Clinical experience for post bac programs

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Aug 16, 2006
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I am hoping to start a post bac program (one for career changers with no previous science courses) by summer/fall 2007.

My biggest concern at this point is previous clinical/medically related volunteer experience and the role having this (or conversely not having it) might play in the admissions process.

How much of this should one have before even starting to apply to post bacs? I understand that having worthwhile clinical experience is essential when it comes to med school applications but I am not exactly sure how this factors into post bac applications. Call me confused, but shouldn't there be plenty of opportunities for clinical experience once you have entered a post bac program? Or do you have to have an extensive amount before you apply to post bac programs?

I volunteered consistently throughout college. One of the organizations I volunteered with was a medically related charity. It wasn't an office duties type position but it wasn't exactly what I think of a clinical position being either. I'm also unsure if this experience would still be relevant or not since it was a few years ago.

At this point, I'm debating on what I need to do---whether I should go find a more relevant medically related volunteer position before I send in my applications or not. It is not that I don't enjoy volunteering or am trying to avoid any sort of clinical exposure---it's just hard to find time to fit it all when you're working full time, etc.

I would appreciate any advice/feedback anyone would want to provide on this, especially from those of you that are currently enrolled in a post bac program or will be applying in the next year like I am. Thanks!

NY Musicologist

Career Changer
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Apr 1, 2005
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I got accepted to a good career-changers' postbacc (Mills) about four years ago with absolutely NO ec's, medical or otherwise. I had excellent grades (all humanities), strong LORs (from humanities profs) and a well written essay. If you have those items (especially the grades, to prove that you can succeed academically in SOME subject area), I wouldn't worry.

(NB. Unfortunately, I chickened out at the last minute, turned down my Mills admission, and tried to forget about medicine. Here I am, however, still surfing SDN...)


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I don't think you have to have clinical experience to apply post bac programs, but for medical school, although it is not mandatory it is highly recommended to have some clnical exposure.

I think the reason is, how would you know what is like being a doctor if you have not seen it yourself in real life? Watching ER or House MD is not something you want to say.

If they ask you how do you know want to be doctor? What would you say? Many could use "Since I was a child...." card, but that does not cut it. Also saying things like "Because I want to help people"... Well you can help people in many other ways.. why not nursing? Social worker? etc... Also how would you know if you end up hating it once start clinical work? What would your anser to that? Medical schools don't want to admit a candidate who is not pretty sure about choosing medicine.

Having clinical experience not only can be used to explain why you want be a doctor, but also to prepare yourself for med school as well. Today, I went to see a patient who had spinal surgery. He was not able to walk or control his legs before the surgery. One day after the surgery, he now can move his legs without pain and he can feel is toes. He started to cry. It was pretty emotional. Experience like this, you can only "feel" if you observe it yourself in real life. No matter how many time I can try to describe it you will not be able to really understand it.

This is why clinical exposure is considered important.