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Steps to becoming a doctor

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I got to community college and intend on transferring to UCLA to do biochemistry as my premed degree. How can I make myself a more competitive applicant? #college #doctor #premed #medical #medicine #communitycollege

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4 answers

Dan’s Answer

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There are many avenues you can take to improve your resume. I would recommend something that shows who you are as a person in addition to the usual.

Good examples would be: intramural sports, cultural clubs, hobby-related clubs. This will allow you to stand out and shows that you're a human being outside of medicine. Obviously you will still need to do shadowing, scribing, healthcare volunteer and/or scientific research as well too.

If your college has teaching opportunities (lab assistant or junior instructor), that would be great as it shows leadership skills in addition to the ability to teach others. As a physician our unwritten duty is to teach our patients but also our staff and the next generation of physicians as well.

With transferring from a community college, you'll have to take a few extra upper level courses (in addition to the usual) to compete with the students that started off at university. This will balance you out in terms of academic competition. For example, premed students, university started or not, always end up taking extra science courses outside of the minimum requirements (biochemistry, zoology, microbiology, pathology, physical chemistry, evolutionary biology, human physiology, etc). You will have to do this in addition to a few more if you took your general science (gen chem, gen bio, gen physics, ochm, psychology, sociology) courses during your years at community college. This is due to those general courses acting as filter courses.

MCAT is obviously a huge factor too, I would recommend taking this after you've at least taken your general premed prereqs during a lighter quarter/semester. Its a hard test that serves only one function -- filter. You have to learn how to take the test as it doesn't test you directly on your knowledge of general sciences. I would def consider a prep book (princeton, examkrackers, kaplan), prep courses not so much unless you learn well in classrooms.

Also, keep in mind that there are other careers in healthcare field outside of medicine such as pharmacy , physical therapy and dental. There are also careers outside of healthcare too. Explore your options and find yourself, thats what college is all about.

If medicine is your way, there are three paths you can take. Domestic MD, Domestic DO or International MD.

Domestic MD is the typical route. Domestic DO is a bit different, same prereqs and everything but a tad bit easier to get in, you learn an extra 200 hours of manual manipulation techniques (PT and chiro stuff) in addition to everything MDs learn, competitive residency (dermatology, plastics) are harder to get into compared to domestic MD but everything else is essentially fair game. International MD is very easy to get in but it is hard to graduate as they have a high fail rate and residencies are harder to get into compared to domestic medical graduates (MD or DO)

Hope this helps,
Dr. Nguyen DO
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Wayne’s Answer

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My wife is a MD (OBGYN) and my oldest son is at the end of his 6 year in a 7 year MD/PHD program. You need to do something that will make you standout. Community service and research are key. I know with Covid-19 things will be hard for awhile. Try to find a way to volunteer. Maybe delivering food to people at risk. Based on what type of Dr you want to me you can look for something in that field.

Wayne recommends the following next steps:

  • Start some community service
  • Try to work with one of your professors to see if you can do research
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Ben’s Answer

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All the answers are great, and I commend you on your path to becoming a doctor. I attended UCLA as well and majored in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. Differentiating yourself is key, because honestly what I realized when it came down to interviewing for medical schools, there are a lot of smart people applying for the limited number of spots. So, my addition to the information given here is to make sure you expand the list of medical schools you plan to apply and consider Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) schools as well. There is an amazing history if you Google the differences between and Doctor of Medicine versus a DO, but in the end, it's still about helping improve the condition of others. If becoming a doctor is what you want to do, cast the net wide and leverage all the prior advice to make yourself stand apart.
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Wayne’s Answer

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Updated Translate
My wife is a MD (OBGYN) and my oldest son is at the end of his 6 year in a 7 year MD/PHD program. You need to do something that will make you standout. Community service and research are key. I know with Covid-19 things will be hard for awhile. Try to find a way to volunteer. Maybe delivering food to people at risk. Based on what type of Dr you want to me you can look for something in that field.

Wayne recommends the following next steps:

  • Start some community service
  • Try to work with one of your professors to see if you can do research
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