Hi! 38 and anxious

Would like to just say Hi. Found this site to be great. I don’t feel “abnormal” here. I am 38 with a wonderful family, ( wife of 8 years, 2 daughters 7 and 3 and my 18 month old son), and to say I am aprehensive about this would be putting it mildly. While my wife fully supports me going after my dream of becoming a doctor, I worry about being able to take care of my family and provide for them during this process. Would really like to hear any ideas from other people on how they plan on accomplishing this. Should be able to cash in my 401K and be debt free going into med school (when I get in), but I still worry about how I will provide for them during school. My wife has stayed home with our children for the last 6 years and my income has been what we have lived off of.
I have been out of school for more than 10 years. Did 4 years at University of South Carolina as a pre-med with major in biology and minor in chemistry. Took MCAT during my junior and senior year scoring a 24, so I will now have to prepare for the MCAT again. Any suggestions on how OPM who have not had the basics in such a long time prepared for the MCAT would be much appreciated.
Have worked as a retail manager for the past 10 years so I am not sure what I would need to do to show people during the interview process that I am serious about being a doctor (should I volunteer or something?), any way as you can see I have many questions and I am not certain on how I should approach the whole process of getting into med school. I do think I might apply to a DO school since I think I would like to be a Primary care physician in a rural setting (I like the country!).
Thanks in advance for any comments and suggestions.

I was fortunate to have an employed spouse throughout school so I can’t give you any insights into the money. I can tell you that I had several male classmates with young families and wives staying home with their kids. It seems most of them got family help, some of them borrowed living expense money, some of them went for scholarships through the armed services. There ARE ways, in other words, but it’s a challenge.

Before talking about MCAT prep, a word about your courses: some medical schools don’t care about how old your prerequisite coursework is, but others will want you to have earned those credits in the past, say, 5-10 years. (it seems to vary a lot) So you want to start thinking about the medical schools you’re most likely to be interested in, and find out their policy on this.

MCAT prep when you’re a long way from the coursework: you know, it seems very few people on this board have done that, or at least written much about it that I can recall. But I would suggest you just browse the MCAT section of the forum and see if you can find some helpful hints there. I do know it is possible, I’ve known people to do it.

Volunteering or other “exposure to the medical field” is essential. You have to be able to say to medical schools, “I got this idea, I tested it by volunteering at [wherever] and that experience has made me more determined than ever to become a doctor.” Especially with career-changers, this sort of experience is crucial to the success of your application - you need to show that you have thought about this long and hard, and done some reality testing with the idea - it’s not just a mid-life crisis.

Finally (and these points are not in any particular order), even if you find out that your prerequisites are good to go regardless of their age, you will have to do some current coursework. This is another way in which you need to prove to schools that you’ve “got it.” They need reassurance that you really will be able to hack the intense and fast-paced learning environment that is medical school. When you check on prerequisite age requirements, I’d suggest you also ask about additional suggested coursework. (In fact if you find an admissions office person who is able to talk to you at length, pick his/her brains about as many aspects of the process as possible so that you can be a strong candidate.)

Good luck to you, and welcome to OPM!

PS - thought of one other thing, or actually more: if you’re interested in rural primary care, there’s a school in Georgia - Mercer? I think - that strongly favors people with that interest. And as you’ve observed, that’s a career path that has been a tradition at D.O. schools. Rural primary care may also make you a strong candidate for a National Health Services Corps scholarship which would be another way to help with the $$$ aspect of this. You’re right to observe that there is lots to consider in this whole process!

Hi and welcome

I agree with all that Mary wrote here. The clinical is going to be a big thing for your application. I volunteered for 3 years at a free health clinic. It was such a great place to be and I left with a lot of knowledge I didn’t have when I started there.

Oh, and don’t take out your 401K unless you really, really need to. The penalties are huge. We made this mistake once. We paid higher taxes when we took it out and then at tax time they hit us again with a penalty. So avoid it at any cost. You can borrow money for living expenses in addition to your tutition. For ex: at VCOM (Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine), you can get $29,000 for tuition and another $23,000 for living expenses per year.

Also be thinking about your personal statement. If you haven’t yet, I would suggest you start writing it. Make sure you can show the adcoms through your words why you want to be at doctor at this point in your life.

To study I would set aside a certain time each night and on weekends that your family knows is your time to go and disappear without being bothered. Kaplan’s big comprehensive book and Princeton Review books can be purchased at any book store. I would suggest starting with those. You can also take previously given MCATs, which are a great way to determine your strenghts and weaknesses. You can buy them through AAMC.



I would suggest you follow Mary’s advice and meet with an adcom to discuss your transcripts to find out if your classes will be accepted. You might want to take a course so you can show them some current course work. Perhaps an upper level science course that you didn’t take perviously, such as physiology, genetics, histology,etc… Keep in mind you will need reference letters from prof, so if you take a course now, you could use them as a reference.

The DO letter would be great for the DO schools. I am going to VCOM because I do want to be a rural primary care doc and their big push is going to be training students for that very path. DO schools love older, non-trads.

Good luck in your MCAT prep and welcome to our OPM family

Hi there,
You may want to make a special point to re-take General Biology because of all the new advancements in Molecular Biology that were not there ten years ago. You probably wouldn’t have to re-take the lab portion thus giving you ample time to study.
You may want to invest in an MCAT prep course too. You probably need to take plenty of practice exams so that you get yourself back up to speed. As Mary R. said, your coursework may be too old for some schools so do some research. I believe that there might even be some computerized prep courses from Kaplan.
If you are able, try to make it to this year’s convention. There will be an advising session with our own Judy Colwell up for grabs which would be tailor-made for you since you have been out of school for awhile. Look into this!
Good luck and welcome to the group.

Welcome! Looks like you got some good advice already. One thought, why don’t you think about borrowing the money for med school to help to live off of while in med school. I understand the 401k thing and reasons to cash out such as school. You could maybe do both? Just a thought. Bill.

Oh I had one more thought: you could volunteer some time for home hospice. They are always looking for people to sit, read, be a companion for hospice patients. You would set the time for the volunteer hours.

Thanks for the advice. At this point in my life this seems to be a huge project, life/career changing to say the least. It always helps when I can break one large goal into smaller one that are easier to manage.
So, having said that I will look at the following
1. Taking a refresher course at my college, might look at auditing a couple of courses.
2. Volunteer some of my time to a hospice or free medical clinic in my area.
3. Shadowing a DO with a family practice
4. Using some MCAT prep materials to help me prepare taking several test to asses my weak points)
Thanks again for the advice

sounds like a good plan. The only thing I’d comment on is, although it costs $$ to take courses for real, that is MUCH more valuable than auditing. Auditing helps for MCAT review but it doesn’t give you a transcript and you must be able to show a recent record of strong grades.
Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so start with one thing that appeals to you and see how it goes. Now that you’re stuck on the inspiration to do this, that desire is not going to go away so take your time and do your very best to achieve your goal.