Astrophysics

2+ Year Member
Aug 31, 2015
10
1
Status
Medical Student
Hi all,

This is my first post on these forums, glad to be here. I have been reading threads on here over the past few months and decided that it's my time to ask a few questions.

Below is a quick summary of my standing:

  • Currently working in the Finance industry with a BBA in Finance (3.65 GPA)
  • Have completed minimal science courses (Introductory Physics, Calculus in High School, that's about it)
  • Planning on pursuing a "career changer" post-bacc
  • Did not sit for the MCAT

Obviously, this fits a lot of the characteristics for prospective applicants, so I wanted to gather more color on what I need to do in order to be a competent applicant for a "career changer" post-bacc such as Bryn Mawr, Columbia, etc. Here is what I've gathered:

  • Acquire volunteer experience at a hospital (which I aim to begin this year)
  • Extracurricular activities (this one is interesting, most of my extracurriculars in college were not medicine-related, does this matter? I was part of two honor societies as well as a Financial Leadership Program)
  • Letters of recommendations from hospital that I am volunteering at

I think I am missing several other factors here...would anyone care to help? Some questions I have are below:
  1. What are the minimum volunteering hours I should have under my belt?
  2. What extracurriculars should I get involved in that will help my application be more competent?
  3. What else can I do to be a more competent applicant to these "career changer" post-baccs?
  4. Is my GPA competent enough for these post-baccs? (3.65)
Your help is greatly appreciated, thank you!
 
Oct 5, 2013
57
49
Status
Pre-Medical
1. There are not any minimum volunteer hours you need, it matters on how much you can acquire but I would usually say if you're going to commit to something it should be a 2 semester minimum but be passionate about it.
2. Activities can be medically related or not, again, this really should be something you enjoy doing. If you care about pediatrics then you can volunteer at a children's hospital, if you care about helping under deserved then a free clinic would be a good place, you can also volunteer with issues you care about, it doesn't matter what but it should represent you. You can also ask professors to volunteer in their research.
3. I would look at what they want, send emails to people who are in charge of them. There is a list of them on the AAMC website.
4. Your GPA is pretty competitive actually. ALSO, this is new (and exciting) but UMich has a MEDPREP program for career changers like you and they require a 3.5 GPA and above and it would be a good idea to apply there also.
Each program has a goal to prepare you for medical school and the MCAT and get you experienced. Some of these have linkages as well and I know Bryn Mawr has several. If you have anymore questions, Ill be happy to answer them!
 
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Astrophysics

2+ Year Member
Aug 31, 2015
10
1
Status
Medical Student
Thank you very much for the detailed reply—I greatly appreciate it. I am certainly going to focus on qualitative volunteering experience and extracurriculars as you mentioned.

As for the previous extracurricular experience that I've had in college, would that be a consideration in my application at all? I understand that medical volunteering and activities should be my strong points, but I was wondering if it made sense to apply thinking that they would see a well-rounded college student with good grades and if that set a good precedent for my medical-related activities which they would review next?

Also, thank you for notifying me about the UMich MEDPREP program. I will certainly check it out. Is this a relatively new program?
 

Moko

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Sep 7, 2015
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As for the previous extracurricular experience that I've had in college, would that be a consideration in my application at all? I understand that medical volunteering and activities should be my strong points, but I was wondering if it made sense to apply thinking that they would see a well-rounded college student with good grades and if that set a good precedent for my medical-related activities which they would review next?
Yes, definitely do include other substantial extracurricular and work experiences. Teaching and work experiences in particular seem to be looked upon particularly favorably.

As a note, post-baccs are generally pretty easy to get into (most of them are revenue-generating machines for their respective universities), and your GPA is more than enough for the majority of programs. When I applied, the most competitive ones were Bryn Mawr, Goucher, and Scripps. The "brand name" programs (Harvard Extension, Columbia, Penn, etc.) had much more relaxed acceptance requirements. Things may have changed though.

Rather than focusing on getting into a post-bac (with your GPA, that's easily doable), I'd recommend focusing on getting into a program where you will get good grades and have good research and volunteering opportunities nearby. It would be useful to find out how the programs' past graduates have fared. The real challenge is becoming competitive for medical school, and unfortunately, not all programs are equal in this respect.
 
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Astrophysics

2+ Year Member
Aug 31, 2015
10
1
Status
Medical Student
Yes, definitely do include other substantial extracurricular and work experiences. Teaching and work experiences in particular seem to be looked upon particularly favorably.

As a note, post-baccs are generally pretty easy to get into (most of them are revenue-generating machines for their respective universities), and your GPA is more than enough for the majority of programs. When I applied, the most competitive ones were Bryn Mawr, Goucher, and Scripps. The "brand name" programs (Harvard Extension, Columbia, Penn, etc.) had much more relaxed acceptance requirements. Things may have changed though.

Rather than focusing on getting into a post-bac (with your GPA, that's easily doable), I'd recommend focusing on getting into a program where you will get good grades and have good research and volunteering opportunities nearby. It would be useful to find out how the programs' past graduates have fared. The real challenge is becoming competitive for medical school, and unfortunately, not all programs are equal in this respect.
Thank you for the helpful feedback, Moko. The predicament that I am in is that Bryn Mawr and Goucher (my target schools) only start their cohorts May/June (respectively) each year. That would mean that I would need to wait an entire year if I do not apply this Fall. I am not sure how competitive my application would be right now, given that I would only have a couple of months of volunteering experience (should I apply this Fall).

What do you think? Wait it out an entire year to gain the volunteering experience and then apply to Bryn Mawr and Goucher (along with a few other schools that are my "second tier")? Or apply this Fall with my low medical-related volunteering experience but otherwise strong grades? Waiting an entire year seems like a bummer to me, but if it's what needs to be done, I'll do it. But if I have a good shot (even lacking the volunteer experience), I may apply this Fall.

Greatly appreciate your help (and anyone else who can chime in!)
 

musicalfeet

5+ Year Member
Feb 1, 2013
1,047
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Thank you for the helpful feedback, Moko. The predicament that I am in is that Bryn Mawr and Goucher (my target schools) only start their cohorts May/June (respectively) each year. That would mean that I would need to wait an entire year if I do not apply this Fall. I am not sure how competitive my application would be right now, given that I would only have a couple of months of volunteering experience (should I apply this Fall).

What do you think? Wait it out an entire year to gain the volunteering experience and then apply to Bryn Mawr and Goucher (along with a few other schools that are my "second tier")? Or apply this Fall with my low medical-related volunteering experience but otherwise strong grades? Waiting an entire year seems like a bummer to me, but if it's what needs to be done, I'll do it. But if I have a good shot (even lacking the volunteer experience), I may apply this Fall.

Greatly appreciate your help (and anyone else who can chime in!)
I applied to and was accepted one of the competitive 3 with about 40 hours of shadowing exp, if that helps? It was a full workweek of shadowing though, and I was able to talk about it pretty substantially. Quality > quantity (same holds true for app cycle too!)
 

Moko

Interview game face: on
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Sep 7, 2015
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The predicament that I am in is that Bryn Mawr and Goucher (my target schools) only start their cohorts May/June (respectively) each year. That would mean that I would need to wait an entire year if I do not apply this Fall. ... What do you think? Wait it out an entire year to gain the volunteering experience and then apply to Bryn Mawr and Goucher (along with a few other schools that are my "second tier")? Or apply this Fall with my low medical-related volunteering experience but otherwise strong grades?
I'd apply now. Worst case scenario (which I doubt will happen) is that you don't get in any programs, and you'll just apply again next year.

The big 3 programs are well-known for placing their students into medical school. However, the caliber of the students that they accept is so high to begin with that these students would have excelled in any post-bacc program that they went to. Having that extra support system is definitely nice. But in my opinion, it's not worth waiting a whole year for the chance to get in. If you can do well in the pre-med course work , many programs will get you to where you need to go.
 
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Astrophysics

2+ Year Member
Aug 31, 2015
10
1
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Medical Student
I applied to and was accepted one of the competitive 3 with about 40 hours of shadowing exp, if that helps? It was a full workweek of shadowing though, and I was able to talk about it pretty substantially. Quality > quantity (same holds true for app cycle too!)
That is very helpful. I should have at least 40 hours of volunteering experience if I were to be interviewed. Do they explicitly ask for hours/volunteer experience as any part of the application?

I'd apply now. Worst case scenario (which I doubt will happen) is that you don't get in any programs, and you'll just apply again next year.

The big 3 programs are well-known for placing their students into medical school. However, the caliber of the students that they accept is so high to begin with that these students would have excelled in any post-bacc program that they went to. Having that extra support system is definitely nice. But in my opinion, it's not worth waiting a whole year for the chance to get in. If you can do well in the pre-med course work , many programs will get you to where you need to go.
Thank you for your insight. I am strongly considering applying this Fall, now. Are there any tips you can suggest to help "patch up" my lack of medical-related volunteering? I work full-time in a very competitive firm, so it is hard to volunteer during the week though I am about to land a volunteering position at a hospital on the weekends this Fall.
 

musicalfeet

5+ Year Member
Feb 1, 2013
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That is very helpful. I should have at least 40 hours of volunteering experience if I were to be interviewed. Do they explicitly ask for hours/volunteer experience as any part of the application?
Yes I think they have an area where you can talk about it. I think 40 hours of shadowing > volunteering in that sense because shadowing is very "observing a physician" whereas volunteering is more seeing the workings of a hospital/clinic
 

Moko

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Are there any tips you can suggest to help "patch up" my lack of medical-related volunteering? I work full-time in a very competitive firm, so it is hard to volunteer during the week though I am about to land a volunteering position at a hospital on the weekends this Fall.
I would shadow and volunteer as much as possible between now and application time so you can convincingly answer the "Why medicine? Why now?" questions. Trauma surgery, Emergency medicine, Hospitalist medicine, Labor and Delivery are a few specialties that would operate at night and on the weekends. These people would probably be the best bet to shadow given your work schedule (however, it would take extra effort figuring out who's the attending when though).
 
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Astrophysics

2+ Year Member
Aug 31, 2015
10
1
Status
Medical Student
I would shadow and volunteer as much as possible between now and application time so you can convincingly answer the "Why medicine? Why now?" questions. Trauma surgery, Emergency medicine, Hospitalist medicine, Labor and Delivery are a few specialties that would operate at night and on the weekends. These people would probably be the best bet to shadow given your work schedule (however, it would take extra effort figuring out who's the attending when though).
Thank you. That makes sense, and I have just started the application. Did you mean to say "between now and interview time"? Considering that I will recently start volunteering, I will have more to say if I am selected for an interview.
 

Moko

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Sep 7, 2015
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Thank you. That makes sense, and I have just started the application. Did you mean to say "between now and interview time"? Considering that I will recently start volunteering, I will have more to say if I am selected for an interview.
Your application to a post-bacc program should include some reasoning behind why you think this change is right for you. It may be tough to convince the reader that it's a well thought-out decision if no examples are given of healthcare related experiences (e.g. things seen during volunteering and shadowing). Depending on when application season starts and ends, it may be worth it to delay your application by 1-2 weeks until you have something somewhat substantial to talk about in the application.

With your grade, you'll probably get an acceptance somewhere, since there will be programs that are more than happy to take your money. But, you want to get into the programs that are right for you. And to maximize the chances of this happening, why leave a check box unchecked? The application is ultimately your ticket to getting an interview and--in the places that don't interview at all--an acceptance.
 
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Astrophysics

2+ Year Member
Aug 31, 2015
10
1
Status
Medical Student
Your application to a post-bacc program should include some reasoning behind why you think this change is right for you. It may be tough to convince the reader that it's a well thought-out decision if no examples are given of healthcare related experiences (e.g. things seen during volunteering and shadowing). Depending on when application season starts and ends, it may be worth it to delay your application by 1-2 weeks until you have something somewhat substantial to talk about in the application.

With your grade, you'll probably get an acceptance somewhere, since there will be programs that are more than happy to take your money. But, you want to get into the programs that are right for you. And to maximize the chances of this happening, why leave a check box unchecked? The application is ultimately your ticket to getting an interview and--in the places that don't interview at all--an acceptance.
Totally agree with you. And I think I will wait a year and volunteer, shadow, and really decide if this path is right for me. It's a big decision, huge commitment (7+ years), and a lot of work. I think a year of volunteering will really help me solidify my decision. It will also help my application and make speaking about my decision that much more powerful. What do you think?
 

Moko

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Totally agree with you. And I think I will wait a year and volunteer, shadow, and really decide if this path is right for me. It's a big decision, huge commitment (7+ years), and a lot of work. I think a year of volunteering will really help me solidify my decision. It will also help my application and make speaking about my decision that much more powerful. What do you think?
If I was in your shoes, I would not wait an extra year just because of lack of volunteering/shadowing. The usefulness of this quickly plateaus off.

I would apply this cycle, hope for the best, and get as much shadowing and volunteering as possible to see if this path is right for you. And if this path isn't, you can always back out at any time, essentially up until the program deposit is due, without significant financial loss. As mentioned before, post-bacc programs really are not that competitive to get into (except the top few) and most of them will get you to where you need to go if you can handle the coursework. Just do your research on which programs (as their quality do vary).
 
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Astrophysics

2+ Year Member
Aug 31, 2015
10
1
Status
Medical Student
If I was in your shoes, I would not wait an extra year just because of lack of volunteering/shadowing. The usefulness of this quickly plateaus off.

I would apply this cycle, hope for the best, and get as much shadowing and volunteering as possible to see if this path is right for you. And if this path isn't, you can always back out at any time, essentially up until the program deposit is due, without significant financial loss. As mentioned before, post-bacc programs really are not that competitive to get into (except the top few) and most of them will get you to where you need to go if you can handle the coursework. Just do your research on which programs (as their quality do vary).
Thank you for all your help. Do you think it makes sense to apply Early Decision? I read that Early Decision applicants usually have the best shot of getting in. However, I would imagine this pool is the most competent as well.
 

Ericles

Medical Assistant; 1st-time Med School Applicant
2+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2015
29
10
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Pre-Medical
Hi there. I'm in a very similar boat as Astrophysics, however I'm several months behind. There's a month-ish until applications are due. I have a strong resumé: 3.7 gpa, 1.5 years volunteering (non-medical) overseas, leadership experience, and extracurriculars. I have my CPR cert. and I'm getting my EMT cert this month. Also, my undergrad degree, while non-traditional, will be extremely useful as part of my end goal which is medical missions.
However, I have almost no shadowing, volunteering, research, clinical experience etc. I had planned to take the year and shoot for a post-bacc starting in the summer of 2017. Now, reading this thread (plus hearing from others who got in with NONE of that experience) I'm having second thoughts on that plan. Any advice would be so helpful. Thanks.