How did you decide....

that you were going to take the ‘plunge’ and go for it?
I know that we all have different stories on what brought us to the point of attempting to jumpt through the hoops and apply to medical school. We’re all non-trads here, which means that we all also come with a lot of other ‘baggage’…family (not that family is baggage in the traditional sense of the word ), jobs and other life choices/circumstances that most traditional-aged students don’t have. As a result, even with the interest and desire, many people end up choosing NOT to apply to medical school.
What tipped the scales for you and made you decide to throw caution to the wind and just do it?

I woke up, on a January morning, a little over 2 years ago, and realized I was turning 40 later that year. It suddenly dawned on me with unbelievable clarity, that it was, at that very instant, time to either change my life or risk waking up again in 10 years, and have still been a programmer for yet another 10 years of my life. It was like a bolt out of the blue for me, right between the eyes. I knew in however long it takes for neurons to create a consciously recognizable human thought, that it was time to become a physician. It’s like the same intuition as love at first sight. I knew the moment I saw my wife, that she was “the one.” I still know that today with undeniable clarity, after 14 years of marriage. The same thing happened to me in that moment, with med school. I knew, and it became time to make it happen, in that exact same instant.
Like many people here, I wanted to go to med school at an earlier time in my life, and for me the factor that kept me out was that my son needed me. His mom is an ex-girlfriend (who wanted to be a single mom, and in retrospect, made the right decision), and I had no choice but to live in the same city as her in order that my son have his father by him. I had to be away (military medical schools) from him for about 18 months once, and missed his 3rd birthday during that time. I still beat myself up for that (15 years later) and I realized there was no way in hell I could be away from him by committing an act so selfish as medical school at that time. Plus, my wife and I had a daughter on the way by the time I was in a position to even think about the financial responsibilities of medical school, so basically (long story longer, sorry), medical school was in no way an option for me then.
However, regardless of all the family stuff, there was no way I was ready for med school back then anyway. I just wasn’t mentally mature enough, I think. I’m going to make a far better doctor now because of those extra 10-12 years than I could have possibly been otherwise.

At 37, after 13 years of Software Engineering, I just got fed up with it. I knew that I was better than a lot of my peers in learning and applying but there was no learning going on anymore. Developing software has become easier and there was no challenge in it. I never got laid of in any of the 5 jobs I have held. I was treated very well by my employers. After the last X-mas, I just didn’t feel like doing my job anymore. Medicine is some thing I always admired but as an immigrant, I really did not know that it was doable. Now I am citizen of US and there will be fewer hurdles. I also feel better about my finances (having worked FT for that long). Also got married last year to a nice guy that has been very supportive. Things are finally taking shape for me.
I am also happy that I went into engineering in undergrad because doing/repeating the pre-reqs is so much easier now. I definitely did the right thing in doing my undergrad with a lot of math, physics and chemistry. I will be starting volunteering 8 hrs. a week at a local hospital and I am excited about it. Now, I just need to get thr’ MCAT in 18 months


that you were going to take the ‘plunge’ and go for it?

It’s a question I ask myself every day. "Self, just what the hell are you doing?"
And then I answer, “I just gotta…so shut it.”
I’m completely excited. It’s hard to explain. Yes, I’m busting my butt and have permenant bags under my eyes, but at the same time I wouldn’t have it any other way. While I’d like time to go by more quickly, I’m having a ball too even though I have next to no social life. It’s amazing how easily entertained I’ve become.
One thing most of us premeds have going for us is we can see mistakes we make while fatigued. That’s useful information while in our residencies

As far as I can remember I wanted to be a doctor. I saw my mom going through the whole process and was amazed at her dedication and breadth of education and I wanted that, too. My track was off-set at 19 due to cancer, so I went into a field that still had medical ties but would allow for me being sick and go through treatments. Also, I began to worry that maybe I only wanted to become a doctor because my mother did it, and I was attracted to the glamorous side more than reality.

So, I changed majors to speech-language pathology and went on to get a Master’s degree. After practicing for a few years, a former boyfriend, who was working on a PhD in computer science at Tulane encouraged me to get a PhD in my field. He recognized that I had a lot to offer, and so I applied to a few programs and got into a couple close to him. I spent a few years in the program and it was interesting, but my heart was just not there. I maintained excellent grades in all my grad studies, but after practicing for 6 years and attempting the PhD, I eventually realized that I wanted to be a clinician more than a researcher, and that my field was too limited for what I wanted to do.

I was specifically interested in some visual aspects affected by aphasia leading to difficulty interpreting images for communication purposes, but quickly became exposed to ERP studies and MRI studies to look at specific levels of cortical function. I also took several neuroanatomy/physiology classes as well. After being exposed to these I thought “What am I DOING here?” Fate I guess listened and before long my major professor resigned and took a job at an insitution that only had a Master’s program as the highest degree and I decided to apply elsewhere, just in case. I ended up getting accepted to Northwestern and moved up to Chicago, but spent the summer before my enrollment really thinking about what I wanted. I came to the conclusion that I had better “pee or get off the pot” and left my PhD studies altogether. I took a semester of speech-path and audiology courses to satisfy some continuing ed criteria for the next few years and started on the pre-reqs right after that.

So far I’ve got Bio I/II and Chem I/II done. I’ve got Physics I/II and Orgo I/II to go, and am taking a general A&P course now to refresh myself on bones/tissue/muscles/special senses and will take A&P II next semester to refresh myself on organ systems next semester.

So, I probably knew around age 7 that I wanted to be a doctor but it didn’t really become clear until I took an alternate route that solidified it for me. I feel I spent enough time practicing in my current field and exploring all avenues of advancement in the event I was only “looking for more” not “looking for medical school”.

I’m hoping some school will take a chance on me now that I know what I want from life!

I didn’t want to be a physician at the outset. I always had an interest in how the body worked and what happened when it stopped working but for a long time the thought of being a physician made me cringe. Late in my undergraduate study I thought that I would get a Ph.D and teach and do research. So after I got a masters degree and then began working for a former mentor on an altitude study in human subjects. There I discovered that I didn’t enjoy the data crunching and paper writing near as much as I enjoyed sticking needles in people, drawing blood, taking various other measurements, and just generally hanging out with subjects who had huge headaches, were cranky, puking all over the place. In addition, our project medical advisor was this great guy. A cardiologist, division chief at his VA, gerat scientist, and a great physician. Seeing him interact with the subjects and occasionally his patients got me thinking. Once the money ran out on the grant I found myself checking pacemakers and AICDs in patients at a private cardiology practice. I found that I really loved helping people, I liked the way the gadgets worked, and I lbeing able to problem solve when somethig went wrong. This cemented my decision. It took about six years more for me to get my act together enough so that I could gain acceptance but it has finally happend. I’ll start this August. I’m looking forward to the good and the bad.
That’s my story (and I’m sticking to it).

For most of my life I’ve been very military-oriented, so for awhile being in the military was my dream job. I didn’t decide a doctor until last summer when my stepdad (who is a dentist, so I figured he’d know) told me he thinks I have what it takes to become a doctor.
I just kinda shrugged it off at first, but a week later I thought about it a little, and remembered that the reason I /did/ want to join the military was to save lives (the only reason I chose infantry instead of medic is because I wanted to be a Ranger and it would have compromised my chances of getting an enlistment contract with Ranger training in it), and I look at where I’d like to be career-wise in 10 or 20 years, and I just couldn’t see myself still sitting at a desk processing medical claims. I’d much rather be in a true profession where I’m making a difference and improving people’s quality of life and/or saving lives, and since that’s why I wanted to join the military anyways, I suppose it just made sense to do this. Being a doctor has always interested me, I just always assumed it was beyond my grasp until I researched it.

I’m 27, I have 5 kids and most of my life has been devoted to helping everyone else. I neglected myself, my dreams, my goals. My grandmother, the most important person in my life, died this last November and it made me realize that I had done nothing while she was here. Nothing that would make her proud of me. I just wasted time, and now she’s gone. I have a lot of things going on in my life as far as working and taking care of kids, but I said, forget it! I’m just going to do it! Its worked out so far in my favor! I know my grandma would be proud!

I’ve been interested in lifting because I was lazy in highschool and didn’t learn any sports. I got into nutrition and after fooling around in college for a year, I thought I might try exercise science. When I was twenty, I considered becoming a firefigher/paramedic so I would not be like so many people I knew and not have a real direction. I was already taking A&P courses and bio, so I switched majors to EMS. I later became an EMT and recently became a paramedic. I was amazed how much medicine I picked up last year in school. I just kept becoming more and more interested in pathophysiology and medicine.
A friend or two suggested I become I doctor over last year. I just gave’em a list of reasons why it’s crazy to jump through all those hoops to only be in a messed up medical system. I just wanted to settle with a secure career. Or so I thought at the time. Little by little, I learned the process to become a doctor but just kept writing it off. I have a friend that’s an undergrad at Hopkins and he taught me some of the steps.
But looked at other avenues in medicine but nothing interested me. I told myself that I wisthed i had two lives so I could know what it’s like to work in a fire dept. and become a doctor.
So the most amazing thing happened about two weeks before I moved to Arizona to begin my career working for an ambulance company. I was joking with a friend and he said we should become doctors. Ha ha funny, what a crazy idea. Well a thought came to me at that second: what if I COULD become a doctor? I couldn’t keep my mind straight the rest of the day. That thought threw off everything I was planning for my future.
I realized I could and hearing stories of some non trads, I basically made the decision that that’s what I’m going to devote my life to. After that I felt high, like I was on narcotics for a week. I couldn’t sit still, I had to research every detail of the process. I’ve NEVER felt that way before. It’s like falling in love with a dream. It’s like finding that missing piece to my life. I feel like it’s not if I get into med school, it’s when. I could go on and on but I better stop.
Did anyone else feel like that after making the decision?

I have always wanted to be a doctor but something happened in college. I became very lazy and went from being a top student in high school to a slacker in college. After graduating from college and coming to terms that I was never going to be a physician, I started my life. But in the back of my mind I still had that tick. I have been an EMT for a little over 10 years at that time and was having a bad year.
One night, I was at the station and my brother and I started to argue. My brother was the 1st Lieutenant (3rd in command). Something snapped and I decked him. I went home and the next day my wife and I went to Tampa, Fl. for a vacation.
While in the hotel, waiting for the baby to fall asleep, we would talk on the porch while sipping on some wine. I was in my 3rd semester of graduate school since my boss advised me to get my masters in Biology because I was very skilled in the laboratory.
One night, while we were talking, I reflected on my life and was thinking, hey…3 classes into a masters degree and I have a 4.0. What if, I decided to finally pursue my dream and apply to medical school?
We discussed this and she told me that I have her full support. It was then that I found this website and began reading the forums, especially Dave’s story.
After the fight, I let my brother decide when HE wanted to call me to talk and I disappeared from my EMS station for almost 6 months, not even calling my best friend. Finally, my brother and I talked and we cleared it up and I called my friends up and decided that if I was really going to do this I had to let it be known, that way people will always ask me about it and I can continue with my motivation even when the days are bleak, as they are now.
When I called my best friend, who was also an officer at the station and was very mad at me, we talked and I told him what I had decided. And have been at it for the last 5 years.


Did anyone else feel like that after making the decision?

I still get giddy

For me, it wasn’t an epiphany so much as a plan that I just wasn’t conscious of. I think the thought was always in the back of my mind somewhere, but it was something I discounted for any number of reasons: it’d take too long, my undergrad grades were too low, I don’t want to jump through the hoops, etc etc.
I worked in a number of jobs - research, sales, mental health - and I kept thinking to myself “this isn’t bad, but I can’t see myself doing it forever.” Except the sales thing; that was useful experience, but I hated it.
About a year ago, I finally decided to get back to school - for a 1.5 year accelerated BSN. It was something near enough to my interests, but I was never 100%.
I think a lot of things hit me at once then. I was working as a case manager in a community mental health center, taking a few courses at the CC, and dating an incredibly sweet pharmacist.
I changed positions to work on computers and documentation at the same CMHC - and I missed my schizoaffective clients.
My pharmacist friend and I kept on having incredibly interesting conversations about the efficacy of different drugs and how they worked.
I was doing well in my courses despite my history of apathy, bad judgement, and poor time management - and I’d come home and learn more about Anatomy and Physiology and Pharmacology and Neurology just because they were really, really cool.
So maybe there was something of an epiphany, just a slow one.
I realized - hey, I want to do this, and dammit, I can do this.
Ever since then, it’s been kind of settled in my head. Maybe it’s ironic: my future is less certain now than it ever was, and yet I feel more certain about it. I have a clear goal, and come hell or high water, I will achieve it.

You bet. I still feel like that about it. I work at a bank and all day long I wish I were studying for class. I just wish I could go to school full time to do my prereqs… Oh well.
I was agonizing about hating my job about a year ago, looking into alternate careers, etc. I have an English major so I was thinking about law, thinking about being a professor, etc. Then I stumbled onto a surgical technologist program, which sounded really cool. I wanted to be a doctor until college, and I’d forgotten how much I loved that stuff.
So I was telling my older brother about the surgery tech thing, and he said “why don’t you just go to medical school?” so I gave him a litany of reasons why not, but it stuck in my head. So I started looking into tech programs and nursing school, but it never felt right. And I found this website, and I started to think: maybe I can…?!! So i began dropping hints about it to people, and finally told my boyfriend I was thinking about it. He thought it was a fantastic idea, and so did everyone else I told as I came out of the closet about it.
I’m so glad my brother said what he did when he did… I’m finishing up inorganic now. Next year I’ll take orgo& bio, then physics… it’s going to take a long time, but it’s going to happen. !!!

I read a book. Honestly, that’s what did it. I had pretty much given up on my dream of becoming a doctor. I had two children, a husband, debts, a house, etc., and I just figured God had other plans for me. Then about two years ago, my pastor decided to do a sermon series based on the book “The Dream Giver” by Bruce Wilkinson. After going through the sermon series and reading the book, we had a “Super Sunday” where you wrote down what you’re “Big Dream” was and what you were going to do about it. The very first thing that popped into my mind when thinking of my dream was medicine. I prayed and fasted and struggled with it, and finally wrote it down. Telling someone else somehow made it real.
Since that time, I’ve gone back and forth, struggling with my role as mom and wife vs. medical student and physician. I finally decided to go into nursing. Upon researching nursing, I found the National Health Service Corps scholarship and felt it was a sign (yah, yah, maybe maybe not) but I took it. I talked to my husband and my children and we’ve determined to move forward because I don’t think I’ll ever be happy doing anything else.

I hated my pediatrician. HATED the man. So at about 7, my oppositional streak kicked in, and I decided I was going to be a NICE pediatrician when I grew up.
Things changed freshman year in college… some classes didn’t go as planned, including chem. Of course at 18, this was the end of the world, must give up, etc etc. The pre-med advisor and I had a chat, and it was mutually agreed that it wasn’t going to work out. He suggested social work, and when I met with the director, I loved it. Went on to get a BSSW and a MSW, and kind of fell into working in mental health.
Fast forward to about two years ago… one of my best friends was working at a hospital and hanging out with some of the docs, so I started talking with them, and felt that little twinge of “what if…”. Then went to a continuing ed seminar that turned out to be geared toward psychiatrists, and had to ask my doctor friends to clarify some things (specifically- what the heck’s a QT value??? ). And the thought popped up, “well I would have known that if…”. And did I mention all of this happened right before my 30th birthday? So it was kind of a time of reflection anyway… the “what am I doing, where am I going” type of thinking.
But I love my current career and wasn’t sure I was ready to give it up. So I decided that rather than “take the plunge”, I’d stick a big toe in first and test the waters. Scrambled to get accepted at the local branch of the state university, and started easy with General Bio I. Of course, I immediately loved being back in school, so then I was ready for the plunge. I’ve been taking 2 classes + labs for the last two semesters, run a solo private practice doing individual and family therapy, and work about one shift a week at a local children’s hospital doing medical social work. Plus I just got hired at our other children’s hospital to work in the ED and on the child protection team as a PRN employee, but I’m still doing the pre-hire stuff. I’ll be applying for matriculation in '08.
I’ve been very lucky so far, in that almost everyone in my life has been extremely supportive of my decision. Responses have ranged from “It’s about time” to "You’re crazy, but go for it!"
So that’s me! Thanks to everyone else who has shared their story- it’s been quite a ride for everybody! Good luck!

I never had any intentions of becoming a doctor. In fact, my freshman year of college as a biology major (I wanted to be a marine biologist)I would get offended if people assumed I was premed. I had some negative second hand experiences with the medical community, like my mom’s open heart surgery and my sister’s appendicitis. Plus, because of the above, I didn’t do well my first semester, even failed Chem 1.

I decided I should be a writer instead. So I changed my major to English and was relatively happy with writing for a while. But the desire to write faded after a year or two and I began wanting to do a different career every week.
I didn’t decide on medicine until years later, once I had quit college and was working as a mortgage processor. I ended up in the hospital after getting in between my sister and her abusive husband. Recovering from the facial fractures and the emotional scarring took a long time. I was constantly in and out of my doctor’s office. And a small voice started to say, Maybe I could be a doctor. It felt like a guilty pleasure, like the chocolate truffle that you sneak in the middle of a diet.
I would read about anything to do with medicine or watch one of those shows like Trauma, I would get so excited I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about it for hours (or wipe the grin off my face ).
Going back to school was really difficult, especially facing my fears of not being good at science classes. But I overcame it and found I loved my classes. I’ll be starting med school this August at USUHS in Washington D.C. There are still times I wonder if I made the right decision to go into medicine, but every time I feel that way, I shadow a doctor or watch a medical show and I’m all excited about it again. I can’t wait to start med school and learn all the cool things about the human body!