Post-baccalaureate premed programs offer another route to medical school admission.
When considering returning to the classroom for a post-bac premed program, students should weigh their very specific, individual needs. Some programs are geared to help participants raise grade-point averages and boost MCAT scores. Others focus on preparing students for medical school admission and attaining a medical degree.
"There are several reasons why pre-health students seek out post-bac programs," explains Kathryn M. Spink, Chief Health Professions Advisor and Chair of the Premedical Advisory Committee at Illinois Institute of Technology. "First, they may not have completed all the necessary premedical requirements. Second, their undergraduate GPA may not be strong enough to be a competitive applicant. In these cases, a post-bac or master's program would be beneficial."
And third, details Spink, is because an applicant might not have been successful on her first attempt at applying to medical school. "In this case, a post-bac or master's program may be beneficial depending on the specifics of their application."
Regardless of whether a student is exploring a post-bac premed program as a career-changer or to become more competitive, Spink points out the specifics to consider.
"Some things to look for in a post-bac program are whether all coursework that you need is offered, including upper level courses in Biology such as Cell Biology and Biochemistry," she says. "Is there a knowledgeable advisor for you to speak with? Will you be able to continue with professional development while you are taking your classes?"
DeEttra Mulay, who works as administrative director for the Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program at Scripps College in Claremont, California, calls their post-back premed program a career-changer that can help students become prepared for medical school admission. “It is designed for a student who did well academically as an undergraduate, but did not take the pre-med classes needed to apply to medical school."
While many post-baccalaureate premed programs are seeing an increase in applications each year, most schools see the merits of small, personalized classes. Scripps, which is part of the Claremont Colleges, is committed to keeping its program intimate. The current class has 15 students.
Mulay advises students to look for post-bac premed programs that offer a variety of key features. The post-bac program should:
- Guarantee course enrollment
- Offer tutoring
- Provide advising and counseling
- Help with placement in volunteer opportunities
- Offer a committee letter of recommendation
“It is important to do well in your classes,” Mulay advises prospective post-bac students, “but while getting strong grades be sure to make time each week to get volunteer experience.
“Often it is the time with current physicians that reminds you of why you chose this path and helps motivate you to stay focused and do your very best.”
More post-bac information
Post-bac admissions vary from school to school but overall require the same things: strong GPAs, solid test scores, great letters of recommendation, and a personal interview that leaves them wowed.
Some post-baccalaureate programs allow students to pump up GPAs and MCAT scores.
The timeline and steps to becoming a doctor require a premed plan that could include a post-bac premed program.
The AAMC's post-bac database allows students to search for post-baccalaureate premed programs around the country.