Typically a non-traditional medical student is one who did not enter into medical school directly from college. I am a non-traditional student in this aspect, but there are other aspects that make me non-traditional as well. Another is that I am also a single mother and I have been working ever since I graduated. I also consider myself to be non-traditional because I do not have the typical stats of accepted applicants.
I graduated from my state university in December 2009, and starting working full-time in research a few months after that. Fast-forward to almost four years later, and I am still working full-time at the same institution. My research is somewhat medically-related though, so I haven’t been completely out of the loop.
I first applied to medical school in 2008 and was rejected. After graduating and having one year of research under my belt, I applied again and got the same results. I knew that my GPA was a huge factor in my rejections, and Sallie Mae was killing me so I decided to enter into graduate school. This was not easy due to the fact that I had a GPA below a 3.0 and I also needed to work full-time to support my child. I researched possible online programs, and I was able to find an actual brick and mortar institution that offered graduate degrees that could be taken completely online. Although I did not meet their minimum requirements for matriculation, they allowed me to take two courses under a probationary status. When I aced the courses, I was then able to officially matriculate into the program. It has been extremely hard, but so worth it and I am glad that I am officially done. I can now say that I have a masters degree, and an excellent GPA to go along with it. I will go more into online classes and how medical school perceives them in a later post.
Being a single parent makes me non-traditional because unlike other students, I will not only have myself to worry about once in medical school. As an undergrad, I worked two jobs and attended school full-time in addition to being a single parent, and I believe it really impacted my grades in a negative fashion. Right now, I am in the process of setting up a massive support system because I refuse to encounter the same obstacles once I’m in medical school. Of course, I will have more posts on being a single parent and having to master the art of multi-tasking, but I will also save that for later.
The funny thing is that even though I am a non-traditional student, I think it will actually help me out in the long-run. I know what it is like to have to juggle finances, school, a child, and everything else that comes in-between. I have also had a few years to really take the time to enjoy life and have fun from time to time. I know without a doubt that medicine is something that I want to pursue because I have pursued other things and something about it has always called me back. In a way, I see the past four years as being a mini-vacation. I have awesome memories to look back on, and I’m ready to pursue the next chapter of my life. They say your 20’s are your best years, so I guess I’m kind of glad that I had the chance to experience many of the things that my traditional counterparts haven’t. Plus, I get to enter into medical school with a little more age and wisdom. Who knows, it might just come in handy ;-)