Some postbac programs market themselves as offering a certificate of completion. Does this certificate mean anything when it comes to med school applications? Which holds more weight, a postbac certificate or a committee letter?
We take questions directly from the OldPreMeds.org forums and answer them here on the podcast. OldPreMeds is the short name for the National Society for Nontraditional, Premedical, and Medical Students.
[01:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:
“I am 30 years old and I’ve just started, well, re-started down this premed path. I took some prereqs during undergrad, a year each of chem and bio, but did poorly. In the year since then, I’ve been working in marketing and have not really been in touch with my science interest for some time.
Once I began my research in how to make my plan of becoming a physician in reality, I saw that postbacs are a good way for “career changers” to get those prereqs done. I’m pretty sure I fall into that category because I did not complete my prereqs in undergrad and have not worked in the medical field. I’m currently retaking chem and doing a lot better so far at a four-year local university.
My plan is to take another semester at the same school and then up my course load by starting a postbac at another university. I think the dedicated advisers could be a real asset. However, there are three postbac programs that I know of in the Chicago area. They all seem to offer committee letters but at least one does not offer a certificate. Is the certificate important? Should that affect where I choose to apply?”
[02:25] Reach Out to the School
If you are a student who has taken some science courses, reach out to those Career Changer programs in your area. Find out if you qualify for their programs. Some may say you won’t because you’ve taken sciences. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t worked in the medical field. It doesn’t matter that you’ve completed all of your prereqs. While other career changer programs might say that’s okay. So just reach out to make sure.
[03:14] Two Types of Postbac Programs
There are typically two types of postbac programs. Career changer programs are for students who have not taken any sciences. The other is Grade or Academic Enhancer programs for students who did take sciences but need to improve their grades. The purpose of this is to show medical schools that they can handle the coursework.
[03:40] Does a Certificate Matter?
The simple answer is no. The certificate does not matter. It’s not important for anything. Maybe it’s the trophy society we live in, that everybody gets a certificate. But the certificate does not matter at all when you’re looking at a postbac program. It doesn’t matter when you’re applying to medical schools that it’s a certificate program or a non-certificate program.
[04:25] Find a Postbac Program in Your Area
To view a list of postbac programs, go check out the AAMC postbac directory. Find a program in your area. Reach out to them. Let them know who you are and that you’re planning on applying. Ask them questions directly. It’s the best way to get the best information directly from those programs.
Also, post any questions you might have on the OldPreMeds.org forums. If you haven’t yet, register to join this collaborative community.
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