For those who have been at this a while

Quick background.

  • 30+ Career changer : Systems engineer for about 10 yrs

  • Took pre-reqs about 8 yrs ago & volunteered & MCAT

  • Applied in 2008 with minimum qualifications - no acceptance of coarse

  • Continued working full-time but couldn’t ignore the idea I wanted to be a doc

  • Finally in 2013 quit my career, went to school full-time, did some health care work, trying to retake MCAT , doing a little research

    All seemed well on a path living the dream…

    Until recently been plagued with doubt, started with not making it into the local Post-bacc , then not being able to find a decent job to pay for apps and new MCAT & kids stuff (single parent of a 12 y/o)

    Every now and again I find myself thinking WTH have you done???

    You had a decent job, life wasn’t perfect but your bills were paid and you were good at what you did. Just go back and forgot about this foolishness.

    So with all that being said. I’m curious has anyone else been at this for a while?

    Did you keep pushing forward? Were you successful?

    Did you give up and resume you previous career? If so how has that worked out? Do you regret it? Does the passion ever leave your heart or the what if’s in the back of your brain?

    Would love to hear others take on this. It is such a unique journey especially for non-traditional applicants.

    Best wishes

My Journey : http://andsoitbeginsnywoo

Hi NyWood,

I haven’t been a regular poster here for quite a few years so if you’re new here, welcome.

  • NyWood Said:
I'm curious has anyone else been at this for a while?

I enlisted in the military right out of high school. I didn't take my first college class (also my first pre-med pre-requisite) until I was 21 - an age when most of my college-bound HS classmates were about to graduate college. I finished that one class in May 1988.

I graduated from medical school yesterday at age 47, receiving my MD degree. I've been at this for 26 years in fits-and-starts. I didn't matriculate into college until 1996 (age 29) or medical school until 2009 (age 42).

So to answer your question: Yes, you can say I have been at this for a while.

  • NyWood Said:
Did you keep pushing forward?


  • NyWood Said:
Were you successful?


  • NyWood Said:
Did you give up and resume you previous career?

There were many times I felt like giving up along the way. My path was a little unusual in that pursuing a career in medicine brought me back to my original career in the military.

I went to college after my enlisted military service ended (I was 10 years in, halfway to retirement). My grades were OK for med school, but not stellar due to a bad sophomore year. I was also broke and in a lot of debt. I pusued an interim career based on my college degree - a medical research associate working in various cancer research labs. Pro: I got valuable research experience for my CV (and AMCAS), making me a little more competitive. Con: It took me longer than expected to get ahead financially and the 9 years away from school definitely made being a competitive medical school applicant quite difficult.

I went to medical school on the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship so I'll be returning to the military to resume where I left off in 1996. This time I'll be an officer and physician. I start the intern year of my Graduate Medical Education next month - training in Internal Medicine.

  • NyWood Said:
If so how has that worked out?

To answer your question, I did return to my previous career (see above), but not as a result of giving up on medicine, but paradoxically by persisting in my goal of being a doctor.

  • NyWood Said:
Do you regret it?

I don't know TBH. It's too soon to tell. I've only been a doctor for less than 24 hours and I'm already counting the days to retirement.

Everyone says it gets better after residency, but everyone who says this is 20 years younger than I am.

  • NyWood Said:
Does the passion ever leave your heart or the what if's in the back of your brain?

All the time. And I can tell you those 'what if's' don't stop once you graduate from medical school either.

  • NyWood Said:
Best wishes

Best wishes for you too NyWood, on whatever life path you decide to follow.

Thanks for your response Dr. TicDocDoh!!

First and foremost Congratulations!!!

Thank you so much for your response. I appreciate hearing a successful story that’s outside of the standard path.

Best wishes on your journey!

I hope I’m able to offer some sort of encouragement as I can TOTALLY relate to your story.

I’ve been pursuing the dream of being a doctor for a LONG time. Since graduating college in 1997 (17 years ago) in fact. Once graduating, I stepped into a very lucrative career (related to medicine) that became my plan B. It’s great financially, but it doesn’t fit my personality or provide a the level of fulfillment, satisfaction, and purpose I feel a full-time, demadning job should give. This is the 1 thing I’ve learned in my 17 years here!

I have very few supporters for med school, and far more for sticking it out where I am. Problem is…I’m MISERABLE here. And I’m the one that has to do it every day (not them). I had a hiatus from the job last year thinking I would come back refreshed, renewed, and more grateful. But the only thing it did was solidify this is not where I want to be nor where I feel I’m supposed to be. I’d rather make less and have my sanity, than have money and status and be miserable. Interestingly, my husband now agrees. I realize I am not my best self to me or those around me right now.

I have not completely left this career as it does pay the bills, but its taken less of a priority in my life. I’m playing both fields until med school works out, or I find another pathway to pursue. Overall, its a frustrating and lonely journey. But, I do have a handful of people I connect with for advice, encouragement and inspiration. Also, I immerse myself in motivational messages and books of those who have overcome challenges to reach their dream, or who overcame unexpected challenges turning seemingly negative situations into positive ones. This helps tremendously. Also, spend lots of time doing things that feed your spirit (volunteer, join a running group, do art/music, etc). Aside from giving you a mental break and high, they could actually turn out to be great sources for networking and inspiration as well!

I think we owe it to ourselves and our creator to be the best we can in this life. To give the best we can. To find that place where we can truly thrive and make a difference. That place won’t be the same for everyone. And as unfair as it is, some will arrive there earlier than others. But the important thing is that we do arrive. Stay positive. Think about who you are and what legacy you’d like to live and leave. Life is very short. Stay partnered with people that can help you along the way. Big ups to, that is PHENOMINAL in this regard!

Best to you!

Thank you for your response Sushinedoc.

I am going to try hard to remain positive. And its not really that I don’t feel like I can not make it, but more about “should I”? Are the sacrifices worth it? I think trying to “get in” to medschool is what makes it so hard to stay focused. Because you could give your all and never make it.

And I know making it in is no guarantee for success, but its a big step into the future.

I don’t know, I think if it was just me and I was living in someones closet. I could be like… I am going to suck it up and make the dream happen.

But when I keep having to make cut-backs that take away from my kiddo, I get real doubty and scared and start to feel selfish and irresponsible.


Anywho. Good luck to you!

I see your point. That’s a tough one. I actually don’t have children (yet). I certainly wouldn’t short change her. But at the same time, you want to be an example of always giving your best…even when the chips are stacked against you. I grew up in a big family and my parents made a lot of sacrifices/choices to better themselves that actually allowed all of us to have better lives and values as we grew into adults. Needless to say, I’m very grateful now. Maybe other “oldpremeds” with children either on or thru the journey will chime in and provide their perspective. I wish the best for you Both:)!

Nywood -

You said “because you could give your all, and not make it”. By the same token, you could give less than your all, and not make it…perhaps because you gave less than your all.

I got an award at my graduation (from med school) awards ceremony for a student who has overcome adversity and obstacles to complete their medical education. The award is in memory of Dr. William Holmes. The story we were told is that he applied repeatedly to med school, and finally was waitlisted at WVSOM (my school). He was 4th on the wait list. 2 days prior to school starting he sold most of his belongings, packed up his car, and drove to the school. They told him there was still not a place in the class, but moved him up to number 1 on the wait list. The following day, one of the students dropped out and he started class the next day. He lived out of his car for 2 weeks till he found a place to live in town.

Someone on the admissions committee said "Why did you come here when you didn’t even have a place in the class? What was your plan B if it hadn’t worked out? " He said “There was no plan b. If I had a plan b , I wouldn’t have worked hard enough to achieve plan a.”

I think there’s something to that.


  • Kate429 Said:
Someone on the admissions committee said "Why did you come here when you didn't even have a place in the class? What was your plan B if it hadn't worked out? " He said "There was no plan b. If I had a plan b , I wouldn't have worked hard enough to achieve plan a."

I think there's something to that.


Congrats on the award.

But I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with this comment.

I think when you have child(ren), you absolutely must think about a "plan B", because no matter what the "plan" is, kids need to be provided for. If the person is a single parent, this is even more important.

That said, I'd like to think that I'm already living my "plan b" so if/hen asked, that's what I plan to say.

Pathdr2be -

You definately have a point. I personally did NOT pursue med school till my kids were done their college and at a point where I felt they could weather my not being able to bail them out financially, if they were forwarned.

WOrrying about not having enough time for one’s child, especially as a single parent, is valid and had I thought about pursuing medicine 10 years ago, it would likely have kept me from starting then.


  • Kate429 Said:
Pathdr2be -

You definately have a point. I personally did NOT pursue med school till my kids were done their college and at a point where I felt they could weather my not being able to bail them out financially, if they were forwarned.

My story is very similar Kate except I've decided to start the path in earnest now that my kid is graduating high school in a couple days. Plus, I think I would have gone NUTS had I waited ANY longer, LOL!!!

And this is not to say that it can't be done as a mother or even a single mother. I just knew I didn't have the kind of support I would have required to make it work for me.

This path is not for everyone. It is only for the select few that not only have the stamina and the drive to see to the end. There are countless traditional students who either drop out, fail out, or leave because once they arrived, they either realized it was not for them or they just could not hack it. In fact, there are non trads with the same issues.

However, what you need to remember is that time will pass no mater what. I understand what you mean by, WTH did you just do. I put my family through this. When I started this process, it was back in 2003 and I only had 1 child. I started medical school with 3. I had a career, a house, a family, health insurance. But I was not happy with what I was doing.

I spent thousands of dollars between graduate school and MCAT review and there was still no guarantee that it would work out. But if it did not work out, I would be able to live without regret. And that alone, makes it worth it.

I told my wife that the one thing I do not want to do, is be in the twilight of my life and sitting on the porch wondering “what if…” I would not be able to live happily no mater where my life took me. I told her that even if I did not get accepted, I would be able to sit back and say “at least I tried and it was not meant to be”.

If you do get to the golden ring that we all here try to achieve then you will look back and see that it was all worth it. Time continues to tick away regardless.

One of the doctors I work with today had a nice point to make. I showed him my acceptance letter, and he said, “Hey, everyone should try being a doctor at least once in their life!”

It is the journey that is important.

Read my diary.