Overview of the Series
In this series of articles, I will be sharing excerpts of case studies on several of my former students (with their permission, of course). Names and other identifying information have been changed, but the material facts — MCAT score, GPA, etc. — are unchanged. The full case studies are published in my book, Pre-Med Success Stories.
I’ll present each case study in three parts — an introduction of the student, followed by an in-depth assessment of the student’s profile and chances for admission to medical school, and then finally I’ll explain what happened to the student once s/he applied.
In this article, I will continue onto part three on a student of mine named Louise.
Part III — What Happened?
As Louise finished up her school year, I was pleased to know that she improved on her extracurriculars. However as June 1st rolled around the corner and her AMCAS was due, I began to question whether our original timetable was actually feasible. Louise had received two Cs, and although these grades were to be converted to As after she handed in her late work, the bureaucracy ran slow and they would likely not be changed in time for medical schools to see them. This, and also Louise’s low scores on the MCAT, put her chances into question. Ultimately, we decided to delay her application so she could further work on her transcript and extracurriculars.
Since this was the first time Louise had to herself, now that she wasn’t working, she could delve deeper into her existing non-academic commitments. Louise shadowed a doctor, who put her in touch with various specialists. Later that year, she started looking into graduate programs and found interest in Criminalistics.
Coming Back Three Years Later
Louise did not come back to me until three years later. She had an entirely new plan. “I know now that I want to be a forensic pathologist,” Louise told me. And by this time, she had built up an entirely new resume that was much more convincing. To give one of many examples, Louise’s professors asked her to teach her peers the basics of autopsy photography because she had hands-on experience. She also returned to her undergraduate club, Science Outreach to Next Generation, to design a curriculum for teaching anatomy and physiology to middle school kids. Louise even had a position as a teaching assistantship for Anatomy Lab at her former community college. She told me that the decision to focus on herself was much-needed; she began to meet the right people and now talked about her future career plans in detail.
Louise’s change in heart came as a surprise to me. She had gone from studying birthing babies to investigating causes of death. On the other hand, her passions had changed very little. She was still very vocal of her love of science. She had an affinity for detective work which made science so rewarding for her. She was also just as resolute about her desire to engage in medicine’s social dimension; I was happy to see this hadn’t changed. She was still keenly aware of the complex social nature of medical care. And finally, her empathy was as strong as ever — her drive to pursue medicine was still rooted in her desire to alleviate pain and needless suffering.
Now that Louise had so many new experiences under belt, her chances looked very good of getting into medical school. The three years was absolutely necessary.
How will Louise fare with his new resume? In part four of this six-part series, you’ll see if her work paid off.