For career changers, CU-Boulder program offers potential path to School of Medicine

‘Intense, rigorous’ program provides intimate, cohort-style academic experience
By Staff

Former football coach Joseph Walker is among the professionals changing careers and studying at CU-Boulder as pre-med students.

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program is finishing its third year with an expected 16 nontraditional students one step closer to applying for medical schools.

The Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program is designed for “career changers” who were academically successful as undergraduates — earning a minimum 3.3 GPA in a non-science field — but have not completed the core science prerequisites needed to apply to medical school.  The program also provides students with personalized advising, tutoring and assistance in applying to medical schools through the Committee Letter Process.

Launched in 2011, the program provides an intimate, cohort-style academic experience for groups of 20 or fewer students. Together, the cohort takes courses and labs in biology, chemistry and physics over the course of one intensive year and three semesters: summer, fall and spring.

Joseph Walker, a former football coach, is part of the 2013-2014 cohort, which completed the program last week.

“I was a college football coach, so I’ve spent a lot of time around orthopedic doctors and surgeons,” Walker said. “Their ability to bring health and healing to athletes intrigued me. I was inspired and decided to follow my love of helping others by becoming a doctor.

“The program is intense and rigorous, but I know it’s preparing me for medical school.”

Walker and his classmates will mark the conclusion of their program in a private gathering. Following completion of the program, most students prepare for the Medical College Admission Test and apply to programs the following year. Preliminary metrics show that students from the program gain acceptance into medical schools at positive and competitive rates.

Maya Appley completed the program in 2013 and served as a tutor for students in the 2013-2014 program. She has been accepted into multiple medical schools, but has narrowed her options to the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Tulane University in her home state.

Appley was a peace and conflict studies major as an undergraduate and was working as a clinical assistant for a midwife when she realized she wanted to pursue medicine.

“I loved the clinical work I was doing but realized that I wanted to be able to work with a wider variety of patients, and medicine seemed like a great fit for me,” she said. “Something that appealed to me about the CU-Boulder program was that it is geared towards students with little to no science background, so as a cohort, we were more or less in the same boat. The faculty and program staff were very understanding and supportive of the challenges we faced as ‘career changers.’”

The program is co-sponsored by the CU-Boulder College of Arts and Sciences and Division of Continuing Education. Applications for the 2015 cohort will begin fall 2014. For more information about the program or the application process, visit: