Fortifying future doctors: The post-baccalaureate pre-medical program

Last Thursday marked the initial orientation for 28 students in the new UC San Diego Extension's post-baccalaureate pre-medical program who are now preparing for a year of intensive training to create a stellar medical school application.

Post Bac programs are a rapidly growing trend for potential medical students, especially appealing to the 57% of medical school applicants who were denied admission in 2012. Since 2009 there has been an almost 50 percent increase in the existence of these programs, with approximately 140 schools offering post-bac pre-med programs today.There are slightly different focuses for post-bac pre-med programs such as those for people changing careers with little to no science background or, those which focus on strengthening grades and science background.

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The program offered by UC San Diego Extension focuses academic record enhancement, enabling students to develop a more competitive medical school application. "It is a full time course," says Grace Miller, Director of the program and the Healthcare and Behavioral Sciences Department at UC San Diego Extension. "Students will be taking 12 units per quarter, 48 total."

Not only will students take upper division Biological Sciences courses, they will receive assistance in studying for the MCAT and guidance on the formation of their medical school applications. "This is a cohesive program where we hope every student feels supported to develop and submit their medical school applications," says Miller.

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At the orientation, the students met each other and their advisors for the first time, while listening to a presentation by Dr. Tahir Bhatti on stress management. "It is a very tight knit group of students, who all have the same goals," says Leslie Bruce, Director of Healthcare Leadership and Community Outreach at UC San Diego Extension. "It is all for one and one for all."

There is a notion of collaborative study promoted within the group, and throughout the year; the students learn to rely on each other as much as the advisors. There are five advisors for the program, who are there to support students in their studies as well as in their applications. "The advisors will teach them how to develop their application," says Miller. "They have all been on medical school admissions committees."  The advisors' experience on admissions panels makes them experts on the key components a strong medical school application contains.

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In just one year from now these 28 students will have medical school applications ready for schools all over the country.

Interested in applying for next year's post-bac pre-med program? Applications are due January 15, 2014 for the next cohort. More information is available at www.postbacpremed.ucsd.edu.



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