I am a 29 year old who is interested in applying to Medical School. I graduated 5 yrs ago with an undergrad degree in the sciences, finishing college at about a very sorry 2.75 gpa. I plan on taking post-bacc classes at the local state school this fall so that in 2 years I will be eligible to apply to medical school. Would retaking my sciences classes and adding upper division classes look better on my transcript? I have always wanted to be a physician, and my recent return from the Peace Corps further fueled my desire to buckle down and make it happen. In addition to successfully completing my post-bacc studies, should I do local volunteer work at a hospital in the community? Any advice would be great. Do I have a shot at becoming a competitive candidate in say 2 yrs?
Would retaking my sciences classes and adding upper division classes look better on my transcript?
You should probably retake any prerequisite classes that you got a C or lower in. Additionally, in order to prove that you can handle the coursework, you will probably want to take some upper level classes. Medical schools tend not to look as favorably on classes that you are retaking as a good indicator of your ability to do well (i.e. after all, you already took it once - you should be able to do well the second time). Additionally, retaking the pre-reqs will freshen that knowledge for the MCAT. You could also consider a masters degree in a science related subject.
In addition to successfully completing my post-bacc studies, should I do local volunteer work at a hospital in the community?
The Peace Corps will look good on your applications, but I would say that yes, you should try and do some volunteer work, depending on your load and work. It doesn’t have to be medically related - just something you enjoy. You should also try and set up some shadowing experiences and/or clinical experiences. How much or what you do there may depend on exactly what kind of experience you gained in the Peace Corps.
Do I have a shot at becoming a competitive candidate in say 2 yrs?
It’s going to depend on how many classes you need to retake and when you are ready to take the MCAT. Two years is a reasonable amount of time for taking pre-req course work and the MCAT. You will then have a “lag year” during the application cycle, which is common for a lot of non-trads.
For better or worse, I always recommend that if you have a medical school close by, see if you can make an appointment to speak with someone in the admissions office. Most of the staffs are quite good and will give you some really good advice and info. I think it’s always helpful to hear straight from the admissions office what they would like to see you do to be competitive for their school. Plus - they may have some options for you that you weren’t aware of. For example, my school has a post-bac program designed primarily for minorities, especially women. If you are accepted to that program, I believe you are pretty much guaranteed a seat if you successfully complete the program requirements.