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Diving into Biochem and Stats without traditional class sequence...

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I'm hesitant to ask this question only because it could (potentially) be difficult to explain via forum post...alas...here goes...

I'm a non-trad pre-PA (like many of you here) and am trying to get through these pre-req's as fast as possible. Being 34 years old, I don't want to waste any more time and would like to begin applying to PA schools in the next 1.5 years. 

I've always been a good student and tend to grasp things quickly. So, that being said, here's my question...

My first degree is a B.S. Business, which required very little science/math. 

The main PA programs I'm looking to apply to have some combination of Orgo I, Biochem, Stats/Calc, etc. Obviously these classes have pre-req's at traditional universities that have to be taken before getting to the upper level courses mentioned. 

When going through Doane or UNE, there are no pre-reqs to those classes. It's just "pay and play". 

I'm tempted to just take the upper level pre-reqs required by the PA schools I'm looking at. I have several peers who are willing to tutor me and attempt to get me "up to speed" on the basics (which I'm somewhat familiar with already via self study) in Chem. 

Will a PA program even look to see what order classes were taken or are they simply going to check that the required courses for their program (upper level science/math) have been taken and passed with an acceptable grade? Will they notice that there's no "gen chem" or "bio II" on my transcript? 

If that isn't a problem, which I'm assuming it won't be if you do well in the classes, has anyone actually done this?

Again, I hope this makes sense. I'm weighing the option of paying and (willingly) destroying myself studying to pass the courses (at Doane or UNE) or take the traditional route (and add another year onto my pre-PA journey) by taking the classes sequentially at my local university. 

Ok, now I'm confusing myself. Hopefully someone can understand this rambling question and give me some insight. 

Thank you so much for any help. 



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  • PrePAAdam changed the title to Diving into Biochem and Stats without traditional class sequence...

Hi Adam - I'm similar age to you and also had a non-science undergrad degree, so I totally get it!

I think it's possible to do Biochem without any previous Chem, since honestly it's pretty different than Inorganic (General) Chem anyway. I definitely think having taken some other Bio courses by the time I took Biochem helped me a lot though because the ideas and terminology are pretty complicated if you're brand new to it. As far as Organic, almost all other schools I've encountered will require you've taken some type of intro/inorganic/general Chem first before Orgo, so I'm surprised there's no prereq. I genuinely don't think I would have been able to get an A in Organic without already having taken some Chem; all the structures, bonds, types of interactions between atoms etc would have been so foreign without that knowledge base, especially taking online without the full experience of an engaged classroom setting for learning. I would definitely suggest taking an extra semester to get an intro/general Chem class under your belt first before you try to get a good grade in Orgo. The information in that class is such a fundamental foundation to all the other sciences you'll be taking and helped set me up for success. But again, that's just my experience.

Also, my experience has been that due to the competitive nature of PA programs, the required prerequisites are basically just their bare minimum - most applicants have more science coursework than is required, and you're going to be competing against them. Last year I simply didn't have enough science classes under my belt and didn't get any interviews, even though I met the minimum prereqs. 

Don't worry about Stats, it's pretty easy IMO. 

Hope this helps!

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Some programs have in the fine print that in order for a course to satisfy the requirement it must have x, y or z as a pre-requisite, so make sure to check for that. I don't think I'd recommend doing some of those without the prerequisite courses, but you could try to get up to speed by watching Khan Academy or Ninja Nerd Science videos before hand.

Slow and steady wins the race. It took me >5 years to do all of my prerequisites. Best of luck.

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Certainly. The accelerated courses run by the colleges mentioned and others essentially involves reading assigned materials from recommended textbooks.  You stand a better chance by treading the traditional path: your comprehension and appreciation of the subject matter is enhanced. Nevertheless,  the accelerated courses run by these colleges are exorbitant tuition-wise.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I hesitate to answer this because it's almost 2 weeks old but I just wanted to add that in this case it's time vs money.

The money option: The programs you are looking into cost an enormous amount while they might get you through faster there's not as much guarantee of it paying off. Some schools may look at the way you haphazardly took these courses and not like what they see or worse you get in and don't succeed because you're missing the fundamental sciences. 

The time option: Yes it's more time but I would recommend taking your pre-reqs at a community college (cheaper) or as a post-bacc (more expensive I think but everything is in series). It'll look better on a transcript and while it may feel like a waste of time it won't be as much of a waste of money. 

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I am currently doing Doane BioChem course. (just started Last week) and undergrad was in music lol.....

Before I took the course, i took myself through some Kahn Academy Chemistry. It was definitely helpful, I do spend a lot of time figuring out definitions and process that are being referred to in the book (I plan on utilizing their help desk, that comes with a tutor at Doane). I understand broadly what is going on, but some of the coursework can get really detailed where I feel a chem or organic chem foundation would have been helpful. But there are a lot of online resources I use (youtube, kahn academy etc) 

But with all of that...nothing is proctored. So all homework, quizzes and finals exam are open note (but of course it is timed) Which will be a big help. They questions are not just memorization based, they do ask questions based on an actual understanding of the material. 

So do with that info what you will haha....I wish I could understand more, but I am also in my 30s and not trying to take the long route. All of my friends who are doctors or Pa's tell me just focus on passing, nothing in clinical work will require you to fully understand the details of whats happening. Thats up to the chemist and such. Understanding the basis on how these things work will be fine. What is important is that you understand how things can go wrong and cause disease.

So I am focusing on that, and doing my best to sort thru the details best I can. 


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I started my prereqs 30 years out of my BS and the first class I wanted to take was organic chemistry. My prereqs (including gen chem) were 35 years old. I still wanted to start with organic to see if I could do it. As an adult student, I was given the option of signing a form indicating that I understood that I did not have the prereqs but was willing to do it anyway. I signed.

Life turned out fine. As it turned out, one of the last prereqs I took was one term of gen chem since the prereq was so old. I still like the order I took the classes; part of the reason for going back to school was to see if it was for me. Repeating an old class first wouldn't have helped with that.

With age hopefully comes some self-knowledge and the willingness to bear the consequences of your actions. Take your best shot!

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