How old is too old?

I’m finding myself getting a little cold feet worrying about whether I should pursue medicine or not at my age.

I will probably be 44 when I actually start the application process, entering probably when I am 45. I’ve still got to four prereqs to finish (Ochem I/II and Physics I/II), which I will be doing 2007-2008, and then I have to finish my bachelors degree which will be two years more. I had initially thought I would attempt the University of Maryland online bachelors, but I am thinking more that it might be in my best interest to actually attend a 4 year and go for biology or biochemistry.

I guess I would just like to hear from those 40+ that applied at this stage.

Hi Krisss17,

I’m entering medicine at age 48.

This is a question which crosses probably everybody’s mind, even those in their late twenties, and the answer lies in one place–your own heart. No one else can tell you what you should do, though doubtless some have already tried.

What kept me going was three things. First, my friendship with several physicians who have encouraged me steadfastly to stick to it.

Second, I attended a couple of the OPM conferences and met a bunch of like minded people there that really energized me. Also, some of the presenters had really inspirational stories.

Finally, and fairly early on, I developed a plan B that was complementary to my medical plans. I went to massage therapy school, with the idea that if I got in to medical school this would serve me well as a kind of introductory warm-up to dealing with patients, and if I didn’t get in, I would just continue down the alternative health care path, studying shiatsu and perhaps acupuncture to round out my bodyworker credentials.

Well as it turns out, studying muscular therapy was a transformational experience and I feel like everything I am going to study after this is graduate training.

I’m not saying this is the path for you, but just giving you my perspective on what worked. When I first started down this path I was 44 and started doing all this research to figure out if I could (1) get in at this age, (2) have a career longer than 3 years when all is said and done, and (3) make it through before 50. Well the “50” turned out to be a false goal because bottom line is, I want to be a physician and I decided I would be just as happy to be one at 52 as at 50. For that matter, to be a fully boarded family practice doc at 55.

Anyway, hope you can get through this dry spell, inspirationally speaking, which we all suffer from time to time, and perhaps others will have their own perspectives to add.

Thanks, Terry. Ironically, when I am taking a class (which I’m not this semester), I don’t feel like I am 42, but I do worry that when adcoms see my age, it will be those numbers that will dictate my entering medical school and not my GPA/MCAT.

Well, I would love to hear from you 40+ on your experiences. Unfortunately, I will not be able to make the OPM conference this year, but I definitely will try next year.

I’m 43 and an M1. I feel young in class, too, and my age was not mentioned in my classes, letters, or interviews, except that my first interviewer basically asked me what took me so long to make up my mind to go into medicine. Sure, there’s age prejudice, but it’s not everywhere, and you can be okay.

Here has been the universal reaction among my classmates to my age:


Essentially, in my own opinion, you are too old when you are no longer able to manifest spontaneous respirations & heartbeat and your body temp trends toward ambient.

Point taken!

My feeling when I started down this path was that over 40 was SO OLD, as in so outside the norm, that 41 vs. 44 vs. 48 didn’t mean squat. I stand by that statement now!

I am conscious of the age difference between me and my fellow residents, simply because their cultural language is, much of the time, different from mine. But it is not a barrier, it’s more of a curiosity. We all get along just fine; no one calls me “granny” and I haven’t noticed anyone cutting me slack on call nights, either. When you’re a medical student and resident, you have more in common with your colleagues than you may realize, simply because you’re all in this intense educational training together.

It’s just not a big deal to me, really it’s not.


Hey Mary, I really like your byline at the bottom of the page. How did you like GWU SOM? I was just browsing on their website and I’m quite impressed.


Hey Kriss, I loved GWU and felt I got a very good education there. I note that you’ve expressed an interest in PBL, so let me say that our PBL component was pretty small - the major stuff all got covered in lecture and the PBL component reinforced major lecture topics.

We got early clinical experience, a half-day twice a month in a primary care doctor’s office from the beginning of first year. Whenever I got soooooo tired of lectures, lab and studying, it would be time to go to clinic and my batteries would be recharged! Third and fourth year clinical experiences were excellent and I felt very well-prepared going into my intern year.

It’s an expensive school, and D.C. is an expensive place to live, but, well, I was fortunate not to have money at the top of my worry list. I’m $150K in debt but don’t really have any worries about it.

GWU is a VERY diverse community. My class had some 20-year-olds (they were products of GWU’s 7-year BA–> MD program) and lots of over-30s, and of course, me (I was 44 when we started). We had folks from all over the U.S. and many other countries. They really like non-trads and despite getting thousands and thousands of applications, they really do a good job of making the application process individualized.

I loved GWU!


Well if GW receives Mary’s stamp of approval I guess I’m going there.

Hi to Everyone! Hi Kris! It sounds like we have a lot in common. I am 42 and just started working on my premed reqs last year. I have about 2 years before I finish them and take MCATs. I will be 43 this summer, so I am hoping to apply before I am 45, but it may be pushing things. I am taking A & P right now, as well as inorganic chem. I still have organic and physics left. I also wanted to take some additional bio classes…like molecular, genetics, and biochem. I am thankful to stumble upon this site! It seems like a great source of information for individuals in our age range!!!

Hi everybody. My name is Denise, I am 44 and I am writing the MCAT in August. I live in Canada. My biggest concern is what to write in the statement within the application. I have been told that you should write about yourself and reinforce why you are applying, but I am stuck. I would welcome any help! Thanks

Hello to all,

I’m very new to the sight (found it yesterday). I am starting from the very beginning, I have had about 2 years of college as a fine arts major (over 20 years ago). Child…then another 11 years later. Life has just seemed to happen. For so many years I have said that if I could “be” anything, which incidently turned into if I could “have been” anything, “I would have been a doctor”…now I’m 43 and was recently laid off of a job that did nothing more than take up time.

My darling husband took me out to dinner last week and said “ok…so here you are, you have a fresh start, if you could do anything what would it be”. There I was, answering out loud, the same question I had asked myself so many times before, and I said “I want to help people”, “I would be a doctor, if I were younger”. His response…“what are you waiting for”.

So here I am.


Welcome, Allison. You will find lots of support here.

Welcome, Allison :). I’m one of our resident Mental Health specialists, so I’ll be the one to determine your level of (in)sanity ;).

Reading these comments really makes me feel better becaue I question my age and doing this all the time. Like many of you have mentioned, no one has noticed that I am as old as I am (38). I will be 40 or 41 by the time I finish my bachelor degrees and take the MCAT. Thanks for making feel a lot better about this.

BTW…I knew I could do it but I’d heard alot about the age discrimination that goes on and it kind of got me down.

How old is too old? I don’t know that there is an answer to that. I don’t this this is an adventure to be undertaken just because you would like to be able to claim to be a doctor. One should have their heart and mind set on actually practicing as a Physician. As such it is worth considering what kind of career you will have after getting done with both school and residency.

on the positive note, if you are in good health it is not a field where people are particularly eager to kick you out at 65 unless you really want to quit. Part of my reason for making the jump is to be in a field where I will be looking forward to working as long as I am able, rather than counting down the days until I can retire.

Good luck with your quest. You will find lots of similarly aged Olde Phartes here making the same adventure.

Steve - (entered medschool at 45 - not FP resident at 51)

Welcome insane!

We’re all a few doughnuts short of a dozen. You’ll find just the right amount of crazy here. Look into the OPM conference. I think it will really help jump start your goal!!!


I am 48 and will be starting DO school this July! Old is truly only a state of mind and if this is something that you believe is your’s to do then you just keep moving toward it one step at a time! I’m not sure about MD schools, but during my interviews at DO programs, my age and experience was embraced and I was literally told “we love non-traditional students”.

I feel younger now than I did five years ago, simply because my mind and heart are engaged in something I love and I am around other “young” people which keeps me young too.

Good luck to everyone who wants to follow this challenging but rewarding path.



Oh you all have given me so much encouragement. My husband is going to law school and I don’t think it would be feasible for me to go to school until he gets done. I want to do my pre-reqs, again before I take the MCAT. I already am a physical therapist, so I have most of them, but I don’t remember physics, chemistry and bio I learned in the 1980’s.