As applications to medical school continue to rise, competition for those coveted slots is more intense than ever. Recent data in 2011 from the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) shows first-time applicants to medical school climbed to 32,654 students, an increase of 2.6 percent. And the number of total applicants was a whopping 43,919 students, 2.8 percent more than in 2010.

For students looking to submit a competitive application, enrolling in a post-bac premed program can help boost GPAs, improve MCAT scores, and provide the necessary premed requirements. But first, students should be aware of what it takes for post-bac admissions.

“We have seen in increase in demand over the last several years,” says Kathryn M. Spink, Chief Health Professions Advisor and Chair of the Premedical Advisory Committee at Illinois Institute of Technology. “In particular, we have a strong cohort of pre-dental students in our master’s programs with many gaining admission after completing the program. Many of these students came to IIT based on the recommendation of the dental school admissions staff.”

Minimum requirements for admission to most post-bac programs include a strong GPA, solid SAT scores, letters of recommendation (often one from faculty, another that is work-related), and a face-to-face interview. Schools are looking for students who stand a strong chance of getting into medical school. And as most medical schools include basic science courses in biology, chemistry, and physics, students need to show competency in those areas. But keep in mind that admission requirements vary among schools and specific post-bac programs. Before enrolling, students should contact the appropriate post-bac premed program directors.

A strong post-bac premed program will certainly improve a students chances of getting into the medical school of his or her choice. But finding the right program can be challenging. Do you want to enroll in the classes you need before hitting med school? Do you need to raise your GPA?

Not all post-baccalaureate programs are alike.

“IIT offers a few options,” explains Spink. “First, the traditional post-bac program for students who do not have the premedical course work in their undergraduate curriculum. This program allows students to complete all the necessary pre-requisite coursework. Students apply to this program through the undergraduate admissions office.”

There are also master’s programs to allow students to go deeper on the subjects that interest them in preparation for medical school.

“IIT has master’s programs in Biology for students to enroll in advanced coursework in the biological sciences,” Spink says. “This program is designed to help students who may not have a competitive undergraduate GPA.”

Before deciding on a program, students should be sure to explore who is available to help guide them through the often difficult process of getting into medical school.

“Investigate what will make you a competitive applicant,” Spink adds. “Besides a good GPA and MCAT, exposure and commitment to the profession is critical.”

More post-bac information

The timeline and steps to becoming a doctor require a premed plan that could include a post-bac premed program.

The AAMC’s post-bac database allows students to search for post-baccalaureate premed programs around the country.

There are as many routes to medical school as there are students. Read first-hand accounts of post-bac programs, PhD programs, and beyond.

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