For those 40+ that have decided to pursue medicine...

Had you found yourself wavering in the beginning…I scared to death…to tackle this dream? Since I was young, I’ve always been drawn towards medicine…I didn’t have much support when I was younger, and I’m sure that now won’t be really any different. I had contemplated nursing a few times, but it’s not the area of medicine I see myself in. I have been working in the medical field for the last 16-17 years in the administrative area, and I just started working at a hospital on the cardiac floor as a cardiac monitoring tech/health unit coordinator 3 nights a week. So I actually have the time, but I’m finding myself very anxious whether I’m too late.

Anyone else find themselves severely questioning themselves in doing this?


Not 40 but I questioned myself for the past 7 years! I’ve gone from physician to network engineer to healthcare administrator with a MBA to PA to MD to PA to DO to PhD to PA to MD…

I went so far as to apply to PA school and went and met with a program director. During filling out the app I could not, with all honesty, answer the most basic of question…“Why PA?”

I’ve been in medicine since 1990 and I can’t continue to run from it and neither should you. Like others have said it’s a calling. You can run but you can’t hide…at least without looking over your shoulder about not having giving it everything you’ve got.

I have several ways to respond to this

Method #1–Sarcasm: Being a 45+ y/o plus premed myself , I can say that we are all crazy. Hell a 21 y/o shouldn’t go into medicine. Too much debt, too much managed care, too much BS. Yeah, we can just all be practical and get a cushy job w/corporate america and…oh yeah, after 4 mergers in 12 years, I have been outsourced, off-shored and RIF’s (reduction in force). Yea, we can just find some job that might have health benefits and might have retirement and maybe is stable for 5 minutes while we grow old wondering why we didn’t try. Yeah, I could have continued being a viscious bastard at work as it was the only way to survive (truly I was). I could sit in front of a mind numbing PC using 5% of my brain on a job that had no connection to my life. “Either get busy living or get busy dying” (Red from “The Shawshank Redemption”)

Method #2–Fulfillment:

“Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind” The rolling stones

And if I am true to glorious quest,

my heart will lie peaceful and calm

when I am laid to my rest

Don Quixote, from the song “Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha,

Method #3–Zen/Nothing: If you are even contemplating spending possibly 10 years and $200,000 (not too mention lost wages, benefits, etc for years so it more like $500,000), then spending a little time (a year or two) and some money ($10,000 to $20,000 at a State School) for premed work and MCAT is almost nothing. A little time and a little money. Gives you a chance to see what school is like, it sees if you can do it, and if you go thru the courses, the MCATS, and applying and you have stuck with it, you may haveproved to yourself what you really want. And if you don’t get in, the down side is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (almost) . You will be basically in same job/situation as if you didn’t try. Almost no cost (except the little time and money for school). You don’t have to really make a decision until you have an acceptance letter in your hand. I would rather have the acceptance in my hand so I can decide what I want. So I will bust my butt for a couple of years, spending a little time and money in the effort. BTW, I took ALOT more course work than most to recover from bad original grades so for some 60 credits AND a KAPLAN course, this cost me no more than $15,000 total, books and all. What was it to me? not getting a new car? You can decide at any point in the process to get off (note; take at least 1 fulltime semester and see if you can handle it/like it. You may say I don’t want this but you found out as opposed to wondering!)Rememeber, there is a difference between being tired and being unhappy

My summation, there is no reason not to try. You may utimately decide not to go but make it your decision…

I’ll turn 41 in June this year (a couple of days after the conference). I ask myself how serious I am about this path every single day. Finding my motivation isn’t always easy, especially during the relatively dark winter months.

I have a part-time gig at a clinic that helps prod me along. Some of the nurses there make feel about three inches tall, but I love doing any small thing for the people who come there for help. The clinical exposure really helps keep me focused (I REALLY don’t want to be limited to doing only what nurses will allow me to do for very long).

The premed prerequisites are more of a challenge to my time management skills than to my soggy, 40yr old brain. I know that both will have to be in prime form if some unsuspecting med-school ends up with me on their roster.

I have had days when I have been so filled with self-doubt that I wanted to ditch the “big plans,” and just go get my paramedic certification. I know I could finish the paramedic program in my sleep, and standing on my head. I also know that in about 2-3 years I would be kicking myself for not giving the medical school dream my best shot.

The most useful personal mind-set I have come upon (how I wish I could maintain it!) is to “just do it.” [do I owe Nike $.02 every time I use their marketing slogan?] I try to give myself just enough time to reflect on my progress towards the goal, and just little enough to avoid a comprehensively negative self-assessment.

If somebody has some simple motivational mojo that will make this trip any easier, please share. However, my intuition tells me that this is just another hill on the horizon, and that I’ll feel silly for having shouldered more anxiety along the way than was really necessary. The little voice upstairs (so far there is only one ) says, “shut-up and get moving!”


Tim F

Thank you all for your replies. I know in my heart that if I don’t at least make the attempt, I’m really going to regret it. It’s not even an issue of money (not that I have the money), it’s just that after probably spending too much time on SDN, I kind of spooked myself. I also know the answer to that…which is to step away from the computer, which I will try to do.

One of the things that spooked me was that, I figured that since I have a good year before I even attempt the MCAT, I could try to work on the verbal reasoning. I had prided myself on being a good reader and I had done well in my English classes, but when I attempted a couple of passages in the EK 101 Verbal passages…I felt dumber than a fence post.

I know what I need to do…take one step at a time, not even looking at the finish line, but just the next marker…

Well, again, thank you all so very much. Gonnif (my fellow Long Islander) thank you so much for your three ways of looking at things…it definitely gives me food for thought.


  • T_Forsythe Said:

If somebody has some simple motivational mojo that will make this trip any easier, please share. However, my intuition tells me that this is just another hill on the horizon, and that I'll feel silly for having shouldered more anxiety along the way than was really necessary. The little voice upstairs (so far there is only one ) says, "shut-up and get moving!"

As you can tell from my previous post, my mojo is "nothing"

1) you have nothing to lose in trying: you'll be in about the same job/life now as if you try and don't get in than if you don't try.

2) you can decide to get off the premed route any time you don't have to make a "long term committment" decision until you have an acceptance letter in your hand

3) the paramedic cert is so simple that you can get anytime you choose to get off the premed cycle or, if you don't get in.

my mojo is, you have nothing to lose

that is my "Zen and the art of premed"

BTW, this mojo has in a sense freed me from almost worrying about my grades as I work hard only for myself; it is entirely my doing and effort. Frankly, after I overcame thermodynamics in General Chem now, which seem to be the point that I started to go downhill in my orginal premed so many years ago, I would have been satisfied to stop knowing I can do this stuff.

(Not too brag too much but the thermodynamics exam grades in my recent chem course ranged from 20 to 110 (with bonus). Much to the consternation of my classmates, I got the perfect score and ruined the curve!)

First, congratulations on your test! And, you are totally right…I’ve nothing to lose by making the attempt…it’s by giving up and turning away that I will feel the regret.

Gonnif, do you just have your prereqs to do or do you still have to work on your bachelors (my situation)?


Verbal is NOT reading comprehension.

I have a MA in a sociology where I spent lots of time reading obtuse sociological treatise, had some high level undergrad english course reading British Literature, had a reading comprehension state exam in 6th grade where I finished in 15 minutes in 99% and am STILL trying to figure out half the crap in the Verbral Reasoning.

I like the ExamKrackers methods. Many people do bad in VR because they run out of time.



There reason is you get stuck on one hard but you could be passing up 4 easy ones in the next passage but you just run out of time. Only after you do all of them can you go back.

I can read fast and I can usually do the whole thing twice and still I do crappy. EK also says you may get just as a good a score without reading the passage and I almost agree with them

Well I have a BA from 25 years ago in mish-mash I mean Liberal Arts where I graduated Magna Cum Barely. I got D’s, F’s, and if I had one more W, the current president would had a find a new middle initial cause I would have used all the W’s up. I have an MA, and lots of research/clinical. my strategy was to get about 60 new credits with prereq, advanced courses, etc. which I have done at a 3.9 I think. I am just about done with them and am taking the MCATS in May. I also must add that I have been gainfully unemployed the last 2 years to this with a long term dispute with my former employer which I just found out today I won! so they owe me 2 years of back pay!

Part of my problem is that when I’m reading some of these passages, I feel like my eyes are just glazing over and I want to close the book and take a nap.

I’ll read a paragraph and I’m like WTF, and I feel like I have to read it over. It scares me because I’m thinking is it the passage or is it me…have I passed my prime?

I will do as you say and maybe as I continue to work on verbal passages, they won’t seem so alien.

glad to hear that it worked out with your former boss.


The MCAT passages, verbal and otherwise, are dense and tricky to digest. You sit there thinking, I have read that passage but these questions make no sense, and I’m out of time, and I’m not gonna get into medical school and I wish the guy next to me would stop breathing so loud and…

What you have to learn, and what Kaplan/Princeton/EK try to teach, is that there is an art to mastering this exam. You have to read actively–underline key words, question each assertion, jot down a 3-4 word summary of each paragraph, try to get an image of the passage in your mind, and just basically dissect the thing as quickly as you can and then move to the Q’s.

The Q’s then require you to think fast and remember clearly and build upon and extrapolate from the ideas presented. It stretches your mind, much as medical diagnosis work will later on when you’re playing detective trying to sleuth out what’s wrong with someone, possibly while the patient’s crashing and with a roomful of midlevels waiting for you to call the next move.

A few remarkable people can walk into the MCAT test and ace it, but most of us mere mortals have to practice, practice, practice. Take a prep class and do lots of passages under timed conditions. I mean lots. Go read the MCAT forum here for past discussions which are full of great tips, and check out QofQimica’s moderated MCAT forum over on

It’s a muscle that you develop with exercise and time. You’ll be fine, trust me.

One of the things I like about the EK books is that they point out that the passages DO make you feel like that. This is partly because they’re actually kind of badly written. Just read them with an obnoxious little man in the back of your head, shouting at the paragraph, “What’s the POINT?” Focus on the main point, let the mishmash wash over you without excessive analysis, and then look at the questions. Just remember, it’s the passage that sucks, not you. I found this attitude very helpful.

Thanks, Denise…I’ll do that!