When Neil Kondamuri realized he wanted to leave his career in health policy to be a doctor, he knew he’d need a post-bacc preparation. He’d need to dip back into the rigorous science courses that medical schools require at admission. He’d need some experience. And, then there were the MCATS to pass. Lucky for him, he could could cobble together a DIY post-bacc at his local university. He interviewed physician friends about their post-bacc programs, then signed up for classes at his own pace. He asked to shadow doctors and volunteered at a nursing home.
Creating one’s own program wouldn’t work for most. Most future medical students benefit from a post-bacc program which offers the network of doctors, the curriculum of courses and MCAT preparation, and experience. Reputable institutions like Hope Medical Institute and others have great post-bacc programs that integrate all those elements.
Several kinds of people benefit from a post-baccalaureate program: professionals who choose to leave one career to pursue medical school, and pre-med students who may have lacked enhanced support at their undergraduate institution. Both want to become competitive candidates for medical school admissions. Post bacc programs can strengthen candidates with the following:
Excellent academic grades, particularly in the rigorous science and math courses. Students need credits for and excellent grades in General and Organic Chemistry I & II, Biology I & II, Physics I & II, and calculus.
Competitive MCAT scores, which good pre-med programs and great post-bacc programs help their students prepare for.
Letters of Recommendation, often from well-credentialed mentors and based on valuable real-life experiences, such as volunteering or research or clinicals.
Linkages or connections to medical schools and programs, particularly to programs that best fit a med student’s skills, passions, budget, and goals.
When choosing the best post-bacc programs, it’s wise to consider the particular areas that need strengthening. Some students need a better academic profile so they choose post-bacc programs that will improve academic scores. They may seek a program that has built-in coursework to prepare for the MCAT. Some students need experience and want to demonstrate their dedication. They love programs that let them start research, clinicals or get out into the field with volunteer opportunities. Some students need accelerated medical programs to speed up a transition from one field to another, for instance, an RN seeking to become an MD.
One of the best benefits of a post-bacc program is the linkage to specific medical schools. These do not guarantee acceptance; however, based on the excellent relationships the post-bacc program develops with the medical school(s), they are motivated to matriculate their students. International programs such as Hope Medical Institute offer linkages to established medical schools with in-house research institutes at an affordable cost. The added benefits to some of the best post-baccalaureate medical programs in Europe are the lower costs, accreditation and recognition from US-based institutions, and access to US and Canadian financial aid. (Post-bacc programs are often 18-24 months in length and have annual tuitions comparable to undergraduate and graduate annual costs.)
Furthermore, post-bacc programs are available at many levels: some for undergrads, gap year students, and graduate level. They can provide different results: acceptance into a linked school, a certification award, or a degree. Because they prepare future medical students for the rigors of medical school, they seek candidates who are mature, adaptable, and service-oriented. They help prepare pre-med candidates to be academically distinguished, experienced, healthy and balanced medical students.