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vivapuff

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Hi all,

I'm new to these boards but I find the info here really helpful. I've found that many of the "non-traditional" students here are non-traditional in that they are mature students...however, many have science backgrounds. Is there anyone here who can speak to their experience in pre-med and med with absolutely no scientific background? It's been 9 years since I took science courses (in high school) and I'm about to start a postbac and am EXTREMELY scared!

Any input/advice on making it through is much appreciated!
Am I crazy for switching from arts into science? Feels a bit that way right now...!
 

thlaxer

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Hi all,

I'm new to these boards but I find the info here really helpful. I've found that many of the "non-traditional" students here are non-traditional in that they are mature students...however, many have science backgrounds. Is there anyone here who can speak to their experience in pre-med and med with absolutely no scientific background? It's been 9 years since I took science courses (in high school) and I'm about to start a postbac and am EXTREMELY scared!

Any input/advice on making it through is much appreciated!
Am I crazy for switching from arts into science? Feels a bit that way right now...!

Brush up on your math (pre-calculus-level algebra, trig, etc.) before you start your chemistry and physics classes. Some of my classmates who came in with an art or writing background really struggled in these classes because even though they worked hard and understood the concepts, they could never reach the correct answer. They simply weren't able to set up the problem or chug through the math correctly.. It really sucks to be in that position. I'd suggest taking a precalculus course (or self-studying it) if you need to before starting the program if you absolutely suck at math. Best of luck!
 

ShoTyme

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Hi all,

I'm new to these boards but I find the info here really helpful. I've found that many of the "non-traditional" students here are non-traditional in that they are mature students...however, many have science backgrounds. Is there anyone here who can speak to their experience in pre-med and med with absolutely no scientific background? It's been 9 years since I took science courses (in high school) and I'm about to start a postbac and am EXTREMELY scared!

Any input/advice on making it through is much appreciated!
Am I crazy for switching from arts into science? Feels a bit that way right now...!

There's nothing wrong with being scared. Let that motivate you to always give it your all. It's kind of like the underdog that nobody sees coming. I hadn't taken a science class since high school, and the ones I did take didn't turn out all that well. When I began this thing, I didn't tell anyone in my classes I was premed. I remember sitting in that first biology class wishing I had spent more time on this as a kid. What I found out was that science classes are just like any other class. Put in the time and effort. You will be rewarded. If you don't, well, you will get what you deserve. I would recommend starting off with a relatively easy schedule and build yourself up once your confidence grows. Just take class seriously - like a job... or better yet... like the career you hope to have. Good luck.
 
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vitanuova

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I began an informal post bacc program last fall and I hadn't studied math/science stuff in 7 years so I know the feeling. I really wish I had spent the summer before my first semester by practicing algebra and trig as well as learning the basic principles of chemistry.
Almost all of my classmates had recently taken high school chem and knew calc or at least precalc and I felt really far behind everyone.
I caught up eventually, but I wish I had done more remedial work before I dove into chem and bio and physics.
If you haven't ever been there, the Khanacademy.org is a great resource. I highly recommend that you spend sometime developing solid algebraic skills as well as brush up on trig functions, logs, and graphing. Also study your units (eg microliter vs milliliter) as well as sig figs and conversion factors.

Be prepared to be get stuck, become frustrated and then work through it. That's only way to really learn the problem solving skills you will need.
 
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PCBY

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Vivapuff, I'm in the same boat. I have a bachelor and master of "arts" degrees. My background in math and science isn't extensive and I truly regret not taking the "sciences" seriously. But it's never too late for folk like us. I'm taking online audit courses to help be prepare for the rigorous premed curriculum in the fall. It's ok to be scared. I am. It's a major risk after teaching English education for over 10 years. Imagine that? But medicine has always been my passion and so I'm just going to go for it, and not look back. You can do it too! Wish you much success, Vivapuff.

"It isn't where you come from, it's where you're going that counts" Ella Fitzgerald
 

vivapuff

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Unfortunately, I start in June (and am working full time) so not much time to review, but I will attempt to cover the basics for sure. I'm very relieved to hear of others in the same boat, pulling through...Good luck good luck good luck to all!!!
 

dbizzy

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Don't worry about it. There are plenty of us who didn't have science backgrounds and still made it. I was a liberal arts major who despised math and got a C or below in the handful of science courses I took during my undergrad. Did just fine in post-bacc years later. You'll be okay!
 

7175pank

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I didn't. Nothing but a straight on double major in film and psychology. I just wrapped up my first year in a DIY post-bacc and am holding my own (still room for improvement though).

The only gem of advice I can give you is that studying for quantitative sciences is CONSIDERABLY different from studying for humanities/arts classes. I found that studying for psych (gratis exception to a few such as neuro) and humanities courses revolved around being able to make a cogent argument which essentially meant various venues to a 'right' answer. The difference with science is that there is only ONE right answer and creativity doesn't help much... usually.

In a nut shell, while global thinking and coherent reasoning is important for humanities and literary courses, repetition and finesse are far more valuable in science courses. The best piece of advice I can give you is that for sciences which require quantitative analysis, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice and then take a break if you feel sick so that you can practice some more.
 

Total180

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I did 2 years of musical theatre and teaching before I decided to pursue med school. I stopped taking math in high school after algebra 2 and hadn't taken any science courses in college at all. I was terrified of doing science courses when I transferred schools. Over the summer I audited a college algebra course just to brush up, and did very well and that kind've boosted my confidence a bit. My advice would be not to just jump in head first if you are nervous. Just take 1 or 2 science courses to test the waters...when you feel comfortable you can take on more. I actually decided to major in Spanish so that I had some fun/easier courses to pad myself a little bit. While I think it may have been a little harder for me when I started med school compared to the people that had really heavy science backgrounds, it is definitely not an impossible hurdle, and my Spanish and Theatre background came up in every interview I had. The most important advice I can give is that you need to focus on your gpa. Don't try and overload yourself with sciences and then get C's in them. It obviously isn't great to not have a "heavy" courseload, but ultimately, they are looking at the gpa. Good luck!
 

vivapuff

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Don't worry about it. There are plenty of us who didn't have science backgrounds and still made it. I was a liberal arts major who despised math and got a C or below in the handful of science courses I took during my undergrad. Did just fine in post-bacc years later. You'll be okay!

Phew. I feel a little better, seriously. Especially this sentiment - that you despised math and did poorly in science (that feels like me!)

I really do wish I had the time to do a refresher, but I'm hoping the postbac program can offer support in terms of study groups and tutors, if I do get stuck. Thanks for the all of the reassuring words!
 

gonnif

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Phew. I feel a little better, seriously. Especially this sentiment - that you despised math and did poorly in science (that feels like me!)

I really do wish I had the time to do a refresher, but I'm hoping the postbac program can offer support in terms of study groups and tutors, if I do get stuck. Thanks for the all of the reassuring words!


Rule 1: take a breath
Rule 10: beware of FUD -- Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

I would make the suggestion of either going online for a basic algebra refresher or getting one of the Baron's or similar outline study guides. My general chem text came with a very thin math review for chem and I think most text have an appendix on the math. Basic algebra is what often throws people in chem. Some OPM members swear by http://www.khanacademy.org/ which has hundreds of free video courses (I haven't used them myself, I am so old school I need see a book!)
 
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wholeheartedly

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My thoughts are with the others, try to do a little math refresher before you start if you can. My other piece of advice is start strong. It's easier to keep up the momentum than it is to tank and have to try to catch up later.


I didn't do an arts degree first, but I did double bio and psych and they were two very different beasts as far as studying and exams go. It's hard to explain. Just figure out how you study best, work lots of problems, and try to come up with a solid study method (time spent studying doesn't always equal quality of studying).
 

The_Sunny_Doc

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If you are a right brained thinker you might find that you have an easier time in classes like Physics which I was able to understand easily due to being a visual learner/artist. You get to "see" the math in physics so you might find that you can finally understand algebra and trig, even if you struggled with it in the past. I was so scared after having been a liberal arts major, but in these science classes it's simply effort in, A out! There are no surprises on tests at least at the state school where I'm taking the prereqs and other science classes. It might surprise you how enjoyable you find the coursework too especially if you are an intuitive/global thinker. :) Don't be scared. Work hard and relish the intellectual journey!
 

MedWonk

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Hi all,

I'm new to these boards but I find the info here really helpful. I've found that many of the "non-traditional" students here are non-traditional in that they are mature students...however, many have science backgrounds. Is there anyone here who can speak to their experience in pre-med and med with absolutely no scientific background? It's been 9 years since I took science courses (in high school) and I'm about to start a postbac and am EXTREMELY scared!

Any input/advice on making it through is much appreciated!
Am I crazy for switching from arts into science? Feels a bit that way right now...!

I was a Japanese lit major, and it had been about 8 years since I had taken a math/science course before starting my post-bacc. It's not so bad, it just requires hard work. I've done just fine in my classes. The prereqs assume that you've only got a high school science/math background. The only one you might have to do some review for is physics, which is heavy on math. You could just get a cheap precalc textbook or schaum's outline for precalc and reacquaint yourself with the concepts.
 

shinny437

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My friend was an art history major. Had her masters and worked as a curator at a museum. Took one geology class in all those years. She went back and did her prereqs and it now killing it in her 4th year at u of m. it can happen. stay dedicated.

i'm a nurse. i'm about to start in the fall. it can happen. :)
 

operaman

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Totally doable but a LOT of work. Nothing is particularly challenging but the sheer volume of material and new terminology can be overwhelming at times. Science is its own language and you will have to learn it in order to do well both in classes and on the MCAT. Treat it like a job and spend the hours needed to do it right.

khanacademy (referenced above) was a lifesaver for me too btw. Much of the difficulty you encounter will stem from poor teaching/explaining and khan does a great job of teaching the concepts so they become intuitive. It is this intuition that will carry you through the mcat and even through medical school. Thankfully, artists are generally good at building and relying on their intuition, so this may be a strength for you.

I spent ~10 years in the arts with no hard science classes since my sophomore year,....of high school. Now I'm finishing up my first year of med school and have absolutely loved it and find it as stimulating or more so than I found music. I did my post-bacc in a rather compressed way at a small 4-yr college and had no trouble maintaining a 4.0. That isn't to say I didn't spend a lot of time on it -- I treated like a full time job -- but never did I find anything too difficult or confusing that a khanacademy video or 5 minutes with the prof couldn't cure it. MCAT was tough but doable. I took it prior to the post-bacc so I could shave a year off the process and apply while taking the pre-reqs, though in retrospect this probably wasn't the smartest move in the book. I scored in the mid 30s almost solely off khanacademy and some review books.

I've also done very well during my first year of med school although the work load can be overwhelming at times -- just don't let yourself get behind. Ever.

Medicine is an art in many ways and must be learned as any art is learned. You see the same pattern of theory followed by apprenticeship and gradual honing of the craft that you see in how any other art form is taught. I know in the arts there are many times you are faced with a seemingly undoable task: capture the beauty of the scene before you on this canvas, or learn and memorize this 400 pages of opera in a different language and be ready for staging on monday. Artists also learn that despite how overwhelming it may seem, once you put brush to canvas or bang out those first notes on the piano, the rest just starts to flow. I've found medical school to be very similar, always faced with what seems like too much info that's too difficult to understand, and a few weeks later I can't understand why I ever thought it was hard.

I wish you the best of luck -- I firmly believe that medicine could use more artists among its ranks.
 

RED2011

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I'm currently wrapping up my 1st year teaching French and will start the prereqs in the fall. I am nervous too, but if you are a diligent student and won't settle for mediocrity, I think that there is a fair chance for people with our background.
 

Spurg

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Don't be scared, jump in there and get it! I think someone mentioned brushing up on some math and other things, not a bad idea. Good luck.
 

yossarian444

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My spouse was a theater major who hated and struggled in math and took science classes post-bac after taking only 1 or 2 science classes in undergrad. Worked her tail off post-bac, got into US allo first try, and is now a resident. Pretty much same story for me except replace fine arts major with a different non-science major and I don't start residency for another few weeks yet.

My advice: Be careful about trying to work too many hours while doing post-bac, depending on the number of credits you plan on taking. To guarantee success, study harder than you ever thought possible. No matter how much studying you do, figure on doubling that amount once you're in med school. As a reference, in my case during my m1/2 years, I easily put in 80-90+ hours per week of study time. That number does not include lecture time, but I never went to lecture nor listened to recordings of 'em. Classmates of mine from science backgrounds who took more than the bare minimum science pre-reqs got away with less studying m1 year. You might as well get used to extreme studying now. Don't study that much now though since you'll want to get your volunteer stuff or research stuff or whatever stuff done.

Ok, back to my 5th straight hour of netflix viewing for me...m4 year is quite tough I tell ya.
 

vivapuff

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Super advice from you all. Thanks so much.

I start June 8th or so, and to update you, I've purchase an Algebra book. Wee! This is fun (well, kinda, sorta, not really. :)
 

The_Sunny_Doc

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My advice: Be careful about trying to work too many hours while doing post-bac, depending on the number of credits you plan on taking. To guarantee success, study harder than you ever thought possible.

:thumbup: Totally with you re: not working many hours if you can avoid it. I spent way more time in the library than I expected with a full course load of science classes and they weren't even upper level.

Vivapuff it will be fun once you hit upon one of those subjects that really piques your interest. Mine was Physics. :love: Life made sense after that, LOL. Good luck with Algebra! You do need to know that stuff later on, as you may already know - I was kicking myself at the beginning of Physics I for not having a better grasp of the basics. Basic concepts in trig and geometry are important, too.
 

vivapuff

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I'll take any suggestions for trig/geo review books! :)
Many thanks to all of you lovely people. Visiting this forum gives me so much hope.
 

Nadine02

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I personally found the books of the "Demystified" and "For Dummies" series very clear. They have them in Physics, Biology, Chemistry, O-Chem, Maths, and a bunch of other subjects.
They start at the absolute easiest and explain everything very well.
They helped me (a person who is bad in physics, maths, chem) learn the basics very well.
 

Geekchick921

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You should be fine. Personally, I have a BFA in theatre for my undergraduate degree and I'm doing alright in med school. There are times when I wish I was a science major... in biochem I wished I had been a biochem major... in neuro I wished I had been a neuroscience major, but every time we're in doctoring, I'm glad I was a theatre major.
 

V FIB

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You'll be fine. I came from a total arts background, no math or science since high school, and my post-bacc went very well. One extra piece of advice I'd offer that I didn't see mentioned above is that you might want to approach your more approachable classmates (both post bacc and undergraduates) and ask them about their study habits. Ask them what works for them (specifically) when they study for science classes and prepare for exams. They might have some insight to offer you and might save you some time helping you find what works for you instead of having to do some trial and error to find out on your own. Good luck!
 

DrZaiusDrZaius

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OP, you're not crazy at all. I was an English major in undergrad and only took three science courses during my college years (a year of calc and a semester of physics). I just finished this application cycle and will be starting medical school in the fall.

I pretty much did all of my science prerequisites after graduating--it was tough at times but very doable with lots of hard work. If medicine is what you really want, it'll be worth it!

Also, being from an arts background will really make you stand out in interviews (in a good way); I can count on one hand the number of non-science majors I met on the interview trail.
 
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