Mar 29, 2010
Other Health Professions Student
Hello everyone,

I'm new to the forums here and didn't really know where to post this question, and seeing as I am a paramedic I feel most "comfortable" asking it here.

I have been considering a career change from EMS (despite being a relatively new paramedic - licensed just last year) into the field of medicine proper. My inclination is, not surprisingly, toward specializing in emergency medicine with the long-term goal of becoming a county, municipal, or agency medical director. Additionally, I've developed an interest in public health duel-degree programs - so either MD/MPH or DO/MPH.

My undergraduate studies are almost complete, and I will have my BS in June of 2011. Thus far, my cumulative GPA is around 3.45 with, as I said, a year of school remaining.

So here's my question. Upon completion of my degree I will still have outstanding pre-requisites (owing to the fact that I have only recently felt the urge to go to medical school). I will still have the year-long sequence of general bio, chem, o-chem, and physics to complete after I'm done with my BS, so what should I do? Should I start taking some of these courses concurrently with my present course work and delay graduating? Or should I just finish my degree now, and begin the remaining coursework afterward at, say, a community college or other university? Would the latter option "not look as good" to an admissions committee? Thanks for any and all feedback.


Chronically painful
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10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Nov 27, 2002
Las Vegas, NV
Attending Physician
I'm not the greatest source for this but I'll tell you what I did then what I think you should do.

I had already graduated with my BA in Poly Sci when I decided to go to med school. So I enrolled in a post baccalaureate (I may have spelled that wrong) program, specifically the one at U Penn. I took all my basic sciences, took the MCAT and went to med school.

Since you have not yet graduated you would have some advantages if you stayed an undergraduate and just postponed graduating until you finish the pre reqs. You know your college and the system there. You probably know people in some of those departments and could ask them about which professors to avoid and so on. In short, you can just start taking those classes and your disorientation factor will be less than if you go somewhere else.

Now would the classes at your college be harder than at a CC, maybe. Would an ad com look down on CC classes compared to those from your main college, maybe.

I will tell you for sure that this can be done.

You also might get some better responses in Pre Allo as those folks are more in tune with the whole pre req/med school app dance than I am. It was 15 years ago for me.

Good luck.


10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Apr 5, 2008
Resident [Any Field]
Pre-allo/pre-osteo might be the better place for this, but I'll give it a shot. Keep in mind that just because I was a paramedic and managed to get into med school doesn't make me an expert on your situation. (People on SDN who give advice sometimes forget that.) But I'll at least try to help you avoid the mistakes I made.

First off, if you're getting financial aid, I'd run these options by the financial aid office and ask what the impact would be on your loans/grants/whatever. If it would be difficult to fund those extra classes with loans after graduation, that might make your decision easier. This is going to be expensive enough without having to do private loans or something crazy like that for the extra year.

If you're missing all the science classes, you've got a couple of years of studying ahead of you. It would be hard to cram all those classes into one year, so if you're serious about this, it would be best to start taking them now. Also consider that it will be to your advantage to have a lot of those classes done when you take the MCAT, which is another hurdle you're going to have to jump over.

I am not on an admissions committee, but I think it makes their job easier if they are judging all of your work from the same place. If you do a bunch of courses at another school, it's unlikely to help you. It will make your app look different from most of the people competing against you. As long as you do well, and you have a good answer to the question "why did you do these classes at this other school?" in your interview, that effect should be minimal. But it's something to consider.

As far as the dual degree programs... I thought about it, but my personal opinion is that they add expense with little benefit. Those programs are popping up everywhere because med schools can charge an extra year's tuition for them, but that doesn't mean they will help you in your career. And unless you've taken a class in public health, you might not realize just what it is you're signing up for with an MPH. I'm not saying "Don't do it," but I do think you should have definite reasons for doing it before you seek the MPH. There's not much you can do with it + MD/DO that you couldn't do with just the MD or DO behind your name.

Despite the fact that, as a paramedic, you have a ton of health care experience, I was told at a couple of interviews that my lack of shadowing in "other medical fields" was a minus. See if you can do a bit of shadowing in something not related to EM. Try to do some shadowing with a DO if you're applying to osteo schools since many require that a DO write one of your recommendation letters.

I hope this post gives you a few things to think about. Reply on here or PM me if you have any questions. I'm a 1st year in DO school so it hasn't been long since I was in your shoes.


5+ Year Member
Dec 2, 2009
Resident [Any Field]
Take your pre-reqs prior to completing your current B.S. to avoid paying graduate rates for those classes. At least that's how it works in my area. Best of Luck!
Dec 30, 2009
I think you should check out the Post-Bacc forums here on SDN. There are some great programs for people who have not completed med-school prereqs that offer great linkages or placement in med-school (e.g. Goucher, Bryn Mawr, etc.)