What It's Like to Do a Post-bacc Program

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A medical student answers questions about what it was like to do a post-bacc program and how it prepared him for medical school.

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Headshot photo of medical student Jovan Pierre-Charles

Jovan Pierre-Charles

Undergraduate: Morehouse College 
Major: Biology
Post-Bacc Program: The Ohio State University College of Medicine Medical Careers Pathway Post Baccalaureate Program (MEDPATH) 
Program Focus: Academic Record Enhancement; Underrepresented minority students
Medical School: The Ohio State University College of Medicine
Anticipated Graduation Year: 2023

Bio: Jovan Pierre-Charles is Hattian-American from Miami, Florida who is a current fourth-year medical student at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Growing up, Jovan’s fascination with anatomy and the human body sparked his initial interest in medicine and led him to study biology at Morehouse College. He aspires to be a diagnostic radiologist with an interest in oncologic imaging and reducing health disparities. In his free time he enjoys boxing, listening to podcasts, and photography. 

Why did you decide to do a postbaccalaureate program?

I was attracted to postbaccalaureate programs because of their explicit purpose to help prepare applicants to be competitive and competent students in medical school. A postbaccalaureate program allows students designated time and space to develop critical thinking skills, mold study skills, and work on both personal and interpersonal skills. They allow one to stay particularly focused on the part of their medical school application that needs development. In my case, I needed to work on knowledge gaps that would ultimately help make my MCAT score more competitive. My program afforded me that opportunity. Other programs incorporate working on course work, research, clinical exposure, or supporting a career change. 

How did you find out about and choose which programs to apply to?

After completing undergraduate studies, students are either ready to directly apply to medical school or need alternative experiences or additional education to augment their application journey. In deciding I needed the latter, the first step I took was to connect with my undergraduate pre-health advisor to find out about postbaccalaureate programs. Next, I used the AAMC’s free post-bacc database to compare programs, and then I used social media to connect with current medical students about their respective experiences in various programs. I ultimately chose my program based on their admission requirements, expected course work and program outcomes. I was also drawn to its mission to diversify the physician workforce by supporting students who are underrepresented in medicine.

How did you decide which program best met your goals?

In my search, I looked for programs that set high academic expectations, valued diversity, and prioritized work life balance. I also targeted programs that offered conditional acceptances (sometimes called “linkage agreements”) to medical school after completion of the postbaccalaureate program. In addition, I also focused on programs that offered scholarships and grants, had smaller class sizes, and had a robust presence on the web and social media. Through social media I connected with medical students who had gone through the program to get a better understanding of the culture and work life balance of their program.   

How long did it take? What classes did you take?

My one-year program started in the fall and ended the following summer. (Programs generally vary between one and two years). In the fall, Physiology I was required, as well as other classes from the catalog of Ohio State pre-med classes. I also took immunology, medical terminology, and pathophysiology. In the spring, courses included Physiology II, histology, and a MCAT prep course. The final summer rotation consisted of taking an anatomy course and preparing for medical school matriculation. 

Did you get a degree or any certificates at the end?

No degree was awarded upon completion of the post-bac program. However, students who met the linkage agreement requirements were awarded with admission into The Ohio State University College of Medicine. (Some Postbacc programs offer a certificate or even a master's degree. You can search by this criteria in the AAMC Postbacc Database.)

Did you have any shadowing or lab opportunities?

My program allowed for shadowing opportunities due to the relationships students were able to make with matched resident mentors. During my post-bac year, I shadowed urology both in the operating room and outpatient clinic. 

Do you have any advice for applicants looking into doing a similar program?

My advice is to first evaluate yourself and understand what you need to work on in order to be ready to apply to medical school. Then, find a program that matches those goals. The hallmark of a good post-bac program is one that provides you with the skills to succeed in medicine and a program with a track record of producing medical students. Consider your ability to invest enough time in reaching your goals, the costs of programs, and your social network both inside and outside the classroom. Remain steadfast in your goal of pursuing medicine: constantly remind yourself why you have decided to take on sacrifice, hard work, and the calling to serve.

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