What does it take to become a doctor, physical therapist, veterinarian, dentist or medical researcher? How do I get in to medical school? How important are grades? All of these questions, and more, come to mind when a student enters the Pre-Med track of education. You will get some of your questions answered here and helpful tips on how best to prepare yourself for the possibility of medical school and a career in medicine or research.
It is critically important at each step to work closely with academic/faculty advisors to make sure you are taking the correct courses.
The Pre-Med path starting at a Community College
AA/AS - BA/BS - Post Bac MS (optional) - Med School Exams - Med School
Educational Steps to Medical School - Starting at PPCC
Step 1: Earn an Associates degree at PPCC.
An Associate of Arts or an Associate of Science degree is the first two years of a four-year degree. Once this is completed, you will transfer to a college or university that will provide you with the education required to earn a Bachelor of Science or Arts degree. If you pursue the 60 + 60 program in Colorado, you could enter a public Colorado university as a Junior.
In 2015 the MCAT changed content to reflect more education in the behavior and social sciences. Therefore we recommend that you pursue the Associate of Arts degree because multiple courses in these areas can be accommodated in the electives of an AA degree while also embracing the many science and math courses that you need. While pursuing an Associate of Science degree seems the best and natural fit, keeping in mind the need to absorb social and behavior science courses is very important for your preparation toward the MCAT.
NOTE: It is important to develop relationships with your science faculty at PPCC and your 4-year college or university. You will need science faculty recommendations for your medical school applications. Work with them as well to discover opportunities for research partnerships.
Step 2: Transfer to a four-year college or university to earn a Bachelor's degree.
While science-oriented degrees are beneficial, you do not need to earn a science degree to get in to some medicals schools. Generally Medical Schools are looking for well-rounded individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to helping others. Yes, your GPA and the medical school entrance exam scores are important, but so also is your life experience. Find out more about how build your life experience and references here.
Note: Many Pharmacy Schools do not require a full Bachelors' degree.
Post Baccalaureate Degrees
Post-Bac Masters Degrees can provide Pre-Med students an excellent opportunity to better prepare for Medical School exams and applications. There are a variety of post-Bac degrees that typically are around one year in length. These programs provide intensive study in the sciences that are excellent for students who have a Baccalaureate degree in something other than science or who did not perform well in their undergraduate work.
CSU Fort Collins - Pre-Vet and Pre-Med tracks available
Check with other universities for a broader selection.
Step 3: Take the appropriate medical school entrance exam.
Depending on your target career, you will need to choose the appropriate entrance exam. Save money now for not only applications fees, but also for study tools and exam costs.
Step 4: Apply broadly to medical schools.
Getting into medical school is very competitive, so applying to as many schools as you are able can widen your pool of choices. Some of these may be outside of your desired state or city, but remember, you are going to medical school to learn to be a doctor. Then you can choose where to practice.
Step 5: Establish your areas of expertise and do your medical residency.
Medical residency is when you are practicing medicine under the supervision of a medical doctor. The length of your residency is depending on your choice of medical career. For example, being a neurosurgeon requires far more residency experience than a general practitioner.
Pre-Med and the Power of Attending a Community College
In the September 2012 Analysis in Brief, published by the Association of American Medical Colleges, they explain that in 2011 the “second most common educational experience, accounting for roughly one-third of [medical school] applicants (32.5%), was at a community college.” This article also states that most students accepted into medical school attended two or more colleges or universities. The study goes on to say that “across types of educational institutions differences exist in the ability to access important resources, such as knowledge of the application process, pre-medical educational programs, health-related work and voluntary experiences, and peers with similar aspirations—all things that might encourage a student to pursue a career in medicine.”
Because of these positive and negative findings, we can see that it is critical that any student who may be considering a career in medicine get started at PPCC with the right information and accurate advising as soon as possible. See your Advising & Testing Program Advisor to keep current and on track!
Visit our Physician's Assistant website for more information on that career and education.