-2002, 07:34 PM
What seems to happen on the wards is that the physician is the co-ordinator of each patient's management plan. The primary doctor will figure out if any consultant specialists need to be called in, arrange for a dietician to see the pt if there are issues in that area, call for social work to assess the pt's home and economic situation, get OT involved for return of work help, ask for PT to re-mobilise and rehab the pt, etc. The physician takes the global view of what's going on with the patient, and gets help as needed.
Most of the other healthcare providers have already "specialized" themselves through the course of their education. An undergrad Pharmacy student has already self-selected a course of education whereby they will never do surgery. A dietician isn't necessarily going to receive a large amount of formal training on techniques to mobilise a pt. An optometrist will not really be qualified to assess and initiate a treatment plan for appendicitis. But they are really good at the healthcare areas that they are trained to do.
A generalist physician, when it really comes down to it, hasn't really gotten super-qualified at any one area (they are hands-down dumber than each of the above healthcare providers at their own specialty), but has enough general knowledge in each area to know when additional help is needed, and to have the judgement and authority to ask for that opinion.
UBC, Med 3
I asked the admissions people at UWO about it, and "final year" means the year you apply. In June you'd get a conditional acceptance that isn't final until they see your grades for that year. If you don't make the cutoffs, the acceptance is rescinded (ouch)...
01-22-2002, 08:40 PM
Without decent marks, you may want to ace your MCATs and try applying to the states. A "solid" GPA is about 3.4-3.6ish, but you will need amazing MCATs, which can be done (whereas changing a 3.3 to a 3.9 isn't as readily doable).
My 2 cents
01-23-2002, 09:13 AM
Hang on -- if the "FINAL year" means the year in which you apply, then does that mean that Western bases their interview invitations solely on the MCAT? That seems a bit short-sighted to me....... (I realize that Western wouldn't be alone in this, but still).......
Western uses two years when deciding whether or not to admit you. The first year is the best undergrad year that you had in which you completed 5 full courses between Sept. and April. They use that and the MCAT together to decide who to interview. Then their final decision is based on 50% interview, 25% MCAT (writing/verbal only) and 25% GPA. The GPA portion is again made up of only your best year. They then send you an acceptance letter if your total score is high enough. But this acceptance is not guaranteed yet -this is where the "final year" GPA comes in. You have to send your transcripts to OMSAS in June. If your marks for this year make Western's cutoffs, then you get to keep your acceptance. Otherwise, you don't.
01-23-2002, 12:11 PM
KG - that is correct.
04-26-2002, 12:27 PM
Just a brief inquiry - I think this is the closest to an ideal forum from what I can see.
My interest in med school has developed rather recently and I am just wondering how an abysmal undergrad performance will affect my chances of getting in. I will be completing my MBA this August (GPA of ~3.7 to date), returning to do a full year of undergrad science courses in September, and anticipate a 3.7 - 3.8 GPA in that year.
With a good MCAT score, and a dramatic upward trend in grades over time, I'm just wondering if anyone can offer some suggestions re: how those first few years will be viewed.
04-26-2002, 12:58 PM
What exactly was your undergrad GPA? Your grad GPA MBA of 3.7 0 will count for 1 undergrad year at most places. Now did you do the MBA directly after undergrad, because I believe that most MBA programs require a few years experience so those years of work experience may also help to strengthen your intangible aspects of the application. Also Western only looks at your best year so if you kick ass in the science courses, the rest wont really matter. Queens only looks at your last two years so I dont know if that will help you.
Just list your GPA and GPA breakdown in undergrad and then perhaps we can give you alot more advice for strategies to get in etc :)
BTW why not continue with the MBA? Was your undergrad degree in business?
04-26-2002, 02:59 PM
How's the wrist?
As for the UG stuff - I did it in comp. sci. at Waterloo. My cum. UG GPA was about 2.50 :o (with the last year being about 3.0)
In addition to co-op, I worked for about 3 years after graduation. Since the MBA is a 12 month condensed program, I will be finished (complete) this Aug, as I mentioned. I took a few UG courses to upgrade before getting into the MBA prog and as they were the first courses I've taken that my heart has truly been into, managed to pull off a 3.95 (3 courses) I don't see doing something comparable for 5 full credits over the next academic year as unreasonable)
Finally, wrt the MCAT, I won't wager a guess as to what my score will be (I'm still familiarizing myself w/ the scoring) but have written both the GMAT(710) :smokin & LSAT(165) and would imagine that there would be some correlation in scores (assuming prereq. courses have been taken)
Thanks for the feedback!
04-26-2002, 07:19 PM
I think you will be fine, however the 2.5 may affect your ability to go to UofT and Mac as they consider your entire GPA. However the other schools are all fair game. Your ability to handle the MCAT (710 is awesome) and 165 on the LSAT would get you into UofT LAW easily. I think you will find the MCAT very manageable. I wrote the LSAT and found that the reading comprehension and verbal reasoning skills to be very very similar to the MCAT. A lot of science students torpedo the MCAT because they just dont have those reading or logical conceptualization skills (thats probably they gravitated towards science which is for the large part simple memorizing). BTW did you do your MBA at Windsor or Mac, if so how was their co-op programs? Did you also think of law school, if so what made you change your mind? In any case I think you have a great background. Dont forget to volunteer in hospitals and get a feel for the health care profession. I think the people will want to ensure that you have seen what you are getting yourself into. Just curious what made you think of medicine.
Anyways good luck dude :)
Sundin (and lets hope the wrist heals before
04-26-2002, 07:20 PM
Hey Chris correction 710 GMAT (not MCAT) is awesome!!!
04-27-2002, 08:33 AM
Hey there Chris,
Like Sundin/Sudin mentioned, above, you may really want to make sure that you can demonstrate to the admissions committees that you've had some experience in the medical field so that they know that you know what you're in for and also where your convictions lie.
One of the most common questions I've come across while interviewing for medical school and medically-related positions is, "With that MBA, why don't want to be on Bay St.?". Some of the medical professional opinions I've come across are pretty strong with respect to MBA "types" so the degree can almost feel like a sort of millstone at times. However, if you have some evidence to back your medical motivations up, and can highlight your MBA experiences that have provided you with unique and valuable tools to a career in the medical profession, then your application should be all the more convincing.
04-27-2002, 11:02 AM
Thanks for the feedback. For a contextual illustration of what is turning out to be a bit of an oddball education/career path, I'll provide a bit more info.
I graduated from UW in 99 and started working full time in IT. Due partly to the company, partly to the state of the economy (particularly the IT sector) I was making quite a handsome salary almost immediately. In fact, were I to earn the typical WLU MBA grad salary of ~55-60K upon graduating, I would be looking at a noticeable cut from my previous salary. The numbers are not intended to be boastful, but merely to demonstrate that I have learned qutie well the lesson that a big salary for a job that isn't intrinsically rewarding becomes insufficient motivation very quickly. I came back to do the MBA (Laurier) partly as a result of an increasing appreciation for learning, but primarily with the aspiration of being able to use it as leverage towards finding a comparable paying position elsewhere, doing something a little more challenging/rewarding.
Pretty soon into the program, I recognized that there were other courses of education which also held some interest (law, medicine) and the appeal of pursuing a career in one or the other has (and continues to) grow quickly. I've almost entirely discounted law for the simple reason that the incremental benefit (career wise) of an LLB with the MBA was not significant (given the cost of getting it - 3 year + forgone salary). Outside of Bay St., there was in fact a significant financial disincentive to doing an LLB.
The most important reason for choosing medicine is that my education and experience to date has been pretty indicative that most career paths I'd consider in the corporate world seemed weak in either the financial or intrinsic fufillment departments.
I won't lie and say the $$ associated with medicine aren't a factor, but given the degree to which the MBA levels the playing field with the alternative (to med school) it should be clear to an AdCom as well as myself that the $$ isn't the primary motivator.
As I don't anticipate applying until 03 (for the entering class of 04) I have plenty of time to investigate fully what the reality (versus my preconception) of a career in medicine really is.
Any concerns or feedback?
04-27-2002, 02:44 PM
Hi its Sundin not Sudin guys, I thought I might use Sudin as the pseudoname so the leafs didn't think I was working my broken wrist too hard typing on this message board. But hey with the 6-3 walloping last night heck the leafs are fine without me :)
BTW Chris L have you ever thought of Dentistry, its a much shorter route and the payback is far greater especially in the current climate of gov't slashes to health care and talk of specialist salaries being cut to 250K and family to 180K. I have two friends who graduated from UofT dentistry. Both landed six figure (120K ish) associate jobs with chances to phase out current owner/dentist as he retires. The entire class found jobs, no call, great lifestyle and no govt hokey pokey. One guy from the class bought a practice (financed of course) its Gross was 1.1 million and net was 650,000, Hell probably pay back the 250,000 mortgage and school loans of 200K in the first year working! Plus there is huge demand to the point where the huge number of dentists retiring cant even find new dentists to take over their practcie resulting in firesale prices for their practices.
Just something to consider, if money and time is on your mind :)
Take care Sundin
PS Kirsteen are you in med school right now? I have an MBA too from UofT but am applying to meds next year. Any advice on what types of questions I may phase. I was a bit of a rare bird aT UofT and went the non profit route rather Investment Banking or consulting with the high 6 fig salaries. Currently I am a policy analyst/project manager for foreign aid funding to developing nations. Interesting work...but I would love to get my hands dirty doin the science stuff again :)
04-27-2002, 03:03 PM
hmm sundin, you make it sound like dentistry more of a sure bet than it really is. It depends on who you know, I guess. There's a neighbour of mine who got out a couple of years ago and he couldn't find any good associateship in Toronto (oversaturation) and had to settle for something 3 hours away. After a while he couldn't stand it and is hopping from contract to contract with the armed forces. Another person also faced the oversaturation dilemma in Toronto and decided to sign up for residency in the states for a year. Apparently something like 20-30% of the class went to do residency, which lasts for a year or two and isn't remotely close to 6 figures.
Nobody's gonna starve with a dds, but to make it to the big time you'll need cash, luck, and connections. And maybe the ability to live outside of Toronto.
04-27-2002, 04:07 PM
I cant claim to be an expert on dentistry, but can only comment on what i have seen with my friends who graduated and are doing well. Of course those who went on to do a residency are not included in the ones who found jobs right away. I dont know about toronto, but if you are willing to travel slightly outside of the city ie. Mississauga (where one of my friends ended up) or Burlington (where my other friend ended up) the situation improves exponentially. Again I cant comment on everyone who graduates dentistry but I do know there is a looming shortage that is getting worse and of course getting hired also involves ones ability,personality desire to relocate etc, but as baby boomer dentists retire by the truckload, the field looks lucrative.
This is of course the veiw from a lowly hockey player :)
PS. Are you in dental school, how are you finding things?
04-27-2002, 04:54 PM
Sundin, I hope you are using your toes to respond, because there's no way all that typing can be good for your injury! :)
I can't say for sure what the prospects are in suburbs, but I have heard that clinics in toronto can't accommodate a whole person and they've had to run around several clinics doing a few hours a day at each.
I agree that the retiring boomers are a great thing for young dentists, but it might not be as dramatic as in meds. I think until a short while ago immigrants with foreign training could just write an equivalency exam to get licensed. So that might soften the otherwise dramatic drop expected when old-timers head for the sunset.
Right now I am finishing up first year dental at uwo, and while the academic stuff is a breeze, the hands-on component is a horror. The final exam in drilling here is a "make-or-break" kinda thing and not everyone will pass.
04-27-2002, 05:11 PM
Hey there Sundin,
Nope, I'm not in among the meds crowd yet--but hope to officially have the green light within the next few weeks. As to MBA-specific questions that may arise for you next year during the application process, you name it. Some examples:
-Why the MBA?
-Which MBA principles would you use to change the Canadian health care system?
-In what way will the MBA help you succeed in medical school/medical practice?
-Which teamwork principles from your MBA can you see yourself using at medical school?
Cheers, and best of luck,
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