Finally decided to join...

Hi All,

I have been reading postings on this forum for a while and finally decided to join. I guess it has been difficult to even admit to myself that I am considering medical school. I am 32 years old and about to complete a doctoral degree in public health (I also have a masters). I love what I do and work with some of the best researchers in the field but I finally admitted to myself that I will never be completely satisfied with my work unless I can work directly with patients.

I did my undergrad (chemistry) abroad so I assume that although I have taken all required pre-med courses, they will not be accepted. Do you know of any exceptions?

I always had high GPA and should be able to score ok on the MCAT with good preparation. My plan is to take the prerequisites over the next 3-4 years while working full time (and saving money) and start at 37.

Would my background in public health help or hurt my application?

I would appreciate any feedback you might have about my chances to get admitted.

It’s really exciting to be here…

Thank you,


Glad to have you aboard this crazy train! I’m right around your age so it’s definitely feasible.

I would think that with good preparation, scoring well on the MCAT, and your background in research and public health how could they not accept you.

Honestly if I were you I would go to Kaplan or some other MCAT prep course or a DIY MCAT. If you are scoring well in the practice tests, old MCAT exams, then take the real thing this year and apply. You could be graduating med school in 5 years instead of just getting started.

Don’t fall for the hype that you have to retake your classes. The prereqs are what they are. A great score on the MCAT will get rid of any doubts of whether or not you mastered the material in undergrad.

Apply broadly and if you don’t care whether you’re an allopathic or osteopathic physician I don’t see why you couldn’t be starting school next year.

A MCAT 30+ will get you into just about any school. You will be limited by those schools that absolutely require US undergrad prereqs but all of them do not. Many schools adcoms realize that chem is chem and your MCAT will alleviate their fears.

That is what I would do. I wouldn’t waste time on prereqs.


I would agree with croooz and Julio. First what croooz says makes a lot of sense. Don’t retake anything if you don’t have to. Now if you haven’t taken any pre-reqs here ever, then yes, you must retake them here (I know I did). My best advice is to check with schools you target (some place age restrictions on pre-reqs, others don’t). So BEFORE taking any class, make sure you have to. But again, if you have foreign credentials only, then most likely you will have to take the pre-requisites. Exceptions on that front are extremely rare.

Like Julio, I think that you background in Public Health will turn out to be a great asset if you can frame that well in your statement. There are everywhere now MD/MPH programs, so evidently, synergies between the fields exist and you will have a lot to bring to the table for sure.


  1. Finish you degree!

  2. Score well on the MCAT! Easier said than done. Do not underestimate the test or the preparation necessary to achieve a good score.

  3. Set a reasonable timeline, which I think you did, aside for the fact that perhaps you don’t need to take so many classes (depends on school, but very likely that you have to take quite a bunch).

    You are in good shape. I don’t see why you couldn’t get in. I just got accepted and I am 37 (will be starting at 38). I have a foreign degree and had to retake pre-reqs here (largely at a CC). Scored decently on the MCAT as well. If it worked for me, It can work for you and anyone who is foolish enough to dare live the dream!

    I wish you the best of luck.

I disagree with not re-taking the preqs. First, doing so opens more medical schools to you because some schools won’t accept the foreign/“expired” credits. Second and most importantly, re-taking these courses gives you more recent background prep for the MCAT.

Redo-it-all doesn’t specifically say it, but I’m betting his/her re-taking classes in the US helped him/her get a good MCAT score and get into a top notch med school.

Well said. It is absolutely necessarily to check with the schools and found out their requirements.I also have a foreign BS and an US PhD, and I still needed to retake all prerequisites. Some schools would not consider students with a foreign UG degree. The only way to find out whether a particular school would accept your foreign UG degree or not is to contact the school directly. Also, it may not be a bad idea to find a position that allows you to work with patients directly. Experiences with patients contacts can help to persuade the adcoms that you can function comfortably in a clinical setting. You also would not want to give the impression that you are a “professional student” with so many degrees and no real world experiences.

Good luck!

Hi Julio Cesar , thanks so much for your encouraging words! It feels great to be around people who are going through the same process.

Hi Croooz,

Thanks for your reply! I have called a couple of schools here in NY that suggested to retake the prereqs but you are right - I should do more research and apply broadly. As of MCAT prep, would you recommend Kaplan?

One of the reasons why I thought I should retake them is that I would prefer to take things slowly and not jump from one degree to another. Also, MCAT prep would take time anyway…I know myself -I am a perfectionist and won’t be able to prepare in less than a year.

But I’ll certainly start preparing a list of schools that might be willing to accept my prereqs.

Congratulations on your acceptance! This is an amazing achievement.

I actually don’t want to abandon the public health field but rather add another dimension to my research, and of course, be able to practice. I am not at all sorry I went into public health, I am just sorry I didn’t do and MD/MPH earlier.

It is tempting to fantasize about getting into med school sooner but I just don’t think it would be feasible. I have never really been a full time student in the traditional sense and since this is a fragile goal, I would prefer to pursue the initial stages while working full time. Did you work while taking your prereqs?

Of course, I will complete my degree. In a way, being in a very competitive grad program made me believe that med school is not impossible and I should simply go for it.

Thank you very much for your advice and again congrats!

Hi pathdr2b,

Perhaps I can simply try to take some (not all) of the prereqs ?

I won’t be aiming for the top medical schools but you are making a good point – retaking prereqs would certainly help with MCAT prep. But probably some prereqs +MCAT prep course of some kind would be sufficient/optimal?

Hi Apple pie ,

How great to talk to another person with a similar background! Did you do the prereqs while in the PhD program?

You are making an interesting observation about being perceived as a ‘professional student’. I actually worked full time while getting my MPH and have about 5 years of professional experience (ironically some of it at a leading medical school). Also, all my degrees are in related fields and I have a good idea what sort of residency /fellowship I would like to do. In a sense I don’t see medical school as a career change and I think I can communicate this convincingly.

I guess I am more worried about my desire to go into medical school after (lets count) about 10 years total of university education. Something must be wrong with me!

The “professional student” comment was not meant to be an insult. Someone actually said that to me. It is actually not rare for PhDs to apply to medical school nowadays. Redo also has a PhD in Biochemistry, so you are definitely not alone.

I did not start taking prereq courses until I decided to pursue a medical degree, after I graduated and worked for several years. I did the hybrid DIY post bacc. To save money, I took some classes in a CC and some classes in a 4-year university. My MCAT score was decent but I had to work really hard on the verbal section.

  • Apple pie Said:
The "professional student" comment was not meant to be an insult. Someone actually said that to me. It is actually not rare for PhDs to apply to medical school nowadays. Redo also has a PhD in Biochemistry, so you are definitely not alone.

I've heard the "professional student" comment all my life!

The fact that medical students are indeed referred to as professional students is just kinda ironic (and appropriate) to me!

About the preqs, I talk about re-taking them because that's the mistake I think I made. I'm certain I could have earned a higher score had I recently repeated the classes before re-taking the MCAT.

Hi! I’m a PhD candidate now (6th year) and I’m attempting to finish up in the next couple of months so I can matriculate into med school this summer. I took both semesters of undergrad physics last year while still working full time towards my PhD. It’s do-able, but definitely a lot of twelve hour days. I’m sure I would have done better in the course if I had more time to dedicate to it and wasn’t sneaking in and out of lab (my advisor would have had a fit if she knew). I got hung up in the ‘I’m already old, I need to speed this along’ mentality when in the end, another year really wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

I also agree with the earlier comment about taking all your pre-reqs before the MCAT. I made the same mistake and it cost me. The studying time required for the exam is intense and having the material fresh in your mind will be helpful.

I can’t tell you how good it is to hear about other PhD’s going for their medical degrees. I know it’s not uncommon but I don’t know anyone else doing it. Glad I joined Old Pre-Meds!

Hi Aurora,

I have decided to complete a new Bachelor in the United States. It made sense in my situation and I do not hold any advanced degrees in the states. I am transferring foreign social science credits towards new degree in human physiology.

I was considering post bacc and here was my experience:

1)Get in touch with schools you are planning to go. There is a thread here under my name where I listed a few schools I called. It seems like schools in northeast require either prerequisites to be taken in the states/or 2 years of academic work in the states.In this case advanced degree would work. Some schools actually mentioned that if you have a foreign undergrad you need an advanced degree in the states to be considered. (which you have)

2) most schools in TX and FL need 90 credits ( but I did not ask them if they have to be all undergraduate )

3) I was calling all the school in New England and IL area and was very excited to learn that they only require 32 credits in the states plus English if you have foreign undergrad. BUT: when I started asking them if they could give me any information on how successful these candidates are - they failed to provide answers.

4) University of Vermont admissions said they did accept foreign undergrads from Eastern Europe with only basic science prerequisites and English taken in the states.

As Crooz said maybe you should take MCAT and try applying:)) Good Luck and keep us posted on your progress please.

I think I truly am a “professional student” so no offense taken:). Something I must admit is that I have stayed away from clinical exposure because, frankly, it was less painful to be as far away from medicine as possible and focus on population-level issues. But I will look for some experiences in clinical settings, this is a great advice, thank you!

I am actually aiming for NY state schools that seem to be more open to foreign UG degrees so maybe I can take some but not all prereqs.

Yes, it is an amazing experience to be around other PhDs going for medicine…I am so happy I found this website.

I am thinking of starting with biology, physics and English, then take a prep course and see how I am doing on the MCAT practice tests. Are they as accurate as GRE practice tests in predicting actual performance?

since this thread is going thru a phase of grad degrees to DO degree anyway…

I’ve noticed the AACOM CIB book lists the percentage of accepted students with grad degrees.

Does a high percent mean they find other grad degrees impressive/competitive? Or that they expect it? Are they thinking a quarter of our freshman have one, so what?

Conversely, if only 17% have one, Does it mean it would stand out more, be more of a rarity? or is it because it’s no big deal and they just happened to have one?

Hi eirikr1,

I wouldn’t think that having grad degrees is necessary an advantage…Of course, schools say that they are looking for ‘diversity’ but I think applicants with advanced degrees are simply likely to have good studying skills and confidence that they can do well.