Hello, Introduction and Advice

Hi everyone!
I stumbled onto this website this afterrnoon as I was taking a break from studying for my Abnormal psych exam tomorrow! I, too, am a non-traditional student, age 32, who sees an M.D. in her future. I’m graduating this fall with a BA in Social Sciences, but have already taken (12 years ago during my 1st try of college) 1 quarter of physics, 2 quarters of Ochem, 3 quarters of InOrganic, and a year of general bio. So, I need to do some review! I’m taking Genetics and Biochemistry this summer. My science GPA from my first try at college was a mere 2.8 (C and B- in Ochem, A’s in Bio, C+ in inorganic). My GPA thsi time around is 4.0.
Can I and should I retake some of these “C” courses or even my “A” courses or should I do intensive review for the MCAT and let my MCAT scores show the proof of my aptitude 12 years later? I realize I still need a little bit more physics and plan on starting down that path this fall.
I will be applying to medical school in the fall of 2004 for entry in 2005 (which makes me 35 when I start). I haven’t even decided where I want to apply (still working on that).
Any advice from those of you traveling down this road?

Hey Rosey,
Welcome to OPM! Glad to have you here!!! It's outstanding that you have aced your classes. Unfortunately, because of the time that has passed since you have taken biology, physics, inorganic and O chem, you may have to retake all of them. I believe that a lot of schools impose a 7 year limit on the classes that they will accept. You should check with the schools that you are going to apply to once you figure that out.
Regarding the MCAT the consensus on this site is that every one should go through some sort of review program, whether it be self study or a formal review like Princeton or Kaplan. Kaplan will give you a 10% discount for being a member of OPM. See the MCAT forum for more details. A formal program will be requisite for someone as lazy as myself and may be a good bet for you since it's been a while since you have covered the material but I think that it is a personal decision.
Talk to you later.

Hi there,
Your first stop is the the admissions office of the schools that you anticipate applying to. You need to ask them if your pre-med grades are current enough. (Some schools want pre-med class scores more current than 10 years) If they are not, then you are going to need a re-take on those classes. You also need to be doing diagnostic tests for MCAT. If you do not need to re-take classes then you may want to invest in taking a prep course before taking the MCAT. If your timeline holds, you would be taking that exam in April of 2004 so you can't start getting prepared too early.
MCAT is but one aspect of your application and is not the only thing that shows aptitude for medicine. You make need more than one quarter of physics. On my last take, most schools want a year of physics with lab. If I am not mistaken, one year equals three quarters so you need one more quarter of Organic Chemistry and two more quarters of physics (both with lab). Biochemistry is not going to be a substitute for Organic chemistry as far as medical schools admission is concerned.
Get some good info from the schools that you have an interest in applying to and work on getting your application package competitive (extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation etc.). As many folks have said, being non-traditional and having a non-physical science background is not enough to get the attention of an admissions committee in this era where applications to medical school are increasing. Seeing a steady improvement in your GPA is a great thing but the competition is going to be pretty intense so investigate where you stand in making application in today's climate.
Good luck and enjoy the journey!

Thank you for the replies. I realize that I must take the physics, however, I’ve been advised by a couple of pre-med advisors (at my current school and the school I plan to conduct my post bac studies) that high scores on the MCAT will be sufficient w/ only 2 quarter of Ochem. However, I agree that depending on the school applied to may necessitate me taking that final quarter smile.gif. I am in CA so I will be applying to schools in the Western US and the South (where my mum’s family is). And, I can only hope that those schools may accept some of my previous education.
I realize the competitive nature of getting in as a non-traditional student and I welcome the challenge!! biggrin.gif
Thanks again!!

I don't know what schools those premed advisors are at - but don't believe them for something this important when it contradicts the current concensus of 1 year each physics/gchem/ochem/biology.
Check with the schools you are most likely to apply to about that OChem - I believe every website for a medical school that I've seen lists the requirements as 1 yr/2 sem/3 qtrs of Ochem w/lab.

Yup, agree with LisaS. I was just browsing the MSAR and it says it there in plain black and white. Almost every single school requires 2 semesters each or 3 quarters each to include labs of the pre-requisites, that is why they are called pre-requesities. You need to have them to gain acceptance into a U.S. medical school. With the huge amount of people applying up in the 30,000 range not having these pre-reqs and not intending on having them (of course you do not need to have them by the time of application, just before you start med school) will be a red flag and hard to overcome. I think that yor pre-med advisor is misleading you, and in your best interest you should call ALL the schools that you plan on submitting applications and ASK. Another option is to buy the MSAR and see for yourself what each school requires. Some are now requiring Biochem although these are in the minority, and some require one year of calculus again these are in the minority. But, if one or two of the schools that you are interested in are one of these few, then you need to be aware.

I suppose the topic as gotten a little off-center here. huh.gif I had always planned on completing the requirements for the schools I apply to, so NO WORRIES! smile.gif I’m simply repeating what was told to me which I can take with a grain of salt. I am intelligent enough to insure I have the proper requirements for the school I apply to.
The main grain of my initial question was about re-taking the courses and I thank those that responded regarding that question. I plan on going ahead with taking them again (can’t hurt for review for the MCAT).
Thanks again and good luck to all.

For retaking classes, the challenge will be to make sure that it stays interesting in the parts that you sort of already understand. This is because you can start to gloss parts that you think you already understand but in fact not realize that you don't totally understand it. One way to approach this is to make sure to spend lots of time in office hours with profs or TAs, or alternately with very bright and motivated study partners, talking about more nuanced and subtle aspects of the material; applications of the science; recent scientific findings; etc. This can help you stay engaged in learning material you already partly understand.
Good luck!
boston joe

Hey Rosey,
You and I are in a similar situation, age, year applying, etc. One particular comment I noticed in a response is the expiration date on previous coursework. Most of the med school web sites I’ve visited mention MCAT scores are only good for 3 years, but they don’t reference classwork. I graduated in engineering in 93 and didn’t plan on retaking physics and english but I will e-mail some schools to make sure my “old” grades are still acceptable. Good luck to you.

As for time limits on courses previously taken I would strongly suggest that you contact the medical schools to which you plan to apply. I have seen here on OPM and other sites that 7 years is frequently referenced. Yet, I have spoke to various medical schools and this is not the case. Of course, previous GPA and whether or not you feel you need the review for MCAT are individual factors.
Good Luck!

QUOTE (PNP2MD @ Feb 10 2003, 06:48 PM)
As for time limits on courses previously taken I would strongly suggest that you contact the medical schools to which you plan to apply.

You can never go wrong here. Especially if it's in writing on official stationary.