How long do most nontraditionals take to prepare?


I am a 30y/o nontraditional who is looking to prepare for an application for the 2018 cycle. I’d really like to get everything done this year, but am wondering if there’s enough time. Anyone in a similar boat or do something similar that can provide some advice? Will med schools frown on “only one year of volunteering” or something like that?

I plan on trying to continue working full time (around 50 hours a week).

Study for the MCAT (self study, try to take test in April or so 10-20 hours a week)

Clinical Volunteer - ED patient care area, 4 hours a week for 1 year (~120 total hours by June)

Shadowing - 40 hours total in hospital setting over 3 months (~40 hours total by June)

Community Service Volunteer - Underprivileged youth mentor program, 2 hours a week for 1 year (~50 hours by June)

AIDS Fair volunteering - 8 hours, 2x this year (16 hours by June)

Is this enough from the “extracurricular” perspective? I don’t know if I can do much else (I already feel overwhelmed just thinking about it). I don’t have any research experience other than some undergrad lab work I did, but it was short (3 months, 15 hours a week) and 8 years ago.

Some stats as they may be relevant: 3.5 science GPA, 3.5 MSc in Medical Informatics

I think that in your case, you might be ok with just a single year. Its seems that most medical schools want all the EC activities because they want to see the student knows what they are getting themselves into, especially for students right out of undergrad. You, without being rude, are a true older non-trad. Just having life experience under your belt and so much time away from undergrad that going back to school proves you understand the sacrifice and effort it will take to successfully make it through medical school. However something to keep in mind, is that pre-reqs expire after 5 years (I think?) and so you might have to retake some classes before you apply. Good luck on your journey!

Prerequisite expiration was per individual school policy (as of 4 years ago). Unless things have changed, they don’t truly expire. I got a waiver for a 10 year requirement at the school I attend now. So check school requirements and then ask them if they’ll make an exception for you.

Thanks Kenny!

I was worried if my pre-reqs expired, but I asked my undergraduate adviser and she said that I shouldn’t worry about it. I’ll look into it.

Do you know if volunteer experiences “expire”? I plan on doing it again this year, but I did 100+ volunteer hours a few years ago with a program that did health advocacy for underserved populations, did 50 hours of primary care physician shadowing, 100+ hours volunteering at a free clinic for patients without insurance. I’m going to focus on my recent experiences, but am wondering if those still are helpful to mention.

Additionally, I am going to have no “research” experience. Is that going to be a significant detractor?

I don’t think your experiences ever “expire.” You took out of them what you took out of them, and you’ll never really lose that. It may hurt you in the sense that you can’t write about it on a meaningful level if it happened a long time ago, but you could probably derive something when the time comes to put thoughts on paper. The only real way it can “hurt” is if someone asks you why you are no longer doing X, or something along those lines. Don’t read into it too much, because you can’t really change anything at this point. Highlight your strengths but be able to speak to your weaknesses.

I had zero research outside of a project in undergrad 10 years before I applied. If you aren’t applying to a research heavy school, you should be okay. A lot of the stuff med school applicants call “research” is just doing scut work for some post-doc. If you can’t talk in depth about a research project, it’s probably best not to mention it.