DIY postbacc

So my wife finally decided for me that I will be quitting next year and going to the local college fulltime. First time since I was 16 that I will not have a job…kinda freaked out about that.

So I will be taking Org, Chem, and Phy in the Fall and Spring. I guess my question is how much studying do y’all figure this works out to? Just trying to wrap my head around it because I might also have to take CALC along with the big 3.

Does the estimation of 3 hours per class time also equate with labs? As in if I have a 3 hour lab does that mean that I’ll be studying 9 hours for that lab? I’m leaning on an 1:1 for labs but figured I’d ask the experts.

Hey Croooz. Good for you! I’m sure you’ll do great.

I did a DIY post bacc and here are my thoughts. First off, you’re taking some major heavy hitters here. Can you take one of these courses during the summer? Maybe calculus? That should let you focus on the big 3 in the fall and spring. I did my DIY post bacc over 2 years while working full time so I was able to break it up a bit.

You probably already know, but Organic Chemistry is really difficult. As an engineer with both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s, I would rank Orgo as one of my toughest courses. I studied every day and ended up with an A-. Of course, that’s if your professor is like mine and doesn’t curve and thinks the average should be a C. The difficulty with Orgo is that there’s a lot of content and the concepts are not easy to grasp. I ended up reading chapters twice. I would budget at least 2 hours a day, 6 days a week just for this course.

I did not find Chemistry and Physics to be nearly as hard as Orgo. You can utilize a 3:1 ratio here. Plus, there are similarities between General Chem and Orgo so it shouldn’t be too bad. Not sure how good you’re with Physics though. Do you enjoy equations and plugging in formulas?

For labs, I would not say 3 hours per class time equate with labs. For Orgo and Chemistry, you may have to do a pre-lab before the lab (1 hour at most) and do a lab writeup after lab (1 hour at most). You will not be spending 9 hours for lab.

That is a very heavy course load. Physics and o-chem took a LOT of time for me. Just reading the material and understanding the basic concepts is not enough. You need to play with the problem sets to find out the details of what you really do and do not understand. The struggle with the ideas and problems it what makes you stretch though.

O-chem requires a very systematic, logical framework to attack the problems.

Physics requires you to keep turning the problem over and over until you figure out a way to unravel it…different from anything else I’ve ever done.

Chemistry just required time for me - no struggles to get the concepts down. Calculus was similar, though my class was so remote I remember very little of it now.

I would estimate an easy 3 hrs study per 1 credit hr each week for all of your courses. And I did put more than that into O-chem - probably 20 hrs/week.

For labs, the time depends on your instructor. I spent about 45-60min/week prepping, but my write-ups took a couple hours each; this does bring it to 3hrs/1credit hr lab.

Good luck as you start out. I finished w/A’s in both o-chem and physics, but I was not sure I’d even get B’s during the first few weeks of struggling with the material. I can only imagine how stressed I’d be w/both at the same time.

Thanks you two! I’m pretty excited more so each day that I get closer.

To clarify I will not have a job during this process and Lord willing my next job will be of that of a physician.

I’m taking your advice and taking Calc before all this. So here in the Spring I will take Chem2 and precalc. This way I’ll only have to take the big three.

I’m also quitting a month before the postbacc so I’ll take that time and Khan academy (yep I used it as a verb) the three subjects. We talked about it yesterday and while I will be off from work the plan is to spend at least 6 hours in the library. This way not only will I be studying but also in the habit of spending a lot of time sitting studying. I will be studying for 40+ hours during postbacc and beyond so I need to develop the habit.

If anyone has any feedback, encouragement, warnings…feel free. We’re both pretty excited…little scared too but really excited.

crooz -

I’m still unclear - are you taking Gen chem, organic chem, and physics together? Where is bio in there, and don’t you have to have finished gen chem to take organic?

Regarding lab hours. You are probably ok figuring one hour of study time /hour of time spent in lab for physics. That works out to 3 hrs/credit hour. Organic lab might take twice as many hours as the number of hours in lab for a few of the labs (in other words, some of the labs become a time sink), whereas others are more straightforward and may take less than the time spent in lab.

I did the studying in the library, particularly for chem as there were good references (studyed in the chemistry library), which saved me a lot of time. Took the laptop, took notes on it, could print on the library computer.

Best of luck!


I’m sorry for the confusion. I’ve taken Chem 1 and will take Chem 2 and PreCalc next semester, Spring 2013. Over next summer I’ll take Calc and I’m done with math and chemistry. For the DIY postbacc I will take Bio, Orgo, and Physics in the Fall and Spring. The plan then is to take the MCAT and apply to a few schools, however with the full intent to spend the academic year 2013-14 at a postbacc somewhere like VCOM. So not a “true” postbacc but more like a Special Masters Program without the Masters. The postbacc to help with academics and boost my app. I like VCOM because of price, location, price, school, price…

IF, big if, but if things go as planned then I could very well start med school in 2015 right after the postbacc. Ideally at VCOM but maybe one of the other two schools I applied to in 2014.

I’m not all caught up about this school or that. I just want to get in, do well (postbacc & med school) and keep it moving. I only say this because I just spoke to someone trying to convince me that even the lowest tiered allopathic school is better than the best osteopathic. Heck he even suggested I go Carribean before going osteo…!!! I was and am shocked from the person who just said this to me because I’ve known him for 16 years. He was all gung ho for me to do this until I told him I’m going to do it. It’s strange however I’m done giving more weight to what others say because usually their opinions line up with my fears…and I’m done with that. He even went so far as to ask me “what are you going to say when people question the DO after your name?” I told him “ah that’s simple. My name is Francisco Croooz and I DO medicine.” =)

Thanks for the feedback and asking for clarification. I’m at the point where I can type faster than I can think… lol

Crooz - you can always go with “the first 2 letters in Doctor are DO”.


Hi Kate!

I have a question about NP v MD…what direction do YOU see health care going? I know health care facilities can get two NP’s for one MD; not that it’s right or wrong, just looking at the cost of doing business.

Since you’ve been on both sides of the fence, would you give me your wisdom on this! I’d still like to be a family physician however, my only concern is the reimbursement for MD’s would be much lower therefore (one doc I work with gets $37.50/patient ~ yikes!), there may be less job options for MD’s (only based on the cost of doing business, taking the medical aspect out of it).

Thank you my friend!!

As a sidebar, I found the “Organic Chemistry as a Second Language” books by Klein to be super-helpful in getting me through organic successfully (B in I and A in II). The first book is a must-have for helping you understand the basics you will need. The second covered many of the topics but I’d already developed some good habits by then so I didn’t use it as much.

Physics. Truly, that is the horse of a different color when compared to organic. Still working my way through that one.

I imagine this will vary from institution to institution and from teacher to teacher.

I had Org Chem as an abbreviated class, so the studying was a significant commitment, around 9-10 hrs a week, minimum, but only about 2 hours, lecture and lab.

Physics was more 1 to 1 for me.

My gen chem used mastering chemistry online, and those took a ton of time to work through, but were very helpful.

hope this helps.

Thanks all. Physics is the only one I’m concerned about. I’ve had “intro” organic courses so I kinda know what expect and bio is bio but physics is a different beast I have yet to encounter at all. Thankfully I will have plenty of time. Calculated to over 42 hours of study time with Sundays off…I’m is a minister ;). I live 3 miles from the school and the plan is to do all my studying at the school library. Had some techs tell me today that I might start off with that plan but will probably be home by 4pm everyday. Something about the subjects or our brains working synergistically…whatever. I have the time and will however much it takes to ace these final courses.

Hmm- you’ve asked a good question. It’s difficult to do more than make some observations.

We need more primary care providers. It’s obviously much quicker to educate NP’s than doctors, if one is starting at the post-baccalaureate level (starting with BSN’s). This time difference will decrease if NP’s are required to get a nursing doctorate, (Doctor of Nursing Practice or DNP) as some programs are going to. I don’t see that degree being required anytime soon. If the variety of routes to RN has lasted as long as it has ( Associate degree/ Diploma school/ bachelor’s degree ), although that is finally changing, I expect a similar muddied route to NP (certificate, MSN, DNP) to persist. I think it is a huge mistake to try to require a DNP. You have to have nurses with a doctorate to teach in a DNP program, and there are already not enough faculty.

So anyway, I can’t see the current NP schools as being able to crank out enough NP’s to meet the need for primary care providers. And in most state regulations, NP’s must practice with physicians, at the same practice location. So they cannot unilaterally extend care into underserved areas. I see partnerships of NP’s and physicians so areas can be covered by fewer doctors, but still needing a doctor. Some of this is my own perspective in trying to establish prenatal outreach in unserved areas and being roadblocked by the lack of a physician partner. Think I’ve solved that problem personally .

Although medical schools have ramped up enrollments and new schools are opening (particularly DO) the number of residency slots is not increasing apace so we face a real blockade in meeting the number of needed providers. So where are we headed? I think reimbursements for primary care will go up as it becomes even more of a scarcity market. Don’t forsee a problem having all the work I need to support myself!