Applying To Medical School with Medical Condition?

Hi there,

I am a non traditional student who decided to tailor my career path and go the medical route (previously I was planning on doing research/PhD grad school route). I felt that medicine is one field that will allow me to put all of my passions, talents, and interests into practice. I have all my class pre-reqs, somewhat decent GPA (3.69), and few years of research under my belt (one first author and few co-author papers). I got my CNA last fall and currently volunteering at community clinic as well as ER department at one of the hospitals, while working full time in clinical research with patient exposure. I’m looking to start shadowing as well as potentially picking up PRN CNA or Scribe position to get even more patient exposure. Even though I struggled a bit between choosing MD vs PA-C route, I felt that MD route will provide me with more opportunities and doors to practice medicine on global health scale.

During my second year of college I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. With my poor luck of few PCPs, this condition wasn’t managed properly nor further looked at. I would be off and on medication, as my hormone levels would go up and then be in normal range again for long time. With my recent blood work showing elevated TSH levels again, and symptoms of hypothyroidism being stronger than ever (everything from lethargy, inability to loose weight, hard time concentrating, depression, brain fog and major memory issues), I finally got referral to go see endocrinologist last week. After carefully reviewing my case, she diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s disease. This came a big blow to me, since I was planning to apply for HPSP scholarship to fund medical school. Furthermore, my current symptoms are making it really hard to study for MCAT (will be taking it in September - hoping to apply to schools the summer of 2018). Finding the right dosage and medication to manage my symptoms might take months! I was reading few forums, and some folks mentioned that even with best medication combo, they still experience symptoms like brain fog and memory loss. I don’t want my condition to be my excuse to not pursue medicine, however, hearing and knowing what is coming up this medical school path scares me. What kind of doctor can I be if I have hard time recalling disease names, important tests, etc. Anyone else has similar story? Should I forget medical school and go for PA? Any advice is greatly appreciated!


PA school would be equally demanding, so I wouldn’t switch your track based on that…

I think the important thing for you now would be to get the endocrine stuff under control then reassess where you stand as far as your abilities to meet the technical competencies required for medicine (see AAMC technical standards for the list). Don’t rule yourself out based on the worst case scenario when it’s more rare than being fully controlled. My understanding is that hypothyroidism can be adequately treated and basically bring you back to “normal” function once you get your T3/4 back into normal range. If you feel comfortable with your current abilities while not fully controlled, you could definitely continue working toward your goal.

As far as HPSP, hypothyroidism that is controlled by medication is NOT disqualifying for military service, though you should probably look more deeply into that statement (ie if you’re already active duty vs trying to get in, is it career-option limiting, etc). You could go directly to a military medical recruiter (must be medical recruiter, not the “standard” recruiter), though I would do some research on your own beforehand. Recruiters aren’t known for being fully versed in the minutiae regulations that aren’t every day kind of things.


A doctor I have been following for a little while is Amy Meyers MD, who was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in her residency (I think), and ended up working to develop a functional medicine approach to Hashimoto’s and other thyroid and autoimmune disorders. You might check out her website and talk to your doc to see if diet and lifestyle approaches will complement the medical approach to helping you get stable and better.

My mom and her siblings are all hypothyroid, and I’ve basically been told I’ll most likely develop it, so I’ve been keeping an eye on the science, hoping to understand more about prevention and treatment as it comes out. I hope you’ll be able to find a good course, and even if it slows you down momentarily, don’t let it deter you from becoming a physician!