Engineer seeking med school advice

Hello all. I’m currently working as an engineer in Falls Church, VA and need help putting a plan together to fulfill my lifelong dream to become a physician.

Right now I’m working full-time and plan to start taking pre-reqs next month in hopes to take the MCAT in August 2009 to get into med school in August 2010. Once classes start in the fall I’ll drop down to part-time and take a leave of absence for next spring/summer. I’m having a hard time deciding on whether to start with Biology/Chem II next month or should I start back at Biology/Chem I since its been a while for those courses. My academic info and two pre-req options are below.

Also, I plan to take the courses part-time this fall at George Mason University and then enroll full-time into a post-bacc program at Georgetown or American Univ. in the spring/summer since I’ll have time off from work. Can anyone offer any advice or suggestions on my pursuit? Thanks in advance.

Here’s my academic background:

2004 B.S. - Electrical Engr. (3.3 GPA)

2006 M.S. - Systems Engr. (3.3 GPA)

Physics I-III (grades C, A, A)

Physics I-III Lab (grades A, A, A)

Cal I-IV (grades B, A, A, A)

Biology I (grade C)

Biology I Lab (grade A)

Honors Chem I (grade C)

Chem I Lab (grade A)

Plan A

Fall 2008 (Biology I & Chem I)

Spring 2009 (Biology II & Chem II)

Summer 2009 (Organic I & Organic II)

Late summer 2009 (MCAT)

Plan B

Fall 2008 (Biology II & Chem II)

Spring 2009 (Organic I & Organic II)

Summer 2009 (Advanced courses like Cell Biology and Biochemistry)

Late summer 2009 (MCAT)

  • negotiator Said:
Plan A...

Summer 2009 (Organic I & Organic II)

Bad idea. I decided to take OChem II (3 credits) and Ochem Lab (4 credits) this summer thinking, "How hard can the lab be?". Besides, I want to find myself a job in the fall and return to work.

I am literally drowning in the lab work. I have the Ochem II under control but now at the end of the semester the Ochem Lab work is starting to really affect my lecture part.

Besides Ochem II builds heavily on Ochem I so I really don't see how you can take them simultaneously.

Typically, 2 classes during the summer can be a handful or even more.

I agree with Dazed. I wouldn’t take OChem I and II together-- it is ALOT of memorization for a very short period of time.

I would suggest doing Chem II and Ochem I at the same time (if your school will allow it). You really don’t need very much basic chemistry for organic.

Then you can take Bio and Ochem II together. Bio is generally an easier course (especially since you took it before).

Good luck!

We have alot in common

I’m going to take the party line here and suggest further that you SLOW DOWN and consider adding a year to your timetable. You need to perform VERY WELL from here out, and overlapping your chem courses or doubling up in the summer is very, very, very risky. This is the exact same advice Mary Renard gave me when I started up around here, and it worked out very well for me.

Let me just say that you do NOT need to do a formal post-bacc program, and given that you can take very good classes and get a good preparation at George Mason University, I don’t see that you gain anything by switching over to AU or Georgetown. And you lose a lot… of your own money.


proud GMU alum, all 32 post-bacc credits done there

oh yeah I agree pace yourself. Split up those OChems and do an Ochem and a micro or something, but not in the summer or doubled up in one semester so to speak.Remember labs are very time consuming and a write up itself can take hours. Enviously, you have pretty great grades so you dont have to dooo everything. If you are nervous about Bio or Chem take an intro course. I am not sure if Mary recommends it or others who are in med school or physicians. But I know for me… I will need a lil more practice so to speak being 5 plus years post grad.

Kinda depends on where your strengths lie… when I re-took gen-chem it had been over TWENTY years since I’d taken it, but the motivation I had the second time around was all that was needed to make a huge difference in the result. That, and a facility with math; if you’re not strong in math it might be harder. However the OP has an EE degree so I am guessing he’ll breeze through chem and physics.

OP I only just now re-read your first post where you give one option as taking both sections of O-chem at once. That will not be possible. You have to have the basics in o-chem I before you can move on to the relative “frills” of o-chem II.

When I first realized I wanted to get into med school, I tried every way I could to figure out a way to cram all my prereqs into a shortened time frame, so that I could get in a year sooner. I just couldn’t figure out a way to make it happen. In the end, it does not matter. You HAVE to get excellent grades when doing your post-bacc work, you HAVE to get a good MCAT score. Rushing diminishes your chance of achieving those goals.


I like plan B. I think Bio & basic chem will come back to you when you take the review class; it’s not that hard IMHO (I had 10 years from last bio & gen chem to the MCAT). I also barely got a C in my 1st chem class and got an A 10 years later in chem II (w/o retaking chem I). Re: ochem, most schools will not let you take them at the same time, you can take them back to back during the summer if that is offered, I did.

Again IMHO it you are taking cell bio & biochem just as a prep for med school, that’s nice…but I would spend the summer studying for the MCAT and not wasting time with classes that will not be on the MCAT…you can wait and take them after the MCAT if the only reason is to take them before med school. If that is the case, I would recommend anatomy, physiology &/or biochem. Not sure how cell bio would help for med school.

Rachel Yealy, DO

Staff Emergency Medicine

first - as a geologist who basically did civil/environmental engineering for a lot of years I feel I am talking to a kindred spirt - best of luck to you.

second - I would not feel bad about stretching things out a bit - working and doing school is really tough - you have a long long way to go - so don’t kill your self (or your support systems) in the first inning.

I would respectfully disagree with Rachel about the utility of cell bio - it really depends on the particular school and the course. In any case, for the OP who is going to GMU, it may be a moot point. At least when I was there ten years ago, their bio major curriculum has cell bio as the intro bio class for majors; it’s required before any other bio classes are taken. It’s also a great class that covers a lot of really useful ground. It definitely was good MCAT prep, actually.

Bio offerings vary so much among schools that it’s hard to say what will work best sometimes.



I was just thinking if I had a choice of preparing for medical school vs studying for the MCAT and acing it…I would study for the MCAT. Do you think that cell bio before the MCAT would help? What do you think?