Need help planning course of action

First, I want to add my applause for the great site and support from all the members! I have read quite a few of the threads but did not find a solid answer for my particular situation. I could have missed it or not searched correctly so I apologize if this the umpteenth time you’ve had to answer.

I am just getting started with the process and want to register for Fall classes & possibly a summer one depending on the feedback. I have been out of school for 20 years. I want to go to Med School for Integrative Medicine which I have been investigating for the last year. I am planning to get some adjunctive certifications over the next year to two while I get ready for med school (i.e. Korean Hand Therapy, Herbal supplement education, etc). I have several places I can request to shadow and help with research.

My question is what classes should I take given the following grades and length of time not in school. (I have done some grad school business classes - also a while ago). I have given a synopsis so you will be able to guide me hopefully. Thank you in advance for the help!

Partial reason for poor/sporadic early grades -

Mother died June ’84 / Father died Nov ‘85

BSN 12/88 ASU

Overall GPA 3.16

Nursing Core GPA 3.6

Spr ’84 SDSU College Alg B

Fall ’84 CHM 101 C

Spr ’85 CHM 231 W

Spr ’86 CHM 231 B

Fall ’85 BIO 100 A

Fall ’86 MIC 201 B

Fall ’86 MIC 202 Lab A

Spr ’86 ZOL 201 C A & P

Sum‘86 ZOL 202 B A & P II

Fall ’86 ZOL 241 B Genetics

Nursing Background Critical Care (ICU) 10 yrs

Case Management 2 yrs

IT – supporting EMR Clinical Application 9 yrs (worked as a Director for 4 years)

Had a 6 month LOA to help run Real Estate Brokerage that I co-owned and decide what direction to go

Currently – working Part Time in IT and going back to bedside

Hi, Colette!

As you know, I am just starting out myself and am 40.

I hope I can offer you good advice. Hopefully, more will come along to add to the advice if necessary.

Since you’ve been out of school for an extensive time period, you would have to retake your science classes. If you find it difficult taking such an intensive program now, you can get tutoring and/or ask the teachers if you can get assistance during office hours.

I don’t know if you’re rusty in the math now. If so, you may need to retake that.

I don’t know if science classes are offered in the summer. If they are, I wouldn’t suggest taking any. That’s a lot of complex content to digest in such a short time. I think it would be counter-productive. Summer is good for easier classes, like psychology.

Good luck!


Oops. I forgot. I’m sorry you lost your parents. I can only imagine how difficult that time was for you.

Hi Star,

Thanks! I probably won’t do the summer thing it would be rushing to get registered by the start date which is probably next week for the 2nd session. I’ll keep researching and reading in prep for the fall. Thanks for the parent comment, too- everone has their challenges in life. I put the info out there to get some feedback on whether I need to address that with the adcom since it was such a long time ago, but it did affect my grades and there was an obvious upward trend which I hope would be seen as a positive. I guess more weight will be placed on how I do in the classes now.

Colette -

I’m going to suggest that the best course for you may be to start over on the pre-reqs. I see several reasons: 1) age, 2) some personal issues while taking them that probably didn’t allow you to learn the material as well as you could have, 3) based on your list you don’t appear to have completed a complete sequence of very many of them.

Most med schools prefer that your pre-reqs be no more than 7 - 10 years old. Although they may waive this in certain cases, there are lots of very good reasons to retake them. Biology, for instance, is a very dynamic field and has changed considerably over the years. Second, you want to know this material well for the MCAT. Third, you will want to cultivate relationships with professors so that you have people to write academic letters of recommendation for you (usually preferred, often required by med schools). Fourth, retaking the courses and taking the missing ones plus a few upper levels gives you the chance to prove your academic chops and that your earlier work was not reflective of your ability.

Although you have a B in college algebra, you might want to consider retaking it as well. An advisor suggested to me that I do so, and I’m very glad I did. The math itself came back fairly quickly, but it took me forever to figure out how to use the scientific/graphing calculators that they use now in all the college math/science classes. Some med schools require a semester of calculus as well, and I don’t think I would have done very well in calculus without retaking my college algebra. Additionally, a solid knowledge of algebra and trigonometry will make your life SO much easier in chemistry and physics. If you are comfortable with the math aspects of both subjects before taking them, it allows you to concentrate more on the actual chemical and physics concepts.

My two cents . . .

Thank you so much for the response. I was leaning that direction as well, but I saw some posts about schools combining scores vs replacing. After 20 years will they still average grades for similar classes?

  • In reply to:
retaking the courses and taking the missing ones plus a few upper levels

Do I retake all the lower level classes for each category (chem, ochem, bio, phys, a&p) and then select a few upper levels that are interesting or should I take upper levels as well in each area? What about molecular bio(cellular) and genetics? Do they make a difference at all? What about online courses for the Math thru a university? Is that a no-no? I loved and appreciated the comment about the calculators! Thankfully, I have two teens who have been using those for awhile so I have a resource at least. Thank you again for the info!

Colette -

AMCAS (the MD application service) averages all grades. AOMCAS (the DO application service - I hope I got the acronym close) lists all courses taken but only counts the higher grade in the GPA. The caveat to that is that the retake course has to match up pretty closely to the original course. There has been some recent discussion on the DO application recently, so if that route interests you, you might want to search for that. Also, if you haven’t done so already, browse around the AMCAS website ( There is a ton of good information there. The MSAR (medical school admissions requirements), available for AMCAS also has a ton of great info.

You wouldn’t need to retake A&P. This is generally not a pre-requisite. You might not need to retake the lab portions of the courses (if they are offered separately at the school you are attending) if you them and did well.

As for upper levels - there are different ways to look at that. You don’t need to take upper levels in each area, no. Biochemistry is good to take - quite a few med schools are requiring that as a pre-req now. Genetics and molecular/cell bio have changed quite a bit, and would be good to take/retake - there’s a fair amount of both on the MCAT and a good background will only help you in med school. Other than that - take things that are interesting.

I don’t see a problem with an online math class, especially since you’ve already taken it once. Opinions vary on taking the pre-reqs online, but it’s generally not the preferred route.

Stupid graphing/scientific calculators . . . I still can’t figure out how to get them to do half of the things I know they can do . . . I’m sure I did a lot more math by hand than I needed to in the pre-reqs just because I didn’t know how to do it in the #$@% calculator.