23 year old engineer -- post bacc vs. masters

Hi all! First post. I figured I would lead in with the question I was searching google for when I found this site.

I am a 23 year old chemical engineer at a very good public school in texas. I recently took a physiology class, did biomedical engineering research involving animal surgery and volunteered at a hospital, and loved every one of those things infinitely more than the boring distillation columns and whatnot that make a CHE career.

I always wanted to be a doctor… so it is time to quit fighting and go to med school!

The problem is… I will probably need post bacc work to get in. my gpa is about 3.4, which i hear is barely competitive. I also have a tragic lack of experience in hospitals and other bio/medical things.

So… here are the choices for a post bacc.

  1. 2 years Masters in biomedical engineering (BME) at a campus with a medical school.

  2. dedicated 2 year premedical post bacc program with no engineering basis, awarding a masters in medical science.

    What do you guys think the plusses and minuses are of each?

    The BME path looks good because it is cheaper and I will end up taking graduate bio classes at a med school. Plus I love BME, and would get to do more animal surgery and work with more stem cells! This program would be at UT-Houston or UT-Southwestern, which both have top tier medical schools

    The post bacc program offers a more focused curriculum, and may make me look more committed when I apply in two years. Also, the curriculum mirrors the medical school classwork and will give me an edge when I do make it into an allopathic school. I can definetly see the appeal of one of these programs. This program would be at UNT in Denton, TX, which is a DO school and is much less prestigious that UT-Southwestern.

    Last question… I will be 25 at application time according to my plan. Is this a doomed career change? 25 seems so much older than all the 21 year old applicants at my university!



Welcome! First of all, about the age. I think that being 25 at the time you are applying will make you one of the youngest people on this site. Also, the average age for most entering med school classes seems to be about 25-26, so you will be right at that “average” age.

As far as which program to choose, I hope others that have a little more experience might chime in, but in your post you mention you love BME. Medical schools like well rounded students that are passionate. As long as the BME program gives you all the pre-reqs and a chance to do some research, I think I would go with that one. But like I said, I hope a few more people will chime in and give their thoughts.

It sounds like you really enjoy the research side of things. Have you given any thought to any of the MD/PhD programs out there?

Welcome! Glad you found the site. Definitely take the time to browse through old posts here; I’m sure a lot will be of interest to you, and there’s some very good info around.

I can’t advise you between your two suggestions right now, but you’ll want to make sure that you complete the pre-reqs for med school. Most schools require the following:

1 year bio w/ labs

1 year regular chem w/ labs

1 year organic chem w/ labs

1 year physics w/ labs

Some also require a year of calculus or some such. Many are starting to require at least a semester of biochem. These are all undergrad level things; I don’t know how the courses in a biomedical engineering master’s might count.

It’s likely that you’ve completed most, if not all of this already. Just thought I’d let you konw, so you could factor it into your plans. Good luck!

25 is very young from my perspective. I had slightly less than a 3.4 in undergrad when I started my pre-req courses. But I pulled a 4.0 in the pre-reqs, got a competitive MCAT score, and did fine in admissions. You are not so far behind the 8-ball that you need a special master’s to apply to med school. If you can get super grades in the pre-req courses and maybe take a couple of advanced courses like biochem and cell bio, you should be fine.

Just make sure the other parts of your application: letters, volunteer experience, some time working with sick people and shadowing physicians, are also up to snuff. And enjoy the process! It’s a long road and you can’t go the whole way holding your breath.