The path to becoming a doctor can seem pretty one dimensional. That is because most people enter the field of medicine by following a conventional path: apply to college, apply to medical school, and apply to residency. This is considered the “traditional” route. However, there are also “non-traditional” ways to become a physician. In this article we will talk about becoming a doctor by enrolling in a “career-changers” post-baccalaureate program after undergrad.
Before we move on, let’s clearly define what post-baccalaureate means to avoid any confusion. Post-baccalaureate, or simply “post-bac,” in the pre-health community basically means taking extra courses or enrolling in an additional program in between undergrad and medical school. There are many types of post-baccalaureate programs available. The most popular type of program is for pre-health students who seek to strengthen their medical school application. By taking extra classes in a post-baccalaureate program, students attempt to improve their science GPA (and overall GPA) to a more desirable state. In addition to this type of program, other post-baccalaureate programs exist to address the needs of a diverse group of students.
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One interesting program (and the one which we will talk about here) is specifically for students who never took science classes in undergrad. It sounds strange we know, but please read on.
These are typically called “career-changers” post-baccalaureate programs. Schools who house this type of program claim that it is never too late to become a doctor. In addition, they believe well-rounded people make great doctors. So how exactly does this program work?
Most, if not all, of these programs require you to have a bachelor’s degree and it cannot be in science discipline. In fact, you can’t even have taken many science classes. Admissions committees of these programs usually favor those who have never taken one (although they will forgive you if you’ve taken a few for GEs or something). There is no age limit to apply; you can be straight out of college or can already be a working professional. In the application, you must demonstrate a strong academic background and explain why you now want to pursue a career in medicine. Most programs are highly competitive so you definitely need strong academic records and/or professional experiences.
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If you are offered admissions, you can now begin your post-baccalaureate program. Different schools set up the program in different ways. A majority of these programs require you to finish in one or two years. In the program, you take basic science classes that you did not take in your college days (so ultimately, you cannot go to medical school with no science courses). After you finish the program (or sometimes during the program), you apply to medical school just like any other traditional student.
So I know what you are thinking, what is the difference between this program and the traditional route? The only difference seems to be that you take science courses after you graduate and not during undergrad.
That assertion is true to some extent, but there are two main reasons why “career-changers” post-baccalaureate programs are attractive. First, they provide you with a lot of academic support. When a school accepts you into their program, they want to make sure that you succeed. They want their program to become reputable so it is in the school’s best interest to have all their students get into medical school. And since each cohort is usually small, this is definitely possible. Oftentimes, “pre-med” students at undergraduate colleges are treated with no respect and counselors do not seem to care that much about their success. There are simply way too many of them. In this post-bac program, you will be given a lot of individual attention. There will be counselors, administrators, and teachers who help you from the start to the finish.
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Second, medical schools seem to like students who come out of these programs. Sure, the reputation of each school differs, but generally, these programs are highly regarded. Some schools that have good reputations include Goucher College, Bryn Mawr, and Johns Hopkins. Almost every student who is part of the program at these schools get accepted into medical school. Furthermore, reputable programs have “linkage” programs with certain medical schools. If your program has a “linkage” with a medical school, then you are in a great position to receive admission from that school as long as you meet their requirements. To make things even better, some of these “linkage” schools waive the MCAT. Yes, you read correctly, you can technically get into medical school without having taken the dreaded MCAT.
There are many more features that make these programs attractive. If interested in changing careers, you should definitely do some more research on this. A good way to start this research is too look into the post-bac programs of Goucher College, Bryn Mawr, and Johns Hopkins. It is truly never too late to become a doctor.