Posted March 19, 2009

A bullet train to success

Temple’s post-baccalaureate pre-med program offers non-traditional students a springboard into medical, dental careers

In this time of economic uncertainty, many people are starting to re-evaluate their careers. Some are looking for a way to boost their skills, and others, like Amy Orlansky and Leigh Boghossian, are considering switching to a different career altogether.

Prior to coming to Temple, both Orlansky and Boghossian were on very different paths. Orlansky had just received her master’s in bioengineering, and Boghossian had completed her master’s in public health. But both knew they were interested in pursuing a career in medicine, and began to look for a program that would help them achieve their goals.

Both women soon found their perfect fit in the School of Medicine’s post-baccalaureate pre-medical program. Developed and housed in the school’s Office of Admissions, the rigorous one-year program gives non-traditional students a fast-track into medicine and, starting this fall, dentistry.

“I looked at a number of different programs, but Temple’s medical school was the only one that actually made me feel welcome, and feel excited about starting on this new path,” said Orlansky.

Traditionally, students enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program would have to wait an extra year to start medical school, because by the time they complete it, the admissions deadline for medical or dental school would have passed.

Amy Orlansky and Leigh Boghossian
Photo by Kelly & Massa
Amy Orlansky (left) and Leigh Boghossian are both enrolled in the School of Medicine’s post-baccalaureate pre-medical program, a yearlong, accelerated program to provide non-traditional students with the basic science requirements needed to pursue a career in medicine. This fall, the program will open up to dental students.


“Our program is unique in that it effectively eliminates that year, because after successful completion, students are guaranteed immediate admission into the medical school,” said Grace Hershman, director of the post-baccalaureate program. “It essentially allows students to get to work a year earlier.”

Launched just last year, the program offers two different tracks: the Basic Core in Medical Sciences Program, for the student who is interested in a medical career but hasn’t taken all the basic science courses required for admission; and the Advanced Core in Medical Sciences Program, for the student who wants to enhance their existing science credentials for a career in medicine.

“Students in the post-baccalaureate program have the opportunity to build a mentoring relationship with the basic science and clinical faculty, as well as work with the current medical students on many community service and career mentoring activities,” said Audrey Uknis, M.D., associate dean of admissions.

Boghossian is grateful for the opportunities that the program has provided, and thinks the mentoring opportunities, individualized attention and test-preparation classes it offers make it superior to similar programs at other schools.

“During our winter break, we had the opportunity to shadow doctors in a variety of departments at Temple hospital,” she said. “Being that this is such a rigorous program, that opportunity is so refreshing as it reminds you of exactly what it is you’re working towards.”

When Amid Ismail, dean of the Kornberg School of Dentistry, arrived in October, he began to look for new ways to attract skilled students and immediately saw the value of the medical school’s post-baccalaureate program. As a result, the program has expanded to include dental students.

“This program is an excellent tool for students who are either just on the cusp of being accepted to dental school and need a bit of a foundation, or come from a non-science background and are interested in a career in oral healthcare,” said Lisa Deem, D.M.D., J.D., associate dean of student affairs at the Kornberg School.

The first round of dental post-baccalaureate students will begin this fall, and upon successful completion of the program, will have direct access into the dental school the following year.

“Not only will we provide these students with the basic science foundation they need to complete the dental program successfully, we’re also striving to cultivate their interests in oral healthcare through tailored mentoring opportunities with our dean, our students and several community dentists as well,” said Deem.

Orlansky and Boghossian are preparing to take their medical college admission tests (MCAT) in May. They agree that the program is difficult, but worth it.

“It’s definitely not a walk in the park. You have to be really committed to a career in medicine,” said Orlansky. “But this program will give you all the materials you’ll need to do well. It’s a great program, and I’m very pleased that I chose to come here.”

For more information about the post-baccalaureate program, visit or call 215-707-3342.