When Should You Consider A Special Masters Program


Session 155

Our student is interested in pursuing an SMP to help with shadowing and research opportunities. Are SMPs worth doing even if you have good grades in prereqs?

All your questions answered here are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you don’t have one yet, do register for an account and join a collaborative community of students. Also, check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network.

[01:35] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I wanted to know if a special masters program would be unnecessary for my situation.

I’m a 29-year-old nontrad taking prereqs at a community college here in Pittsburgh, PA. Currently, I have completed a year of Bio with A’s, finishing this semester of Chem 1 and Physics 1 with A’s, taking Chem 2 and Physics 2 next semester, as well as OChem 1 and 2 in the summer. I also work full-time. I don’t have any past science courses from my UG and Grad school degree programs, so these are all fresh grades. I live within minutes of the University of Pittsburgh. Offered at UPitt is Biomedical masters program with a linkage to UPitt’s medical school (Interview only/No MCAT required). It’s a 12 month, 32-credit SMP.

The reason I am considering this program is, besides offering more advanced science courses, the program also offers research and shadowing opportunities (an aspect of this process I’m struggling to find) built into the curriculum. That’s the upside. The downside is- well, it’s a master’s program, so I’m looking at up to $30k in tuition for the year.

Getting into UPitt’s school of medicine (UPSOM) is not guaranteed at all, but if I keep this trending of A’s at the community college and take additional courses, like biochem and genetics and do well on the MCAT, should this carry enough weight in an application for me? I can’t say I’d find as much shadowing and research opportunities as I would be exposed to in the SMP, but I’m sure I can find something.”

[03:13] Should You Spend $30K to Get Some Shadowing?

A lot of students go through an SMP program because finding a physician to shadow is hard. But do you want to spend $30K to shadow? No!

Go find a physician to shadow. You can find somebody. It’s not that hard. You have to do some work obviously, and it’s a lot of work, but it’s not hard. You will get a lot of no’s and rejection which people don’t like but it’s not hard.

Listen to our previous podcast episodes about how to find people to shadow. I’ve covered it a ton. Go and find the clinical experience. Those are necessary. You don’t have to apply immediately as soon as you’re done with your courses. You can take a year, get the clinical experience you need. And then apply. Then save the $30,000. That’s a lot of money!

[05:27] The Next Bubble to Burst

Unfortunately, the government is currently giving money to students to spend at schools and they’re getting hundreds of thousand dollars of debt, even before medical school. Add medical school on top of it and students are just buried in debt. And this will be the next bubble to burst. It was the housing market in 2008, and the student loan deficit is a tremendous burden on students right now.

[06:00] To Do or Not to Do an SMP

Again, do not do and SMP if you’re just doing it because you’re lacking some things in your application that you can take some time and fit them in and get them. Ask people. Find some shadowing, Find some research. Find some clinical experience. Do not an SMP if you have good grades.

Sure, the linkages are nice to have. But it’s not guaranteed. So don’t go spend $30K to get some shadowing.

Links:

Nontrad Premed Forum

MedEd Media Network

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