Everything old is new again!

Hi everyone.

Brand new here. I’ve just signed up because I’m questioning my sanity.

I’ve just registered for the fall semester at my local state college to begin the sophomore year of a degree that I never completed a few decades ago. Got the textbooks, all set for Biology and Chemistry and a little Math, yum! All I need now is the tatoo on my lower back.

Counted on my fingers, and figured that if everything goes perfectly, no hitches, (and we all know how often that happens) I can be a PGY1 when I’m 56 years old. Oddly enough, my husband is completely supportive. Perhaps he wants me out of the house. You think…?

Am I the most elderly non-traditional pre-med here? Do I get a little plastic trophy or something?

Nice to meet you all. (I’m an optimist!)


First of all, welcome to OPM. As you journey through premed-dom and then med school you will find this group especially helpful.

Second, no you’re not the oldest. I will be 57 when I begin my PGY-1 year. I am now in the middle of my 3rd year due to a leave of absence (failed my boards and had cancer. . . see cancer updates under Open Family Room). Because of that I will graduate about 9 months after the rest of my class.

I too have a wonderfully supportive husband. Without him I think the journey would have been even more difficult if not impossible.

If you have any questions about being an older medical student, either post them here or PM me. I love talking about the fact that older does NOT mean dead!!

Best of luck as you begin your journey and be sure and keep us posted.

Linda, thanks for your welcome. I feel so encouraged knowing that I’m not alone. The personal journey that led me to my decision to pursue medicine is a long and pretty weird one, but now that I’ve come to the decision, the need to do it has sort of seized me by the throat and won’t let go.

It’s a bit frightening. I think I’ll need all the friends I can make along the way.

Congratulations to both of you. You’re an inspiration to all of us.

You are both wonderfully inspiring to me! I returned to college nearly three years ago after 15 years out, not having a degree and never having taken a math or science course in my life. I’ve kept my 3.5gpa, took the April MCAT and did “average” but am retaking in Aug to improve, and am having the time of my life. I just submitted AMCAS and it felt incredibly wonderful

I never realized there were other folks who were “old” (I’m 44 and barely feel like an adult some days!) and had this deep drive to become a physician. Wow what a gift to be with others with the same dream. The best to you, Helice, and thankyou Linda for your great enthusiastic encouragement. Knowing you’re “doing it” inspires me!


Welcome, Helice!

You will be in good company to be a PGY-1 in your mid-50’s. I will start med school this fall at the age of 51, so I am looking at being a PGY-1 at just about the same age you are! Glad to have you in our midst!


So! I’m shyly revealing my plans to go “pre-med” to my own docs, with the intent of hitting them up for shadowing.

I tell my family practitioner, who says “Oh WOW, that’s great! Of COURSE you can shadow me, I’ll put a white coat on you, you can follow me, ask questions, but watch out! Some ‘wacky’ things can happen in this office!”

I shyly tell my gynecologist. “That’s GREAT!” she beams. “I’d love to have you! Of course, not all patients will be willing to have you come in and observe, but we can ask! But look out – a whole lot of wacky things happen in this office!”

I clear my throat and confess my plans to my ophthalmologist. “Geez!” he wheezed, looked a bit stunned. “That’s, uh, that’s… something! I had an uncle who wanted to go to medical school uh, later in life, but he never did. But yeah sure, we can do shadowing, we just have to watch out for HIPAA and get patients to agree, which shouldn’t be too hard, and I’d be happy to have you observe me do corneal surgery. But, you should know, you might see some ‘wacky’ things happen, it can get crazy in this office.”

So, aside from the GREAT bit about getting three great physicians to okay me shadowing them (and only one semi-crack about my old age!)… what is this “wacky” thing? Do ALL doctors think their own practices are particularly “wacky”?

By the third time I heard that word I had a very hard time holding my face straight. Oh yes. A very hard time indeed. But I did it for Medicine!!

I think every doctor thinks s/he has a particularly crazy set of patients. At my office it’s like a one-upsmanship contest: "You’ll never guess what a patient told me today… " "Oh yeah, well listen to THIS… "

For many, many people - far more than I realized - anxiety, stress, depression, and outright insanity manifest themselves as somatic complaints. Headaches, yeah sure. Fatigue - of course. Back pain - more than you’d think. Irregular periods, indigestion, chest pain, you name it - in at least SOMEBODY out there (and often a whole lot of somebodies) some seemingly straightforward “physical” problems turn out to have at least some of their roots in fears, sadness, difficulties coping, etc. etc. etc.

Hence “You may see some wacky patients in here!” And while primary care is definitely the mother lode of nuttiness, I recall a conversation with a patient who had years ago had an ophthalmic complaint, that was investigated and diagnosed readily by an ophthalmologist - but the patient persisted in describing it as an impending retinal detachment, several years after it had been laid to rest as “floaters.” She was still worried and anxious about it. Thus all the scientific explanations in the world weren’t going to do any good.

There are some times when I wish I could’ve done a combined FP/Psyc program because I do a LOT of psychiatry… um, then I whack myself upside the head and remind myself that I wouldn’t even be halfway through residency (as opposed to in my last year) and say, “Whew!”


  • Mary Renard Said:
primary care is definitely the mother lode of nuttiness

Thank you Mary! As I go through my journey (wherever it takes me) I will definitely remember this pearl the entire way.

When I was a temp, I went to many corporate offices. My best friend and housemate was also a temp. (We were both aspiring filmmakers, and fast typists, which put together = temp.) I hesitate to say it was 100%, but probably 99% of the offices that both of us went to had someone give us a tour and at some point, the person would say, “It gets pretty crazy around here” or “we’re a crazy bunch” or “We’re all pretty wacky.” (It’s all a distant memory but my guess is that the only place where no one said this was a small architectural practice where the employees were actually kind of crazy and wacky.) We lived in San Francisco but most people who work in corporate offices in SF live in the suburbs and commute in. To be able to even walk into these offices we had to change our clothing and appearance and language considerably in order to seem normal enough to fit in. And from our point of view, every single one of these offices was stultifyingly boring and the people in them were stunningly ordinary. “Oh, OK” we’d say politely, “I’ll try to be ready for anything.”

The “wackiest” thing I saw was an electric company’s executive playing a celebratory game of putting golf balls down the halls of each floor in the company’s skyscraper, to celebrate his victory before a state regulatory board in which he had won the company the right to hike consumer rates. And the “craziest” thing I saw was a bunch of people being laid off at a computer company which went through periodic cycles of overhiring and firing.

In short, I don’t think they’re actually saying anything about medicine.