Am I crazy for even THINKING of doing this?

Hi everyone,

I’m staring at my 45th birthday in my headlights and yet I’m thinking of becoming a doctor. My story is like many of yours: wanted to be a doctor for a long time, always dismissed the idea as ridiculous, am feeling completely unfulfilled, desperately want to do something meaningful with my life, help people, etc. I’ve had a lot of firsthand experience with the medical profession as a patient: doctors have literally saved my life twice, once when I had a huge leiomyoma in my abdomen and the other time when scar tissue from that operation knotted up my small intestine and much of it had to be removed. I also lost my gall bladder in a separate operation. Let’s just say that I gained enormous respect for my doctors. There is no higher calling.

My background is in broadcast journalism. I have a B.A. in English summa cum laude with virtually no math or science, an M.A. in English, and a second more recent M.A. in Gender and Cultural Studies. I have a full fellowship to attend a Ph.D. program in Gender Studies beginning this fall, but am finally facing the fact that I don’t want to teach. Or a worse truth – that the work I’m doing just isn’t that important.

I was in the hospital visiting my dad a couple of weeks ago and saw a group of doctors chatting. Something finally clicked at long last, and here I am. For once in my life, I said to myself that I really could be a doctor if only I shut up and got busy. (To be honest, I only said that after stumbling into the OPM website!)

The good news is that I’m single with no kids and supportive parents, so I can devote myself to this in a big way. The bad news is that I have NO math background whatsoever. This is not an exaggeration. Long ago and far away, I dropped out of high school in the 9th grade and wound up with a GED. Basic algebra is a distant memory (I took a community college course); trig and calc are completely foreign languages to me.

Obviously I would have to hit the math books before I could even take a basic pre-med science class. I’m up to the challenge, but I need . . . encouragement? direction? structure? Any advice would really be appreciated.

And then there are the big picture questions. How long is this really going to take? There’s no way I’m going to get my pre-reqs done in a year. I mean, I’ve always been an A student, but even full-time we must be talking a couple of years here. Honestly, what are my chances of getting into a reputable med school at 47 or 48? And I don’t even want to think of how old I’ll be when I’m a resident!

I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve been inspired by everything I’ve read from you OPM’s. I am willing to give 1000% to this. But I still feel vaguely ridiculous even considering such a path. The more I’ve tried to dismiss the idea this time, though, the more determined I’ve become.

Any advice, y’all?

Thanks in advance for any help or encouragement you can send my way.

Every Medical School has basic science requirements before you can apply. The good news is that they don’t necessarily require that your degree be a science degree. Here in Washington State most of UW’s 2008 Medical Students are history majors.

Here’s what UW requires as far as science: pre…

I,too, must take lower level refresher courses to catch my math up to even begin basic Chemistry or Physics, let alone start Biology. So, depending on how motivated you are to learn the math is how long it will take you to get going.

Here is a great link to motivate the Post-Bacc people. It appears that it will take 2.5 years to catch up all of your sciences to apply. Of course, you could attempt to go summers and cut that down to 2 years/8 quarters. pre…

Everyone on here will say this. You must contact your Medical School of choice and talk to them. I just hope this will encourage you to get started.

Nevermind she beat me to it!

Welcome to the site, you will find that there is an endless amount of information here for you to devour! Keep us posted on your progress.

Heck No! Unless of course I am just as crazy… hmmm… welcome to the site! I am 35 and found out that any credits earned more than 10 years ago will not apply towards Med School. So I am starting pre-med (over again) this summer. The road is long, but we all have to start somewhere, right?

You want encouragement?? Start here…

I’m sure you’ll find plenty.

You’r not crazy. If there is a premed advisor office at any of the colleges near you where you plan to take you premed courses, they can be a good place to start to organize a plan as to what classes to take and in what order. The first thing to do is take a math placement test and then make you plans from there. Those first intial math classes can be taken at your friendly local community college if you want to save a few bucks and perhaps have a more work friendly school schedule. The math class you place into will determine how long this premed adventure is going to take. I would give yourself about 3 years, especially if you are going to work at all during this time.

Welcome to the journey.


Hi Hope,

Welcome to the site. I’ve read your post and realize that you are quite an accomplished woman. The only advice I would offer is the question I asked myself years ago when I attempted med school before: how bad to you want it? And over time I realized that I wanted it worse than anything I have ever wanted in my entire life. I’ve wanted it since I took AP bio in high school, learning about genetics and life and whatnot, but at that time how shall we say, I got the wind knocked out of me. I struggled with the realization that being a “Dr.” is who I am. I thought maybe a Ph.D would do it, but any other job description I carried was merely a shadow of my Real Self (ala Plato). Not to mention every single career aptitude test I had ever taken said I should be a doctor, the last ingredient needed was my passion, that irrational, crazy passion. And just recently I found it. Now honestly, I’m philosophical about things and I’m going to do my very best to bring myself out of the cave, but if for some reason there remains that which I cannot overcome, I know that I will have been better for the effort.

So, do I think you’re crazy for wanting to do this, I hope you are! We all are, I think it’s a pre-requisite

Speaking as one who undertook this at an only slightly younger age (started at 43) I can honestly say… Yes … you are crazy … but is that such a bad thing? I will be honest and add: your chances are not super… But they are better if you push ahead than if you give up now.

It does take a little lunacy to embark on such a venture but from such lunacy great things come.Good luck!

I have a similar background, just barely graduated from HS and only took algebra in college, no science. Started post bac at 35 and am now finishing my last prereq. I have no regrets. I took algebra/trig and precalc before any sciences. If there is a postbac program near you, I would rec that b/c then hopefully you will get good guidance. I have heard that chances for someone at 40 for MD are slight, but that DO schools are way more accessible to older students. Though I know someone who is 43 that just got accepted to MD program so it is not impossible. If you have the resources and passion, why not go for it? You can be 49 or so and in medical school or you can be 49 or so thinking what if?

  • cocogoldsmith Said:

So, do I think you're crazy for wanting to do this, I hope you are! We all are, I think it's a pre-requisite

Great line!

Hey Hope, I'm in the same boat. I'm 44 now, and in the next year I will be finishing my prereqs (Ochem & Physics), then I just have to finish and get my BS. With any luck (and a lot of hard work), I can apply in 2011 for the 2012 year. So, I'll be 47 when I start...I'll be 47 in 3 years anyway...might as well enjoy the ride.

One of the things that I have noticed, especially on SDN, when a nontrad talks about going to medical school at a later age, the response is always looking at the end of residency before you actually start your life. For me, I'm looking forward to each and every day...from taking my Ochem and physics classes, to working on my bachelors degree, to doing the medical school application period, to going to med school and studying something that really interests me, to each and every day that I am learning. I'm looking at the whole journey...not just the finish line. I personally don't see myself as retiring, maybe cutting down as I get older, but not long as I can use my medical degree in a productive way, I'll be happy.

Sorry for the long diatribe...I just get excited about this whole trip!

I’m much younger… and I’m not going to pretend that I’m in the same boat… but as far as the ammount of time it takes:

If you took Algebra and Pre-calc you’d be left needing CHEM I/II, PHYS I/II, OCHEM I/II, and BIO I/II. That is one year of school if you take your classes back to back (16 credits a Semester). Maybe look at something like this:



Chem I

Bio I



Chem II

Bio II

Semester 3:

OChem I

Phys I


Semester 4

OChem II

Phys II

BioChem (for good measure)

(If any of this is crazy, such as taking algebra and Chem I in the same semester, please let me know).

It’s 2 years of work. If you want to be a doctor I’m sure you’ll have no problem with 2 years worth of work. The question is and always will be in situations like this, can you sleep well at night if you never try and be a doctor?

I am with Vanessa… The Bio I, II and Chem I,II and calc I took are a distant memory. Several of the schools I am interested in indicate a need to repeat them as well. To be honest, so much time has passed I think it is in my best interest to repeat them anyway.

That is the great thing about OPM, we are all in the same boat, chasing a dream… just remember to take it slow and you’ll get there.