Universities around the U.S. offer a whole lot of programs out there for people looking to pursue a medical career after getting their bachelors degree in a non-science field, or for so-called “career changers.” Completing your pre-med preqs this way turns you into a “non-traditional” applicant, but the number of this type of applicant has grown over the last 20 years, so don’t be concerned.
In this article, I will take a look at several different options for postbacc programs — and offer you an interesting “do it yourself” (DIY) alternative. Let’s take a look.
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Who Is Usually Interested in Postbacc programs?
If you’re thinking about postbacc programs, you generally fall into two camps. Either (1) you didn’t take the required science classes because of expenses, lack of interest, or whatever the reason may be, or (2) you did take them, but you did not perform well enough to be accepted to medical school.
Whatever the case may be, postbacc programs are a path that you should seriously consider if you feel truly passionate about attending medical school, and ultimately a career in medicine.
In an AAMC 2004 Matriculating Student Questionnaire, nearly 15% of the matriculating class was 26 or older — and I would suspect this number is even higher now. So any superficial reasons you have for not pursuing a postbacc program (i.e. “I’ll stick out like a sore thumb!’) you shouldn’t take seriously. I say go for it.
What are the perks of a Do-It-Yourself Postbacc program?
Some students have the grades (and the money) to follow a structured postbacc program at a big-name university. These are generally the people that fall into the first camp I discussed earlier. However, a DIY postbacc program has the potential to save you a lot of money and shows promise to medical schools by showing them you take initiative.
There are two big questions you need to ask yourself if you’re trying to make sense of whether you want a DIY postbacc or a formal postbacc program:
- Do you have the money to spend on a postbacc program?
- Do you prefer a structured environment with like-minded peers or does this not concern you?
Pursuing a DIY Postbacc Program
Here’s what you need to do if you choose this option.
- #1: Apply to your local community/state college.
- #2: Take the necessary required classes (remember, since there is no formal pre-med program, you need to figure which classes you need so that you meet the medical school requirements).
- #3: Prepare yourself for the MCAT and take the exam.
- #4: Begin applying to medical school.
It’s true! You can meet all the academic requirements for medical school admissions by taking (or retaking) your premed prereqs at community college. No need to spend thousands of dollars in tuition, plus the cost of relocation to a formal postbacc.
Have any other advice or experience regarding the DIY postbacc option? Post them in the comments below.