What are the Medical school Application Steps for a Non Traditional Student

My Name is Eneey. I work presently as a computer programer / developer. I have my bachelors degree in Electrical / Electronic Engineering, and this was attained about 8 years ago from an English speaking African country.

I want to switch to Medicine, and i want to know the steps involed to achieve this. This includes the prerequisites needed and the whole process.

Also, can i get the prerequisites from a community college, and how long it will take?

I reside in the NY area, if this will help. Any suggestions, comments (negative or positive) will be greatly appreciated.

I need any/all information that will steer me in the right direction.

Thanks in advance.

Welcome to OPM! I think the first question is whether you are a US citizen. If you are, then the answers to your questions are definitely on this site. If not, there are probably other considerations that I don’t know anything about… probably other people on here will, though.

For US medical schools (the only ones I know anything about), you need to take the medical school prerequisites, usually defined as:

1 year Bio

1 year Gen Chem

1 year Organic

1 year Physics

all with labs. Some med schools have math requirements, some have English requirements - presumably you would have met some or all of these with your earlier coursework. I would recommend getting an MSAR - Medical School Admissions Requirements - book from the AAMC. It spells out the requirements for each school, so you know what you are up against. It only covers MD schools, though, not DO schools.

Whether you take them at a Community College is up to you. I have heard many times that it is better to take them at a 4-year university. However, there are people who have gotten in with CC credits. This is a longstanding debate.

You’ll need to study for and take the MCAT, and do well on it.

You’ll also want volunteering experience, clinical experience and leadership experience. Of course, these things can be combined, so if you have volunteer leadership experience in a clinic, then there you go. Also many schools want to see research experience.

I think that’s the basics.

You are going to need to look at U.S. med schools’ websites, and probably talk to some admissions officers at some med schools near you, to find out specifically how they will evaluate your application. The things that could cause difficulty for you are:

– undergrad degree from a non-U.S. school

– Visa status

I knew someone whose undergrad work was done in Australia and who did her prerequisites at a community college in the U.S., and she was accepted to a U.S. school - so it IS possible!

Good luck!


Hello!! It’s good to hear from another engineer!!! I’m a nuke engineer, BS 2002, MS 2004.

I’m just starting the process myself – but I’m going the pre-med post-bacc route. There’s a number of schools around the U.S. that offer pre-medical programs for students that already have a bachelor’s degree. I’m starting mine at Rockhurst University in Kansas City next fall. There’s a link on ACMAS (? is that right) or somewhere that lists all the programs in the country. It’s worth checking in to.


OK –

Here is that link: http://services.aamc.org/postbac/

And it’s AAMC not ACMAS (I’m TERRIBLE with acronyms just so you know hehe)

Thanks everyone for the replies. I really appreciate it. I am a US citizen, so that is out of the way.

Tracia, its nice to know i am not in this alone. i.e from Engineering to Medicine.

If you don’t mind me asking, why did you decide to switch, considering you have a masters in engineering as well. What is your driving force? Have you had any negative remarks from friends / family?

I am asking these questions because i really do need some kind of encouragement / positive remarks.

Also, what has been your challenges so far?

Is it better to go the postbac route or one could still try to get the prerequisites from community colleges?

Thanks alot, for you have given me some kind of hope. A lot of my friends / family think i am crazy for wanting to switch.

  • Quote:
Is it better to go the postbac route or one could still try to get the prerequisites from community colleges?

It's always better to go the 4 year university route, if possible. Keep in mind that "postbac" just means any undergrad courses taken after you received a degree. You can take your pre-reqs at a 4 year university without enrolling in a formal post-bac program (and there are many of us who have done so).

Before deciding what route to take, I think you should contact some medical schools and see how they view your degree from a non-US university. There are some (I don't know how many) who will require that you have 90 undergraduate credit hours from a US school and will not recognize your original degree. Many people with non-US degrees end up doing an entirely new degree for that reason. You might also want to see if there are any 4 year institutions that will allow you to transfer any of your hours from Africa to here.

I would hate to see you take only your pre-reqs and then discover after applying that the medical schools you have applied to don't/won't recognize your degree.

Good luck!


You don’t mention what African country your university is in, but one thing you might consider is whether your university has any linkages to American universities. For instance, if there is a university that sends study abroad students to your African university, folks there might be willing to help advise you about how to make the credits transfer.

I would also start looking to see if there are medical schools that have programs in the country where you were educated. You may be able to find alliances with people in these schools. It happens that though African expertise is still undervalued in the United States, medical schools are starting to pour a lot of money and prestige into clinical and research projects in various parts of Africa.

Let’s not get too impressed by this, by the way: though there are always sincere and often truly great individuals involved in each of these projects, at an institutional level this is happening in large part because they’re following the money–the Gates Foundation, the Global Fund, the Clinton Foundation, President Bush’s PEPFAR program, National Institutes of Health research projects, and other power players are putting bigger amounts of cash into Africa than the US medical establishment has seen there in the past. This in turn has allowed medical schools to collect their blessed research dollars through laying hands on Africans. It seems that every medical residency program I’m visiting is setting up a “global health track” or something of the sort, usually with linkages to someone doing infectious disease work in Africa–all totally sincere and probably long overdue, but made possible by these new streams of money. Hopefully this works out for everyone involved.

But whatever the motives, this quirk of history means that medical schools are actually interested in building connections to the countries in which they are working, and the schools making an investment in the country in which you were educated may or may not have some people who’d be especially willing to meet with you and hook you up to people who can help you. This is more true if you’re interested in going back for part of your work as a physician (doesn’t have to be all of your time, but some of it). But DON’T LIE–if you’ve got no intention of going back, don’t try to fake it when you talk to people. But if you do still want to maintain a connection to Africa, this is a possible way of finding some allies. This strategy would be more difficult, but still possible, if you are of Asian or European descent–this would very much depend on the specifics of your situation and how long and in which direction your family’s roots extend, and if you can find people who understand the diversity of Africa well enough to understand your situation.

I do think that doing some coursework at four year institutions here will be helpful to you. Whatever folks actually say to you, you’ll need to overcome some degree of prejudice against African education with the possible exception of South African places like Wits or the Univ of Cape Town, etc. (No mystery about why, but that’s for another conversation.) Whether this will require getting a whole other degree I don’t know, and this is where trying to gain some informal allies within schools is going to be helpful to find out how much you’re going to need.

Like any premed, you’ll also want to make sure to get some clinical volunteer exposure, both for your own benefit (helping you figure out whether this is really for you, and also helping you figure out where you fit within medicine) and for the benefit of admissions committees.

Good luck!