Career-Changing From Software Engineering to Medicine

Bradley Heinz's journey takes him from Extension to UCB-UCSF Joint Medical Program

Studied anthropology at Stanford.

Studied Arabic at the Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies through a self-designed work-study program.

Directed and produced a short documentary film on the Iraqi refugee experience in Jordan as a Fulbright Research Scholar.

Business consultant at Bain & Company in Dubai.

Various roles in technology in the Bay Area—his last as a software engineer at Welkin Health, a health-coaching startup.

Despite traveling and working around the globe and working at lucrative tech startups, Bradley Heinz kept feeling the draw to medicine.

“I have always felt called to medicine,” Bradley says. “After trying other careers, I knew it was time.” He explained that while his career has had an impact on the lives of others, he longed for the compassionate human contact that is unique to the physician-patient relationship.

So Bradley started taking the next steps to apply to medical school. But he soon realized that he had taken zero science courses that would fulfill a medical school’s requirements. Oh, and he was still working full time.

Enter our Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program, which Bradley chose not only because he could take those much-needed science courses, but also because he could take those courses at night and on the weekends in order to continue working.

“But it was the supportive instructors and dynamic career-changing pre-health students that kept me coming back,” Bradley enthuses.



The advising and the support with the application process was a big draw for me, especially the committee letter.



“I found my fellow career-changing pre-health students to be bright, determined, mature and quite interesting, many of whom I now consider dear friends,” he continues. “The academic staff was approachable and invested in my success. I really appreciated that my instructors—in addition to imparting knowledge and introducing me to their fields—treated me like an adult. I connected with many of them as fellows and had the opportunity to discuss our respective careers and the pros and cons of making a switch.”

He says he’d like to extend a special thanks to Jay Parrish, Aung Chien and William Caudy.

Many of those instructors also contributed to Bradley’s composite letter: a synthesis of recommendations from multiple instructors and a valuable component of his application. “The advising and the support with the application process was a big draw for me,” Bradley adds, “especially the committee letter.”

Today, you’ll find Bradley deep in his medical studies at the UCB-UCSF Joint Medical Program.

Congrats on your acceptance!

Thank you! I am thrilled to be a part of this small cohort. The classes I took with Extension were not only required to apply to school and do well on the MCAT, but they are also the scientific foundation upon which my medical knowledge will be built.

It’s exciting to see the subjects I took as separate classes show up in single topics in medicine. For example, it would be difficult to understand the circulatory system without knowing the chemistry of blood, the physics of how fluids flow or the molecular biology of a cell in a blood vessel. But together, a comprehensive scientific understanding emerges.

Bradley Heinz taking a selfie

Tell me more about this program.

The Joint Medical Program—only 16 students per cohort—is unique in many ways; a main one is that all of our preclinical studies are done in problem-based-learning small groups. So instead of lectures, we engage in student-driven learning by working through new medical cases each week in groups of eight students and a professor. We also will be working on a Master’s thesis related to human health, which is probably the most broadly defined Master’s curriculum I’ve encountered. After two-and-a-half years and earning an M.S. at Berkeley, we move across the Bay to UCSF to start our clinical rotations and graduate two-and-a-half years later with an M.D.



I hope to have a career that combines being a clinician with working as a public health advocate.



What's next after that?

As someone with broad interests, I imagine a challenge for me during medical school will be picking a specialty to apply to! My medical residency will last at least three years, and potentially many more, depending on what I go into.

After finishing residency, I hope to have a career that combines being a clinician with working as a public health advocate in some capacity, perhaps in the realm of policy or education.

What advice would you give somebody who is thinking about applying for our Health Professions Program?

One thing I loved was the flexibility. I would advise starting slowly at first: Take a class or two and see how it goes before deciding if a more dedicated time commitment is right.

Or, if you’re like me, continue slowly but surely the whole time, while continuing to work or attend to your other commitments! The flexibility is there to allow the program to work for your circumstances.

Bradley’s Science Courses Journey