Going back to school

I’ve been lurking for a while and finally decided to start a post. Hopefully this wonderful community can provide some assistance.

My story is a little complicated. I am 31 and have been working at a hospital for the last ten years. I started working as a housekeeper while I was attending a local community college because I wanted to be in a hospital. Ten years later and I am now the COO of a small critical access hospital in the middle of nowhere.

Here is where the story gets complicated. Because of work commitments at the hospital I ended up having to drop classes quite often at the community college and ended up getting both a bachelors degree (criminal justice) and a masters degree in healthcare administration from Ashford University (an online school). Because of the promotions I was getting at the hospitals I was more focused on the now than what my goal originally was. Looking back I would have stayed as a housekeeper and worked on getting in the local university.

Because of that I don’t have any prereqs done for Med School and I work a job that doesn’t allow for me to go to school (although there is no school here anyhow).

All of that being said I was considering quitting my job after I finish paying off the 20k I still owe on my car (I also still owe 40k on student loans but those would go back in to deferment) and after the remaining three years on my contract with the hospital.

Does this sound crazy? I would try and get in a Post Bacc program and get all of the requirements completed. If I get great grades in the program will that combined with experience working at a hospital help outweigh the original online degree and dropped classes. Since I will be quitting my job and need to move for school I can apply to almost any post bacc program which should help me get in to one.

Feasible or crazy?

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Your degrees are from a regionally accredited school, so that’s good even if it’s online. It may be worth digging into the MSAR or the websites of schools you’re interested in applying to in order to see if there is going to be a strong bias against online programs. It seems like schools are becoming more open to the mindset that not everyone can follow the traditional path and will let folks “deviate” when the story makes sense. Yours does, to me, anyway.

A formal post-bacc would probably be your best bet to get you into a classroom environment for the experience. Adcoms want to hedge their bets on applicants by minimizing the gamble that the person won’t be able to handle the course load and coursework. I did about half of the prereqs online, which prevented me from being competitive at some places but didn’t effect me noticeably at others.

The idea of quitting work without a safety net scares me to death. I don’t know your situation, but if you can handle it financially/emotionally and it’s the best plan for you, then it’s definitely feasible. You wouldn’t be the first person to do it, and you definitely won’t be the last.

Crazy? Yes. Feasible? Yes.

Although as a COO you know that just because something is feasible does not necessarily mean you do it! Lots of research needs done first. It sounds like you’re doing just that, which is great.

I will lay out some of my thoughts, based on my experiences.

I did my pre-reqs at a formal post-bac program full time, having given up my career in publishing. For the first year, I was married and had financial support from my husband. My second year, though, we had separated and I was completely on my own, living on loans. It was indeed scary, but I managed OK. This was the route that fit me the best because it allowed me to focus on my classes, rather than divide time between studying, work, etc. Other people do it differently, it all depends on you.

I don’t know your background that well, how many dropped classes, your grades, and so on. And anyway, knowing that would not allow me to predict your success. Applying to medical school is risky, all around. No one is guaranteed to get in. Ultimately, you have to decide how badly you want this, and how much you are willing to risk to go for it.

And welcome to OPM, by the way.