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> Hi Rich, I have a Bachelor of Science in Visual Communications that I received
> in 1990. I have been very successful at my job as a Graphics artist but I
> would like to go back to school and take the science courses I need so I can
> apply for medical school. I am 30 now. What is your advice for me for trying
> to get into Medical in a few years? AND Do you think I will be able to pass
> and do well in Organic Chemistry with no prior chemistry experience if I study
> very hard?

------reply 07/25/99

Basically what you need to do is to do well in the core science courses,
plus perhaps a few others, get some clinical experience, and do well on the
MCAT. If you go about it the right way you will greatly enhance your
chances. You want to go to a school with a first rate pre-health advisor.
Ask how long the current pre-health advisor, or head of the pre-health
advisory committee has had his or her current position. Less than five years
is bad news, more than ten years is generally good news, but ask unofficial
sources (students) too be sure. A good advisor can do more than advise, he
or she can pick up the phone and call up a member of a medical school
admissions committee and act as your advocate (its rare, but I've seen it
done). There is often an advantage getting into a post-baccalaureate program
with a medical school. If you get to know your advisor or other members of
the admissions committee you may increase your odds of admission.

You definitely want to look at or buy the Medical School Admission
Requirements book, even if your getting good advising, and learn as much as
you can about the medical school admissions process. See You should buy a copy of MCAT
Practice test II, III or IV and start looking at it as you take your science
courses. It is not the kind of test most folks are used to, and it pays to
realize what you'll be in for earlier, rather than later.

As for as passing Organic, you need to take General Chemistry first. If you
have no background in Chemistry, you should consider taking a "baby"
Chemistry course first. You could even do this at a community college. Then
take the "real" Chemistry. Although you are suppose to transfer all your
academic records when you apply to medical school, some students fail to
transfer the baby chemistry records, because it looks better without their
inclusion. As background for Organic, approximately 15% of General Chemistry
is used, and of that 15% only a third is necessary. This 5% is typically
covered in the first two chapters of the Organic book. Since you will have
just recently completed a year of General Chemistry, and your teacher will
probably go over the first two Organic chapters in class, you will have all
the background you need. (A far larger fraction of General Chemistry is use
for Organic lab.)

One last thought, although you will find this and more, on, if
you decide to go head with all of the above, GET THE OLD TESTS! -- and make
it a top priority. Good Luck!


> Hi
> I recently heard that a person applying to any medical school does not need a
> bachelors degree is this so? And if it is would it just be better if I
> became an RN in Neonatology and then go to medical school? Or another idea
> was just to go to school in Mexico since I have both citizenship and do not
> have to pay for out of town tuition.

------ reply 07/24/99

There are special programs that accept students directly out of high school
that allow them to take 2 years of college before entering medical school
(Six year programs). There are other (Seven year) programs that accept
college students in their second year. They then complete one additional
year of college before entering medical school. Although there may be a few
additional possibilities related to medical school admission without
obtaining a degree, the point to remember is that for the vast majority of
applicants a degree is required. Going to school in Mexico would put you at
a sever disadvantage in the competition for medical school admission.
Listen, what you need to to is find out more about the admission process.
Find a good pre-health advisor and/or get a copy of the Medical School
Admission Requirements book (See
All the stuff I mentioned above is in this book, plus a lot more. It may
take some time to read through, since it contains such a lot of information,
but if you have the patience you will learn what most premedical students
should, but don't, know. Good Luck!


> Hi Rich!
> I just love your site on the Net.It is great especially for foreign
> students like me who can get a lot of info about US med schools.
> I was wondering if you could help me out with a problem I have.I am
> already in med school, I have already completed my first year from the
> Aga Khan University Karachi.
> The problem is that I want to transfer to a good medical college in the
> US. Could you please help me out?
> Thank you,

------ reply 07/24/99

Thanks for your comments about my site!

I know that it is very difficult to transfer from one medical school to
another in the States, without having to retake most of the material over
again. Transferring in from outside of the States is more problematic, but
it can be done. You would need to send out your application and to take the
MCAT and submit your scores (in most cases) just as all other applicants do.
If you are accepted, you would start off as a first year medical student.
See "Medical School Admissions Requirements" book, it can be ordered on line
-- more info about this at Best of


> Rich,
> I've really enjoyed looking around the website. It's provided
> me with a lot of info. I'm an undergrad senior, and will have my BS in
> Chemistry in May. I am working on applying to med school, and will take the
> MCAT in 5 weeks (August 1999 test). I was just wanting to see what your
> opinion was on my chances of getting accepted. I saw you tell someone on
> your site that she had a 1 out of 100 chance of getting in, so i know you'll
> tell me straight!
> I'm a 20 yr old white male. I have a 3.56 GPA, and am making mid to upper
> 20s on my practice MCAT tests, although i haven't taken another practice
> since I really stepped up my studying regimen. I am also an EMT, and will
> be a Paramedic in a couple of months. I have worked full time in hospitals
> (mainly Radiology departments) since I was 16.
> Do you think my clinical experiences will help put me over that bit of a
> hump of my GPA/MCAT? Organic is what got my GPA down.. I got a C 2nd
> semester. It's the ONLY C I have EVER made... college, high school,
> anything! It is almost embarassing having that thing on my transcript, but
> I don't have time to take it off.
> Well, what do you think? Mainly, I'm asking whether being a Paramedic will
> help me get into med school. Thanks for your time...

------reply 07/25/99

Yes, being a paramedic will help. Folks on medical school admissions
committees are looking for individuals that are very hard working,
committed, and who have clinical experience. A big part of the reason why
admission committee members want applicants to get clinical experience
before entering medical school is to give them a chance to determine whether
medicine really is the career they wish to pursue. So it will help, but how
much? Your GPA is fine. One C in Orgo is not that good, but it is not a
disaster. If you made an A in the other half, it hurts less of course. The
bottom line is you are in pretty good shape for now. Being a Paramedic helps
a bit, the C in Orgo hurts a bit, but its the MCAT that will make the
difference. Three 10's across the board on the MCAT will give you even odds
of acceptance.

Continue to work hard on the MCAT. You may wish to get Practice Test IV, if
you haven't got it already (you can order it from the AAMC web site). You
could take it as your final full length practice test about 2 weeks before
the real thing. During the final week before the MCAT you should study less
and relax more. Preparing for, and taking, the MCAT is a prolonged and
stressful form of torture. It's best to be fresh and study a bit less, than
to be brain dead because you didn't know when to lay off. Hope it goes well!



> Hi Rich,

------reply 07/25/99




> Hello,
> I am currently a student at Florida International University
> majoring in Biology. I am an international student on an F1
> visa, will this be a problem when applying to medical school ?
> I have benn living in Miami for 8 years now.
> Please reply soon,
> Nadine

------reply 07/31/99

Not an insurmountable one, although there are some disadvantages. Here's
what the Medical School Admission Requirements book has to say about it:

In 1998-99, 146 foreign students entered the first-year
Prospective applicants from other countries should study
carefully the application considerations and admission criteria
discussed in this resource, since they apply equally to both
U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. Successful applicants from other
countries will ordinarily have completed several years of their
undergraduate college work in the United States. Proficiency
in the English language is required, and medical schools may
require proficiency certification either from the appropriate
official agency in the applicant's own country or from the
American undergraduate college the applicant has attended.
A majority of U.S. schools are required to give preference
to applicants from their own states or regions.
Most of the financial aid available for use at U.S. medical
schools comes from federal sources, which require U.S. citi-
zenship or permanent residency. Since some countries impose
severe restrictions on the exportation of currency, applicants
should investigate the accessibility of financial resources
before applying. In no case should foreign applicants assume
that financial aid will be available in the United States. Foreign
applicants should be prepared to present detailed plans for
financing their medical education.
Best wishes



> Dear Rich,
> I am a RN who will be getting my BSN in 1 year with 18 years of nursing
> experience behind me. I would like to pursue a medical degree with a major
> in Ophthalmology. I would like some info on beginning this endeavor. Does
> having this degree and experience make this a positive attribute?? Also, does
> 1 full year of biology constitute 2 semesters of biology?? etc etc.. I am
> looking for a mentor to assist me- do you have any suggestions??? Any advice
> or info will be greatly appreciated.!!
> Thank-you

------reply 07/31/99

Yes, your experience and educational background will help.

Two semesters of General Biology or Zoology with lab (the "for majors
course", not the "elective course") constitutes 2 semesters of biology.

The best mentor is an experienced and dedicated pre-health advisor. Short of
that, or in addition to that, individuals who have already gone through the
admission process should be able to provide a good deal of useful

I'd also recommend the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) booklet
which can be purchased from the AAMC web site, or from most large college
bookstores. This can provide answers to almost all questions you may have
along the way. Other publications that will come in handy later on are the
MCAT Announcement, published annually, it is available at most schools by
February at no charge as part of the MCAT registration kit; and the AMCAS
application forms (the electronic forms are easier to deal with for most
folks), see MSAR for more details.

Finally, I have a lot of information at

Best wishes,



> Dear Rich,
> Hello again

------ reply 07/31/99

> Dear Rich,
> I'm only a sophomore at St. John's College (it's a tiny liberal arts school
> less than 100 people per graduating class, known more for turning out english
> Ph.ds than doctors). My Mom's an RN at a family practice. The doctor she
> works for is very nice and said I could shadow him next summer. The problem
> is I wasnt planning on coming home. Do you this this would be worth it?
> Thanks. Your Site's great. Amelia

------ reply 08/0799

Since medical school applications are typically sent out during one's junior
year, you really have very little time left to get first hand clinical
experience, before you send off your application. As part of your
application you would like to be able to report some first hand clinical
experience, and would like a letter of recommendation, or two, from
individuals who are outside the academic community. A letter from a
physician who has had a chance to get to know you in a clinical setting
would help. Check into other options, volunteering at hospitals, etc. The
closer you are to working with patients the better. I am not sure exactly
what "shadowing" entails, but it sounds like it may be a good opportunity.

Thanks for your comment about my site.

Best wishes,



> To Whom It May Concern:
> Hi My name is Hyejin. I am going to be a college freshman this August as a
> premed.
> So, I am very much interested in the Early Assurance Program that allows
> college
> sophomores to get an early admission into medical schools. I have tried to
> find the
> list of those schools that offer such program, but I did not have much
> success.
> If, by any chance, you have the list, could you please e-mail me at
> I really appreciate your time and concern. Thank you.

------ reply 08/0799

Most of these programs are not well publicized. You can find out about them
by calling the medical school which is affiliated with the University you
are interested in. The requirements, standards for admission, and number of
students considered and accepted per year, would certainly be some of the
information I would request. Since I am from the University of Miami, I do
know that they have what is called a "seven year program" where students are
selected during their sophomore year, and enter medical school after
completion of their junior year. Its a smart move thinking ahead like you

Good luck,




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