hello (introduction), looking into PostBacc options


I’m 37. I’m married, but I have no children yet. I live near Cincinnati. I’m currently an English as a Second Language instructor for executives, which I’ve been doing almost 5 years.

I took a very long, alternative non-traditional path to get my BAs. I went to Northern Kentucky University part-time from 1991 to 2010 (but almost 4 years from my last class until the paperwork finally went through). I had few science courses because my majors were English & Art (I think my science gpa is 3.5-ish).

Superficially, My overall GPA was 3.1. I completed the NKU honors program.

But if someone were to examine my undergrad record closely, they’d see that I withdrew from courses often, retook several, and even declared academic bankruptcy at one point!

So, mid-life, I’ve decided to radically change my career path. Fortunately, I come from a medically oriented family. My mom is an RN, my dad is a dentist. I’ve told them about my decision and they are thrilled that i’m going to try. I have cousins who are also dentists and nurses as well. No MDs though.

At this point I’ve ordered the MCAT study guide from AAMC (waiting for it to arrive) and i’m working on a week-by-week study plan. i feel like there’s no way i’ll be ready to take the mcat until august. I’m looking into DVDs and audio supplements.

Any suggestions?

My biggest concern at this point is organic chemistry, my dad told me it was his worst subject. I took chemistry (for non majors) at NKU and got a B, i think.

I’m strongly considering University of Cincinnati’s post-bacc program “Special Master’s Program in Physiology”. They require an MCAT of 27 and undergrad 3.0 to be considered. So i hope i’m ok on the GPA. I exchanged some email with the director, who said the program would work for mid-life career changers. The pluses of this route for me is the proximity to home (10 minutes) as well as the benefits outline on their website. The minus is the great expense! I’ve got some reservations about letters of recommendations since my undergrad was essentially long ago, but I’ll contact UC about that later.

However, if i don’t get into UC’s program, i’ll consider doing an independent postbacc at UC or NKU. I’d like to stay local for the postbacc.

My strong concern about the independent post-bacc is related to my undergrad experience-- my coursework was more menu than program. i went the independent route and i lost years of time because i was wandering without a mentor. I felt really disconnected and often got discouraged. I had some experiences to where I missed out on decent internship opportunities as an undergrad because I never was connected to the right professors.

So… that’s where I’m at.

Any feedback?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you

Welcome to the best, hardest thing you’ll ever do!

Like you, I am in my late thirties, just starting to look at post baccs.

WHat I can say is that it seems to me that most anyone who has showed some real resolve and perserverance has successfully become a doctor.

Try to focus on the long view, get an advisor who understands your particular situation, and work hard. Very often, we are our own greatest obstacle. Time seems short, but the path is long.

I cannot answer questions pertaining to Cinci, but I will say that special masters programs can aid the lower gpa, and organic chem is definitely on the MCAT.

Good luck, and keep hanging out around here, there is a treasure trove of info, and some great support from people who have been where you are now.

Godspeed weary traveler, and Good Luck!

thanks for the feedback.

i really can’t think of a bigger career challenge than medicine.

It is my understanding that SMPs are typically intended for GPA repair and for those who have already taken the basic pre-reqs (Chem, Bio, Physics, Org all I/II with labs.) I think your situation lends itself better to a DIY postbacc. You should email the PD again and ask about the syllabus of the SMP in Physiology. See if it covers the basic pre-reqs, or if it consists mostly of upper div stuff. I think you would need to complete the basic pre-reqs first if you’ve not already done so in order to even be eligible for the SMP. If you find that I’m wrong, please update this thread - I’d be curious to know for my own sake.

thanks for the reply

the verbatim email quote from the University of Cincinnati special masters department:

"I think the answer is yes, this program could certainly help a person who is seeking a career path change. We have had no shortage of students who are doing exactly that. As far as pre-requisites, I think it is only necessary to have enough science background to perform well on the MCAT (some math and physics, organic chemistry and a biology class or two). "

the stats of UC’s formal postbacc students getting into med school on a first glance appears like 40-60%? but i could be reading the stats wrong.

above all, i’m not looking into going to ivy league for med school. i’m going to try to go within 200 miles of home, my first choice being University of Cincinnati, after that dad’s alma mater Ohio State-- or else a school in SoCal as my sister lives near LA and i could stay with her.

i’m weighing other options: if i totally bomb the MCAT, i might look into going into a physician assistant or nursing program. or even dental school! that’s my plan B & C & D. my wife is hoping to get pregnant (we’ve been hoping for 3 years), and if we are so blessed, that could delay or change my plans too.

Although that email quote is not incorrect, if you’ve not taken the pre-reqs, I don’t think you’d be able to apply regardless of SMP/MCAT/other factors. So even if you enroll in the SMP, you’d be looking at taking the pre-reqs in addition to the SMP courseload. I interpreted your first post as meaning that you’ve not completed the basic pre-reqs. I hope that makes sense.

That’s true, i’ve not completed the basic pre-reqs.

I said the same in my email to the UC special masters department.

so, based on what you’ve told me, i’m going to ask them more questions about what predicament i might be in without the necessary science pre-reqs and what they advise i do first-- an independent post bacc, or their masters program.

thanks again for your input

Definitely ask these questions before committing to the SMP. Since those are typically intended for GPA repair, you might find that you need a postbacc program, not an SMP. If you start taking the basic pre-reqs independently and maintain a good postbacc GPA, then you can simply supplement the pre-reqs with a few other courses such as biochem, immunology, genetics etc. Presumably the SMP would have such courses too, and if you really want to make the SMP part of your backup plan, then go for it after you’re done with the basic pre-reqs.

However, I think that if you take the pre-reqs plus a few extras, that should put you in a good spot even for your plans B, C, and D. You did note concerns about the independent route and how you lost your way during your undergrad years. However, if you’re focused on your goals, the independent route should be just fine. But if you have a strong need for structure etc, then go for the SMP after finishing the pre-reqs. I would also suggest putting off the MCAT until you’re done with the pre-reqs but that should not stop you from prepping for it. Just don’t “waste” any of the AAMC practice tests until you’re really ready to take the real deal.


You probably do NOT want to take the MCAT without the prereqs under your belt - 2 semesters with lab of bio, physics, general (inorganic) chemistry, and organic chemistry. In addition changes to the MCAT are coming that will include material in intro to psychology, I think.

At that point you could take the MCAT, and you COULD do the special masters program, but if you did well on the MCAT, you wouldn’t actually NEED to.

You might look at other post-bacc premed programs that cover more of the basics. I found 5 in Ohio although, alas, not in Cincinatti.


I’ve heard good things about Case Western’s program. I did UVA’s program in Virginia which had the advantage of only being 1 year, and if you do not need to retake something, you can substitute another course. It had the disadvantage of only being 1 year (making it VERY intensive and one in which you would be less likely to get the A’s that one would wish in a post-bacc program. Look closely at the course load of any program you are considering.

I did feel the mentoring and advising were very valuable parts of the program, personally.


thanks for the info.

with more research, i found that UC does offer a pre-med associates degree and also a non-degree premed. i’m going to talk to the admissions offices in both programs and the special masters again.

So, my suggestion is you do a DIY post-bacc. You certainly do not need a SMP and I think the UC’s person’s recommendation to “take a few courses” and then the MCAT for their program when you haven’t done the med school pre-reqs is asinine.

Take the pre-reqs on your own for UC and OSU (which will be the same as for most other medical schools). If you’re strongly interested in UC, then I recommend taking the pre-reqs there. After you’ve completed the pre-reqs, take the MCAT. Assuming you do well in the pre-reqs and on the MCAT, you could apply then and take some more upper level courses during your glide year. Or, if you feel that your GPA needs a little more boosting then take some extra courses prior to applying.

My background: I had a 2.78 UG GPA (virtually no science credits). I taught HS for 10 years and worked and volunteered as an EMT. I did a DIY post-bacc taking most of my pre-reqs at Ohio State (took ochem in a summer session at Capital). Ended up with a post-bacc GPA of 3.98. I applied to five Ohio medical schools, got accepted to all five. Ended up at Ohio State for medical school.

I think if you can do well in the pre-reqs and on the MCAT you stand a reasonable chance. Ohio is a great state to be a resident of if you want to go to medical school due to the number of medical schools. Most of them are also very non-trad friendly. Cinci is definitely non-trad friendly, and obviously OSU state is, too. I think if UC is on your radar, taking your pre-reqs there is an advantage. Assuming you do well, they are familiar with their courses and the rigor and it will help you. It will also allow you to obtain LORs from faculty they are familiar with.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Emergency! do you mind me asking what your MCAT score was?

The DIY post-bacc is sounding better the more people on this forum talk about it. plus it has to be cheaper than the masters.

My mom was an ER RN at OSU hospital (30+ years ago).

My dad, the dentist & OSU grad, is convinced that letters of recommendation and the interview are really important.

everyone, I’m very grateful for the responses.

Be aware the medical schools require that you have the basic pre-reqs, whether or not you jump into an SMP without them. And, the MCAT is based entirely on the intro science courses. SMP programs are for applicants who have the general pre-reqs completed. You could do a formal or informal post bacc and then see where you are about applying right to med school or to an SMP. You need to do very well in your course work, of course. :slight_smile:



thanks Judy, I checked out your website. I have bookmarked it for the future.

MCAT was 31 (just a smudge below the average for my class that year).

If you decide to pursue a formal post-back or SMP, research it thoroughly. As mentioned above, many of them assume/require that you have already completed the pre-reqs. You need the pre-reqs at a minimum.

so i’ve decided a DIY post-bacc will be what i do, not an SMP or formal. looking to start in august. i’ll take the classes at University of Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky University. in the coming months, i intend to talk to people in admissions and, if i can, adcomms. i’ll also be networking with friends and family who are doctors as well.