INFJ

10+ Year Member
Apr 11, 2008
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NJ
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Hi All -
I've been reading this site a LOT over the past few months - what an amazing support system! Here goes my first question...

This may seem like a 'duh' question, but is it common/competitive to ONLY take the pre-reqs before applying? It seems so minimal and i've always been someone who wants to go above and beyond (as all of you are!). Just want to find out if theres been a lot of success out here with just the basics and if adcoms consider it thorough enough for career changers.

Thanks!!
 

gman33

Moderator Emeritus
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Aug 18, 2007
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Attending Physician
It's fairly common for non-trads to apply having only done the prereqs. If you have a good GPA and MCAT score, it should not be a problem. Now if those areas are lacking, you may want to take additional upper level science courses to demonstrate you can handle difficult science classes.
 

nontrdgsbuiucmd

10+ Year Member
Mar 28, 2008
998
3
my own little world
Status
Medical Student
As with so many things, taking or not taking advanced coursework depends on the school.. one school's website stated something about "most successful applicants have more than the required minimum (premed) courses", according to one admissions director I spoke with, the schools see us non-trads as "career changers"; due to this, they have to discern if we can succeed at the science coursework in med school. The best way (according to this person) for us to PROVE that we can handle the material is to complete some advanced coursework, i.e. cell & molecular, genetics, physiology, biochemistry. At the outer limits, he suggested considering a special master's program in which the applicant would study alongside med students. He said that this is also considered important because if the applicant has these courses complete prior to matriculating, they will be that much more likely to do well their first two years of med school when they pursue the med-school level equivalent of these subjects. He'd also reiterated the importance on the Amcas primary of listing courses one INTENDS to pursue prior to matriculation. (i.e. if the school accepts an applicant, which courses can he/she finish that last summer?). The major vein was that by completing or listing that one intends to complete additional coursework, the adcom can "relax" about our science ability and focus on other aspects of our candidacy.

For me personally, I like the level of detail provided in anatomy & physiology and cell/molecular bio, and am now much better prepared for any MCAT question on those areas.
 

notdeadyet

Still in California
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15+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2004
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according to one admissions director I spoke with, the schools see us non-trads as "career changers"; due to this, they have to discern if we can succeed at the science coursework in med school. The best way (according to this person) for us to PROVE that we can handle the material is to complete some advanced coursework, i.e. cell & molecular, genetics, physiology, biochemistry.
The MCAT determines if we can handle the material. Advanced coursework will only strengthen your app, but it won't shut any doors. Folks with bare minimums have gotten into lots of great med schools. Most non-trads I know do the minimum coursework. If schools wanted you to do more than that, they'd have more pre-requisities (and some do).
At the outer limits, he suggested considering a special master's program in which the applicant would study alongside med students. He said that this is also considered important because if the applicant has these courses complete prior to matriculating, they will be that much more likely to do well their first two years of med school when they pursue the med-school level equivalent of these subjects.
The guy is insane. From what your saying, it is "considdered important" to study medicine to prove that you will be successful studying medicine???

Not sure who this cat is, but you can rest assured that he's an outlier.

If you're interested in a specific school, look at their requirements and excel in them. Do great on your MCAT. Then you're set. If you really want to hedge your bets, take the "recommended" courses as well (really not necessary, though).

I took only the minimums required by law and it was never brought up or mentioned at any interview, including at UCSF. It's a nonissue.
 

DMU DO

10+ Year Member
Mar 12, 2008
9
0
Des Moines IA
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Medical Student
It is common but the vast minority. Most schools don't care as long as your app is good. I got in with only the prereqs and do not regret it, however I have had a more difficult time than a lot of students with better science prep.
 

nu2004

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2008
861
4
Los Angecagoveland
Status
Medical Student
Hi All -
I've been reading this site a LOT over the past few months - what an amazing support system! Here goes my first question...

This may seem like a 'duh' question, but is it common/competitive to ONLY take the pre-reqs before applying? It seems so minimal and i've always been someone who wants to go above and beyond (as all of you are!). Just want to find out if theres been a lot of success out here with just the basics and if adcoms consider it thorough enough for career changers.

Thanks!!
i think MORE upper-level science courses can help demonstrate one's fitness for med school.

i took physiology and biochemistry (A and A-, respectively) in addition to the bare bones pre-reqs and honestly, i think it really helped me. case western sat on my app for a while after i interviewed, but the day i sent them an update with my biochem grade, I was accepted. coincidence? maybe. or maybe they just needed one small thing to push them more toward "this guy can handle med school."
 

notdeadyet

Still in California
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case western sat on my app for a while after i interviewed, but the day i sent them an update with my biochem grade, I was accepted. coincidence? maybe. or maybe they just needed one small thing to push them more toward "this guy can handle med school."
If Case was questioning your ability to handle medical school, you would have been rejected outright. If a school has to think long and hard as to whether or not you can handle med school, you aren't going to be anywhere near the first cut.

In fact, med schools could probably accept their entering class AGAIN with applications of people they are confident would do great at medical school. It's a seller's market out there. They have to turn down people they think would do amazing work for folks they think will do even more amazing work.

Don't sell yourself short. Your biochem class update may have served for them to open up your file again, but an undergrad science class isn't going to make anyone say, "Wow! He can cut it here!" They fact they knew that already is evidenced by the fact that they were giving you serious consideration. If you hadn't already convinced them of that, you wouldn't have made it that far.
 

nu2004

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2008
861
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Los Angecagoveland
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Don't sell yourself short. Your biochem class update may have served for them to open up your file again, but an undergrad science class isn't going to make anyone say, "Wow! He can cut it here!" They fact they knew that already is evidenced by the fact that they were giving you serious consideration. If you hadn't already convinced them of that, you wouldn't have made it that far.
Thanks, and I agree, I guess what I meant to say was more like it was the thing that finally pushed them over the edge... in the right way.

Maybe not, maybe it was just a reminder to them that "hey, we interviewed this guy four and a half weeks ago and said we'd make a decision in four, better flip a coin. heads it is, send him the acceptance email."