Any Older Canadians Trying to Get into MedSchool?

I’m a 41 year old Canadian in Canada about to give up on a successful Marketing career to try to get into Med School. I did a BSc in the 80s but my first 2 years were abysmal!! I rocked my last year (it took me a while to figure out how to study as I didn’t have to in high school). I applied to med school at that time but not surprisingly did not get in. Being practical, I decided instead to do my MBA (did pretty well GPA wise) and ended up in Marketing for a communications company. I’ve done very well career wise, but my heart is not in it. As I get higher up the corporate ladder I see all these people with a burning fire for the business world and the only time I feel like that is when I read medical articles, books or watch Discovery Health. So I’ve decided it’s now or never. I’m going to quit work in the spring, study my heart out for 4-5 months (while taking a MCAT prep course) and then write the MCAT. I am also going to go back to university full time in the fall as a couple of universities up here will consider me if I take that extra year. I’ll apply to a few med schools for admitance in fall 2009 and see how it goes. I’m expecting to apply again for the fall of 2010. It’s a scary decision because I make a good living and I am going to be giving that all up. It will all be worth it though when I get in to med school and when I graduate as many of you have.

So Mary Renard - your story is very inspirational for me. Thanks for posting it.

Richard B - where are your rules? I can’t seem to find them.

Way to go Old Man Dave - you are truly inspirational!!

So back to the question in my topic - any Canadians around here?

Welcome, LJSimpson . You’ll want to check out some posts by Presee, who’s also Canadian, eh.

hey there, your plan sounds pretty good. Presse is in his first year of med school and we haven’t heard from him in awhile but he’s older than you by about ten years I think!

There have been a few Canadians to hang out here over the years. The impression I’ve gotten is that it is somewhat harder for non-trads to make the cut in Canada, where med schools seem to be even more numbers-driven than in the States. But Presse is our proof that it can be done, and your plan certainly sounds like one with a good chance of succeeding, so good luck to you!


Canadian by marriage (my daughter-in-law is from Toronto)

Hello LJSimpson

A post from a fellow Canadian was sure to catch my attention! I’m 52, also Canadian - from Quebec, and started studying Medicine at U.Sherbrooke in late August. I’ve kept busy, so while the frequency of my posting on the board has gone down, I do log in once a week or so to catch up on what others are doing.

Check out CanuckMom’s posts - from Vancouver. I do not know if she actually is in MedSchool or not though.

Whereabouts are you? Application requirements vary considerably from one province/school to the next, so you want to have a close look at your favorite schools’ web sites, and use that information to fine tune your plan. There is quite a variety in programs available as well, from 3 year to 4 year to ‘optional’ 5 year programs. Some Universities have more hurdles to jump over before you can apply, others fewer.

You and I have ‘similar’ backgrounds - BSc., business experience, etc… all dating a couple of decades. Originally, I too, had thought that one year of intense effort at preparing for the MCAT sounded about right. I was wrong. I crafted the best possible personal program, and could not figure any way of doing it in less that 3 semesters full-time. Several courses (GChem, Physics, Calculus) I had done 20 years ago, so they were essentially a review for me. Still, I found I really had to roll up my sleeves to tackle all the pre-reqs, do the assignments, course-work, and get the A+ required for a decent chance at getting accepted to Med.School. I was able to fit in a few ‘extras’ (Histology, Physiology, Molecular Biology) over and above the stated requirements: to look good, to convince myself I can handle a heavy load, and to convince any adcoms I was up to par. I am really glad I took those courses - they helped me get it, and they are giving me a well appreciated edge now that I’ve started medicine. Several schools in western Canada have a 1 year English (Litterature, Journalism, Writing, …) requirement; so you might have to fit that in as well. Most schools have an 8 year limit concerning the recency of any prerequisite courses. You will have to retake such courses, even if you did take them, but that was more than 8 years ago.

As for the MCAT, I worked like the devil to get ready for it. Mid-way through the course-work, I realized that several of the schools I was planning to apply to, teach in French. MCATs aren’t given in French. So, you may have guessed, MCATs are NOT a selection criteria in 3 (Montreal, Laval, Sherbrooke) of the 4 (the 4th one being McGill) universities in Quebec. So although I was well on my way getting to ready to write the MCAT, that actually never happened. That made me a very happy man! I applied to the 3 French schools, and forewent applying to McGill.

Shadowing is a big deal for applying to American schools; I have found that that is not the case in Canadian schools. As a matter of fact, I have found our health system to downright frown upon having lay people shadowing a doc. I asked, tried, inquired, … most authorities I turned to didn’t even know of the concept of ‘shadowing’. Go Figure!

Volunteering on the other hand was a big eye opener for me. I did approximately 300 hours, spread over 2 years. I enjoyed the experience, the contact with patients, nurses, doctors. Our health system has its qualities, but it does have flaws. Some health care workers are compassionate, generous and understanding; others are downright cruel and would be better employed elsewhere. I am glad I did the volunteering, but it was NOT considered at the 3 schools to which I applied.

So enough rambling on my part. If I can sum it up, I would say:

    Research your target schools

    Talk to admissions officers, if you can

    Plan carefully;

    Adjust your plan as you move forward

    Don't rush it, as an error will be difficult to undo

    Strive to surpass yourself - possibly surpassing others in the process; this is a competitive process

    Enjoy the ride; you will not succeed unless you derive enjoyment from the ride

    Make friends at school; choose them carefully; get together with them to review for exams

Pi304, MaryRenard

I feel honored that my past posts caught your attention. So, thank-you for mentioning my membership to the forum. I feel very indebted to this community. Over the two years I was preparing, I frequently did return to read posts. I found the forum to be a valuable motivator for me. In return, I made the commitment (to myself!) that I would start and share a diary - albeit a quarterly one. So, stay tuned, I will be making the first entries in my diary in approximately 3 weeks - at the end of my first semester. The program at USherbrooke uses a teaching methodology not frequently seen in med. schools - Problem Based Learning. I just love the concept and will have a lot to say in my diary about that.


Thanks Adam, Mary and Ron.

Very sound advice Ron. I have been researching now for about 3 months and only got over the complete confusion phase about 2 weeks ago.

I’m in Ontario, Toronto to be specific. My undergrad in Pharmacology and Physiology was from Toronto and I did my MBA at McMaster.

Looking at all the schools in Canada, I think my best bets are a few in Ontario. The Out of Province quotas are pretty small. Even in Ontario, some of the schools rank order based on where you live (rural, etc). I have been speaking to various people in the admissions office and based on the info I have, I think if I go back to univeristy in Sept and do another full time year of senior level courses, I have a shot at Western. Queens, the new Northern School of Medicine and Ottawa look somewhat promising as well. I thought McMaster would be a good bet, but they count all courses in their cummulative GPA calculations and my first 2 years of undergrad kill my cummulative GPA. All the other schools I’ve mentioned weigh the GPA calculations on latter years. None of them really will consider my MBA (might affect my GPA slightly through a graduate degree bonus point application in a couple of the schools).

I find the difference between Canada and US very interesting in terms of the availability of advice to premed students. It’s pretty much like pulling teeth in Canada to get anyone to speak to you. I’ve had to be pretty persistant and there doesn’t seem to be anyone up here in the “premed advisor role”. Yet in the US, every college and university seems to have premed advisors, post bacc programs etc. Weird…

I’m a little concerned about the MCAT, hence why I am going to quit work in the spring (end of March) and just study, study, study until July when I plan on writing it. If it goes badly, I’ll have to write it again before mid Sept or hold off applying until the next year.

Based on my conversations with the various admissions offices, no one has been concerned that all my prereqs were completed close to 20 years ago. I think I will follow up and ask that question specifically. I am currently taking an intro BIOL course through Athabasca’s Distance Ed program. It is all coming back to me, but it is really hard working fulltime (expectation there as well to be “available” at all hours to work on executive presentations and the like) and studying (those skills are a bit rusty).

Anyway, I’ll pop in now and again and let you guys know how it’s going. Looking forward to your Diary Ron.

Thanks again.



The tone of your post tells me you’ve done a fair bit of homework already. Also, your original degree in Pharmacology & Physiology will no doubt help you as you move forward and prepare for the MCAT.

I share with you that feeling of having to do it all ‘on my own’. One forum member here, Judith Colwell, does offer services in prepping an application, as a fee-based consulting service. I looked into her offering, and thought it was interesting; unfortunately the french-language component of my application had me do the whole process on my own.

I wish you luck and success as you set to prepare for the MCAT. You might want to have a look at the occasional ‘free trials’ that come up. Sorry if I can’t offer a link for that. A full year of study and courses certainly sounds like a good start.

Keep us posted!


Lynda, I wish you all the best. As Ron said, it sounds to me like you have gotten a lot of information in a short time - good for you! Believe it or not, you sound like you are way ahead of most people in your understanding of the process.

I would voice a teeny note of caution about your plan to take MCAT without much more additional coursework. I am glad to hear that the age of your prerequisites won’t be a problem for the places you are considering. I do think that you may encounter some difficulty in MCAT topics in biology, specifically genetics and cell biology. The changes in this field have been so rapid and profound! Your study and preparation will tell you if your current distance learning course has helped you enough to fill in that 20year gap… I don’t want to discourage you, just want you to be aware that this is one specific subject area that will need a lot of attention.

Good luck!


Thanks Mary for your comments. I have to admit the MCAT is what I am a bit uncomfortable with. I’m going to check with the univeristies here again, but I got the distinct impression that I should not retake the prereqs even if they are 20 years old. I am planning on taking an MCAT prep course in Apr - Jun, just not sure which one. I’m leaning toward Princeton. I plan on quitting work at the end of March and then focusing on studying for the MCAT which I hope to write in July or August.

I definitely hear what you mean about new advances in BIO. A lot of it is coming back to me with this distance course I’m taking, but there is quite a bit of stuff that seems new.

My hope is that the MCAT prep course will steer me in the right direction in terms of material to cover. From what I have uncovered, the universities here seem to focus on your last MCAT scores so it won’t hurt me if I take it a second time - will it? Do the MCAT Prep courses actually focus on what science material to cover. I expect to do a lot of studying on my own, I just want some direction and people I can turn to if I get stuck. Thoughts?


I’m originally Canadian but have been living in the US for 20 years. I applied to both US and Canadian med schools and found it was MUCH easier to get in in the US.

A few things are not at all obvious to the outsider. For example, Mac tells you their minimum GPA is 3.0. If you search around on their website, you will find out that >95% of their accepted students over the last few years have had GPA >3.8. They almost never take someone with GPA <3.5. I did not know that when I applied.

If you plan to apply in Canada, I think Presse has excellent advice. You really have to know the specifics for each school. Many, many Canadians are turned down even with wonderful applications; you will need perseverance. The system also STRONGLY favours younger, traditional applicants. If you take any courses part-time (i.e. not a full course load), many schools WILL NOT count them towards your GPA. There is a woman who posts on (in the “Canada” forum) and on the Canadian pre-med forum

who had to go back and retake courses with a full-time load for that reason.

Go and check out premed101; they will have a lot more Canada-specific advice, although fewer OPMs.

good luck

p.s. DO NOT take the MCAT until you are fully ready. Particularly in Canada, many schools have very strict cutoffs and will not consider you if your score is below the cutoff. You do not want to take it the first time just to see how you do. Approach it very seriously (which I think you are, but I just want to reinforce that point).

Thanks Meowmix. I hear you about McMaster. Everyone told me that was my best shot, but after doing a fair bit of research, I think it is bottom of my list now in terms of realistically being considered. The post the 3.0 GPA minimum, but then include every course you have ever taken. Other schools like Queens and Western focus on the 2 best years or the 2 last years. I have a much better shot with those.

I hope to write the MCAT in July or August next year. I’ll see how it goes. It seems that most of the schools in ON that require the MCAT only look at the most recent so I think I am OK if I have to redo it, although I would defintely prefer not to.

I’m also thinking of applying to a few schools in the US. Trying to narrow the list to ones that admit Canadians and have admitance criteria that my profile will fit.

Definitely recognize that this will not be a slam dunk and that it will likely take a few attempts to get in. I think I’ve got a pretty good back up plan if plan A goes off the rails.

Thanks again for the advice.


Hi Presse,

It great that you got in to Sherbrooke, that is my first choice for medical school. I am 44 and right taking my pre-requisites to apply next year. I was worried about applying in Quebec because I tought I would be considered too old since the CEGEP students seem to be given priority and the remainder seats are for University students.

How was your admission test and interview at Sherbrooke? I am also applying to Laval and Montreal did you interview there?

What are suggestions in applying in Quebec?


Hello JouJou and welcome to the forum.

The four med schools in Quebec have quotas (quite limiting ones I am lead to believe) pertaining to out of province/country applicants. I believe these quotas are documented on the schools’ websites. Canadian schools in general have a reputation for significantly biasing acceptances in favor of in-of-province applicants. I am currently aware that we have 2-3 westerners enrolled; we also have a ‘delocalised’ campus in Moncton NB, where 24 students are located, all from the Maritimes. PM me if you want more on that.

I absolutely love the PBL approach (en Français, APP) used in Sherbrooke, though it does require a lot of discipline and autonomy. The countryside setting is also quite a plus for me. I’ve actually seen deer in the morning on the 5 minute walk to school!

In addition to USherbrooke, I had also applied to UMontreal, ULaval. I did not apply to McGill because of the MCAT requirement there, for which I was not ready at the time. Had I not been accepted at Sherbrooke, I would eventually have written the MCAT and then applied to McGill, one year later.

USherbrooke did not have an ‘interview process’ as such last year. They only held a ‘psychological profile’ (TAAMUS) test, which was great fun to take! That has changed this year though. As I understand, applicants will now have 6 ‘mini-interview’ stations go through. At each station, a scenario is given, and the interviewe is asked to participate in a 5-10 minute role-play with the interviewers.

UMontreal and ULaval both had very structured group & invidividual interview processes. UMontreal turned me down from the start. ULaval kept me on their wating list right until start of school, but I didn’t quite make it in.

Where are you from?

Good luck and keep the forum posted!


Hi Presse,

I live in Montreal and I am applying to medical school in Quebec next year (March 1), but I am also looking this to the US, Ontario and maybe Calgary. I am getting ready for the MCAT in August. I am nervous about writing the essay for the medical schools, I know people say to be yourself but I am debating on what is important and what should be left out.

How is it going for you? What are you finding difficult?

Hey guys,

Just thought I’d say hello. I’m 31 and trying to improve my low GPA from my first degree in Mech Eng. Bit of a career change, but that seems to be the norm on this site.

A bientot.