Ask Dr. Gray Premed Q&A: Non-traditional Routes to Medical School

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Ask Dr. Gray Premed Q&A: Non-traditional Routes to Medical School

Session 68

Our question comes from an applicant who has taken a somewhat winding path during her premed career. We’ll sort through grades, trends, and more.

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[00:22] Making the Right Choice

Our student today is a nontraditional student who graduated from college back in 2010. She did a postbac program thereafter in 2011.

She was premed initially but her anxiety got the better of her. She’s trying to decide between taking a master’s program or taking some of her undergrad courses to boost up her application.

She has these two questions:

  1. What would look better on the application?
  2. What’s going to be the most efficient given the limited financial resources?

[02:15] Where She Is Currently

They just want to make sure you can handle the coursework. And that’s you’re academically capable.

'The admissions committee just wants to see good grades.'Click To Tweet

The student’s GPA right now is 3.17. Her science GPA is roughly about the same. It’s below average. It’s above 3.0 which is great since it’s that “magical” cutoff number.

In terms of her trends, she’s showing a downward trend from the first semester to second semester. She basically shut down and did poorly after her advisor discouraged her from getting into medical school. This echoed some of the insecurities that she was having.

[04:35] Doing a Postbac

This student apparently did a postbac. Her GPA went up so she didn’t completely end on a bad note. She did 30 credits through a formal postbac. Her undergrad degree is in biomedical science while her postbac was in biology.

Her postbac GPA was 3.5 to 3.6. It was better than her undergrad GPA, but not outstanding. 

[06:38] Reapplying to a Master’s Program

After finishing her postbac in 2011, she pursued her career. She took her MCAT in 2010 with a 25 (not great). Currently, she has already started studying for her MCAT. She also reapplied for a master’s program at USF. She’s actually scared to apply to medical school and since she wanted to boost up her application.

She has actually already boosted up her grades. So she had shown academically that she can handle the coursework with a formal postbac.

[08:30] Reach Out to Schools

This student had shown academically that she can do the coursework with a postbac and 30 credits of a postbac is decent. And getting a GPA of 3.5 – 3.6 is decent. It’s not outstanding, but it’s good.

In this case, talk to some medical schools where you’re interested in going and tell them about your postbac and that you want to apply to medical school. Then ask for their suggestions.

'A lot of them will tell you to get more classes. That doesn't mean do a master's.'Click To Tweet

A lot of them will probably tell you to get more classes but that doesn’t mean getting another master’s.

You could go to a community college or a four-year university and just take some higher-level classes to show that you’re still academically capable. You don’t have to do a master’s program to do that.

[10:18] Prepping for the MCAT

The other big part of this is that your classes were a long time ago. So how prepared are you for the MCAT? If you’re not going to apply until next year, start heavy into your MCAT prep. Review all of the content again. Do the MCAT prep as kind of your postbac.

Do a ton of content review and plan on taking the MCAT early part of the year and get after it. Try to see if you can get into some summer classes. But I wouldn’t recommend doing a master’s program. It’s not worth the money. It’s not worth the time.

[13:00] Visit Some Schools in Your Area

Go to some medical schools in your area. See if you can sit down and talk to them. Tell them you’re planning on taking just some more classes at a community college or at a university just to get back into the mindset of being a student. Then move from there.

[13:40] What Classes to Take

'The type of classes you take depends on the grades you got.'Click To Tweet

If you got D’s, then retake those classes. But if you got the C’s, this depends on you. It basically depends on your comfort level with that class. 

Do you think you have a solid foundation but just got a poor grade? Or can you take the upper-division class and do well on it without going back and taking the lower division class? It’s all up to you.

For both application services now, there’s no grade replacement. Retaking the course doesn’t do anything for your GPA specifically. All it does is help you with the foundational knowledge if that’s what you need.


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