Our question today is from a paramedic firefighter who is now interested in going to medical school but doesn’t necessarily want to take the prereqs. Can they?
We take questions directly from the Non Traditional Premed Forum, which you should check out, if you haven’t yet so you too can ask whatever questions you might have.
By the way, The OldPreMeds Podcast was mentioned by the AAMC as one of five podcasts to listen to for premeds. The Short Coat Podcast, by the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, has also been mentioned as one of those. Make sure to check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media.com.
[01:23] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:
“I recently had a big wake up call on what I’d like to do as a career. I’m 24 years old and I’m about to finish my undergrad in Emergency Services Administration. I graduate in about two months and realized a few weeks ago that being a firefighter paramedic isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life. I’ve pretty much spent every free moment I’ve had in the last two weeks trying to figure out if I’d be able to apply to medical school anytime soon.
I pretty much don’t have any of the science prerequisites like a year of biochem, o chem, or physics. I have basic physical science in biology prerequisites along with anatomy and physiology. But that’s about it. I’m a paramedic and I’ve had some really awesome experiences from them.
I’ve also gotten a good look into the medical field which has sparked my interest in going to medical school and becoming a doctor. I never ever thought about becoming a physician until recently. And I’m pretty far behind because of that. I have a 3.8 GPA and I’m pretty confident I could get a good MCAT score if I put my mind to it. I just don’t really know how to perceive from here and if this means I have to do another year or two of school after graduating this semester. Is there any way I can work on getting a good MCAT score and not have to do anymore schooling? Or am I out of luck?”
[02:42] Prereqs and MCAT
Do you have to do the prereqs? Now, you may just be in luck since a lot of medical schools are starting to move away from having required courses for admission to the medical school. But “a lot” is still not a lot. The majority of schools out there still have required coursework to be able to matriculate into medical school.
The required coursework also helps give you a foundational knowledge for the MCAT. You may not know a lot about the MCAT, saying you’re confident you can get a good MCAT score if you put your mind to it. Nevertheless, I have seen students walk into the MCAT practice tests without much prep and do very well. And you could be one of them. All this being said, you may not need all of the prereqs needed to do well on the MCAT as long as you prep for it appropriately.
[04:08] Reaching Out to Medical Schools
The biggest thing you need to do here is to reach out to some medical schools you’re interested in applying to. Reach out and tell them your story. And then ask them what they think you should do. Ask them whether they have requirements for classes to get into medical school. You could either get on their website and call. Or you can get access to the MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements), which costs about $30 to get access to it for the year. Browse through the website to see if this is something appropriate to you. At the end of the day, the fastest path forward is to take the MCAT.
[05:34] Where Prereqs Can Help You
Prereqs don’t help you in medical school. But they can definitely help you on the MCAT. You may not need the help but they can help you. The majority of schools out there still are going to require courses. So the best chances of getting into medical school will mean going and doing some of these prereqs. This could mean doing just a year of prereqs. You could go start school as soon as possible. Take a year’s worth of prereqs. Take the MCAT next March-May. Apply to medical school in 2019 to start in 2020. Then work on the rest of the prereqs in between applying and actually matriculating. Again, you don’t have to have all of the prereqs before you apply.
This is the course I would recommend since those courses are going to help you on the MCAT. There may be some help in medical school but at the core of it, the help it does in medical school is just that it allows you to learn how to be a student in some of those harder science courses. Then once you get to medical school, you realize that you really didn’t study that hard because medical school is just a whole nother level.
[07:33] Final Recommendations
Start to take some of the prereqs. Plan on taking the MCAT earlier in 2019. Apply in June of 2019 and start medical school in 2020. It may put a little delay on things. But start this very minute.
A lot of schools are starting to move away from those prereqs. But they’re helping you with the MCAT. They help you learn how to be a good student, which you need to do in medical school obviously. You may not be able to use the materials again, but the study habits and the skills you learned from that are going to be invaluable once you start medical school.
Moreover, you have to study and adjust to the pace of medical school. But your skills will still come in handy,
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