Engineer Turned Physician... What do I do?


Hi all,

I have found myself in a bit of a predicament and would really (really) love some advice.

Just to give a little background… Right now, I’m an engineer at a large aerospace and defense company (100,000+ employees). I studied mechanical engineering with minors in electrical and aerospace engineering. I graduated a little over a year ago in May of 2019 and have been working in the industry ever since.

In 2015, I shattered my ankle and needed surgery to repair the fibula, deltoid ligaments, and syndesmosis. I became enthralled with the procedure and researched everything I could about it from publications to videos of the procedure itself. I didn’t think much about my borderline obsession over this event, but looking back, it was definitely a sign… Fast forward to 2019, major life events led to the realization that I want to pursue medicine (I’ll spare the details of these events).

After doing hours of research on how to get into medical school, let alone as a non-trad, I started volunteering at a local ED. I volunteered from January to March of this year, then COVID put a swift end to that. I found another gig at a non-profit clinic starting this week that is more relevant to my values and motives. This clinic is also more hands-on with more patient interaction.

This experience has solidified my desire to become a doctor. That said, I have a few courses of action that I would love input on.


I finished my BS with:

  • cGPA of 3.88/4.00
  • BCPM of 3.86

I have not taken the MCAT. 30ish hours of clinical volunteering (more to come).

The Problem

Currently, I am enrolled in a leadership program through my work, which will take 3 years and result in a masters in Computer Science and a ton of leadership experience. I am starting my first year this August, which will then go until May of 2023 (if I decide to finish). Because of COVID, it is becoming extremely difficult to find shadowing opportunities. I will be able to shadow at my new volunteer position, but this is very narrow and I would like to broaden my experience a little to understand what it takes to be a physician in other settings and specialties. I plan on doing a structured, 1 year, post-bacc at CU Boulder which will allow me to get all my prereqs in and prepare me to take the MCAT.

My problem is this: do I 1) finish the 3-year leadership program, then do the post-bacc, or 2) cut it off early, risking that I haven’t done enough EC’s to solidify my expectations and also get accepted into medical school?

Here is a little timeline for the three options I have thought about (please feel free to suggest other ideas if you have any).

  1. I start the post-bacc ASAP in May of 2021, putting me at 2023 to begin medical school. This option inherits the most risk, as I will have a maximum of 250 clinical volunteering hours with an unknown amount of shadowing. I will try to shadow during the post-bacc, but I’m not sure if there will be time. I will continue to volunteer as much as possible as well during the post-bacc.
  2. I start the post-bacc in May of 2022, putting me at 2024 to begin medical school. This will give me ample time to think about the decision and find good shadowing opportunities. At this point, I should have over 400 hours of consistent, clinical volunteering. However, I will be 2/3 of the way through the leadership program, which feels like a waste.
  3. I start the post-bacc in May of 2023 after completing the leadership program and earning an MS in CS. This will also allow me to get plenty of volunteering and shadowing in, as well as save some $$$. The major downside being 2 extra years that I could be out practicing on the back-end.

Now, knowing my stats and the potential options, what do you all think would be best? What would you do? I am worried mostly about having enough experience (for acceptance and personal validation). I would also like to have a CS degree for future use in the medical school (automation, machine learning, research, etc.). I also run a donation-based photography company, which I see as a non-clinical EC.

Sorry for the lengthy post, I tried to “trim the fat” as much as I could. Any help or insight would be amazing. Thanks for reading!