I’ve been thinking a lot recently about taking the steps to build a solid medical school application. I’m several years post-undergrad (graduated in 2017) and have spent some time working but I want to make a change and apply for medical school as I had originally planned before. I graduated with a decent GPA (3.2) with a degree in kinesiology. I have taken the majority of the pre-reqs but failed organic chemistry 2, so that’s an obvious retake. I can go through my transcript and get the grades from the other classes but some are average and the rest are solid. Being so far out, should I just say screw it and retake most of not all of the pre-reqs through some kind of post-bacc program? I guess my biggest, general question is where should the majority of my focus be if this is a path I decide to take?
My understanding of it just at a glance is retake any pre-req classes I didn’t get an A in, take the MCAT and then go from there. Are there any other complications I should be aware of, especially not having applied directly after undergrad? Thanks for everyone’s time.
You should probably retake any prereq class you didn’t get at least a B+ in, and since it’s been so long, you might need to retake them all, because you’ve got to refresh the first semester in order to do well in the second semester. If I were in your shoes, I’d start with the chemistry, since if you cannot do well in organic this time around, you want to know it and choose a different path. It is probably too late for summer classes; you’d have to start in September.
I’m assuming that you’ve considered becoming a physical therapist, and discarded that notion? It seems a logical step from kinesiology to physical therapy, and it might satisfy most of the reasons that you want medicine.
Don’t retake every class you didn’t get an A in. Going from a B in the original class to an A on the re-take isn’t going impress anyone. It’s expected that you will do better the second time you take a class. In fact, if you don’t ace a retake, it will actually hurt you. “(Hey, look, @Jchambers4 Jcjambers4 had 2 tries at genetics and still couldn’t get an A.”)
Only retake those classes you have a C- or below (C- and below are considered failing grades by adcomms and are not accepts as fulfilling med school admissions.)
It’s a much better to take additional, challenging upper level science classes to show adcomms that you are now a strong student, capable doing very well studying difficult material. You should consider taking classes like biochemistry, immunology, genetics, A&P, neuroscience, etc instead of repeating your non-A pre-reqs.
If you need to refresh your base knowledge because you don’t remember bio 101 from 5 years ago, then go ahead and take the class. But realize, you’re still going to need to take additional UL bio electives beyond the bare pre-reqs to demonstrate your academic chops.
Regarding formal post-baccs—
if you are the kind of person who needs the structure a formal program provides, then feel free to enroll in one. AMCAS has a list of grade enhancing post-baccs here; Postbac
Some post-baccs offer more support than others. It’s worthwhile to contact them to see what kinds of successes they’ve had in placing students into med school. If you can find some former students from the program, talk to them too. There are tons of poorly run post-bacc out there. Caveat emptor.
Your path: Have you done any RECENT physician shadowing? Any clinical volunteering? (like within the past 2 years)
if so… and you still want to try for medical school… GREAT! Keep up the clinical and non-clinical volunteering and fix your academics. Take as much time as you need to get your sGPA up to around 3.6 for MD school and 3.3 for DO schools.
If you haven’t done any recent shadowing or clinical volunteering–that’s where you need to start. no sense in starting down this path only to find out you hate working with patients.
You’ll need about 50+ hours of physician shadowing (much include some primary care docs since most physicians end up I primary care) and around 200+ hours of clinical volunteering as the bare minimum to apply to med school. Additionally you need to demonstrate altruism, compassion and charity through doing hands on non-clinical volunteering with those less fortunate than you. Volunteer work with disadvantaged groups is highly valued by med school adcomms. A 200+ hour minimum for that too.
Thanks for the response. I have considered physical therapy and having mentioned it again it definitely is still a possibility, one that is probably more realistic all things considered. I have shadowed both MDs and PTs in the past and physical therapy just seems overall redundant and boring in my opinion. That could be a reflection of the therapists I have shadowed and of course like anything else variety is possible if that’s what you seek out, but I feel like for me personally comparing the experiences I’ve had around both types of professionals I would have a greater interest in work as a physician long term as opposed to a physical therapist.
I was thinking about just retaking all of the pre-reqs but like the other person who commented said, I don’t want it to be a detriment as opposed to a benefit. I’m pretty comfortable with basic bio and chem but taking a refresher on intro Chem concepts might not be a bad idea before pursuing any kind of upper level chemistry classes even if I’m only watching YouTube lessons.
My SIL ijust finished his first year as a PT student. He’s a non-trad one who started at PT school age 30. He needed to do some GPA rehab plus was missing most of his pre-reqs. Took him 3 years of work to get to where he could apply.
He had worked as in-hospital PT aide for the last 2 years before his application and wants to do neuro-rehab when he finishes. (Post-stroke, post-TBI, and similar) He says out-patient ortho is terribly boring. So if you haven’t done some in-hospital shadowing for PT, you may want to give it try. There are lots of sub-specialties in PT just like there are in medicine.
Primary care can also be redundant and boring. When my daughter shadowed her pediatrician (for 8 days) she spent the time observing routine physicals and ear infections (along with tons of paperwork). When she shadowed a GP there was a lot of blood pressure talk, etc.
I actually think you would get a greater variety as a PT, but of course it depends on where you work (applies to both PT and primary care).
There are many areas of medicine that are not mundane and redundant, of course.
I do like the idea of a structured post-bacc program just for the sake of accountability. I agree that retaking all of the pre-req classes might not be the best idea, but is C- really a good cutoff? I just mean in terms of being a competitive applicant, is that a high enough standard to have a good shot at landing acceptances? I like what you said about going from a B+ to an A is sort of expected when retaking a class and I really like the idea of just taking a higher level class in similar fields to show competence as a student, any recommendations for classes that would fit that metric for Biology and/or chemistry?
I think chemistry is going to be an area where I should show some sort of progress in because of my track record with organic chemistry. What would be a good class to take, obviously on top of orgo 2, that would show competence and progress in terms of my ability to learn chemistry concepts generally speaking?
I have done shadowing of physicians in the past but it was brief, like I’m talking three days tops maybe 2-3 hours per day. I think it’s a really good idea to get involved in that again as well not only for verification that it’s something I want to do but it could be a huge boost to the application as a whole. I think it’s definitely a solid first step and probably should be considering where I am currently.
Any other advice in terms of what I should be doing to build on a solid application?
taking a higher level class in similar fields to show competence as a student, any recommendations for classes that would fit that metric for Biology and/or chemistry?
Biology-- genetics, anatomy & physiology, neuroscience, immunology, molecular biology, cellular biology, cancer biology, neurochemistry, embryology, cellular and molecular neurobiology, computational biology, the biological basis for neurological disorders, histology, genomics…
Chemistry-- ochem 1 & 2, biochem (all required for med school admission), advanced biochemistry, pharmacology, chemical biology
(If you loved gen chem, you could take inorganic chemistry/advanced inorganic chem, stoichiometry, analytic chemistry. If you’re really looking for a challenge–physical chemistry. P-chem requires advanced math thru differential equations.)
Don’t forget med school require math too. Calc 1 and statistics/ biostatistics.
Also intro psychology and intro sociology are tested on the MCAT and a number of med schools require coursework in those subjects. So add those if you haven’t taken them. A sociology of healthcare class is useful if you can find one.
Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t rush into applying.
And whatever you do DO NOT attempt the MCAT until you have completed all your pre-reqs and have spent sufficient time studying/practicing for it and are scoring in your target range on the full length practice exams.
The MCAT is a beast of an exam and unlike any test you’ve ever taken. Preparing for it is like taking a 6-8 credit course in terms of effort.
Because you are a non-trad and long out of college, you don’t need to seek out reseach opportunities, but you should look for any leadership roles you can assume in your activities.
Med schools expect physician shadowing, clinical volunteering, non-clinical volunteering, and leadership in all applicants. Makes sure you have ECs or experiences that will cover all of the Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students
Lastly, be humble and be open to applying to both MD and DO medical schools. DO schools tend to be more accepting of non-trads and more forgiving on GPAs than MD schools.