Med School for a Career Changer or Non Traditional Medical Student
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Changing Careers into Medicine

Preparing for medical school as a non-traditional applicant

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Applying to Medical School as a Career Changer or Non-Traditional Medical Student

At PCOM, we welcome students from all walks of life and from a variety of career and academic backgrounds.

While there is no one specific qualification or background that qualifies someone as non-traditional, we often see students attend PCOM in preparation for a career change or for advancement opportunities in their current positions. PCOM welcomes career changers for the diverse experiences and outlooks they bring to our learning community.

How Do I Prepare for Medical School as a Career Changer or Non-Traditional Student?

The Office of Admissions offers these tips for career changers and non-traditional students in the admissions process to PCOM's Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program.

Step 1: Select a program which meets medical school prerequisites

Lay the foundation for success in medical school by preparing yourself with the appropriate coursework.

Post-baccalaureate premedical programs

Post-baccalaureate premedical programs allow career changers to complete the prerequisite courses for medical school. They also provide opportunities for advisement and clinical learning.

We recommend you consider two-year post-baccalaureate programs that provide hands-on clinical learning experiences.

PCOM is affiliated with several post-baccalaureate programs in the greater Philadelphia and Atlanta areas. These affiliation agreements assure an interview and/or acceptance should a student from an affiliated school meet certain academic and other defined criteria. For more information regarding a specific affiliation, please contact an advisor from that college or university.

Direct coursework advice

If you do not choose to enroll in a post-baccalaureate program, we recommend enhancing your scientific knowledge by taking coursework in hard sciences directly from higher education institutions.

Upper-level science courses in anatomy, physiology, histology, immunology and more will be useful for succeeding on the MCAT exams as well as in PCOM's curriculum.

Review the DO application requirements for a full listing of prerequisite coursework.

Biomedical Sciences program at PCOM's locations

PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia offer master's programs in biomedical sciences. Earn a master's degree while preparing for medical school under the guidance of PCOM faculty. Our MS in Biomedical Sciences program provides students with a solid knowledge base with an emphasis on developing strong academic and professional skills.

Candidates who meet minimum criteria are assured an interview for the DO program and many biomed students enter our doctoral programs each year.

Forensic Medicine Pathway course for non-science majors

PCOM's Forensic Medicine Pathway course is designed for non-science majors who are interested in forensic medicine.

The online summer program offers instruction in general biology, human anatomy and physiology. After successfully completing the Pathway course, students enter the Master of Science (MS) in Forensic Medicine program.

Please note, neither a degree nor a certificate is awarded upon completion of the Pathway course.

Step 2: Review admissions requirements for medical school

Review a full explanation of required semester hours, MCAT scores, letters of recommendation and more on the DO application requirements page.

PCOM reserves the right to make all admissions decisions based upon all information available to the DO Faculty Committee on Admissions.

Step 3: Gather letters of recommendation

Review the DO application requirements for details regarding recommendation letter requirements.

If you are having trouble obtaining letters of recommendation from undergraduate or graduate faculty, reach out to your institution's advisors for assistance.

If you are not able to secure letters of recommendation, you should consider completing a post-baccalaureate program, graduate program or other coursework in order to build relationships with faculty and enhance your skills.

Step 4: Obtain clinical experiences

Clinical exposure, research experience and community involvement are all important factors for assessing your admission to PCOM. Our admissions committee looks carefully for experiences and motivations related to the study of medicine.

Prior careers in nursing, emergency services, armed forces or various types of research provide excellent foundations for studying medicine.

Immerse yourself in patient care by working, volunteering or shadowing in hospitals, health clinics or local doctors' practices. Medical scribes, nursing assistants, EMTs and hospice volunteers provide unique opportunities to interact with patients and physicians. Whether paid or not, it is important these experiences allow you to work with patients and be part of a team of medical professionals.

Step 5: Learn about financing options for your education

Non-traditional and career changing students are able to borrow student loans and apply for other aid options to pay for the cost of tuition, fees, books/supplies and living expenses.

Federal student loans

The Federal Direct Loan Program allows students to borrow funds to pay for the cost post-secondary education and living expenses. The U.S. Department of Education offers the Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and the Direct Graduate PLUS Loan with fixed interest rates for graduate and medical students.

Students must complete the FAFSA to apply for federal student loans. View instructions and learn more on the Financial Aid Office's how to apply page.

Private student loans

Many banks and lending institutions offer private student loan products. Rates, amounts, periods and other conditions can vary greatly between lenders so it is important to research private student loan options carefully. A credit check is required to apply for private student loans.

PCOM scholarships

New and returning students can apply for a variety of institutional scholarship funding. Visit the Financial Aid Office's how to apply page to learn how to complete the FAFSA and other requirements.

Armed Forces scholarships

The United States Army, Navy and Air Force offer aspiring military physicians, physician assistants, clinical psychologists and pharmacists a paid medical education in exchange for service as a commissioned medical department officer. Learn more.

Step 6: Visit medical schools you are interested in and talk to admissions professionals

Contact the Office of Admissions for more information on our graduate and medical programs.

Hear from our students

Learn why some of our non-traditional students chose PCOM and how we can help you achieve your goals and maximize your potential for your current stage of life and beyond.

Explore our locations

Take a virtual tour or visit us during an open house event at PCOM, PCOM Georgia or PCOM South Georgia.

Disclaimer: This article features AI-generated audio.