Hello All: An Introduction


I’m a 48yr old woman contemplating a medical career. I will be finishing my BA Psych at California State University, San Bernardino this coming June 2014 and have a healthcare background spanning at least 20+ years. Currently, I’m employed at a drug rehab hospital here in southern California. I guess my question is, Is medicine a viable option at my age? I’d like to work in psychiatry and realize that my age could be problematic. I’ve read in certain places that in medicine your age matters, not to mention the cost of it all. However, I do see that there are older, mature people who have done very well. The other option for me would be to get the PhD in clinical psychology, but there’s no medical background with that, which is important, I think.

I have started to make my plans for the next step and I just need some clarification about things. I appreciate all your help. Best regards to all of you.

Hello OldPsychDoctor, it’s a pleasure to meet you on this site.

I’ve been a follower on this site albeit I’ve not posted much. No, I do not believe you are too old to become a Psychiatrist! In fact I would think this field would by its very nature be highly receptive to a trainee of a mature age and of experience.

Psychiatrists as I’m sure you well know already from your work and studies, treat sensitive conditions of the mind and psyche, where I would think much wisdom and insight would be needed, and mature age and experience tends to give this.

Of course you’ve other things to decide. I just wanted to say that honestly, I think you would be just great as a Psychiatrist (or the PhD)at your youthful age!

Best wishes.

Hi, Welcome to OPM! Straight off the bat, of course you’re not too old. There are plenty of cases of people pursing medical school at or older than your age. That doesn’t mean it won’t have challenges, but it also means it’s not impossible.

If I were you, I’d think about why I want to go into psychiatry and what you’re ultimately interested in doing. If it’s talk therapy, psychology might be a better route (not a quicker one, mind you, since getting a PhD takes as long if not longer than medical school.) In my experience, psychologists tend to spend more time with clients and it’s focused around issues and talk therapy, using the clinical therapy training they’ve received. Psychiatrists tend to spend 15 minutes with patients and monitor med levels, using the medical training they’ve received.

Of course, this is not true of every doctor. Maybe this is just common to the people I know. And we all make choices along the way, like the financial health of a practice, that could influence what kind of doctor we’ll be and how we’ll practice.

Above all, reach out to people in both fields who practice in an array of situations (hospital based, private practice, community clinics, etc.) and see what their days are like. It might help you decide which field better aligns with your interests and goals, and you’ll need shadowing experience regardless to get into medical school.

Thanks a lot for your advice! From my experience, psychiatrists do very little talk therapy, if at all. They seem to manage meds mostly and may meet with the patient for a few minutes to just discuss symptoms. PhDs tend to do all talk therapy and of course there’s research which I do like.

While I enjoy talk therapy, its not the only thing I want to do. I don’t think I could do that all day, day in and out. My interest is in neuropsychology. I find the brain/behavior relationship to be very interesting. Is there an area in medicine that is comparable to neuropsych? Would it be behavioral neurology? or something else? Sorry for all the questions, I’m just exploring my options.

Ah, that makes sense about your interests and how you think you’d like to practice. I’m not sure what the MD/DO equivalent would be.

Hi there

I justed matched into psych residency-starting this July. I will be 52 yrs old!!! Never to late to pursue a dream!!!

That is awesome!! Congrats!