seizethedee

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 26, 2008
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Richmond, VA
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Pre-Medical
I'm an often silent observer of these forums, but I have a question for those people who know about the CERT program at VCU.

I have enrolled in the program, and will be taking Immunobiology as my elective. I am currently waitlisted at VCU and GWU, and am working on my secondaries for 2010 as we speak. Ideally, I will get into VCU and stay here- I have been incredibly impressed by the school and its programs.

Anyway, to get to the point, I'd like to get opinions on trying to have a PART TIME job while doing the program? I am talking to a mother of a little girl who needs a sitter from 2:30-6pm Mon-Friday. I am a little concerned about committing to 5 days a week, but the hours seem ideal (as is the pay), and her school/home is very close by...could anyone give me an idea of really how hard the classes are, and realistically how many hours each day you put into studying? Once I got back, I know that I would eat dinner and immediately hit the books for the evening, but I'm not sure if that would be enough. I am 100% committed to getting into school next year, and am determined to make A's this fall. I essentially worked 2 jobs through undergrad, and am used to being busy and having to manage my time well. But Dr. Merchant put the fear of God in me about working when I talked to him about the program...

I know that I really won't understand the demands of school for me personally until I'm actually in the classes...but I figured I'd see what everyone else has to say. What's the consensus?
 

Instatewaiter

But... there's a troponin
10+ Year Member
Apr 28, 2006
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2,088
Washington
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Attending Physician
Anyway, to get to the point, I'd like to get opinions on trying to have a PART TIME job while doing the program? I am talking to a mother of a little girl who needs a sitter from 2:30-6pm Mon-Friday. I am a little concerned about committing to 5 days a week, but the hours seem ideal (as is the pay), and her school/home is very close by...could anyone give me an idea of really how hard the classes are, and realistically how many hours each day you put into studying? Once I got back, I know that I would eat dinner and immediately hit the books for the evening, but I'm not sure if that would be enough. I am 100% committed to getting into school next year, and am determined to make A's this fall. I essentially worked 2 jobs through undergrad, and am used to being busy and having to manage my time well. But Dr. Merchant put the fear of God in me about working when I talked to him about the program...

I know that I really won't understand the demands of school for me personally until I'm actually in the classes...but I figured I'd see what everyone else has to say. What's the consensus?
I am pretty much the voice of VCU cert program on this site so I I'll bite. I did the cert program in 2001-2002. I am currently a 3rd year in medical school (finishing up the last week of my third year). I did well in the program. I am toward the top of my med school class now.

The program is hard. Really hard. To add to it, there is a ton of stress because you know that if you screw up you will essentially ruin your chance at med school. I would say the combination of these factors have made it, on the whole, more difficult than medical school (perhaps with the exception of anatomy).

Only about 2/3 of the class makes it through the program. The rest either drop out because it is too hard, fail out first semester or can't maintain a 3.0 by the end of 2nd semester. That alone should tell you it is hard. Realistically about 30% can handle the program. Much of this in the past has been because they have low entrance requirements. Very few people (maybe 4 my year) get 4.0s that first semester. Everyone comes in with your attitude about doing what it takes to get the As. Again, <10% do get all A's. The first semester is vital because that is all the adcom will see first semester. VCU does not do +'s or -'s. So a 90 is an A and an 89 is a B. You see a huge drop in GPA if you miss that A especially in the 5 credit courses.

The volume of information is overwhelming. The material is not very hard and quite frankly some of the tests were a joke compared to my undergrad. That said, the sheer volume of material coming at you is immense. Biochem and phys move very fast if you have never had these courses. In addition, the amt covered each day is much more than in undergrad. They are also 5 days a week making it very, very easy to get behind.

In terms of your job:
If you are going to be able to study without distractions, then I say yeah, take the job. If however most of that time is going to be spent looking after that kid, dont do it. This is a very obvious step up from undergrad and it is kinda a last ditch effort to get into medical school. If you F--- this up (ie get more than 1 B), you will actually hurt your chances of getting into medical school.

If you need a job get one where you sit behind a counter all day and dont get bothered.


Realistically expect to spend 8-9a, 1-2p each day in class plus whenever your immuno class meets + a 5pm seminar weekly.

Expect to spend a minimum of 3h studying daily if you want to do well. Realistically you should probably study 2h for every hour you spend in class (think is including ramping up your studying for test weeks) so around 30h per week. I am pretty sure on average I spent more than that per week.
 
OP
S

seizethedee

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 26, 2008
32
0
Richmond, VA
Status
Pre-Medical
Thank you so much for the information and honesty... I think I know in my heart that I should not commit to that amount of time at work without experiencing the courseload and knowing for sure I will be able to handle both in tandem. I'm just a little scared about the debt, and I have also never JUST done school before. I'm a bit of a busy body, so it's going to be an adjustment.

Anyway, thanks again... time to get the ole' brain gears ramped up.