“The number of post-baccalaureate or post-bacc programs has exploded in the last ten years. The reason is there are a lot of people out there seeking a medical education,” says Timothy Wu, M.D. of AdmissionsConsultants.
Bryn Mawr, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania are among the many colleges offering programs that have attracted accolades. “Typically, these post bacc-programs are offered at colleges and universities where there are existing medical schools. That’s because students have easy access to them,” says Wu, who adds that some students choose to take the programs and enroll in other schools.
Wu’s own interest in the intricacies of getting into medical school was acquired when he was one of 1,500 freshmen medical students at New York University. “They had one pre-med advisor for 1,500 students, so you didn’t exactly get a lot of attention,” he recalls.
Post-bacc programs in some schools offer students a better chance of being accepted in medical school in part because schools feel the type of coursework mandated prepares them for the rigors of medical school, which the US Department of Labor says remains the longest training period for any profession. There’s usually four years of medical school, followed by anywhere from 3 to 7 years of residency, and then advanced residency or “fellowships” that can last up to four years.
How well do the programs work?
There are no readily available national statistics, but some publish numbers. The Creighton University Medical Center, for example, says more than 90 percent of their enrollees have been offered acceptance to at least 45 medical schools. “The retention rate of program graduates in medical schools is over 95%,” according to the school’s Web page.
Among those who feel strongly about the subject is Bahar Mojgani, who took a post-bacc program at Georgetown University before entering medical school at the UCSF.
“It gave me an extra year to learn medical school curriculum more thoroughly and to acquaint myself with all the aspects of medical school life,” he says. For others in his class, he added, the program helped them decide whether they really wanted to practice medicine or preferred instead a career in research.