Geographically constrained to ONE school...nuts to try?

Hello, all. Let me introduce myself. I’m a 39 year-old married mother of 3, and like most of you here I harbor dreams of becoming a doctor. Since my youngest will be in school in 2 years I figure it’s time to do either do something, or put this dream to rest.

My situation is this: for personal & family reasons, we will not be moving for me to attend med school. This means I am limited to the one in my home city. When I see that most people here are applying to a large number of schools, it makes me despair because I don’t have that option.

Besides my ancient-ness and the ancient-ness of my degrees, in many ways I am a strong candidate. Undergad GPA 3.9 (Biochemistry & Spanish), MS in Biochem 4.0 (in 1997). I have a varied and interesting work background, aside from spending 7 years at home full-time with my kids. Right now I am working half-time as a Spanish medical interpreter in a large urban hospital.

I feel like if I could go back for a few upper-level biology courses and do some really intensive MCAT preparation, I could have a decent shot. But, how decent can it be when I only have 1 school on my list?? I feel like I might freak out in the interview (if I made it that far) from the stress and pressure of having one meeting decide the fate of my dream.

Another option I’m thinking of is PA school, but the acceptance rate there is even lower than for med school!

I’d really appreciate any advice. I’m not looking to for a pep talk, just a real cold-light-of-day assessment of whether I’m nuts for even thinking about this. It seems like an awful lot of preparation for a long shot at success…

My 2 cents…if you really want to do this…go for it. Yes it is a lot of prep for a shot at 1 school, but I think all of us have constraints at this point in our lives. Just research the heck out of your one school, talk to admissions, talk to admitted students, make sure you tailor your application for your one school. Consider it luxury to be able to focus on just 1 school! :wink:

If you really want to do this, go for it. You can be assured of one thing, that if you DON’T try you definitely won’t be admitted to any schools. So, Go For It!!

I feel your pain; having only one school choice can add more stress to the equation. I am more advanced in age than you, and so far have only two schools to concentrate on. Just like you , i am married and have children. Husband is not interested in moving. I am still praying that he will change his mind. Look on the bright side; you have great STATS. Spend all the time you can afford in learning about this school to prepare for interview. Just make sure you have all the pre requisite classes for this school. Try to kill the MCAT. If possible hire a consultant such as Judy to help you with the total package; killer personal statement, coaching for interview and so on. Hang in there; it is worth a strong try.

The only thing you can do is to try ad see what happens. Like was said above me, If you don’t try then you definitely wont get in.

If, however, you’re interested in the PA route check out…

They have a lot of information there.

I am in nearly the same boat, and am considering limiting myself to one school because we love it here and are reluctant to move. (The school also has a direct-entry NP program, as well as MD, so two degree options at least.) I did talk my husband into possibly moving where we could have a similar quality of life, thereby increasing the options a bit for us. Don’t know if you can tinker with things that way.

There is a woman at this medical school, a friend of a good friend, who applied to med school four times. I don’t know how many schools she applied to, but it appears that determination and desire are what will carry the day! Best of luck to you!

I have a similar situation… mom to three, can’t move, live really close to a good med school, only want to apply there (although there are a few a little farther from my home I could probably pull off).

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do yet… figured I let my MCAT make the decision for me next year.


Two ideas just occurred to me, one I hope is encouraging; the other, well, let’s say it’s something to file away for later.

  1. Often the public schools give preference to in-state residents. My understanding is that UVM sets aside 50% of the class for in-staters. In addition, private schools can show a preference. If I’m remembering correctly, UNECOM shows some sort of preference to students living in New England. So check out the school you are interested in. There may be a policy working in your favor, as a long-term resident.

  2. While washing the dishes, I also remembered that residency often requires people to move. I have heard of people around here who made it the whole way through in the same spot, but I’ve also heard of a recent case of a UVM graduate who did not get a preferred slot here but got one elsewhere and the family had to move, though they had hoped not to. I hesitate to write that, so as not to be discouraging, but it’s important to know these things…

    Take care!

I have been a nurse for 7 years and a nurse practitioner for 1 year. While I enjoy working as a nurse practitioner, it is not the same as being a physician. We do share some similar responsibilities, but there is a difference. If you really want to be a physician then go for it; you may not be happy as a PA or NP. Good luck with whatever you decide.

Thanks so much for the encouragement, all! Well, I said I didn’t want a pep talk, but who doesn’t like a few kind words? :wink: I also appreciate the food for thought RE having to move for residency. I have thought of that before and it makes me a little ill. We could move if we HAD to, but there are many barriers, including that my husband has worked to build up a business here for 4 years. I think that is a bridge I would have to cross if I ever come to it.

I have also thought about whether I would be happy as a PA, oldnavygirl. I guess I need to get out there and do some shadowing to find out. I haven’t ever thought of myself as an ambitious person, career-wise, because I nixed med school for love at 22 and at 26 decided to leave a potentially promising science career to raise kids full-time. However, I think it’s coming back to bite me now and I have a lot of pent-up ambitions that have not been fulfilled by the things I have been doing the past few years, which have been enjoyable but not really FULLY engaged me. I’m sure there are others out there who can relate.

OTOH I have to ask myself what price I am willing to pay, and more importantly what price I am willing to ask my family to pay…

I will definitely continue to hang around this site for the awesome knowledge & support… what a great place!

For what it’s worth, my family and I are in the process of discussing moving for med school/residency if need-be. Our decision that we have adopted is kind of “we’ll cross that bridge when we reach it” as well. It’s hard to justify moving away from our home (and family) now, but given an acceptance letter to a good medical school, I think we could justify it then. Just my $.02.

  • momwifedoc Said:

2) While washing the dishes, I also remembered that residency often requires people to move.

Don't know about the OP's situation, but in my case the issues that are keeping me close to home will no longer be issues by the time I'm in residency (in other words, my kids will have grown up, LOL).

  • aesposito Said:
  • momwifedoc Said:

2) While washing the dishes, I also remembered that residency often requires people to move.

Don't know about the OP's situation, but in my case the issues that are keeping me close to home will no longer be issues by the time I'm in residency (in other words, my kids will have grown up, LOL).


Or at least live apart . . . One of my classmates lived in Dayton and went to medical school in Columbus (almost a 70 mile commute one way). He also did that commute for his transitional year of residency. He is now in his radiology residency in Pittsburgh and they opted not to move the family. Instead, he has an apartment in Pittsburgh and comes home to Dayton when he can. Fortunately for him, his radiology residency doesn't require a lot of weekends, so he can come home most weekends. They have two kids in elementary.

One of my residents while in med school is doing a surgical residency in Columbus while her husband lives in Minnesota. She flies to Minnesota when she can get a couple of days off in a row, and I'm sure he comes to Columbus here and there when he can. They don't have children, though.

At my medical school, staying in the same spot for residencies in internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, family med, and psychiatry are all very encouraged (read: smooth sailing), unless you’ve made a complete jackass of yourself as a student.

Your one-school-only plan is financially pretty riskless, assuming you don’t have to blow a whole lot of money on prerequisites and MCAT prep. You won’t need to travel for interviews, and your AAMCAS application will be maximally cheap. The emotional cost of your plan is something only you can know, given that the odds of ending up with no medical school at all are quite high.

Well, yeah I think I will blow a fair wad on refresher prereqs and MCAT prep, but I guess it will be nothing compared to what I am aiming to blow on med school (and nothing compared to the pricey private school tuitions we’ve been paying for the kids!) I guess it is the emotional cost that scares me more, but they’re all tied up together…feeling guilty about spending the family’s money for something that might not pan out.

I’m leaning toward applying to both the PA program and the med school in my city (different universities), hoping that will give me more options and at least the illusion that I’m upping my chances at success SOMEWHERE.

One thing I’ve learned for sure from being on this board is that I need to slow down and do it right. Another year or two added to the age ticker isn’t gonna kill me or hurt my chances much, but rushing into it unprepared will!

I might have missed it in another post, but another thing to consider is the volunteering and shadowing aspects of your application. I don’t know how your work at the hospital as an interpreter would factor in. You’ll have to ask others.

I know that some schools have an early acceptance program as well. Those applicants get special consideration, but the trick to it, is that you can’t have applied to any other schools till the October decision. That means that you’re basically in limbo till then, and as you may or may not know, late applications aren’t considered great by most other schools.

Still, look into it if you have your sights set on a single school. If you buy the MSAR, it should mention which schools have it and which do not. My local school does, and also gives a great deal of weight to locals as well. It’s something I’m thinking about anyway, even though I am in a position where I can pick up and go anywhere without much thought.

is it possible to get in only applying to one school??


i applied to one school and i got in.

i am much in the same situation. i am geographically limited due to kids, husbands job and owning our home. we simply can not move right now…at least not until the housing market picks somewhat back up again (which hopefully it does by time residency comes around).

what i did was make sure that i put the absolute best application forward i could. i did above the previous years matriculating class for the MCAT (i scored a 30) and i also did extremely well in the master’s program offered at the same school. i also applied early in the process…and if you are only going to do one this is absolutely KEY.

can you do edp? absolutely. my school does not offer edp but ui does. in talking with their admissions counselors thought hey told me to NOT apply edp but rather just get my app in early because the edp applicants typically have pretty stellar stats so unless you have those pretty stellar stats…it is a waste. if you are mediocre, you are by far better applying early and skipping the edp.

so can you apply to only one school and get in??


but my advice is…

if you are going to put all your eggs in one basket, you better make sure it is a really good basket.

Thanks for the food for thought, all.

I have also wondered about volunteering/shadowing and am hoping that my job might cover a lot of those bases.

Right now I am just trying to settle down and approach this slowly and rationally. It is so encouraging to see people on here in their late 40s and 50s pursing med school. It makes me realize that the “biomedical clock” in my head is not ticking nearly as loudly as I thought it was!

Becky, I am especially interested in your journey since we have an awful lot in common, down to the ages of our kids. It is my kids who really give me pause when considering this whole thing. If I were 39 with no kids I would pursue this in a heartbeat! As it is, I’m still not sure…