How in the world do I get to med school from here?

I overcame homelessness and worked full-time to put myself through undergrad (my employer was willing to pay). Graduated with a 3.99 from a well-known university (3rd in my undergrad class). Majored in business (one of the few degrees I could get in the evenings and that my employer would pay for). Thankfully it required a year of calculus and a year of stats.

I had planned to try to apply to a postbacc med program, but a year before I graduated I became very ill with a rare illness. Took doctors over a year to figure out what I had and 2 years for my body to respond to treatment and to fully recover from the illness.

After working through my illness (there is no cure though), I didn’t think I could ever bear to see a hospital another day in my life (6 months on an IV drip kind of does that to you) as it would constantly be reminder of my 3-year hell , so I dropped my dream of being a doctor and decided to go to business school at Stanford University instead. But after my first year I knew b-school wasn’t for me, but decided to finish after talking to one of my former doctors (thought the b-school knowledge would be helpful when I actually practiced and since I only had one more year, there was no reason in quitting).

So now I have prestigious MBA, but still have a longing for my MD or DO. I have no idea how to get there from here.

I am a 35-year old African-American female, unmarried with no kids, so there is nothing physically holding me back but figuring out a way to do it.

How do I show my passion for something, when there is nothing besides a little volunteer work that reflects it?

Any advice on how to carve a path to my dream would be greatly appreciated.

man…been there on the homelessness! as they say down here… i feel ya! it’s a tough row to hoe!

i don’t have any suggestions, 'cuz i’m not even as far as you are yet, but wanted to say: hang in there and don’t give up! you’ve come this far and you have options!

have you got prereqs? alot of medical schools don’t care what your major was/is as long as you have certain classes.

Thanks for the encouragement. I probably have any math prereqs that would be required but need the sciences. Not sure if a post-bacc program would be best for this or if I could get by with taking courses at the state university. Any thoughts anyone?

again, i don’t truly know, but i say …just take the classes you need…i can’t see you needing a whole new program…

but, wouldn’t hurt to talk to guidance or whomsoever and see what they have to say.

I’m in a post-bacc program right now. The nice thing about it is that the program is somewhat optimized toward getting you the pre-reqs you need (for applications, and just to do well on the MCAT). A small downfall of my program is that there is no specific guarantee that you can get into the classes you need (especially during the summer). On the other hand, my own man-on-the-street research found that students from my school have had pretty good success getting into med schools (that is, the coursework is better than average in level of rigor). My school is part of the UNC state college system. I’ve also taken some community college classes (to recertify as an EMT). Honestly, the bar seemed kind of low there for science classes, but when it comes to learning applied skills I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else. My advice is to start talking to the pre-med advisor types at the schools you that interest you and ask for specific details about the admission stats for their pre-med students. Not getting a straight answer may be telling you something about that program. Everything I have read can be summarized as: take the most rigorous classes that you can reasonably get access to and blow them out of the water. When it comes to finally taking the MCAT, it will be you taking the test, not your chemistry professor. Your classes may have been sub-standard, but your understanding of (and ability to apply) the material will be what gets you a good score.

Hope that is some help. Somebody please tell me if I am wrong!!

Grace -

It seems that you’ve put yourself in a good position to progress, and you’ve managed to both overcome and achieve more than many.

Re: post-bacc work… I opted for an informal post-bacc, inasmuch as I’m going to a University and taking the courses I need. There are advantages and disadvantages to a formal post-bacc; many have connections or are better-suited to meet non-traditional needs, but they tend to be more expensive and selective (though with a 3.99 and an MBA, you seem well on the way to impressing).

Many med schools do have a limit on how old pre-req coursework can be, so you’ll want to look into this. In my experience, it seems more acceptable to have old Calculus than old Biology.

You have a number of options to demonstrate your passion for medicine (and your social conscience, or whatever the appropriate term would be for “do you care about people and want to help them”); volunteering is one. I’ll defer to others’ knowledge on this topic.

Welcome to the forums, and best of luck to you!

I elected to simply take the required prereqs at a university rather than enroll in a formal post-bac program simply because the university route wouldn’t require me to relocate. As others have stated, there are pros/cons for each path. Either way, you will need to take the generic prereqs (organic and general chemistry, biology, and physics). It’s important to do well in these classes because medical schools will evaluate your GPA in two ways - overall and in the sciences (sometimes called BCPM or biology/chem/physics/math). With a good GPA and MCAT score, there’s really no secret to getting accepted. Competitive applicants also have some sort of clinical experience and a volunteer record.

For $25 you can order a copy of the current MSAR (medical school admission requirements). Grab it from instead of the AMCAS (american medical college application service) website and save yourself $8 shipping. Its a great resource to start with as it outlines all MD schools in the US and provides you with a snapshot of what it takes to be a competitive applicant at each.

  • grace99 Said:
Thanks for the encouragement. I probably have any math prereqs that would be required but need the sciences. Not sure if a post-bacc program would be best for this or if I could get by with taking courses at the state university. Any thoughts anyone?


It doesn't matter as long as you take your prerequisite courses at a respectable four year university. (Community college is acceptable at some medical schools but not at others, so to increase your chances overall you should stick to university.)

Formal post-bacc programs typically offer a committee letter that is based on your various letters of recommendation, and they have an advisor and a list of suggested courses. In addition, a few post-bacc programs have a linkage arrangement with a medical school; do well in the post bacc and you'll get an interview at the medical school. However a formal program is NOT required to get into medical school, only a lot of determination, hard work, and good grades.

As for getting more familiar with the medical field, volunteering at your local hospital or similar health provider is a good approach, and medical school admissions offices pretty much expect to see some of it on your c.v. Patient contact is important so sorting files in the file room won't quite do it.

Good luck!

Hi Grace:

You are an overcomer! Visit the AAMC’s website to take a look at their listing of post-bacc programs: I’m in the process of starting a post-bacc program in my area because I need to bring my pre-reqs up-to-date (let’s just say it’s been a while since I’ve taken them).

You’ve come to the right place for advice and support. Good luck to you in your future endeavors!