Hi, and thanks!

Hi everyone,

I just registered with this fabulous group. I really appreciate resources like this!

After perusing the forums, I have decided not to post the question I was going to initially (that is… am I too old?) The answer seems to be a resounding NO!

I’m a 36 year old who has returned to school this semester. I’m enrolled at Montana State U in the pre-nursing program, but have spent most of the semester agonizing over the decision to pursue nursing and not medicine.

Aside from age, I have/had 2 concerns. On my first time through college I half-heartedly pursued a degree in computer science, earning a pathetic 2.6 (“C’s get degrees!”); and I was honestly unsure if I’d be able to do any better this time through college. That concern has turned out to be baseless, I am finding myself absolutely loving school and as a consequence have straight A’s, including a 99.98 or so in Chemistry which was a killer course for me the last time through.

Anyhow, motivation for academics isn’t going to be a huge issue. My remaining concern (aside from age, and of course finances) is the idea of the pursuit of medicine being the only thing I can do with my life; I have a lot of interests, and I honestly don’t know if I could throw aside all of these interests to make the attempt at practicing medicine. I guess that sounds really lazy or like my heart isn’t in the right place, but I just can’t help wondering. Is there more to life than the pursuit?

I’m not suggesting blowing off classes to go skiing… what I’m trying to say, I guess, is “would it be possible for me to spend 10 hours a week doing what I love, outside of the pursuit of knowledge?”

Sorry for the rediculously long post! I’ve just got this butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach that’s been there for basically this entire semester… I want to figure out what I’m going to do when(if) I grow up!



Hi Seacuke,

First, age is but a number and you will see that there are a number of forum members that are older than you that are or in the process of pursuing medicine (I’ll be 43 myself next month).

I can totally understand your finance concerns, but it is also not unique. You may not be able to afford an ivy league medical school, but with the resources out there, if you are willing to do the legwork, I’m sure that you can get through school.

It is true that once you are in medical school and doing your residency, time will be limited for other interests…this is when time management and planning can either work with you or work against you.

I’ve been also going through this nursing vs. medicine question. For me, I know that in order to pursue medicine in the future…I’ve got to be able to commit to the time and effort it will take to become a doctor. I’ve decided to pursue nursing for a few reasons. A major reason being that if I can’t commit to two years going through nursing school which has been my achilles heel for a long time (fear of failure, fear of success, who knows), I’ve got to stop deluding myself that being a doctor is in my future.

Welcome to this forum…you’ll find many wonderful people in different stages of this pursuit.


Hi and welcome! As I’m sure you’ve noticed via this forum, anything is possible.

Now, just because I’m curious and nosy…

What made you think about the medical field? What are some of your other interests?

Hey guys, and thanks for the replies…

> > What made you think about the medical field?

> > What are some of your other interests?

Thinking about the medical field is something I’ve been doing for a long, long time. Even as a little kid I remember loving the atmosphere in a hospital. I am in awe of the life enhancing things that medicine is accomplishing on a day-to-day basis, and I want to be a part of that. I know it’s the world’s oldest cliche to say “I want to help people,” but there is an element of that in place as well.

As for why I haven’t done it before this fall… the best thing I can do is draw up an analogy. I grew up in Texas, where football is king. I didn’t become interested in playing football until about 10th grade, and by then it was absolutely hopeless. To make the high school varsity team, you basically had to have been on the jr. high “varsity” team. To make that team, you had to be on the elementary school “varsity” team, and to make that team, you had to be on the PeeWee football team in your area.

When I first entertained the idea of pursuing a medical degree, I was probably in high school. My grades were average, or even mediocre. And out of laziness or pessimism, I told myself that because I wasn’t doing well in HS, it was kind of pointless to even bother trying to get into a pre-med program. (Naive, I know).

I continued to let the above mindset keep me from pursuing medicine until I had a series of near breakdowns due to depression & stress with my former career. My wife, who I am eternally grateful for (more than I can ever express), sat me down and ordered me to rethink what I was doing with myself – she gave me the ultimatum of fixing myself or getting divorced. I chose the former.

So I enrolled in the nursing program here just out of, I dunno… maybe a visible light at the end of the tunnel. Four years and I’ll be in practice. But since enrolling and beginning this semester, and seeing how much I love being back in school and how well I’m doing, I’m thinking to not let my chicken sh*t self get in the way. If it’s what I love and what I want, why worry about seeing a light at the end of the tunnel?

As for my above-mentioned outside interests, I really enjoy being outdoors in the winter: skiing, snow shoeing, shoveling snow, whatever. I also have a hobby/moonlighting job of working with antique electronics; I build amplifiers based on tubes. I love to work on & ride motorcycles (no cruisers, no offense), and to SCUBA dive (kind of difficult to do in Montana), and I play the drums in a band.

So through reading and fooling around on the internet, I keep coming across the magic 80-hours-a-week number. Is this just residency workload, or does it happen during the rotations as well (3rd and 4th year of med school)? Are these worked out as 5x16 hour days, or something more like 7x12 hour days a week? I’ve worked 80 hour weeks before, but it’s been the kind of deal where you do that for a month then get to go back to a 40-hour work week… I’m just not sure that 2-5 years of 80 hour weeks is something that wouldn’t kill me.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!



Thanks for the response. Like I said, I’m probably just nosy. I’ve only been coming to this site for less than a week now, but like most here I have had many of the same questions and concerns that you have.

It sounds to me like you would benefit from some shadowingvolunteer work.

Off of a google search it looks like Bozeman Deaconess might work. If you are interested, check out this link:


Volunteering some time will help you by letting you get in the door and see a bit about what both nurses and doctors do every day. It will give you the opportunity to ask valuable questions which should help you in your decisions.

Also… should you decide to go the MD route, volunteer hours look great on your application.

As for the 80 hour a week question…from what I understand it varies from program to program. However, as I haven’t yet been down that road myself I’m really not qualified to answer. There are plenty here who are or have been though so hopefully one of them can help you out.

Heya John,

Yeah I’ve talked to peeps about volunteering at Bozeman Deaconess… apparently it’s actually a relatively difficult prospect to even be able to volunteer there.

Starting next semester I believe I’m going to be volunteering at the Gallatin County community health center; slightly less glamorous than Deaconess, but as the coordinator at MSU said, “If you like the work at the county, you’ll know you’re going to love medicine!”

Anyhow, I didn’t view any of your questions as nosy.



Seacuke -

It is certainly possible to have a life outside of medicine. You make time for things that are important to you. You may not be able to devote as much time to extracurriculars as you do now, but there will be time for some. I would argue that you SHOULD find a life outside of studying and school in order to keep yourself balanced.

As for the “80 hour week” - I haven’t been through it yet, so I can only speak with what I have heard from my fellow med 3’s, med 4’s and residents. Residents are limited to an AVERAGE of 80 hours a week over a certain period. So, one week it may be more, one week it may be less. Some programs toe the line pretty well on that rule, others make token efforts to do so. In general, though, the hours will be worst your first year of residency and get better.

Unfortunately, there is no limit on how many hours medical students can be required to work. I get the feeling from my classmates that they wish they were ONLY working 80 hours a week. Of course, this is rotation dependent. Some rotations are pretty much 9 - 5 with the occasional night/weekend call, others consist of living in the hospital. Fourth year is much easier hour-wise, as students are applying and interviewing for residency positions.

Hope that answers a couple of your questions.


I think you have lots of good reasons for considering medicine. What you’re asking for, I think, is a more realistic perspective on what kinds of life changes you will need to make.

Med school has been very hard on my relationships and friendships. As an MS3, I often worked very long hours (90+/week on surgery; never less than 40/week even on “easy” rotations like psych). This year, as MS4, I also worked more than 80/week on many rotations. Part of the reason is that, as an older student (45), I felt I had to demonstrate that I could work my ass off, keep long hours, etc…

I’m now going through residency interviews with good grades, good board scores, and good evaluations, and I’m VERY grateful that I put myself in this good position (no one cares about my undergrad GPA, by the way). You do not want to go through this whole process just to end up with a residency in a specialty that you don’t find interesting, in a location that you don’t like.

If you decide to move toward medicine, you are looking at a minimum of 7 years of hard work and long hours to get there. It will interfere with most of your life outside medicine.

The 80-hour week looks very different in different places. Some residencies never approach 80 hours (closer to 50-60). Others consistently go over, even though they aren’t supposed to. The 80 hours could look like this: work 6 a.m. Monday to noon Tuesday. Wed. and Thurs., 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday 6 a.m. to Sat. noon. Sunday off. In residency, you will probably work 3 years averaging 60-80-hour weeks. Residents alternate who gets to take off on Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. In your spare time, you can do fun things like studying for board exams.

People make fun of “ER” for being unrealistic, but if you go back and watch the first few seasons, you see people who essentially live in the hospital, are permanently sleep-deprived, and have almost no life outside. That’s a pretty realistic picture of a lot of the residents I work with. It’s a long way from Grey’s Anatomy.