advice for 37 yo P.T. re: pursuing medical school

Hi fellow non-traditionals,

I just joined this site today–very comforting to have found others in my situation! I have questions that have probably been addressed on this site somewhere, but a quick search didn’t turn up anything, so I will present my situation to everyone. Maybe someone can diagnose me and recommend treatment options?

Currently, I am a physical therapist, but am interested in becoming a physician. The major obstacles that I can discern are:

  1. I am 37 years old ( and my wife and I are hoping to have kids in the next few years)

  2. Took prerequisites for med school at a 4 year college greater than 10 years ago.

  3. Overall GPA wasn’t very good: 2.76.

  4. Prerequisite grades for medical school were sub par–C’s and 2 B’s and 1 A.

    5.MCAT was below average in 1995 (score was 20 and M).

    At that time (1995) I decided not to pursue medical school because I was advised I was not a competitive candidate. I decided to pursue Physical Therapy and took other prerequisites to become competitive for PT in 1996-1997: microbiology, comparative zoology, psychology, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, sociology, and statistics at the University of Washington. Biomechanics, anatomy and physiology at Seattle University. (Average grades for these courses were very good As and a B or two. )

    I finally got into PT school and graduated with an Masters of Science in Physical Therapy in 1999 and then earned a Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2008.

    As a PT, clinical experience has included 8 years at public and private hospitals in New York City and two years in private practice.

    From what I have been able to find out so far, to become a candidate for medical school, I would have to retake all prerequisites (because they were taken more than 10 years ago), and I would need to take several upper level biology courses to try to raise my GPA. Is it true that when courses are retaken, the old and new grades are averaged and higher level science courses need to be added to bring up GPA? Or are the old grades no longer counted after 10 years? Would PT coursework be factored into my med school application?

    Does this seem right? Any other advice? Does anyone know of a good pre-med consultant I could discuss my situation further with? Are people finding that physician salaries these days are enough to cover loan payments for all of these years of education?

    I would be grateful if anyone had a moment to address even a small part of my situation. Thanks so much.


Hi Matt

Here’s a couple of thoughts.

You will have to retake the prerequisites becuase of their age and your grades (I’m in the same boat there).

Depending on where you apply (allopathic or osteopathic) will determine how the GPA is calculated. At a high level, allopathic schools will average everything, osteopathic schools will replace grades (provided the courses are comparable).

I’m sure others will chime in too, but welcome, and good luck.


the general consensus seems to be that older Pre- reqs need to be redone. I am not sure how absolute that is. Mine were more out of date then yours and I got it without redoing them. If you have particular schools in mind you might ask about their policies.

I agree GPA might be an issue. Mine was not super, (3.0 undergrad - a bit better by the time you count grad courses) I think you probably ought to try to get into the 3’s…

As to Dollars – that varies a lot. some numbers to work with: Med school plus residency = min of 7 years – the residency years will pay you typically in the 40K range – the 4 years of med school I would count on being salaryless.

typical debt is in the range of 200K –

the good news: salaries start at about 130K and go up from there, so if you are reasonable conservative you can pay it back in a reasonable time. Also… many positions offer some form of loan repayment as part of the deal. This is esp true if you do Primary care. I ended up on the Low end with “Only” about 170k of debt, and the State on NH is paying me back at least 75K to do Family Med in an under served area.

lastly-- if you do go ahead, consider options that will build on your PT experience. Consider the DO programs. Consider Phisiatry, Consider Occupational Medicine… these will build on your experience base.

I’m going thru the app process right now for MD programs. My pre-reqs were also taken over 10 years ago when I was an undergrad. Most of the schools don’t specify that pre-reqs need to be within 10 years (except Cornell, that I’m aware of).

I’m going thru the secondary application process right now for MD programs. My pre-reqs were also taken over 10 years ago when I was an undergrad. Most of the schools don’t specify that pre-reqs need to be within 10 years (except Cornell, that I’m aware of). And I emailed Cornell to ask if I could substitute some of my grad school classes that were more recent (like 2003) and they were fine with that. Given your background, I think you should be fine with the age of your completed coursework. Just be sure to identify some course substitutions from your grad work and ask if that’s appropriate. Most likely they’ll say yes. Most of the area of concern would be on the bio side, not so much chem or physics.

I hired a pre-med consultant thru Kaplan when I took their MCAT prep class. They’re not cheap (~$200/hour), but I think they’re valuable for non-trads like us since our situation is so unique. But if u wanna apply to med school and you don’t have a 3.9/40 mcat, get ready to pony up LOTS of $$$$!!