New member...My plan... thoughts please...


Thanks in advance for reading my post. I am currently 25 years old and am in a professional field(undergrad + professional school). However, I have realized that I want to act on my dream of becoming a doctor - I know I need to do extensive shadowing…

I have no science or math background and have a low undergrad gpa.

I have contacted local state medical schools and they mentioned that someone in my shoes needs 20 hrs of credit hours and they will consider that my new gpa. I work full time and they do not mind that I take 1 or 2 classes at time.

I realize that the pre reqs are 1 yr bio, chem, ochem, physics. If I were to try to complete all these courses taking them 1 or 2 at a time it will take me 3 years, then I would need to write the mcat and get accepted to medical school. I am looking at potential 5 years until I even start medical school.

I am getting scared because although I beleive this is possible, I am considering scarificing 5 yrs of my life without a guarentee.

My questions to you are, Do I need to take all the pre-req’s?, I have done some looking to post bacc programs where I can possible get finished the prereq’s in a year but I do not think there is any I can get accepted to other than the carib. The carib is still an option, because I would be looking at 5 years including post bacc until I finish medical school. Do you think I should look at other post bacc programs? Do you have any suggestions? I would be very thankful. Thanks so much

Yes, you need to take all of the pre-reqs, ESPECIALLY since you have a low undergrad GPA and no science/math background. Not only that, you really should take some upper level science courses beyond the pre-reqs. If at all possible, I would strongly taking at least a semester of full-time science course load. This would help prove to adcoms that you have the ability to handle medical school.

If you have less than a 3.0 GPA, you will have a difficult time getting accepted to a formal post-bacc program in the US. However, there is no need to do a formal program. The main attraction for formal programs is that they often condense the courses into a year or 18 months, offer a support network, and sometimes offer a linkage to medical school. The downside is that these programs can be intensely competitive, making it difficult to stand out and obtain great grades.

I would recommend against the caribbean as your route of choice. Although it is an option, it is not the best option. There many threads out there both here and on SDN about this option. You may find yourself very limited in finding a residency. It is extremely difficult to get into a competitive specialty from an offshore school.

So what if it takes you 5 years to get in? If this is really what you want to do, does it matter? Nothing in life is has a guarantee.

There are two advantages I see to you continuing to work and doing your prerequisites over a period of several years.

  1. you can really concentrate on excelling in and mastering each class

  2. You are really not “sacrificing 5 years”…you are adding some additional learning to what you would already be doing - working. Leaving you in much the same financial situation but with an increased knowledge base.

  3. You would have the ability to do some shadowing and volunteering in the medical area and decide if this is really what you want to do.


Do you know if it was just the school i contacted that allows you to take 1 or 2 classes at a time in order for it to count towards a new gpa?

Thanks for your responses. Why do should I take some upper level science courses?

One step at a time, just checking to get opinions and facts to determine how I should proceed. Kate, I agreed with the reasons you gave. I personally enjoy school and learning (something that I began to realize in professional school). I have an apt with a advisor next week.

Every class you have ever taken must be reported, even if it was one at a time. For me, that included the typing class at community college when I was 19, that I got a B in.

The pre-reqs are just the basics that you need to build a foundation to go to med school (it will be expected that you know this material). Upper level classes that people sometimes take include microbiology, biochemistry, genetics, A&P, neuroscience, etc. For people with low undergrad GPAs, this level of classes is recommended sometimes to take these classes to show you can handle the level of work.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Thanks for the encouragement. I am starting to realize that I am up against a huge huge uphill climb. My professional program is considered one of the most difficult (req’d b- avg to get into, and I just lucked out bc I knew someone, most students have A averages), and I finished in the top 10% on all the exams. I really went all out and proved to myself that I can compete with top level students. But going to med school might be out of reach. Any other thoughts would be great. Start with 1 or 2 classes at a time? Great things are difficult to accomplish.


You are psyching yourself out perhaps without reason. If going into medicine is what you want, make a plan, stick to it, and give it your best shot. The rest will follow. Whether you eventually make it or not, nothing is gained right now by psyching yourself out before you’ve even begun.

You will need to take all the pre-reqs which typically run around 36-40 credits. And as others have pointed out, a few more credits worth of advanced science courses such as microbio, immunology, etc. taken full-time will be very helpful. You don’t have to enroll in a formal postbacc unless you desire the structure and resources that those programs offer. As pointed out, such programs tend to be very competitive both for entry and to complete. There is nothing wrong with taking 1 or 2 courses while working full time. In fact, many of us on this site are doing just that. Granted it will take more time but you’re 25 and even if you’re 30 by the time you enter medsch, you will still be young.

Don’t psych yourself out - just take one step at a time. Gather as much information as you can. Meet with your advisor next week and if something s/he says bothers or confuses you, come back here and ask - sometimes advisors make mistakes too, and someone else on here may have different or additional information that you can take back to your advisor for discussion. Then form a plan, set some goals and do your best to try and meet those goals. Good luck.

Regarding your question about whether it is just the school you contacted that would consider the 1 or 2 courses at a time, in your first post you said: "I have contacted local state medical schools and they mentioned that someone in my shoes needs 20 hrs of credit hours and they will consider that my new gpa. I work full time and they do not mind that I take 1 or 2 classes at time. "

Actually, even those schools probably didn’t state things exactly as they are. If you are not in Texas, the local medical schools use either the AMCAS system for applications (MD schools) or the AACOMAS system (DO schools). In AMCAS schools, any undergraduate level prereqs you take will be reported as a separate post-bacc gpa. But they will ALSO be averaged into your other grades so you will have an undergraduate gpa that is computed from ALL your undergraduate courses, past and recent. You will also have an undergraduate science gpa calculated from all your math, physics, chemistry, and biology credits.

However, many medical schools do not base their decision solely on your full science gpa and non-science undergrad gpa - they take into account the fact that sometimes people can perform much better than they did originally in undergrad, and so give some weight to what you achieve in your post-bacc courses. This is probably what the schools meant - that they would consider this in their decision.

If you are considering DO schools, the AACOMAS application computes gpa somewhat differently, but does apply “grade replacement”. If you take the same course twice, the most recent grade is substituted for the former grade. It sounds, however, as though the courses which caused your “low undergraduate gpa” were not the science prerequisites. Many of the folks on OPM had poor undergrad gpa’s and simply tried to excel in their prerequisites, AND take a few upper level science courses to demonstrate they were capable of the level of work medical school will require. Your application will depend on more than your old gpa. Your MCAT score, volunteering, your post-bacc courses, and your professional school and experience will all be part of the picture that the schools will consider.

The basic bio, chem, ochem and physics is a minimum of 32 hours (if you have none of them). Other courses that may help with MCAT are genetics and biochemistry, although not strictly necessary. Some med schools require biochemistry, and some have math requirements, including statistics. A few advanced courses (anatomy, physiology, microbiology are other suggestions) can help prepare you for the first year of medical school as well.

I did just the core prereqs, but I had been a biology major 30 years ago and had some OLD advanced biology courses as well as more recent courses towards a masters degree in nursing, so felt no need to go beyond that. Just trying to give you some thoughts.