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Please advise: Continuing post bacc vs Masters

Bojack Doctorman

New Member
Feb 15, 2020
  1. Pre-Medical
Hey all,

I am a nontraditional student that graduated from a top 20 undergrad program with a sub 3.0, roughly 2.85. I was not pursuing medical school but did end up with a biology and history major. I was interested in clinical research and was able to get a low level research assistant spot post-grad. To be succinct, after a year of working I decided I wanted to a physician and have been taking classes while climbing the clinical research ladder in my group. for the past 3 years. I have reached a crossroads where taking more classes will not help my gpa. I have a postbacc gpa of 3.6 (48 credits) with a 4.0 over the last 20 credits. I struggled a little at the start but have not made anything below a B. My cGPA is a 3.11 now and my sGPA is 3.34. Covid cancelled my MCAT and I will be taking it in the coming weeks. I have always tested very well on standardized tests, but I do realize this is a different beast. I project right now my lower range should be 508 and upper range to be 516. I still have a few weeks and opted to for the july 7 test. Also, I realize the difference between a 508 and 516 is astronomical, particularly for someone with my gpa. I don't think my chances are great but I am just going to do my best. It would be dumb for me not to prepare for rejection so I have listed out my 3 plans for the upcoming year. I am a non-URM, male, and 26 years old. My plan is MD this cycle. Next cycle would be MD and DO applications. I have worked with many amazing DO physicians in surgical specialties but even they have told me it is an uphill battle, and with pass/fail step 1 I want to focus on MD first.

Background out of the way, theoretically lets say I do poorly on the MCAT/pull applications or just don't get in anywhere. Should I continue taking classes this fall or late summer courses to try and continue to boost gpa? Another, year could get my post bacc gpa close to 3.7 , sGPA=3.43, and cGPA=3.18. It would cost me thousands though and the diminishing returns are less appealing. Its worth noting that I am not going into severe post bacc debt and can usually pay off classes with my salary, so the extra year would not destroy me financially. I have completed all required classes at this point.
Cut losses on post-bacc and take non-degree MPH classes that will be transferred to the MPH program I am interested in. I have experience as a research coordinator, data manager, and clinical project manager. I love clinical research and plan on getting a mph at some point even if I am accepted. I already have a thesis is mind.
Three years of work/night school has been a grind, so just take the fall off. See how the cycle goes and apply to SMP instead of MPH. I know 3 people who have done SMPs and did not get in afterwards, but all had low MCATs. SMPs were Boston U, Georgetown, and University of South Carolina. They took on a lot of debt and now have a fairly worthless masters degree, so SMP does scare me. MUSC (home state) has a less well known smp that has a very high acceptance rate that I am interested in though.

If I score below a 510, I may just wait until next cycle anyways but will still love to hear opinions on the 3 options above. I feel like I am at a cross roads and if I get rejected this cycle, I need to be prepared to take the best route moving forward.

Thank you for reading this long post and stay safe.
Last edited:


Full Member
7+ Year Member
Jun 23, 2013
  1. Pre-Medical
I agree with @FutureDrBeepBoop, as someone who is in a very similar position (graduated with a 2.95, doing post-bacc classes to raise it), I think you have hit the point of diminishing returns. It might be good just to take one class a semester to keep up academic chops, but that shouldn't be your focus. I was told just the other day that my 35 credits is sufficient, and you have 13 more than that!

The MPH classes definitely won't be much help in admission, unless public health is part of your narrative and you're helping to demonstrate that, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take them. If they interest you, you definitely should. They might not demonstrate academic rigor, but not everything in your life has to be geared towards the application (although I know it feels that way sometimes for me). I am taking some MPH courses myself through the military this fall, partially to advance my military career but almost entirely because I think they are interesting and a good use of my time (not to mention free). They won't turn any heads or really affect my application anywhere, except it may show a slight amount of interest towards USUHS (which may backfire at yield-protecting schools).

The best things you can do right now are to kill the MCAT and get more clinical exposure and volunteering. As a non-trad, dedication to service and unique experiences are some of your best avenues. Good luck!

Edit: also, great username and avatar.
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Bojack Doctorman

New Member
Feb 15, 2020
  1. Pre-Medical
@FutureDrBeepBoop Thanks for the help, and I definitely have a gap in primary care shadowing.

@ChicagoNS Thanks for the response, and I think you are both right. Thanks again for the help, I think the occasional post bacc class and waiting out the application will also clear my mind from work/school grind mode.

My extracurricular are below, if someone comes along and wants to comment on missing/unbalanced hours. I think my volunteer hours are low because I have 200 but that is spread out over a few years if you include undergrad which I did not volunteer during really.

- Clinical Project Manager for 2 IDE trials that have since been FDA approved and current site lead for an IND trial.
-moved to the COVID clinical research team during pandemic and was able to be a part of the Roche NIH trial that Fauci talked about a few weeks ago.
- rose up from lowest entry level to a position of leadership over 3 years at work.
- I have a few thousands hours in the clinic - 4 years of clinical research job. Two different institutions (1 top 20 Med school and 1 top 5 Med school)
-First PI - nationally recognized, runs one of the largest conferences in his specialty
- Second PI- nationally recognized, director of a residency program at top 5 med school
- 250 Hours in Operating Room/Cath Lab/ER with basically every specialty, including several autopsies.
- Undergraduate student athlete
- Volunteer in Hospice Centers - Covid hurt these hours but around 50 hrs
- Volunteer Free Medical Clinic- 150 hrs
- 1 Paper (not first author) - At my job the publications were not shared with non-MD staff even if you collected all the data and coded the export and stat analysis with statisticians. It was seen more as your job to do and that is why you were hired, not complaining, just dont want you to think I was lazy.
-Attended several conferences through my research group. Gave a presentation to all the sites I managed and the physicians there participating in the trial.
- Initial 3 years of research was no patient interaction even though I was probably more involved with the clinicians (data side of research but physicians relied on me heavily for their research to be completed/trial management). Past year has been all patient interaction, more of a research coordinator role.
- Hobbies- City club teams post grad- fairly competitive and would require travel to the next big metropolis to compete. Coaches were ex-pros and took up about 15-20 hrs week. Only first year post grad then quit for night class.
- Worth mentioning I could have alumni status at one school, (in-state), which my Grandfather attended, MD school. Cousin in law is DO grad.

I think my volunteer hours are low and I was working on those before COVID. Also, primary care shadowing is 0. I need to get a DO recommendation letter in case I apply DO for the next cycle.

If any other holes can be found let me know. Thanks.
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