Dec 5, 2013
2
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I have always been drawn to medicine and keep coming back to it as an option, but I feel lost on where to start. I have done my research but I am still a little lost when it comes to DIY postbacc vs. legit postbacc program. I would love some perspective from people who have been through it all or are going through it currently.

1) Education: BA in Business Administration, cGPA 3.4, 240 credits between business and computer science ( I transferred, lost credits ) . Obviously I don't have a ton of science, but I did take some bio and chem, and the math is there. What would be the best route for getting pre-req's? Are CC credits really that bad? Would a legit post-bacc or non matriculated post-bacc be a better option? Is an SMP a red flag for med schools?

2) ECs: 5 Year Collegiate athlete with all academic and all conference honors.
- Volunteering: Combined 6 weeks in East Africa working at a medical clinic. Shadowed doctors, assisted in minor surgeries/procedures, ran lab (HIV/Malaria testing, urinalysis), ran triage, used focometer to fit glasses in eye clinic. Approx 50hr/week, perhaps more. I LOVED this more than anything I've ever done
- 10 weeks in India working micro-finance. Less health related.

3) LoRs: I am close with the physicians I went with, they would be happy to write for me

4) Work exp: I work in medical / tech field providing software to hospitals and for clinical trials. Is this valuable? Could I sell it as valuable to a school?

I would love some feedback on where I stand and what I really need to do. I am working full time, and that seems to be the only way I could get through the classes without taking loans out.

I have bought the MSAR and looked at some schools that I am interested in - mostly west coast (U of Utah, U Wash., OHSU, Colorado) and all of them take CC credits, and some are case by case for online, others no issue. There are legit post bacc programs near me (PNW), but not a lot of night classes, so this would be hard to do right this second, and enrollment is closed until summer/autumn next year.

What are your thoughts about starting with some online class - specifically through UNE distance - and then working into CC classes (too late to get into them in January). Eventually I would want this to link back to a matriculated / non-matriculated program from a 4 year school. Would this mix of classes hurt me, or, since I have a degree and some work experience, is the emphasis more on my personal statement and LoR's.


I feel like I might have rambled, but think I got the point across? Let me know if I can clear anything up


Thanks and happy holidays!
 

DrMidlife

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cGPA 3.4, 240 credits between business and computer science ( I transferred, lost credits ) .
No school's inclusion/exclusion of transfer credits makes any difference. When you apply to med school, you submit every transcript from every school and list every class and every grade. Your schools get no vote on how your GPA is calculated in the med school app process, and any GPA appearing on a transcript is completely ignored.
What would be the best route for getting pre-req's? Are CC credits really that bad? Would a legit post-bacc or non matriculated post-bacc be a better option?
This totally depends on your situation. With a 3.4 you are below the average for students who get in to US MD schools, and you should assume the prereqs are going to be the hardest classes you've ever taken. Whatever you do, you need to get mostly A's, and you need to master the content in order to get a good MCAT score. I would not do CC or online work except for warmup classes.

There are boatloads of reviews of formal programs, and boatloads of DIY recipes in this forum. I recommend spending at least a dozen hours studying the lessons here.
Is an SMP a red flag for med schools?
No. You don't understand SMPs. They are for people who have completed the prereqs but need a GPA boost and they are the exact opposite of a red flag.
Combined 6 weeks in East Africa working at a medical clinic. Shadowed doctors, assisted in minor surgeries/procedures, ran lab (HIV/Malaria testing, urinalysis), ran triage, used focometer to fit glasses in eye clinic. Approx 50hr/week, perhaps more. I LOVED this more than anything I've ever done
The thrill of international healthcare needs to be balanced by about 5x as much clinical exposure in the US. Get a 4 hr/wk volunteering gig, now. Hospital websites usually have a volunteer page.
3) LoRs: I am close with the physicians I went with, they would be happy to write for me
That's one letter. You need 2-3 more from faculty.
4) Work exp: I work in medical / tech field providing software to hospitals and for clinical trials. Is this valuable? Could I sell it as valuable to a school?
Sure. You'd be expected to have intelligent and insightful things to say about that experience in interviews. But work experience isn't of interest until you pass academic screening on GPA/MCAT.
I would love some feedback on where I stand and what I really need to do. I am working full time, and that seems to be the only way I could get through the classes without taking loans out.
Loans are inherent to the process unless your folks help you out. Whatever you do, don't take out private loans. They are not subject to the repayment considerations of federal loans, which you will badly need on the other side of med school with around $250k debt.

But if you do a 2nd bachelors, that gives you some federal aid.

If you can honestly succeed by taking a class or two after work, and you won't lose steam in the extended period of time it'll take to get done, then by all means take classes after work. Otherwise you need to just do school plus volunteering.
I have bought the MSAR and looked at some schools that I am interested in - mostly west coast (U of Utah, U Wash., OHSU, Colorado) and all of them take CC credits, and some are case by case for online, others no issue.
The MSAR used to say if a school was public or private, but I don't think it does anymore. Regardless you need to understand that you're only instate for one of the four schools you list, and to get into a public school as a non-resident you have to have better stats than the locals. To gauge a school's instate preference you have to look at the % of out of state students they take, and study the website to find out if there's regional preference.

There are also a couple of DO schools in the PNW. You will want to know what a DO is and why it is a completely viable option.

Meanwhile, it's normal to apply to 25 or more schools. Unless your academic performance is substantially more impressive in the prereqs and your MCAT is nicely above the west coast average of 32, you need to apply early and broadly.
There are legit post bacc programs near me (PNW), but not a lot of night classes, so this would be hard to do right this second, and enrollment is closed until summer/autumn next year.
P'shaw, the only legit postbac is Portland and it's not formal.

In general the prereqs are all one year each with labs. There are advantages to starting each sequence in the fall. There are disadvantages to starting off-cycle. Summer courses are usually accelerated and taught by lecturers who aren't good for letters. Pros/cons all over the place here.
What are your thoughts about starting with some online class - specifically through UNE distance - and then working into CC classes (too late to get into them in January). Eventually I would want this to link back to a matriculated / non-matriculated program from a 4 year school. Would this mix of classes hurt me, or, since I have a degree and some work experience, is the emphasis more on my personal statement and LoR's.
Your personal statement and LORs are wee tiny bits compared to your academic credentials.

Online work is really easy to cheat, it doesn't have a legitimate lab component, and whoever is teaching it can't vouch for your capabilities. That's why it's frowned upon. If you want to take biochem or stats online, one class is okay.

CC work has a stigma that is less of an issue if you stay local. For instance, if you're in Seattle, those community colleges have a pretty good reputation and UWash isn't going to harsh on you. But the second you get out of Seattle proper to try to go to med school, they have no idea if Seattle CC's are any good and if the local CC's are crap then you're trashed.

Regardless, take some time to thoroughly research your options at nearby schools, and also thoroughly research some fantasy programs. A long long time ago I quit my job to start the prereqs in the summer as a nonmatric at UWash, but if I could do it again I'd have gone out to Bennington and done it freaking RIGHT.

Menawhile, if you have any consumer debt like credit cards or a car loan, you need to get that cleared up before you quit your job. You will be tight on cash for a helluva long time.

Best of luck to you.
 
OP
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Dec 5, 2013
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First of all, thank you for taking the time to write all of that out and respond to each of my points. I asked for perspective, and you handed me the perspective. I love it
With a 3.4 you are below the average for students who get in to US MD schools, and you should assume the prereqs are going to be the hardest classes you've ever taken. Whatever you do, you need to get mostly A's, and you need to master the content in order to get a good MCAT score. I would not do CC or online work except for warmup classes.

There are boatloads of reviews of formal programs, and boatloads of DIY recipes in this forum. I recommend spending at least a dozen hours studying the lessons here.
I fully understand how difficult the pre-req's can and will be. It's not something I would consider if I didn't think myself capable. I also understand a lot of people take that attitude into this kind of thing, so that lies on me to keep up the motivation and get good marks. Those DIY recipes are within the postbacc sub-forum?

No. You don't understand SMPs. They are for people who have completed the prereqs but need a GPA boost and they are the exact opposite of a red flag.
Good clarification, thanks

The thrill of international healthcare needs to be balanced by about 5x as much clinical exposure in the US. Get a 4 hr/wk volunteering gig, now. Hospital websites usually have a volunteer page.
What's a good number to shoot for? I'm sitting at 300-400 overseas experience. 1,500 hrs by the end of the pre-req's is a solid goal?

Loans are inherent to the process unless your folks help you out. Whatever you do, don't take out private loans. They are not subject to the repayment considerations of federal loans, which you will badly need on the other side of med school with around $250k debt.
Folks are not helping, but this is manageable with my current income if I were able to stay in state and find a 4 year

There are also a couple of DO schools in the PNW. You will want to know what a DO is and why it is a completely viable option
DO is totally viable, I forgot to mention it. Is there an MSAR equivalent for DO schools? I think this is the best I could find on here

P'shaw, the only legit postbac is Portland and it's not formal.
UP or PSU?

CC work has a stigma that is less of an issue if you stay local. For instance, if you're in Seattle, those community colleges have a pretty good reputation and UWash isn't going to harsh on you. But the second you get out of Seattle proper to try to go to med school, they have no idea if Seattle CC's are any good and if the local CC's are crap then you're trashed
Seems like a gamble unless they saw that Seattle CC's feed into UW and are up to par :(

Menawhile, if you have any consumer debt like credit cards or a car loan, you need to get that cleared up before you quit your job. You will be tight on cash for a helluva long time.
Fortunately in the black.

Closing remarks - Thanks again for all of this. Seems like I have a lot more research to do here on the forums but I think it is totally do-able, especially if one has the motivation...One last question since you seem to be a Seattle native: Thoughts on Bellevue College (formerly BCC, now soon to be Bellevue University)? Off the top of my head I don't know their accreditation, but I do know that they are 4 year now, which holds weight, and they have an affordable tuition and the classes that I'm looking for.

Best
 

DrMidlife

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Those DIY recipes are within the postbacc sub-forum?
You won't find exact recipes to follow, but I recommend the low GPA thread (the one with over a half million views) as in-depth coverage of recommendations and things to avoid. Now is also a GREAT time to go visit the reapplicant forum to find out what NOT to do.

I think I'm the only one around here with Seattle experience, but you need more than one opinion. Build a composite to give you an understanding of best practices.
What's a good number to shoot for? I'm sitting at 300-400 overseas experience. 1,500 hrs by the end of the pre-req's is a solid goal?
I don't get very excited about hour counts. I'm more interested in lengthy and varied exposure to the US clinical environment. When you've collected several experiences involving vomit, morbid obesity, angry nurses, drunken serenades at 3 am, etc then you have a basis to understand the complexities of US healthcare.

Can you see why US healthcare exposure is a requirement, and overseas experience is not? The US medical education system is part of the US healthcare system and you have to have some credibility in that context.

Also, for more perspective, it's now extremely common for premeds to have international experience. Maybe half the apps in the pile will have personal statements starting with "I went to <country> expecting to be of service, but I was the one who was helped."
DO is totally viable, I forgot to mention it. Is there an MSAR equivalent for DO schools? I think this is the best I could find on here
Yep, that's it. I personally recommend avoiding new schools in general, because you'll pay $50k tuition to be a guinea pig. But PNWU and the Western campus in Lebanon, which are both new, look solid.
UP or PSU?
This is an excellent exercise for you to learn how to research a school's options for postbac prereqs.
Thoughts on Bellevue College (formerly BCC, now soon to be Bellevue University)? Off the top of my head I don't know their accreditation, but I do know that they are 4 year now, which holds weight, and they have an affordable tuition and the classes that I'm looking for.
This is a common theme on SDN when folks are building a rationale to prioritize convenience over best practices. University of Phoenix also grants bachelors degrees, which is not the same thing as being a reputable rigorous institution. People get away with doing prereqs at community colleges. Will you get away with it? I have no idea.

One problem with BCC would be faculty letters of recommendation. BCC typically hires lecturers who do online office hours. Not to say that it's easy to access professors at a school like UW, but you can reasonably expect to have tenured faculty teaching the prereqs.

In your shoes I'd start looking for a job at UW or one of the better private schools like UPS, where you have tuition support and some flexibility. That's one of the options you'll see as you research the stories on these forums.

Best of luck to you.