Skip to main content

Strengthening Your Candidacy

Sometimes the wisest option is to delay applying to medical school for a few years, to give yourself the chance to rectify weaknesses in your application. Many medical students are now beginning school several years after college, and would say that they have greatly appreciated and benefited from taking a few years between two intensive academic experiences.

1. Postbaccalaureate Study

Many alums choose to pursue postbaccalaureate study to improve their chances of being accepted to medical school. Some do this by simply taking advanced undergraduate-level science courses at a nearby college or university. Others enroll in one of the formal postbaccalaureate programs that are offered by institutions around the country, or earn graduate degrees in the sciences. Many of our students who have done well in course work after college have been accepted into medical schools at a later time. If this situation seems likely, discuss it more specifically with Gigi during your senior year.

Postbaccalaureate programs tend to fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Those for people who have completed few, if any, of the required premed science courses, known as "career changers."
  2. Other non-degree granting programs for students who need to improve their grades to be successful medical school applicants.
  3. Those for individuals from minority groups that are underrepresented in medicine.
  4. Degree-granting programs that differ in some respects from the standard graduate programs in university science departments.

You should meet with Gigi to discuss which type of postbaccalaureate study best fits your individual circumstances.

The AAMC has a searchable database of U.S. postbaccalaureate premedical programs on their website at apps.aamc.org/postbac/#/index . Syracuse University's Health Professions website also has a very useful listing that divides the programs into the four categories listed above. Their address is thecollege.syr.edu/students/undergraduate/advising_academic_support/pre_health/_supporting_pages/resource_sp.html.

2. Alternatives

If your GPA is below a B or you did not do well on the MCAT, you may want to think of alternatives to applying to medical school. Struggling though the science prerequisites may mean that medicine is not the best match for your talents.

There are many exciting and rewarding alternatives to being a physician, many of which offer opportunities for patient contact, scientific research, or community health activities. Consider the following:

  • Public Health (epidemiology, health education, etc.)
  • Physician Assistants
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Nursing, Nurse Practitioner and Midwifery
  • Dentistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Optometry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Podiatry
  • Medical Science Writing
  • Health Administration
  • Toxicology
  • Nutrition
  • Speech Pathology

The Health Sciences Office and Career Services have information on several of these career options. The Psychology department faculty are able to give advice and assistance to those interested in careers focused on mental health and counseling. Links to Websites for many of these fields can be found on our Useful Websites page.