Hi All,

I discovered this site a few months ago and I’m glad I did. It seems to be a great resource. I have a few questions for people on here though. First off a little about me. I’m 27 year old guy, married with 2 children living close to Atlanta, GA. I’ve been working in IT since I was 16 and I’m currently working full time with not really any option of working part time. My wife is a prenursing student who does not currently work and she is about to finish up her freshman year this spring. I was a high school drop out but I do have my GED. Recently I’ve found myself wanting to pursue my dream of helping people. I’ve finally made the decision that I’m going to go back to school and try for med school. My plan is to major in biology. My questions are, what type of course load should I take? I was thinking 9hrs but I would like to hear what other people think. Also I plan on taking my non science prerequisites at a community college for about 2 years and then transfer to a 4 year institution to finish all my other prerequisites including my biology and chemistry classes. I would also welcome any helpful tips that people may have.

Can anyone help me out with some guidance? I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m a high school dropout and have my GED or what but I’m about to start classes this summer and would appreciate any guidance that anyone can offer.

My GED scores were very high. I scored in the 99th percentile in both science and social studies, the 95th percentile in math, 92nd percentile in language arts reading, and 88th percentile in language arts writing.

My questions are whether or not I should take my non science prerequisites at community college? I have a 4 year university close by but they are considerably more expensive and I would rather save the money for now if it won’t affect my chances of getting into med school.

Also, I’m working full time and would like to know what people recommend as far as course load goes. I was thinking 9hrs per semester until my wife graduates nursing school and gets a job, which should be in summer 2017. I would then start going full time until I graduated.

Also would being in undergraduate school for that long of a period of time look bad to an admissions committee? I mean I’m working full time to support my family right now as the only source of income and I’m not sure I would do well taking a full load until my wife has a job and can support us.

Also I would like any recommendations that people can provide as far as getting started goes. I don’t want to mess up my chances at getting into med school. I would appreciate any help that people can provide.

Nine credits is too much. Don’t take more than 2 classes at a time. Look up the admissions requirements for some the medical schools you’re planning on applying to. Maybe you can do the whole associates degree in biology at the community college and then transfer to the 4 year school. Not all medical schools get hissy about science credits that are taken at a community college and insist that they be done in a 4 year school. In my state the community colleges and the state universities use exactly the same course numbers and content for these classes.


Those are some tough questions to answer without personally knowing you. That said, I can tell you how it did it, though my situation is very different from yours in some respects.

When I went to college nearing my mid-20s, I was able to attend full time and without needing to work. I am married but did half of my degree without any kids. I started off at university - also majoring in biology - taking the minimum of 12 units in order to keep my scholarship. I considered community college at first, but my situation best permitted me to enroll in a university. Slowly, semester by semester, I increased my course load to 21 units per semester, point there being that I started off slow and steadily built a busier schedule - again my situation permitted, and at times required, this.

Taking 9 units may be too much for you, but then again it may not. Test the waters to see what you can handle. Pay very close attention to add/drop dates with refund. Those dates will be your friend during this trial peiod. Read your school’s course withdraw policies, and do your absolute best to avoid getting a “W” on your transcript (there is a period during the semester when you can drop a class and receive a full refund and there is no notation on your transcript - poor grades and Ws will require an explanation when it comes time to interview for med school).

Something I strongly suggest you do, before embarking on this long and expensive journey, is to find a phyhsician to shadow or volunteer for, in a hospital setting. I worked directly for, and on behalf of, doctors in the military for a while, and from what I have seen in the real world now (as I work in a federal hospital) is that the daily grind of a hospital doctor is very different from the image that schools and the media sell to you. I do not intend to discourage you in any way shape or form, but rather to encourage you to inform yourself as much as possible about this…there are many undergrads who drop out of the pre-med race and put themselves in a position of being stuck with a degree that you can’t do much with (e.g., biology). That is something which concerned me greatly after life events pushed my med school application timeline back a couple of years, but since you already have a full time job that may not apply to you.

Best of luck to you, and welcome again! Whatever you do, stay away from SDN for the most part, and do everything you can to educate yourself about the long road to becoming an MD.

Addendum - Have you researched becoming a DO? How about a PA? Becoming a PA might be much more conducive to your schedule. What about becoming an RN with an ultimate goal of nurse practitioner? There are many roads to becoming a medical provider!!

Thank you to Rgp1207 and Jfowler for the good information. After reading the replies, I’m going to start off with 6hrs or 2 classes. I don’t want to overwhelm myself initially and do bad in class because of it. I will also make sure to familiarize myself with add/drop dates for classes and what policies the school has for withdraw.

I have also heavily researched the specialty in which I’m interested in which is emergency medicine. I have always been a “jack of all trades and master of none” type of person and I believe that emergency medicine perfectly fits my personality. I have read several blogs about emergency medicine and have tried very hard to find the positives and negatives of the field to make sure it’s what I want to do.

I would like to shadow a physician to make sure that I see what the field is really like but I’m not sure where to start. My wife has several family members who are nurses at hospitals. Would it be a good idea to talk to them and see if they could set something up for me? What would be the best way to go about trying to find a physician to shadow?

I have also researched becoming a DO, PA, and NP along with a CRNA or RN. In fact for quite a while I thought that I wanted to become a PA. It seemed like the perfect fit. However, the more I researched, the more I felt drawn towards emergency medicine and in particular being an emergency physician. I don’t know what it is but I can’t help but be drawn towards this specialty. I spend my free time reading articles about medicine and in particular emergency medicine. I know it’s not all trauma and heart attack patients but I like the fact that I would get to see and treat all kinds of illnesses and treat people of all types regardless of financial status.

I still have a lot to think about and this is only the beginning. I have to worry about the stress I will put on my family and myself with going to school and having to move, not to mention the amount of debt I will incur trying to attain this dream of mine. It’s made me think long and hard about what I want and I still have plenty to think about. Since it will take a year or two to complete my non science prerequisites, then that gives me a little more time to make the decision on whether or not this is really what I want. Either way I plan on pursuing a degree but it may not necessarily be in biology.

See I currently work for a large company that has big plans for me and I have a solid future with the guarantee to have earnings in the $70k+ range in another year or two and then possibly in the $100k+ range in the future. I know it seems crazy to a lot of people to throw away a future in which I’m making a good living for a future filled with uncertainty, debt, and basically starting over from the bottom. Right now I’m having a hard time rationalizing to myself the benefits, but I feel that this is what I was meant to do. Please don’t take this as uncertainty in what I want, because I know that becoming a physician takes commitment. I have a family though and for me my family comes first. I have to make the decision that’s right for them and for me.

I guess I will take this one step at a time though and see where this leads me. I appreciate the replies so far and welcome anymore advice that anyone can offer, especially regarding shadowing.