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Post-Baccalaureate Program - Worth It For MD/DO School?

mmdpcsufmmdpcsuf 2 replies1 threads New Member
Hey everyone, I have a few questions on what I should do in terms of after completing undergrad.

I'm currently majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Chemistry. I had a rough time (personal matters) during my first two years of undergrad and it reflected in my grades. I was finally able to get my life back on track this past year and get comfortable with my studying habits. Entering my fourth and final year, I have a 3.08 cgpa and 2.67 sgpa.

Obviously, I am not in any state to apply to MD or DO schools this upcoming cycle, but I don't want my GPA to stop me from continuing this path either. I was wondering if in my case applying for a post-bacc was worth it. Will my GPA be boosted enough for me to even make it past the primary round of apps? No doubt I will have to try my hardest, and earn a stellar MCAT score, but realistically, is a save possible?
If you think the post-bacc path would be beneficial for me, should I do the program fresh out of undergrad or take a gap year first to build my application and gain experience (COVID-19 hindered my plans this summer)? If not, any recommendations? I've also been reading a lot about a DIY/informal post-bacc, but I'm not sure how that route would help my GPA?

With the idea of post-bacc program being something I should pursue, I am planning to enroll in programs that will aid in enhancing my academic record; help on the MCAT is a bonus. It's a fairly expensive route, but I think I will be able to get a decent amount of help from FAFSA because my family has always been financially disadvantaged. I've looked into UCI and CSUF so far, I think those are my top two. If you recommend any other programs in CA, let me know as well.

I know I have a long, rigorous journey ahead of me, but I don't plan on quitting, so any advice at all would be really great. :)
14 replies
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Replies to: Post-Baccalaureate Program - Worth It For MD/DO School?

  • blossomblossom 10415 replies9 threads Senior Member
    You need to verify that you will be eligible for financial aid for a non-degree program. The post-bacc's are for people who already have a bachelor's degree and you may not be eligible for any type of aid (institutional or federal) once you get your degree. Check on that.
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  • suzyQ7suzyQ7 4931 replies66 threads Senior Member
    edited July 1
    How did you do on your standardized testing in (SAT or ACT)?

    Glad your life is on track - I really think you need to see how your senior year grades go. If you can truly hit it out of the park (very high GPA), you may have a chance with a post-bac. Also assuming you are a great test taker and can do really well on the MCAT. Those are 2 very big assumptions.

    Also, California is SOOO competitive for med school.
    edited July 1
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 5493 replies93 threads Senior Member
    @wayoutwestmom will also have some good recommendations for you, and can help you carve out a path.

    What is your plan B if a post-bac is not affordable?
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 28057 replies208 threads Senior Member
    the short answer is that No, a formal post-bacc program will be of no help to you. (They are designed for someone who is not a STEM major.) You could just take additional advanced science coursework as a non-degreed student to boost your GPA. But I would recommend that you take them at a UC and not a Cal State.

    Unless you are a strong tester (1400+ SAT), your chances of acing the MCAT are low.

    Med school is incredibly competitive for CA residents. Perhaps consider another health career?

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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 11022 replies236 threads Senior Member
    edited July 1

    @bluebayou is wrong about the post-bacc. There are two types of formal post baccs--one for career changers (which is what he's talking about); the other is a GPA enhancing post bacc (which is what you're talking about).

    A SMP is one specific sub-type of a GPA enhancing post-bacc.

    There are upsides and downsides to both grad level GPA post baccs and SMPs

    GPA enhancing graduate post baccs--

    ---Grad level coursework is NOT included in GPA calculation for allopathic med school admissions, though grad level courses ARE included who computing GPAs/SGPAs for osteopathic med schools.

    Although grad GPAs are not officially included in GPA calculations at allopathic programs, they are not ignored either. An excellent GPA in graduate biological sciences program will be noted positively and may help enhance a student's admission profile. OTOH, a grad GPA less than 3.75 will hurt a med school application. (Adcomms are wary of grad GPAs because they are notoriously inflated.)

    ---A formal grade enhancing post bacc will have counselors who can put your achievement in context for med school adcomms in your LORs. This is usually very helpful, especially if the program has a strong reputations with adcomms. At the best post bacc programs, counselors are familiar with the admission policies at med school who are most open to reinventors. There are a small number of med school that only consider an applicant's last 30-45-60 hours of credit when computing GPA or sGPA. (e.g. Wayne State) The counselors will know how to best present a student from their program in a LOR to the adcomms at these schools.

    SMP (Special Master's Program) is a specific subset of GPA enhancing post baccs. A SMP attempts to mirror the academic difficulty of the first year of medical school by offering coursework equivalent to med school to SMP students. At the best SMPs, students will usually take some or all of their classes side-by-side with actual med students. Some SMPs guarantee admission interviews at the associated medical school to the top achievers in the SMP class.

    Applying to a SMP is similar to applying to med school. You'll need a MCAT score, a GPA/sGPA >3.2, typical pre-med ECs, LORs from science & non-science professors, etc.

    The downside of SMPs are huge. Programs are expensive (typically in the > $40K/year range). Also unless a student finishes in the top 25% of the class and/or with a GPA >3.75 all hopes of med school admission are gone.

    All SMPs are High Risk--High Reward.


    Financial Aid

    Once you finish undergrad and earn a bachelor's degree, your family's financial info is no longer relevant for FAFSA. Only your income since you will be considered an independent student. The ONLY FA you will be eligible for is unsubsidized federal student loans and these are ONLY available if you are enrolled full time in degree granting program.

    You have two choices--

    1) Since formal grade enhancing post baccs and SMPs typically are offered as graduate degree programs, you will be eligible for federal unsubsidized student loans up to $20, 500/year. However, most formal post-bacc cost substantially more than that. You will need to find an additional source of funding either through co-signed private loans or by work and saving up $$ to pay for the program.

    Remember there are no guarantees you'll get a med school acceptance even if you do well at a post bacc. You could end up with substantial debt and no med school degree to help repay it.

    2) Your second choice is to take upper level and grad level bio coursework piecemeal on a pay-as-you-go until you have 30-45 credits of UL science with a. GPA>3.75.


    Looking at your very lowGPA/sGPA, you will need to raise your sGPA considerably even to be eligible for a formal bacc. Most require a minimum sGPA> 3.2, though some will accept students with a sGPA>3.0

    I would suggest that you take enough upper level science coursework, paying out of pocket for upper level and grad bio coursework and going part-time/working full or near full time, until you can get your sGPA >3.2, then apply for a SMP.

    Take your coursework as non-degree seeking student at the closest 4 year university.

    This route is slow and tedious, but it will limit your debt and is likely your best chance for a med school acceptance (DO or MD). Getting into med school is not a race; it's test of endurance and perseverance. Med school will still be there and be an option for you 3-4-5, even 10 years from now.

    edited July 1
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2935 replies8 threads Senior Member
    It's better to go to graduate school. If you can ace a good year at the graduate level, and score high on the MCAT, you stand a much better chance of getting into medical school.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3915 replies52 threads Senior Member
    Definitely agree with @WayOutWestMom.

    Whatever you do, don't be tempted to apply to carribean schools. They are known for taking students who can't get accepted into American MD/DO programs. Just recently the Step 1 USMLE became pass/fail. This puts more downward pressure on the international students who are applying for residency. Getting into a US based residency as an international grad is going to be quite difficult.

    Have you considered alternative paths? Advanced practice nurse, or PA? Both of these can prescribe medications and practice independently in most states.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3915 replies52 threads Senior Member
    Also take a peek at the forums at student doctor. They have a lot of helpful people there.
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  • mmdpcsufmmdpcsuf 2 replies1 threads New Member
    edited July 3
    Thank you so much for replying to my post. I really appreciate all of the helpful advice and learned a lot that I didn't know about. I thought with hard work and determination that I would have shot, but I'm feeling quite discouraged now. I guess I dreamt too big. Maybe should be realistic and pursue a PA career instead.
    edited July 3
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3915 replies52 threads Senior Member
    Are you URM? If so that might help, as there are not so many URMs who enter medical school.

    Also note that many med schools welcome applications from those with nontraditional backgrounds: EMT, PA, chiropractic, Nursing, etc. You might be able to get into med school that way as well. But the main hurdle I see is that you'll need to convince the admissions committee that your undergrad grades were just a fluke, and that you've gotten a lot better. You can do this by taking undergrad classes and doing well in them -- particular science classes like orgo.

    This is not a race, as long as you continue to work hard, there still is a glimmer of hope.
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  • mmdpcsufmmdpcsuf 2 replies1 threads New Member
    I am an Asian female, so stakes and expectations are much higher/competitive, I feel. I've registered for many science classes for next semester in hopes of establishing my improvement, but I've researched a lot into PA as well and it sounds great. Medical school is a very slim chance for me it seems, I don't think I'm cut out for the big leagues so I am keeping my options open.

    Also, I miscalculated, my sGPA is 2.75. Still not high at all, but working my way towards at least a 3.0 to qualify for PA or another path. UCI Postbacc requires 2.8 in both GPA's, something I've considered as well. Thanks again for the advice!
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 28057 replies208 threads Senior Member
    edited July 4
    UCI Postbacc requires 2.8 in both GPA's, something I've considered as well.

    The UCI program will be of no help in med admissions as most of the coursework would be repeat of what you have already taken. UCI only offer a few upper division science programs in its post-bacc, which is primarily for career-changers or lit/hume majors in college who took few STEM courses while an undergrad.


    In fact, one of the admissions criteria for the UCI program is that you have completed <25% of the premed prereqs. And, as a bio major with a chem minor, you will have easily completed nearly all of the premed prereqs, so you are likely not even eligible to apply.


    Time to start looking for a Plan B.
    edited July 4
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3915 replies52 threads Senior Member
    Okay, being ORM definitely makes things a lot more difficult. I agree with your assessment, MD/DO will be difficult at this point in your life. Definitely agree with PA/NP path. You can always revisit medical school later.
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  • BeaudreauBeaudreau 1160 replies39 threads Senior Member
    Going for a PA seems like a sound choice. You can expect to make a low six-figure salary with relatively regular hours. You should be able to complete the degree more quickly than an MD and graduate with less debt. Since you do not already have a nursing degree, I don't think the nurse practitioner route is a good option, but someone in the field could give you better advice.
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