Decision time

Hi guys - as a more “mature” non-trad I find that there are way too many complications to just getting on with the journey. With a wife, one kid just out of college, one in college and one on the way to college, there are financial and advisory roles to play. Other family issues like health of parents, having a balance of family time and work/study/class time, being available to be a good Dad, etc sometimes have to take priority. Although I thought I could manage all that, now a seemingly great opportunity has come up in my full-time job life. And with opportunity comes more complication.

In my current job, I make good money, I have the flexibility to take 1 or maybe 2 classes right now (also taking in account the current obligations of family, etc). However I don’t like what I am doing and there is some risk to maintaining my current level of compensation. I am being offered a position with another company which will pay more, allowing me to pay off debt very rapidly. This is all good as my wife is concerned about finances once I start med school and beyond, especially carrying debt and wanting to fund our children’s college education. In fact if all goes well I could save a significant amount of money over a period of 2 or 3 years that will be needed in the “lean years” of med school and residency.

The problem is that it may become difficult to take any class work. I may be able to squeeze in 1 class but not sure right now.

I don’t want to quit on my dream to become a physician, but see that this new job could help resolve some financial issues in getting there. I just am concerned about stopping the pre-req classes for 2-3 years at my age (48). Even if I could only take 1 class at a time, at least I am making forward progress.

Is it feasible to take some of the classwork online? For example, I could take gen chem 1 and 2 online for the lecture part, and then take the real labs in the evening. Could work with organic too perhaps?

Also spreading out the courses over 4-5 years sounds like a detriment for taking the MCAT. I guess I will need a longer period of time to review for the MCAT when the time comes.

On one hand the job opportunity sounds like a great enabler to meet my family obligations and pursue a career in medicine. On the other hand it feels like a major distraction.

Thoughts anyone?

When I was in the service, a fellow sailor was able to knock-out all the premed prerequsites at Mountain State University ( … ). The school is regionally-accredited and is a four-year state university. The tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state residents and isn’t too outrageous. Lab components are offered for all the premed lecture courses ( … ). According to my friend, computer simulation programs supplied to you on DVDs are used by you to complete the chemistry and physics labs at home and prefabricated kits containing tissue slides, specimen samples, and safe-to-ship chemicals are used by you to complete the biology labs.

Oh, if this is a big deal to you, my friend mentioned that the transcript is notated no differently in taking independent study courses versus the traditional, residential courses at Mountain State University. Basically, you’d have to be asked directly to find-out which type of learning method you had undertaken. According to my friend he never was asked this question during his medical school interviews, but he did mention that his coursework was through distance learning at one medical school interview to answer a question about his self-discipline. This happens to be the medical school he currently attends. Granted, his medical school uses PBL, but in retrospect, he strongly recommended to me and to any other nontraditional premed to try to take as much of their premed coursework at a local college or university before going the Mountain State University distance learning route. It’s hard for professors to get to know you through distance learning and, thus, hard for them to write recommendation letters for you.

Hi 3T,

If my two cents mean anything, if I were in your shoes I would do some volunteering now at the local hospital or something along those lines. Two things can be accomplished by doing this. One, you will be immersed in the field you feel very passionately about and you will learn more about if this is really what you want to do. Two, depending on how much you like it, you might consider keeping the lower paying job and sacrificing to make your dream come true. I know you are eager to get back in the classroom but if you are already thinking that its going to take you at least three years to complete your studies, getting volunteer experience now really does not extend your timeline that much.

Something else - you have to get the approval of your wife. She has to be just as enthusiastic about you completing your studies as you are. I think your children have to want you to do it too but I also don’t think its important for parents to have their children’s permission to pursue their dreams (but then again, I am single w/o any kids).

I am not sure about the online studies programs. I think Ms. Colwell would be the best person here to answer that question. My concern is how do medical schools feel about them? I know online study is becoming more accepted but I haven’t heard any stories about it when it comes to medical school admissions.

One last thing, if you do pursue medicine, try not to spread it out your undergrad classes too much. Meaning, five years is too long to just do the basic pre-med requirements. I worked fulltime and lived on my own while doing a post-bac so I was limited on time and courses I could take. Even though this was listed on my AMCAS and secondary applications, every single interview I went on, both to schools I was accepted to and rejected from, the question that would always come up was, ‘could you handle a full course load in medical school?’ Despite a good MCAT score and GPA, three courses a semester, and a fulltime job, my interviewers were concerned I might not be able to handle the load (not necessarily the material though). Like I said though, I got accepted to some of those schools who asked the question but I also got a few rejections as well. I am not saying that was the sole reason why I was rejected from some schools but I can’t help to think it may have been part of the decision. Anyway, if you are going to do this, I say jump in with both feet. Volunteer and bank a lot of money now, and in a couple of years or whenever you are ready take this challenge on, do it with a full head of steam.

We will all be rooting for you!

  • the dude Said:
... I am not sure about the online studies programs. I think Ms. Colwell would be the best person here to answer that question. My concern is how do medical schools feel about them? I know online study is becoming more accepted but I haven't heard any stories about it when it comes to medical school admissions.

Medical school admissions committees tend to be a bit of a conservative lot. And we are still in an era when many admissions committee members have been dragged kicking and screaming into the computer world. Trust me, they are not jumping on the "online-fulfills-prerequi sites" bandwagon. Avoid online pre-reqs like the plague.

I couldn't tell from your posting whether or not you have significant medical exposure (volunteering or working in a medical environment). If you don't, you might want to get some volunteering in an in-patient facility before you turn your life upside down with classes. What if you aren't as enamored with smelly cranky sick people as you think you will be? Better to find out now rather than later. :-)