Confused on where to even begin!!!!

Hi guys, I stumbled upon this site just out of curiosity. I would like to introduce myself and give a little background. My name is Billy, I am from the state of New York and I have always had an interest in practicing medicine, just it was a more delayed interest, one that started out after I graduated from my undergraduate program at Stony Brook University.

I am 27 years old now, four years removed from my undergraduate program which I focused in History and Business. My cum GPA graduating was terrible, a 2.45. I don’t want to point out excuses, it was just a real rough patch in my life. After graduating I took a night paralegal program at a local community college, and posted a 3.8 gpa. During my undergraduate career, I never even took your regular science class. I got away with astronomy and geology as the two “science” classes I had to take in order to graduate.

Here’s my question, I don’t even know where to begin to be honest. I want to go back to school, but I don’t know which route to take, do I go back and get another undergraduate degree, lets say in biology/genetics/chemistr y/anatomy? And then do I apply to Med Schools and take the GMAT. I am really unsure about how people who are post undergraduate go about starting out the process to obtaining either an DO or MD licensure with basically no standard science background. And let’s say I go back and get a BS in Biology with a cum gpa of 3.6, will schools even look at that, or just look at my ugly 2.45?

I was also contemplating a DC program, which would take less time to complete, I just am not too hot over the fact that you basically are thrown out after 4 years of DC school to start your own chiropractic office or go under another doctor. I’d rather the standard residency to really understand what I am going to eventually try and practice.

Any advice would be really helpful.


So, you have a few options. In order to apply for medical school, you will need to take (at a minimum):

One year of biology with labs

One year of general chemistry with labs

One year of organic chemistry with labs

One year of physics with labs

Many med schools now require biochemistry, some require anatomy/physiology, calculus or stats.

You could do a new degree in biology or something like that if you really wanted to, but you certainly don’t have to. You could just take the pre-requisite courses (listed above). Other options include finding a formal “post-bacc” program, but you will likely find that difficult as they can be quite competitive and often have a minimum GPA requirement of 3.0 or higher.

The fact that you took almost no math/science courses in your original undergrad will actually help you as the GPA for applying to medical school is composed of overall, non-science, and BCPM (Biology, physics, chemistry and math). In general, the BCPM portion is weighed more highly. You could compile a very good BCPM GPA which would help mitigate the original poor ugrad GPA.

After taking the pre-reqs, you need to take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions test). Currently, the sections of the test include Physical Sciences (Chemistry and Physics), Biological Sciences (Biology and Organic Chemistry), Verbal Reasoning, and a writing section. The test will be changing in the future, but I don’t know the details of when or how. There’s lots of stuff on the 'net about it, though.

Typically, the med school application process takes a year (often called the lag or glide year). You apply in June for admission into the class starting the fall of the FOLLOWING year. You would want to have most (more realistically all) of the pre-reqs and the MCAT taken prior to applying for medical school. You’re realistically looking at three years (two year to take the pre-reqs + the application year) before you would start medical school.

Medical school is then 4 years. The first two years are typically book based. Third year is composed mostly of required rotations in surgery, internal medicine, OB/Gyn, psychiatry/neurology, family medicine, and something else that I’m blanking on right now. Fourth year is more clinical rotations, some required, some elective. Fourth year, you apply for residency. Towards the end of fourth year, you find out if you “match” into residency. (Match day is tomorrow, btw).

Med school is more than a full time job. Realistically, few people work, and those that do work work very limited hours. That means that most people borrow both enough money for medical school tuition and living expenses. The average debt for graduating medical students is well over $100,000.

Residency ranges from 3 years on up. Family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine are usually 3 year programs. OB/Gyn, psych, anesthesia usually 4. Surgery is AT LEAST 5 years. Neurosurgery is 7 to 8 years. Many people go on to then do fellowships. For example, if you wanted to do cardiology, you would do a 3 year internal medicine residency and a two year cardiology fellowship (some variations - there are actually different types of cardiology fellowships). If you wanted to do Trauma Surgery/Critical Care, you would do a 5 (or 6) year general surgery residency, followed by a 2 year trauma/CC fellowship.

You do get paid during residency. Not a lot, but you get paid. Most residencies are currently starting around $45,000 a year. Work hours are limited to 80 hours per week. How often you have to work 80 hours a week (or more) depends on the specialty you choose and the place you do it at. Most surgical specialties will work close to the 80 hours a week more often than not. Other specialties, such as family practice, internal medicine, psych, neuro only work that often occasionally. Even in residency you do different rotations and each of those rotations have different requirements.

Hope that helps some. I strongly recommend you go to your local library or on amazon and look into a couple of books on getting into medical school. A lot of the stuff (timelines, etc) don’t necessarily apply to non-traditional students, but there is still a ton of valuable information in them. This is a long and expensive process. Those who are considering it should take the time to do extensive research on the process and what they are getting into before making the commitment.

Welcome, and good luck!

Welcome to OPM! I agree with everything Emergency said - this is, indeed, a time-intensive and expensive process, and requires a lot of dedication. Doing research about the process is a great way to start.

I would also add a couple of things. I would encourage you to shadow physicians and/or do some clinical volunteering. This might give you insight into whether you truly do want to enter medicine as a career.

Best wishes to you, and keep us posted on your progress!

Welcome to OPM!! This is a very supportive place!

Let me add a little detail in response to this part of your post: “And let’s say I go back and get a BS in Biology with a cum gpa of 3.6, will schools even look at that, or just look at my ugly 2.45?”

Actually, it will be broken down as:

Undergraduate GPA (the 2.45)

Postgraduate GPA (your projected 3.8)

Nonscience GPA (probably stiull the same 2.45 because it won’t include astronomy or geology - only biology, chemistry, physics, and maybe math)

and science GPA (also probably your projected 3.8)

Clear as mud?


Hi Kate, I’m new to this site, but I noticed you went to Frontier. So you are a midwife as well? I’m a midwife, graduated from Univ of Cinn with my Master’s in Science. I’ve been a nurse since 1992 and a CNM since 2008. I Have really been thinking about going to Med School. I’m 47yo, and I really don’t know where to start. I only have one chem, that was from many years ago, but I have alot of other courses 3 semesters of pathophysis, but I have none in physics or biology. Since I have a BSN and an MSN, I was hoping not to have to do another bachelor’s program, but rather just take what sciences I need. Any suggestions as to where I should go from this point?

It took me yrs to “begin” b/c I couldn’t just decide when to go. That being said I started slowly. I went to the website to compare post-bac programs. I made a notebook that contained every resource, website and password for all the websites/sources I needed to obtain old transcripts, letters of reference, all of my awards, past accomplishments (because ALL of these things you need when you apply). Consider your finances, ability to move around, and what environment you want to be in or the culture of the school. It is not an easy process so just start with a notebook and a goal. I also went to a local writing center for help with the essay.

babycatcher -

Welcome!! That’s great - I was 47 when I started this process. Yes, am a CNM.

Absolutely you don’t need another bachelors - as you see mine was a BSN.

I tried to get just the prerequisites in my home town (do-it-yourself) but could not get into the classes I needed. I wanted to redo bio (because it’s all different), chemistry because I’d forgotten it, and org. chem and physics I needed the second semester of and wanted to start with semester 1. I ended up applying to 2 formal post-bacc programs. The one at UVA was great for me. It got in all the prereqs in 1 year (a huge advantage for me due to my already advanced age

Also, I needed a lot of premed “counseling” as I didn’t know a lot about the process so I really appreciated the additional support that program gave me. Really aided my application process. It was expensive - I took out a home equity loan to finance my living expenses and borrowed the available student loan money (12,500).

As you see, I went with DO because it seemd more compatable with my “high-touch” midwifery approach. I think I’m much happier than I would be in an MD program. I also wanted to add to the hands-on techniques I already had. Some I really wish I had known as a midwife - “pedal pump” for swollen ankles, “OB roll” for lumbar pain, “pelvic floor myofascial release” (obvious).Google Andrew Taylor Still, and Osteopathic Medicine. You may decide to go for MD depending on your area. I’m planning to go into family practice, with OB.

One caveat to the idea of a formal post-bacc. A 1 year program is very compressed and you really cannot work during it at all, and you have to be very strong academically to get the grades you need. A 2 year program would be a bit less like thowing all your eggs in one basket.

Good luck and I look forward to hearing more about your journey!