Okay, so we have given you a brief introduction into the BS/MED programme and even gone ahead to give you a rundown of the things which can qualify you as a standout applicant. At this point, you’re probably at a crossroads and wondering which is actually better, whether to go for the new and attractive BS/MED programme or to go for the older and more traditional premed programme. So, understanding your expected confusion, in this post, we will list the pros and cons of each programme, and then you can make a decision for yourself which you’d prefer; is that a deal? We think so! Okay, let’s dig in.
First off, a quick rehash of what we said about the combined BS/MED programmes. Usually, you’d apply for this programme as a high school senior and then get accepted into the medical school, conditionally though. Normally, it’s referred to as a seven-year medical programme, which comes down to 3 years of undergrad, and four years of medical school; but its’ not always seven. Sometimes, and in some places, it could be 8 years (that is four years of undergrad and four years of medical school). Also in some very few cases, it could be 6 years: this is extremely rare but it happens. This case will give you two years of undergrad and four years of medical school. Yeah… crazy amount of time you’ll be putting in if you try that, but anyway…
Because so many people love the fast lane, and the combined BS/MED programme offers just that: a super accelerated path to earning your medical degree that is, admissions into these programmes are super fierce. It’s literally a blood bath, sort of. Most of these programmes only offer less than 12 spots for freshmen. Yep, we kid you not! There are some schools that accept a few more (emphasis on the “few”), but the truth is that, besides you, there are thousands others who also applied with you. So, you can imagine the odds.
The standard and more traditional path to medical school, as we know, is to take an undergraduate course for a number of years, take the MCAT, send out over a dozen applications to over a dozen schools, and then show up for interviews before getting accepted. Well, in some spheres, it might be considered wiser to spend some time as an undergrad before applying to med school cos it has been said that admission committees of medical schools seem to favour older applicants with more experience. In fact, it is on reported that the average matriculating age of most medical students is 24.
Now, let’s quickly go into each programme in more detail so you can make your decision.
Save Time and Money
So, the first pro we are going to mention is also the most obvious, you get to save time and money. Isn’t that just music to your ears? Especially if you consider the fact that the road to becoming a physician at any level at all is a lengthy and expensive one. You’ve got undergrad, med school, and sometimes, up to seven years of residency. So, it’s pretty clear how anyone will see taking a year or two off the entire process will be an advantage. Plus, it also means that you’ll be getting into the labour market at a much younger age, which could be a plus for you.
Conditional Acceptance to Med School
Another score for these programmes is that they grant you an immediate conditional acceptance into medical school. So while others will be slaving away, and nearly killing themselves with MCAT and applications after undergrad, all you’ll be bothered with is maintaining the minimum requirements with your grades and test scores and then you’re on your way to medical school. No MCATs, no interviews, no stress. Sounds good, yeah?
But, let’s talk a bit about the requirements so you know what exactly you should be expecting. There are different minimum GPAs for different schools, for instance. Some schools will require you to maintain a GPA of 3.5, while some are a bit more merciful and will require you to maintain a minimum of 3.0. But do you know the greater victory? Some schools do not require you to take the MCAT! Which might mean bad news for some cos that will mean that some schools will still require you to take the MCAT. If you happen to fall into that group, then oops! But it’s not all bad because most times just like the GPA, the MCAT requisite might not be so stringent in most cases. Trust us, not having to take the MCAT is a huge relief. The exam takes a whooping 6 hour 15 minutes, so you can imagine how time consuming and back breaking preparing for the test will be. You’ll literally read till the books starts to read you. lol. That was on a lighter note just to make the air a little less tense.
You Can Actually Enjoy School
On to more serious things, one more pro for the BS/MED programmes is that you can enjoy school and class work a lot better. This is true because you no longer have to spend your every waking moment, thinking about how every single thing you do in your undergrad will reflect on your application and consequently your acceptance into medical school.
Application to Med School
So, on to the cons. It’s difficult to apply out as a student of a combined BS/MED programme not because the schools place a restriction on the student but because well, it might not be smart for the student seeing the condition attached to applying out. In most schools, applying out to other medical programmes besides the one the student already has a conditional acceptance into automatically means that you have to lose your guaranteed spot. Now, for fear of losing on both ends, most students, understandably, do not apply out.
Another one before we go, I know we said at first that the minimum requirement for most schools is a bit lax but there are some programmes that are unbelievably stringent and kinda demanding. For instance, the BS/MED programme at Washington University in St Louis requires a minimum GPA of 3.8 throughout your undergrad, and that’s not all, you must score, at least, a 36 on your MCAT (the old one). After considering the stringency of these requirements, some conclude that there’s no point doing the BS/MED programme at all, as the requirements already give you a good chance of gaining admission into top med schools around the country.
The premed path has to have some benefits cos, definitely, not everyone is applying for the BS/MED programme, and they all cannot be dumb. One of the benefits you’d find with applying for the premed path is that you have more flexibility with your course load. Your summers are also freer cos, unlike the other BS/MED guys, you won’t have to spend them in class and labs trying to get ahead, especially when the BS/MED programme in view is an accelerated one.
Next, you can enjoy your time fully as an undergraduate. Like most alumni say, your best times as a young person is definitely your time in college. Anyway, with a premed path, you can choose how many years you want to spend as an undergraduate, which is a whole lot more than we can say for our BS/MED programmes friends.
Med School Application
Lastly, on the pros, you will have more flexibility looking for a med school than a BS/MED student. We already kinda explained that but let’s run over it again quickly for you: the risks involved in applying out to other med schools as a BS/MED student are far greater than the reward, so many do not end up applying out. If you choose the premed path, you have more options about what medical school you’d like to complete your medical degree at.
No Conditional Acceptance to Medical School
The first con we will mention here will also be the most obvious which is that you do not have a conditional acceptance into any medical school. Of course you know that having a guaranteed spot in med school is a big plus, so not having that assurance (even though conditional), can be a big worry for many students, as you’d have to battle with applications, tests, and interviews after undergrad.
Acceptance Rates at Med School
Another one, acceptance rates at med school are really low, around 10%. Another reason being a premed school can be quite risky for any candidate.
So, there you have it, the pros and cons of both programmes. On the one hand, we have the more traditional path that has been around for a while, and on the other, we have the more recent combined BS/MED programmes which are fast becoming the new black. Whichever you go for is sure to promise success as long as you stay diligent and committed to the process. But you already know that, don’t you? So, what choice would you make? Do feel free to share with us. Anyway, we wish you all the best as you chew on this and finally decide. Please don’t forget to share this post. Toodles!