Hello, I have been looking at a variety of med school’s curriculum requirements and not found that they all require an upper-level biology lab, even some of the absolute best! If I am unable to fit in an upper-level biology lab, could I still be a competitive applicant (of course assuming that I have all of the other requirements in and outside the classroom completed)?
I totally understand where you are coming from. However, unless the school explicitly says that they require an upper-level biology lab, then you will not be at a disadvantage for not having taken an upper level bio lab. Even if an upper level biology lab is recommended (but not required) you shouldn’t be at a disadvantage when applying to such a school.
That being said, you’re right that there are some schools that do require an upper-level biology lab, so you might not be as competitive of an applicant if you apply to schools that do require an upper-level biology lab. How much will you be at a disadvantage? It’s hard to say. If you have a few medical schools you’d really like to attend, and they require an upper level biology lab, I suggest you give their admissions teams a call to ask specifically. I have called such teams many times, and they are always happy to clarify things like these for prospective applicants.
Thank you for your question! I actually am facing this same dilemma as a current applicant, and the way I chose to approach the issue is to wait and see which schools give me an interview and then take the lab course only if these schools require it. Some schools are willing to work with you, counting courses like biochem lab as biology instead of chemistry, or counting independent research credit that you may have instead of a formal lab course. This approach wouldn’t work, however, if you will not be a current student during the application cycle, because I am assuming you don’t want to go back to school/post-bac just to take one lab course.
It is very difficult to give you any easy answer that will be absolutely foolproof, because every medical school is different. I would try to get in contact with the ones you are more interested in, because many of them are very receptive to prospective applicant questions. If you absolutely cannot fit the lab into your schedule, then you know which schools not to apply to!