DIY Post-Bacc course load

Hey everyone,

After being in the workforce for 9 years post undergrad (graduated in 2012), I’ve decided to look into becoming a doctor. I’ve listened to tons of Dr. Gray’s podcasts and realize that shadowing and clinical experience are imperative to making the decision. I’ve also realized that at some point I will have to complete a post-bacc in order to bring up my cGPA and prepare for the MCAT. Because of time constraints of a full-time job and family I am leaning towards a DIY post-bacc. The purpose of the post-bacc is to prove academic competency, which means getting as close to a 4.0 as possible. But I know that I cannot manage a full course load (4-5 classes per semester). Is there a cut-off (in terms of classes per semester) that would be counterproductive to demonstrating competency? I know I need to take more than 1 class a semester. But if I only took 2 (or maybe 3) classes per semester, would that still show competency when balanced with everything else (work, shadowing, clinical exp., family, etc)?

Any opinions and suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

I’m in the exact same boat as you, minus the family (I’m still single, no kids). I’m working full time so I’m taking one class at a time, at least until I get used to being a student again. I’m going to try taking advantage of the summer sessions to squeeze in some of the prereqs. My community college offers six week sessions in the summer for Bio 1 and Bio 2, chem 1 and 2, physics 1 and 2. With that trajectory, it’ll put me at about 2.5 to three years to finish my prereqs and take the MCAT. When it comes time to write my statement, I’ll just have to articulate that I work 40-50 hours a week so I was only able to take one class at a time for optimal academic success. I know I’d be setting myself up for failure if I was taking more than two classes at a time.

As for clinical and shadowing, I’ve been told by a pre-health advisor that four hours a week is reasonable if I’m working full time. She said that’s the minimum amount of hours that full time post bacc students do anyway. I plan to maybe try shadowing once or twice a month, and try clinical volunteering four hours a week once a week. Fortunately my job allows me to talk to many types people, and every now and then I get a couple medical calls which allows for exposure to the hospital setting even if I’m not the one directly treating the patient.

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Dr. Gray, Thank you so much for answering my question! It was really helpful in reminding me to let go of the my anxiety around how I compare to others (classic Type A personality) and focus on my journey.

For anyone else who has this question, check out Dr. Gray’s response on the Old PreMeds Podcast Episode 275: Does Course Load Matter During a Postbac?