I am realizing that shortly, I will need to answer this question in both a personal statement to get me into Post Bacc, and also in interviews for Post Baccs. I do not know if my personal experience as to how this came to be in my life is the type of answer they look for. I literally just realized one day, that I am unable to serve my patients the way I would truly like to, without being a doctor, and for the first time, thought of myself as CAPABLE of reaching for that goal. I know that 50 may be pretty late for that realization, but for me, that is exactly how it happened. Once having realized it, I was not able to manufacture any excuse as to why I should not do it. Consequently, I am doing it!!! Is that the sort of story that will “fly” with admissions committees??? I mean I can talk about my desire to better serve underserved populations, etc…but what I am talking about up above is literally my reason as to Why now?? I would love to hear some experience, strength and hope on personal statements and interviews…
I’m going through something very similar: I’m an RN working towards his MD. I will keep tabs on this thread in hopes to find some insight.
Well, add me to that list of 'why med school, why now? I too will be a ‘young’ 51 this year, excellent health, and finishing my mba in health administration while working 50+ hour work weeks. MBA gpa is 3.6; 4.0 in stats and quant methods.
I’ve struggled my entire professional career whether to go to med school and always found excuses why not to or was dissuaded. I’m out of excuses and wondering about second chances. I will seek an advisor, start my pre-reqs, and see where this leads. If I have 20 years to practice medicine I will count myself blessed.
I hope to attend OPM in June and continue seeking answers.
There is no one size fits all here. It is a question on which you must reflect, and for sure, it will pop out given our non-trad background and life experiences.
The way I framed it
- Doing something that matters and has an impact. Health concerns are second to none, no matter what race, religion, status or beliefs one might have. Being able to do something in such situation is a privilege
- Being at the interface between the basic science and applied technologies. “From bench to bed”. I will be MD/PhD, and academic research while practicing is something I will consider
- Coming from France, pure social medicine, and belief it or not, this is a fantastic system. You wouldn’t believe how good it is. Not sure why there is so much resistance here. Anyway, I hope to bring some insight here. If I can contribute anything, in anyway, to make the system here better, then I gladly will.
All of these showed up during my interviews. Again, this is what I said.
As for why now? Well know that in my past I did go to med school when I was 18 back in France (the system is different over there), and didn’t succeed as planned. So I moved on, and I kind of tied this second opportunity to my path ever since. I have remained very close to medicine, just not in it.
I am not sure this will help any of you. But I think that you must be true to yourself, and also put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes: what points can you bring to show that 1) you have thought about it, 2) that you are sincere and 3) that you are convincing. So it is very important to think about this.
redo-it-all posted a valuable response in that there is no “one size fits all” answer to the very important question of “Why now?” But bear in mind that there are two separate questions:
- Why do you want to be a physician? ALL applicants must be able to answer that question. This is a wholly different question than “Why now?”
- Why now? Nontrads must be able to answer this question, and especially those who are older. Admissions committees will want to know why you didn’t consider a career in medicine before and, if you did, why you didn’t pursue it earlier. Unlike med school applicants who are younger, older applicants must provide more justification for their decision to pursue medicine. That’s just the way it is. You need to build EVIDENCE for your decision.
The answer to the second question won’t be the same for most people. It’s an individual response, based on your experiences, motivation, and circumstances. If you don’t know the answer to this question look deep inside yourself and really probe to get to the bottom of “why now?” You must definitely know within yourself why you’re doing this at this stage of the game and be able to justify it with admissions committees.
I hope this helps clarify for everyone!
I was getting ready to say, “Where is everyone? Redo? Kate? Gonnif? Gabe? Carrieliz? Terra? Pixie?” Surely, when looking at this vital question, y’all have some serious experience to share in this area… My main concern is I do not have the “I always wanted to be a doctor” routine. However 32 years in the helping professions and all of it in underserved populations has to say something about my desire to help and to care. I’m just not sure how much/how little of my personal beliefs one would share in terms of how I had my “koan” and realized this was not only what I wanted, but what I NEEDED to do - for two reasons: To serve my patients at the highest capacity, and to be fully of service to the God of my Understanding - the greatest healer. It just seems that for the countless many I have helped over the years, that my ability to do so would multiply and increase with the higher level of skills and credential. I think the only reason I never went this way before was the fact I was raised by a woman who was a 1940’s war bride and whose best hope for me was that I would “marry well.” She advised me to take typing in case I ever needed to support myself. She did not see me as “college material” or the role of a woman in general as such. I had to fumble my way through role change and beliefs and values in my own head to free myself from the limits of her vision, and begin to embrace my own. Not until I succeeded at a Master’s at age 35, did I fully realize I was capable of academics. Working alongside professionals in a medical setting gradually opened my mind and my eyes to the concept that this was something I could reach for and do as well. So bottom line, am I allowed to be a “late bloomer”??? What to say? What to leave out?
With all due respect, I don’t think there’s a way to “justify” going into medicine in your 40’s especially if you’re in a career you like and are compensated well, reasons most people seem to pursue their perspective careers.
So over the years as I’ve spoken to various med schools as a Supernontrad (nontrad over 40), when I’m asked this question, I answer it by talking about how I see myself making a contribution to the medical field with examples from things that I’ve already done, as both a volunteer and a researcher.
I was also asked why I should be admitted over someone younger which of course wasn’t framed that way because that would be illegal, but I’m REAL good at “reading between the lines”.
That said, I think that’s an important question that EVERY Supernontrad should practice having an answer for, why should they pick you over someone younger.
One more thing, the “cookie cutter” example of what motivated you to be a Physician ie “when I was 5, my aunt had a heart attack in front of me and I’ve wanted to be a cardiologist ever since” is the WRONG way to go because so many premeds have similar stories.
I think it’s about articulating what YOUR motivations are while standing out from the crowd.
- pathdr2b Said:
I think it's about articulating what YOUR motivations are while standing out from the crowd.
Beautifully stated!! For me, it was seeing illnesses that became incredibly acute because people lacked a primary care physician or had one but they didn't take the time to discuss healthy living and a healthy lifestyle that can be embraced.
- VickiV Said:
Ha! This made me laugh. Well, here I am! Better late than never, I hope ... my head has been buried deep, deep, deep in my MCAT books of late. (May 23, here I come!)
I will try to weigh in, as I am in the process of writing my personal statements right now. (Yes, that is "personal statements," plural - for MD/PhD, you have 3 essays. Your regular PS, plus an essay on "Why MD/PhD?" and an essay on "Significant Research Experiences." It's a lot of introspecting!)
First of all, you're not the only one struggling to articulate an answer to this question. But articulate you must. Concise and clear. Brainstorming helps me, sort of a "stream of consciousness" method, so I sat down at my laptop with a blank Word doc, and just started typing. I didn't edit at all (which is super hard for me), and just let things flow. What emerged isn't my PS (in so many words), but it provided some of the backbone, some of the concepts.
One thing I did in my PS draft (and it is definitely still a draft) was talk about both what I hope to give to medicine/patients, and what I hope to get out of medicine. (I hope that makes sense.) Regarding the former: Sure, we want to help people. If we didn't, we wouldn't be doing this. But how do you want to help people, exactly and specifically? Not what field/specialty do you want to enter, but what do you, as a unique individual, have to give to this profession and to the people you will be serving? Regarding the latter: What does medicine do for you? I think this is a totally valid question to answer in your PS. After all, you're giving years of your life, hundreds of thousands of dollars. There must be something attracting you. What is it? What makes your heart sing about medicine?
Regarding the "why now" question. I did consider medicine earlier in my life, but chose a different path (journalism). I realized, through my brainstorming exercise, that I had to leave my former career not because something drove me away from it, but because there was something lacking in me - in my attitude and sense - toward the writing/editing profession. I had no passion for it. I just didn't. But I had to take that path to figure that out. It was part of my journey, and I don't regret it.
OK, enough babbling from me. Back to my MCAT books. Hope this helped a bit!
- pathdr2b Said:
I think it's about articulating what YOUR motivations are while standing out from the crowd.
I agree 100% with Path!!
Every interview I attended hit on each of those points. Be ready to address it head-on.
I also think that in some ways it's easier for non-trads, especially "super-nontrads," because there is usually a very well-defined motivation for the move. After living 15-30yrs of "post-college" life (working, family, etc), most have a much better understanding of themselves, what's important to them, and what is motivating to them.
It's just a matter of sitting down and putting it on paper.