If you already have graduated from college and are thinking of going to medical school after working a few years in a related or even unrelated field, you are not alone. Many people decide to pursue a medical profession well into their adulthood. Prospective students who do not follow the traditional route to medical school are known as “non-traditional students,” and preparation for entry into medical school can take up to two years.


Analyze your undergraduate coursework. Minimum course requirements typically involve two semesters of college-level biology, physics, calculus, and chemistry, with at least one course in organic chemistry. Each science course must be accompanied by a laboratory practicum. More competitive medical schools will require you to retake these courses if it's been five years or more since you studied these subjects.

If necessary, take the required coursework. Many non-traditional students will need to enroll in a post-baccalaureate program. Typically, these are two-year programs designed specifically for non-traditional students in order to help them complete their requirements or enhance their competitiveness.

Take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). This is a standardized, multiple-choice examination divided into four sections: verbal reasoning, physical sciences, biological sciences, and an essay section. Prospective students should prepare to study for at least two months before the examination, which is given twice a year in April and in August.

Apply to medical school. Check with your target school’s application requirements and submit the information requested. Documents required typically include the school’s application form, a personal statement, official transcripts from your undergraduate institution and post-baccalaureate program (if applicable), MCAT official score, and letters of recommendation.


Volunteer at a hospital or a private practice to get an idea of whether the medical profession is for you. Gaining some practical experience in the medical field before applying for medical school will show admissions officers how committed you are.

Read medical journals to stay abreast of current trends. The British Medical Journal and the New England Journal of Medicine are good places to start.


Medical school is a challenging undertaking and requires significant planning and self-evaluation, particularly for non-traditional students. Pursuing a medical profession is particularly challenging for candidates with young children, because the rigorous work involved in completing a medical degree will significantly reduce the amount of time spent on family matters.

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