Yep...another newbie.

Hi gang! I’m delighted and relieved to find this group. I have devoted hours to digesting your posts and have learned much in the process. Massive kudo’s to all who make this possible.
A little background (summarized) – I am a 34y/o male Police Officer. Last year I completed an EMT certification course to add to my skills and credentials and during my hospital clinical rotations, I discovered why I’ve felt like an octagonal peg in a round hole for the past 7 yrs……I’m in the wrong profession. After dealing with each patient in the emergency room, I found that I always gravitated back to the Radiology Imaging stations to talk with the techs and Docs and look at the various images. Law Enforcement always felt like a career that I was forcing upon myself…something that wasn’t meant to be even though IMHO I do it very well, and with the right sense of priorities (I’m no Barney Fife nor Robocop). I discussed the recent revelation with my Fiancé and we explored the possible avenues to act on my true desires (occupationally speaking). We started by accessing what fields interest me, what I have a true aptitude to perform, what fields have better than adequate demand and growth potential, and what fields I can train for and complete with enough time to retire by age 70. After a lengthy process of elimination, my new career objective is Radiologist, MD. Narrowing to Med-school hit me like an epiphany! I know it sounds corney, but the MOMENT that I settled on the idea, an almost Zen-like calm came over me and I know I was on the right track (yeah…I know…I sound like a freak)
My Fiancé finishes her PhD in Psych soon and we will be able to essentially leap-frog our educational/occupational careers to make it a financial feasibility. I do not have a BS. I have two Associates in Science – Criminal Justice (90 Semester credit hours, 3.83 gpa). I have just enrolled in a Community College to complete an Associates in Science, Pre-Med in the next 12 months (another 48 credit hours in Chem, Biol, and Phys courses, I should maintain at least a 3.5 gpa with little difficulty).
I have read that Med Schools do not “require” a Bachelors degree. They require a minimum of 90 hours and want some demonstration of maturity approximating the completion of a 4 yr program. I don’t think I will have any difficulty demonstrating maturity…my entire working career has been in supervisory positions, former Lead Investigator for the State, and 7 yrs as a cop….oh, and 16 years experience of being a truly responcible “grown-up”. My thought process is that a 3.5+ GPA in a science intensive Associates Pre-Med program would be at least equally attractive to a lower GPA in a Bachelors degree from a student factory (aka University). Re:
My question(s)…at long last —
a) Does anyone have experience in the area of applying to med school without a bachelor’s degree?
b) Does my education strategy seem realistic? If not, speak up! Better for yall to shoot holes in the plan now than have some admissions panel do so next year.
c) Does anyone know of any reference books like “Becoming an MD for dummies” or “Idiots guide to becoming a Radiologist” or anything else that would aid my diligent research into how to accomplish my goals.
d) Lastly, what is the approximate time line for applications procedures…Ie, apply for the MCAT (fall/spring?)…take the MCAT (spring /summer)…apply for Med-School (2 yrs later)…start med school (when hell freezes over)…. Etc
I am looking for a hospital that will allow me to volunteer in their Radiology Dept so that I can get a look at what the field really involves. Simultaniously, I am trying to open a dialog with Med-School admissions/advisors to have them critique my strategy.
I wont take-up any more of y’alls time with pointless meanderings. But once again, thanks for have an amazing resource for support and encouragement for those of us just now getting to pursue our true mission in life.

Hi, and welcome to the madhouse!
Very roughly:
A)Nope, sorry, haven’t applied yet and already have the bachleor’s.
B)I think you’re selling yourself short by setting up the comparison between great grades at a community college vs. average grades at a university. Who says you can’t get great grades at a University and really kick it? It is important to many admissions committees for you to take your prerequisite courses at a 4-year institution. There is some concern (warranted or not) that community college courses are a little bit watered down.
C)There are a bunch of books on Amazon, though many don’t have much advice for non-traditional applicants. I would seriously trot down to the public library and get them to get you something on interlibrary loan before you plunk down you hard-earned cash. You’re going to be buying a lot of books over the next decade.
D.) The mainstream timeline: Take the MCAT in April, finish the AMCAS and AACOMAS (if considering DO as well) applications by June, finish secondary applications from schools that send them to you AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE, since many of them use rolling admissions. Interviews are often in the fall and spring, and then, with luck, you start med school the following fall.
But really, you take the MCAT the moment you’re ready, no sooner, no later, and apply as early in the application cycle as you possibly can.
And come to the OldPreMeds conference!!!

Hi Cole,
Welcome to OPM. It is good to have you and have you posting. You can find almost any hospital that will allow you to volunteer in Radiology. Most raidiology departments need folks to move patients in and out. While you are doing the moving thing, you can get some time with the Radiologists.
Go to any college library or look on-line for a guide to getting into Medical school. There are plenty of good books out there. The best source of information on whether a medical school will take you without a bachelor’s degree is to contact some schools that interest you and ask about their policy.
The usual timeline is: MCAT in the Spring of the year before you apply. For example, if you plan to apply June of 2004, then you want to take the MCAT in April of 2004. You need to prepare for this test and do well, especially if you want to convince a medical school to take you without a bachelor’s degree.
Finally, you may want to invest in hiring a professional advisor for your application as they are wonderful for setting a strategy for your earliest acceptance. We have a wonderful professional advisor who regularly posts here on OPM. She is well-worth the money for her expertise so budget some money for this service. You can consider this an investment in your future.
Finally, you need to keep an open mind about specialities when as you contemplate medical school. You never know what will strike your fancy until you actually hit third year and get a taste of some of the specialties. You may find that you are more suited to emergency medicine or surgery as opposed to radiology. You may also find that you don’t want to do anything else but keep an open mind.
Read some of the FAQs for this website and again, WELCOME! We are a diverse and friendly bunch. Even better, plan on attending the OPM convention in Denver this year. Again, this will be money well spent and you will come away excited and energized (Ready to take on the pre-med courses)

Hey there! Welcome to OPM. Nice to have you here.
I don’t know much about applying without a bachelor’s degree either. As with all things relating to med school applications, the fact that something isn’t “required” doesn’t mean it isn’t highly expected. I’d check around with individual medical schools to see what they say about having vs. not having a bachelor’s degree. This is important, because only certain courses may end up counting toward a bachelor’s degree.
I went to a community college myself for gen and organic chem, general bio, calculus and a couple electives. The education there was excellent and when I transferred to a big university last year, I was just as prepared as the other students. I also saved enough money to pay for 6 or 7 electives, which has been great! I don’t think the stereotypes are always true about the quality of education you’ll receive at one place or another, and you should do lots of investigation before deciding on a place. You also want to have an idea of how any prospective school (CC or university) will be viewed by medical schools. Some of them are quite opposed to anything other than a standard four-year institution. Anyway, you should ask the schools you’d like to apply to where they’d prefer to see applicants do their pre-reqs.
It’s great that you’re already trying to set up meetings with med school admissions advisors–that will help you get more of your questions answered. Good luck!

I can’t say I’ve ever heard of someone getting into medical school without a degree, however I’m sure there are some out there. But, I believe your chances of being accepted into a medical school would be greatly reduced if you were to try it without the degree. From what I’ve picked up on, having gone through completing my undergrad degree and the application process, is that it seems like medical schools like to see that you, as an applicant, have the ability to complete a program. Don’t ask me why…maybe they feel better about the applicants ability to take that next step in completing an arduous medical degree having the bonafied experience of toughing out a 4 year undergrad degree. Maybe it gives them an extra “comfy” feeling knowing the applicant will and knows how to finish the marathon a.k.a medical degree. Your best bet would be to setup an appointment with an admissions person from the medical schools that you have your eye on. Simply ask them the question of whether or not they have ever accepted anyone w/out a degree and what the percentages are. My advice is to complete a degree and I think you’ll make your application that much more appealing. Good luck!

There are a few medical schools that will take applicants who have not yet finished a bachelor’s. However, my understanding is that the kind of applicants for whom this is granted are not non-traditional–they are sort of super-traditional, highly academically qualified students who are just in a rush. This is not generally a way of admitting non-traditional students, as far as I know.

One of the main concerns medical schools will have about you as a non-traditional student is whether you will be able to handle the academic workload. More importantly, you need to be prepared–and not just in terms of the pre-reqs. More importantly, you need to be prepared in terms of having an ongoing workload; having upper-division classes that require critical thinking and independent projects; and so on. These are a truly important part of preparing for medical school. The point of a college education is not to give you knowledge–though it does that. The point is to teach you how to acquire it. (This is a different skill set than the very admirable skills you will have gotten from your work history. I get my ass kicked academically by 22 year olds every damn day just because my study skills aren’t as good–and I did get a four year degree, and worked, and supervised people!) And doing all your classes at community colleges while never having taken a significant number of upper-division classes among the kinds of students who complete their bachelors will put you at a significant disadvantage. Even if you have those skills on your own, you will have a tough time convincing admissions committees of that without the 4 year degree to back you up.

I suspect you’re in a hurry; don’t be. This is going to be a long road. Fortunately you’re in a profession where you might be more able to do it than most–you’ve got a potential for flexible hours, for part-time work at decent pay, and so on.

You may want to consider a med school consultant like Judy Colwell to help you chart your path, or an advisor at a local 4 year college.

Welcome to OPM, and good luck!



I always agree with Joe. I think “pre-med” is a highly suspect major, frankly, whether it’s at the associate’s or bachelor’s level. It seems a logical thing on paper, but it’s … predictable. cookie-cutter. makes me wonder how much thought is going into the process.
With one associate’s degree, you’ll be able to transfer your credits to a four-year school and complete a bachelor’s degree in a little more time than what you’ve outlined here, and you’d end up with a much more valuable credential than a second associate’s degree. I would strongly urge you to consider that path. Based on your past experience and just what you reveal in this post, I’d wager there are any number of things that would appeal to you as a major - psychology, math or physics?, sociology. Med school is trade school - very narrow in its focus. Your pre-med education can be much broader; take advantage of that and don’t tie yourself down sooner than you have to!
On the question of whether med schools accept people without bachelor’s degrees: I actually did “talk” to someone on-line who had done it, a non-trad but I don’t know exactly what she had accomplished academically. I think it’s extremely unusual and would require that a candidate be incredibly exceptional in every other way imaginable. While of course you are striving to be exceptional, this is setting the bar pretty high!
I also suspect that a lot of med schools have that language solely to cover their own combined BA/MD programs. I know here at GWU, we have people start med school each year without yet having earned their bachelor’s degree because they’re in the combined program. The first year of med school “counts” toward the completion of their BA as well as toward their MD.
Okay, I’ve rained on your parade a bit, so let me say some positive things. First of all, you’ve got a fantastic, interesting background and you will be a strong candidate. In my (limited) observation, good police officers have excellent communication skills, powers of observation, and understanding of people. Coincidentally, these skills also make good doctors! In terms of the application process, your story is going to make a great personal statement and schools are going to want to interview you. Even in print, you have a self-assurance that is going to come across very well in interviews - a big plus.
So good luck to you! Please keep us posted on your journey.

Welcome to OPM! Where in Texas are you located? I am in Richardson, Texas. I cannot begin to answer as thoroughly as Natalie or Mary, so I will confine my post to a welcome and wish for good luck in your pursuit!

Well, I at least totally understand your Zen experience!
I had an Assoc of Applied Sci. (Veterinary Technician), and I took all my science pre-reqs years later at a community college - ala carte, no 2nd Associates degree. But I also got a bachelor’s and took one upper level science, Biochem, at a “real” university. My MCAT was competetive, but not stunning. I applied to only a few med schools and have been accepted to 2 so far. A third told me they would have accepted me immediately if I was a resident of their state but since I was out of state that puts me at the bottom of their list. They won’t notify me until the last minute if they have space for me.
But, I must tell you that not having the bachelor’s is REALLY risky, and I’d advise against it. I was told by one admissions officer I visited at a medical school (not a terribly prestigious one either) not to try to circumvent the Bachelor’s. The guy was very serious, and seemed quite irritated that I even asked that particular question. For a moment I thought he might issue me out the door. I asked about taking classes at CC and he said in NO uncertain terms that if I did, I needed to do VERY well. I took this to mean 4.0. Which I did.
I am sure that some of the rejections I got had everything to do with the fact that I took all my pre-reqs at CC - and my Bachelors was not in some intensively scholarly field. From some of the interviews I went on, I could see that not having more sciences at a “real” university was cause for concern. Though some schools didn’t have any qualms about it at all. A couple interviewers asked why I did that and I told them $$$, and they were satisfied. One school I looked at but did not apply to in a southern state (KY?) had a limit to the number of CC credits one could have.

Hey there, I was reading through some posts and came across yours. I just posted my intor today. I am also a police officer and I know what you mean. I just finished my AS in Criminal Justice and now I am looking towrd a BS and doing my pre-med courses. I have not thought of going w/out the BS but I figured I may as well go ahead and do it. Hope to hear from you at some point.