Am I over-analyzing this?

For those of you who have already made the decision to pursue med school and are currently working on your pre-req’s, for any of those reading this who have been accepted to med school, are already in it, or have graduated – how have you dealt with other people’s negative reactions or skepticism concerning your choice to pursue the goal of becoming a doctor as an “old pre-med”? I’m only 29, but still an old pre-med.

One person I know who is currently interning (at age 31) has told me that if he could have gone back and done it again, he would have become a PA. He also is married and had three kids during his med school years. I am married, but no kids.

It seems as if he is discouraging me from taking the doctor route. He has gone into great detail about how competitive med school students are amongst each other, how many turn to cheating, how it can take hours just to read and understand 3 pages of material, and how getting into residency is extremely difficult and competitive - perhaps more difficult than getting into med school. He said that he worked hard in his undergraduate years, but he found that med school was beyond what he ever imagined.

I know someone who was planning to go to medical school as an undergraduate, but decided to pursue PA school as a compromise to her husband and desire to start a family one day. But I wonder if taking that route will make her wonder down the road why she didn’t just go for the MD path. She is what we would consider a “traditional” student who went right from undergrad into her medical studies to be a PA. I hear that it is actually harder/more competitive to get into PA school than med school because there are less schools and it’s a shorter program, etc.

How do you justify the path of med school to your spouse if your spouse is not keen on the idea? How do you address spouse if you get the sense that spouse might be focusing on his (or her) own wants and needs for the future, and has grown comfortable with the idea of you working for a certain amount of years earning a decent salary?

Where do you draw the line between knowing your own abilities and listening to what others who are close to you think about whether or not they could SEE you in the profession?

How much of a reality-check have you taken?

Does a couple of months of thinking and introspection seem like enough time spent thinking about the decision to pursue med school?

Have you found yourself looking at other (perhaps young) doctors you’ve encountered and actually envision yourself in their shoes doing what they do?

How do you really know if you are really cut out to be a successful medical student and doctor?

Someone just told me that medical schools are really looking to an applicant’s undergraduate success more so than any other factor when determining if a student will be successful in med school or not. If that’s the case, then I am hoping that my undergraduate gpa of 3.75 in liberal arts would be compelling enough, even though there were much more writing exams than multiple choice exams. I do have every intention of putting all of my efforts into the science pre-req’s.

I know that I achieved my 3.75 gpa as THE number I was aiming for, but when I graduated I found that I was asking myself, “how come I didn’t aim higher?”

I am the type of person who enjoys challenge, is very passionate about learning and gets bored easily. I’ve realized that going to college to get “a job” has not been enough. And I’ve struggled in the past few years with trying to determine where I’m supposed to be/end up.

It turns out, this past year has been one of the most challenging ever in terms of what I’ve had to deal with (the largest part consisting of family medical issues on my side and spouse’s side), but I believe that has led me to where I am now.

I am a leader and someone who values honesty and integrity, and who has a desire to touch other people’s lives. I know that I need to be stretched/pushed in order for the best to come out of me.

I also know that I am someone who has a tendency to analyze certain things to death!

Comments, anyone?

I think his problem is that he had a family to take care of. I cannot imagine going through med school with three children. Don’t let him discourage you, because I could let what he told you discourage me as well. Like I am being told, anything is possible if you truly try your hardest.

I would add that everyone is unique. What is right for one person is not going to necessarily work for someone else.

In my mind, you need to do some shadowing as well as some volunteering that will enable you to make an informed decision about whether this is for you. Only you can determine this.

If it is and you really, really want it, you will not let any barriers (or negative comments) slow you down. I do suggest that you pull those family members and friends that are supportive close to you because it is a long journey and every once and while you need those people to support you.

Just my opinion.


WHEW WHEE… This whole tread makes me worry my head will explode… I better answer all of this before I DIE of my head exploding… TOO much here for just one post… but I will pick off a few of my favorites…

As to your “friend”

“He has gone into great detail about how competitive med school students are amongst each other, how many turn to cheating, how it can take hours just to read and understand 3 pages of material, and how getting into residency is extremely difficult and competitive - perhaps more difficult than getting into med school. He said that he worked hard in his undergraduate years, but he found that med school was beyond what he ever imagined.”

DUH, first I can disabuse ALL of you with the oft heard maxim, “the hardest part of medical school is getting in” as being complete “Horse S_it”. Let me be CLEAR, I never worked harder, BUT, this is what I wanted to do, I never cheated, of course the first thing to go was all of my expectations of a 3.88 GPA.

Maybe he lacked commitment, maybe HE should NOT be a physician; he seems unsuited… the profession will weed him out over time. But is that YOU? If so, maybe YOU should reconsider even starting!

“How do you justify the path of med school to your spouse if your spouse is not keen on the idea?"

If your family especially your spouse is NOT on board, forget it… until he/she IS.…

HOLY CRAP… and then someone relied,

“I cannot imagine going through med school with three children. Don’t let him discourage you, because I could let what he told you discourage me as well. Like I am being told, anything is possible if you truly try your hardest.”

Beg to differ, I could not have done it WITHOUT my built in cheering section.…


Yes, you’re over-analyzing Maybe, but some of us have to. I Sooo understand what you’re saying. You’re in the “discernment” process, like deciding whether or not to enter seminary. Take your time. Don’t rush to judgment. Once you’ve made your decision, it’s easier to ignore the naysayers. For my part, the worst is hearing from moms who regret going to medical school (some are quite vocal at mommd). I’ve found plenty of mom doctor’s who wouldn’t have it any other way—and I’m choosing them to be my mentors through this process.

Good luck. There isn’t an easy answer. Shadow a bunch. Talk to physicians. Don’t tell people who don’t love you what you’re contemplating until you’re ready. my 2 cents.

Thank you for your reply, Richard. And to all of you, please forgive me for cramming too much in one post. Shame on me.

I hope your head is doing better, Richard, along with everyone else’s who read this post and perhaps chose not to reply because their heads were close to exploding too.

Hmmmm. My head didn’t come close to exploding when I read your post, but that is probably because my mind plays almost that identical script over and over again every single day!

Not to bore you, but I’m at a very similar point in my life.

I have a ugrad degree where I didn’t aim for the umm…stars…but managed an overall of a 3.45. My science gpa was only a 3.0 though. I did a post-bacc, and a grad degree in molecular biology (where I did quite well), have taught at the college level off and on for years. Over the years I’ve done a lot of different kinds of volunteer work and…I recently wrote a book.

I’m fairly well-rounded and I would be a capable medical school candidate. I believe that I would be a good doctor. I do.


I’m a mom of 5 and my husband is a physician. I hate that I say problem and mom so close together. My children are not a problem…my husband is not a problem…BUT…my being a mother of a large family does limit me because I also know what kind of mother I am and want to continue to be. I’m painfully aware of the fact that getting into medical school is the easy part. I lived through the end of med school, residency and fellowship…years and years and years of training and call. I know what it’s about.

My husband wants me to go to PA school and then work with him. That is his ‘dream’. I have posted on and off at this site and mommd for years…good grief…since the inception of old premeds…I have never fully committed myself to the pre-med process out of fear of losing my family to the medical school process. Is it possible to do med school with kids? Sure. Someone here said they couldn’t have done it without their built in cheering system. I’m assuming that this person had a wife taking care of the kids and the household. Please forgive my assumption.

I wish that I could tell you that I have found the answer to this problem, but I haven’t. I am taking steps however to ultimately get off of the fence before my indecision becomes a decision.

I enrolled in class this Fall and am working to slowly come up with a balance between mothering and my own intellectual needs and to see what I can indeed handle. I started with an ugrad anatomy class with a cadaver lab.

When I started, my self-esteem and faith in my abilities was at an all-time low. Now…I feel very confident and good about it. I’m doing well, and after struggling for the first several weeks to figure out how to balance my kids and studying, I feel like I’ve got the hang of it…and that now I could probably add more to my plate.

I’m not going to rule out med school or PA school at this point. In my mind, PA school would be the path of least resistance. I could still practice medicine, work with underserved communities in primary care and do what I feel called to do. I have to balance that out with my desire to “go all the way”.

I’m still thinking it through too.

Sorry for the ramble.


…but YAY!I am not alone for the constant thoughts in my head 24 hours a day about becoming a pre-med at 34. Sorry to blurt in here but I felt like I was the only indecisive one…phew…misery does love some company. This thread is helpful and I hope more post because I am stuck in the middle of “go for it and pursue being an MD” or "settle down and just relax(i.e. keep working at my job, buy a house, have 2.5 kids(already got 4 cats! that’s all I can handle now), oh yeah and throw a hubby in there somewhere among this jungle of a mess…and most importantly TRY to be content with this lifestyle). Ok sorry for my late night blah blah blah…but I feel so relieved I am not the only unnerved one on here. :)Mehgan


If you are currently not married and don’t have kids, by all means…go for it. You will probably never silence the “what ifs” in your mind and once you settle down with a husband and kiddos, it will get harder.

I’m 38, have 5 kids…and turned down an acceptance to med school when I was 24. I didn’t look back for along time, but now…well…things have changed in my life. Whatever path I take now will be more difficult. I’m currently considering PA school as a viable option for me…

Don’t think about it anymore. Just apply.



Thanks for the post! Yeah I am divorced and no kids. The only change that could come is marriage down the road, having kids is just not going to happen for me due to medical issues. Still got my 4 cats! Thanks for giving me a boost Kris!

Meg(‘mommy’ to four VERY crazy cats, Julius, Pip, Tigger, and Lilly)

i have been where you have been, and at age 44 (much older) i am where you are now. i know physicians who tell me to absolutely tell me to go for it. only a couple have told me that the years would be lost, and it would be better to be a PA or an NP. i know what’s right for me, and if i fail, i will go down in the history as the guy who gave it a 100% best shot without actually getting in, and I am fine with that. good luck to us all, and listen to your heart. best wishes from the trenches…

A friend of mine handed me a book back in July. For whatever reason, I didn’t crack it open until just the other day. I just finished it. All I can think is, “wow.”

“Lion chasers thrive in the toughest circumstances because they know that impossible odds set the stage for amazing miracles . . . Lion chasers are the kind of people who rise to the occasion . . . the kind of people who refuse to be intimidated . . . [they] play to win. They fight for what they believe in. They don’t live life sitting back on their heels. They live life on the tip of their toes waiting to see what God is going to do next . . . Lion chasers don’t let what they can’t do keep them from doing what they can.”

-Mark Batterson

I am finding myself in a similar situation and I am so glad I found you guys. I am 33 I am currently a Nurse Practitioner. Yes kinda going the long way to med school. Certain circumstances in my life took me down this path.

I am currently looking in to going back to medical school. I have already spoke with a physician I know at the med school, spoke with a pre-med advisor and know the courses I need to take. And exactly how long it will take me.

Now my life…I am a mother of 2 and adore my children. Like any parent would give my life for them and do not want to do anything to jepordize their future. I am married with a loving husband who is not real thrilled about having to move to a different city so I could go to school but says he would. My children are young pre-school and 1st grade.

I have about 1 year before I could apply so plenty of time to prepare and scrimp and save. My thought is to enroll in the Spring and take the courses recommended and offered at that time. I figure if I can’t work at my current job and manage 2 classes and a family that med school just ain’t gonna work! Thought it would be a good test.

It sounds great in my head…but am I being selfish? I am already an NP…but…I just feel like I could do more. Like I need to do more for my patients. I feel limited in the care I can give. NOt that I am harming pts or not doing the best to my ability but I hate having restrictions or barriers to doing more. I want to be the one to call the shots and make the decisions regarding my pts health care.

Is this wrong? Should I just be happy with what I have alread accomplished and continue my life as it is or should I reach for my ultimate goal??? Anyone with kids out there now going to med school???

I can relate to your situation in that I am also a Nurse Practitioner and have kids. However, my kids are older, 16 and almost 13. I am not planning on going to medical school until my kids are both in college, which will be in about 6 years. Right now, I’m working full-time and taking my prereqs for med school part-time. I’m anticipating taking the MCAT in about 3 to 4 years, after I’ve completed the prereqs and taken an MCAT review course.

you ask a lot of questions.

I won’t even attempt answer all of them as I can’t even remember what they all are. But a few thoughts for you and the larger audience.

First-- at 29 you are maybe only a little above the mean for people doing this so don’t let that discourage you. One way to look at it is this:

If you go for this, someday you will be 50 -

If you don’t go for this someday you will be 50

the only difference is if you do go for it you might just be 50 and a doc –

About Med students competing with each other:

It probably varies from school to school. I went to UNECOM and generally found people to be very supportive of one another. There was definitely an attitude that this is really tough - but we are all in it together…

about residency competitiveness: Again, it varies depending on what you want to do. some, such as Ophthalmology or Orthopedics are very competitive. On the other hand, about 20 to 25% of the family practice residency slots go unfilled in any given year and residencies compete with each other to get you in.

It probably is a bit easier to do this if you are not doing it with a family in tow, but many do manage it and families can be a good source of perspective and support in the midst of the chaos and stress.

anyway - a few thoughts

welcome to the group - browse around a bit -

if you are feeling a bit past the prime for this take a look at mine or Mary Reynards diary posts if you want to read about some serious “olde phartes” doing this-


I hope you do not mind while my response to you was VIA private mail, excerpts are more generally applicable.

I hope I was not too negative but I want to make it CLEAR… Richard’s rules: RULE #1 (I hope you have digested these); you MUST get the “home thing” lined out FIRMLY, by doing so you can move the family from the “liability column”; THE SINGULARLY biggest problem or Achilles heel for SO many couples. They start to doubt each other or perhaps they drift apart or someone feels neglected. They begin to be unsure if the absolute effort is worth it, “can I count on the supreme level of commitment for X more years”, or “how can I compete with all of ‘this’”, to the ASSET column (indeed potentially ones greatest advantage).

I consider MY family and my SIX kids my GREATEST asset and advantage during the whole show. I knew (I mean REALLY KNEW) automatically that NO matter WHAT happened, I could forever COUNT on KATHY; as constant as the constellations in the night sky, for an automatic, no holes barred, unconditional, unreserved, double strength, sustained release; IV INJECTION of encouragement, faith, love, support, bucking up or whatever I needed.

There is something VERY stabilizing knowing that “the well” will never go dry. I know she must have had doubts, after all who has not in this little trip (Lord knows I sure had mine), but I never heard so much as a whisper of it. She never showed any doubt to the kids either, (please note my daughters Renee and Erin’s comments on the KMBC TV piece on my blog) kids are GREAT MIRRORS of the prevailing morale… good … or not.

I was able to “start off”, that is go back to KU Lawrence really quite quickly and “all of a sudden”, the stars happened to line up. Kathy got a small inheritance from a great aunt and without a second thought or obligation or “writing it in the book” to be paid back later, she paid off our house, cars and all debt then further INSISTED that I simply must “take the shot”. I applied to the undergraduate part at KU pretty suddenly, I applied for late admission in July the 1st (I was a hospice nurse in Douglas County at the time so I could hound those poor people in the admissions office nearly daily).

My youngest daughter was born THREE weeks before the first day of school at KU, my 38th birthday, August 21, 2000, this changed nothing. In typical fashion Kathy swept away the fresh batch of guilt I had; prancing off to “college”, leaving her with six kids, including a three week old infant, “Boy O Boy just imagine what an example you are setting for the kids… a life long learner”, “This is OUR big chance, when will we ever be in this position again, nope this is OUR big shot!”

Kathy insisted that I was to do those things that were necessary to succeed on behalf of and representing our family, she insisted that our then “paid for” house was TOO FAR to commute the two and a half hours one way. “You would be better off to take a room in student housing… you can come home on weekends… or equally fun we could come THERE”

YAY!! I am so happy to see there are some people just like me. I am a CRNA and a NP, and I have been going back and forth for the last 4 years if I want to settle for my what I do now, or to go back to school and become a MD or DO. I don’t really mention it to the MDA’s that I work with because they would all tell me I am crazy, it does seem like other doc’s are always discouraging others from following in their footsteps. I think that if you don’t follow your dream and “settle” for the so called easier route as a PA (although I don’t believe it is) you will regret it.

I am the type of person who enjoys challenge, is very passionate about learning and gets bored easily.” [emphasis added]

The last one might be an issue. My one year in dental school, with half of my classes in med school, were long, rigorous and demanding. The time I got even slightly bored cost me enormously. there is just not enough time even to ask a simple reflective question. And I say that since it’s a distinctly different learning process compared to the liberal arts tradition. Sure any intellectual pursuit demands a baseline rigor, but my experience was that it requires an exceptionally focussed mindset. On the age issue, I think you should not worry at all. More than I realized, it was a real non-issue looking back. In fact if you are a decent cook or can throw a wine and cheese party at the end of an exam, you will end up having a lot of ‘young’ friends…

Karmakola, I’m glad you made a comment about my “bored easily phrase.” I should have elaborated on that.

If there is no challenge or goal, then I often find myself losing interest. My college experience was the opposite of boring. It was fulfilling and worthwhile – working toward graduating in 4 years with a magna gpa.