40 and thinking about it

hi all!

i am new to this and was surprised to find the site. i am 40 (soon to be 41) and looking to get some insight. i have been seriously giving some thought to a career in medicine. i am an architect with my own firm - graduated in a thesis program in '96 & licensed in 2002.

so here i am at some kind of crossroad. i have always had this in the back of my mind but never really thought i was up to the challenge. however as i got older, it seemd like it may have been a better choice. the one thing that is making it difficult for me is my wife and 3 yr old. she is behind me 100%, but i am worried about the financial burden though,. sure this isnt new stuff for you all, but thats the beginning of my story.

so if anyone has any advice on how to get started i would love to hear…


I am 40 also and finishing up my undergrad in biology. I got married young and raised two kids before I decided to finish my education. First you need to make sure you are up to the commitment. Although I have not yet entered med school I have worked in two teaching hospitals. Both med school and residency are going to take a lot of your time and dedication. If you are up to the challenge then go for it!! No time like the present. You can do it!!!

hi BBI,

thanks for the advice & support - i know once i commit, then its all or nothing. i realize that i need to get the prereqs out of the way prior to application… the MCAT is something else i need to research. i am an NYIT graduate - i am hoping this helps the possibility of getting into NYCOM -they are on the same campus.

i know my approach would be rigorous - just like architecture.

the income part of it is another animal completely. i need to figure on a way if at all possible to make up for the income i will eliminate once back at school…

any other comments are welcome!

just wanted to add some more.

is their anything critical that i can or should be doing at this point,(besides the obvious looming decision to pursue or not) maybe take a pre-req. at the university or a CC? i am wondering about my age by the time i am finished…

does anyone know how many years at this point including residency it may be for me? what are the typical shorter residencies? and what are some longer ones… it looks like it could be 6yrs (everything being equal) till i get to a residency program…

how long would it take me to payoff the massive loans for 4 years of med school?

so many questions…thanks-

I decided at 41 to work toward a career as a physician. It went like this:

acad. yr. 97-98 4 credits 1st sem, 8 credits 2d sem while working; turned 42

acad. yr 98-99 13 credits 1st sem, 9 credits 2d sem; turned 43

May 1999 MCAT at age 43

June 1999-May 2000 application year, accepted 5/16/00 at age 44

8/00 - 5/04, med school, graduated age 48

7/04 - 6/07, family medicine residency completed at age 51.

3-year residencies include family medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine. (Maybe neurology? I’m not sure.) There are a few 3-year emergency medicine residencies out there still, I think, but they are trending to a four-year residency.

You can probably get in-depth information about specialties and residencies at the ACGME website (American College of Graduate Medical Education). Hope this helps.


  • Mary Renard Said:
3-year residencies include family medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine. (Maybe neurology? I'm not sure.) There are a few 3-year emergency medicine residencies out there still, I think, but they are trending to a four-year residency.


/insert slight t/j

What is the residency path for an non-surgical oncologist? (Is there such a thing?) Family med/internal med, further training?

Length of residencies…could be slightly different at different institutions but they should be in the ballpark.

  • In reply to:

What is the residency path for an non-surgical oncologist? (Is there such a thing?) Family med/internal med, further training?

Yes, there are medical oncologists. The simplest path is most likely an internal medicine residency followed by an oncology fellowship. Oncology fellowships are probably in the 2 year ballpark, depending on the exact type of fellowship.

There’s also radiation oncology which I think is a radiology residency followed by fellowship.

It is reasonable to assume that the more specialized the field, the more years of training will be required.

Back to the OP’s question which was where to start… I got really good advice about this when I was contemplating it so I am happy to pass it on.

Start with just one course. In my case that was Gen-Chem 1, the course that had knocked me off the rails in my original pre-med attempt as a 17-year-old. (In hindsight, I don’t know how I even got a C in it.) When I went back to school after almost twenty years, I really didn’t know what to expect. So I took the one class - I was very fortunate to be able to take a once-a-week lecture which meant that my only job rearrangement was for my weekly lab section. To my surprise and delight, I loved the class, loved the work, got an A. Once I knew that my determination to go to medical school translated into excellent study habits and that I was able to handle the material, everything else fell into place a lot easier. You don’t have to make a binding commitment to what happens for the rest of your life by taking just one course. I am sure there are people who go back for that one course and realize that they do NOT want to be back in school.

If you start with one class, you’re not setting yourself up for disaster by biting off more than you can chew. But if you work the class into your current life situation, you’re definitely stretching your current capabilities and you’ll get a sense of how much you are able to do. Also, pre-med, med school, residency and practice are VERY academically oriented. Going to a class gives you a chance to determine if you like the idea of “being academic” for the rest of your life, because that is one of the things you’re signing up for as a doctor. If you go to that one class and it is just awful, painful, and you hate the idea of slogging through it - that could be a hint that maybe medicine isn’t a good pursuit.

“Just one class.” then see what happens


thanks for the advice- your posts are extremely helpful and encouraging!

I would like to also take one class coming up. Being that i am still researching and being so new i may be waiting for a summer offering or the fall… i am not sure if it is too late to sign up for the spring.

As to the academic side of it- i am excited about that. IMO we should always be learning to better ourselves in our chosen profession-

You are right … just one class… but my suspicions are that i will love it.

It sounds like Gen Chemistry I was 4 credits and you fit it in while working. Was it night / weekend or regular hours class?

When did you have to stop working and devote time to solely school? was it during pre-req. course(s)?

My wife actually suggested the same thing… just one course… Following is a sample of NYCOM’s requirements:

• Biology – 8 semester hrs. including a basic course in general biology or general zoology (lecture and laboratory)

• General Chemistry – 8 semester hrs. (lecture and laboratory)

• Organic Chemistry – 8 semester hrs. (lecture and laboratory)

• Physics – 8 semester hrs. (lecture and laboratory)

Any recomendations?

I know residents get salaries, and loans can be deferred, (with interest accruing?)etc., but when residency is over, i would imagine that pay is good to help payoff loans quickly…any insight?