Advisor's advice...

Hi y’all,

I’m still relatively new to the site; I posted my “hello” post in maybe the wrong forum (the OPM general discussion forum) ~ but in short I’m a 36 year old “retired” software developer who has returned to college originally to get a BSN. My original plan with nursing was work towards becoming a CRNA, and later in my career move towards teaching. My return to school has been very rewarding, however, and I find myself contemplating making the stretch for med school.

Anyhow, I had been contemplating either switching majors to microbiology (a pre-med type degree at MSU), or attempting to get a post-bacc pre-med certificate (although my CS degree’s grades are horrific to put it lightly). This morning I spoke with the medical professions advisor at MSU this morning and got an interesting suggestion.

Rather than changing my major, or pursuing the post-bacc pre-med cert, he suggested to go ahead and remain in my BSN program, and augment the degree plan with the sciences courses that I’d be lacking if I just got a BSN. The benefits to this are two-fold. 1) if I can’t get into med school, I have my BSN to fall back on, and 2) by taking all of the medical science classes, I’d be a more knowledgable nurse.

Has anyone else had any suggestions like this? Does it seem like a crazy idea, or a good one? My initial contemplation about the idea today has left me with a pretty happy feeling; although it is going to be a lot of difficult work. (i.e. MCAT preparation/taking during nursing clinicals).



I asked someone a sort of similar question on the

“At My age do I stand a chance and I’m already a Nurse” thread. Dr. Mary Renard (??sp) responded to me and I really appreciated her answer. Maybe it’ll help you decide. She was a nurse.

best wishes!

Hey Seacuke,

Actually, I think that was good advice you received from your advisor. Since you made the comment of less than optimum ugpa, there is a lot of risk to pursue just medicine. You talked about possibly going for a microbiology bachelor…is this an interest for you? If you don’t get into medical school, are you willing to go to graduate school? Unfortunately, it is not a major that will provide you with as many option once you get your bachelors degree. Do you want to work with people or in a lab? At least with the BSN, you will have many options to work as a nurse. It is also a very flexible option…you can choose to work per diem, you can work shifts that are more flexible to you, and you can get the healthcare experience.


  • Seacuke Said:
Rather than changing my major, or pursuing the post-bacc pre-med cert, he suggested to go ahead and remain in my BSN program, and augment the degree plan with the sciences courses that I'd be lacking if I just got a BSN. The benefits to this are two-fold. 1) if I can't get into med school, I have my BSN to fall back on, and 2) by taking all of the medical science classes, I'd be a more knowledgable nurse.


Although I don't disagree with the idea of having a plan to fall back on if medical school doesn't work out, I tend to disagree with the idea to do a nursing degree if your ultimate goal is medical school. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, the consensus has generally been that medical schools frown upon applicants who do nursing degrees and then apply to medical school. Who knows exactly what all the reasons are, but the bias is there.

Secondly, with the shortage of nurses and the fact that many nursing programs have waitlists, it can be viewed negatively that you took a nursing school spot when you really had no intention of doing nursing as a career unless you didn't get in to medical school.

We've had some discussions on this in the past and Mary usually does a much better job of clarifying on this subject than I do, so hopefully she'll jump in with her opinion. I'm not saying definitely don't do the BSN - just that it bears a little bit more thought.

One other note - you don't need a formal post-bacc certificate. I haven't really heard any statements or evidence that having a formal certificate gains you any real advantage over just having taken the pre-reqs and done well in them (and on the MCAT, of course).

Good luck with your decision - I know it can be tough, especially when everyone seems to have a different opinion. If you have the capability to talk to an advisor at a medical school, I urge you to seek their opinion as well (it's a bit more definitive than ours). Pre-med advisors, well intentioned though they may be, seem to not always give the best advice.

Seacuke and Emergency,

Just thought I’d pass this along…I got an email from an actual Medical school (not pre-med) advisor today that said it would be a good idea to go for the BSN so I have that to fall back on if I don’t get into med school, as long as I do the core sciences and do well in them. Just thought I’d share yet another opinion.

Just out of curiosity…did anyone out there get sky writing “GO TO MED SCHOOL!!” before they decided to pursue the curriculum??? haha

The more I think about it and look at my options, the more I don’t know what I really want/am willing to do…

I was initially looking at a BSN (as a second degree) to hedge my bet, so to speak. I was in the process of completing the pre-reqs to get into the nursing program (Anatomy and Physiology, in particular) when I realized that an MD was more for me.

So to some extent, I had to start pursuing the curriculum before I understood that I wanted more. I’m glad that I hadn’t committed to a nursing program, though, for the reasons stated above.

Thanks for the advice everyone! That’s an interesting piece of information Emergency; I hadn’t really thought about the ramifications of me taking a slot in nursing school.

I guess there are two mitigating circumstances I didn’t mention above…

First the neutral one: I am not certain I don’t want to pursue my BSN/CRNA.

Second the bad one: My grades on my original Bacchelor’s degree were horrible. 2.6 over 143 hours. I was hoping that showing a dramatic improvement in my grades on a second degree would be beneficial. On my original degree I have 1 F and 8 Ws… I’m definitely not the student I was back then, but proving that will probably take a lot of work.

So Emergency, from what it sounds like you’re saying above, it might be possible for me to take the science pre-reqs, then the MCAT, and not worry about any kind of degree or certificate? Has anyone got experience doing this? I know I should be searching post archives on this site, but just thought if anyone was familiar…

Thanks again everyone,


Brian, I’m doing what you describe. I have a slightly worse cumulative GPA than you (with a few Fs, to boot), and I’m working through an unofficial post-bacc.

I’ve been able to enroll as an ostensibly degree-seeking student at a local university; I was very up-front with them, and the school has no issues with me not actually seeking a degree. Declaring as a Molecular and Microbiology major has allowed me to take all of the pre-reqs, as well as some addtional really interesting stuff, like Genetics and Molecular Neuroscience.

Having complete the pre-reqs in my unoffical (i.e. not a formal program) post-bacc work and taken the MCAT, I’m in interview season right now. I’m just not sure if it’s more like Rabbit season or Duck season ;)* .

Like you, there’s really way to pull up my cumulative GPA to “competitive” standards. Fortunately, that’s not entirely necessary. I can’t fully overcome that black eye from my past; all I can do is excel in what I do now and prove to the AdComs that my current work ethic is what I’m really all about.

So the answer is… you have options. Emergency and I went the unofficial post-bacc route; Emergency’s been very successful. Several others have done official post-baccs, with success as well. OldManDave did a completely new BS degree.

Because you have a degree, you can apply to med schools once you take care of your prereqs and your MCAT. Everything beyond that just modifies how competitive you are.

Hope this helps .

  • I reserve the right to determine that this joke is much less funny when one is fully rested.

teachers heart, that’s interesting that a med school advisor told you that. I’ve always heard that doing the BSN to “fall back on” was the last thing they wanted to hear and that med schools are a little more accepting of people who did nursing programs and then realized that they wanted to do med school. Just goes to show that it’s good to seek a variety of opinions when making your decision. Brian, I particularly urge you to contact medical schools that you would probably apply to and see if you can get feedback from them.

  • Seacuke Said:
I guess there are two mitigating circumstances I didn't mention above...

First the neutral one: I am not certain I *don't* want to pursue my BSN/CRNA.

If you're not certain, then you should definitely do some further exploration.

  • Quote:
I was hoping that showing a dramatic improvement in my grades on a second degree would be beneficial. On my original degree I have 1 F and 8 Ws... I'm definitely not the student I was back then, but proving that will probably take a lot of work.

Right, a second degree with great grades can do nothing but help.

  • Quote:
So Emergency, from what it sounds like you're saying above, it might be possible for me to take the science pre-reqs, then the MCAT, and not worry about any kind of degree or certificate? Has anyone got experience doing this? I know I should be searching post archives on this site, but just thought if anyone was familiar...

It is definitely possible to take the pre-reqs and MCAT without an additional degree or certificate. I took the pre-reqs and two additional courses (microbiology and biochemistry) on my own, and I believe that there are a few others on here who have gone the informal post-bacc route. Like I said, I have never heard anyone with an adcom perspective say that they felt getting some kind of "certificate" was a significant advantage. I honestly don't know how much you personally would benefit from a second degree.

You will have to decide on your own (possibly with some med school advisor help) how much damage control you need to do. Doing a second degree and doing well can only help, but it MAY not be necessary. Med school admissions get more and more competitive every year, so a second degree may maximize your chances. Again, I'm not saying that you shouldn't do a second degree, just that a second degree or certificate are not a requirement.

You need to do whatever you think will prove to medical schools that you are capable of handling the med school curriculum, while at the same time realizing that you are never going to be able to bring your GPA up to what is considered a "competitive" med school applicant level. Med schools WILL take your most recent grades and MCAT under serious consideration when making their decisions, so do the best you can from here on out.

Maybe if I were 10 years younger, I would just go for the medical, no ifs ands or buts. But I’m 2.5 weeks shy of 43 and as much as planning on pursuing medicine, but I can’t find myself not getting right into medical school and still working a job making $13/hr. Nursing, to me, is a very respectable career choice, and I do plan on being a working nurse while Iwork on my BSN and during any glide year I may have.

Now, just going for the BSN and not even working as an RN…I can understand Emergency et al view. Besides which a nursing education is not an easy path. Many nursing schools have different grading scales…for example, if you get an 80 as a final grade, that is a “C,” not a “B.” Also, if you average falls below a 77…you are OUT.

I’ll jump in on the question of whether a second bachelor’s degree would help to overshadow a bad old GPA in your first bachelor’s degree (sorry, there’ve been too many responses in this thread for me to keep track of who’s doing what!):

My two cents is that if you are considering this, your new bachelor’s degree should be something hard-core. And sad to say, the B.S.N. does not qualify as such. If you substitute pre-med science courses for the ones required for the nursing major, you’ve still got a lot of clinical credits for nursing school that are not exactly science.

I earned a B.S.N. and I loved all the coursework so I am not trashing nursing programs. But the rigor of nursing school courses is NOT what med schools are looking for and they know it. A 3.8 in a nursing major is not the same as a 3.5 in, say, a biochemistry major.

So my caution about using the B.S.N. as a stepping stone to med school remains. If you are truly undecided about a career path, and you want to give nursing a go of it, then more power to you. But if medicine is your goal then I think you will be better off with a different major.

“my two cents,” “YMMV,” choose whatever cliche you’d like to apply here



Welcome to OldPreMeds & I will see your 2.6GPA & raise you - substantially! Briefly, entered Ugrad in '84: majored in PARTY & minored in FRAT-life - yielding a cumGPA of ~1.2 for 90+ hrs & more 'F’s, 'D’s & 'W’s than you can shake a stick at! Lots of fun…from what I remember…but not a lot of progress. I dropped out of college, on the Dean’s advice, to avoid expulsion - was making a 0.667 for my final term before leaving. What did I do next? The most logical thing - bouncer & bartender!

I wanted to be a Doc all of my life, but I figured with that academic history, I had about as much chance as an ice-cube in hell. So, I became a Resp Therapist & did that from '90 ~ '99. Loved it, but I was growing bored & I wanted the whole enchilada!

Jump forward to '95 - just got married, already bored with RT & my wonderful new wife & I were researching academic/career options: CRNA vs PA vs MS/PhD and so on. One day, after a nice lunch in Addison (North Dallas), while driving down LBJ, Wendy flatly states, “you know you want to be a doctor. So why don’t we just go to med school?” My response, “Have you lost your mind? Do you really know what you are saying? Besides, you know my academic record, there is not a chance in hell for me.” Her response, “No, I don’t really know, but I do know that if anyone can pull it off, it is you.”

After much much much research, I decided the only chance I had was to re-do an entire BS, soup to nuts, and make a profound statement on what I am capable of acheiving. I earned a 3.88 magna cum laude BS in neuroscience in 3yrs (vs the 4+ it was supposed to take). I entered med school at KCOM in ‘99.

I chose to do the entire BS because my grades were so horrific that I did not feel that a simply post-bacc or mere repetition of the pre-reqs would be sufficient. While your grades don’t smell nearly as putrid as mine did, you’re far enough down there that it might be to your advantage to do the 2nd BS & intermingle some high-end science courses to make it prettier. Also, don’t forget to add in some esoterica for spice - AdComs love to see a well-rounded applicant & not just a science-nerd.

Oh…once last thing, allied health degrees/coursework are NOT considered sufficiently rigorous to be classified as ‘science’ when your GPA is calculated. If you are thinking that a BSRT or a BSN will make the AdComs’ eyes glitter - forget it. If you have years of clinical experience IN ADDITION to your BSRT or BSN, then they can earn you credit. But the degree alone, esp w/o any experience, will be to your detriment as an applicant.

Seacuke &

My two cents…

I had heard about the bias against nurses… however there are SIX of us in my 4th year medical school class, not to minimize others comments but possibly the phenomenon might be variable regionally. Indeed, I would be willing to bet a school in Montana would be more in line philosophically with Kansas than either coast or upper Midwest.

I gotta give my medical school credit, the University of Kansas School of Medicine not only talks the talk as far as diversity… they WALK THE WALK (as I mentioned 6 RN’s and 3 PA’s, 2 RT’s, 3 PT’s, a BOATFULL of EMS providers (since admissions committees really DIG that kind of experience), 3 PhD’s from other fields, 2 lawyers, these are just the ones I am SURE OF, at the tender age of 45 I am actually the FOURTH oldest student, our oldest is 55 with a PhD in physics, a full 46 of the 175 are over age 30, 19 over age 35). The KUSM class of 2007 (who just graduated) had an active CATHOLIC PRIEST (allowed a sabatical for school)… beat that “coasters” :wink: Please, I am just teasing!

OK KUMC… enough of a plug and free “props” for you!

My take is this:

At one time, before I actually went to nursing school, I mistakenly thought (and I still hear it every now and again) that nursing is like being a “Junior Physician” (after all the crème de la crème of EMS teaching credentials which I was and did is to be a NREMT-P RN)… this is absolutely incorrect EVEN for nurse practitioners, they are fundamentally different right down to the core philosophy and patient care models, the nursing model vs. the medical model (although in the “real world” “modern health care system” it has been EONS since I saw a North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA) nursing diagnosis manual, even though much of a nursing students first year is spent learning to write a proper “nursing care plan”)… a Physicians Assistant would be closer to being a “Junior Physician”, they (and EMT’s and paramedics as well although it did not start out that way back in the 70’s… another story for another time) are trained on the “medical model”

That is not to say that being a nurse was not helpful in medical school but NOT as one might predict. Academically nursing was a decent introduction ONLY of some practical aspects of patient care (I had at least heard of most diseases and I could do IV’s, venipuncture, proper sterile technique etc. and when pimped I could at least come up with some initial treatment strategy) but the prerequisite sciences were not adequate (terminal one semester courses in A&P and General chemistry). If one was to take the “bigger” stuff as a pre-nurse… how would the nursing version of the admissions committee know WHY would they CARE? In all honesty it would make a better nurse, certainly one prepared for graduate school right away!

The most important nursing skill (not taught to my classmates) I have zealously carried over and applied presently was decidedly more ethereal, I use the “human touch” learned in nursing; the more “emotional” “touchy feely” (I ABSOLUTELY don’t mean this insultingly, I am just lazy with the typing and it is late) sort patient care, the “holistic” and complete patient(s) (in the bed or around it) focus of nurses in the interaction with patients AND families. I learned that much of the enjoyment I gain in the care of fellow human beings is being intimate with them (not the naughty kind of course), but the honest sharing of ones self, this has resulted in being regarded as having a “special talent” (which for any nurse worth his/her salt would find nothing THAT special) for interacting with patients and families (especially those in crisis) thus always getting “superlative” marks (Med-school equivalent of an “A”) in the “core competencies” of communication, rapport, empathy, interdisciplinary team building etc.

Interestingly, the same interpersonal skills I learned as a hospice nurse fit so perfectly in the pediatric intensive care unit (people ‘ROUND the bed are at LEAST as sick, powerless and frightened as the little person IN the bed and need emotional “treatment” MORESO the sicker the little person in the bed is, since the sickest little person is probably comfortably sedated on a ventilator), I simply plugged them in, to great reviews I might add.

As an example, since October 1st (the start of the pediatric critical care sub-I) I have been “written up” by families in the PICU, these comments were submitted, once to a rather important faculty member (A letter recommendation writer for me and the DIRECTOR of the “Med/Peds” residency program (TEE HEE nothing compares to good old fashioned dumb luck)) and once to a hospital administrator regarding how the “wonderful, warm and caring medical student… supported and made our family feel so much better”.

While I depart slightly from Emergency’s perceptions of the “bias” (I must be quick to add, she may be spot-on in her neck of the woods), but considering the costs in time and money for a BSN (I had considerably LESS invested with an Associates Degree) Emergency’s comments urging caution on that subject seem on target. I am not sure how the admissions committees would approach a student who is still an undergraduate in the nursing program and at the same time applying to medical school…

UNLESS (whoa, this just occured to me like a FLASH), COULD THIS be a “Montana duck” (got you confused now right?) This sounds so much like an “INSIDE JOB” (the duck)! It walks like a duck and talks like a duck, could this be a bona fide program or a system set UP by Montana with the goal of getting “homegrown” “kids” (of all ages) into the “HEALTH CARE SYSTEM” in MONTANA!

The duck was mentioned TWICE in this thread and considering that, like Kansas, Montana likely has a “rural healthcare problem” and a resultant “interest” in getting home grown physicians AND nurses, your advisor might be relating the status of a “REAL deal” for students to benefit the “local” medical and nursing schools (sorry I am not familiar with which schools they are) in your neck-of-the woods. Assuming your advisor has not made an error, he IS after all “on the ground” there where you are…

This whole thing makes perfect sense from a “benefit the state and society” perspective, (and if TRUE appears no slouch for students either) they win regardless of the outcome! If you matriculate super, “homegrown doc”, If you fall a bit short it is still a win “homegrown BSN”. A win for the student because you are NOT stuck with an undergraduate degree that is not particularly useful without adding a PhD.

Frankly considering all the places to fail in this little endeavor, one could imagine how attractive this would be for someone “not sure” (or not confident etc.). Because 50% of pre-med student matriculate the absolute number of nursing students would inveriably rise (a win for the nursing school)!

Furthermore, as alluded to by others in this thread this seems somehow “unseemly”, given the rigid nature of the “hoops” nationally. Making the offer “sterling” only to the medical and nursing schools “in on it” i.e. Montana. Because of this, one could appreciate the effects of students applying nationally, it would reduce the frequency and temptation (a sort of systematic road block) preventing the use of the “Montana plan” as a stepping stone elsewhere. It would be more difficult to get your degree go flitting off to Stanford leaving the Montana “at the church” so to speak!

Based on consideration of the above, I am increasing confident that the whole thing IS plausible to me, because of similar machination here in Kansas, they seem willing to do magical stuff for you… as long as you are committed to practice HERE (the most glaring example: I presently get FREE medical school and $2000/ month to live on since I have contracted to practice in rural Kansas (its called KMS for those of you who wish to do a google and check me out on it, I know of NO other state that goes to this extreme, believe me, I have asked).

Indeed, hot off the press, just last month they (the state of Kansas) offered KMS “retroactively”, (I believe I still have the e-mail that announced it, should anyone want to SEE it for themselves). The substance was somthing like: if you were NOT KMS presently and you want to OR you mess around and match in primary care (they will accept applications AFTER match day), and are willing to commit to four years of rural practice in Kansas, they will take the “considerable sum” (sorry, I can’t quote the precise sum because I have a “happy problem”, I have not considered exactly home much medical school costs in four years) and apply it to and pay off all your medical school loans through other lenders and THEN (here is the interesting part) and then cut you a LUMP SUM check for the so-called “excess financial aid” (the $2000/mo stipend) retroactively to the start of medical school. It is open to ANY KU SOM student regardless if the were originally “homegrown” or not. Pretty outlandish if one looks at it from the lens of east coast, west coast or upper midwest perspective don’t you agree?

Seacuke, I would seek confirmation of all of this, possibly drop a note to the LOCAL medical school in Montana, if the situation is as I suspect they will definitly be “in the know”!Indeed, one can appreciate (even sitting here far removed) how the “Montana duck” could accomplish many of the same goals as our KMS with a LOT less expense to taxpayers!

If true, it seems Montana and I hold similar views, I told my admissions committee I had always wanted to be a physician and did nursing as a test to gain confidence and get into and learn “the business” and of course to see if I had what it took to cut the mustard academically. I would have jumped on somthing like this in a heartbeat!

I shared some of the above nursing traits I learned, they liked my outlook (looks like Montana will ensure that MORE medical students get this sort of training too). They also noted that I was well versed in the workings and an appreciation of an interdisciplinary team (they liked that… as does, at it seems MONTANA).

In my admissions essay, I actually came out and said that I have worked all my life in a step-wise progression: EMT to Paramedic to nurse etc, leading inexorably(sp?) (I made sure I spelled it right in that document) to the front door of the medical school. Boy this is getting a little wierd… Montana too.

I would sure check and confirm your advisors motive and accuracy, be sure the advisor is not trying to “guide you” into something HE THINKS appropriate… I fired one advisor for continuing to recommend “medical administration” to me after I made it clear medical school was where I was headed (even in light of a 3.88 my first year). If this IS the “duck” previously mentioned and it is accurate, then by golly have at it and plan on med school in Montana and you DO have a great fall back!

As to your cushy job, you will be leaving sooner or later anyway, since your finances are in order (just a gleaned impression of your post), “there is no time like the present” as they say, if you can pull it off. I did not work while school was in session; I drove a semi-truck on breaks and over the summer during undergraduate work.

By the way, I was disappointed the last time I pulled a load up your way… seems Montana, after other trucking clowns abused the speed limit initially in Montana, you guys went the way of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and California and set up a “split speed limit” for trucks… Is it still that way? Too bad, from the truckers perspective, it is a LONG HAUL across Montana!

KEEP ME POSTED and let me know how all of this pans out!

Be sure to check out “Richards’s rules” at:…

Well, as usual “my two cents” has exploded into a tome at $19.99(again)!



I did not realize the common denominator we share until this thread… a KICK BUTT spouse (OK I think it safe to go out on a limb here and assert, Kathy is for me and Wendy for you, clearly our BETTER-HALVES)

I think you will agree with me, looking back at all of this in sum total, I must lay at Kathy’s feet the lion’s share of credit for all of this!

I remember our conversation too, after spelling out, as best I knew, the costs and the high risk of not making it (and ending up with a MOUNTAIN of debt) and all the things we might have to do without, and the painful lack of “natural ability” I had, she gently but firmly cut me off (as she has done countless times over the years) and patiently responded, “YOU GO BOI!, get in there and give it your all… I don’t see you fulfilled in anything but being the doctor you were meant to be… stop fretting about little stuff… we are going to buckle down and go through this as a TOGETHER as a family and enjoy the experience… I think you will be great because you care!” and finally, “Of course you will make it, but always remember win, lose or draw, YOU are always my hero!”

This mainline boost of encouragement was doled out without any sort of limits or quota MANY times over the last 7 plus years. Funny thing, the enthusiasm was quite catchy, in no time the the kids also began to cheer and encourage me as well and they have NEVER groused about anything they might have missed. It was standard procedure, “daddy belongs to US exclusively from Friday night until Sunday afternoon and that is better than our friends whose dad is home every night!”

I have a DVD of our “white coat ceremony” at the start of my first year, my eyeballs still leak when I hear the VOLUME of the clan cutting up when my name was read!


Thanks Richard for your fine post. I am one who is currently going for her ADN. My reasons are varied but I feel that at my age I need to build myself some kind of foundation. I definitely plan to work as a nurse while working on my undergraduate degree (bachelor).

You are right, being a nurse is not like being a “junior doctor,” but I definitely feel that by getting this clinical experience will provide me with more benefits than costs. Also, if for some reason I am not able to pursue medicine, I will at least have a career in the medical field making a respectable wage and feeling useful.

I’ve a pretty busy course the next 4 to 5 years. At the same time that I will be working on my ADN, I will be taking O. Chem and Physics. While I work on getting my clinical experience for at least two years, I will be getting my BSN since the hospital I work at will pay for and I can do it online. I also plan on taking Genetics, Cell biology, Physiology and Biochemistry on campus at USF. Luckily as an RN you can work your weekly shift in 3 days and you’ve got 4 off, giving you time to take care of a lot more than if one had to work M-F 9-5.

I just think that it is an individual choice and while I see the points Emergency made, especially if you are going for the BSN and have no intention on working as an RN.




Keep up the stedy progress and keep a positive outlook and POOF you will be there in NO TIME!



Thanks, Richard. I figure that I can only take one step at a time and as long as I am moving forward, I am closer to my goals.

I very much enjoy reading your posts!


Hello again everyone,

I’ve only disappeared from this thread because I’m still lost deep in thought/conflict over the subject. But I want to emphasize again how much I appreciate everyone’s very thoughtful and encouraging posts. I can’t really tell you how great it makes me feel to know there are so many wonderful people I can discuss all of this with.

So just to get the (easy) factual stuff out of the way first:

  1. There isn’t a proper medical school in Montana. This state is involved in something called the WWAMI program, where each of the letters stands for a state: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. Basically the program feeds students into the UW medical program (which is an excellent program); but does so in a way which places a strong emphasis on the state from which you joined the program. For Montana students (and this varies by state), the first year of med school is done on the MSU campus, the second and part of the third year is done at UW, and the rotations are done back in Montana at various clinics around the state. I believe they work very hard to provide graduates with a residency opportunity within their state of origin, but the one physician I’ve spoken with who graduated from WWAMI did her residency at a VA hospital in Idaho.

    The advisor I spoke with is the MSU WWAMI Representative – he’d be the one I apply with, and who helps me through the process logistically.

  2. Regarding Montana’s rural health care issue. You’re right, one does exist. The way that the state has chosen to deal with it is to offer a 60,000/5 year loan repayment program to physicians who choose to work in rural Montana. They (the state gov’t) will pay 6,000 each 6 months of employment for your first five years if you work at a hospital with fewer than X beds, in a town of fewer than Y people. (I believe X=40, can’t remember Y). There is no such program for RNs in the state, but it doesn’t sound out of the question for them to want to encourage try-but-fail-med-school-m atriculators to work as RNs here.

  3. The speed limits are still indeed split. I believe trucks are limited to 65 or even 60mph, while cars are entitled to 75. I have rarely seen this obeyed or enforced, but it is there in the books.

    As for the more deep, cognitive part of this post… i.e. “What am I going to do?” I only have this update:

    I threw an email out to many medical schools I’d be interested in attending, asking basically what I did at the top of this post: “1) BSN + science courses + MCAT, 2) Only science course + MCAT, and 3) BS-micro-biology pre-med + MCAT” I heard back from 3 schools, 2 in California and one in Texas. I’m currently playing phone tag with a third school in California that would be what I would consider “way, way the hell out of reach.” They’re a little private school in the bay area that likes big red trees. From the responses I’ve received, they seem to also be a little down on the idea of getting a BSN as a backup plan. Suprisingly, they’ve all said that getting a second bachelor’s degree isn’t necessarily going to make me all that much more competitive. It may be their job to be pessimists, but I get the vibe that my old CS degree (along with the fact that I don’t currently live in California) is a barrier to entry with the UC system. Texas has an interesting program; if you are a state resident (which I no longer am), they have a “fresh start” program whereby any degree older than 10 years may be ignored for the purpose of application to medical school. So if I wanted to work for a year in Texas to apply for residency, I could be a shoo-in (of course, assuming I made good grades)… but…

    I additionally spoke with a few practicing physicians that are family friends. One of them strongly advised me to not pursue medicine; that I was too old, and that the grind of school over the next 11 years is just too much. He did so by making the projection that I would only have a usable work life of 29 more years, and why would I want to spend ~40% of that usable time in school racking up huge debt? His advice: get your RN and work, start making money asap!

    The other strongly advised me to go for it. And if I were to fail to get into med school, then go to PA school. She said from the way I was talking it was clear I did not want to be a nurse, instead I wanted to practice medicine.

    Both of these docs, too, indicated that they thought a second degree wasn’t really necessary and wouldn’t provide a huge positive influence. Just doing the science pre-reqs, and doing them well, would be enough of an indicator that I meant business. (A 35+ on the MCAT would help quite a bit too…)

    This morning I again spoke with the medical professions advisor at MSU. I said, bluntly, “Let’s take nursing off the table. If I wanted to go to med school, and use PA school as a backup plan, what would be my best course of action?” He indicated also that only taking the science pre-reqs was definitely the way to go. He said I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting into the WWAMI program because of my crappy Computer Science degree grades, but he thought I would probably get accepted somewhere. He threw the figure of 43% acceptance nationwide for students who apply at medical school. If that’s an accurate figure, I really like my chances; I know the nursing school upper division courses is much closer to 20% acceptance at MSU. Actually, for me to stay where I currently live (and not get shipped off to a different upper division school), the acceptance rate is about 2%.

    Personally, I bounce around the decision probably 5 times a day. I know deep down that I want to practice medicine, not nursing. But I also know that it’s an incredible burden to place on my wife. God help her, she’s 100% supportive of whatever I do, but I can see in her eyes she’s afraid of me going for medical school.

    Anyways, I again really appreciate the feedback. I’ll keep you guys posted whichever way the wind ends up blowing me.


  • Seacuke Said:
This morning I again spoke with the medical professions advisor at MSU. I said, bluntly, "Let's take nursing off the table. If I wanted to go to med school, and use PA school as a backup plan, what would be my best course of action?" He indicated also that only taking the science pre-reqs was definitely the way to go.

Brian -

Just one comment (although there are several things that are worthy of addressing, but I really need to study for my final exams) on the above portion. Make sure you check out the requirements/competitiven ess for admission to PA school. The pre-reqs won't be an issue - the PA schools should accept the med school pre-reqs. Of bigger concern is the fact that some PA programs have a requirement that candidates have significant health care experience. I don't have any facts/figures on how many, but I know that some do. Also, as the role of PAs/NPs has expanded and the concepts become more well known, PA/NP programs are becoming more and more competitive.

I originally looked at PA school. When I compared the requirements for getting into a PA program to the requirements for getting into med school, I decided I might as well go the med school route - the only advantage to PA school was finishing faster. So, not trying to be a downer - just thought you might want to check out PA program admissions requirements if you haven't done so already.


Boy, it sure sounded plausible AND wouldn’t it have been a NICE DEAL relieving a load of the uncertainty and risk! Alas, not to be…

One other thing… remember the advisor I fired? He (the actual official “pre-medicine” advisor) finally told me the reason he had pushed “medical administration” was that my “chances” were “pretty poor” of getting into medical school…

Since there was a 3.88 GPA, what could he have been basing this on? He could not give the real reason, “AGE”… I politely told him, “Let me worry about that” and WHACKED him! I hooked up with an nearly retired full professor, the director of the human biology program and freshman advisor at the time… Who said, “why not?” “Besides you will never know unless you TRY”. I NEVER LOOKED BACK

So, if you decide against fine… but remember, this little microcosm of a BB thread, is a LOT like this whole trip, there will be down days, days with bad news… “process-of-becoming-doct or” is a “jealous lover” one may only play it “process-of-becoming-doct ors” way, “process-of-becoming-doct or” will toss even worthy lovers without loyalty… for the least inattention or indescretion

HOWEVER, If I had it to do over would I? YOU BET YOUR BOOTS, while everyone must walk the straight and narrow, I was THRILLED to find myself in middle age getting to ENJOY the life of a TEEN, but better, I was NOT a TEEN thus NO opportunity was EVER wasted or squandered for “reasons” that did not matter… not only as far as pre-med is concerned but growth as a person, growth as a family…

OK now, if you still wanna DO this, pick yourself up, consider yourself “dusted off” and figure something else out! I gotta tell you, your discription of your wifes support for you sent chills up my spine, with that SINGLE gesture, you likely have the BIGGEST “show stopper” already in your pocket!

I was allowed to post the “updated Richard’s rules” on the same link… GO there and re-read rule 1 (the rule that got MOST of the updating)