Any advice to a possible older med student

Ok, as you can tell from the title I’m “older” and I want to eventually become a physician. Unfortunately I still need to do the pre-med thing.(I know, 2 semesters of english, bio, chem, organic chem, physics and calc.) I think my original time in University might work against me getting into med school.(I got around a 2.0 GPA back then which was around 10 years ago. My high school records are actually pretty good however.) Actually I went back for a semester of the pre-med and did great.(3.9+ about 5 years ago.) Anyway my finances are good now(which is why I had to stop after one semester before) so I just want to go back very soon and go back to school full time. So anybody want to give me any advice on how to greatly improve my chances of pulling it off.(Before anyone says anything I’m unbelievably stubborn and I’ve already decided I’m going back in at most a year or 2 so don’t bother trying to talk me out of it.) Is there anything I should know to help me get through this successfully? Of course I’m banking that when I do go back to do the pre-med thing that having a huge GPA in that and really good MCAT scores will help offset the problems I had when I originally went to college. I know I’ll be at least 32 before I restart my pre-med and at least 34 before I start med school, assuming all goes well.(And if I decide to specialize I’ll be in my mid to late 40’s before I complete that. Of course I’m hoping my age works to my advantage and will make me stand out from the competition.)

Start sleeping now.

I’d love to say that there’s a doc shortage, age doesn’t matter nowadays, you’re relatively young anyway, if you can pay for it then go for it, etc.

But it really comes down to living life to the hilt. If you wanna be a doctor, then friggin do it and don’t look back. Enjoy the hell out of every possible moment.

And don’t ask for advice.

From what I’ve read, you’re correct: you’ll have a tough time getting into school with a 2.0 undergrad unless you score well on the MCATs and the rest of your pre-med courses. Some non-trad med students say that a non-trad student may have a slight bias against acceptance because he/she has at least 10-20 years less to practice compared to someone right out of university. Age doesn’t necessarily work in your favor - there are a lot of ambitious brilliant young prospects that will be competing for your admission slot. I would suggest that you simply have to be a more attractive candidate and not assume that you’ll have an edge because you’re older.

Be prepared to answer “Why do you want to be a doctor at your age?” at least once a day.

This site and its links may be instructive.

Good luck.

Thanks for the advice. I was just hoping that maybe my age would work for me instead of against me.(Since I know it’s going to come up and I try to be positive.) In any case I’m going to go for it no matter what.(Hey what can I say, I’m really stubborn:D )

Unfortunately, age will work against you big time. It is extremely rare for any medical school to accept applicants over the age of 30. My guess is you could have a 4.0 and 38 MCATS and not get an interview at most places.

Since you’re looking for advice, I’ll move this thread to IMHO.

Your situation somewhat parallels the path a friend of mine chose several years ago. The difference(s) are that he was at least six years older than you and he had two sons including a 2 year old.

Because his original BA was very squishy, he took hard core science classes prior to applying to a competitive MD program. He failed to get in the first year, but stuck with it and got in the second time around. Fast forward 5 years later–now–he is doing a residency and appears on the road to a successful career. The toll: divorce and even higher debts.

His situation shows that it can be done, but 40+ first year med students are very very rare–the system is set up to invest in longer term careers. What helps is if your prior work was somewhat related–my friend had a prior career of social work–or you had a parent who was a physician as well. My advice to you is to develop Plan B, something like Osteopathic school or other primary care provider professional education in case you cannot get in.

Wow, that does sound a lot tougher than what I have to do.(I don’t have any kids.) It’s good to hear that he made it though. I was expecting that I might apply for a few years before I get accepted.(I also had read a little about Osteopathic schools. I don’t see why that a “Plan B” since they are legal physicians. Guess some might be put off that they’re a D.O. instead of a M.D. Then again one of my dad’s docs is a D.O.) Anyway thanks for the advice everyone.

Tell everyone in class what munging is.


As an older applicant, you might have better prospects if you consider the Physician Assistant path. I have heard from some PAs that PA programs tend to look favorably on those who have had some life experience (although I don’t know the statistics regarding acceptance of older students), especially if you have a lot of prior experience in healthcare field. Another advantage an older applicant has with being a PA is that the program is shorter than med school.
Best wishes with whatever you decide to do.

Well, the average age of my freshman medical class was 27 when we started (in 2000 with 72 students). The oldest at that time was 39. You age can work for you if you’ve done some medically related work in the meantime, but it’s not necessary. The older people in my class have been office assistants (mostly in clinics), EMTs, Medics in the military, etc. The oldest guy though had been a prison guard.

Go for it. Dear Abby will be along shortly to ask, “And how old will you be in 4 years if you don’t go to medical school.”


Your age probably won’t work for you or against you. You’ll almost certainly be asked why you decide to do it at this point in your life, and that 2.0 your first time around will probably come up, too. If you’ve got good answers for those, the age thing probably won’t hurt you. The only way your age could help you is if you’ve got a lot of medical/scientific experience in those extra years.

One thing you should probably do, though, is take into account how medical school/residency can affect your personal life. It’s hard to be involved with someone who’s in medical school or a residency, in some ways just as stressful as being a med student or resident. Medical training takes an enormous amount of time and energy, which doesn’t always leave much of either for your own needs, much less family or romance. A lot of relationships don’t survive the long hours or the physical and mental exhaustion that goes with them.

I wouldn’t bring it up, except that it’s often a price people don’t think about having to pay when they’re planning on med school. Or rather, they tend not to think about someone else paying part of the price for the demands med school makes. One of Dr.J’s classmates had a wife who just wasn’t willing to pay that price, and he wound up dropping out to keep her from leaving him. She left him six months later anyway. The damage was already done.

I’m not trying to discourage you, but if there’s somebody in your life long-term, and you want to keep them there, it’s a good idea for both of you to know what you’re getting into.

What spathiphylum said. I am not a physician, but I work with them and they have crappy quality of life. The hours suck, the workload sucks. Physician’s Assistants, on the other hand, have regular hours and get to do practically the same work as the MDs. The downside is the pay, but then again, the student loan debt is much less, too. For an older student, that should be a huge concern.

Brynda, I’d be interested to know which type of doctors you work with. I’ve also worked with many different types of doctors in my three years of medical school. I’d say out of maybe 40 doctors I’ve worked with significantly this year so far, only 3-4 seemed concerned with their quality of life. Residency is obviously a different bird altogether.

Thanks for all the advice. It’s giving me a lot to think about.(But I’m still going to go for it. I’m just too damn stubborn not to try.) Anyway I do appreciate all the warning and heads up I’ve gotten so far.(I’d prefer to have as few surprises as possible.) Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your point of view I’m not currently involved with anyone.(But I’ll make a point to warn any girl I get involved with that this might be incredibly stressful and I would hope she’d know what she’s getting into.) I just need to give the “local” university a call to see how I can get this all started.(I guess my job as an embedded systems software engineer doesn’t parlay directly into medicine unfortunately.)

In the Education section of the NY Times today, there was an ad for a program at Bryn Mawr for people who did not major in pre-med but want to go to med school – older students such as you. It’s a one-year program and they claimed very high rates of acceptance into med school.