Am I too old to think about doing this? LONG!

Hi everybody! I am a newbie to the group so if I’ve posted this in the wrong forum - I’m sorry
My undergrad degree was in Psychology. I absolutely loved it! I wanted to go on to the lcinical PhD program right away but my marriage was not stable and I needed a quick way to support myself and my daughter should we divorce. I was a substitute teacher for a while and I knew I wanted to work with children so I went for a teaching degree. It took longer than I expected…my dad beame ill and I had to take time off, I got pregnant which meant a lot of bedrest (I’d already had 5 miscarriages) and had 3 beautiful children (diff pregnancies - not triplets!). I got the Masters in Education and haven’t been back in the classroom since.
I opted to staty at home with the kiddos until they were all in school. My 6 y/o is now in 1st, my 4 y/o will be in K next year and my 3 y/o will be in preschool next year. I can finaly go back to school!
I immediately began looking at the PhD clinical program in psychology and realized that I have no desire at all to be a researcher. I want to apply the research. The PsyD program offers the option of becoming a Psychologist without the research which is fantastic. ALl the PhD’s and Psychiatrists I’ve spoke to about the program are adamantly against the PsyD program. Not rigorous enough. So I’m back to the PhD program.
During this searching process, I was forced to look (again) for a therapist to help my daughter (anger issues, aggresiveness and ODD). I had already been through this somany times and ben disappointed with who was out there. None had been able to help her. I was pawned off on an intern at one office. Interns are fine but the Psych NEVER saw her and he was the reason we’d gone there. Had one doc fall asleep during a visit. This went on and on.
Finally I got a recommendation for a psychiatrist. What a breakthrough for both if us. Until that point I believed psychiatrists only did medchecks and didn’t offer therapy! I discovered how wrong I was!!! I realized that this was what I had been waiting for. Finally I was looking at being able to treat the whole person not just provide counsleing and then send them off for meds. I’ve seen my own husband quit counselling once he’d been sent off for meds. I’m sure other patients do that as well. How many parents stop taking their kids because they can’t take time off for two seperate appointments?
Anyway - to cut to the chase. I am now in my late 30’s. My marriage still rots and I can expect no support from him. I have children. I have to go back and do the science classes that I didn’t take the first time around and the MCATS which puts med school off until 2006 (if I planned that out correctly - it was 3AM so I’ll have to re-check). Am I too old? Will this be too difiicult with 3 young children? What will med school actualy be like? I wish I had started this process 2-3 years ago but I was mentally and physically just not ready at that point. Am I crazy to want even be thinking about doing this??
Thanks for listening!

Kathy -
You are never too old. There are several members of this group who were older than yourself when they decided to pursue medicine. Several have children. I met a 3rd year med student at an interview the other day who was in her 40’s, single, and had kids. It can be done.
You don’t detail your plan for possible 2006 admission, so I can’t comment on whether it is reasonable or not. The only thing I would like to comment on is your family situation. Before you start spending the big bucks to apply to medical school (not necessarily before you start pre-reqs), I would encourage you to resolve your marriage issues. What will be more difficult - going the course alone or trying to do it with a spouse who is non-supportive? Getting in to medical school is so much work! I would hate to see you get that far and then not succeed or have to quit because things with your husband deteriorate even further.
This is a difficult path to follow - even more difficult with children and other family obligations. I know I couldn’t do this without the support and encouragement of my husband. My personal opinion, your spouse needs to be at least moderately supportive. Before you get too far in, evaluate whether your marriage is worth saving (ignoring the med school idea for now) and either work on repairing it or ending it. The last thing you want to do while in med school or doing prereqs is to be dealing with a divorce.
If I’m reading more into your marriage problems than are there, I apologize. I am not saying “if you want med school, get rid of the husband”. Simply that it appears to be an issue that should be dealt with - med school or not.
Good luck, Kathy, and keep us posted.

Tammy, I started my prereqs at age 41, entered med school at 44 and graduated this past year at 48. I’m almost halfway through my intern year of residency and will turn 49 in a few weeks.
So obviously my answer is that of course you are not too old!
Honestly it’s all the other stuff, not the age, that presents a challenge to you, and you’ve recognized that. You’ve got a dicey support system, little kids, many worries about how things will balance. THOSE are your challenges, not your age.
I don’t have any words of wisdom for how to tackle these challenges - your situation is unique and you’re going to have to figure out what works for you, what you’re willing to do or NOT do, where you can get your support.
Most important thing I can think of right now is to start with just ONE STEP. You do not need to quit your job and enter a full-time post-bacc program or any other drastic step. Why not start with ONE CLASS and see how you do at rearranging your schedule, being there for your kids, finding your support systems, and so on? In other words, ease into the change.
Psychologically I think this is hard: having made the decision to DO IT, you want to jump in with both feet as a demonstration (to yourself and to others) of your commitment to this new goal. Fitting one class into your current life feels painfully slow, like you’re not actually making progress. But in fact this tentative approach, in my opinion, really maximizes your chance of success in the long run. Learning to be a student AND a mom and wife is just that - a learned behavior. (note that I am not recommending that you do the entire prerequisite preparation one course at a time; I know that would be too long and painful and it also doesn’t make for the strongest application. I’m just saying START small.)
And dipping your toe in the water this way will help you to find your own answers to these questions about whether it’s something YOU will want to do in the longer run. You can be fully committed to your goal and at the same time approach your return to school as an “experiment.” When I did this, taking general chemistry after over 20 years out of school, I described it as: “Well, chemistry was really painful when I tried it the first time around, so I need to see if it’s gotten better!” (It was MUCH better when I knew what I was working for.)
This is rambling but I hope my point is coming across, that you can be wholeheartedly committed to a goal but still approach it in small increments that will help you figure out just how you’ll make it to that goal.
Good luck!

Hi there,
As Mary RR has stated above, you need to have a good support system in terms of your children and your finances. One of the problems with making an attempt at medical school later in life is that you have responsibilites and life issues above and beyond the traditional applicants yet you are responsible for meeting the same deadlines and obligations as the traditional applicant.
Get your support system in place, make plans for getting your pre-med courses done and make a definitive plan for MCAT prep and examination. I cannot emphasize more, the importance of good study and planning when it come to this test.
The nice thing is that you have plenty of time. You do not have to rush anything and should not rush anything. Get a strategy for accomplishing what you need and move toward your goal in small steps.
Good luck and welcome to the group.

Greetings Tammy!
Welcome to the group that says “You’re never too old to pursue medicine as a career choice!!” I made the decision to become a physician several years ago but, things got into the way so, I decised to put things in the back burner for a while. Then, I joined this group maybe two years ago and have never looked back. Made a decision to take a “fork” in the road to pursue a career in Respiratory Therapy to gain good critical thinking skills as well as put myself in the position financially to pursue medical school. It was a very good decision because, not only have I been exposed to some areas of medicine I may not have seen until medical school(I will be in the OR for open heart surgery this Thursday at the Cleveland Clinic and will be able to round with an Anesthesiologist from the Cardiothoracic Anesthesia section the next week at clinicals) but, I have already accepted a RT position after graduation in the city I would like to attend medical school in(Rochester, NY). So, being older definately means more planning and more things to consider(especially if you already have a family and obligations) but, it can be done. You need to start prioritizing the things that are important to you, take things one day at a time, get a good study system in place, try to surround yourself with positive people(this group is definately a start), have faith in yourself, and finally, as the Nike commercial said…“Just Do It!!!” Good luck to you and God Bless!!!

Mary, Amy & Natalie!
Thanks so much, I do appreciate the input. I am planning out my pre-med courses right now and will figure out when I can take the MCATs. As a backup plan I will also take the general GRE and Psychology GRE in case I need to go that route instead.
Hubby was shocked and dismayed when I brought up grad school …I can’t even imagine what the reaction will be when I tell him about this. And, yes, this is an issue that needs to be dealt with. The situation is a continual source of stress. Fortunately, my parents are absolutely wonderful and will provide all the support they can.
I’ve already made hotel reservations for the conference next year!
Thanks again!!

Hi Mary,
I read with interest both your response and the long version linked in your signature. What a fantastic story! Congratulations!! Knowing that others, in similar situations, have made it is such an inspiration.
Interestingly, I too live in Northern Virginia. My undergrad degree is from GMU and my masters is from Marymount. As with you, relocation is not an option so I will be applying to both Georgetown and GWU.
Having gone through the program at GWU, can you tell me what your experience has been like?

Hey Tammy,
I really liked GWU. I wrote a lot more about it in this thread. When I wrote that, I hadn’t started internship yet so expressed some uncertainty about how well I was prepared clinically, even though I’d gotten lots of assurances that GWU did a good job at that.
Now I can say without a doubt that I was well-prepared, and those working with me seem to think so too. Whew.
I am glad to hear that you’re already planning to attend the convention next June! You will get lots and lots of good information and support for your journey. Let me know if the link provokes more questions and I’ll try to answer 'em.

Hi there,
I know that you directed this post to Mary RR but why not include Howard University College of Medicine in your application scheme. Contrary to popular belief, it is a very good medical school with a good track record of training excellent physicians of all colors. It is also my alma mater for medical school. It is much cheaper than GWU or GT and has excellent financial aid. I was able to get a full-ride tuition scholarship which made attendance to medical school extremely nice. I have nominal loans to pay off and I am in an excellent residency (General Surgery/Cleveland Clinic) after spending two years at Virginia (where I will return for my Vascular Surgery fellowship).

Nat, thanks for completing my post. I actually intended to comment that I made a mistake by not including Howard on my original list, but in the back-and-forth of looking for my earlier thread, I forgot that point.
Anyway, what Natalie said! I did not think I was an attractive candidate for Howard because I could not make a strong case for an interest in underserved communities, and I didn’t want to come across as insincere. What I’ve learned since is that while Howard does have a mission to serve underserved communities, and of course it has a strong heritage of serving the African-American community, its medical school is much more LIKE the other med schools in the area than it’s different. So anyone applying in the D.C. area should definitely keep Howard on their list.

Wow! I can’t believe I didn’t know about Howard Medical! I looked at 3 different lists of medical schools in this area and Howard was not listed (these were older books but still…!). I will definately check into Howard as well.
Could you have stayed local for your residency or did you ask to go elsewhere? With 4 kids in school, relocating the whole family would be difficult. Reloating me without them would be even more difficult!

Hi there,

Many of my classmates stayed in the DC area. Howard is the oldest medical school in Washington DC having been incorporated in 1869 so it has been around for awhile. Howard used to be considered a medical school only for Africian-American students but it is quite diverse and accepts students of all races and ethnic backgrounds. One of its strengths is its diversity of students both ethnically and age-related. One of my classmate started medical school at age 52 and is now in his last year of Family Practice Residency.

One does not ASK for residency positions from medical school but rather chooses locations. In the DC area, there are many residency opportunities both military and civilian because of the high number of hospitals and because of the three medical schools located within the city limits and three more within an hours drive.

Howard is an excellent school and tends to attract a diverse student body primarily from Florida and California. Many student tend to go back home for residency but many opt to stay in the DC area.

When I am done with General Surgery residency here in Cleveland, I will return to Charlottesville for Vascular fellowship and eventually will practice in the Northern Virginia area. I am currently holding two law school acceptances from schools in Virginia. In either event, there are many options in the DC Metro area.


Thanks for the clarification. I guess I didn’t phrase that very well did I? I knew you didn’t specifically ask to go or not go to a certain place…that you got matched somehow. While I’m not clear on how matching is actually done, I assumed that you could ask for the DC area or if you like warm weather you could ask for Florida, etc. This is an area I haven’t gotten to yet in my reading
My goodness you were accepted into both law and medical schools. How amazing is that!! You have created some incredible opportunities for yourself.