Getting into Med School after Community College Postbac

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Session 330

David had to take do postbac at a community college to be able to work full-time and support his family. He was asked why by the interviewers and what that meant for him in his future in medical school. But he was still able to receive multiple acceptances.

If you’re in this process and currently taking classes at a community college, this episode will hopefully encourage you that’s it’s okay to take classes at a community college. Meanwhile, be sure to listen to all our other podcasts onMedEd Media Network and get all the resources you need to help you along this journey towards one day becoming a physician.

[01:25] Interest in Medicine

David wanted to be a doctor as a default since he was in elementary years. But he had no idea what it meant. Back in undergrad, he felt the pressure to pick a career that was going to provide for him and his family. And he felt the pressure to figure something out quickly. He admits to never really liking school that much, although he likes learning. He was sure he wanted to help people but he wasn’t sure whether he could do all that schooling. Ultimately, he had to wait until his wife graduated from her master’s program was when he decided to pursue his dream.

Initially, becoming a doctor was not on top of his priority list. He actually got married during his second year in undergrad and had their first daughter during his junior year. So he’d work from 8 to 5 and run to school at 5:30, take his classes in the evening and go home to take care of his wife and kid. In short, he wasn’t able to give his full effort to schooling.

[05:20] Going Down the Premed Path

He worked at a company for five years doing software development. He recalls chatting with his colleagues and talked about the one thing they would do had they not been doing software. And he knew he always wanted to do medicine but he was afraid of the debt and time commitment involved. So he told them he wanted to become a doctor and his friends encouraged him to go do it. They were simply supportive of him. So he talked this out with his wife and told her this was something he really wanted to pursue. Luckily, his wife gave him all the support he needed.

He didn’t hate his software job as it paid the bills and he loved doing it, but there was already that seed being planted on his mind which pushed him eventually over the edge. Being a very determined person, and once he decided he’d take on this path, he knew he was going to follow it through.

[09:05] Gathering Premed Resources and Following the Process

David went online to check what prereqs he had to take and what studying for the MCAT looked like, etc. He then signed up for a few classes at their local community college. He took a general chemistry class back in undergrad but that was 11 years before and got a C in that class. So he decided to take the class and if he made an A then it was going to kick him up to the next step and keep pursuing his goals. He and his wife agreed that if kept meeting his goals then they’d go all in on it.

He took the first chemistry class and seeing he did well in the class, he thought he didn’t want to invest a couple of years and money into this so he decided to take the MCAT immediately to see how he’d do. So he started studying for the MCAT after he took the first full-length practice exam. He took the first practice test and his score wasn’t so great. This was back in 2015 when they started doing the new MCAT. He then decided to slow down and take it one step at a time and just finish a couple more prereqs before taking the MCAT. It was a slight setback going on in his mind but good thing he saw how people were reacting to it pretty strongly that this got him to take it slow.

David admits being the kind of person that just wings things. He doesn’t necessarily follow the beaten path. At that point, he decided to do things by the books and follow the process the way it’s supposed to be done for once in his life. And he was glad he did! Now, that he’s in medical school, David clearly appreciateshaving done all those. David highly suggests you listen to the people who have gone through this process before you and were successful. The better you can learn it in undergrad, the easier time you’re going to have in first year of medical school.

[15:25] Working While Studying

At that time, he already had one child and another one on the way. He wanted to only disrupt his family as little as possible throughout the whole process. And the easiest way for him to do this was to take classes at a community college. They had evening classes which fit his work schedule and had cheaper classes than the university.

For him, the hardest thing for him was keeping all the balls in the air and trying to only drop as few as possible. He describes how time-consuming the process was. You leave straight from work and go to your classes then run home hoping your kids are still awake so you can say goodnight to them. Eat, study, go to bed, get up in the morning – rinse and repeat. As for his extracurricular activities, he’d take a couple of half days and go shadow in the morning.

[18:38] Going Through the Interview Process

David had several interviews and he posted in the FacebookPremed Hangout Group and warned students that being at a community college came out every time during interview.  He was caught off guard being so excited walking into the interview room. He sat down with a couple of interviewers and the first thing they said was he had a good application but why community college and ruin his application by doing that. So he gave them his reasons and he was questioned by the PhD telling him he hasn’t shown them why he’s ready to come to medical school. She just wouldn’t buy it. He was even wondering if she was just testing him. All has been said and done, but he got accepted two weeks later.

Out of his 170 hours of undergrad course work, he took 80 to 90 of those at a community college. He was still able to make it. Sure, you’d get some pushbacks and your school list will definitely be affected by which schools will accept community college credits or not. But don’t let that deter you. You can absolutely get into medical school.

[21:05] The Waiting Game and The Key to Success

David was surprised at how much waiting was involved. You rush to submit the applications and then just wait. You may or may not get interviews early on. And more waiting and waiting for an interview if any will come. There was just a lot of downtime he didn’t expect.

The hard thing he considers about the application itself was talking about himself which he hated. And so getting comfortable with talking about himself was a challenge for him.

Moreover, what he believes has set himself up for success was the practice. He did a lot of interview prep with him so he felt very comfortable walking into every interview he did. Because by then, he had already rehearsed the types of things he wanted to say or the way he wanted to speak, not word for word, but the message he wanted to get across. He thought practice was very much a key. You have to practice beforehand so you’d have an idea of what to expect and an idea of how to approach things.

[24:10 Choosing His Medical School

David was fortunate enough to choose from a number of medical schools he got accepted in. His considerations included the proximity to his family. He ended up choosing a school where he had his parents spending a lot of their time in the state as well as his brother. Family support was huge.

He also wanted to go to a school that showed him that they cared about the students, and not just lip service. A lot of schools talk about student wellness and so on but they never really show you a lot of what they’ve done or what they do for their students. When he came to the school he got interviewed in, they were so straightforward about the things they do and the students talk about the concrete things the school does for them. They even provide wellness grants, which impressed him.

Moving to a new state was pretty challenging. He did have his expectations but going the actual thing of going through it was another animal for him. He underestimated how much work and time it would require to do the whole family thing along with school and keep up with all the social stuff at school. But he’s thankful for the support system he has who has sacrificed for him so much.

[26:36] Typical Day and Dealing with Family Time

His typical day would be running at 8 am and going to school to study until 5-6 pm. He’d come home and have dinner with family and go back and recluse himself and study again. Then go to bed around 11 pm. Rinse and repeat.

David describes going to medical school as very selfish as there are dates you can’t just move around. There’s a schedule that you just have to follow. So the people in your life have to bend around you and sacrifice around you. So keeping those communications open between you and your spouse is so important.

Be in communication about who’s doing what and when, where, what the expectations are, the things you need from each other. He advises people going into this who have spouses and family to try and make sure you make those communication boundaries. Set them ahead of time.

[28:55] The Biggest Misconception

For David, the biggest misconception he had about medical school was that he was going to be able to approach it just like a job. And the first anatomy block was just a rude awakening for him.

Ultimately, he wishes to impart to other students who are on this same journey that it’s very important to write down your goals and what you want to do and when you want to do it and how you’re going to accomplish those goals.

Having a grand idea of becoming a doctor is great. But you’re not going to accomplish that as easily as if you were to write down those steps you need to take. Be honest about where you are today and look where you need to be. Then set out a plan. Once you reached that goal, set the next step.

And for those students out there who are doubting themselves, David says you have to believe in yourself. Believe in the people around you who believe in you. If you’re struggling with motivation, go find a physician to shadow if you can. See what the end result can look like for you. Volunteer in a medical field and see the kinds of people you’re going to be treating. Use that as a motivation for your goal.


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