43 and I want to go back to school, Am I Nuts?

I think I may have temporarily lost my sanity. I have been a physical therapist since 1987. In 2003, I passed the hand therapy certification exam and then moved to the Philadelphia area. After only 1 year, I managed to be hired by one of the top hand surgeons in country and his two partners.

I grew up in Kentucky and quite frankly the idea of getting a medical school education when I went to school didn’t seem possible. Finances, time in school, not being able to live with my parents and a lack of self confidence in my younger years, etc.

Now I am surrounded by universities. My patients are sometimes doctors, college professors, and are so educated. I never thought of myself as brilliant, so I never thought I could be a doctor. Now I have a doctor asking me if I ever thought of going to med school. I have to admit I dreamed of it in junior high school, but gave up the idea and applied to physical therapy school instead.

I do have one advantage in that my husband is a chemist and says he can get me through organic chemistry. I have all the other prereq’s, but they are so old, I think I might at least take Chem 1 and 2 again and possibly Physics. I think I will need it to get a decent MCAT score.

By the time I complete the above process, I will probably be 45.

So my question is are there medical schools that would accept a 45 year old physical therapist?

Probably. They accepted a 43-year-old librarian.

Also, you’ll definitely need to re-take biology. A lot has changed in the last 20 years. But you can still do it! Can you come to our conference in June? You could fly from Phildelphia into O’Hare for as little as $160 if my hasty Travelocity search is any indication.

I attended a conference when I was first starting this process and it helped me SO MUCH!

Hey, I am 47 y/o financial and computer guy and I am trying. Just finished my pre-reqs but am going to miss this year’s application cycle.

BTW, my family thinks I am nuts. But which is crazier: Trying to get into medical school or living the rest of your days in regret for not trying? (if you really want to compare, is it crazier for me to start med school or my buddy who had his first child at 50 years of age! Now that’s nuts!)

Besides, You really have nothing to lose in trying. For you taking a few courses, preping for MCAT, etc, is really only a little time and money, especially in comparison to the years and cost of med school. And you apply and don’t get in, where will you be? Exactly where you are now. You can only go up. There is really no loss in trying.

Thanks for all the encouragement. My husband has already started teaching me chemistry. He gets a kick out of it.

The idea of taking biology is probably a good idea.

Yeah, you are nuts…but join the crowd!

  • KathyCHT Said:
Thanks for all the encouragement. My husband has already started teaching me chemistry. He gets a kick out of it.

The idea of taking biology is probably a good idea.

Welcome to OPM! And, yes - retake Bio! For a subject that you 'thought' was very static in content, you will be SHOCKED at how different it is when you retake it. I know I was. I first took Bio in 84/95 and then again in 96/97 - NIGHT & DAY DIFFERENCE!

Okay, I keep having these moments of doubt. I am waiting for the math review books to come in so I can take the math placement test to start classes.

Yesterday, I talked to my own family doctor and he even said he thinks I can do it.

  • samenewme Said:
Probably. They accepted a 43-year-old librarian.

Wow! Can you tell us the name of this school? Maybe they would accept a 40 year old former convict.

I’m at the Medical College of Wisconsin. I have to tell you that a felony record is a big, big, hurdle, not only to med school admission, but also to residency. Please do talk to a few deans of admissions and see what you can find out. I don’t want to count you out prematurely, but I don’t want to kid you, either.

Hey Kathy,


Please read my post on ‘How Old is Too Old’ if you haven’t done so already, I’m Coolmore 1112.

You can do this, and you are very fortunate to have a chemist husband who can help you with Organic Chem. Can you loan him out to us??? LOL!!!

its good to read these posts. I shouldn’t of told one of my co-workers I was thinking of going back to school, part time at first with the prereqs. Her reaction was that is so much work. My reaction is was to say, well I pretty much work hard all the time anyway.

Hi Kathy. We are all crazy, but I think the drive to go for it even when it is scary makes us an asset to whatever we put our minds to. It seems strange to me that when I tell associates what I am doing they suggest other things I should do. In the past week when I have shared my excitement about the next chapter in my life I have been told that I should go into 1)nursing, 2)psychiatry 3)back to speech pathology, as if I had asked what they thought I should do, which makes me more motivated to pursue a career as a PA than ever. Fortunately my family is behind me all the way including my husband (the actuary and math whiz) and children x 3 who have never been scared of math and science (they get that from their father). You may be nuts, but you are in good company.

I try not to make a big thing out of it with co-workers, but it was funny, I said I was taking some night classes to one of them the other day and she said “What do you want to do, be a doctor?”

Since we work for doctors that seemed like a snide statement. I just kept it to myself.

Most likely the best course of action. I do not know where it originated, but a friend sent me an e-mail that included the prayer “Dear Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth”. I posted it on my computer and say it at least once a day.

LOL! That’s hilarious, led. I’ll remember that.

Kathy, I can pretty much relate to your story about your co-workers.

Awhile back, when I was thinking about going to pharmacy school (but later realized that med school was my dream), I was so excited that I shared my plans about applying to pharmacy school to almost everyone at work. Most were happy for me but some didn’t share my enthusiasm. One of them was a supervisor. She told me that the only reason that the admissions from pharmacy school was going to admit me was not because I was intelligent, but because I was a minority. (I’m Filipino, btw.)

Since then, I have learned to keep my mouth shut. Only about three people, who I’m very good friends with, at work know that I’m going to try and apply for med school. I have told the rest of my co-workers (and that was if they asked) that I was only trying to complete my 2nd bachelor’s degree in chemistry. I believe it was best that way.

Anyway, good luck to you both.


Kathy and Opal, I totally hear you on the coworkers!! I am a nurse (even have a masters degree in it), and there is NO WAY on God’s Earth that I am letting anyone know I am trying to get into medical school. I just don’t need the negativity or even the viciousness this admission would bring! In fact, I haven’t told any of my peers; only my husband. I know that many of their reactions will not be positive, and really, who needs that? I am pretty good at judging myself harshly as it is, I certainly don’t need any help! So, here I am, hanging out here and doing pre-req’s by stealth. Everyone assumes I’m doing coursework for an eventual PhD, and I just haven’t bother to correct them.

I’m glad that your husband supports you and your future goals.

My SO is 100% behind me, and I am grateful for that. I know my family would be absolutely shocked if they found out that I was trying to apply to medical school. They weren’t behind me ten years ago, and I doubt that they will be behind me now. Last year when I told my parents that I was thinking of pharmacy school, they freaked and said that I was too old (I was 29 then) to be thinking of a career change. So I know they wouldn’t go for medical school, but I know I don’t need their permission how I should live my life. Although, I’m pretty sure in my culture, this would be a sign of disrespect. Yet, what am I suppose to do? I couldn’t stifle my dreams. So…I haven’t told them my plans, and sometimes it saddens me that I can’t tell them. However, I will tell them the truth once I get an acceptance letter from a medical school. For now, however, I’ll just let them think I am trying to get into pharmacy school and keep my mouth shut.

Anyway, apologies to the OP. I do not mean to steal the thread.


This is a fun thread - so, here’s how things worked out in my circle.

In the first year of my full-time ‘post-bac’ I told everyone I was going to school for fun, that I liked biology, that I really wasn’t sure where it would lead. Only my mom suspected what my real agenda was, but I didn’t open up to her neither.

I did 300 hours of volunteer work at a local emergency ward. I told NO ONE there!

One year went by, the A’s rolled in, and so I decided to pursue the 3rd (and final) semester of the post-bac. At that point I told my SO, mom & dad & siblings that I was contemplating applying, but I also said I really wasn’t too sure.

Now my pre-reqs are all done, and more A’s have rolled in. I have applied and am waiting for responses which should be coming in within the next 6 weeks or so (admissions go on into August up here in Quebec!).

In retrospect, I guess I worked things out in such a way not to give people, family, colleagues a chance to comment negatively. At this point the prep work is done, I’ve applied at age 52, they know, and we’re all waiting for ‘good news’!


No I think you are sane, then again maybe I’m insane with ya? I’m 43 myself and just started 3rd year of Medschool. LOL My eldest son just graduated Highschool, oh well he gets the Max student aid cause we be real poor here LOL!

Good Luck and welcome.