Best Post Bac Programs in the US

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The direct route to medical school – successful undergraduate studies combined with direct medical experience – is often the most efficient and financial prudent route, but not all prospective physicians travel that road.  For some, it is not until they have those BA degrees in hand that they realize that medical school is the path they’d like to pursue. 

Never fear. Medical school is an option for many who do not take the traditional route, but expect a delay on the way.  If you didn’t major in a science or take enough science-based coursework in your undergraduate years, you’ll need to consider a post-baccalaureate pre-medical program to flesh out your medical school applications.  Also called the post bac premed, this course of study allows you the opportunity to focus specifically on the requisite science coursework needed for both the MCAT and medical school admission.  Over the course of one to two years, you’ll take classes in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and now psychology (to Orthopedics shadowing in Tanzaniaaccommodate the 2015 MCAT changes). The question that you will need to answer as you begin to research postbac programs is “What are the best post bac programs in the US?”  This question is not easy to answer, for no comprehensive database analyzing post bac programs exists right now, but there are a few front-runners to consider:

Johns Hopkins University: JHU has a top-ranked medical school, and its post bac program boasts a 100% acceptance rate of students who complete the program and apply to its medical school.  Though highly competitive, the stats on this program make it a clear contender for those seeking a post-bac pre-med program.

Columbia University: The post bac program at Columbia is the origin of all programs of this nature.  Started in 1955 for soldiers returning from war who needed support in career development, the post bac program at Columbia University is the grandfather of all subsequent programs that developed throughout the country.  Like JHU, Columbia allows its students to apply to medical schools through a linkage program.  Up to 60% of students who enroll in the Columbia University post-bac program are admitted into one of its fourteen affiliated medical schools. 

Goucher College: This hidden gem is located near JHU and boasts a near 100% placement of its post bac students into medical school.  The Goucher College post bac program links with ten highly-ranked medical school across the country, including the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan. Students take a full load of science courses and complete various hospital and research experiences to bolster their medical school applications.

There are several other factors to consider as you apply to post bac programs in support of your medical career dreams.  First, the tuition costs associated with these studies is often financed through student loans.  This will add an additional $30,000 or more onto your medical school student loan debt load.  Second, be sure that your post bac program has an advising component.  Strong advising is necessary for your recommendations and applications. Finally, make sure that your program will allow you to take the full complement of science coursework that medical schools look for in their applicants. Many post bac programs (and there are over 130 to choose from in the US alone) will not allow you to retake science coursework you previously took in your undergraduate studies.  If you’ve made mistakes in the past, a post bac program may not necessarily allow you to fix them. In sum, the best post bac programs in the US are the ones that meet your needs.  You can utilize the postbaccalaureate premedical search tool provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges to find the right program for you. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.

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