Post Baccalaureate Medical Options

Should you, after graduating from college, hear the call of medicine, regardless of whether your transcript contains a generous dose of premed classes or not, all is not lost. You still might address your medical aspirations by joining a Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program (PB).

The list of programs, there are several hundred, can be found on the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) site, and span the universe of making a career change, enhancing your academic record (improving your GPA), or being part of a group underrepresented in medicine, or economically or educationally disadvantaged.

Some PB programs are highly structured, such as the Post Baccalaureate Premedical Program at UC San Diego, which targets those who might have already applied to medical school unsuccessfully and are attempting to enhance their academic records. Student applicants must have already completed premedical undergraduate coursework in Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, as well as math and English and are looking to enhance their chances by using the program to take upper division science courses, seminars, workshops and MCAT preparation, along with medical school applications.

The program accepts a maximum of 30 students, and is a partnership between the UC San Diego Extension program and the UC San Diego School of Medicine. The application process consists of three letters of recommendation, a complete set of transcripts, and a ‘statement of interest.’ Then, candidates of interest are invited to interview, either in person or by Skype if outside Southern California.    

Once admitted into the program be ready for intensive preparation for the MCAT and such rigorous courses as Biomedical Science I, Mammalian Physiology I, Metabolic Biochemistry, and Pharmacology. While raising your GPA is an expected outcome, the desired goal is to show prospective medical schools that you are capable of performing at the highest level in upper division ‘Biological Science courses at a premier science university.’ According to Joel Tolson, the program representative, 70-90% of the class is accepted into medical school. The annual cost of the program is $30,000.

If, instead of enhancing your grades, you want to change your career, then you might want to consider applying to the PB program at Scripps College. This program is half the size of UCSD’s, enrolls only 17 students, and is geared to students who received a four-year-degree in something other than science, received a minimum of 3.0 GPA, and are highly motivated.   

If Scripps likes your application, essay and scores, it will then invite you to interview (like UCSD).  What’s particularly interesting is the range of candidates that attend this career changer program. Whereas UCSD seeks seasoned premeds, Scripps program for 2013-2014 contained a project manager from a cloud-based application, a musician from Cirque du Soleil, and a Peace Corps volunteer for Uganda.

The program is 13 months, and begins with the basic principles of chemistry (with lab), then unfolds into Introductory Biology, Organic Chemistry, General Physic, Vertebrate Physiology and Biochemistry. 4-6 hours per week are dedicated to volunteering in a medical setting, so that you, upon graduation from the program, are knowledgeable of the field of medicine and capable of managing a heavy workload.

Scripps PB students work alongside undergraduates from all the Claremont colleges, have access to faculty with extensive office hours, receive personalized advising for medical school applications and essays, receive mock interviews, enjoy customized MCAT test prep, will receive personalized letters of recommendation, will receive continued advising even after completion of the program, and can take advantage of extensive linkages to a range of medical schools including Drexel University School of Medicine and George Washington University School of Medicine. Most impressive is that 96% of Scripps College PB students have been accepted into medical school.

The key in the Post Baccalaureate world is to select a program that addresses your needs, career changer or grade enhancer, and is linked to medical schools. Once an appealing program is discovered, apply, work diligently, and you’ll find 13 months can make a big difference in your life.