Last Updated: August 31, 2021
Returning to Medical School
Candidates who have been interested in attending a medical school and choosing a career in the medical field but have been unable to do the same academically and professionally have plenty of methods to return to the field. This is possible irrespective of the age at which the candidate has chosen to return to the field. Candidates who have realized their ambition sooner and are worried about not having pre-med course work done in their undergrad and candidates who wish to switch careers will both find that a return is not quite impossible.
Many medical students take a more non-traditional route to become medical professionals. Medical schools want to keep the diversity alive within their walls, meaning that, as long as the candidate is honest, there won’t be a stigma attached to their application that might prevent them from being accepted. Successful, academically accomplished applicants with some life experience to bring to the table are a welcome change to the traditional medical school applicants.
Who are Non-Traditional Medical Students?
Non-traditional medical students are a part of every medical school who will most probably have approached the study of medicine at a later stage in life. The term essentially implies that the candidate has not opted for a medical degree right after completing their undergraduate course in any of the sciences. They might be candidates who are returning to higher education after a break or candidates who might want to switch careers within the medical field or from another field to that of medicine.
While it would be ideal for the candidate who has a science-related undergraduate degree, it is completely possible for candidates with no pre-med education to eventually get there given that they follow the right path meticulously. It can be confusing for candidates who have no basic knowledge about the educational system within the medical science field and hence will require extensive research to chart out a plan that can help them achieve their goal.
Choosing to be a Non-Traditional Student
Irrespective of the time at which the candidate is returning to higher education, it is imperative that they know their reasons for doing this. Having the right reasons for choosing this field is especially important during the admission process for medical schools since it is one of the frequently asked questions during admission interviews.
- Time dedication: Being part of the medical field is a daunting task due to the long years that have to be invested along with the huge financial burdens that this field of study can incur. The returns that are promised will only be available to students who have persisted for years and ultimately even specialized in a field of their choice.
- Devotion: Admission officers are most often looking for candidates who will be able to dedicate themselves entirely to medicine and also be strong enough to handle the rigors of it.
- Clear goals: It would be ideal if the candidate has an idea of what they would be able to contribute to such an educational environment.
- Persistent: Medical school can be a rigorous time for anyone, and it’s been known to take both an emotional and a physical toll on its students. Candidates must think about the different difficulties they will have to face if they choose this path of study.
- Cost: Lastly, the most important factor is the $$ involved. Healthcare education is long and costly with all the tuition, lab and practical costs involved. The student needs to have a clear understanding of all the cost they would be incurring and have a plan to meet those costs so that they can reach their end goal.
If any of these factors tend to confuse the candidate or if they cannot figure out the cost and time required to complete the course, they should speak to an advisor at their undergrad school or they could even communicate with the medical school they apply for.
Researching for Medical Schools
Entering medical school as a non-traditional student can be intimidating. While the school might not have any problem accepting the candidate into their medical program, this does not imply that the program is the best for the candidate. Candidates must do adequate research before they start applying to medical schools. Since these candidates tend to have taken breaks from academia, it would be ideal for them to both lookup details online and visit the campus in person before they apply.
The research on schools can also be done on a personal level by contacting friends and family who have taken a similar route of study. They can also contact alumni of the school they plan to apply to clear the doubts they have regarding the course and institution. Alumni will be able to provide candidates with adequate answers since they have the first-hand experience in similar matters. It would be ideal for candidates to look for schools in locations that will not disrupt their current lifestyle since they would be spending a minimum of 4 years in the place.
Documents Required for Admission
The documents that are required for college admissions will mostly have a general format but at the same time, there might be additional requirements in certain schools. The documents that are generally required include-
- Letters of Recommendation
- Test Scores- MCAT
Update Required Documents
Having an updated resume is one of the most important factors while applying to a medical school. This is because a medical degree in the US is considered to be a professional degree where the work experience and academic achievements of a candidate will weigh a lot during the admission process. A well-written resume will let the admission officers know the fields that the candidate has been involved in previously and also provide them with an idea of the work ethic the candidate has. The resume must contain all the professional and academic achievements the candidate has made to date. It should also contain information pertaining to the volunteer work and other certifications the candidate might have.
Candidates who have not attended school in a while will have to highlight their recent test scores. They must check off all prerequisites to ensure that they don’t miss out on admission due to this factor. To meet all prerequisites, candidates will have to take extra classes and refresher courses especially if they did not do an undergraduate degree in the sciences. It will also be advisable to retake the MCAT test if they feel that they can score better in the test. The letters of recommendation that are submitted have to be as recently written as possible and written by mentors or professors who know the candidate on a personal level.
It is ideal for candidates to start applying to schools as early as the admission starts since the process contains a lot of steps and can seem tedious. Preparing the documents alongside the preparation for MCAT and the like can also add up to be beneficial during the application process. While filling out the application for medical schools, candidates should ensure that the essays and answers they upload are not generic in nature and have been written particularly for every school they are applying to.
Find a Mentor
While applying to undergraduate programs, candidates will mostly have sought guidance and counseling from past graduates, guidance counselors, parents, and even their friends. This can be one of the methods candidates can use while applying to medical school whether or not they are non-traditional medical students. Seeking out the people who can help in the endeavor can be a task but once they find connections, they will be able to be more confident about the same.
The great thing about the internet is how many people one will be able to reach with the click of a button. Candidates who are having trouble finding mentors within their locality will be able to find the same using the internet.
Getting Through the Healthcare Door
Candidates who are making a career change within the medical field or to the medical field will surely have some experience with respect to the healthcare system in the country. This experience needn’t be of working exclusively in the medical sector since doing even voluntary work within the system will be enough to provide candidates with an idea of the same. Having any related experience within the health sector will let candidates understand whether entering the medical field academically is what they want in life.
Since it is an essential sector and one that is need-based, the candidates who apply for studying in the field must have the necessary passion and dedication required. Volunteering and working in the healthcare field prior to applying for medical schools will be beneficial for candidates who do not have any experience within the field. The number of years invested in the program and the financial burdens this stream of learning can incur are all factors that have to be considered deeply before one applies to a medical school.
The research that is done should also focus on the future of the candidate since non-traditional students will often be entering the sector later in their lives. One shouldn’t ideally be opting for the course unless they are extremely passionate about it or if doing the course will not fit into their current life. It will ultimately be a very personal choice.