In recent years, postbaccalaureate programs – or postbac programs, as they are commonly known – have become a popular steppingstone for students looking to entermedical school. Applicants often ask whether a postbac program is the right option for them.
Before enrolling in such a program, it is important for applicants to carefully weigh their options because postbacs are expensive and require a significant time commitment. If you are among the following types of individuals, you may benefit from considering a postbac program.
1. Applicants who want to change careers: Many people decide to purse a career in medicine after completing an undergraduate degree in another field. Some even opt to go into medicine after spending several years in a totally different career.
For these individuals, a career changer postbaccalaureate program can be the most viable path to medical school. These programs are usually two years long and designed to prepare individuals with little or no life sciences background.
In these programs, the applicant completes the prerequisite courses for medical school, such as general biology, chemistry and physics. These programs also offer upper-division science courses like physiology and provide advising to premedical students. Some programs, like the one at Goucher College, even offer MCAT preparation.
2. Applicants with a low undergraduate GPA in premed courses: These programs are a great alternative for prospective medical school students who have completed most or all of their premedical requirements but had a subpar performance. Record enhancer postbaccalaureate programs offer applicants the opportunity to redeem themselves by taking upper-division life science courses over the span of a year.
What constitutes a low GPA may vary from applicant to applicant. On average, applicants with GPAs below 3.5 who are looking to enter allopathic medical school should consider a record enhancer postbac program. Having said this, every applicant is different, and prospective students need to take into account factors like MCAT scores as well as extracurricular experiences.
3. Applicants whose medical school prerequisite courses are outdated: Some medical schools, including the University of Massachusetts—Worcester, require that prerequisite courses be completed within a certain number of years before the application. Other medical schools do not have set expiration dates on courses but give preference to applicants who have completed their prerequisite science courses more recently.
Postbaccalaureate programs can be a good option for applicants who completed their science courses more than a few years before their application to medical school. For these applicants, their postbac science courses can also serve as a review of science concepts in preparation for the MCAT.