Frequently Asked Questions

Introduction

Applying and matriculating into a post-bacc program is an important step toward a career in healthcare. The answers to these frequently asked questions will help you decide whether the PBPM program may be a good fit for you and your goals, how to be a strong applicant, what courses to take, experiential opportunities, and outcomes. Do not hesitate to contact us at postbaccpremed@wustl.edu with any questions not addressed here.

Admissions

 Questions regarding application eligibility, components, and evaluation.

I saw that one of the admission requirements is a 3.20 undergraduate GPA? Is that a strict cut-off for admission? 

We offer some flexibility on that  criterion. We consider the overall GPA trend and  performance in more recent coursework. We look at the  entire  application,  so it is useful to show strength in other areas.   Personal essays  and  letters of recommendation are carefully considered.  Evidence that a student has explored their targeted health profession and sought meaningful service opportunities strongly supports the application. The overall and science  GPAs  are only  part of what we consider, and you have the opportunity to explain any rough semesters  in a “special considerations”  supplement to the personal statement.  

I notice that you ask for letters of recommendation from academic sources? I have been out of school for some time. Is it possible to request letters from non-academic sources? 

While we prefer academic letters, we understand that with time away from college such letters can be difficult to obtain. If possible, we like to have at least one academic letter. If not, letters from appropriate professional  sources are acceptable.  

How can I ensure that I am prepared for success in your program?

Students  planning to complete physics and general chemistry  with us  should  complete a Calc I course  before entering our program. In addition, we encourage students who have not had  prior  college level chemistry to take a chemistry prep course in order to be ready for  general  chemistry here.  Such a course should have a curriculum that specifically prepares students to be successful in a rigorous major’s-level chemistry sequence. 

Am I a good fit for your program? 

Although our program has “premedical” in the name, we are a good fit for students pursuing other professional school targets including veterinary, dental, physical therapy, and physician assistant programs. The flexibility of our curriculum works for students who need all of  the prerequisites for their professional school target, some of the  prereqs  (students are not required to  repeat  prerequisites they have already successfully completed), or who only need supplemental “enhancement” coursework to show stronger work in the sciences. There is no typical student in our program; our students come from all over the United States and a broad  diversity of backgrounds. Some come to the program straight out of their undergraduate program, while others are preparing for professional schools after working for several years in a career.   

Is your admissions review process competitive? 

We  do not compare or rank applicants.  Rather we review each applicant with one question in mind–with strong work in our program, can the student get into position to successfully apply to a professional degree program in healthcare?  The answer to that question depends on each applicant’s individual qualification. 

Program Experience

Information on what the PBPM program is like and opportunities for admitted students.

Is this a “career changer” or “enhancement” program?

Our program works for both types of students and also those somewhere in between: the coursework in the PBPM program is tailored to the individual's needs.  Students can take the prerequisites they need and retake those prerequisites they didn't do well in at their undergraduate institution. Students can continue with upper-level biology courses if they need additional GPA support.  Each admitted student works with an advisor to assess prior academic work and discuss what is recommended going forward.  

Are classes taken with undergraduate students or are they post-bacc only? How big are the class sizes?

Those courses designed for the Post-Baccalaureate Premedical program are offered after 4PM or later.  While most of our courses are populated primarily with other post-bacc students, there are usually a few undergraduate students in any particular course.  A select few of our courses, such as biochemistry, are popular with the undergraduate students and may have a majority of undergraduate students enrolled. Class sizes are usually small (20-30 people). Students can choose to take courses designed for undergraduate academic programs as well; however, the cost of these is higher (>$2300/credit) and classes tend to be larger.

Is MCAT prep available? 

Washington University offers its own on-campus MCAT prep course. Students are not obligated to take it, and it is a separate charge from regular tuition.   

Can you tell me about the kind of advising support students receive?

We believe in robust advising support for our program due to the individualized nature of each student’s course plan.  Our advisors are accessible to post-bac students throughout the year. They help with course selection and coach students on getting competitive experientially and academically for the  professional  school application. Several months before submission of the  professional  school application, advisors  encourage student s to schedule an application strategy meeting to ensure they have the best chance of success.  

Is it possible to get research experience while attending the program? 

Research experiences are readily available for students who are interested. Our students find local research jobs primarily at Washington University's medical school, which is among the nation’s most robust research enterprises. Our students have been involved in both basic science research and clinical research projects through work study, part-time work and academic credit. Your academic advisor will be able to give you guidance what research experiences may best fit your goals. 

What kinds of clinical experience do students typically find in the St. Louis area? 

The location of Washington University provides convenient access to a broad range of clinical experiences. Students often volunteer at local hospitals (there are three major hospital systems in the St. Louis area) and are often drawn to Barnes Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospitals, the two primary teaching hospitals for Washington University’s medical school. We also have one for-credit shadowing opportunity that provides around 30 hours of shadowing at the Barnes Jewish Hospital emergency room. 

In addition, in-depth patient contact experience can be gained through volunteering at local free clinics like the Institute for Family Medicine, Casa de Salud, or Family Care Health Clinics. Volunteer positions are abundant in the area and we provide a list of local organizations that seek volunteers and provide clinically relevant experience. 

Some students seek paid experience as medical assistant, medical technicians, certified nurse assistants, or EMTs. We also have students working as medical scribes in local clinics and many have served as physician facilitators with Total Access Urgent Care, the largest urgent care provider in the St. Louis area. Such experiences can provide a source of income while garnering meaningful patient contact experience.  

Is it possible to complete the program in one year? 

Students  who need to complete  all of  the science prerequisites through our program do so through a two-year course sequence; our program is not set up to complete all of the prerequisites in a single year.  On occasion, students pursuing our enhancement curriculum can complete the program in one year (typically three semesters including summer); a one-year plan  tends to be more feasible for  students  who need only  coursework to improve their medical school application and already have a strong MCAT score and plenty of clinical experience.   

Outcomes

Information about where our students go after the PBPM program.

Do students in your program successfully matriculate to professional school? 

Our  professional  school acceptance rate varies from year to year, but typically falls  between  85-95%.  However, success largely depends on the student, their previous academic record,  and how they individually perform in our program.  Our courses provide an excellent foundation for a successful application to  professional  school for students who perform well here.  A list of medical schools to which our post-baccalaureate students have matriculated can be found on our PBPM Acceptances page

Do students coming out of your program attend Washington University’s medical school? 

Attendance to our program does not necessarily give students a boost for Washington University’s Medical School.  While  some of our  students do apply  there successfully, they tend to be career-changers coming into our program with very high undergraduate GPA’s (around 3.8 or so) and maintain very high science grades while with us.