What It's Like to Do a Post-bacc Program
Medical School: Temple University School of Medicine, 2016
Why did you decide to do a postbaccalaureate program?
The majority of people in my postbaccalaureate program said they decided to pursue medicine for the same reasons I think many applicants do—to improve the lives of others, to be continually challenged, and more. However, they just arrived at these conclusions later than the typical applicant.
My story is somewhat unique. I was a Division I athlete throughout college and was interested in anatomy and physiology, but I didn’t have the time to take the pre-med requirements as an undergraduate. However, as my athletic career started to wind down, the option of doing a postbaccalaureate program made pursuing medicine an obtainable goal.
How did you find out about and choose which programs to apply to?
I searched the Internet for postbaccalaureate programs and e-mailed the program directors for additional information and program requirements. They were all very responsive to my questions. I specifically was looking for well-established programs that treated their postbaccalaureates as a special cohort instead of as just other undergraduate students. I also tried to find programs with a linkage program to a medical school.
How did you decide which program best met your goals?
I decided on my program for a number of reasons, the top one being that it provided guaranteed conditional acceptance to an excellent medical school as long as GPA and MCAT® requirements were met. The concept of not having to apply to other medical schools was extremely appealing to me.
Additionally, the program was well-established and its students were very highly thought of in both the medical school and the undergraduate university. There was a clear sense of camaraderie within the group. We were scheduled in the same classes, the same labs, and the same MCAT® prep course. There was a cohesive atmosphere throughout the program, which I believe was largely due to the fact that everyone was guaranteed conditional acceptance to the medical school. It left little reason for students to be overly competitive or cut-throat.
How long did it take? What classes did you take?
The program lasted one year (programs generally vary between one and two years). I took General Chemistry 1 and 2 over the summer. Then, Physics 1, Organic Chemistry 1, and Biology 1 during the fall. In the spring, I completed Physics 2, Organic Chemistry 2, and Biology 2. I also completed a verbal reasoning MCAT course and a standard MCAT prep course as part of the program.
I took the MCAT exam in the spring after I completed all of the courses and matriculated into medical school two months after taking the MCAT exam.
Did you get a degree or any certificates at the end?
No degree or certificate was awarded for completion of the program. However, we did receive an acceptance letter to Temple’s Medical School, which to me was far better than any certificate I could have received.
Did your program have any interaction or integration with the medical school?
The program was integrated in various ways with the medical school. The program administration office was located in the medical school and while the classes were obviously not with medical students, we were in the medical school multiple times each week. There were numerous events to connect us with former postbaccalaureate students who had matriculated, and because we were put in constant contact with medical students, we had a good idea of what to expect once we began our medical education.
Did you have any shadowing or lab opportunities?
There were numerous shadowing opportunities that were integrated into the program. I shadowed in the internal medicine clinic, the pediatric clinic, and the emergency department.
Do you have any advice for applicants looking into doing a similar program?
Look for a program that makes you feel like they want their postbaccalaureates to succeed in medical school. I highly recommend searching for programs that link you directly with a medical school, as I feel that there’s an underlying mutual commitment that drives both program success and creates a positive student environment. It was great to know that I had a seat in an excellent medical school upon meeting the school’s GPA and MCAT requirements. There was no added stress of having to apply to numerous schools. The program length is also something to consider. Through Temple’s postbaccalaureate program, I entered medical school in just one year.
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