Age bias?

Hello All-
Okay, so I’m gearing up to apply during the next cycle, and it seems to me that M.D. programs have an age bias. While they technically accept some “non-traditional” students, that means something like a 28 year old.

I just turned the big 40. Is it even worth looking into M.D. programs.

Also, through my shadowing, I’ve learned that I truly love emergency medicine. What are some of the best D.O. schools that have solid emergency medicine resident placement?

Many thanks for your time!

Not sure where your info is from, but here an anecdote. I attend a private MD school at a large tertiary care center. I started at age 33 and was only the 5th oldest in my class. The oldest guy was 41. Strangely enough, only one of the top 5 oldest was doing something in healthcare before medical school (pharmacist). In the last few years, we had a graduate get her diploma and AARP card on the same day (supposedly). Granted, our average age is still like 24… I met a guy from another state MD school who is 2 years older than I am. There is another guy who used to be active in this forum who got into a really prestigious MD program and deferred one year so he could retire from the military before starting. One person still occasionally active on this forum started medical school (DO I believe) in her 50s I think.

I haven’t done enough research on what DO schools produce more emergency medicine physicians. I was highly interested in EM before school and will be applying for EM residency this year, and I only applied to one DO school (was 20 minutes from my house). In my experience, I have worked with both MD and DO attendings and residents. A DO is the assistant residency director for EM at my school and is my primary career mentor. After medical school, the letters don’t really matter that much, especially for more primary-ish care type programs. Plus the MD and DO residencies are supposedly merging in the coming year(s), so at least theoretically the letters will matter even less (not sure how it will be in practice).

If you feel like you’d be competitive with your record, regardless of your age, I would apply everywhere you want to. I think if you have a strong work history with leadership and responsibilities that reflects a good level of maturity, you’ll be an even stronger candidate. You’ll need to keep an open mind and level of respect for people who are younger than you but more advanced in their training. That came up at multiple interviews “how do you feel being told what to do by someone younger”. And it’s true, there are several teams I’ve been on where I’ve been the most junior despite being the oldest. You’ll also have to work with your classmates, many of whom will have been born while you were in high school…

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Kennymac. What I will say is that the AMCAS and AACOMAS applications are strange entities to fill out as a more seasoned person. What do I put down for my ECs? Yes, I’ve done some shadowing and volunteering, but to I put down publications in a completely different field of study? That might be a very interesting question to ask Dr. Gray to address in a podcast.

I would use the term “EC” very liberally as everything outside of the college classroom, including everything you’ve done working since college, and things you did during college if you’re hurting for quantity/quality of stuff. I included a variety of different positions I had held for work, different training things I had, experiences teaching/evaluating/leading, etc. I wouldn’t dive into the deep mechanics of other research, but it’s important to include to show you understand the process, especially if you’ve written for grants and things. Bonus for adaptations the field made in response to your research.

Since you’re older, you should strive to show your maturity and responsibility as well as other qualities and characteristics you have developed in life after college. It would be great if you’ve had experiences that allowed you to empathize and/or relate to others who are not like you as well. Overall, it’s not so much the “what you did” as it is the “what did you take away from those experiences.”