Prepare for Medical School & Beyond

If you are an undergraduate or post-bac premed student and know any Washington University students who are in the process of applying to medical school you've probably learned that most of them have taken MedPrep I. Why? Because MedPrep I is different from any other premed course in that it's the only one that will give you the "big picture" of the entire path to becoming a physician. It answers questions that won’t be found in any other course. In MedPrep I, you will also gain a clear understanding of what medical schools look for in an applicant while dispelling commonly held myths so prevalent in the premed world. And once you complete MedPrep I, you will be eligible for MedPrep II, the shadowing course at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the main teaching hospital of the Washington University School of Medicine.

Learn More on the MedPrep Website

MedPrep I


To give students accurate, honest, and detailed information on how to become the most competitive and prepared applicant to medical school possible.

Taught by Dr. Gregory Polites, a physician, member of the admissions committee leadership, and former medical school coursemaster, MedPrep I reviews each of the goals that a student should achieve prior to applying to medical school. For this reason, we recommend students take MedPrep I as early in college as possible, preferably in their freshman or sophomore year. Through a weekly two-hour lecture, MedPrep I gives students a road map and strategy for their four years of college and reviews the common pitfalls encountered by unsuccessful applicants to medical school.

To clarify the entire educational process required to become a board-certified physician and the lifestyle one can expect in medical school, residency and beyond.

Everything from the examination process in medical school to the details of medical school and residency training are covered. Students will learn the most important factors to consider when choosing a medical school and the pros and cons of various medical school curricula. The training pathway for every major specialty is reviewed and the challenges faced in medical school and residency regarding work-life balance, sleep deprivation and the stress of making major medical decisions are also covered.

Finally, the course ends with a Q&A session with current medical students from the Washington University School of Medicine. During this session students can ask any question they would like regarding medical school from those who are currently going through the process.

To prepare students for the expectations and attitude that will be required of a successful medical student and future physician.

MedPrep I begins with a foundational talk where students learn what qualities go into making an exceptional medical student and physician. Students will learn how the values of the Y-Generation sometimes conflict with the current culture of medicine in areas that involve much more than simple rules of etiquette or behavior. Many students don’t recognize that there are significant differences in expectations in many areas including dress, work ethic, interpersonal communication, and attitudes regarding work-life balance. Because these differences can often result in awkward situations for the student, MedPrep reviews what is expected from a college or medical student when they enter “the house of medicine” and what values physicians currently in practice consider important.

To help students decide if medicine is the right career for them.

Choosing a career is never easy. And choosing to pursue a career in medicine can be even more difficult because there are so many variables to consider. Some students know from their first day in college that they want to be a physician. Others are a little less sure. Some have no idea. Regardless of which category a student is in, MedPrep I will help. Topics pertinent to the future physician such as the training pathway, lifestyle, and how physicians manage the stressors of a medical career are discussed. MedPrep I will give the student a clear understanding of the other issues physicians confront besides taking care of patients. Ultimately this information will help the student make the most informed decision possible.

Learn More on the MedPrep I Website

Class meets: M-W-F from 3-5 pm (Pre-freshman will also meet on Tuesday 6/26 and Tuesday 7/3 as well)
First class: Monday, June 11
Last class: Friday, July 20
Classroom location: TBA
Course credit: 1 credit, pass/fail
Exam schedule: No exams
Class limit: 320 students



MedPrep II


To give students a real world, behind-the-scenes view of clinical medicine.

For three hours every other week, students enrolled in MedPrep II shadow physicians in the Charles F. Knight Emergency and Trauma Center of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the main teaching hospital of the Washington University School of Medicine. This 52,000 sq. ft., 70 bed Level I trauma center offers students an experience like no other. Standing side-by-side with the emergency physicians and trauma surgeons of Washington University, students are given full access to the evaluation and treatment of both routine medical problems and life-threatening emergencies.

In MedPrep II students have the freedom to schedule shadowing shifts in a very flexible manner using a sophisticated on-line scheduling system designed specifically for this course. This allows students to reserve a shift that will be theirs for the entire semester while still giving them the ability to change their shifts to accommodate their own busy schedules. They have the flexibility to vary their shadowing times between weekdays and weekends or days and evenings in order to get the best experience possible and are permitted to add a shift during their regularly assigned week or even in their off-week, space permitting.

A one-hour class session is held every other week on the Danforth campus that covers topics relevant to the clinical nature of this course. Students are required to attend these classes but are excused for any conflicting evening exams. Because of the orientation material covered, attendance at the first two class sessions is absolutely required. No excused absences will be granted for any reason, including illness or emergency. During the summer semester students are permitted to take MedPrep I and II concurrently. University College tuition charges will apply.

To educate students on how Barnes-Jewish Hospital's Emergency Department serves as a major safety net for the city of St. Louis.

Students read about issues of E.D. overcrowding and problems with access to health care but few get to witness first-hand the real challenges faced by health care professionals on a daily basis. Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Washington University School of Medicine take pride in the fact that we offer world class emergency care to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. In fact, Barnes-Jewish Hospital serves as the major provider of emergency care for the uninsured and underinsured of St. Louis, serving as a safety net for those who might otherwise go without any care at all.

To let students see how medical students and residents are trained at one of the nation's premier teaching hospitals.

By interacting with medical students and residents at all levels, students enrolled in MedPrep II get a chance to see the actual process of medical training itself. Working one-on-one with a different medical student and/or resident each shift, the MedPrep student will have the opportunity to ask questions not just about the medical problems they are witnessing but on anything related to the medical field. Students will see how attending physicians guide their residents and medical students through the thought process of arriving at a diagnosis and treatment plan and how they lead a medical team. Nothing gives the student a better glimpse of their life in the near future than this experience.   

To help students decide if medicine is the right career for them.

MedPrep II will help students decide if medicine is the right career for them while giving them experience in a busy hospital setting. This is why medical schools consider shadowing an important component of the medical school application. Nothing can take the place of experience. Hopefully, MedPrep II will give students an experience that they will never forget. Since 2005 MedPrep students have been a familiar and welcomed presence in the Emergency and Trauma Center of Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

First two classes mandatory: 6/11 & 6/13 from 5-6 pm
Class will then meet: Every Wednesday from 5-6 pm
Last class: Wednesday, 8/15   
Last day of required shadowing: Sunday, 8/12
Last day of optional shadowing: Sunday, 8/26
Classroom location: TBA
Course credit: 1 credit, pass/fail
Exam schedule: No exams
Class limit: 75 students 

Students will be required to shadow once every other week for 3 hours but may shadow as often as every week, space permitting. Students will be able to choose a shift time that works around their other classes and/or work schedule. 


All questions regarding MedPrep course registration should be directed to Erin Gerrity.  Given his leadership role on the Commitee on Admissions, Dr. Polites is unable to provide any individual pre-health advising.

Erin Gerrity
MedPrep Coordinator
Biology Registrar's Office
Plant Growth Building, Room 105
(314) 935-5064

Gregory M. Polites, M.D.
MedPrep Course Director
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine
Washington University School of Medicine