This week, we have a question from a 34-year-old student who wants to get into a postbac program with a linkage to med school and he’s wondering how to do it.
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[01:05] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:
“I’m a 34-year-old with a wife and 3 kids, and hoping to someday become a physician. I’m applying to some postbac programs right now and I’m interested in skipping the glide year by participating in a linkage program.
It seems like you have to be extraordinarily qualified in order to get into these programs. I just don’t know if I even have a good shot at it. I have a 3.48 GPA and I’m volunteering in clinical research and nonmedical settings weekly. There isn’t much information out there about the application and selection process for these programs so I’m hoping somebody here has some experience with them.”
[02:00] What Are Linkage Programs?
A postbac is whatever you take after you graduate from undergrad. Once you finish undergrad and you take more classes then you’re considered a postbac. You can either do it on your own as a do-it-yourself postbac at any university or community college. You can also do this online, although I wouldn’t really recommend that. You may also go to a Special Master’s Program (SMP), a master’s level type postbac.
Now, some of these postbacs have “linkages” with medical schools, meaning if you go to that postbac and maintain some minimum standards, they will guarantee you a spot in medical school. Some are guaranteed interviews, others are guaranteed spots. This depends on how well you do.
[02:55] Get Into the Postbac First
A lot of these programs though are not “linkage” postbacs where if you get into a postbac, it’s an automatic linkage. That said, most of the programs out there have a relationship with one school or more. Then you have to apply to that linkage once you’re in the postbac. Hence, you need to get into the postbac first, then worry about the linkage.
[03:21] Is It Easy to Get Into a Linkage Program?
Oftentimes, you’re applying to the linkage without much objective data from your postbac school to show to the medical school. Since you’re applying so early on into your postbac program, you may not have a lot of grades back yet. You may have a semester’s worth of grades and that may be enough for you.
So a lot of times, postbacs work better for career-changers because hopefully, you have a track record of good grades already. Now, you just have to continue those good grades in your science courses. So when you do a postbac and apply for a linkage spot, you have information that medical schools can look at.
That said, different medical schools have different ways in terms of admissions, the interview process, etc. Therefore, just look at different postbac programs without thinking about the linkage.
Moreover, there really is no guarantee, on the other end, for that linkage unless you do really well on your postbac and you’re maintaining all those minimum requirements. Still, there is no guarantee.
[05:15] Avoiding the Glide Year and Competition Between Programs
The glide year is the same as the gap year, which is that extra year between when you’re postbac ends and when medical school starts. In that year, you can gain more clinical experience, research, etc.
As you’re looking for postbacs, understand that programs are going to be highly competitive. In fact, those that have contracts with medical schools are typically going to be the better postbacs since those medical schools have faith that the postbacs are teaching the students and preparing them properly to do well in medical school.
[06:53] Final Words
Ultimately, apply to whatever postbac is there. Many of them will have linkages. But then again, it’s not guaranteed you get into a linkage even if you get into one of these schools. So do your homework and figure out what’s best for you. Don’t stress about one extra year either. Don’t waste an application cycle to get into one of these programs that have a linkage.
Also, talk to the postbac programs and look at what the linkage entails. Find out if it’s a guaranteed interview or a guaranteed spot. A lot of those linkage programs have really high MCAT requirements. So be realistic with where you may be in this process.
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