Finding the right job that will allow you to do pre-reqs...

I started my new job this week, although it’s been one held for me for about 2 months. I am working in an ortho rehab clinic treating post-op and non-op injuries/conditions. I was given a rough idea of hours when I was interviewed a while back and just before I started working, I was given set hours from the director of all rehab clinics. While I wouldn’t get out til around 6pm on Tues and Thurs, I would get out 5, maybe 515pm on Mon and Wed., giving me a chance to take a 530pm course at a univ a couple of miles away. I spoke today to the PT who works at this particular clinic, and mentioned I was looking into taking a class this summer at night. I brought this up now because she had mentioned changing the hours on Mon and Wed from 8-5 to 9-6. She basically said that me taking a class at the time I mentioned(that’s the latest available) conflicts with their plans, her’s and the rehab director I assume, to be more available in the late afternoon for patients to come in after work. Very understandable. I was, however, not aware of these prospective hours until just before I started.

So, this puts me in a predictament. I kept my obligation to these people despite having to wait for several weeks before starting and another employer expressing strong interest in me. I never told them of my desire to continue my education in the evenings to finish my pre-reqs because they are very most likely concerned only with me doing what’s in the best interest of the company. Given the hours I was told originally, I saw there was no conflict.

In the meantime, I do have some debt I want to take care of, and working this job along with a small part-time would really help me erase that before the end of the year. Would it be worth being patient and tough it out for the next 8 or 9 months without any courses, continue getting medical experience(I have more than enough, but want to maintain contact), pay my debts off, then seek an employer that is more understanding and supportive of me wanting to continue my education? I do sort of have a foot in the door with a very good cardiology clinic of an affiliated univ. hospital. I spoke in person with a nurse, administrator and a cardiologist just recently and they all were very understanding of my desire to continue my education and go to med school. Only problem would be the job would pay less, and even with a part-time second job, it would take a lot longer to pay off some debts.

What do you guys think?

Are the only classes that you need to take your prereqs which is best taken on campus? Do you still have to work for your BA/BS? The reason I ask is that if you still have to take other classes and they are available online, that could be an option if you want to stay with this job.

You need to ask yourself what kind of timeline you want to be on. If you wanted to take your prereqs so that you can take the MCAT in early 2008 and apply for the 2009, you may have to make some tough choices. Having that offer with the cardiology office and their willingness to support you as you go towards your educational goals may be worth more even though the salary is less.

It is a dilemma though because this current position was held for you which in this day and age is pretty rare. Also, because you are young (believe me, when you are 42 and on this path, 26 seems quite young), if you stayed with this job for a year at least, it will show a commitment, help paydown some of your debt and who knows, maybe conditions will change.

Again, you are the only one who can make this decision.


Listen, you really seem to have a preoccupation with your debt. So based on that I will tell you to do whatever you have to do to pay down debt which will be a “bother” during med school. School loans and such can wait but a car note or credit cards should be payed down. If that means not taking any classes then that’s what it means.

I don’t buy into this line of thinking and say you need to keep your hand on the plow and not look back. However if the debt is going to have you continuously looking back then take care of it and move on. I just think that after the debt it will be something else or even worse more debt will pile on due to unforeseen circumstances.

You are the only one who can decide. I just know that if I were 26 I would deal with whatever and get the prereqs out of the way and get into a medical school. My undergrad took much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much, longer than I was ever promised or I ever thought it would take.

I’m not saying the same issues will happen to you but life has a very sly way of grabbing you and having you spin your wheels. You think you’re really doing something but when you take the time to look around you realize you are now farther from your dream of becoming a physician simply because of x, y, or z…

Thank you both for the advice. Crooz, I agree with you on that student loan debt isn’t much of a concern now. I can deal with that as well as the masses of debt I’ll accrue in medical school. It is the others I would like to eliminate so if I have to continue working as I finish out my pre-reqs and other courses, I can afford to work less and thus live off a smaller budget. I always create these algorithms in my head to prepare myself for just about any situation that may come up(yes, I’m a nerd). So, there’s a plan A, a plan B, even a plan C sometimes. So if my current plan or backup plan doesn’t work, then I’ll just deal with my debt and continue on with class. I definitely understand what you mean with unexpected obstacles prolonging your path to get somewhere. That’s why I’m a non-trad.

Kriss, I agree with you as well in terms of keeping a longer commitment than just a few months. Having a LOC from a recent employer-especially in the setting I am working in-is always a plus and I think it would be wise for me to stay a little bit longer. I have already recieved my BS. This is post-bac for me, but I also have to go back to finish my Masters with a new area of study, Biology. So, I have about 3 years before I hope to begin med school. I will look into the availability of online courses that might have open lab or talk to a professor ahead of time about maybe being late to class at times because of my work commitment but that I’m willing to pick up the slack with independent reading and anything that will get me the A. When it comes time to take my Organics, that’s when a decision will have to be made because the limited availability of the classes. I figure those will come next spring, and so if y current employer is willing to work with me, wonderful. If not, I’ll consider other employment options. In the meantime, plan A is to continue working where I’m at now, pay down credit cards and car loan, and look everywhere and anywhere minus CCs to take a course.

I know that a lot of people are against CCs for prereqs, but OChem is not a fluff class at a CC. If you have a CC by you, why don’t you check out the course? For instance, at my CC, OChem is offered by 2 professors with PhDs in Chemistry…I’m going to get as good an education in this subject as I would if I went to the 4 yr university, PLUS in order to get credit for the class, you must take the lab. I found that on the university level that while the OChems may have 300 students in the class, they only have room for 75 students in the lab portion…that means that you may have to take the lab semesters AFTER you finish the lecture period.

I would really urge you to go to the Natural Science office of the CC and speak with the instructor (CC instructors are more available to their students). Ask them their opinion…



That’s unusual, Krisss17; usually the lab course has many sections during the week to accommodate the students, while the lecture obviously can accommodate everyone in a large hall.

As long as your target medical schools are OK with the quality of your CC courses, it should be fine, but be cautious about hidden biases that may emerge come time to compare you with thousands of other candidates. They may see someone else who studied at a 4-year university and decide that all things being equal, they want the uni. I’m not denigrating the education you get at a CC, but you are taking a bit of a risk because of the perceived quality differential. The safest course of action is to study at a 4-year school, on campus, with labs concurrently.

Leftie, it sounds like you’re on the right track. You’ve mapped out a plan and you’re not rushing into this. Personally, I loathe debt. I’m making a huge exception with medical school! Good luck,

Perceived quality or not, just my two cents but I would think a CC course would have a lot less stigma attached to it than an online course. Considering you can’t even really do the pre-reqs in an online course to begin with, that just further complicates the issue.

I agree with Kriss, however. I’m taking gen chem 1 at my CC (and will be taking gen chem 2 at another CC after I move), and at least the course I’m in right now is taught by an instructor with a PhD and probably just as good if not better than a class at a 4-year university. Granted the stigma may be there for CC courses, but if the grades at the CC are comparable to the ones at the 4-year (as in if you get A’s at the CCs in science classes, simply make sure you get A’s at the 4-year as well) then I don’t see why they would have a problem with it.

I’ve only heard of one medical school that flat out refuses to consider any applicant with CC coursework. I forget the name, but that’s one school out of what, a hundred?

Okay, maybe I am talking about one in particular four-year institution (USF in Tampa), but that is the only 4-yr that I could even consider unless I up and move, which at this time, is not an option.

And that’s what I think it leads down to…if you are able to do your prereqs at a four-year, great…but if your options don’t include that but you have a good CC to go to (at least the Nat Science Dept), then why not?

Again…it will come down to the MCAT because that is the equalizer, since not even all 4-years are equally ranked.

Well…by their very nature, nontrads are fighting the odds anyway, despite the fact they are widely accepted these days at most medical schools. And honestly, I feel I am getting an excellent education right now in science (general chemistry to be exact) at my community college so, while I’m aware of the stigma that CC’s have, I think it’s perfectly possible that a CC can provide just as good of an education as a 4-year.

Besides, if you take your pre-reqs at your CC, get A’s in them, and get a high MCAT score, then no matter how far adcoms sticks their nose up at your CC pre-reqs, they won’t be able to get the smell of a good applicant out of their nose.

Well, that’s what I am hoping for…so far I’ve gotten A’s in my general chemistry courses, Fundamentals of Bio, and even A&P and microbiology (they know me very well in this department)…now if I do well in OChem and Physics (yikes)…I’ll feel okay about the science part of the MCAT…verbal is another story!

Yeah I know the feeling, I tried the practice MCAT test they let you do for free and only got a 7 on it, heh. I wouldn’t worry too much about organic chem, I talk to a lot of people at my college who say it’s not too much worse than general chem…physics on the other hand, well I don’t know anything about it but I imagine it sucks.

  • Tim Said:
Besides, if you take your pre-reqs at your CC, get A's in them, and get a high MCAT score, then no matter how far adcoms sticks their nose up at your CC pre-reqs, they won't be able to get the smell of a good applicant out of their nose.

Would that this were universally true. There have been at least a few schools that will not even look at your grades or scores if your prereqs are from a CC. Is it MOST or even MANY med schools? Probably not. But should it give you pause? Yes, it should..... for the simple reason that, regardless of how determined you are and how great your application looks, you are not the one who decides where to set the bar. If an AdCom decides that CC credits aren't acceptable, regardless of what CC or how good everything else is, then you are not going to be considered at that school. Period.

Now, honestly, it's probably not that big a deal. You just need to know that it's out there, it's a possibility, and you absolutely should know which schools have such a policy before you waste money applying to them. This isn't necessarily going to be easy to find out but you should pursue due diligence with your own "wish list" of schools to get that information.

The other thing to keep in mind about CC credits is to think of how they'll stack up against your competition. You know, when you are **doing** the prereqs, you consider your competition to be those around you in your gen-chem or o-chem classes.... and if you're anything like me, you think, "Huh! I can beat these kids with one hand tied behind my back!" Well, there's a reason that those prereqs are known as "weeder" courses, because the folks you regard as slackers are the ones who do, in fact, get weeded out. Your actual competition is much less recognizable and much, much better. When I was on my school's AdCom I was continuously humbled and amazed at the quality of the applications I was reading... and so grateful that I'd gotten in, because I felt like my own application was kinda sorry in comparison.

All I'm saying is (and I know it's been said before), be careful. Choose a CC if you must, but know that no matter how kick-ass YOU think your application is, CC credits take it down a peg in the eyes of many AdComs, and eliminate it from consideration for at least a few.


Well, the problem is that some people don’t really have any choice (I mean life experiences don’t matter, they physically cannot get out of it due to the way the college system is) in taking some pre-reqs at CCs such as the California system. I’m not even allowed to transfer to a 4-year here until I complete a year of general chem, calculus and at least one biology course beforehand.

I would imagine that in an instance such as this, med schools are aware of this, and they compensate accordingly. Now I don’t remember the name of it, but I have seen one med school that flat out refuses to accept any applicants who have any sort of CC coursework (pre-reqs or not) but that was one school. I’m not necessarily sure I would be comfortable going to a school that has such an admissions policy anyway since I would be forced to question the quality of the education if they’re that closeminded.

Granted it’s preferable to not take courses at a CC but I don’t think a med school is worth applying to in the first place if they have such an admissions policy that you’re locked out automatically from having done CC coursework. That’s just my two cents though.

Mary, I do see your point about competition etc., but maybe I’m getting old…to me, I feel that it is important to not just take the courses, but to understand them as well.

I also don’t think that it has anything to do with the class itself. I mean I can take the Ochem at my CC and I can take it at the university…they are teaching the same course…however, if I am having difficulty with a concept, the professor has his door wide open…while, a professor in the university setting is more involved with research and chances are you will be foistered onto a TA.

Truth is, most professors in 4 years, are doing the lower level sciences (basics) because they have too, not because they want to…since research is their prime interest. Now once you are in the upper level classes, chances are you develop more of a relationship with a professor, but I really don’t see that with the basics.

Their feelings may be that once you’ve gotten through the fundamentals, then you are worthy of their time.

I would caution against such generalizations as “you get more individualized attention at a CC” and “the four-year college is too big and impersonal.” Those reading this who are weighing their options need to investigate what is available in their particular circumstance. In previous discussions of CCs, we’ve heard examples of places where the CC is really more like trade school; at the opposite end we’ve got Tim’s example of the CC feeder system into the UC system.

Similarly you can give contrasting examples of 4-year schools. University of Maryland’s Science in the Evening program has been mentioned by some OPMs as a good program. I’ve heard both good and bad about the Harvard Extension Program. Every time I hear about big, impersonal universities, I want to tell again of my fantastic experience at George Mason University, where my lectures were always less than 100 people and I had the opportunity to schedule my labs with the lecture professor, a situation that I truly felt was the best of all possible circumstances.

So every single person’s mileage will vary, and every person is going to make the decision that fits his or her circumstances.

You are right, I shouldn’t generalize…it is just the experience that I have personally faced. But I’m sure like with anything, there are good 4 yr programs and not so good ones, just as there are good CCs and poor ones.

I think I also mentioned that once I get my prereqs which are the basics, I am planning on going for my Bachelors in Bio at a 4 yr…I (me!) just don’t see why I need to take the prereqs at a 4 yr if the CC I am attending has a really good Natural Science Department.

So for all of you who are looking into doing prereqs, research the best option that works for you.

I’m starting my pre-reqs this summer (IF I can get the scheduling to work around my day job) and was told by both my pre-med advisor (university) and the admissions contact at the medical school to NOT take any of my pre-reqs at a community college. They were not looked upon favorably.

I disagree. However, they are calling the shots, not me.

For ease of scheduling alone, I would like to take some CC courses, at least for the 100-level classes in CHEM, BIOL or PHYS.

I would strongly caution against 100-level classes at a CC. My experience is limited, but in the transcripts I’ve seen, 100-levels weren’t the kind of class that would be considered as meeting pre-req requirements.

If you feel you need to ramp up to the higher-level science courses with some preparatory work, starting out with 100-level classes is OK. But the actual pre-reqs are going to be 200 and 300 level courses. They will be classes that would be acceptable for your major in that field at a 4-year school.

Good luck!


After having taken premed preqs at a 30K student university (UFla), a 15K student university (UNC-Charlotte) AND a community college (Santa Fe CC in Gainevillle), I have to agree that it’s easier to learn the “basics” at a community college due to some of the reasons you mention. OTOH, SFCC is one of the best CC’s in the state of Florida, so it’s probably no suprise that besides feeling like the profs there cared more and had more time, the classes were essentially the same minus the negative “premed competitive” vibe.

I’ve never been questioned about why I attended a CC, but it was probably obvious after I flunked out of UF (and graduated later). So I’d say if you can get the same or better quality education at a CC, and that’s VERY important, make the best of what you have and go for it.


Thanks. I’m not taking any courses at a CC. I just find them easier to work with and more flexible in their scheduling of classes after normal working hours for us with 8-5 jobs.

My employer is flexible for the moment and I’ve been able to get my summer and fall schedule tentatively worked out:

MATH 189 (calculus) - university summer session 1

BIOL 181 - state college summer session 2

PHYS 151 - university fall

CHEM 121 - university fall

The real test of his flexibility will be the 200-400-level classes that are smack in the middle of the work day…with 3 classes planned each semester.

Just taking it one year at a time…