This semester marks the start of NSC’s first Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program, in conjunction with the University of Nevada School of Medicine (UNSOM), for students interested in medical school. According to UNSOM, the Post-Baccalaureate Program is a structured, one-year certificate program designed for students who have finished a bachelor’s degree but are not academically competitive for medical school due to grades, coursework, or extended time since degree completion. The program was designed for students who need GPA improvement, MCAT preparation, or additional upper division science coursework to be competitive for medical school admissions.
UNSOM began the program two years ago at UNR, but this year they opened the program to a second cohort of students that can participate in southern Nevada through Nevada State College. UNSOM considers several criteria for selection, including an overall undergraduate GPA between 2.85 and 3.4, or a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last 30 credits of college coursework. Applicants must also have a conferred bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and must demonstrate significant clinical and community service experience. In addition, preference is given to Nevada residents who identify as a member of a disadvantaged, underserved, or underrepresented population in health care. Those populations include:
- 1st generation college students
- Students from low-income households
- Underrepresented minorities
- Medically underserved (typically rural) communities
- US Military Veterans
Applicants must have completed the following prerequisites before applying to the program: 15 credits in the biological sciences; 8 credits in general chemistry; 8 credits in organic chemistry; 8 credits in general physics; 3 credits in psychology.
Once selected for the Post-Baccalaureate program, students must meet several program requirements to be admitted to UNSOM as a medical student. Students are required to complete 32 credits within two semesters, including a summer MCAT preparation course; must maintain a minimum of a 3.3 overall GPA; and must complete the MCAT with a minimum composite score of 26 with no sub-score lower than a 7. Students who meet those requirements will be eligible to interview for UNSOM’s early admissions seats; the University of Nevada School of Medicine reserves as much as 10% of its incoming class for successful graduates of the Post-Baccalaureate Program.
For the five students taking part in the NSC program, they have their work cut out for them. Accepted students take approximately 16 credits per semester in upper-division biology, biochemistry, public health, and other related subjects. The course load and schedule is very rigorous the program is intended to mimic the intensity of medical school to prepare the students for the difficult work ahead, according to UNSOM.
Programs of study are created individually for each student based on their academic needs. Students are also required to attend bi-weekly team-based-learning seminars as well as monthly advising meetings throughout the year. At the end of the academic year, students take an intensive MCAT preparation course before they take the test in mid-late summer.
Vice Provost of Scholarship and Experiential Curriculum, Dr. Robin Cresiski, worked with UNSOM to set up the certificate program at NSC, and believes this program gives NSC students a competitive edge. So many of our students have had to overcome life obstacles while in college and didn’t have the time to build the resume required to get into medical school, Dr. Cresiski said. This program gives them a second chance to focus on mastering the intensive study skills and foundational knowledge they all need to have a more competitive application and, importantly, a more successful medical school experience.