Looking for advice. I’ve decided to follow my heart and pursue medicine after 9 years of service in the Navy. I’m a submarine officer and have just over a year left on active duty. I’m missing Biology, Organic Chemistry, and Biochemistry right now, and with frequent time at sea (including a pending 7 month deployment) I will be unable to take any classes this year.
I really want to keep my transition period to no longer than a year, so I am considering taking the MCAT next summer and applying to medical school next fall. I would then complete all prerequisites over the gap year.
- Has anyone taken the MCAT without having taken all prerequisite classes?
- Any experience getting accepted contingent on completing prerequisite classes?
I might be underestimating the difficulty, but I think that I could self study the material over the next year to do well enough on the MCAT.
- Lastly, if I were able to take a course or two next summer prior to the MCAT and medical school application, where would I get the most value added?
Thanks for any advice!
Yikes, you’re missing prereqs that cover the backbone of the MCAT… I don’t think anyone would say that you should take it before taking the classes, but I’m sure many have tried and some have succeeded. Most (all?) schools will let you apply contingent that you complete all of the prereqs prior to matriculation. Gap year is usually a year someone takes off between school and the start of medical school, meaning it’s the year during which they apply to start in upcoming fall, as opposed to applying during their senior year to start right after they graduate (applicable to work as well…). Is your intention to apply and take all of the remaining classes during the application process or to apply a year early and request deferment? I don’t know that schools will consider you if you plan on requesting a deferral prior to meeting matriculation requirements.
If you’re that gung ho, you might be able to take online/distance learning courses to knock out prereqs while you’re deployed. That would assume you have a slower ops tempo and readily available internet access on the boat. I was able to knock out most of organic I and II while deployed. I did an on-demand MCAT review course through Kaplan while on active duty, but its more designed as pointed review for someone who has some foundational knowledge of the material. And again, you’d need internet access.
As far as self-study, Biology to me is probably the easiest course to study. It’s a lot of rote memorization versus trying to understand fundamental mechanisms and pathways involved in orgo and biochem. They’re probably doable but would require a big time suck.
Keep in mind that a lot of the MCAT is applying what you know versus just regurgitating info. Understanding why things are is more important that just knowing what things are.
I’m just a step ahead of you in the non-trad route. Looking through the MSAR, O-Chem 1 and 2 seem to be almost universally rejected by med schools if they aren’t taken on a physical campus and with a lab. Kennymac, having taken O-chem online, did you have some problems with schools when applying?
But kennymac is right about o-chem and biochem being the backbone of the MCAT. I’d say they are even more significant in the new format. If you had taken o-chem as an undergrad and were simply reviewing and wanted to do biochem on your own, I wouldn’t have much reservation. However, trying to do biochem without o-chem seems like suicide.
In the long scheme of things, what will one more year really be when you’re done with the journey?
In the meantime, thanks for your service and good luck!
Because I had some online credits, there were some schools that I couldn’t apply to. I still found at least 15 that would take them. Ended up with 6 total interviews so it didn’t really impact me that much. Only one school that I really wanted to apply to told me “no” due to the online credits.
@kennymac and @englishprofessor, thanks for your input!
Online classes will not be possible on deployment. They don’t call us the “silent service” for nothing! I do plan to take some MCAT prep materials along and read when I get the chance.
My plan would be to take 3-4 months once I get out and study for MCAT, possibly taking a required course or two over the summer. Then take the MCAT at the end of next summer. Apply to medical school in Fall 2017 for entry to medical school in Fall 2018. The next two semesters I would complete all prerequisites.
It’s ambitious, and in the grand scheme of things I agree that one more year is not that much time. What concerns me is having to support my family during the extra year. I can make by with GI bill, savings, and Navy reserve the first year, but after a year I think my savings will run dry and I will need to find something else to do for a year.
Would a low score on MCAT hurt me on a follow on application with a better MCAT score the next year?
It’s always better to have and keep one score, but a second take probably wouldn’t hurt unless it was within the statistical range of the 1st score.
I recommend saving what you can of the GI bill for med school for the extra money. Med school funding with fed assistance assumes you’re single with no dependents and no significant debt. Nothing says you HAVE to get out at the end of your service commitment. You could theoretically stay on active duty and ride it out until you’re ready to apply, then resign. Not sure what your deployment schedule or shore life is like. I got denied by the AF the first time i applied to get out early to go to med school (on HPSP), and it actually worked in my favor because I was able to save a ton of money during that extra year.