Need advice for post bacc programs as well as general med school advice

Hey guys,

I’m new to this site but it’s wonderful that there is a resource out there like this. I’d like to give a little background about myself before I ask my question.

I like to think that I’m a slightly “non-traditional” premedical student. I am graduating this May from a good state university with my BS in Nuclear Engineering. My GPA is not that great (3.1) due to a very rough start in college (all 4 of my first semesters were sub 2.5) as well as my program being ridiculously difficult. I was in the Mechanical Engineering program but didn’t like it and switched to Astrophysics and then to Nuke E. Since being in Nuke I have had a GPA of around 3.5 and my major GPA is, of course, about 3.5. I have had 3 internships: 1 at a national laboratory working with particle accelerators and radiation detectors, the next at a classified DOE nuclear weapons test site and third at a nuclear power plant. For the work I did at the national lab, I was published. I was looking into doing nuclear engineering with a concentration in medical physics for grad school but after really looking into that department in a hospital, I realized that what a doctor does is really what I absolutely would love to do so I have decided I would try to get into medical school. (Logically in radiology but I don’t want to get ahead of myself). This is a decision I have thought through extensively and I am sure that it is absolutely what I want to do.

I was considering the “do it yourself” path since I have taken calc based physics I, II, and III with labs, modern physics, Gen Chem I and II with labs and engineering Calcs I, II, and III as well as Ordinary Differential Equations and Partial Differential Equations. So all I would need to take after graduating would be O chem I summer session I, Bio I summer session II, O chem II and Bio II Fall 2011, and Biochem and A&P Spring 2011 to strengthen my application, all while studying for the MCAT. However, when looking around I stumbled upon the post bacc programs being offered at many schools. This seemed to be exactly what I needed.

My first question is: I have looked at the career changer programs that are geared towards students that need only some of the pre medical classes but not all, are there any programs that anyone knows of that my type of background would appeal to? Appeal to meaning I would stand a better chance of being admitted to than others. If not what would you recommend? I don’t want to delay my graduation by taking those classes and raising my GPA since this is my sixth year as an undergrad.

My second question is: If I am admitted to a post bacc programs and do well on the MCAT (35+) as well as get near a 4.0 in the certificate program ( I know I may need to take 24-36 credits for graduation of the program and apply in the summer for the second coming fall semester), do I stand a chance at getting into ANY MD program with my awful start in college? Will they consider my improvement as well as my extracurriculars? Also, what kind of advantage, if any, would I have by having a nuclear engineering degree? I haven’t found any admissions data on that specific degree, only the common ones such as EE, ME, ChemE, BME etc. but I would hope that they might like that since I’ve read that adcoms a lot of times will admit students with unique backgrounds like music and art. Anyway, thank you very much for your time and any advice is greatly appreciated.


Garrett, I actually think your first step should be to talk to a med school admissions counselor (or two). You might be surprised at how little extra you need to do. Engineering majors applying to medical school tend to have lower GPA’s because the courses are so difficult. Adcoms do look at the fact that you were taking very difficult courses when comparing your GPA to someone who maybe did a humanities degree.

The more important aspects for you are: 1) how did you do in the pre-reqs? and 2) Did you show an upward trend? For 1, if you did very well in the pre-reqs, than you should be fine and probably don’t need to take a significant amount of upper level sciences to raise your GPA. For #2, med schools DO look at an upward trend, so if your lower grades were your first couple of terms at school and you showed a strong improvement afterwards, you should also be okay there. You will need to be prepared to answer questions about your poor start and you may also need to think about addressing this in your personal statement.

You probably don’t need a formal post-bacc program or a certificate. I think with strong pre-req grades, strong performance in organic and biology and maybe taking a couple additional upper level biology courses, you might be in better shape than you think. A strong MCAT performance will also help.

Again, I think I would talk to some MEDICAL SCHOOL Admissions counselors (not necessarily pre-med advisors).

Rather than take A&P, think about taking immunology and/or genetics instead. A survey of 2nd year med students indicated that they wished that they had taken either of these two (or both) before matriculating into med school. You’ll get A&P in med school anyway.