Fairly old guy seeks advice

I just stumbled on this site and am thankful something like this exists! It’s been a dream of mine since I was 14 years old to become a physician. Now, I am almost 42 years old and figured I was far too old to pursue my dream. Perhaps, I can be convinced this is not an impossible dream after all.

I have a BA in economics and an MBA in finance. I was a good student as an undergrad and a grad student. My GPA’s were 3.3 for both levels. I’ve had a very diverse work experience and a unique background.

I know I have to return to meet the pre-med requirements. I noticed there may be some programs out here in SoCal that would fulfill those requirements. My biggest concerns are: 1. The cost of it all, from both a monetary perspective and a psychological perspective. I already have $100k in debt from B-school! 2. What are my chances of really getting in to a program out here in SoCal? I can’t move. I have 2 kids and am re-married. My wife is already telling me this is a ridiculous dream. But, I am not one to give up so easily.

Anyone have some words of encouragement or discouragement?



You won’t find many words of discouragement here. And if you’ve been reading the posts, you will see your situation is not unique. For most non-trads, it will come down to persistence, planning and a willingness to accept the sacrifices that you (and your significant others) will need to make for you to attend medical school.

I live in socal, have an MBA, a fiance (who I’m still trying to convince), mortgage, and am working full-time while finishing up prereqs and studying for the MCAT. It’s not easy, and socal is not the best place to be a non-trad. My advice to you is to understand what it will take for you to go to med school and ask yourself whether being an MD or DO is worth the sacrifices involved. Not sure if you have experience in a health care setting, but now is the time to get it–be sure to talk to some physicians and other healthcare providers. My ‘opinion’ is if it’s something you are able to ‘leave behind’ you probably should.

Prereqs - you’ll need to take 8 classes at a minimum, and some schools require one or more of the following: biochem, genetics, molecular biology, upper division bio, etc. These non-core requirements can often be met after applying however. You should take most if not all of these at a 4-year school if possible, 1-2 classes at a time, with a 4.0 g.p.a. (or very close). You can take classes through a formal postbacc program (such as USC’s) or through UC or Cal State’s extension or open university programs. As a last resort, you could look at Saddleback, IVC, etc. You will need letters of recommendation from your professors. Formal postbacc programs tend to help with finding volunteer and shadowing opps and with letters of recommendation. If you are working, you will need to find classes in the evening (not very easy to find) or take time off during the summer and attend summer school, or quit your job outright. You will want to prepare for these classes in advance if possible to minimize the risk of a low grade. You will have the pleasure of competing against 18-22 year-olds with absolutely nothing else to do but study (fortunately for you, few will use the time they have :wink:

Money - you should make some financial projections so you truly understand the impact–lost salary (from when you have to quit your job…either now or later), cost of prereqs, application and interview costs, MCAT prep costs (if you take a class), relocation, tuition and cost of living for med school, the difference between a 40K resident’s salary minus loan payments, and the salary you would be earning six years from now, then the difference between the salary you will be making as a physician minus loan payments and malpractice insurance, and what you would conservatively make 10 years from now in your current profession. I have found the financial sacrifices are the most difficult to accept and rationalize. Not surprisingly, this is often the main point of contention in discussions (a.k.a. negotiations) between us and our significant others. Dreams are difficult to quantify.

Relocation - you can look at the stats on the AAMC site. It’s possible you would be accepted to a school in CA, but highly improbable. In my opinion, you must be willing to relocate out of state if you are a CA resident wanting to attend medical school. Others may have a different view. Your eventual postbacc gpa and MCAT score will give you more insight into your competitiveness, but the vast majority of in-state accepted applicants attend out-of-state.

Your family - if you have an incessant ‘need’ like most of us to attend medical school, I can assure you it will not likely be shared, understood, or even supported by your significant others. You may have seen other posts on this topic. My only advice here is to get everyone’s support before you go any further, and to remind yourself it’s a decision that will require that they sacrifice a lot as well. Many of us have a tendency to be a little egocentric at times. This is definitely not something that can be undertaken casually and without their full support–you won’t do well if you’re unable to make it your first (or at least a top) priority.

Shadowing & Caring Experiences - you’ll need to spend time gaining exposure to the medical profession and demonstrating that you enjoy giving back to the community, helping others, etc. Add this to your already full schedule.

Hope this helps

(if you haven’t already, you may want to visit www.studentdoctor.net for more posts on the MCAT, application process, etc.)


Thanks for the great reply. It was very informative. I know this is a major decision with many considerations. Your advice was quite helpful.

Welcome to OldPreMeds, you are among kindred spirits here. Your situation, both monetary and regarding your wife are nothing new to us. Read around and you will see.

I would suggest, reading some of the diaries of people who have “been there, done that” so you have a sense of what is ahead. In addition, do a search of the forums for the issues that are concerning you. I can tell you that a 100,000 debt from business school is not unique, but as you know being in business it is also an issue for schools to provide loans out with such a debt burden. This is not to say that it is not possible.

The first thing that you should realize is that this is not a sprint, it is a marathon. You have a long way to go. If you take only 1 class per semester, you are looking at least at 4 years of doing pre-requisites. Then you need to prepare for the MCAT and then apply. Why am I telling you this? Simply to bring home the point that this is a long haul plan. And you should sit your wife down and have a heart to heart about why you want to become a physician and even show her this site so that she understands where you are coming from. As I said before, you are among kindred spirits and so will she.

You may want to come to the conference this coming June and bring you wife so that she can see that this dream of yours is not only possible, but that it is being done by a lot of people. Sometimes significant others don’t want to see you get hurt or are worried about the future. The conference may ease her fears of the unknown.

Again, welcome.


Welcome to OPM, both Simon and Lapointe. Lapointe has some great advice there - that’s a heck of a first post.

In general, this is a question of whether you - and your family - are sufficiently motivated to make the sacrifices necessary for this path. IMHO, this site is an excellent resource for the data and the support necessary to assess that.

Being in Cali, you have an interesting situation. As I understand, the state schools there are excellent and relatively inexpensive, but exceptionally competitive. If family concerns mean that you will absolutely need to stay in that area, the specifics of your local schools need to be considered. Once you’re just a bit further along in the process, it may pay for you to speak with their admissions department directly, to get their response to some specific questions as well as get a sense of how you can make yourself a highly competitive applicant.

We have had members apply to ONLY schools in their region and succeed, so it’s not impossible.

Cali is also interesting for its school system, as I understand. I’m sure you know more about this than I do, but as I understand, many of the core sciences are exclusively offered at Community Colleges, with only the higher level coursework at Universities. In general, I recommend that people consider informal post-bacc programs, rather than the expensive formal types. In California, I’m not sure how any of that would work…

so again, please make use of this site, as well as any other resource you come across: SDN, local schools, etc etc etc. And above all else, enjoy the ride

  • simon01grad Said:
Now, I am almost 42 years old and figured I was far too old to pursue my dream. Perhaps, I can be convinced this is not an impossible dream after all.

My GPA's were 3.3 for both levels. I've had a very diverse work experience and a unique background.

I know I have to return to meet the pre-med requirements.



Hi and welcome

Well I started Medical School at 41 and now ending my 3rd year at 44. I will graduate in Debt and at 45 and I'm loving every minute of Medical School.

I know I will make way enough to cover the loans and still have a retirement in the end.

Work? I plan to work until 70 at least since I love this!

I think your GPA is fine and with taking prereqs now you have a chance to have a great recent GPA to show the schools

Age is really not a factor two of my fellow students were older then me, 50 and 61!

If you want to really do this then do it and do it now is my advice, we are not getting younger!

You still have to Volunteer, shadow and Patient experience

I think DO may be the best shot for you if you can do well in prereqs and then get 28 or better on MCAT.

Good Luck!
  • DRFP Said:

Work? I plan to work until 70 at least since I love this!

I have to smile at this. Yesterday I had my annual exam with my ob/gyn (well, since I'm out of the baby-creating age, I guess he's just my "gyn"). He's 80.