In today’s episode, I talk with Dr. Victoria Rosner, the Associate Dean and Coordinator of Academic Affairs at Columbia University’s Postbac Premed Program. Dr. Rosner leads the advising team in support of students in Columbia’s postbac premed program.
Columbia University was the first postbac program in the country, and it remains the largest, with close to 500 students in the program. Most of these postbac students are career changers who have never taken science classes. Many have had successful careers in other industries before realizing they wanted to dedicate their lives to being healers.
Today, we discuss the growing popularity of postbac programs across the country, the types of students Columbia is looking for, and the immense support the school is offering to help their students really excel in their passion.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
Where most Columbia postbac students come from:
- Going through undergrad thinking they’re not going to be doctors
- Wanting to be doctors but thinking they can’t
- A very diverse group
Common characteristics of Columbia postbac students:
- Extremely driven and highly motivated
- Not making a financial decision but a “passion” decision
- Involved in volunteering in various clinical and research settings
Why are postbac programs becoming so popular?
- Around 140 programs across the country
- Career changers
- Economy as a possible factor
[Related episode: Almost Everything You Need to Know About Postbac Programs]
- Undergrad and graduate (PhD) student at Columbia
- Teaching English classes at Columbia
- Getting exposed to the School of General Studies (the only college in the Ivy League that is a destination for nontraditional students who want a rigorous, elite education)
Postbac premed advising at Columbia:
- 4 full-time advisers in the program
- Support services at the School of General Studies
Admissions for the Columbia Postbac:
- Accelerated track through the postbac (1.5 years instead of 2 years)
- 1st half of the program: students may choose some classes per semester
- 2nd half of the program: students are required to attend full-time
- Requirement to complete at least 120 hours of clinical work during the program
- Access to the largest municipal hospital system in the U.S.
- Active and robust database of clinical opportunities
- Standing relationships with a number of New York City hospitals
The struggles of transitioning into science-based curriculum:
- Reacquiring your identity as a student
- Not having done any science studies before
How Columbia University is supporting their postbac students:
- Academic resource center
- Postbac coaching program
- Seminars on topics such as transferable skills and the best way to study for the sciences
- Classes geared towards MCAT prep and MCAT prep advising and panels
- Glide-year counseling
- Interview advising (“Mastering the Art of the Medical School Interview” workshop on Multiple Mini Interviews)
- Social Justice Medicine student organization
What is the glide year for postbac premed students?
- Postbac students who don’t apply for linkage programs take a glide year.
- Students get access to a database of glide-year opportunities, so they can spend the glide year working in health care locally, nationally, or internationally.
[Related episode: What Should I Do During My Gap Year?]
What Columbia University is looking for in their applicants:
- Strong academic credentials (GPA 3.6-3.7)
- Great stories about how they got to this point
- Dr. Rosner shares some incredible stories of their postbac students
[Related episode: What Can I Do If My GPA Is Too Low for a Postbac Program?]
Some pieces of advice for premed students:
There are times when what you’re learning as a premed feels disconnected from the future that you imagine for yourself as a medical provider. Find a way to spend time in clinical settings (shadowing, volunteering, etc.) to get yourself out into the world of health care and use that as the engine to drive you through your studies.
There are many postbac programs out there. Find the program that works for you.Find a way to spend time in clinical settings (shadowing, volunteering, etc.) to get yourself out into the world of health care and use that as the engine to drive you through your studies.Click To Tweet
Links and Other Resources
- New York Times article about postbac programs
- Related episode: How Should I Evaluate Postbac Programs?
- Related episode: Choosing Between an SMP and a Postbac Program.
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