This post is going to explain a little more about how Post-Bacc Premed programs work, as well as answer a bunch of questions I got from you guys. (That will be at the end, so skip down there if you don’t care how this works!)
Please keep in mind this was my experience of the process and it may not be the same for everyone.
You can find a list of all the Post-Bacc Premed programs in the country here: https://services.aamc.org/postbac/
These programs are a way for college graduates who have little to no science experience take all of the pre-requisites required to go to medical school. These are structured programs designed specifically for this process, as opposed to simply going to an undergraduate institution and enrolling in science courses yourself. That is also an option, and is likely less expensive, but doesn’t include as much support or advising.
The current courses required are:Gen Chem 1 & 2 + Lab Physics 1 & 2 + Lab Biology 1 & 2 + Lab Organic Chemistry 1 & 2 + Lab.
Most medical schools will also require some english and math, and those are often optional courses in these programs. The MCAT is changing in 2015 so pre-requisites will likely change to reflect that.
In addition to these classes, many of the programs require either volunteer work or a medical internship. Some of the programs offer MCAT preparation classes as part of the curriculum, while others have the students choose an outside MCAT prep course on their own.
2. Application Process
Applications generally begin in October of the year before and deadlines are in February for a Summer or Fall start date. Here is a general overview of what the applications required:
- College and high school transcripts
- SAT/ACT Test Scores
- An essay on your reasons for starting a post-bacc program
- Additional shorter essays specific to each school
- 1-2 recommendation letters from college professors and/or work bosses
- Application fee (Between $30 and $60)
Most schools have rolling admission, so you could hear back within a few weeks with an acceptance or interview request. Most of the top programs require interviews, which can be done on campus or over the phone/Skype. After you interview, you should hear back within a few weeks. Those schools that didn’t require an interview sent their decision about a month after the application was received.
Many of the top post-bacc programs take just 12 months. You take two courses over the summer (usually Gen Chem 1 & 2) and then three courses in both the fall and spring semesters. Other programs try to easy the rigor and stress, as well as potentially allow for full or part-time work during the post-bacc, and take 2-3 years. What you choose to do is completely up to you. Many people that are changing careers are eager to start medical school as quickly as possible.
For most, at the end of the post-bacc program, you will have to take the MCAT and apply to medical school. Because of this, you cannot start medical school right away. Instead, you take a “Glide Year” where you do medical work or research and apply to medical schools. Most post-bacc advisors help you find a good job during the glide year, and also assist you with your applications.
So if you start a post-bacc program in June of 2013, you will likely not start medical school until the Fall of 2015.
There is one option for those that want to start medical school right after they finish their post-bacc. Many of the top programs have “linkages” to certain medical schools. If you choose to “link”, you apply to that medical school during winter of your post-bacc year, promising that if they accept you you will attend. An acceptance to “link” at a medical school is usually contingent on achieving a minimum MCAT score (as you will be taking the MCAT later that spring) and maintaining a certain GPA.
Whether or not linking is a good idea is up for debate. Many students that know they want to be at a certain medical school or in a certain city like the idea of starting sooner. However, it does put more pressure on your post-bacc year and doesn’t allow you some of the wonderful opportunities available during a glide year. Wanting to “link” limits your options for medical schools (since not many medical schools offer that option) and medical school scholarships are usually not available to students that “link.”
These programs are not inexpensive. Most of the top post-bacc programs cost between $30,000 and $35,000. Just as in medical school, students take out loans to cover the cost of tuition. Becoming a doctor is not cheap, so it’s important that you are doing this for the right reasons.
6. Other Considerations
Things to consider when deciding on a post-bacc program include:
- Taking classes with undergraduates vs. having separate sections just for post-baccs
- The amount of advising and support available
- Linking options
- Size of the program (Some are 30, some are 80!)
- Acceptance rates into medical school
- MCAT preparation
- Extra tutoring
- Community aspect vs. working on your own
- Assistance with medical school applications
- Location (if you are in a relationship, etc.)
- Prestige of the program
Questions For Me:
1. What Kind of Medicine Do You Want to Practice?
This is the question I get most often, and it’s hard to say since there are SO many options and I know I will likely change my mind once I get to medical school. I started out thinking maybe psychiatry, though I’m not sold on that anymore. I can totally see myself being a pediatrician and practicing adolescent medicine like my mom, because she deals with a lot of the eating disorder / women’s health issues I am passionate about.
I’ve recently been really into endocrinology (mostly hormones), particularly women’s endocrinology, which I think would be a specialty of OB/GYN. Then, when I shadowed my dad, I surprisingly enjoyed gastroenterology (mostly stomach and intestines). That was completely unexpected because I grew up thinking it was kind of gross. But seeing as I love digestion and how different foods affect it, it makes sense. It’s still kind of gross.
So the answer? I have no clue.
2. So What About P?
P is actually my #1 supporter in my journey to medical school, and I don’t think I would have had the courage without him. He will finish flight school this spring and then get moved to a squadron, but he won’t find out where until later. He is hoping to be in Virginia Beach, so my top two choices (Hopkins and UVA) are both relatively close. However, if he gets stationed elsewhere, we will just deal with the distance for a year. I can always apply to a medical school that is close to him if we are at that point.
P wants me to have my own career that I’m passionate about, and wouldn’t want me to follow him to a tiny military town if there weren’t great opportunities for me there. Obviously we want to be together as much as possible, and if we were to get married or start a family it would take top priority. For now, we are pretty confident that we can handle being a few hours apart. We are both going to be insanely busy, and a 2-3 hour drive is much better than a flight to Texas!
3. Have I talked to Gena from Choosing Raw?
Yes! I emailed Gena when I was starting this process and have talked to her a bit about Georgetown. She is one of the people that told me the program is designed to take a bit longer and is a little more hands-off than some of the others.
4. How will you get in your sleep and workouts?
My life and schedule is about to make a drastic change. Sleep I will do my best to make a priority, but I know there will be times that I’ll be living off caffeine. I definitely won’t have as much free time to exercise, but that’s also a priority for me so even if it’s studying on the elliptical, I’ll try to stay active.
To be honest, I’ve been waiting for something to love so much that I like being busy. I would get so frustrated with old jobs because I didn’t have much to do and I wasn’t passionate, so I just wanted to be doing something else like blogging, exercising, sleeping, hanging out with friends, etc. I know that if I find something I love and am passionate about, the long hours will be manageable. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.
5. And the blog?
I don’t have any intention of stopping the blog, but I know I won’t have as much time for it. My blog has changed over the years as my schedule has changed, so I assume it will do the same. I won’t get to blog as much and probably won’t have time for lots of the cool events or opportunities. That’s okay. Hopefully when I do get to blog, I’ll have some interesting stuff to write about!
6. Where do you want to go to medical school?
Oh I have no idea. I’m working on the post-bacc first, then I’ll start to think about medical school! I think where I want to go will be highly influenced by what city I want to be in. That could (hopefully) depend on a relationship. I don’t have a strong desire to “link” right now, but it is an option if I decide one of the schools that offers it is right for me.
Hope that answers lots of your questions!! Keep asking if you have any others. And feel free to email me if you want more info.