1st Post--wondering if I'm crazy?

Hi there! I just stumbled across this site today, and first of all–I think you are all amazing. Truly, superheroes in your own right. So many times, we get caught up in the business of life–bills to pay, kids to raise, etc. and we tell ourselves that the long lost dream in the back of our mind just has to stay put… But you guys? You’re taking the dream off the shelf and actually doing something about it. HUGE kudos.

Now, for my question. I am a 33 year old wife, mother of a 3 yr old daughter. I currently live in Nashville, TN. I am a manager for a large hospital company–your basic corporate/middle management job. It pays the bills, but I have no passion for the work I do. I had an elite academic scholarship (full ride) for a private university… graduated with honors (gpa 3.8) with a B.A. in Psychology. But that was in 1998. While in school, I took one semester of Chemistry, 2 semesters of Biology, 1 semester of comparative anatomy, and 1 semester of calculus. (A’s in every subject except Chemistry–my first B ever… typical Type A Overachiever.

I always had a knack for learning subject matter, and I aced standarized tests… Being a student was something I was just wired for, I think. There was always a part of me that wanted to be a doctor, even when I was little. But my fear of failure and my immaturity at 18 caused me to take an easier road.

That being said, it’s haunted me for a long time. In my job, I interact with physicians, practice managers, and hospitals every day (the business side), and I have a huge amount of regret for not choosing the profession. To help people… to have your work make a difference and really mean something… to contribute to people’s quality of life… what a privilege!

Random internet search brings me to all of you… and you have shown me that anything is possible.

But here are the questions… 1) Are there any good post-bacc programs in the Nashville area that would help me prepare for med school? Or since I have a strong GPA and a penchant for standardized tests, could I just go to a regular university and enroll in a biology major–freshen up my knowledge without finishing the 2nd degree, and just go for it? (In other words, would medical schools be looking for some kind of formal science education, or would my extra courses be enough?)

2) I am a primary income earner for my family. Is there financial aid for this crazy endeavor? Where would I even begin to look for that?

3) Is it reasonable to imagine that I could be done with post-bacc and medical school by the time I am 40 years old? Is it really feasible to start my 40’s as an M.D. in residency?

Again… you are all incredibly inspiring. I’m sure you answer questions like mine all the time, so I apologize for the redundancy and appreciate your time so much! I guess I’d just love for someone who’s been there to say, “Here’s the path you want to consider… and no, you’re not crazy.”

Hi and welcome. If you’re crazy, you’re in good company here.

Let’s start with your area, Nashville. You might consider contacting the premed dept at Vandy and see if they can answer some of your specific questions about coursework and financial aid. Also check other 4 yr institutions in the area. Not sure where in N’ville you live, but MTSU might be an option and you might find evening courses/labs that will allow you to continue working in some capacity. If you are considering applying to both MD and DO programs, do your homework there; check with their individual admissions offices to make sure you’re not missing anything. They may have specific requirements that differ between the programs.

As for the premed courses and how long, certainly 2-3 years is not unreasonable. You already have the degree, so unless you have a burning desire for a second degree, go for the premed basics and a few advanced classes. Since it’s been 10 yrs, you might have to start from scratch with chem and bio. It’s been awhile since I did this myself, but there are lots of posts from other current OPMs with good advice as to how to proceed. Rule of thumb advice seems to be take classes at 4-yr institutions vs community colleges if possible, complete the basics before attempting the MCAT and apply to med school early in the cycle, like June 1.

The fact that you are already connected with health care in your first career is a plus. If there are physicians you interact with and that you’re comfortable with sharing your ambitions, by all means let them be a resource to you. They can help guide you and possibly get you some shadowing experience. I don’t know a single physician who wouldn’t welcome an opportunity to mentor someone who is considering medicine as a second career.

Your age is an asset, not a liability. Never forget that! It’s a reasonable and attainable goal to finish medical school by 40, but don’t let your perception of your advancing age pressure you into rushing things. You probably will notice a common thread as you read the posts from people who are doing their post-bacc work now: do it right the first time. There is no “too late” cut-off age. We’ve all started our individual journeys at all stages of life. I waited until my “mom-I-need…” days were behind me, but otherwise was where you’re at when I was 39, started post-bacc at 40, entered med school at 43 and finished residency at 50. Other non-trads here are starting families, raising teenagers, juggling work and school, single-parenting, you name it.

Good luck with everything and keep us posted on your progress. It sounds like you have given this a lot of thought and already have what it takes to succeed. Enjoy the ride!

Wow-- jmdmd… I can’t thank you enough for your response. You definitely reinforced some of the things I’ve already been considering. Medical Programs in the Nashville area are limited-- Vandy is the only one I would consider, and then possibly one about 1.2 hours away in Cookville. But Vandy accepts 275-300 each year with 2500-4000 people applying. Well, that’s fun. heheh…

But one thing at a time, right? MTSU is actually very close to me–my husband teaches aviation for the school. Their pre-med program isn’t hailed as anything special, but the classes are definitely available, and would–I think–get me where I need to be for the MCAT.

Part of my current job is to work very closely with our hospitals’ CEOs nationwide (but we own 7 hospitals in Nashville alone) and our company’s physician recruiters… so I had a conversation with our local division VP of recruiting yesterday (our daughters play together) and asked her if she had recruited any physicians lately who took non-traditional routes to their M.D… she knew of two, and we’re going to have lunch next week. She also told me that if I manage to pull this crazy plan off? They would absolutely find a way to either recruit me into one our local hospitals’ service areas (via the income guarantee route-- but only with community need in my chosen specialty, of course… love those Stark II regs!) or just have one of our local hospitals employ me when I was done. Our company also has a fantastic fellowship/residency stipend program that would support me in the years after med school during residency.

I worked with a new physician and his practice manager yesterday who had been given $150k student loan repayment by my company (forgiven as he works in our hospital communities over the next 3 years…)

I only mention that to say this–for any of you other ‘crazies’ on here I would wager that the financial burden of medical school is one of the biggest stumbling blocks towards your decision to leap. But my epiphany yesterday is that everything is temporary. Yes, I despise debt. But the bigger picture is so important to keep in mind! There are hospital companies and many other organizations who will help you with that debt when you are done with school… it won’t last forever!

I guess one of the things I am learning from all of you and the other research I am doing is that no mountain is too big… You just have to chip away at it one step at a time. Keep the bigger picture in mind, and just plough through it. One day at a time. I don’t have to worry about the $40k a year pricetag at Vandy right now–because I still have 2-3 years of pre-reqs to get out of the way. So that is my focus today. You know? The only “Vandy-related” thing I need to worry about right now is building relationships with admissions and faculty people… and that won’t cost me anything. I have 2-3 years (and probably more, given the competitive nature of Vandy acceptance) to figure out a plan for the rest.

Be encouraged, new friends… it’s not supposed to be easy. =)

thanks again for your response–your advice is fantastic, and it really helped me get my head around some things that I have going for me.

Have a beautiful weekend, all!

Let me just put my two-cents in … take a look at other medical schools. The 3rd and 4th year (clinical years) are not always done in the same geographic area as the school. My school has 5 different geographic regions that one can do the clinicals in. When one looks at the statistics on the percentage of students who are accepted Somewhere yearly and consider that the average number of schools applied to is, I believe, 12, it seems clear that increasing one’s number of applications increases ones chance of acceptance. I think Vanderbilt is an excellent plan A - just suggesting you may want to apply at a few more schools.

You have quite some time to research this.

I agree with the advice to repeat the biology and chemistry, to have it current, and fresh in your mind for MCAT’s

Best of luck as you move forward!