Giving my dream another ago

Hi everyone, I am new here. Very glad I found this site. First, here is a little background. I started Med School in 1999 at Jefferson Med College. I made it through 2 years and 6 months before events inside and out of school forced me to leave. Personal issues prevented me from being able to commit appropriately and I was asked to “take some time off”. Since there are only 6 years with which to complete school, I had to forego applying for readmission and take care my father’s declining health. As time goes on I realize how much I loved medicine, especially surgery, and I would love nothing more than go back.

I fear that my age, 36, and my financial commitments will make this near impossible. My loans are over $130,000 and I will likely be in my mid 40’s before completing a surgical residency, if it all.

I am hoping to find some support and/or encouragement and will be more than happy to provide advice on my success at admissions and the mistakes I made that ended my dream.

I can tell you that what you hear is true, it is a grueling experience and it is difficult to retain your reason for being there.

Anyone with advice on how to maintain a grueling job while bolstering your application is more than appreciated.

Thanks in advance and I look forward to making new friends here.


Welcome to OPM, Michael. It sounds like you have a combination of some unique challenges and valuable experience. On the one hand you are starting out with strikes on the scoreboard. On the other, you know better than most what you face in regaining your momentum. So…How bad do you want it?

IMO, if you are going to start back down the road to medical school, you need to make it your first priority. Start managing your time now just as if you were back in first-year all over. That said, I’m also 36. I have been working full-time in a busy EMS on 24-hour shifts while taking upper level sciences and applying to multiple programs. I will quit working to attend med school in Fall 2009. My key has been to work when I’m at work and study when I’m not. I schedule my sleep time as best I can, and I don’t accept unscheduled overtime. Summary: Time Management…

  • mdwdoc Said:
… I had to forego applying for readmission and take care my father’s declining health.

Sorry to hear about your father and his health.

As you've read, there are a plethora of stories on here of people who have overcome great obstacles to realize a dream.

You said elsewhere,

"Medicine is a calling, not a career."

My only advice is, "Answer the call!!"

(I hope you don't mind, but I'm stealing that for it succinctly states what I can't explain... )


What was the end result of your father’s declining health? I ask because I had to receive a “W” due to my mother’s declining health she passed away on the 20th of October.

I would have to repeat an earlier quote “medicine is a calling” “answer the call”. I am 37 and just starting with the upper level courses as well as many others here on the forum. I have three kids, and work full-time. My fear is myself. I know my study habits. I am working really hard right now on time management so when the time comes I will have it all together. One example is I am trying to figure out when am I at my best AM or PM so everyday this week I am getting up early regardless if I have to work or not. I have figured out it is not PM because the family needs me the most at that time. Michael, I am a true believer that things happen when they are suppose to happen not when we want them to happen. I encourage you to not only start again but to finish this time regardless of the obstacles in life. Think about this, you will get old regardless to if you finish the goal or not. So you might as well enjoy getting older doing something you are passionate about.

I will take the advice on how you were able to get accepted the first time.

Vivian, RN Labor and Delivery

So sorry to hear of your loss… grandparents are such a staple for children…

I’m a 44 year old, single mom of an almost 17 year old son and just starting to do this bio/chem/math/physics coursework all over again. My son’s father has never been involved so I’ve done this with the grace of God, and my parents (it really does take a village!).

It’s daunting to think about the “mountain” that is med school admission, so I look at those who’ve conquered K2…

They don’t look at the top of the mountain, for they’d get sick, they know it’s there. Enormous height has that tendency on people as they lose their vision, and their center of gravity. Looking up at the enormous structure leaves necks strained, stomachs doing flip-flops and worse. So rather than get sick, they look at the step in front of them, and take it. Eventually, the sherpas and the mountaineers, realize, they’re at the top.

Here’s to sherpas and all of us “mountaineers” climbing our own individual hills, one step at a time.

To the OP,

Your FIRST step needs to be to consult with the folks at Jefferson. You need to have a frank and comprehensive discussion with them regarding your withdrawal and how you were viewed by them at the time. When you apply again, you will be asked on the form whether you have previously matriculated at a med school. Your answer, of course, will be “yes,” and this immediately sends up all kinds of red flags for every AdCom looking at your application.

I would STRONGLY recommend that before you consider your academic preparations for returning to med school, you talk to the people at Jefferson AND the schools you are considering applying to. Their response to your pursuit will help to guide you with your next steps. You can’t go forward hoping that this can just be shrugged off or mentioned in passing. It MUST be faced head-on, so that when your application arrives, the response is, “Oh yeah, that guy - we talked about all this, let’s see how the application looks.”

I really can’t emphasize this enough. It’s uncomfortable to discuss, probably, but if it were easy, you wouldn’t be pushing for this, would you? Good luck!


I couldn’t agree more with Mary. She’s right on with her advice.



Thanks Everyone!

Mary/Judy, Much as I wish it were not so, that will be my biggest hurdle. I have spent the last 6 or 7 years dealing with the fallout of that time in my life - money, family, self etc.

I know it won’t be grades or the MCAT that will stand in my way. The hardest part, will be taking the step to have the discussion with Jefferson.

Thank you all.


Your current career will undoubtedly be a positive. knowing your strengths and weaknesses as the Committee will see them is key. I spent more time on my personal statement than any paper I wrote in college. What ultimately got me accepted? I enrolled in the Graduate school at Jefferson and did some investigating on who I needed to know in the Admissions office. I set up meetings and stopped in to say hello and ask advice every few weeks or so. Whether they admit it or not, people will try to help you and do what they can, especially if they like you. When I was finally offered a seat in the class, the whole office couldn’t wait to tell me and they actually held my letter so they could give it to me in person during on of my “visits”.

Obviously, you cannot do this at every school, but you can improve your chances at the one closest to you if you are able to make friends in the office.

Good luck and if you have any specific questions, ask away.



Given that you left as a M3 (=“I started Med School in 1999 at Jefferson Med College. I made it through 2 years and 6 months…”), wouldn’t the real challenge be finding a medical school having open clinical rotations slots available? Wouldn’t your medical school grades, USLME Step I score, and Jefferson medical school’s dean’s letter be the most important parts of your reentry application rather than premed coursework and/or MCAT?

mdwdoc will have to start over, unfortunately. He can’t rejoin where he left off. Too much time has passed… schools work with students who must take a leave of a year, but his departure apparently wasn’t a leave, and it was far longer.

At least as important: the clinical information has changed. There’s going on two generations of new medical information since he was in his pre-clinical classes.

Medical schools’ curricula are highly integrated and rather individualized - everyone has to meet the same learning goals but the way they go about it is so different that it’s often not possible to transfer into another medical school’s class. So when you’ve been away for awhile, you’ve gotta start over.


Mary is correct. It is near impossible to transfer while still matriculated, however, I recall that you are required to complete you medical degree within 6 years of starting. I don’t know if this was a Jefferson policy or from the LCME accreditation.

My USMLE scores will also have expired as you have to complete all 3 steps within a specific period of time as well. However, I wonder if my score will admissable as evidence of my ability to pass the exams. I scored quite well on Step 1.

Thanks for bringing these things up. I hadn’t thought about even discussing my Step 1 score.

Okay, that’s for the information.

I think I heard of a former osteopathic medical student with two years completed being able to transfer into one of Big 3 Caribbean medical schools as a M3 several years after leaving his osteopathic medical school. mdwdoc, have you investigated that route?