Hi Ajay, I tried to answer some of your questions below…
I just found about this forum few minutes ago and realized am not the only "crazy" one around. I am inspired by your ambition and drive! Kudos.
Thank you in advance for reading my lengthy post and answering my questions.
I am 29 years old (soon-to-be-dad) and working as an engineer(~5 yrs) and very serious about applying to medical school. I finished my undergraduate degree (BS Electrical Engineering, 2001, GPA: 3.75, in India) and MSEE (2003, GPA: 3.83). I always wanted to study and become a doctor, but circumstances and parental pressure made me abandon the idea at that time. While I was studying for my Master's, I worked on a project on artificial neural networks and this rekindled my interest in becoming a doctor.
I really appreciate your able answers to the following questions:
1. Am I too old to start medical school ? I am planning on starting premed/post bacc this Fall. I know the answer to the question about age, I guess am looking for a reaffirmation from folks who are going thro' this process.
NO! if you notice the ages on this forum, you will see that you are actually one of the younger set and most seem to be 30+
2. Do I really need premed (or is there something like core prereqs). Ideally, I would like to apply for medical schools at my earliest, but I realize there is some preparation needed to put together a strong application. Any thoughts and advice on best utilizing my time between now and the time for applications.
Actually, there really isn't any premed major. Some schools might have some programs geared specifically for students pursuing medicine, but usually it is just a way to provide a blue print for the more traditional students so that they know what classes they need just to get their bachelors and comprises the prereqs that you will need to have done. Your major can actually be any thing that really interests you, and it doesn't have to be a concentration in any of the hard sciences.
As for the prereqs that you do need, 1 yr biology, 1 yr gen chem, 1 yr organic chem and 1 yr physics. Those are technically the only classes that you may need, although sometimes having higher level classes like biochem, genetics, physiology and cell bio will only enhance your application. As an engineer, did you take any of these classes during your education? While biology for the most part should be fairly recent, you might want to check about the others.
3. I live in the SF Bay area and did initial research on UC Berkeley Extension's post bacc program for non traditional students. Anyone has any inputs on this program ? 24 credits are required to successfully complete the certificate program. Should I complete the certificate program before I apply to med schools or just finish the core classes and take my MCAT.
I would strongly recommend that you finish your prereq classes (see above) before attempting the MCAT. If you don't have to, you don't really want to have to take the MCAT twice. Study the material that you have to and knock the MCAT out of the ballpark...it'll go a long way towards medical school acceptance. I don't know anything about the program, but I have heard good feedback about the Berkely Review material for the MCAT...something I plan to add to my arsenal.
4. Any other recommended post bacc programs in the area ?
You do not need to do a formal post bacc...sometimes the cost isn't worth it. Check into your local 4 yr schools and take care of your prereqs there. I'm sure as a Cali resident you will have better financial options doing it that way.
I hope that helped somewhat. Welcome to OPM!