Why not rush?

Hi everyone,

I have benefited immensely from this forum over the past two years. Thanks to all who make it so great. I do have one question though. I have noticed a trend on OPM that most people tend to favor 1)informal DIY postbaccs and 2)taking your time completing prereqs (I am supposing 2-3 years on average)

I totally understand that different people have different situations, and that a formal postbacc is not the best option for everyone. But I think it has some distinct advantages:

1)Long-term cost: Assuming a postbacc costs 40k, and assuming you go into primary care making 140k a year. Shaving 2 years off of time in school nets you 240k. Doing a formal postbacc w/out linkage nets you 100k.

2)Name recognition: Applying to med school from a name-brand school (assuming you have good numbers) and showing that you can perform well with an intense schedule does increase your attractiveness as an applicant.

3)Motivation: Staying motivated for 2-3 years is tough. Working your butt off for a year to ace the prereqs and MCAT is doable for a lot of people.

4)Time: None of us are getting any younger. The sooner we can start living out our passion of practicing medicine the better, right?

So from that rationale, why shouldn’t an old premed “rush” as much as they can while getting the numbers and experience they need?

A lot of people on this forum have a history of poor performance in class which is why they are non traditional. Add to that, the responsibilities of a household and that it may have been many years since they have been in school and in the mindset that the evenings are filled with studying and not relaxing and relearning test taking skills.

The advocacy of taking your time is so that there is no repeat of poor performance because you did not give yourself enough time to re-adjust to being a student. In addition, the application process can be expensive so applying without having everything ready and having to re-apply is financially daunting. An average application season without interviews can run about $1500, If you get interviews you need to add to that the cost of travel and hotel.

You can do the pre-reqs as fast as you want, but you need to ensure that you perform well.

Yeah, I can see that. I think taking a couple intro classes at CC like Intro to Chemistry and Intro to Bio can help people decide if they are up to the academic challenge. But once you take the plunge, I still think doing a formal postbacc with linkage is worth considering, even if you do it in 2 years instead of 1. That year saved through linkage is very valuable, not to mention you only have to get an average score on the MCAT if you link.

And you know the demographics of this site a lot better than I do, but there has to be a strong contingent of people who performed well academically, just in another field like law, business, education, etc.

I’m not advocating sabotaging your family or chances of getting into medical school during your first application cycle. I’m advocating knowing what you are capable of and not being afraid to push yourself to that limit. I have seen a fair number of people who sell themselves short and waste time unnecessarily. After all, once we are in med school we will be forced to “rush it” regardless of our academic background or family situation.

true, but you have to get into medical school first. Nothing can prepare you for the rigors of medical school, not even doing a full time post bacc. The amount of information you are responsible is immense.

AntMan…I appreciate your insights. I’m 29 and looking seriously at the post bacc program at Washington University in St. Louis. You mention “linkages” quite often…what are they and how can you be sure that a particular post bacc program has them?

Linkages, in relation to formal post-bacc programs, are agreements to guarantee either admission or an admissions interview to graduates of said post-bacc. To find out if your program has linkage agreements, check with the program directly. Be sure to get all the details. Is admission guaranteed? Do you choose from among the linked medical schools, or do they choose where you wind up going?

What you may have interpreted as a bias against formal programs is, for the most part, more cautionary than exclusive. Schools that offer these programs go to great lengths marketing them. That’s understandable, since they tend to be very expensive. In truth, many OPM members have obtained similarly excellent results from informal post-bacc programs. Still some structured, formal programs come with excellent benefits. The bottom line: Get the details! For instance, boasting a 100% admission rate doesn’t tell the story of students who drop out, transfer to another program, or are held over or dismissed due to performance in a post-bacc course. I wouldn’t cite such extreme examples if it never happened.

As for taking your time, it is like anything valuable in life. Getting into medical school is of utmost importance to an aspiring physician. So, first and foremost, do it RIGHT. No one is advocating that you waste time, but “only fools rush”. In my case, the ONE extra year I waited to apply not only produced a significant improvement on my MCAT score, it also allowed me to take undergrad courses in immunology and histology. Man, am I relieved to have that background right now.

Even more importantly, linkages offer the possibility of being accepted to a medical school without having to take an entire extra year for the application process. You gain admission to a linkage school, provided you earn the grades and acceptable MCAT score, and are able to begin the fall after you finish the postbacc program. That’s a full two years faster than if one were to do a 2-year postbacc plus a “glide year”. The other option is to do a 1 year postbacc (formal or informal) plus a glide year. That’s what I did.

But hey, I understand that different programs will meet different needs. I just hate to hear people not consider formal postbaccs due to cost, because in the long run they save you money (and time), assuming you can gain admission into medical school. Thanks for the feedback everyone. I definitely understand better where people are coming from.

Interesting topic. I can easily agree with the arguments on both sides of this fence. Specifically with regard to potential income – this may not be a factor for those who are already successful and well established in high-paying professions (law, IT etc.) And it seemed to me that well known linkage programs (Scripps, Goucher) may be hard to get into – they seem to have limited class sizes, require that no pre-reqs have been completed and that the applicant have a non-science degree etc.

But I was reading another thread and a post there by Kate429 made much sense – formal post-baccs can provide resources such as tutoring, group enrollment in MCAT prep courses, advising, help obtaining shawoding and research opps etc. I wish I could consider this route myself…

Another reason mentioned on a different thread for not doing the formal post-bacc route is that many people simply don’t qualify for them. Some programs require that you’ve completed all of the pre-med coursework (Ohio State’s, I think). Others are geared for people who haven’t taken any of the pre-med coursework. In either case, most of them seem to have an undergrad GPA requirement of 3.0 (or higher), so for many people on here (myself included) that is/was not an option. This is especially true of the more competitive programs with very limited seats and guaranteed linkages to a medical school (the scenario painted where as long as you successfully complete the requirements, you start med school the next year).