A bit of a twisted explanation, but hopefully there are some folks out there who might have some advice for me. I am currently Hospital Corpsman, on Active Duty in the US Navy. I have over the years come to the very real appreciation, that in order to be able to continue to serve my patients, as a civilian, and fully appreciate my goals, I would like very much to become a physician. In fact, the drive is so deep that every day I wake up with the thought burning in my mind, “what are you going to do today to help yourself get there?” I have about 70 semester credits, mostly General Ed stuff, and a lot of work experience, nearly 10 years, a lot of it on ships and in the field, where simply pout, I am the only medical care my Sailors and Marines have access to. I have a little under two years left on this enlistment, and have been taking as many classes as I can, but with the Deployment tempo the last few years, the going is slow. So, anyway, here are some of the questions I have; Should I just get out of the military, got back to school full time, and then apply for Med school? Will I be hurt by the fact that many of my credits are from online and distance learning sources? How important is the “prestige” of the degree granting institution for my BS? I don’t actually have a specific major yet, is one or another any better? Should I get an Associate and then transfer, or should I simply transfer and work towards the BS? I really appreciate any help I can get, I just want to be able to continue to treat patients, and help ease a bit of the suffering I see around me.

From a former corpsman I say get out. That’s what I did. The only difference is unfortunately I got a job in a lab doing some great science and I got caught up in that. However if I had to do it over again I would have stuck to the original plan and gotten out and gone to school fulltime.

Where you get your degree doesn’t matter. In what you get your degree is of little concern either. Get a degree in something that you’ll enjoy and take the prereqs for med school as well. If medicine is all you want then I would suggest a bio-tech degree over just a bio degree. The reason is if for any reason you don’t get in right after college you can find work at a research lab with a biotech degree versus just a bio degree.

So to sum it up,

-get out

-get your degree in whatever

-apply to medical school

-avoid the HPSP for med school payback

BTW, I got out at the 10 year mark as well. By the time I start med school I could’ve retired…or I could’ve died in the war like a friend did so make a choice and don’t look back.

Hi and welcome. Well I can’t help you with the military aspect since I’m not familiar with the pro’s/con’s of staying in vs getting out. However, to address some of your other questions:

  1. As far as the online and distance learning courses, I think you may have some trouble with those, if they are your pre-req classes, i.e. english, math, and sciences. I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a med school that will accept online credits…but again only with your pre-reqs. I would definitely contact the schools you are interested in and find out now before you begin the whole application process. You may also have some trouble transferring them to an undergrad institution. When I transferred I lost all of my online credits, but schools have different policies so you may want to consider that when looking for a school.

  2. As far as the “prestige” of your undergrad school. I have been told that it may play a role in the med school admissions process, not a major factor though. Some admin people have said that if they are choosing between two candidates, everything else being equal (MCAT, GPA, xtra-curriculars), the guy with a degree from a more prestigous school may win out. Just because a 3.5 from Harvard carries more weight than a 3.5 from a 3rd tier school, because they know it was probably a more academically rigorous program. That’s what I’ve “heard” though from advisors and committee folk. Personally, I think if you do great wherever you go you’ll be in good shape. AND, I do think this is an area where being a “non-traditional” student helps out. They do recognize we do have responsibilities where we are and can’t pack up and move somewhere to go to a more prestigous school.

  3. Now, about the associates degree and then transferring. I wouldn’t waste your time. Just go for the whole deal, find a school and get your BS. You may risk losing credits again through the whole transferring process.

  4. As far as a major…STUDY WHAT YOU LOVE!!! And just get your med school pre-reqs in there. MANY med students and professors have told me, science majors only have an advantage over everyone else during the first and maybe second semesters of med school. After that everyone is on equal footing and nobody knows anything! So take the time to study something you enjoy because after that the next four years will be nothing but science! There are plenty of people who go on to med school with English, Business, PoliSci degrees.

    I hope all goes well for you and stay in touch,